Guide to CBD Skincare Products

Consumers are increasingly aware of the risks chemical-laden products pose to their health. And as that awareness has grown, so has the rise of natural wellness industry—particularly from brands focused on skincare. More than ever, consumers are turning to plant-based products to improve their skin health, relying on natural ingredients that minimize redness, puffiness, and irritation.

One recent entry to the natural skincare landscape is CBD, or cannabidiol. Derived from hemp, CBD oil boasts antioxidant, antibacterial, and antiinflammatory properties that make it an apt addition to any skincare product. What’s more, research suggests CBD offers significant benefits for treating skin issues like acne and psoriasis. 

If you’re interested in learning more about CBD skincare, read on. We share everything you need to know so you can make a decision on whether CBD skincare might be a good choice for you.

What is CBD skincare?

CBD skincare products are a lot like natural skincare products; the main difference being that they contain CBD as a primary ingredient. CBD is a natural chemical compound found in the hemp plant. It’s distinct from THC, another compound in hemp, in that CBD contains no psychoactive properties. In other words, it won’t get you high.

What CBD can do, however, is potentially improve your health. The field of research into CBD is developing quickly, as scientists continue to discover new benefits to this potent plant compound. To date, the research suggests CBD may aid in treatment for a number of health conditions, ranging from cancer pain and epilepsy to anxiety and PTSD

As a natural anti-inflammatory and antibacterial agent, CBD may offer unique benefits to your skin—rejuvenating and brightening, smoothing wrinkles, and soothing dry or sunburned skin. So, many forward-thinking brands are including it in their skincare product line, specifically in products like:

  • Body creams, lotions, and moisturizers
  • Facial serums, masks, and creams
  • Facial cleansers and exfoliants
  • Bar soaps and body wash
  • Eye serums and creams

Besides CBD, the hemp oil extract alone is rich in antioxidants and vitamins B, C and E. Skincare products often include other, naturally therapeutic ingredients like shea butter, aloe vera, and essential oils like coconut and peppermint. Combine these with CBD, and you get a skincare product that’s potentially even more powerful for your skin. 

Is CBD good for your skin? 

We mentioned above that the research on CBD is still developing. To date, much of the research has focused on CBD’s potential benefits for ailments such as chronic pain and arthritis, severe epilepsy, and cancer treatment.

Given its anti inflammatory properties, CBD seems like a natural fit for skincare products. Here’s what the research has found so far:

  • CBD oil is rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, the so-called “healing fats.” These fatty acids help protect your skin against sunburn, preventing melanomas, and speed up wound recovery. They also tighten and smooth your skin, keep it hydrated, and protect it from environmental stressors that lead to redness and irritation. 
  • CBD also has potential as a treatment for acne. Medical researchers theorize that acne may be partially caused by the overproduction of oil sebum. It turns out that CBD has a regulatory effect on this very process, by inhibiting inflammation in the related skin glands. For those with oily skin and acne, introducing CBD to your skincare routine may help reduce your breakouts.
  • CBD’s ability to reduce inflammation in the sebaceous glands may benefit those with dry skin, as well. In addition to the CBD, hemp extract typically contains other cannabinoids which have anti-inflammatory effects of their own, such as CBG, CBGV, CBC, CBDV, and THCV.
  • Finally, CBD has proven effective at relieving psoriasis, an autoimmune skin condition that results in inflamed, red, and scaly skin. CBD’s anti-inflammatory relief may make it likewise effective for those who experience breakouts and irritation related to allergies.

How does CBD work?

When it comes to skin health, the research suggests CBD has a lot of potential, but how does it actually work?

When CBD comes into contact with your body (either through ingestion, inhalation, or topically through the skin), it engages local cannabinoid receptors. These receptors are a part of your body’s endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is responsible for keeping your various bodily functions in a healthy state of balance, or homeostasis. Those functions include everything, from your mood and appetite to inflammation and your immune response.

To perform this important job, your endocannabinoid system uses these cannabinoid receptors to communicate with your brain and other bodily systems. When it senses an imbalance, it dispatches endocannabinoids (neurotransmitters with a similar structure to cannabinoids like CBD) to the appropriate receptors, causing a reaction that rebalances things. When you introduce external cannabinoids like CBD to your body, you boost your internal endocannabinoid numbers and help the whole system work more effectively. 

Thinking about this from a skin care perspective, you might consider skin issues as a form of imbalance. Whether your skin is dry and rashy from eczema or burned from too many UV rays, it needs help rebalancing. That’s why we use specialized skincare products like eczema medications and aloe vera cream. If those products include CBD, it might make them all that much more effective.

Are CBD skincare products legal?

Yes, CBD products are legal nationwide. In 2018, the U.S. government passed the 2018 Farm Bill. This bill legalized industrial hemp at a federal level, along with any CBD oil extracted from it.

The federal legislation also took care to distinguish CBD vs. THC. Unlike THC, CBD does not produce a high in its users. It also exists in higher concentrations in hemp, which is why hemp is the typical source for CBD products—as opposed to marijuana, which contains higher concentrations of THC.

As long as your CBD skincare product contains CBD oil extracted from hemp, it should be legal. Typically, you can confirm this by looking for the words “hemp extract,” “full-spectrum hemp,” or “phytocannabinoid rich hemp oil” on the label.

How to find the best CBD skincare products

If you’re thinking about incorporating CBD into your own skincare routine, there are a few more things you should note. Given that CBD is a newer industry, it’s currently unregulated by the FDA. That puts the burden on consumers to ensure the products they’re buying are genuine and safe.

CBD skincare is priced at a premium, precisely because it contains CBD. Since you’re paying more, you want it to actually be worth more, too. To find the best CBD skincare, ask yourself these questions when considering different products.

Does the product contain hemp seed oil, or hemp oil?

Rich in protein and fatty acids, hemp seed oil offers unique anti-aging benefits of its own, but it’s missing one key ingredient: CBD. Both hemp seed oil and hemp oil come from the same plant—hemp—but they’re extracted from different parts of it. 

Hemp seed oil, unsurprisingly, comes from the seeds, while hemp oil comes from the buds and flowers. These buds and flowers are where the CBD is most highly concentrated, so if you want to enjoy the therapeutic benefits of CBD, you need to ensure your skincare product lists hemp oil (or hemp extract) on the label. 

How much CBD does the product have?

Once you’ve confirmed that the skincare product includes hemp extract, you want to check the amount of CBD. This should be expressed in milligrams somewhere on the label. Typically, a quality CBD skincare product will contain between 25mg to 250mg of CBD per ounce. Anything less than that, and it may not be potent enough to be effective.

What are the other ingredients?

Your skin is sensitive—all the more so if you have acne, eczema, or sunburn. Any skincare product you use should treat it as such. When considering a CBD skincare product, carefully review the list of ingredients to ensure it’s high on organic and natural ingredients, and low on chemical and synthetic ones. 

If you have a serious skin condition like psoriasis or acne, consult your doctor before using a CBD skincare product to ensure it won’t interfere with your other medications or cause side effects

Additional Resources