There’s a lot of hype around CBD-infused skin products and its benefits. But more research is needed before experts recommend it for use. Find out more about CBD oil, its benefits and uses and effects on your skin! Discover ways to add it to your skincare routine! Our guide to CBD skincare, including the how to use the ingredient, the benefits of CBD on skin, and the best CBD skincare products.
CBD for Skin: What to Know
Cannabidiol (CBD) is a natural compound found in Cannabis sativa plants, which include marijuana and hemp plants. Lately, there’s a lot of hype around skin products infused with CBD. You can find it in cosmetics like creams, lotions, balms, oils, face masks, shampoos, and even bath bombs.
You may have heard that CBD is good for acne, certain skin disorders, and fine lines and wrinkles. But does it really work? Is it safe to use? Ongoing studies on CBD’s uses and benefits are in early stages, so experts say there needs to be more large-scale research to know for sure.
Popular Claims on Benefits
While there isn’t in-depth research available to prove benefits for any skin conditions, scientists are looking for answers, and some early studies have shown some promise.
One small study looked at CBD’s effects on 20 people with the skin conditions psoriasis or eczema, as well as the scars they may leave. Participants used a CBD-enriched skin ointment twice daily for 3 months. They showed some improvements like reduced inflammation. No irritation or allergic reactions were reported, but the study had many limitations.
Experts say there needs to be more research on proper dosage, long-term benefits, and side effects to know if it’s safe and effective, especially if you plan to use it as part of your daily skin routine.
Potential Side Effects and Risks
CBD products in general often make misleading claims, the FDA notes. Since CBD products don’t need a prescription and are easily available, many people may think CBD is mostly harmless. But this isn’t necessarily true. According to the FDA, there are possible risks to look out for when you use CBD.
CBD, especially if taken by mouth, can damage your liver. There’s not yet information on whether CBD products can have the same effect when you apply it on your skin. For instance, it’s not clear yet how much CBD gets absorbed through your skin.
If you use CBD skin products, you may develop a rash. It could be from the CBD or other ingredients in the products you use.
If you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, the FDA warns against CBD use in all forms whether it’s a cream or an oral capsule. The FDA is studying the safety of CBD products, including cosmetics, food, and supplements.
Before you try any CBD products, make sure to read the product labels carefully for active ingredients. Even so, it can be hard to know exactly what’s in the product, including how much CBD it contains. If you have questions, talk to your doctor about it.
Is It Legal?
There are no laws against using CBD in beauty or skin care products. CBD doesn’t contain any THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) that’s found in high levels in marijuana. So you can’t get high on it. But some skin products may add THC along with CBD. Some experts find this concerning.
It’s illegal to market CBD if it’s added to foods or sold as a dietary supplement.
Experts want to see more reliable research before they recommend CBD for your skin. But if you do decide to use CBD-infused skin products and notice a reaction, tell your doctor about it. If you have skin problems, talk to a dermatologist for diagnosis and treatment options.
FDA: “What You Should Know About Using Cannabis, Including CBD, When Pregnant or Breastfeeding,” “What You Need to Know (And What We’re Working to Find Out) About Products Containing Cannabis or Cannabis-derived Compounds, Including CBD.”
AAD: “The Truth About Skin Care Products with CBD.”
La Clinica Terapeutica: “A Therapeutic Effect of CBD-Enriched Ointment in Inflammatory Skin Diseases and Cutaneous Scars.”
Mayo Clinic: “Psoriasis,” “Atopic dermatitis (eczema).”
National Institutes of Health: “Cannabis (Marijuana) and Cannabinoids: What You Need To Know.”
Harvard Health Publishing: “Cannabidiol (CBD) — what we know and what we don’t.”
Friends With Benefits: Skincare & CBD
CBD has been a beauty buzzword for quite some time now. This comes as no surprise since it encompasses much of our current obsessions – natural beauty and stress-relief. When a single ingredient crates this much rumble you know it’s worth exploring further. What is it? Is it safe? Is it worth incorporating into your skincare routine?
Table of Contents
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol – a natural compound found in cannabis plants. These plants contain two primary active ingredients: THC and CBD. THC is the psychoactive ingredient while CBD isn’t. In other words, CBD is safe and won’t make you feel high. What it can do is pump you up with antioxidants and alleviate anxiety and inflammation . It is used as an epilepsy treatment and it’s linked to pain relief. We extract CBD from the parts of the plant that are full of cannabinoids like flowers and leaves.
Hemp oil vs CBD oil
Not all cannabis-infused skincare contains CBD. Some skincare and beauty products contain hemp oil instead. Unlike CBD which comes from the leaves and the flowers, hemp oil comes from the seeds and contains no cannabinoids. To clarify, hemp seed oil comes with its own array of benefits – it’s an amazing moisturizer with rich fatty acids. But if you’re looking to try out CBD for some of its potent properties – make sure you’re buying products that contain CBD oil and not just hemp oil.
CBD skin benefits
This cannabidiol comes with a plethora of astounding benefits. It’s highly anti-inflammatory – it reduces irritation and redness, even combats breakouts. Moreover, this acne fighter soothes psoriasis and slows down aging signs. CBD owes its healing abilities to its potent antioxidant properties . Who doesn’t want protection against free radicals while providing hydration, nourishment and stress-relief?
How to use it with your skincare
Incorporating CBD into your skincare is a great idea. Maybe you’re looking for extra protection against free radicals and oxidative stress. Try to combine a few drops of CBD oil into your sunscreen and pack on the protection. Want to boost your hydration? Mix the oil with your moisturizer! Extra sensitive skin? Try applying CBD oil topically with a cream or a serum when your skin gets irritated. And whenever your skin feels stressed or irritated, opt for a facial treatment worthy of the most relaxing spa experiences in the world – our Cannabis Seed Oil Mask .
Also, you can use CBD to benefit the skin on your entire body. Firstly, draw a nice warm bath. Secondly, stir a couple of drops of CBD oil into your bath. Finally, lay back and relax. Soothing and hydration are guaranteed!
How do you incorporate antioxidants into your routine? What do you use to fight stress and breakouts? Have you ever tried CBD-infused skincare or other beauty products? Share your experiences and thoughts in the comment section! We wish you a stress-free and antioxidant-filled day!
Confused About CBD in Skincare? Here’s Everything You Need to Know
Faith Xue has worked in digital beauty for 10 years and is currently Bustle Digital Group’s executive beauty director. She was Byrdie’s editorial director for seven years.
Rachel is a board-certified dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor at Mount Sinai Hospital Department of Dermatology. She has contributed to Byrdie, as well as Harpers Bazaar, Marie Claire, Allure, Vogue, and the New York Times, and more
Caitlin Riley / Stocksy
In This Article
CBD is the Cady Heron of the skincare world right now—buzzy, intriguing, and full of secrets (though not as much as Gretchen Weiners’ hair). The ingredient has officially crossed over from being a wellness supplement to a beauty buzzword, but it’s not as simple as looking for “CBD” on your ingredients label and calling it a day. There’s a lot of murky marketing out there and more than a few false claims. For example, we’ve seen some major brands hop on the CBD bandwagon and blast it across their marketing channels, when in reality, their products don’t contain any actual CBD at all. We’ve enlisted Dendy Engelman, MD, board-certified dermatologist; Ava Shamban, MD, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Five in LA and co-host of The GIST; Charlotte Palermino, co-founder of cannabis education website Nice Paper, and Ashley Lewis and Meredith Schroeder, co-founders of new online CBD retailer Fleur Marché. Your skin deserves CBD—just make sure you’re buying a product that actually contains it.
Keep scrolling for your no-BS guide to understanding CBD skincare.
Type of ingredient: Antioxidant.
Main benefits: Reduces inflammation, Regulates oil production, Neutralizes free radical damage.
Who should use it: It is recommended for those with inflamed, compromised skin as well as sensitive and dry skin types. It can also benefit those with aging skin.
How often can you use it: CBD skincare can be used daily.
Works well with: Actives that calm and nourish the skin barrier, such as ceramides, hyaluronic acid, peptides, and niacinamides.
Don’t use with: Be cautious with CBD skincare. Since it is an unregulated industry, it is undetermined what actives it deactivates. It is not recommended to use CBD skin products that contain alcohol, as this might combat its beneficial effects and heighten inflammatory skin conditions.
What is CBD?
So, what exactly is CBD? Shamban explains that it is a naturally-occurring chemical compound found in cannabis plants marijuana and hemp. “It’s one of the two primary active ingredients of cannabis, the other one being THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is the active psychotropic,” she says.
According to Lewis and Schroeder, (who fell in love with the ingredient during their previous jobs curating products for Goop), it’s “a potent antioxidant, highly anti-inflammatory, and has been shown in multiple studies to reduce lipid production from the sebaceous glands (overproduction of this sebum is possibly one component of what contributes to acne formation).” One such study found that CBD could prevent acne in multiple ways.
How does CBD work? Engelman says CBD interacts with our cannabinoid receptors. “We have receptors in every layer of our skin which trigger to our body when there is pain, an itch, etc.,” she explains. “Topical CBD is designed to help those with pruritic skin conditions like eczema or painful conditions like post-herpetic neuralgia when our body’s signals are going haywire. For example, it is not necessarily targeting eczema, but the hormones that are causing the eczema flare-up.”
Typically, CBD oil is used in skincare products. You can find CBD serums, creams, masks, and body and face oils. That said, hemp seed oil—which has been a common ingredient in skincare products for a long time—is not the same thing as CBD. There’s nothing wrong with hemp seed oil, but it’s not an active ingredient (though it may help with inflammation, hydration, and controlling oil production ).
When buying a CBD skincare product, look for these words in the ingredients list, which indicate there’s actual CBD in the formula: CBD, hemp CBD, full-spectrum hemp extract, phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil, and hemp extract oil.
Benefits of CBD for Skin
- Treat Inflammatory Acne: CBD might help reduce redness, pain, and swelling associated with inflammatory acne.
- Regulate Oil Production: As previously mentioned, CBD helps regulate hormones involved in oil production, reducing excess sebum.
- Reduce Breakouts: CBD may help reduce inflammation of breakouts and, thanks to its oil production regulation, reduce breakouts in general.
- Calm Rosacea: With its ability to reduce inflammation, CBD may help calm rosacea flare-ups.
- Neutralize Free Radical Damage: CBD may work to prevent the weakening of the skin by neutralizing free radical damage.
- Soothe Eczema: CBD helps combat irritation and inflammation caused by eczema, along with chronic skin conditions such as psoriasis and dermatitis, according to Shamban.
- Decrease Hormonal Conditions: Since CBD is thought to be an adaptogen, it may work to decrease the effects of hormones and other compounds that are released into the body in times of stress (ie. kinase, nitric oxide, and cortisol).
- Hydration: CBD has moisturizing properties that can help combat dehydration and dryness.
The level of benefits for CBD effects on some skin conditions is still up for debate and is a newer science being studied, according to Shamban, and more research is needed to see if CBD or the other agents found in the cannabis plant directly improve skin quality.
Side Effects of CBD
Engelman explains that more studies need to be done to verify the efficiency of CBD oil benefits for skin. As such, topical CBD has no known side effects.
How to Use It
How you use CBD skincare is all about the product you’re using. “Most CBD products are serums or creams,” says Engelman. “Use as you normally would, layering your skincare products from thinnest to thickest. Serums should be applied before creams.” That said, you should never self-diagnose your skin conditions. “Always read packaging and ingredients and check with a board-certified dermatologist, primary care, or other medical practitioner before starting any new supplement or topical care,” adds Shamban.
The Best Products With CBD
This CBD oil can be used on your skin and hair. It promises to help soothe and calm your scalp and skin, providing deep moisture and reducing the appearance of redness and irritation. It contains 100mg of CBD.
Palermino mentions supermodel facialist Ildi Pekar’s CBD line as containing high amounts of CBD. This luxe face oil in particular contains 250mg of CBD oil, along with soothing aloe juice, brightening vitamin c, hyaluronic acid, and more.
Engelman is a fan of these bath salts from Lord Jones. “I love [them] because they combine magnesium and Himalayan salts, essential oils, arnica, and CBD, which will reduce inflammation, promote relaxation, and increase a sense of well-being.”
Palermino also swears by this soothing sleeping mask from Kana. “Even though it’s lower on the CBD dosing scale, it’s one of the nicer lightweight sleeping masks I’ve tried,” she says.
Lewis and Schroeder are also fans of Kana, citing this this all-purpose face oil (which contains 100mg of CBD) as a favorite. “It’s formulated with a ton of other powerful botanicals that help to hydrate skin and manage redness,” they explain. “It’s a great addition to both your morning and nighttime routine.”
You get a whopping 100mg of CBD in this honey-infused stick, which is why Lewis and Schroeder cite is as a favorite. “We love the format of this product,” they say. “It’s easy to apply any time of day, and you can use it for anything. From chapped lips, to under eyes that need a little brightening, this stick is soothing, calming, and easy to pop in your bag and use anywhere.” (It was also one of our editors’ picks for the month of October).
Let’s not forget that the anti-inflammatory benefits of CBD can extend to your body, too: “This serum is formulated with an array of medicinal herbs and over 80 phytocannabinoids,” Lewis and Shroeder say. “It does triple duty by soothing, relaxing and hydrating your skin and muscles. It’s a must for anyone who’s had a long day and needs some relief.”
Fans of Lord Jones’ best-selling Body Lotion ($24) will want to try this oil alternative, which contains 100mg of CBD and comes in rollerball form for easy application (not to mention built-in massage abilities). Plus, the light, floral scent is incredibly soothing.
Saint Jane, the brainchild of a former Sephora exec, is a CBD skincare line that’s not here to mess around. Its hero product, the Luxury Beauty Serum, contains a whopping 500mg of CBD, along with 18 other 100 percent natural skin-loving oils, from frankincense to sandalwood. Massage this in morning and night for a lit-from-within glow, even in the dead of winter. Trust us, your skin will thank you.
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Baswan SM, Klosner AE, Glynn K, et al. Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for skin health and disorders. Clin Cosmet Investig Dermatol. 2020;13:927-942. doi:10.2147/CCID.S286411
Atalay S, Jarocka-Karpowicz I, Skrzydlewska E. Antioxidative and anti-inflammatory properties of cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;9(1):21. doi:10.3390/antiox9010021