How cannabidiol can change face of skincare
Katie Wright gets the lowdown on the trendy ingredient and investigates its beauty benefits
While the recreational use of marijuana is now legal in 10 American states, on this side of the pond lighting up a joint is still very much a criminal activity - so how come there's suddenly been an explosion of oils, serums, masks and moisturisers with cannabis on the ingredients list?
"Cannabis, which until not too long ago was taboo, has now started to emerge as a significant element in the medical and wellness sectors," says Hugh Winters, CEO of Australian skincare company MGC Derma.
"Since your skin is your biggest organ, it can benefit your skin the most."
Recent changes in global legislation have allowed firms to do more research and experimentation into the beauty benefits of the cannabis plant.
This is why cannabidiol (CBD) products are flooding the market, with new brands popping up and big names like Kiehls jumping on the CBD bandwagon.
"It's a game-changer," agrees Laure Bouguen, founder of French brand Ho Karan.
"It can replace a lot of synthetic and less powerful molecules and reshape the beauty industry into a wellness industry with a beauty-in and beauty-out approach."
So what are the benefits of CBD skincare and how should you be using it? Here, three experts explain, and we run down the best new products.
What is CBD and how can it be legal?
"Cannabidiol (CBD) is a totally non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant," explains Winters.
It comes in a variety of forms and is usually derived from the hemp plant (hemp and marijuana are the two primary species of cannabis), extracted from the seeds and stems.
It is legal globally because it contains only minute amounts of THC - the chemical that gets you 'high'.
"At the other end of the spectrum is CBD extracted from medical-grade cannabis, which is why our company is named MGC," Winters says.
"The oils are extracted from the flower of the plant, as opposed to seeds and stems.
"It contains 20% or more of CBD of a higher grade, and usually higher than trace amounts of THC, thus it is only legal in certain countries."
"Be informed about what you are buying," says Gamu Mawora, technologist in ethical beauty and aromatherapy at Holland & Barrett, which has a CBD skincare range.
"As with any upcoming trend, it is easy to be confused by the presentation of products, especially between hemp and CBD, which are not quite the same thing.
"Always look out for CBD oil or cannabidiol on the ingredients list."
What are the benefits of CBD skincare?
"The virtues are amazing," says Bouguen. "Many studies show that CBD can be useful for acne, psoriasis, dermatitis or dry skin."
Mawora says: "There have been some recent findings that suggest CBD has the potential to decrease excessive sebum production, as well as slowing down other triggers of acne."
CBD is also known to have anti-inflammatory effects, so it can help soothe rosacea or redness.
Even if you don't have a specific skin concern, CBD is thought to benefit your complexion.
"The molecular structure includes a high concentration of vitamins A, B, D and E and it is rich in antioxidants," Winters says.
"Further, there are indications that CBD will work in concert with other ingredients, such as hyaluronic acid, to enhance their effectiveness, making the skin appear firmer and younger with reduced wrinkles and a natural fresh glow."
Milk Makeup cannabis face mask, £21, available soon at Cult Beauty
MGC Derma CBD stem cells and hyaluronic facial serum, £80, Lookfantastic
Revolution Skincare skin nourishing CBD oil, £9.99, Superdrug
Holland & Barrett CBD serum, £9.99 (was £19.99)
Kiehl's cannabis sativa seed oil herbal concentrate, £38, Selfridges
Dr Botanicals hemp super concentrated rescue essence serum, £17
Ho Karan Holy Flow 2.5% CBD oil, £27.90, BeautyMart
Disciple miracle drops 1% CBD, £22, Cult Beauty
Kiki Health CBD oil 5%, £40, Cult Beauty