The popularity of skincare has skyrocketed in the last decade, and it's proving to be more than a passing trend.
With an abundance of information readily available to people who are eager to achieve radiant skin, it seems as though it's more attainable now than ever before to have that glow once reserved for the rich and famous.
One of the most sought-after ingredients in the market today for skin is cannabidiol or CBD.
Extracted from hemp plants, CBD is widely known for its numerous health benefits, including reducing stress and inflammation and managing pain when taken internally — but what can it do for skin texture?
If you're thinking about adding CBD to your skincare routine but are unsure about where to start, we've got you covered with this comprehensive guide to everything you need to know about CBD skincare and how to build an individualized skin care routine based on your goals.
CBD skincare features a high concentration of CBD (cannabidiol hemp extract) as an active ingredient to support a wide range of skincare goals.
Topical CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in the skin to exert its effects to support the skin organ's functions.
CBD skin care products are available in many different formulations, so it's important that you find the formulations that are best suited to your skin concerns to see the benefits of your CBD product.
The Rise Of CBD Skin Care
When CBD is applied to the skin, it can directly bind to endocannabinoid system receptors to support skin homeostasis.
Cannabinoid receptors in the skin help regulate the skin organ's functions for thermoregulation, water retention, protection, and immune function .
There are many applications for CBD topical products.
Tips For Building Your CBD Skincare Routine
CBD oil for the skin is popularly used to address localized muscle and joint discomfort in muscle rubs and massage body oil — but we're now seeing CBD skin care on the rise with formulations that help to address aging skin, dryness, and skin barrier repair.
1. Know Your Skin Type
Recognizing our skin type is the first step in creating a routine that works for you. There are five main skin types:
Oily: shiny complexion, especially in the T-zone (forehead, nose, and chin), larger pores that tend to clog, leading to blackheads and is much more prone to breakouts.
Dry: rough, flakey texture that is prone to itching and may appear dull and lacklustre. This skin type is much more prone to fine lines and wrinkles due to the lack of moisture in the skin and may have irritation and redness.
Combination: have an oily T-zone with enlarged pores, but tend to have dry patches of skin with an uneven overall appearance.
Sensitive: sensitive skin types look dry and red and are highly reactive to skincare products, which can lead to burning and itching sensations or breakouts. It can be difficult to pinpoint triggers for this skin type, so it's recommended that you see a healthcare professional to address your skin concerns with sensitive skin.
Normal: normal skin types look hydrated, have a smooth texture, and generally have smaller pores and few imperfections.
It's also possible for your skin type to shift over time as you age, diet changes, hormones fluctuate, or experience changes in your environment and stress levels.
2. Keep It Simple
If you're seeing all the social media skincare trends, you might be under the impression that you need a 15-step skincare routine to get radiant skin — but if you're just getting started, simple is best.
Using too many new products can irritate your skin further and damage the skin barrier, making your skin more sensitive and prone to breakouts.
Choose a gentle cleanser on the skin that's tough enough on dirt and makeup without stripping your natural oils. Apply moisturizer in the mornings and evenings, whether you have oily or dry skin, to help regulate oil production. Always apply SPF before going outdoors to protect your skin from UV damage.
All of that adds up to three products, which is really all you need.
If you're going to use a serum to target specific concerns (acne, dark spots, fine lines), don't over do it. Choose one product and stick with it for a few weeks before adding or changing anything to your routine.
3. Hydrate Your Skin
Hydrate your skin from within by drinking plenty of water throughout the day, and moisturize twice daily as part of your morning and evening skincare routine.
In our opinion, the best CBD skincare products are creams and lotions.
Lighter cream formulations are better suited for daytime use because they absorb quickly into the skin and provide a lighter layer of hydration that doesn't feel heavy or greasy. This allows your skin to breathe and provides a good base for makeup application.
At night, however, our skin is in repair mode, and it's a good idea to use a more nourishing, richer formula to help hydrate and repair the skin while we sleep.
4. Protect Your Skin From The Sun
The sun's UV rays are incredibly damaging to the skin as some lightwaves can go deep into the layers of skin and cause damage to the DNA in the cells, causing dark spots, premature ageing, and increasing the risk of melanoma (the deadliest form of skin cancer).
Because the skin on our faces is much thinner and more sensitive than the rest of the body, you must adequately protect yourself by limiting direct sun exposure, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, or wearing a cap if you can't avoid the sun.
5. Make Your Skincare Routine Fun
If you struggle to maintain a regular skincare routine, it may help if you find ways to make your skincare routine exciting or relaxing so that you look forward to it.
This can include creating a calming and peaceful environment by playing music, lighting candles, and dimming the lights.
Establishing a routine that feels like a special ritual can encourage you to take your time so you're not rushing through the steps. This little ritual could give you more time for yourself as a beautiful and relaxing way to practice self-care and mindfulness.
6. Choose A High Potency CBD Skincare Product
A big no-no we see far too often in the world of CBD skincare is products with a very low CBD potency.
A high-potency CBD product is key because the concentration directly affects its effectiveness, specially when applied to the skin.
CBD skincare with low concentrations may not be able to reach the endocannabinoid receptors on the skin to deliver any noticeable results — which means you could be overpaying for your CBD skincare products.
Always look to third-party lab tests to verify the CBD concentration and that its free from harmful contaminants that may cause further irritation to the skin.
What Are The Benefits Of CBD Skin Care?
The skin is a complex organ comprised of many different components that perform a wide range of functions, making it challenging to find the underlying cause of many skin concerns.
This is where CBD can come in to help.
CBD doesn't have targeted effects that address one specific concern. Instead, it strengthens a system vital in supporting the skin organ's optimal function, the endocannabinoid system.
In the skin, the ECS has been shown to regulate several processes, including :
Inflammation: The ECS is involved in the skin's immune response and inflammation, which can help to reduce redness and swelling associated with common skin conditions.
Cell growth: The ECS also helps regulate cell growth and differentiation, which is important for maintaining healthy skin and preventing skin disorders.
Oil production: The ECS may play a role in sebum production in the skin, which can impact skin oiliness and contribute to developing skin conditions such as acne.
Sensory perception: The ECS is involved in the regulation of skin sensitivity, helping to control sensations such as pain and itch.
The effects of topical CBD products will depend on the overall formulation, but here are a few reasons why someone may reach for a CBD-infused product for their skincare routine:
Calm irritated or inflamed skin
Soothe and reduce breakouts due to excess sebum production
Combat free radical damage for a more youthful appearance
Add hydration back into the skin and strengthen the skin's natural moisture barrier
Provide comfort to sensitive skin
The Importance of High Potency CBD for Skin
A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found widespread mislabeling of CBD products being sold online. So beware, not all CBD skin care is created equally. While it's true that CBD can indeed have incredible skin benefits, if you don't have a high dosage of CBD in the product, then it's probably not as effective as you’d think.
For example, in popular CBD skincare a commonly used formulation is a 100MG CBD dose. Assuming these 1oz. doses will last for 35 uses, your average dollop will contain just under 3MG of CBD per serving.
The Different Forms Of CBD Skincare Products
Because of the many potential benefits of CBD on the endocannabinoid system, it's become a practical ingredient in skincare. When shopping for CBD beauty products, you'll come across many different formulations, ranging from serums, oils, masks, balms, and lotions.
Each form offers unique benefits and can be used in different skincare routines to target specific concerns.
Unlike lotions, CBD salve and creams, balms are thicker and more concentrated topicals made with oils and waxes to create a protective barrier on the skin. Rather than adding moisture, balms help to prevent further water loss and protect sensitive areas from the environment.
CBD Creams & Lotions
Skincare creams and lotions are designed to hydrate and nourish the skin — and they're a staple in all skin care routines whether you have dry or oily skin. Creams and lotions typically combine moisturizing agents such as glycerin and hyaluronic acid that help to hydrate and retain moisture within the skin barrier.
The difference between the two is that creams are much thicker than lotions with a higher oil content than water, making them more appropriate for certain skin concerns.
Creams and lotions are an excellent format for CBD skincare. This is because it allows for efficient absorption into the skin (as long it has a high enough potency), where it can interact with the endocannabinoid system to provide its various benefits.
Serums are lightweight, fast-absorbing products with a high concentration of active ingredients that are designed to be applied after cleansing and toning but before your moisturizer.
The lightweight texture is intended to help the active ingredients penetrate deeper into the layers of the skin to target specific skin concerns such as fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and dullness.
When choosing a serum, look for a high concentration of CBD (upwards of 1000 mg/ oz).
Sun protection is a must in building any skincare routine. A good sunscreen will protect your skin from harmful UV rays that can cause premature ageing and cellular damage, increasing skin cancer risk.
When choosing a sunscreen, look for broad-spectrum protection from UVA/UVB with at least 30 SPF or higher protection. Some brands offer CBD-infused sunblock that is said to provide antioxidant benefits and protect against environmental pollutants.
Cleansers or facewashes remove impurities from the skin like oil and dirt without stripping the skin from its natural oils and prepare the application of other skincare products.
CBD cleansers come in various formulations, from oil cleansers, gel cleansers, and foaming cleansers. However, we're skeptical about the true effectiveness and practicality of CBD cleansers.
Depending on your skincare goals, look for these additional ingredients:
Antioxidants: such as CBD, green tea extract, resveratol, and vitamin E help to protect the skin from environmental damage and combat the effects of oxidative stress.
Vitamin C: vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that's used to fight oxidative stress, but it's also a promising ingredient for brightening the complexion and reducing the appearance of scarring.
Hyaluronic acid: is a humectant which helps to attract moisture from the air and retain it in the skin. It's beneficial for dry and mature skintypes to add moisture deep within the skin for a more youthful appearance.
Niacinamide: is a form of vitamin B3 that's been observed to improve the appearance of hyperpigmentation, reduce inflammation, and strengthen the skin barrier.
Peptides: are small chains of amino acids that may help to stimulate collagen production within the skin that addresses fine lines and wrinkles.
Retinoids: are derived from vitamin A and are a skin superhero in their ability to encourage skin cell turnover (how fast new and healthy skin cells appear on the skin surface). This is a popular ingredient because it has acne-fighting benefits and has been touted for its anti-aging properties.
1. Do CBD products on the skin actually do anything?
CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system to exert a broad range of effects, and there are endocannabinoid receptors in the skin tissue.
Some studies point to the effectiveness of CBD for skin health but it depends on the formulation, concentration of CBD, and the individual.
2. Can you use CBD oil on the skin?
Technically you can use CBD oil or tincture on your skin, but it's not ideal.
CBD oil/tincture is designed for internal supplementation. It typically consists of a CBD extract and a carrier oil, such as olive oil, hemp seed oil, or MCT oil.
The large fat molecules in many carrier oils, such as MCT coconut oil, don't effectively penetrate the skin on the face, making them unsuitable for a skincare routine.
Better topical CBD skincare products exist to help address skincare concerns, so why not use that instead?
3. Is there a difference between hemp seed oil and a CBD skincare product?
Yes, there is a difference between hemp seed oil (cannabis sativa seed oil) and a CBD skincare product (made with hemp extract oil).
Hemp oil is derived from the hemp plant's seeds and is commonly used as a moisturizer or carrier oil in skincare products. It's rich in essential fatty acids and antioxidants that can help to nourish and protect the skin. However, hemp seed oil on its own doesn't contain CBD, the active ingredient that is believed to have various skin benefits.
CBD skincare products are specifically formulated to contain CBD, which is extracted from the leaves, flowers, and stalks of the hemp plant. CBD is a compound that's been studied for its potential anti-inflammatory and anti-aging effects and may also help to soothe and hydrate the skin.
So, while hemp seed oil can benefit the skin in its own right, a CBD skincare product is specifically designed to deliver the benefits of CBD to the skin.
4. How to incorporate CBD into a skincare routine
First, look at the primary active ingredients in your skincare product and ensure it speaks to your skincare goals and that it's free from ingredients you may be allergic to. Before settling on any CBD product, look to third-party lab tests to verify its safety.
Next, patch-test the product on your skin before applying it to your whole face. This is to test if you're sensitive to any of the ingredients. If you feel good about your product, you can add it to your routine.
While topical skincare ingredients are popular, you can supplement CBD into your diet with CBD oils, capsules, or gummies. When taken internally, it can interact with endocannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system that helps to regulate processes involved with stress and sleep, which may benefit your health and skin overall.
5. Does CBD cream work for pain?
Some CBD cream formulations (typically with very potent concentrations) show promise for addressing pain—but it's also worth mentioning that the effectiveness of a CBD cream for pain relief can vary on the individual, the severity of pain, and the quality of the CBD cream formulation.
Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020). Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for skin health and disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 927-942.
Del Río, C., Millán, E., García, V., Appendino, G., DeMesa, J., & Muñoz, E. (2018). The endocannabinoid system of the skin. A potential approach for the treatment of skin disorders. Biochemical pharmacology, 157, 122-133.