What is cannabis skincare and why has it suddenly become so popular? Experts explain the benefits

While the recreational use of marijuana is now legal in 10 American states, on this side of the pond lighting up a joint is still very much a criminal activity – so how come there’s suddenly been an explosion of oils, serums, masks and moisturisers with cannabis on the ingredients list?

“Cannabis, which until not too long ago was taboo, has now started to emerge as a significant element in the medical and wellness sectors,” says Hugh Winters, CEO of Australian skincare company MGC Derma.

“Since your skin is your biggest organ, it can benefit your skin the most.”

Recent changes in global legislation have allowed firms to do more research and experimentation into the beauty benefits of the cannabis plant, which is why cannabidiol (CBD) products are flooding the market, with new brands popping up and big names like Kiehl’s and Cult Beauty jumping on the CBD bandwagon.

“It’s a game changer!” agrees Laure Bouguen, founder of French brand Ho Karan.

“It can replace a lot of synthetic and less powerful molecules and reshape the beauty industry into a wellness industry with a beauty-in and beauty-out approach.”

Laure Bouguen, founder of French brand Ho Karan (Ho Karan/PA)

So what are the benefits of CBD skincare and how should you be using it? Here, three experts explain, and we run down the best new products.

What is CBD and how can it be legal?

“Cannabidiol (CBD) is a totally non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant,” explains Winters.

It comes in a variety of forms and is usually derived from the hemp plant (hemp and marijuana are the two primary species of cannabis), extracted from the seeds and stems, and is legal globally because it contains only minute amounts of THC, the chemical that gets you ‘high’.

View this post on Instagram

Here to spill all the tea on this Cannabis Sativa Seed oil I’ve been trying out by @kiehls 🤫🍃☕️ As you might have seen on my stories a few weeks ago I got a small breakout, and fully panicked! This oil is meant to calm and re-balance the skin, and that’s exactly what it did for me. This oil has a very strong herbal smell, similar to oregano.. so if you’re sensitive to smells keep that in mind! It’s meant to help with redness, while hydrating and protecting especially for acne prone skin. Overall I love what it’s been doing for me, and if you’re a skincare junkie like me and into oils and serums, this is becoming a staple in my routine. I’ll show y’all in my stories my results from only using for a few weeks. Hopefully I’ll get it together and drop a skincare routine soon👇🏽🧖🏽‍♀️ Are you more into IGTV or YouTube for that? #skincarereview #KiehlsHerbalFix #KiehlsGiftedMe #skincare #beauty #skincarejunkie #bblogger #beautytips #skincareroutine

A post shared by hi i’m veronica. (@itsveronicaustin) on

“At the other end of the spectrum is CBD extracted from medical grade cannabis (why our company is named MGC),” Winters says.

“The oils are extracted from the flower of the plant as opposed to seeds and stems, contain 20% or more of CBD of a higher grade, and usually higher than trace amounts of THC, thus only legal in certain countries.”

“Be informed of what you are buying,” advises Gamu Mawora, technologist in ethical beauty and aromatherapy at Holland & Barrett, which has recently launched a CBD skincare range.

“As with any upcoming trend, it is easy to be confused by the presentation of products, especially between hemp and CBD which are not quite the same thing. Always look out for CBD oil or Cannabidiol on the ingredients list.”

What are the benefits of CBD skincare?

“The virtues of hemp for skin are amazing,” says Bouguen. “By action on the endocannabinoid system of the skin, many studies shows that CBD can be useful for acne, psoriasis, dermatitis or dry skin.”

Mawora says: “There have been some recent findings that suggest that CBD has the potential to decrease excessive sebum production as well as slowing down other triggers of acne.”

It’s also known to have anti-inflammatory effects, so can help soothe rosacea or redness.

Even if you don’t have a specific skin concern, CBD is thought to benefit your complexion.

“The molecular structure includes a high concentration of vitamins A, B, D and E and is rich in antioxidants,” Winters says.

“Further, there are indications that CBD will work in concert with other ingredients like hyaluronic acid to enhance their effectiveness, making the skin appear firmer and younger with reduced wrinkles and a natural fresh glow.”

Cannabis crop: 9 CBD skincare products to try

(Milk Makeup/PA)

Milk Makeup Cannabis Face Mask, £21,  available soon at Cult Beauty

(MGC Derma/PA)

MGC Derma CBD Stem Cells & Hyaluronic Facial Serum, £80), Lookfantastic

(Revolution Skincare/PA)

Revolution Skincare Skin Nourishing CBD Oil, £9.99, Superdrug

(Holland & Barrett/PA)

Holland & Barrett CBD Serum, £9.99 (was £19.99)


Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate, £38, Selfridges (available April 23)

(Dr Botanicals/PA)

Dr Botanicals Hemp Super Concentrated Rescue Essence Serum, £17

(Ho Karan/PA)

Ho Karan Holy Flow 2.5% CBD Oil, £27.90, BeautyMart (available April 8)


Disciple Miracle Drops 1% CBD, £22, Cult Beauty

(Kiki Health/PA)

Kiki Health CBD Oil 5%, £40, Cult Beauty

- Press Association

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