Dr. Sturnham was kind enough to educate us on everything about cannabidiols, their derivatives, their use in skincare and the research behind it all.
Cannabis plants are made up of many components, among them, Cannabidiol (CBD), a molecule that has been used in the world of medicine for decades and more recently has become a popular ingredient in skincare. CBD can make up to 40% of Cannabis extracts and can be supplied as CBD oil, extracted as a powder and mixed with an oil like Olive, Hemp or coconut, hence the name ‘CBD oil’.
CBD oil in skincare does not have the major psychotropic component found in Cannabis, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), so you won’t have the mind-altering effect of Cannabis when you use these products. CBD is extracted from the flowers and leaves of the Hemp plant, whose THC content is exceptionally low. It is often so low that it cannot even be detected by testing.
It is important to remember that CBD oil is not the same thing as Hemp seed oil, which is another great ingredient for skin. The two are often marketed interchangeably, but CBD oil is richly concentrated in Cannabidiol, whereas Hemp seed oil only contains trace amounts of Cannabidiol, if any.
Cannabinoids have been around since 1940 in the healthcare world. We do know there is some benefit for systemic use, particularly for inflammatory disease and pain management but the picture is less well studied for CBD in skincare. Whilst we now have many clinical studies that support the skin benefits of CBD, there are also many conflicting studies.
I think the interest in CBD may wax and wane until more sound scientific evidence emerges about the skin benefits of CBD. From a scientific perspective, our skin has receptors for CBD in it, making it an ingredient that the skin recognizes as an ‘essential nutrient’, very much in the same way as Vitamins A and C.
Hemp oil is another Cannabis derivative made from pressed Hemp seeds, not to be confused with CBD. It has been used in beauty products for many years and was made famous by brands such as The Body Shop, when they launched their ‘Hemp collection’ in the 90s.
Numerous studies have shown that CBD oil has anti-inflammatory benefits when applied to the skin. This makes CBD a suitable ingredient for acne-prone skin, where the pathophysiology stems from raised levels of inflammation with the pores. Its skin-calming benefits also make this ingredient beneficial for Rosacea and Dermatitis prone skin types.
Research also shows that CBD has the potential to reduce excess sebum, the skin’s natural oil production. One theory is that CBD reduces Pilosebaceous gland inflammation and makes the sebum less ‘sticky’ and as a result, less likely to clog pores. This makes it a useful ingredient for those prone to acne, breakouts and congestion.
CBD oil also has antioxidant properties, making it a useful anti-aging ingredient. By counteracting free-radical damage from environmental stressors and reducing inflammation signals, CBD skincare claims include its potential to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and improving skin radiance and tone.
Some studies have also suggested CBD as a melanocyte stabilizer, making it a potentially useful ingredient to integrate into sun protection products. All this, of course, will need appropriate formulations for the active ingredient to penetrate the epidermis and reach its receptors, in order for it to create a significant change within the skin.
The cosmetic interest in CBD is based around the fact that our skin cells, keratinocytes, contain Cannabinoid receptors. This suggests that the skin responds directly to CBD, and when such products are applied to the skin, they trigger off a series of ‘signals’ that stimulate healing and repair within the deeper dermal skin layers.
The frequency of use very much depends on the type of product and the percentages of CBD used. For example, a CBD serum could potentially be used daily. I personally would recommend this as a night time serum, the best time of day for healing and repair. If you have a CBD mask, I would recommend this as a once or twice weekly product.
There are no age restrictions for using Cannabis Seed oil in skincare, as long as the products do not contain THC. Based on the scientific claims surrounding CBD, this ingredient is potentially beneficial for those with breakouts, pore congestion and inflammation and the best delivery tends to be seen in serum formulations.
THC is known to have a sedative effect and products containing this ingredient are often marketed as sleep aids. CBD on the other hand has been shown to have the opposite effect and make you more alert. The levels used in skincare are unlikely to have systemic absorption and so, if used before bed, will not keep you awake at night.
Therapeutic LED light is proven to have multiple skin benefits. For example, Red / Cyan LED can help reduce inflammation and boost collagen, whilst Green LED is great for promoting healing and for reducing pigmentation. Blue LED is helpful for those prone to congestion and excess oil, as it reduces inflammation and bacteria within the pores.
A great once a week ‘at-home’ facial treatment, utilises the rejuvenating properties of the FOREO UFO, combined with the anti-inflammatory benefits of the new Foreo Cannabis Seed Oil mask.
Cryotherapy has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin, as does Cannabis Seed Oil. Both treatments have also been shown to slow and regulate sebum production, making this combination an effective duo for those prone to enlarged pores, congestion and breakouts.
Depending on the type of product and percentages of active ingredients used, there is always the potential for systemic absorption with skincare products. If you have underlying medical conditions or take prescription medications, it is best to check with your doctor before using any CBD products.
I personally feel that CBD products can be integrated into a regimen that also consists of more traditional skincare products. Many brands utilize the skin benefits of more natural ingredients these days and CBD skincare fits well into this category. I tend to recommend CBD products in the form of serums, for deeper acting results and moisturizers, to reduce any superficial inflammation.
Due to the lack of clinical safety data, it is not recommended that you use CBD products during pregnancy or when breastfeeding.
Whilst Cannabis seed oil is not a new ingredient, it has only recently taken off in the skincare world. FOREO is a really futuristic brand that likes to be ahead of the curve. Their new Cannabis Seed Oil mask works brilliantly with the ‘space-age’ UFO devices. The ingredients in this mask are well thought through. The Cannabis Seed Oil has calming, anti-inflammatory benefits. This has been combined with Chamomile flower extract, also known for its skin conditioning and anti-inflammatory benefits. Naturally rich in many skin-smoothing, calming, and anti-inflammatory properties, and Magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, a Vitamin C derivative, a rich source of antioxidants to fight environmental stressors.
I’ve always been a huge fan of using naturally derived plant-based ingredients in skincare. The Farm to Face collection offers a carefully curated range of masks that calm, hydrate and support skin function.
I love the fact that you use them with my favorite FOREO device, the UFO. I always try to combine science and nature in my clinic treatments and it’s great that you can also do this yourself at home. The UFO utilizes the skin benefits of LED, Cryo, and T-sonic waves to enhance the efficacy of the mask systems.
The terms ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ can often be really misleading in skincare. Whilst many of my top pick ingredients, such as plant-based stem cells and antioxidants, such as Vitamin C, can work wonders in your skincare routine, there are many that can do more harm than good.
Be aware that many ‘natural’ ingredients can also cause significant skin sensitivities, that build up over time, for example essential oils can often be problematic and lead to skin reactions. Some natural ingredients such as Citrus oils and Alcohol for example, can also be harsh and abrasive on the skin. This makes it important that you know which ‘natural’ ingredients beneficial for your skin and also the ones to avoid, or use sparingly.
Have you tried our Cannabis Seed Oil mask? What about other masks from the Farm to Face collection? Share your experiences in the comments!
Anita Sturnham is an internationally renowned Doctor, a GP specializing in Dermatology and anti-aging medicine. With over 20 years of medical experience, she is known for her meticulous attention to detail and her ethical approach.