Is CBD the new miracle ingredient in skincare and wellness?
BY ELLEN BURNEY
From skincare to bath salts, candles and mood-boosting capsules—Vogue looks at the latest in CBD beauty, the potential benefits and the science behind it
“Interest in CBD as a search term is now four times higher than it is for THC, according to Google Trends,” notes Victoria Buchanan, senior futures analyst at strategic research company The Future Laboratory. And these stats are what’s driving the trend for CBD in beauty. “As cannabidiol and hemp oil grow in popularity as skincare ingredients and in wellness treatments, brands are adopting a more sophisticated and nuanced aesthetic that is more closely aligned with the luxury market,” says Buchanan. So, what is CBD exactly? What health benefits does it promise? And is there any science behind using it? Vogue finds out.
What is CBD?
Also known as cannabidiol, CBD is one of over 100 naturally-occurring chemical compounds found in the cannabis sativa plant. The key takeaway with CBD is that is it non-psychoactive, unlike the most commonly researched compound in the plant, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), which is responsible for the “high” or stoned effect associated with the use of cannabis.
What are the effects of CBD?
Physiologically, CBD is an adaptogen, regulator and modulator. In other words, it adapts to the situations it is faced with. It has anti-inflammatory properties, is said to promote balance, decrease blood pressure and is considered a multi-target therapeutic compound. Rather than an active analgesic medication that targets specific pain, CBD is more of an all-rounder—nicknamed the “boy scout” within medical circles.
Can CBD improve your mood?
In theory, yes. CBD works by binding to receptors in the brain and nervous system that control emotions, memories and coordination (CB1 receptors); plus receptors in the digestive and immune systems (CB2 receptors). This complex network of cannabidoid receptors is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS), found in both humans and animals. Scientists’ current understanding of CBD is that it supports the function of these systems in the body—ergo, a mood-boost if that’s what you’re in need of.
What do the experts say about CBD?
While CBD is certainly creating a buzz in the beauty industry, in clinical terms, the science is still up for discussion. “The claims about CBD’s therapeutic effects are widespread and used almost indiscriminately: from being marketed as being a neuroprotective antioxidant and having prophylactic properties, to helping with anxiety and alleviating symptoms of ADHD, epilepsy and chronic pain,” says Dr Michalis Kyratsous, consultant psychiatrist at South London and Maudsley NHS Foundation Trust. “Most of these uses are not supported by robust clinical data. There is a lot of scientific, pre-clinical evidence on the benefits of CBD, but this doesn’t justify the marketing claims, if they were to scrutinised at all.”
So the benefits of CBD are still very much via word of mouth. The FDA has even gone a far as issuing warning letters to companies for making unapproved “over the line” health claims about the CBD, with the exception of epilepsy. In June 2018, the US FDA approved Epidiolex when clinical trials found that it reduced seizures in children with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy.
“There is also evidence that CBD may be a useful treatment for a number of other medical conditions,” the World Health Organization reported last year. “However, this research is considerably less advanced than for treatment of epilepsy. For most indications, there is only pre-clinical evidence, while for some there is a combination of pre-clinical and limited clinical evidence.” The WHO confirmed the range of conditions for which CBD has been assessed is “diverse, consistent with its neuroprotective, antiepileptic, hypoxia-ischemia, anxiolytic, antipsychotic, analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-asthmatic and antitumor properties.” Many CBD brands are waiting for requisite research to back up their beliefs. “There is definitely not enough research for it to be medically proven or to confidently say that these products cure,” says Irin Maini, co-founder of Somnio CBD, a brand which traces all of its products from seed to shelf. “However you just have to look at the testimonials from the customers themselves. You can see millions of testimonials online, in health and wellness stores and locally with friends and family, as to how [CBD] has helped with a number of common ailments.”
What are the benefits of CBD skincare and how does it work?
“Our skin, as one of our largest organs, constantly produces and releases endocannabinoids, depending on its health and needs in that moment,” says Berlin-based Floriane von der Forst, co-founder of The Chillery—a website that she launched in March 2019 with LA native Marisa Schwab, specialising in premium CBD wellness products. “Endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2, see above), are present in basically all skin cells. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties and has been classified as a powerful antioxidant that helps diminish any toxins that we accumulate on the skin’s surface, especially due to external factors such as urban air or UV rays,” explains von der Forst. So, topical skincare—creams, masks, oils and lotions—interacts directly with those ECS receptors, helping to balance issues like eczema and acne, or soothe inflamed skin. “In combination with other effective plant-based ingredients, the results can be fortified even more,” adds von der Forst. David Tyrrell, global beauty and skincare analyst at Mintel, predicts that CBD will become a hero product over the next few years in North America. “Legalisation of hemp in the US will produce a surge of indie brands online [eg. CBD retailer, Standard Dose], yet consumers will demand better ingredient transparency,” he says.
The legality of CBD
Several US States (including California, Nevada and Oregon), Canada and Uruguay: Cannabis is legal for recreational use.
EU law (in addition to each European country’s own laws): CBD products cannot contain more than 0.2 per cent THC
UK: CBD and extracts such as hemp are legal but subject to regulations. Cannabis is illegal.
Netherlands: The use and possession of cannabis and CBD is illegal, but tolerated in designated shops.
Middle East: Cannabis and all derivatives are illegal.
South Africa: CBD is legal, cannabis is legal for private use. Zimbabwe and Lesotho have both legalised cannabis for medicinal use.
Japan: CBD legalised in 2016. Cannabis is illegal.
South Korea: CBD and cannabis legalised for medicinal use in November 2018.
Thailand: CBD and cannabis legalised for medicinal use in December 2018.
India: CBD and Cannabis are illegal on the federal level, but legal or tolerated in some states.
Malin & Goetz Cannabis Candle
One of the first CBD products to make it onto the mainstream radar. This is more of an olfactory nod than a health elixir, but Malin & Goetz were certainly pioneers in this space.
Charlotte’s Web CBD Capsules
Charlotte’s Web was meticulously formulated by the seven Stanley brothers from Colorado in 2012, and named after Charlotte Figi, who suffered from several seizures per day due to Dravet syndrome until she was treated with this CBD oil. The capsules contain premium CBD plus phytocannabinoids and other beneficial plant compounds for supplementary support to help ease stress, anxiety and exercise recovery.
Vertly Hemp CBD Infused Bath Salts
These soothing, healing salts are designed to calm and reduce tension in the body, combat inflammation, support muscle recovery, stimulate circulation and detoxify—via a combination of hemp-derived full-spectrum CBD, botanical extracts (including marjoram, yarrow and rosemary), organic sulfur and magnesium.
Herbivore Deep Moisture Glow Oil
A combination of cannabis sativa seed (hemp) oil, cannabis essential oil and naturally healing adaptogens, this lightweight oil can be worn underneath makeup for a base glow, or at night to deeply nourish, soothe and hydrate the skin.
Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum
A rich luxurious oil that combines CBD with organic botanicals to calm the skin and boost radiance.
South Seas Pineapple Express Joint Balm
This soft balm containing CBD soothes aching joints and helps to relieve pain by reducing inflammation.
Lord Jones High CBD Formula Body Lotion
Each 50ml bottle of this cooling lotion contains 100mg of CBD (each pump dispenses 1ml lotion containing 2mg CBD), and is designed to be easily absorbed by the skin to maximise its calming and moisturising effects.
Radical Skincare Rejuvafirm CBD Facial Oil
A nutrient-rich antioxidant formula enhanced with CBD, this oil helps to reduce inflammation, regenerate skin cells, soothe conditions such as acne, rosacea and eczema and repair sun damaged skin.