Nowadays you can’t walk into a store that sells beauty products without seeing something formulated with CBD. From mascaras to moisturizers, it’s in just about everything! Nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana which is what started its boom in beauty. Proponents of CBD skincare say that it will smooth wrinkles, prevent pimples, and alleviate dry skin. But what does the science say? Let’s take a look!
The Science of CBD and Beauty
Studies exist, but are quite limited: There was one study in 2014 that said CBD can help reduce oil production, indicating that it might help with acne and oily skin. Another study, from 2017, addressed the fact that it may be anti-inflammatory and help to relieve itching in the skin, but it didn’t go into anti-aging effects. One factor going against CBD skincare is that a 2016 study found that smoking cannabinoids regularly resulted in prematurely advanced signs of aging. The most frequent dermatologic complaints were periorbital darkening (i.e., dark circles around the eyes), hollowed-out cheeks, hair loss and gray hair, and breakouts. Now, granted, there are many things that affect your skin differently once orally-consumed versus when topically applied — tomatoes, for instance, are great for your skin when ingested, but may be detrimental to the skin when topically applied — but I am not sure CBD is beneficial for your skin when topically applied.
To add more confusion, it seems most companies use CBD as a buzzy marketing tactic. If you take a look at the ingredients list on your favorite CBD products, most only list cannabis sativa oil (hemp seed oil) as an active ingredient, which contains no CBD. Recently, the Manufacturing and Controls Director of Fluent (a Flordia-based marijuana dispensary) spoke with Into the Gloss to explain. “If you do the correct collection method from pure hemp seeds, it actually has no CBD. Or, if it does it’s below the detectable level — it’s very, very low. [Brands] just like to use the name ‘cannabis’ so people buy it.” And while there’s nothing wrong with hemp seed oil, it’s not exactly the CBD oil people think they’re getting.
When people ask me about anti-aging ingredients, I always recommend mainstays with a lot of scientific research backing, like retinoids, vitamin C, vitamin E, glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid, kojic acid, amino acids, niacinamide, and sunscreen. Insofar as new ingredients go, I would suggest trying items like growth factors or even plant stem cells before CBD oil for the skin, because I just don’t personally see the benefit there, at least not until more research is done.