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The Body

CBD In the Beauty Aisle

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Putting CBD into makeup and skincare seems like a natural next step for this newly popular ingredient. But it’s not quite that simple. Brandi-Ann Uyemura investigates.

There has never been an ingredient like CBD, says Kristin Adams, who ran a makeup company for 15 years and is now the owner of Satori Minds, where she helps others start their own beauty businesses. “It’s the only ingredient in the history of commerce that has had this much success with little or no advertising,” she says.

The 2018 Farm Bill legalized hemp, removing it from the definition of marijuana. Hemp seed can now be legally used in food products, which is why it’s been widely produced and seen more commercially. That’s why you might have noticed little graphics of hemp leaves and cannabis on packaging for cosmetics. But that means hemp seed oil, not CBD, is in the ingredients. “When consumers see the words ‘cannabis’ and ‘sativa’ all over the packaging with the hemp leaf design on green bottles, they assume that there’s CBD in the product. Sadly, that’s often not the case. Cannabis sativa oil is simple hemp seed oil that contains zero CBD,” Adams says.

Still, that might slowly change. While research is limited and mostly anecdotal, a 2014 study found CBD to be promising as an antiacne treatment because of its ability to decrease oil on the skin. It’s also anti-inflammatory and a natural antioxidant with less side effects than commonly used treatments such as retinoids and salicylic acid.

CBD’s advantage in makeup is its ability to “kill two three or four birds with one stone,” says Adams. “It’s multifunctional.” When your powder or foundation is already sitting on your face all day, it could be working on eradicating blemishes or moisturizing your skin.

You’ll likely see lip butters and creams with CBD subtly advertised as “moisturizing” and “soothing.” Adams explains, “It may reduce topical inflammation, redness, acne, and symptoms of eczema … and support the repairing of skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.” She uses CBD to keep her own sensitive skin calm and under control.

For now, independent brands are the only ones taking the leap to creating makeup with CBD while bigger companies are waiting for more clarity and acceptance from the FDA.

While searching for makeup products with CBD, there are a few things to keep in mind. You want to be cognizant of how much or how little there is. Adams recommends looking for cannabidiol (CBD) in the ingredient list.

As far as trying the makeup itself, as with any new product it’s best to do a small patch test to see how it reacts to your skin. But Adams notes that many people don’t bat an eye before getting injections or prescriptions for cosmetic improvements, many of which have the potential for severe and permanent side effects. In the case of CBD she says, “The biggest risk would be if you don’t see benefit for yourself and you’re just wasting your money.”

For Adams, thinking about CBD in makeup opens the door to better conversations about what we choose to put on our bodies. “There is a distinct vibration and an aliveness of everything that includes plants, the essence of plants, and even the ingredients that come from plants. It would be a completely different approach for people to look at their makeup that way,” she says.