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Everything You’ve Ever Wanted To Know About CBD Skincare


From serums to moisturizers to face oils, it seems like CBD is the hero ingredient in just about every new beauty product right now—and for good reason. Whether you're looking to fight blemishes, reduce redness, balance oiliness, or soothe skin, this buzzy ingredient might be able to help. But before you swap out all your current go-tos for CBD-infused cleansers and face lotions, there are a few things you'll want to know about the wellness world's newest darling.

Below, we’re breaking down everything you need to know about CBD skincare–what it is, what the biggest perks are, what skin types it’s best for, what to look for in a CBD skincare formula—with expert tips from two board-certified dermatologists.

About the Experts:

Dendy Engelman, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City. 
Rachel Nazarian, MD is a board-certified dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group.

What is CBD?

First things first: Skincare products made with CBD without THC cannot get you high. To understand why, you'll need a quick lesson in the anatomy of a cannabis plant. Cannabis is made up of two main chemical compounds: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the compound responsible for marijuana's psychological effects. CBD, however, is not psychoactive at all. Instead, it has soothing, calming effects that can help to treat a myriad of skin issues.

The CBD you'll find in skincare products may be derived from either cannabis plants or hemp plants, which also contain CBD. Once the chemical is extracted from the plants, it's typically mixed with face oils like squalane, jojoba oil, or argan oil to make CBD oil.

Because CBD can come from either cannabis or hemp plants, you may see terms like "CBD oil" and "hemp seed oil" used interchangeably; however, there is a difference. "CBD oil is more powerful and potent,” says board-certified dermatologist Dendy Engelman. While hemp seed oil is rich in antioxidants and healthy fatty acids, its main purpose is to hydrate and soften your skin. CBD oil, on the other hand, has a wealth of additional potential skin benefits.

What might CBD be able to do for the skin?

Ready to learn more about what this miracle ingredient can do? Here are three of the biggest benefits of CBD for the skin.

1. It can work as an acne treatment.

According to board-certified dermatologist Rachel Nazarian, recent studies have shown that CBD may be an effective topical acne treatment thanks to its ability to control oil production in the skin. As excess oil is a primary culprit of clogged pores (and therefore, breakouts), the ingredient's oil-controlling benefits could be a gamechanger for acne-prone skin. Additionally, clinical studies have found that CBD may contain powerful anti-inflammatory properties that can soothe and reduce the appearance of any current breakouts.

2. It can soothe skin irritations.

Researchers are discovering that one of CBD's most touted benefits is its ability to soothe irritated skin. “CBD oil has multiple uses in improving inflammatory conditions–like eczema–when used topically," says Nazarian. "It has also been used to treat burns, wounds, and blistering disorders.” It's also naturally moisturizing, which can often fast track the skin's natural healing process.

3. Your body recognizes CBD easily.

Simply put, our bodies are already well-equipped to interact with CBD. “We have cannabinoid receptors in every layer of our skin, working to keep our cells functioning properly, so our body is already designed to receive it,” says Nazarian.

When we use ingredients that are easily recognized by the body (like squalane and hyaluronic acid), the skin is able to absorb them easier, making them all the more efficient and effective. It also poses less risk for irritations and adverse side effects.

What skin types is CBD best for?

Because they are so gentle, CBD skincare products are safe for all skin types to use unless you have a known allergy. The soothing benefits even make CBD especially good for those with sensitive skin. “There really isn’t a downside to using CBD today," says Nazarian. "It’s a known anti-inflammatory ingredient that can soothe skin conditions and positively affect many people's quality of life.”

If you're still hesitant to use products with CBD in them, try doing a patch test first: Apply a small amount of product to a small, discreet area of your face and wait about 48 hours to ensure you have no adverse reactions.

The Best CBD Skincare Products

When shopping for CBD products, it’s a good idea to flip the package over and make sure you actually see "cannabidiol" listed on the ingredient list. You'll also want to look for a product that’s in shelf-stable packaging so that environmental factors like air and light don't hinder its effectiveness.

Dr. Engelman says it's also a good idea to look for broad-spectrum CBD or full-spectrum CBD products. "These contain hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes to create a full approach to symptoms, thus rendering it most impactful,” she says.

With all that in mind, here are a few of our favorite CBD products to start incorporating into your skincare routine ASAP.

1. NATURECAN Restore CBD Hand Cream

NATURECAN Restore CBD Hand Cream

Winter is coming (dun, dun, dunnnn) and cold weather can spell disaster for hands with painful cracked skin, dry patches, and irritation. With 25 milligrams of CBD and an ultra nourishing combo of shea and cocoa butters, vitamin E, and hemp seed oil, this hand cream’s formula goes above and beyond to soothe moisture-zapped hands. Plus, the convenient size means you can pop it in your purse, pocket, or glove box to keep your hands protected from the elements while you’re on-the-go.

2. MAKEUPDROP Super Silver Haze Purifying Face Mask

MAKEUPDROP Super Silver Haze Purifying Face Mask

If most face masks tend to be too aggressive for your sensitive skin, this gentle formula is a great way to supercharge your skin without any of the irritating side effects. The 100 milligrams of CBD in this face mask help hydrate, powerfully soothe, and boost the skin's regenerative powers. While CBD works its multifaceted magic, antibacterial colloidal silver purifies, kaolin clay detoxes, and hyaluronic acid ensures that your skin is always left feeling dewy and hydrated and never dry.

"This really did work wonders on my face. My skin felt super-duper soft," says Ipster gr2atb3an. "It will pull all that junk out of your pores and leave your skin feeling renewed," another writes.

3. CANNUKA CBD Hydrating Lip Balm

CANNUKA CBD Hydrating Lip Balm

Because our lips don't have oil glands, they're one small area of skin that tends to be the most likely to become dry, cracked, and irritated. But with CBD to the rescue, you can help heal chapped lips in record time. This formula blends CBD with soothing manuka honey, antioxidant-packed grapeseed oil, and hydrating shea butter for a conditioning lip balm with powerful healing benefits. 

"This is my favorite lip balm of all time," says Ipster glorialw. "It heals and lasts on the lips. My lips are so hydrated even in the middle of winter!"

4. YENSA BEAUTY CBD SuperFood Dual Cleansing Oil

YENSA BEAUTY CBD SuperFood Dual Cleansing Oil

This oil-based cleanser is an ideal formula to use to take the day off. Not only will it easily melt away all traces of dirt, grime, and makeup (yes, even the waterproof kind), but it will also soothe the skin, leaving it feeling refreshed and ready for bed. Lather on this oil-to-milk emulsion nightly to infuse the skin with CBD as well as seven other super oils like black cumin, chia, broccoli, and carrot. The result: calm, nourished, extremely hydrated skin.

"This is probably the best cleansing oil I've ever used," one Ipster writes. "It’s better than the oat balm cleansing oil in my opinion and better than any micellar wipe. Plus, it removes all makeup in one go!"

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About the author
Cortney Clift
Cortney is a New York-based freelance writer who has written about beauty and wellness for more than six years. She was previously the senior writer and special projects editor at Brit + Co where she covered a wide range of news and lifestyle topics.
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Article Last Updated October 25, 2021 12:00 AM