The recreational use of marijuana is very much a criminal activity – so how come there’s suddenly been an explosion of oils, serums, masks and moisturisers with cannabis on the ingredients list?
“Cannabis, which until not too long ago was taboo, has now started to emerge as a significant element in the medical and wellness sectors,” says Hugh Winters, CEO of Australian skincare company MGC Derma.
Recent changes in global legislation have allowed firms to do more research and experimentation into the beauty benefits of the cannabis plant, which is why cannabidiol (CBD) products are flooding the market.
Laure Bouguen, founder of French brand Ho Karan, says: “It can replace a lot of synthetic and less powerful molecules and reshape the beauty industry into a wellness industry with a beauty-in and beauty-out approach.”
So what are the benefits of CBD skincare and how should you be using it?
“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a totally non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant,” explains Winters.
It comes in a variety of forms and is usually derived from the hemp plant (hemp and marijuana are the two primary species of cannabis), extracted from the seeds and stems, and is legal globally because it contains only minute amounts of THC, the chemical that gets you ‘high’.
“At the other end of the spectrum is CBD extracted from medical grade cannabis,” Winters says.
“The oils are extracted from the flower of the plant as opposed to seeds and stems, contain 20 per cent or more of CBD of a higher grade, and usually higher than trace amounts of THC, thus only legal in certain countries.”
“Be informed of what you are buying,” advises Gamu Mawora, technologist in ethical beauty and aromatherapy at Holland & Barrett, which has recently launched a CBD skincare range.
“As with any upcoming trend, it is easy to be confused by the presentation of products, especially between hemp and CBD which are not quite the same thing. Always look out for CBD oil or Cannabidiol on the ingredients list.”
“The virtues of hemp for skin are amazing,” says Bouguen. “By action on the endocannabinoid system of the skin, many studies shows that CBD can be useful for acne, psoriasis, dermatitis or dry skin.”
Mawora says: “There have been some recent findings that suggest that CBD has the potential to decrease excessive sebum production as well as slowing down other triggers of acne.”
It’s also known to have anti-inflammatory effects, so can help soothe rosacea or redness.
Even if you don’t have a specific skin concern, CBD is thought to benefit your complexion.
“The molecular structure includes a high concentration of vitamins A, B, D and E and is rich in antioxidants,” Winters says.
“Further, there are indications that CBD will work in concert with other ingredients like hyaluronic acid to enhance their effectiveness, making the skin appear firmer and younger with reduced wrinkles and a natural fresh glow.”