Cannabis Hottest Beauty Ingredient?

24th October 2018

Potent anti-inflammatory properties mean cannabis is the hottest ingredient in beauty right now. Before you ask, no, we're not advocating smoking it - just slathering it on...

 It’s one of the world’s most controversial narcotics, but a growing number of beauty and wellness brands believe that a pair of cannabis-derived ingredients can revolutionise how we treat everything from acne to eczema and wrinkles.

 The first, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the most divisive. Of the 80 different cannabinoids harvested from the cannabis plant, it’s the one that gets you high. In countries where dope is legal, including some US states, THC has begun showing up in skincare thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. But here, THC is banned – unless it features in concentrations below 0.3% it’s off limits.

 This is where the second ingredient comes in. CBD (cannabidiol) is entirely non-psycho-active (so won’t make you high), legal everywhere and proving to have a wealth of beauty benefits.

 Pot power in skincare

 New research carried out by dermatologists from the University of Colorado School of Medicine found that cannabinoids like THC and CBD can reduce inflammation in cases of psoriasis, eczema, and allergic dermatitis. Dermatologists therefore suggest they might be able to help reduce redness and even wrinkles.

 Dr Sarah Shah from Bespoke Aesthetics isn’t surprised at the results of this research. Interestingly, ‘we’re biologically primed to reap the benefits of cannabinoids when ingested or applied topically, because our body has its own endocannabinoid system,’ she explains. This means we produce our own cannabinoids. So, when we ingest, eat, smoke or apply cannabis, receptors pick up cues of the incoming CBD or THC and bind to cells, like a key fitting a lock. This kick-starts a biochemical reaction that can alter everything from blood pressure, to pain response, to memory, appetite and skin barrier function.

 In skincare terms this means cannabinoids can help regulate sebum production and moisture retention within skin, explaining why studies into cannabinoids treating acne are so promising. ‘Patients with acne and seborrheic dermatitis were treated with a 3% cannabis-seed extract cream, and results showed they went on to have lower levels of skin sebum and erythema (or redness),’ continues Shah.

 Supercharged skincare

 Advocates of this new movement say legal issues prevent us from harnessing cannabis’s full potential here in Britain. The UK Cosmetic Trade Association prohibits the sale of products incorporating the towering tops of the plants where psychoactive substance THC is found.

 Not so in the US states where cannabis is legal and products ‘supercharged’ with THC are available. Vertly for example, is a luxe CBD- and THC-infused beauty line. Its founder, Claudia Mata, a former NYC-based fashion editor, says the difference between these cannabinoids is staggering, arguing that CBD found in most products is extracted from the cannabis seed oil, which doesn’t have the same potency as extracts taken from the top or buds, particularly when used in tandem with THC.

 She isn’t alone. Cindy Capobianco, another former US editor, co-founded Lord Jones, which has an extensive celebrity following. Its sell-out Pain and Wellness Formula Body Lotion, £36.95, has equal amounts of CBD and THC and is designed to moisturise skin and relieve tension. Rich, luxurious and scented with fresh sage, mint and green citrus, it has been hailed as the ultimate massage therapy lotion, but unless you live in a cannabis-approved US state, it’s probably easier to score a baggie than get your hands on it.

 Hitting a new high

 Despite current roadblocks, the success of brands harnessing CBD and THC suggest the trend hasn’t peaked. ‘The movement is still in its infancy,’ says Tony. ‘It has the burgeoning wellness movement on its side and this shouldn’t be underestimated.’ He might be right; health has fast become the new wealth, and its currency now comes in the form of many ‘alternative’ treatments. As the beauty world aligns itself with this ethos, it is perhaps inevitable that the cannabis plant, if proven effective, will be embraced more widely.

 To view our full range of CBD skincare products, click here.