2021 Guide to CBD and Beauty: What does the latest research have to say?

Introduction

CBD is one of the leading trends globally as a substance in general, and now it’s taking over the beauty industry. Cannabidiol, or CBD, has been increasingly growing in fame worldwide due to the wide variety of positive effects it can have on the human body.

As scientists learn more about CBD, companies can innovate and expand on the plethora of existing products built around this great cannabinoid. First, it started with dry-herb or hemp flower that the consumer could smoke or vaporize. Today we have an innumerable amount of different products based around it.

The beauty industry started infusing existing products like creams, salves, and cosmetics with CBD extracts, but soon it began to evolve like the cannabis industry itself. Launching new products that nobody even thought of making before with CBD. Things like pills, hair creams, and serums are all fairly widespread in today’s beauty industry landscape. Other more innovative products like injectable CBD are undergoing research and development, so it wouldn’t be a strange sight to run into ten years when visiting your neighborhood dispensary. 

CBD-based beauty products don’t have to be solely based on topical applications. They can be other things like clothing and accessories made of hemp. Sure, we know that doesn’t strictly classify as CBD products because you’re not consuming the CBD inside the boots you buy, but it is there, speaking to how diverse the hemp plant can be.

In terms of using CBD or any cannabis-derived substance in the beauty industry, places like Latin America are at the vanguard of innovation. The region was among the first to diversify its cannabis-derived product portfolio and export finished goods like skin lotions and hand creams infused with CBD. It is continuously launching new products that border on novelty.

Now that the industry has caught up and leading markets like Europe and the U.S. are backing the initiative, we’ll see much more novelty from CBD-based beauty products shortly.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

What is CBD? 
The ECS 
What are CBD beauty products?
What are the benefits of CBD on the skin? 
Inflammatory Acne 
Regulating Oil Production 
CBD and other Skin Conditions 
Types of CBD skincare products 
CBD Digestive System 
CBD and Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis 
CBD & Inflammation 
CBD & Irritable Bowel Syndrome 
How are CBD beauty products different from other types of CBD products like oils? 
Are CBD beauty products legal? 
Can CBD beauty products get you ‘high’? 
How do CBD beauty products work and how to use them 
How to shop for the best CBD beauty products 
Conclusion
References 

What is CBD?

CBD is one of more than 500+ components found in the cannabis plant, of which 113+ are known as 'cannabinoids.' Out of a total of 113 cannabinoids, THC is the only one with psychoactive properties. If extracted independently, CBD is a non-psychoactive component.

Human studies are determining CBD's actual effects and benefits on the human body. However, we have enough evidence to know that the cannabinoid can positively affect the body depending on condition and dose. CBD's side effects are also being determined, but experts do not know them to be severe or life-threatening when present. Hence the legal status of hemp-extracted CBD across all 50 States in the U.S. If extracted from alternative sources (i.e., marijuana), CBD is considered illegal in most states.

The ECS

The Endocannabinoid System, or ECS, is the system within the mammalian body that interacts and activates incoming cannabinoids' effects. Let's say that you rub CBD oil on your skin. It is the endocannabinoid system within your skin tissue that interacts with it. It does so by absorbing CBD through your pores and allowing endocannabinoid receptors to latch onto inbound cannabinoids. The cannabinoids activate upon this interaction with the endocannabinoid receptors. 

However:

The receptor's location determines the interaction between cannabinoids and receptors on the body, the cannabinoid, and the type of product you are using. There are two different endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 & CB2), and the receptor that is activated will also determine the effects that the dose of CBD has on your body.

What are CBD beauty products?

As we briefly touched upon in the introduction to this paper, CBD beauty products can be any CBD-infused product part of the beauty industry. Anything from any topical application to edibles with a clear focus on benefiting features like the skin or hair, or perhaps even other products made from the hemp plant.

Picture any existing beauty product that you’re familiar with, and if it is infused with CBD or uses CBD as a raw material to make it, we’re talking about a CBD beauty product. A few examples of CBD beauty products include nourishing skin rubs, face masks, shampoos, soaps, body lotions, hair oils, CBD-infused deodorants, skin treatments, moisturizers, and bath bombs.

What are the benefits of CBD on the Skin?

As the cannabis industry grows, the amount of CBD products available in the market grows with it. CBD skincare and beauty products are becoming more and more popular. As CBD sparks up interest in the medical field, other fields are finding the cannabinoid quite useful. The anti-inflammatory and antioxidative properties of CBD specifically have prompted interest from the skincare and beauty industry.

Unfortunately, the research that backs these properties up is not conclusive, and there is a severe lack of pre-clinical and clinical studies that confirms them. It was only up until the passing of the 2018 Farm Bill that hemp-derived CBD was declared legal in all 50 states across the U.S., thus promoting research and development investment that was long overdue.

As research confirms and these features become widely available, companies have realized CBD's vast potential in the beauty industry. Although we're only talking about skin health in this case, the use of CBD in the beauty industry in general reigns incredibly boundless. Some of the most common skin benefits include focusing the cannabinoid's anti[-inflammatory and antioxidative effects on helping aid ailments like acne, oil production, eczema, and other common skin conditions triggered by inflammation.

In research from Oláh et al., the ECS regulated cutaneous cell growth. Along with this information, CBD also triggered a lack of sebaceous gland activity. CBD also helped avoid symptoms like dry skin and brittle hair, meaning that it could have anti-aging effects on the skin, hence the interest of brands in the beauty industry to include CBD as a part of their portfolio.

Inflammatory Acne

Acne is a skin condition where the pores on the surface clog by unwanted residue, dead skin cells, and excess oil. These ‘clogs’ develop into nasty red blemishes that can ultimately become infected. That said, CBD oil could have a counterproductive effect in clogging; this is why it’s essential to visit a licensed dermatologist before applying any skincare products.

A 2014 study on the anti-inflammatory effects of CBD on the human body found that “...results strongly suggest that CBD’s universal sebostatic action is accompanied by substantial anti-inflammatory effects, which would be very much desired in the clinical treatment of acne vulgaris” [20].

Because of its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD is a promising alternative to traditional acne therapies. It could potentially inhibit oil-producing glands from reacting harshly to infection. CBD impedes oil production itself. The key is to know what type of CBD product you need, whether it’s an oil, salve, or perhaps a capsule. You should consult with your physician first. 

We’ve already touched base on the link between CBD and muscular inflammation. Skin inflammation is no different in terms of mechanics and how CBD acts on it. However, skincare is advantageous because most skin inflammation is superficial, allowing you to apply the product directly to the problem area.

We already know that the ECS has receptors present on the skin, so by applying CBD directly onto the skin, the incoming cannabinoids can interact with the receptors on your skin instantly.

Regulating Oil Production

Skin oil production is deeply tied to acne as it is a condition that is often caused by excessive sebum on the skin. Sebum is a waxy and oily substance made by the skin. When sebum sits on the skin for too long, it can harm the skin and ultimately result in an acne breakout.

Although CBD has an anti-inflammatory profile, we don't need to wait until we have acne to treat it with CBD. Most dermatologists will tell you that the best way to combat acne is by preventing it rather than reacting to it. Part of that has a daily skincare routine that helps you regulate the amount of sebum produced by your skin, and as it turns out, CBD can help you do just that.

Sebum is a protective reaction by the skin. It uses sebum as a protective layer from external materials and conditions. However, some skin has a nasty habit of creating too much sebum. When this happens, sebum sits on the skin, rots, and mixes with pollutants and dead cells. This mixture then fills the skin's pores and clogs them, which is how acne breakouts happen. That's why it's important to use skincare products that help regulate sebum production but don't stop it altogether. A lack of sebum will result in other skin conditions, and that's not something you want happening. [1

The best way to use CBD to prevent oily skin that could end in a possible acne outbreak is by applying it as a topical directly onto the skin, allowing for the CBD content in your product to act precisely on the problem area.

CBD and other Skin Conditions

CBD's benefits on the skin found so far can be summarized to its anti-inflammatory properties and its ability to regulate sebum production. CBD's main advantages as a single component not combined with other products might provide hydration and other benefits reduced to preservation and protection. Clinging to these same effects on the skin, CBD has been linked to other benefits like calmin rosacea, neutralizing free radical damage on the skin, soothing eczema, and helping control hormonal conditions.

Types of CBD Skincare Products

Skincare products can vary greatly depending on the intended purpose. Of course, the brand and the opportunity to make money on the product will also play an essential role in determining the products a company releases. But in general, CBD skincare products can include just about any product you can already find in the market. The only difference is that the product is made with a CBD-derived base or infused with CBD extract, whatever the source of the extract might be. It is worth mentioning that only hemp-derived CBD extract is legal in all 50 states. If the CBD extract comes from a different source, its legality will depend on the local laws.

By combining CBD with other essential oils and functional ingredients, CBD skincare products' range is comprehensive. This range is also made possible by CBD's flexible structure and the number of infusion options available. Some of the most common CBD skincare products include body lotions, creams, moisturizers, masks, facial serums, lip balms, hair products, and soaps.

CBD Digestive System

Research from Gyires and S. Zádori argues that modifying the activity of the ECS could have an impact on gastrointestinal and physiological processes. This argument is based on the theory that the ECS is responsible for many of these processes, augmenting that if modulated, it could play an essential role in preventing gastrointestinal lesions and inflammations [2].

But what does the digestive system have to do with the use of CBD in the beauty industry? Unfortunately, beauty is strongly correlated or at least associated with dietary habits and digestive functionality. This outlook poses an opportunity for the beauty industry to positively explore products that could modify those habits and affect digestive functions. 

For instance, in research from Pacher and Kunos, we find that the ECS “may have therapeutic potential in numerous diseases including obesity/metabolic syndrome, diabetes… inflammatory… liver and skin diseases… cachexia…” [3]. These being conditions that are, in some way, correlated with products distributed within the beauty industry.

The reality is that even if there is conclusive evidence to support the theory that CBD can modulate digestive processes, ECS does have a role to play in them. If that exists, then it means that CBD and other cannabinoids alike have the potential to modulate those processes. As found in research from DiPatrizio, “Activating cannabinoid receptors within the gut inhibits peristalsis and gastric acid secretion and enhances food intake” [4]. If  CBD can activate those cannabinoid receptors within the gut, then there is a direct link between it and these gastrointestinal activities.

CBD: Crohn’s Disease & Ulcerative Colitis

Crohn's disease is an inflammatory bowel disease (IBD). It causes inflammation of the digestive tract, resulting in pain, fatigue, weight loss, malnutrition, and other symptoms. Colitis is very similar to Crohn's Disease. In fact, in some cases, it could be caused by Crohn's Disease but is identified to be focused on a specific part of the digestive tract. It is usually resulting in inflammation of the colon and rectum.

It's worth noting that CBD's association with conditions like Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis usually refers to the cannabinoid's effect on the states' symptoms rather than its ability to act as direct treatment of the condition itself. While CBD shows the potential to alleviate symptoms, it has not been proven to work as a treatment for the disease itself. 

According to research from Formukong et al., cannabis has been demonstrated to have anti-inflammatory effects on the body for conditions like IBD [5]. A statement like this supports the idea that CBD could be an effective treatment of said symptoms, thus helping patients cope with pain, inflammation, and other diseases' expressions.

CBD & Inflammation

Many studies have shown that the ECS is involved in almost all major immune systems. While this merely proves that the body has a way of coping with diseases, it also opens the door for assumptions on how cannabinoids could enhance and affect those immunological processes. It also leaves the door open to the possibility of CBD being beneficial in inflammatory disorders.

This could prove to be the case not only for IBD but also for other conditions that result in powerful inflammatory symptoms. However, some regions of the gut are inflammation that we are discussing—areas where there has been a reported presence of endocannabinoid receptors.

CBD & Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Like IBD, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) is not necessarily an inflammatory disease like Crohn's Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. IBS is often treated with lifestyle changes and is not life-threatening. However, it does impair quality of life and can become quite tedious.

A single person can have IBS and IBD at the same time. One may be triggered by the other. Yet, the symptoms of each that CBD can potentially affect are quite different from one another. Because the main symptom of IBD is inflammation and IBS is not an inflammatory disorder, CBD targets other manifestations like hypersensitivity and mood disturbances caused by IBS.

CBD manages appetite, a behavior that people that suffer from IBS could appreciate. While it's not a symptom of IBS per se, eating and digesting may be unpleasant for some patients. CBD could be a way to regulate appetite to fit the subject—perhaps reducing or encouraging a more ample appetite in people who try to avoid eating because of the unpleasant symptoms it may cause.

Appetite regulation is, unfortunately, correlated with society's preconception of beauty. Appetite-regulating products are a part of the beauty industry, making CBD an essential part of it.

How are CBD beauty products different from other types of CBD products like oils?

Beauty products are not all that different from most types of CBD products. They are just made with a different purpose and use other functional ingredients. Perhaps the most critical difference between beauty products and oils is that most beauty products are made with CBD oils and concentrates. Instead of directly selling CBD oil for beauty purposes, most companies will use oil as an ingredient to a finished good like a salve or cream.

The closest thing to oil in CBD beauty products would be a serum. Although serums can technically be considered oils, they also include additional functional ingredients that will complement the benefits that CBD can have on the skin. It will ultimately come down to the brand and its product formulation.

Because one of CBD skincare products' roles is to regulate sebum and oil production on the skin, applying additional oil to the skin can be tricky. Do not treat all skin with oil directly. That's why it takes a dermatologist to evaluate the type of skin you have and decide if you should be applying extra oil onto your skin or not. That's why the most popular CBD products for skincare are cleansers and hydration creams.

The legal landscape of CBD in the U.S. is pretty simple to understand. Any product with CBD listed as an ingredient is federally legal since the 2018 Farm Bill passed if the CBD used in the product derives from hemp and doesn’t include any other illegal elements.

Other than that, there aren’t stringent laws regulating the consumption of hemp-derived CBD, so you are pretty much in the clear if you’re not trying to travel with your products overseas. If you travel internationally, it becomes a bit more challenging to understand since every country has its laws and regulations on cannabis derived products.

However:

The reality is that countries are beginning to be more lenient in terms of cannabis laws and slowly legalizing consumption. Regions like Europe and Latin America are pioneers in terms of cannabis beauty products, but their rules tend to be a bit more strict than those in the U.S, which seems to be somewhat contradictory.

Can CBD beauty products get you ‘High’?

Unless they also include THC in their formula, CBD products cannot get you high in any way, shape, or form. However, there may be some side effects associated with CBD consumption or application, depending on your condition, the dose size you’re taking, the time of day you’re taking the CBD, and other factors. We can say that CBD side effects are seldom grave and often go away after a couple of hours. The most common side effects include diarrhea when the subject overdoses or rashes if the patient is allergic to the substance or other additional ingredients included in the product. It’s important to always consult with a licensed physician before deciding to ingest or apply any CBD product, regardless of your intention. 

Fatigue, changes in appetite, and weight changes are other possible side effects of CBD. For instance, the first time I took CBD, I took a dose of around 80mg. Being a relatively small person, I found myself falling asleep on a day that had to be productive. On the flip side, I had one of the most restorative naps of my life.

How do CBD Beauty Products work and how to use them

Research into CBD, in general, is minimal, let alone research of CBD in beauty products. The therapeutic effects of CBD and the functional properties of additional active ingredients vary. The use will depend on the type of symptoms or conditions you are treating, the type of application, application time, complete applications per day/week, dose, etc.

Your condition defines the product you should purchase, and the product format will determine the application method. For instance, you can’t eat balms or salves because they’re meant for topical application.

How to shop for the best CBD Beauty Products

You can find CBD beauty products almost anywhere online and in many of your favorite skincare products, shops, and pharmacies.

Bear in mind that Amazon does not allow sales of products made with legit CBD extract. If you do happen to find products advertised as CBD products on Amazon, do not be fooled, chances are you’re looking at a product made using hemp-seed oil and not actual CBD extract. 

Now let’s get into the weeds to go about shopping for the best CBD beauty products on the market. You’ll have to nail down a few questions before making any product purchase decision:

  • Potency
  • Condition to be treated
  • Type of CBD extract used in the product
  • Price
  • Source of extract (hemp or marijuana)
  • Source of hemp (U.S.-grown or not)
  • Additional Ingredients in the product
  • Quality Testing

Conclusion

CBD has been around for decades, but it was only until the 2018 Farm Bill passed that researchers focused on conducting human studies and clinical research on it. With hemp-derived CBD being considered federally legal, companies have increased their budgets on research dedicated to understanding CBD as a whole, its potential uses, and benefits. Part of that research involves its services in the beauty industry, an industry that is slowly becoming a significant player in the cannabis industry. 

CBD has positive effects on controlling and regulating symptoms caused by dermatological conditions like inflammatory acne. Although CBD cannot be considered a treatment to the needs themselves, it is continually used to treat the requirements of the skin's symptoms. CBD has been found useful in calming skin inflammation and regulating sebum production because of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Because of its direct implications on how the body behaves externally, the gastrointestinal system also plays a vital role in the beauty industry. Managing its reactions and alleviating symptoms caused by gastrointestinal disorders like IBS and IBD might prove to be part of a regular beauty routine and overall well being. Given CBD's anti-inflammatory nature, the cannabinoid has been used even more frequently to alleviate ulcerative colitis, Crohn's Disease, IBS, and other gastrointestinal inflammatory symptoms.

Choosing CBD beauty products can be challenging, especially when we're talking about products that are applied directly onto the skin. 

Because the skin is an organ and behaves somewhat erratically at times, it is always best to consult with a licensed dermatologist before using any skin products at all. Making sure that the composition of the product matches your skin's needs is incredibly important.

References

[1] Oláh, A., Tóth, B. I., Borbíró, I., Sugawara, K., Szöllõsi, A. G., Czifra, G., Pál, B., Ambrus, L., Kloepper, J., Camera, E., Ludovici, M., Picardo, M., Voets, T., Zouboulis, C. C., Paus, R., & Bíró, T. (2014b). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. Journal of Clinical Investigation, 124(9), 3713–3724. https://doi.org/10.1172/jci64628

[2] Gyires, K., & S. Zádori, Z. (2016). Role of Cannabinoids in Gastrointestinal Mucosal Defense and Inflammation. Current Neuropharmacology, 14(8), 935–951. https://doi.org/10.2174/1570159x14666160303110150

[3] Pacher, P., & Kunos, G. (2013). Modulating the endocannabinoid system in human health and disease - successes and failures. FEBS Journal, 280(9), 1918–1943. https://doi.org/10.1111/febs.12260

[4] DiPatrizio, N. V. (2016). Endocannabinoids in the Gut. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 1(1), 67–77. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2016.0001

[5] Formukong, E. A., Evans, A. T., & Evans, F. J. (1988). Analgesic and antiinflammatory activity of constituents ofCannabis sativa L. Inflammation, 12(4), 361–371. https://doi.org/10.1007/bf00915771

[6] Naftali, T., Mechulam, R., Lev, L. B., & Konikoff, F. M. (2014). Cannabis for Inflammatory Bowel Disease. Digestive Diseases, 32(4), 468–474. https://doi.org/10.1159/000358155