Not since K-beauty and sheet masks hit the shores (and faces) on this side of the world has beauty been so head over heels for something as it is now for CBD oil. There have been so many CBD product launches that we’re starting to run out of smoking puns and product names. CBD oil, or cannabidiol, has quickly gained a dope (sorry) rep in beauty — and health in general — thanks to its many uses.
CBD oil reportedly helps with everything from anxiety to heart disease to inflammation. In regards to beauty, it has been hyped for fighting acne, its moisturizing abilities and for fighting free radicals. Given CBD oil’s soothing rep, it’s also being promoted as a calming option for sensitive skin. We investigate whether CBD oil is good for reactive skin or whether the claims are just hot air.
What Is CBD Oil?
Let’s start with the basics: CBD oil is one of the major cannabinoids (chemical compounds) found in the Cannabis sativa L. plant, says Crème Collective founder Leilah Mundt. (It’s one of over 100 types of cannabinoids.) To answer the question everyone is wondering, using CBD on skin will not get you high. Unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), CBD is non-psychoactive, says Mundt.
Why CBD Oil Is Trending in Skin Care
We are discovering that CBD oil has a multitude of health benefits, including antioxidant and antimicrobial properties in terms of skincare, says Linnea Robertson, spa director at Balboa Bay Resort. CBD is rich in vitamin A, which stimulates cells to keep skin firm and healthy. It also has vitamin C, which can boost collagen production and vitamin E, which can fight free radicals and help with the signs of aging. As mentioned previously, CBD is thought to be beneficial for acne-prone skin because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Basically, the CBD claims cover almost every skin care concern.
CBD Oil for Sensitive Skin
Sensitive skin is typically associated with inflammation, allergies or very dry skin because of a lack of natural sebum production says Sylvia Wehrle, the CEO and founder of June.CBD Apothecary. It’s thought that the internal anti-inflammatory properties of CBD also hold true when it’s applied topically, says Heather Wilson, a licensed esthetician and director of brand development at InstaNatural. The ingredient is believed to help calm redness and irritation. Wehrle says CBD can aid in decreasing inflammation at the surface and just below. Plus, it can help regulate sebum production.
Board-certified dermatologist and celebrity beauty expert Dr. Anna Guanche says that CBD oil might be super trendy, but it has not been used as a topical agent for very long compared to other studied skin care ingredients. This is something to keep in mind when weighing the claims made about it. We haven’t seen extensive reports on irritant or allergic reactions from CBD actives. So far, Guanche says CBD’s “allergenicity seems to be low.” She points out there can be allergies to anything, especially when it comes to plant-derived ingredients like CBD oil.
What Should You Look for in a CBD Skin Care Product?
Celebrity esthetician Kát Rudu, who spent nearly two years developing a CBD Sanctuary Glow Serum, says getting a clean version of CBD oil is key. There are companies using CBD oils that can have high levels of chemicals because of pesticide use, says Rudu. On top of that, there are CBD oils that have not been through microbiological, terpene analysis or residual solvent testing. The resulting products might come at a lower price point, but they could have irritants or other properties that make skin react. “The CBD oils in the market vary greatly, so knowing about the product and its process is important for sensitive and highly reactive skin,” Rudu says. One key guideline is price. Rudu says that excellent quality, pure versions of CBD oil come with a high price tag.
Other Calming Options for Sensitive Skin
If you have sensitive skin and want to hold off on CBD, there are other tried-and-true skin-calming options. Wilson says to look for products with soothing and moisturizing ingredients. Botanical extracts like green tea, centella asiatica (aka tiger grass/gotu kola) and chamomile fit the bill along with oats, niacinamide, vitamin E and oils such as argan and jojoba. Additionally, Rudu suggests aloe vera, botanical hyaluronic acid, witch hazel, almond oil, primrose oil and raspberry oil.
Mundt says the simpler the formula, the better is a good rule to follow for sensitive skin.
Ingredients to Avoid If You Have Sensitive Skin
Individual sensitivities can vary. In general, those with sensitive skin should avoid anything with fragrance, including synthetic and natural options, says Wilson. Essential oils should be used with caution because they can irritate skin if they’re poor quality or the concentration is too strong.
Watch out for strong ingredients like retinol and certain acids, like glycolic, especially in higher concentrations. They can be too harsh for sensitive skin. It’s worth mentioning again that harsh preservatives, sulfates and parabens are best avoided, per Wehrle.
If you’re uncertain about an ingredient or product, Vail suggests checking out the Environmental Working Group database. Their consumer guides rate over 70,000 products in terms of allergies and toxicities.
Like with CBD oil’s other claims, there hasn’t been enough research done to fully understand how the ingredient can benefit sensitive skin. If you do want to try it, take precautions like you would with any new ingredients. Choose quality CBD oil products from brands that provide transparency. Then pay attention to how the ingredient reacts with skin. If you experience any sort of reaction, stop using the product ASAP.