Ask any wellness or beauty aficionado, and they’ll all agree: CBD oil is having a moment. But, unlike other super beauty ingredients making a splash in skin and hair care, there is a lot of controversy surrounding the cannabis-derived ingredient. Nonetheless, its beauty benefits and promising future in beauty are hard to ignore.
We tapped three experts to find out the beauty benefits of CBD oil, plus everything you need to know before trying the popular beauty trend. See what they had to say, below.
What Is CBD Oil and How Does It Work
The cannabis plant boasts a variety of compounds—also known as cannabinoids—believed to contain medicinal benefits. Among these cannabinoids is cannabidiol, or CBD. “Oils that are pulled [from] the plant that contains a high concentration of CBD are known as CBD oils,” says Dr. Alissia Zenhausern, NMD.
In order to understand how CBD oils work, it’s important to know what cannabinoids are and what they do. Cannabinoids are chemical messengers that activate a class of cell membrane receptors located throughout the body. These body receptors are part of the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in a variety of physiological processes including appetite, pain-sensation, sleep, mood and memory. Cannabinoids are either naturally produced by the body (endogenous) or outside the body (exogenous). The cannabinoids found in marijuana and hemp, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD, are considered exogenous, which, when consumed, also interact with cannabinoid receptors in the body and can generate similar physical and psychological effects.
There are currently two known subtypes of cannabinoid receptors in the body, CB1 and CB2. The CB1 receptor is expressed mainly in the brain, lungs, liver and kidneys. The CB2 receptor is expressed mainly in the immune system and in hematopoietic cells. Before the CBD beauty trend took off, Dr. Zenhausern says CBD-infused drugs were most commonly used for pain management and inflammatory conditions, as “CB2 receptors are most commonly found as part of the immune system [and they can] affect inflammation and pain.
Now, it is important to note that CBD will not produce the same euphoric sensations as THC, which means using CBD won’t make you feel “high.” “The way cannabinoids work is by attaching to CB1 and CB2 body receptors. However, new research has found that CBD doesn’t seem to attach to either receptor directly and [might] help your body use its own cannabinoids,” she adds.
The Beauty Benefits of CBD Oil
Although some CBD enthusiasts experiment with adding the oil into homemade beauty tinctures, the CBD beauty trend mostly refers to products formulated with the cannabinoid. Similar to other natural beauty–benefiting ingredients—such as spirulina, which can be ingested on its own or used topically in a beauty product—the oil is the ingredient, and the beauty product is the delivery system that helps provide the skin with the beauty benefits of CBD.
Speaking of beauty benefits, CBD is chock-full of them. So much so that some dermatologists—including board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Debra Jaliman—recommend the use of CBD oil for hair and skin. “It’s rich in vitamins A, C and E,” says Dr. Jaliman. “Vitamin A stimulates the cells responsible for producing the tissue that keeps skin firm and healthy; vitamin C stimulates collagen production, and it helps to reduce signs of aging; [and] vitamin E blocks free radicals from the body [which] helps slow down the aging process,” she continues.
On top of the benefits of CBD on aging skin, it can also benefit breakout-prone complexions. “Because acne is an inflammatory condition related to overworked sebaceous-gland production, promising new research states that CBD can help reduce the production of sebum, which means CBD could become a future treatment for acne, particularly acne vulgaris, the most common form of acne associated with overproduction of sebum,” says Dr. Zenhausern.
CBD beauty products might also help other inflammatory-related conditions such as skin allergies, rosacea, eczema and psoriasis. “The anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties of CBD naturally help improve irritating skin conditions including rosacea, eczema and psoriasis,” Julie Winter, COO and founding partner of CBD For Life, explains.
Skin isn’t the only thing that benefits from CBD—hair can, too! Because it’s rich in fatty and amino acids, it may be beneficial to your hair and nails, too. “CBD and hemp oil stimulate and enhance the growth of hair through the scalp’s absorption of the main fatty acids [found in CBD and hemp], omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9,” says Winter.
Potential Side Effects of CBD Oil
The good news? Unlike THC, initial studies around CBD pose little to no sign of side effects to those who ingest it. “Many small studies have looked at the safety of CBD in adults,” explains Dr. Zenhausern. “Of the studies done, researchers found that most adults well-tolerated CBD even at a wide range of doses. They found no significant side effects on the central nervous system. The most common side effects cited include fatigue, diarrhea and changes in appetite or weight.”
As for skin care, Dr. Jaliman says, “No studies have shown it to cause irritation or to aggravate sensitive skin. Research has shown CBD [beauty products are] safe to use with no unwanted side effects.”
Still, Dr. Zenhausern advises to be cautious when trying the CBD beauty trend—especially if using the straight oil versus a beauty product formulated with it. “Each CBD oil contains a different concentration of CBD, so it is very important to read the label and understand what it means,” she says.
Aside from minding the concentration, it’s also important to be aware of the legal issues surrounding the ingredient. “In the United States, each state has different laws when it comes to the use of CBD as well as medical marijuana,” says Dr. Zenhausern. “Anyone considering CBD oil should speak with their local healthcare provider for more information about the laws in their unique state as well as high-quality sources for safe CBD,” she concludes.
How to Use CBD Oil for Best Results
If the beauty benefits of CBD excite you, there are a few ways you can include the super beauty ingredient into your regimen. One of the first, most important tips for using CBD in beauty is to do your research. “Research the CBD products you are interested in purchasing and make sure the products do not contain THC,” says Winter. “CBD is not FDA-regulated so consumers should be on the lookout for companies that are transparent with their test results,” she adds.
Another important thing to consider is the results. As with all beauty products, the types of results you wish to see should dictate the way you apply or use CBD in your regimen. “Consumers can ingest CBD oil in products like tinctures for fast-acting results since it travels directly into the bloodstream. But, applying CBD topically is the most effective for targeting specific areas of the body like muscle aches and pains,” explains Winter.
As promising as CBD sounds, it’s no secret that this beauty ingredient is still pretty new and highly controversial, so our advice? As with any trendy, expert-approved beauty ingredient, it’s always wise to consult your dermatologist before adding CBD beauty products to your regimen.
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