CBD or Cannabidiol — a compound found in hemp — is gaining a lot of popularity these days. CBD in oils, gummies, and capsules is becoming the norm. But you might be astonished to know that this magic ingredient has also become a regular in many skin care products, including cleansers, moisturisers, sunscreens, and even chapsticks (lip balm).
What’s so unique about CBD that it has suddenly become a buzzword in the skin care industry?
What is CBD?
According to the United States’ Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CBD is derived from hemp, which shares the same botanical family as marijuana — the cannabis sativa plant. However, the most significant difference between the two is the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the substance that creates psychoactive effects in marijuana — present in them. Hemp contains only 0.3 per cent of THC, therefore skin care products containing CBD can never make you “high”.
In fact, a 2018 World Health Organization (WHO) report claims that CBD doesn’t impact human beings negatively — no risk of abuse or dependency.
For roughly two millennia, CBD has been used as a medicinal plant. Scientists have been obsessed with the therapeutic properties of CBD in treating anxiety, stress, chronic pain, migraine, insomnia, diabetes, epilepsy, and even depression. It is also helpful during and after chemotherapy. And as a dermatologist, I can say for certain that CBD has incredible benefits for our skin too.
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A powerful combination
There are majorly two causes behind various skin issues and ageing: Free radical damage of the epidermis (the outermost layer of your skin) and irregular functioning of the endocannabinoid system in the body that results in inflammation, excessive oil production, and skin pigmentation.
Various studies have revealed that CBD has incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. When applied topically, CBD interacts with the two CBD receptors of our body called CB1 and CB2. This leads to a decrease in interleukins (white blood cells secretions) that are responsible for alarming our immune system during emergencies. As a result, inflammation is reduced. This is why CBD in sunscreens can avoid inflammation from sunburns.
CBD is also known to retain skin moisture and help with dryness issues. This property, combined with its anti-inflammatory functions, can be of great help in cases of eczema and psoriasis for taming down itchiness and redness. A 2019 study published in the Italian journal La Clinica Terapeutica showed that a specific CBD ointment improved skin hydration in participants with psoriasis, eczema, or scarring. While this was a small study with only 20 patients, more research is needed to confirm the findings and determine the effectiveness of CBD ointments for skin conditions.
CBD’s magic is not limited only to inflammatory skin diseases — it has antibacterial properties too. This can be the ace card in acne treatments. CBD reduces the production of sebum in the sebaceous glands, which are responsible for the oil you see on the skin. Sebum and open pores attract gram-positive bacteria that result in acne. CBD is effective in killing this bacterial culture and, therefore, is advocated for use in acne treatment.
Another advantage of CBD-based topical treatments is that it improves skin elasticity and prevents skin sagging and wrinkles. CBD also overcomes the side effects of commonly prescribed topical steroids that can cause skin thinning with consistent usage over long periods. It can fill the gap in skin treatments for patients preferring non-steroidal therapy.
It is because of these benefits that CBD is widely used in cosmetics and skin care products. However, with more research, other benefits of CBD in skin care can be discovered.
Also read: That anti-bacterial facewash you’re using every day is killing your skin. Go probiotic
Before buying CBD skin care products
As CBD is new in skin care and research still limited, manufacturers and sellers can leverage this fact into making customers buy fake hemp products. That’s why it’s important to know how CBD is used in skin care products.
Dedicate some time to thoroughly understanding CBD and its benefits. Learn about the terminologies associated with the compound. Go for brands that are licensed, reliable, transparent, regulated, and practise ethical standards. Read customer reviews before spending on these products.
Check out the ingredients list and ensure that all of them are organic. Look for the CBD concentration too. Higher CBD levels are used for pain relief rather than skin care. Know the difference between hemp seed oil and CBD oil. The former is derived from the seeds of the hemp plant and has no CBD value, while CBD oil is extracted from hemp leaves. Check the source of the hemp plant. Source of ideal hemp plants comes down to their cultivation and most importantly, the levels of the compound delta-9 THC in it. To be legally classified as a hemp plant, a cannabis plant must contain no more than 0.3% THC on a dry-weight basis. Be consistent in using the products to see results.
The CBD skin care market
According to Market Watch, the global CBD market was valued at a whopping $633.6 million, expected to grow up to $3.4 billion by 2026. India is following this lead with greater adoption of CBD for a healthy, pain-free existence. CBD is gaining popularity because of its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-bacterial properties, which help in treating many skin issues and decreases aging. CBD has proven its usefulness as pain reliever for chronic pains especially cancer-related.
To accelerate the growth of the Indian hemp industry, the Narendra Modi government is organising the second Indian Hemp Expo in Mumbai on February 24-25. This one-of-a-kind B2B hemp exhibition gives a platform to exhibitors to present their brands before consultants, potential buyers, and business experts.
With the astonishing results in pain treatment and its march into the skin care industry, it is safe to say that the CBD trend will only climb upwards. The CBD market in India is also booming, both in terms of the variety of new products and expanding consumer base. However, till the time CBD gets widely accepted in skin care, it is a good idea to stick to safe topical serums and scrubs.
Dr Deepali Bhardwaj is a dermatologist, anti-allergy specialist, laser surgeon and internationally trained aesthetician. She tweets @dermatdoc. Views are personal.
(Edited by Humra Laeeq)