If you’ve strolled down the skincare aisle of your supermarket or pharmacy lately, you’ve likely noticed the presence of CBD skincare products. Beauty and cosmetics stores have also begun to feature more CBD skincare lines, and numerous online reviews have touted the anecdotal benefits of CBD for the skin.
In this article, we’re going to cover some of the reported potential benefits of cannabis topical creams, and how they may supplement your skincare routine. Please keep in mind that this information is not intended to diagnose or treat any condition. If you decide that you would like to incorporate CBD topical creams into your regimen, check with your physician or dermatologist first.
What is CBD Topical Cream?
CBD topical cream is a pretty broad term, and for practical purposes, applies to any CBD product that is meant to be applied to the skin. This can include salves, lotions, creams, balms, and serums. Some consumers turn to CBD cream for pain or aches and apply it directly to the affected area, where others may turn to it as a part of their skincare routine.
Does CBD Cream Contain THC?
One of the reasons so many people turn to CBD is that they can reap the potential benefits of cannabinoids, but without the high that THC produces. CBD topical creams do not contain enough THC to make the user feel high (by law, CBD products must have less than 0.3% THC).
That said, before using any CBD product, you should check the product’s independent third-party testing results to see for yourself what the final product contains—CBD content, terpenes present, THC quantity, contaminants, and other ingredients. If a CBD skincare company cannot produce this report, we recommend that you actively seek out a company that can.
The Difference Between CBD, Hemp, and Hemp Seed Products
If your search for CBD skincare products has brought you here, we believe it’s vital for you also to understand the difference between CBD oil, hemp oil, and hemp seed oil. These three ingredients are commonly listed as ingredients in CBD creams, but many consumers don’t know how they differ from one another.
CBD oil and hemp oil are used interchangeably, but are slightly different. Hemp and CBD oils contain less than 0.3% THC, which makes them legal, according to the United States 2018 Farm Bill. The marijuana plant contains more than 0.3% THC. CBD can be extracted from both the CBD and the marijuana plant, but only the hemp plant can be transported across state lines, unlike marijuana, which is still federally illegal. Products containing CBD oils may have come from the hemp plant or marijuana plant, but hemp oils only come from the hemp plant.
Now we get into the third ingredient called hemp seed oil, which is also used in many tinctures and creams. Hemp seeds can be transported across state lines and imported/exported internationally. Hemp seed oil (as well as cannabis sativa seed oil) are very different than the products extracted from the plants—neither of these products contains CBD or other cannabinoids. For those seeking the potential benefits of CBD oil products, be aware that while hemp seed oil does contain many healthy nutrients, it does not contain CBD.
How CBD Topical Cream Works
We recommend reading this article on terpenes to understand more about CB1 and CB2 receptors, as well as how the endocannabinoid system works. If you know how cannabinoids such as CBD interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, you can better appreciate how CBD-infused products can work with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS)
How CBD Interacts with the Skin
Now let’s look more specifically at how CBD interacts with the skin, and how it may be beneficial as part of a skincare routine. The skin is the body’s largest organ and is designed to create a barrier against the damage, infection, and the environment around you. However, it does allow for the transport of gases, nutrients, and medications.
Your body’s endocannabinoid system releases molecules called cannabinoids that interact with CB1 and CB2 receptors found in your body’s nervous system and organs in order to achieve homeostasis. Phytocannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, also interact with these receptors. CB1 and CB2 receptors have been identified in the layers of the skin, nerves, sebaceous and sweat glands, as well as in the hair follicles, to perform regulatory functions.
To provide an overly simple example, when your skin experiences trauma such as a scrape or cut, the ECS sends cannabinoids to the site to fight infection, heal the tissue, and reduce pain. Once the skin has healed, the ECS releases enzymes that “eat” the cannabinoids because they are no longer needed. The ECS also works with acne, bruises, dry skin, allergic reactions, heat, sunburn, and dermatitis, to name a few.
Using a CBD cream for the skin may act similarly to your body’s natural cannabinoids. A dermatologist with Cedars-Sinai’s cosmetic dermatology program has said that cannabidiol may exhibit anti-inflammatory and hydrating effects on the skin. More studies are needed to explore more in-depth on how CBD cream may benefit the skin, and below, we will explore some existing topics and reviews.
Can CBD Absorb Through the Skin?
Whether you’re concerned about CBD potentially showing up on a lab test, or would prefer to use a transdermal CBD method, you may wonder if CBD skin cream can absorb through the skin. In a study by the European Journal of Pain that evaluated the efficacy of transdermal CBD, it was determined that the transdermal delivery method was effective in reducing pain at the site in rats and that CBD showed good blood absorption. The transdermal delivery was quicker, because it didn’t have to go through the digestive and vascular systems first.
Why CBD Could Be Good for the Skin
We have found numerous clinical studies that point to results that show CBD as having anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and hydrating properties. Because of this, it could be an excellent ingredient to help acne, dry skin, skin irritations, and dermatitis. Additionally, several more specific studies have been conducted that show a lot of promise for CBD potentially helping eczema and psoriasis.
The Entourage Effect and CBD Cream for the Skin
We’ve shared research regarding the entourage effect and ingestible CBD, and interestingly, CBD cream applied to the skin also creates the entourage effect. Broad-spectrum CBD lotions work in conjunction with the product’s terpenes, as well as other essential oils, collagen, vitamins A & E, and other ingredients when applied to the skin. That’s why we recommend not only seeking out the best-rated hemp cream and skincare products, but also looking at the other ingredients on the label, such as marine collagen cream to keep the skin supple. The entourage effect matters, even with skincare!
CBD Cream and Anti-Aging Properties
With all the significant effects that CBD could have on the skin, you might wonder if CBD cream has anti-aging properties. We are frequently asked if CBD could be effective in removing age spots or smoothing wrinkles. Remember that while cannabidiol has been found to have antioxidant and reparative properties, and it also supports sebum production to plump the skin, more studies are warranted to determine its effectiveness outside of anecdotal evidence. Additionally, it has been identified as having UV-protective properties, but shouldn’t be used in place of a sunblock product.
In our research, we found that higher concentrations of CBD in topical creams are more likely to have any effect on the skin, and that taking sublingual CBD drops in conjunction with topical CBD is recommended. Again, taking a look at third-party independent lab tests is the best way to determine how much CBD is in the product you’re using.
CBD Oil and Dry Skin
Dry skin can be irritating and itchy and can make people look older than they actually are, but a moisturizer can help reduce the appearance of fine lines on the surface. The sebaceous glands produce oils (sebum) that keep your skin plump and healthy-looking. The amount of oil they produce ebbs and flows throughout your first twenty or so years of life, and after that, they produce less oil and the skin ages. After the age of 40, dermatologists recommend using a moisturizer every day, because the skin also begins to thin.
When it comes to using a CBD skin cream for dry skin, you can look at its potential effects as being two-fold. Users are not only applying a moisturizing emollient to the skin, but they’re also using one that has active ingredients such as CBD and other essential oils that promote the sebaceous glands’ sebum production.
Does CBD Help with Acne?
Acne can begin in the pre-teen years, but even those in their forties and fifties experience adult acne. For those with various types of acne, the sebaceous glands produce too much sebum, causing breakouts, whiteheads, and cystic acne. It can be itchy, painful, and even cause scarring.
With the purported effects that CBD has on anti-inflammatory processes and sebaceous gland production, it’s natural that some who suffer from acne would want to give a hemp topical cream a try.
Above, we explored how CBD can promote sebum production to reduce the effects of dry skin potentially. Conversely, The Journal of Clinical Investigation published a study that determined that CBD normalizes pro-acne agents in the skin. Further, it acts as an anti-inflammatory agent to reduce the redness and swelling that typically accompanies acne, and shows promise in reducing the proliferation of newly formed scar tissues.
Using CBD for Skin Inflammation
CBD is known for its anti-inflammatory effects, but inside the body and on the skin. But is it safe to apply topical CBD directly to inflamed skin? The findings of our research point to topical CBD products as being generally safe to use for inflammation, so long as it is stopped if any skin irritation develops. However, before you try any CBD product on the skin, we recommend speaking with your doctor or dermatologist to ensure that it’s safe to use for your condition.
Final Thoughts on CBD Skincare Products
The 2018 Farm Bill paved the way for more research to be conducted on industrial hemp products and their efficacy when it comes to skincare and other potential health benefits. CBD skincare products are an emerging market that could be promising for acne, dry skin, scarring, aging, and topical use for pain relief. What we have found so far is promising, and we will be watching as more studies are published in the future.
When buying CBD skincare products, use these guidelines to ensure quality:
- Independent third-party lab testing
- Free of pesticides, fertilizers, heavy metals, and other toxins
- A broad-spectrum formula that includes terpenes
- A high concentration of CBD
- High-quality ingredients, including essential oils, plant extracts, and vitamins
- No synthetic additives
- Water-soluble hemp
Ready to dip your toe into topical CBD lotions? Ripon Naturals features a CBD skincare line that is made with quality ingredients and processes. Our CBD Topical Cream was voted Best Topical Relief Cream at the USA CBD Expo in 2019! Try it today.