Ingredient Highlight – Cannabidiol (CBD)

CBD emerged as one of the buzziest skincare ingredients over the last few years. It is in just about anything – from bath bombs and body lotions to serums and moisturisers. But what are the benefits of CBD in skincare products? Does it actually do anything? Will it get you high? Let’s investigate.

What is CBD?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol. It is a cannabinoid present in various varieties of the Cannabis plant like Hemp, Sativa, and Indica. It is not the same as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is derived from the Indica and Sativa varieties. Like CBD, THC also binds itself to the cannabinoid receptors in the body. Unlike CBD, THC can produce a high, boost your appetite, or help with pain management.

More often than not, Hemp is the source of CBD present in skincare products (rather than other varieties, due to legal restrictions). CBD derived from Hemp has lower levels of THC than the one derived from the other Cannabis plants.

CBD is extracted from the leaves and flowers of the hemp plant and is typically in powder form. Then it is mixed with oils (hence the name CBD oil).

Also, it is important to know CBD oil and Hemp seed oil aren’t the same. CBD oil is rich in Cannabidiol, while Hemp seed oil isn’t. That said, Hemp seed oil is still beneficial for the skin.

What are the benefits of CBD for the skin?

Photo by herbalhemp

Our bodies possess something called the endocannabinoid system (also known as ECS). It is a network of receptors that keeps the body in balance. Our bodies produce endocannabinoids on its own. CBD is a phytocannabinoid that has an effect on CB1 (located in the brain and the nervous system) and CB2 (located in the peripheral organs) receptors. Likewise, it affects GPR55 and TRPV-1 receptors. The latter two are in the skin and are a part of the inflammation and pain signalling process. However, scientists still have to further investigate the effect of CBD on the inflammation process in the skin.

One study examined the effects of CBD, THC, and other cannabinoids on psoriasis. The results showed that when applied to human skin cells, cannabinoids can inhibit the overproduction of keratinocytes (skin cells). This is a prevalent problem for anyone suffering from psoriasis.

A study done on rats showed that transdermal application of cannabidiol reduced pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.

Yet another study on human sebocytes has shown cannabidiol can help regulate oil production and produce an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. This makes it a potential treatment for acne vulgaris.

That said, the research is far from extensive and conclusive.

What to look for in a product with CBD?

In the ingredients list, look for cannabidiol. And remember, Hemp seed oil is not the same as CBD oil.

Some brands disclose the cannabidiol content in milligrams. Likewise, some products have labels like “isolate”, “whole-plant,” or “full-spectrum.”

An isolate means the product contains CBD as an active ingredient and no other compounds. “Whole-plant” or “full-spectrum” means the product contains CBD and other cannabinoid compounds. Some brands will only use “whole-plant” extract because of “the entourage effect.” The theory is that when all compounds are used collectively, they work in concert, and the effect on the skin is compounded and amplified.

Should you try CBD products?

If you found a product with CBD that you love, by all means, don’t stop using it. If you never tried a CBD product before, as with any new product, do your research first and make sure to patch test.

Roberta Striga