Despite being one of the biggest beauty trends in the U.S., CBD oil really only dipped its toe into British waters last year. In 2020, however, the craze for all things CBD has landed firmly on UK soil and is taking the beauty industry by storm—or maybe by a very calm, CBD-infused breeze.
So what is CBD, why has it generated so much fuss, and how is it taking over shelf space in every health and beauty store out there?
Leah Peploe and Nikki Michelsen, founders of organic tampon brand Ohne, launched a 1% CBD oil this year to help with period pain, so they know what’s what when it comes to the science behind CBD.
Short for cannabidiol, CBD is one of over a hundred cannabinoids found in the cannabis sativa plant. Unlike the part of the plant that’s harvested for cannabis as we traditionally know it, CBD is the nonpsychoactive part. “So no, it won’t get you high,” Peploe and Michelsen told me.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the psychoactive component of the plant. The main active ingredient of cannabis and CBD products only contain trace elements of this compound. “CBD is perfectly legal,” Peploe and Michelsen explained. “So long as a CBD product contains no more than 15% CBD and less than 0.2% THC, it is completely legal in the UK.”
But the science doesn’t end there. “CBD full-spectrum extracts (like the ones in the Ohne Anti-Teardrops 1% CBD) work by interacting with the natural endocannabinoid system in the human body,” they explained. This system is what supports everything from our appetite and sleep to our pains and mood. Peploe and Michelsen explained how research suggests that CBD is both a relaxant and an adaptogen, which means it has the potential to relax muscles and reduce pain as well as balance hormones and manage stress levels. Sounds pretty good, right? Right.
I can totally see the potential benefits of CBD oil from a wellness perspective, but what benefits does it bring to our skincare routines? Psychotherapist Charlotte Ferguson, founder of Disciple, launched three CBD oils of varying strengths this year, which can be swallowed or applied topically.
“Scientific research published has demonstrated that CBD has anti-inflammatory and moisturising properties,” Ferguson explained. “CBD creates a highly effective sebostatic, which essentially means that it is amazing at balancing sebum and skin oils.”
Not only that, but CBD skincare is also thought to help overall skin health, especially if you suffer from a dry, dehydrated complexion. "CBD came into the spotlight for its effect on our biological endocannabinoid system, delivering fantastic medicinal anti-inflammatory properties, such as sleep, pain, or anxiety management. Additionally, it also has been found to provide cosmetic benefits, such as antioxidant properties," explains Filipa Loureiro, senior brand manager of skincare at The Body Shop. "It is a fantastic ingredient with proven benefits, and we believe we are yet to fully understand the true scope of its potential. In skincare, CBD is mostly known for its antioxidant benefits, helping to protect skin from oxidative stress and, therefore, helping to keep skin looking healthy and radiant with a fresh-faced glow," she adds.
So what's the difference between CBD and hemp oil? Turns out, quite a lot. "The most common mistake is confusing hempseed oil, also known as cannabis sativa seed oil, with CBD, which is usually found in ingredient lists as 'CBD isolate' or 'cannabidiol.' These are two separate ingredients from the same plant, hemp, and deliver distinct skincare benefits," explains Loureiro. In essence, whereas CBD addresses the many skin issues discussed already, hempseed oil is far more focused on providing hydration for dry skin.
However, while there is a huge buzz around CBD oil right now (with fans advocating for the way that it combats everything from anxiety and period pains to hormonal breakouts and eczema), consultant dermatologist Justine Kluk was keen to point out that it’s still in the early days: “The potential benefits of CBD on the skin sound very promising, but the evidence base is still pretty limited at present. There is, however, lots of research interest in this area now, so hopefully, we won’t have to wait too long to see if the effects are real or just early hype.”
If you’re like me and can’t wait for the scientific journals to make their minds up and want to introduce CBD oil into your beauty bag, there are plenty of formulas to start with.
Keep scrolling for 15 of the best CBD oil and hemp beauty products to shop now.
This new CBD skincare range from The Body Shop was specifically formulated to help soothe and manage stressed-out skin that is dry and dehydrated. This oil helps lock in moisture while the below face cream and cleansing mask are the perfect daily skincare options for when your skin needs a little extra TLC.
Formulated with pure crystallised CBD isolate, probiotics, and hyaluronic acid, this clever serum leaves skin glowing, soothed, and impossibly soft, and it moderates sebum and promotes collagen production.
Apply topically to clean skin to calm redness, inflammation, and blemishes. Or add a couple of drops to your morning brew to calm the senses if you’re feeling a little anxious. It works really well when mixed with other face oils, too.
Although hemp and CBD are made from the same plant, hemp oil doesn't contain cannabinoids like CBD oil and is renowned for being rich in fatty acids. Brimming with omega-3 and omega-6, this soothing moisturiser manages to be both lightweight in texture and intensely hydrating for skin.
This liquid primer is infused with hemp-derived cannabis seed extract, aloe water, hyaluronic acid, and B vitamins for a moisturising prep product that soothes and balances all skin types. The addition of blue agave is what gives this primer its “grip,” helping anything that you layer on top to stick around all day.
Last month, CBD oil found a home on the high street on the shelves of Holland & Barrett with the store’s first-ever CBD beauty range. Like a little pot of nighttime therapy, this cream blends CBD, hempseed oil, and shea butter to boost and nourish your skin’s collagen production while you snooze.
The Body Shop's iconic hemp range has been on the shelves for over 20 years, making the brand a pioneer of the cannabis beauty movement. Again, this uses hempseed oil rather than CBD oil, but it is a seriously moisturising option for dry hands. My dad works with cars, and this is the hand cream that I remember him using when I was a child.
It isn’t just skincare that CBD oil is making an appearance in—it’s in makeup, too. Milk Makeup has added cannabis oil to this brow gel to set your brow hairs in place while offering them a little hydration at the same time. It's great if you hate that stiff feeling that some brow gels create.
If you’re after a treatment to boost glow and even skin tone, this mask delivers on both counts. It’s infused with regenerating hempseed oil and pomegranate enzymes to exfoliate and regenerate tired skin.
The UK's first organic CBD brand, this luxurious balm contains organic hemp flower extract, shea butter, coconut oil, and lavender essential oils to create a luxurious and relaxing body treatment.
This stuff actually contains cannabis essential oil, rather than CBD, to not only help calm the mind but to also protect your skin from daily stresses. Perfect for a daily dose of glow.
An under-the-tongue CBD oil that's blended with peppermint for a refreshing flavour. Take a couple of drops to calm the mind and focus.
Formulated with hemp-derived cannabis seed oil, kaolin clay, and glycerin, this face mask will hydrate parched complexions, sooth sensitivity, and keep pores clear. Plus, it's super green and really fun to use.