Cannabis may still be criminal on a federal level, but these days, you can find it in your pharmacy and favorite makeup store. And, no, it’s not in such places to get you high (unless your pharmacy is also a dispensary); it’s there to help your skin. As the author of books such as Glamour Witch and Weed Witch, I’m constantly surveying the cross-section of beauty and cannabis. As noted, because the feds still haven’t descheduled weed, we need more research on it, so our knowledge of CBD for beauty is limited. With that in mind, there is evidence for some uses, such as fighting inflammation to reduce pain or even breakouts. There are also products out there, such as CBD mascara or perfume, that don’t hold a lot of scientific bases. So what’s worth your money, and what’s crap? Unfortunately, it may take a few more years and descheduling for us to really tap into the beauty benefits of cannabis (CBD is just the beginning; if cannabis was legal nationwide, we could all use full-spectrum THC products). However, we aren’t totally in the dark. Keep reading to learn what CBD can do for your beauty routine and what it can’t.
What is CBD?
“CBD” is likely a staple in most High Times readers’ vocabulary, but as a refresher, CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of over a hundred compounds called cannabinoids. CBD is the second most prevalent active ingredient in cannabis. Even though cannabis is still illegal on a federal level, CBD gets a pass, thanks to the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized hemp. While in many instances, getting your CBD from full-spectrum whole cannabis is preferable to a hemp isolate, as some research shows that the “entourage effect,” or using a full-spectrum product that contains all of the secret plant goodies of cannabis, makes cannabinoids more effective, cannabis companies and consumers must work around the legislation.
Why are companies adding it to beauty products? What’s worth trying?
There is evidence that CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory, among other potential benefits for the skin. “Published research supports the use of CBD to enhance endocannabinoid tone–this means that CBD could promote antioxidant activity and a healthy response to inflammation through its effects on a number of conditions,” says Dr. Swathi Varanasi, co-founder and chief scientific officer of Element Apothec. In addition to all the valid vain reasons to use CBD for beauty, it can also treat skin conditions such as eczema. “Given that the endocannabinoid spans nearly all organ systems – it includes the skin, the body’s largest organ. This means that there is an intrinsic link between its functionality and topical cannabinoid-infused skincare,” Varanasi says.
As a result, it makes sense that CBD is found in topicals, such as Lord Jones CBD Body Lotion, made from full-spectrum CBD. Inflammation is generally agreed to be the root of all evil, causing pain and soreness, breakouts, and even aging. CBD topicals can work wonders to reduce muscle and joint pain. Try Papa & Barkley’s 1:3 THC Relief Balm, which contains THC and is made from whole-plant cannabis. If THC is illegal where you live, they also sell a CBD-only Releaf Balm available nationwide. If you’re interested in CBD skincare for muscle pain and soreness, you should also consider a CBD bath bomb, such as Kush Queen’s Relieve CBD Bath Bombs.
A 2014 study suggests that CBD can help with acne and breakouts by regulating your skin’s oil production of the sebaceous glands. So try a CBD topical, or target pimples directly with the irresistible Truly Hemp Blemish Patches. And, if you’re looking to get ahead of fine lines and want a top-shelf CBD beauty option, look no further than Saint Jane’s Luxury Beauty Serum, made with full-spectrum CBD.
Will CBD beauty products get you high?
CBD alone will not get you high, even if you vape or eat it, so using it topically certainly will not produce a psychoactive effect. In legal states, some companies offer products that contain both CBD and THC. In this case, the beauty product will only get you high if you eat it. There are much more effective ways of getting stoned than eating a moisturizer, but here’s a super secret pro-tip: If you are interested in CBD lube or pleasure oil (Vella and Foria are two brands worth trying), not only can they make sex more comfortable, especially for the receiving partner, by lowering inflammation, pain, and increasing blood flow, but if you put them on your junk and your partner goes down on you, you can turn your genitals into an edible. Mucus membranes must be present for cannabis sex topicals to work. As a result, they’re effective when applied to the vulva or anus but not the penis (but you can still put some on your dick and let your partner perform oral sex if you like, as a treat).
Are CBD beauty products ever a scam?
There’s no denying that there are a lot of crappy CBD products out there. While the Farm Bill legalized hemp, by continuing to outlaw any cannabis plant with more than 0.3 percent THC, the federal bill also opened the door for plenty of scammers to sell sub-par products. “CBD is only useful when they are high quality products,” says owner of Ciento CBD Charles Wagner. “Some companies do not rigorously test their product to ensure it is of the best quality which may lead to an ineffective product. It is important to do your research when buying from a new company.”
Ineffective products can be hard to avoid, too. Try to avoid anything made with alcohol, as that can increase inflammation, counteracting the CBD. Read reviews online, and opt for full-spectrum products whenever possible, with third-party testing. With that in mind, some users enjoy CBD isolate products. “CBD can be beneficial in isolation, but the combination of CBD with other active compounds in the cannabis has proven benefits, as the compounds can act in synergistic ways,” says lead scientist of Real Isolates Dr. Riley Kirk, PhD.
The placebo effect is real, and frankly, we desperately need more research to understand the efficacy and superpowers contained in cannabis and CBD. So, if you found a CBD beauty product that works for you, it’s okay to stick with it. You can read all the reviews you want, but everyone’s skin is different, so all that matters is that it’s safe and effective for you.
It is important to note that there’s a difference between a product containing CBD and simply hemp seed oil. While the latter may have a role in skincare, it is not an active cannabinoid like CBD. But when it comes to CBD beauty, just ask yourself, can my skin absorb this? Even if it’s made from the best CBD out there, it’s harder to make arguments for CBD found in mascara, perfume, or any other beauty product that doesn’t really deal with the skin. “I understand the concept of CBD perfume but I just don’t think the absorption rate is high enough for it to have any sort of effect,” says Wagner.
Looking at such products cynically, one can say that everyone’s just trying to cash in on legal weed by any means necessary. However, cannabis is also fun. Once again, if you found a product that works for you, as long as it’s a reputable brand, it’s okay to enjoy it. Just do your homework, read reviews, check the ingredient list and look for third-party testing, and understand that while CBD can fight skin inflammation, it’s unlikely to lengthen your lashes, enhance perfume, or frankly, even get rid of wrinkles. If you really want to get rid of wrinkles, opt for Botox, and save the cannabis for self-care and consumption in a manner that does get you high.