Cannabidiol: beauty and wellness brands

Potent anti-inflammatory properties mean cannabis is the hottest ingredient in beauty right now. CBD (cannabidiol) is entirely non-psycho-active (so won’t make you high), legal everywhere and proving to have a wealth of beauty benefits. It’s also the active ingredient found in the Body Shop’s Hemp range.


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It’s one of the world’s most controversial narcotics, but a growing number of beauty and wellness brands believe that a pair of cannabis-derived ingredients can revolutionise how we treat everything from acne to eczema and wrinkles.

The first, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most divisive. Of the 80 different cannabinoids harvested from the cannabis plant, it’s the one that gets you high. In countries where dope is legal, including some US states, THC has begun showing up in skincare thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. But here, THC is banned – unless it features in concentrations below 0.3% it’s off limits.

New research carried out by dermatologists from the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that cannabinoids like THC and CBD can reduce inflammation in cases of psoriasis, eczema, and allergic dermatitis.

Dr Sarah Shah from Bespoke Aesthetics isn’t surprised at the results of this research. Interestingly, ‘we’re biologically primed to reap the benefits of cannabinoids when ingested or applied topically, because our body has its own endocannabinoid system,’ she explains. This means we produce our own cannabinoids. So, when we ingest, eat, smoke or apply cannabis, receptors pick up cues of the incoming CBD or THC and bind to cells, like a key fitting a lock. This kick-starts a biochemical reaction that can alter everything from blood pressure, to pain response, to memory, appetite and skin barrier function.

In skincare terms this means cannabinoids can help regulate sebum production and moisture retention within skin, explaining why studies into cannabinoids treating acne are so promising. ‘Patients with acne and seborrheic dermatitis were treated with a 3% cannabis-seed extract cream, and results showed they went on to have lower levels of skin sebum and erythema (or redness),’ continues Shah.