By now, you’ve probably come across a beauty product emblazoned with a cannabis leaf, or some other indication that the product contains CBD, or at least hemp seed oil. The question, of course, is, is there a good reason for it to be there? What does it do? And, how do you know if you should use it? We consulted top dermatologists to learn more about the increasingly ubiquitous ingredient and why it’s become a skin savior. Read on to discover more about what a CBD skincare routine can do for your skin — and the must-know products.
What Is CBD?
First things first, a quick primer. CBD, short for cannabidiol, is a non-psychoactive compound found in cannabis. (Non-psychoactive just means it won’t get you high, even though it comes from cannabis).
What Does CBD Do For Your Skin?
Though CBD is a long ways away from having, say, the universal bonafides of retinol, dermatologists are excited to see studies about CBD, as the compound has promising skincare benefits. At the moment, CBD is “still being studied and most of the data is pre-clinical,” says board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Dan Belkin, MD. “This means that we may know an effect on a molecular or cellular level, but often need to extrapolate what effect that might have clinically in an actual person,” Belkin explains.
Still, there are early indicators that CBD could help with various skin concerns from rosacea, redness, and itchiness, to acne. “CBD oil and CBD containing moisturizers are a great option for conditions including eczema and psoriasis. There is also early data suggesting that CBD may help reduce oil production, making it a useful option in patients who have acne,” says Dr. Josh Zeichner, MD.
How does it work? The skin (the body’s largest organ) has its own endocannabinoid system (ECS for short). In the skin, the ECS is involved in everything from temperature control to the modulation of dry and unbalanced skin. "Topical application of cannabinoids can provide quick, localized impacts as the cannabinoids bind to receptors near the skin, activating the skin’s ECS," says Jessica Assaf, Co-Founder and Chief Education Officer at Prima. "The root cause of most skin issues is an imbalance of some kind, and cannabinoids help the skin return to balance," she explains.
CBD is a sensitive skin-friendly ingredient (though it’s always worth patch testing something new if you know you have reactive skin), and can be used across all skin types, and is safe to use with the rest of your skincare routine.
How Should You Pick A CBD Skin Care Product?
Look for brands being totally transparent that make it easy to understand not only exactly how much CBD products contain, but also share details about where they source it from. “Products that claim to have CBD but only have hemp seed oil or cannabis sativa oil in the ingredients may not actually have the active itself,” Belkin says. You'll want to look for cannabidiol somewhere on the ingredient list. With the popularity of CBD exploding, the number of skincare products offered has grown, too. Unfortunately, Zeichner notes, that means there’s a lot of low-quality products out there. That’s another reason to look for products that list the concentration of CBD in the product. “Most of the better products are transparent in listing the concentrations on the bottle,” he says. (And naturally, all of the products we’ve selected below, do too).
In addition to the amount of CBD, look for brands that make their COAs (Certificate of Analysis) readily available to the public. "Even more paramount is the Certificate of Analysis, which validates the cannabinoid content in the product," (and that it actually has CBD in it at all) Assaf notes.
These 12 below, organized in the order of a well-rounded skincare routine, are the real deal.
We only include products that have been independently selected by The Zoe Report’s editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.
CBD Skincare Products: Cleansers
CBD Skincare Products: Serums
CBD Skincare Products: Moisturizers
If you have dry skin and need a great new moisturizer, look no further than this rich cream from our favorite supplies of zen-inducing CBD gumdrops. In addition to 250 MG CBD, it packs a trio of hydrating heroes. Ceramides help maintain the skin barrier (aka the acid mantle), while hyaluronic acid and sugarcane-derived squalane lock in moisture.
This rich overnight mask is filled with of-the-moment skincare ingredients—there's the 150 MG CBD of course, and bakuchiol too (popular for working like a 'natural retinol'). Squalane, glycerin, and hyaluronic acid make sure skin is deeply hydrated, and carrot seed oil and prickly pear seed oil nourish.
CBD Skincare Products: Oils
CBD Skincare Products: Masks
Dr. Joshua Zeichner MD, dermatologist at The Mount Sinai Hospital
Dr. Dan Belkin MD, dermatologist at Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York
Readers should note that laws governing cannabis, hemp and CBD are evolving, as is information about the efficacy and safety of those substances. As such, the information contained in this post should not be construed as legal or medical advice. Always consult your physician prior to trying any substance or supplement.