How cannabis works in skincare

Updated: May 7, 2020

CBD (cannabidiol) has been used for medicinal and therapeutic uses for over 5000 years, but only recently, has CBD made a hit amongst the skincare market. Will it make you high, and what kind of results can you expect from using a CBD-based product? This article dives into the how, what and why of using cannabis topically.

What is CBD?

Cannabidiol (also known as CBD) is a one of the chemical compounds found in a cannabis or hemp plant.

The oil is made by extracting this compound directly from the flowers of a plant, followed by dilution with a carrier oil.

Unlike THC, (the main psychoactive cannabinoid found in cannabis) CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning you will not feel the ‘high’ that is associated with using this controversial drug but still reap the medicinal benefits from using it, such as pain relief.

cannabis leaf gif


What are the benefits of using CBD in skincare?

Interestingly, our body has its own endocannabiod system; meaning that when we ingest, smoke, eat or apply these CBD or THC compounds, our receptors pick it up, starting a biochemical reaction.

This reaction has proven to have an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin by reducing soreness, swelling and redness; thus improving cases of psorasis, eczema and dermatitis.

CBD also regulates oil production and moisture in the skin, benefiting skin types that suffer with acne or general congestion.

benefits of using CBD in skincare

Why has CBD suddenly become a trending ingredient?

In the late 90s, UK cosmetic company, The Body Shop introduced the first hemp-based range to the high street, raising the awareness of the benefits of using CBD in cosmetics. However hemp oil has considerably lower levels of the CBD compound than CBD oil, restricting the benefit and further development of any hemp product.

Since then, 30 US states and the District of Colombia have legalised the used of marijuana for medicinal uses, allowing a flood of funding to research this fundamental ingredient more successfully, than ever before.

Now, hundred of studies and organisations like Project CBD have more freedom to grow, whilst stacking evidence demonstrating the value of CBD oil in the pharmaceutical industry, including cosmetics.

project cbd

Project CBD provides advice, information and sources of medical trials on their website.

Did you know?

The cannabidiol industry is expected to be worth over $2 billion globally by 2022, according to data from the New Frontier Data.

What can we expect from these advances in CBD research?

It is still early days in regards to research and debate of the use of CBD oil, so it is difficult to make any bold statements about what the future of CBD market will look like. Will regulations eventually become less strict, allowing higher concentrations of CBD in high street formulations, and therefore, offer different results? Will CBD eventually become the norm, as are paracetamol and headache strips? Or is this popular ingredient just another fad, only a trending topic until the next one arrive.

Laws in the Europe have not been as lenient as the US, causing the products to be of a low concentration and extremely over priced.

Some may agree that a product known only for it’s anti-inflammatory action, is not reason enough to go out and buy it, let alone support any further research into the ingredient.

GIF: The Hills

What can I do if I want to give CBD skincare products a try?

Check reviews on the product online. Question the integrity of the product by finding out if it’s actually sourced from a hemp or marijuana plant. Understand, that you will most likely notice a difference, only if there is a concern to fix (ie. acne or redness)

What products are worth trying?


MGC Derma CBD hyaluronic & peptides day cream is a no-brainer. Distributed by Cult Beauty, this product is bursting full of hyaluronic acid, peptides and CBD – ideally suited to dry and ageing skin types.

MGC Derma are considered pioneers in the CBD movement; the company’s mission is to “develop and supply high quality cannabinoid’s to the global market.”

This product has been featured in The Independent, Vogue and Glamour, and the question of whether it works or not, is answered with a string of positive reviews on the internet.

RRP: £80.00/50ml




The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector has been one of my personal favourite hand products to use, for years.

This iconic, bestseller offers immediate relief for dry hands (I always rely on this help with my occasional eczema) using Hemp oil from France.

Its not going to break the bank, backed-up by thousands of five star reviews and is a cruelty free product.

RRP: £12.00/100ml

the body shop hemp hand cream



Kiki Health 5% CBD Oil is a bestseller on Cult Beauty’s cannabis cosmetic section.

A wonderful blend of hemp and CBD oils, this product alleviates skin conditions such as a dry itchy scalp, general skin sensitivity, eczema, and dryness.

This oil is also available in a 10% formula.

RRP: £40.00/10ml

kiki health cbd oil



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