CBD products are the current super-craze in skin care. Being marketed as a solution for everything from pain to acne to aging, CBD products are coming on the market at record-high rates. While certain claims have been substantiated, many of them don’t have the supporting research. So is it worth the hype? Here’s what we know so far about CBD oil.
What is CBD?
CBD is short for cannabidiol, which is the non-psychoactive compound in marijuana and hemp. Most often, it comes in the form of an oil created by blending pure CBD with an oil (usually coconut or olive).
Though commonly confused with medical marijuana, CBD won’t get you high. It doesn’t contain the psychoactive THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) found in marijuana, and the two are derived in different ways. While studies have shown that CBD may be helpful for lessening anxiety and seizures, the research is very limited.
Currently, the FDA has only approved one single CBD product, used to treat epilepsy, but other than that, the production and distribution of CBD has gone nearly unregulated.
Does it help my skin?
That’s a tough question. Again, because research is so limited, it’s hard to say how much good or harm it’s actually doing to your skin. Because the FDA does not regulate CBD, it cannot currently claim to be the active ingredient in any FDA approved formula, meaning that something else is doing the heavy lifting.
Take an acne serum, for example. Certain acne treatments tout that they’re loaded with CBD oil, but on closer inspection, you’ll find that the active ingredient is still a proven acne solution, like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. Meaning CBD has been added to the formula, but there’s a fair chance the product would work just as well without it.
The same thing goes for anti-aging claims associated with CBD. The working theory is that CBD contains some amount of antioxidants, which help fight damaging free-radicals. While this may have some weight to it, clinical studies haven’t produced conclusive results, so you’re probably better off with an antioxidant treatment that has been proven to work.
And this is not to say that CBD explicitly does not work. It has shown to have anti-inflammatory qualities, which may help soothe skin, but the claims remain unsubstantiated until further research is done.
It CBD safe? Legal?
CBD itself has not been proven to be damaging to the skin, but we should take that with a grain of salt as well. Because of the lack of regulation, companies can make virtually any claim they’d like on their CBD products, and that’s where problems arise.
Without proper regulation, CBD can vary in quality, strength and purity. It’s not particularly cheap to extract, which explains why certain studies have found that inexpensive CBD products either contain trace amounts of the ingredient, or a very poor quality strain. At the other end of the spectrum, certain products contain far more CBD than even the limited research has found to be healthy.
The legal status of CBD also remains rather ambiguous at the moment. It’s legality varies from state-to-state, and even city-to-city, resulting in varying interpretations of how legal the product is.
The final ruling on whether or not you should be using CBD skin care products is ultimately up to you, as long as you understand that without more research and regulation, safety cannot be guaranteed. Our advice is to give the field more time to properly develop.
Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, June 2017, pages 139-154
Epilepsy Behaviour, May 2017, pages 341-348
Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapies, June 2018, pages 652-663
Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, July 1998, pages 8268-8273