The dope on CBD beauty products — skincare miracle or myth?
Here’s why you should go green
I’m pretty experimental in bed. From counting sheep and slathering on lavender body creams to sipping on chamomile tea—my trials and errors date back to my teenage years. Wading through the internet for another cure, I stumbled upon CBD beauty products, the buzziest new entrant in the beauty and wellness game.
Even the promises of deep sleep, better skin and reduced anxiety didn’t really sell me on applying a marijuana-derivative on my skin. But after a few hours of reading countless articles on the ingredient that Kim Kardashian West themed her entire baby shower around, I was ready to roll. I slathered on CBD-infused body lotion and slept soundly through the night. Nearly 15 days of application banished my one-hit-wonder doubts—every night, as I lay in bed, my frenetic thoughts slowed, sleep came quickly and the next morning, I woke up feeling refreshed. Here’s what you should know before you go green.
So, what exactly is CBD?
The cannabis sativa plant has over 80 naturally occurring compounds called cannabinoids that can be extracted from it. The two most popular ones are THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)—known for its ‘high’ or stoned effect, and CBD (short for cannabidiol) that has recently been popularised due to its many health benefits and the legalisation of cannabis in different parts of the world.
Will CBD beauty products make you high?
CBD beauty products won’t give you that day-long euphoric hit Bob Marley wrote songs about. “Unlike marijuana which contains THC, CBD is a non-psychoactive compound, meaning it won’t get you high,” says dermatologist Dr Kiran Sethi. While research is still very preliminary, CBD is thought to ease anxiety by helping the body process serotonin, a hormone and neurotransmitter that plays a role in regulating emotions. And that’s probably the reason it’s found devotees in mental health, beauty and wellness spaces right now.
What are the benefits of CBD?
Cannabis-derived ingredients don’t just make for great Instagram content and scandalous dinner table conversations, they have been attributed with a range of beauty and health benefits. “CBD can offer relief from pain, anxiety, depression, and even has anti-inflammatory and anti-acne properties,” says Sethi. Which explains why the likes of celebrities like Katy Perry, Mandy Moore and Olivia Wilde are applying CBD beauty products like lotions on their feet to combat high heel agony on the right carpet. It’s also packed with vitamin A, D and E as well as essential fatty acids that are good for your health and skin, earning it hero status in the supplement aisle at alternative health stores.
How does CBD work?
Research finds using CBD has a similar effect to runner’s high (The same results without any actual running? Sign me up). Our brain and nervous system have receptors that control memory, emotions and coordination. As do our digestive and immune systems and almost every cell in our body. This complex network of receptors is known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). “CBD basically stimulates these cannabinoid receptors, releasing neurotransmitters (sort of like a bliss molecule) that make you feel calm, reduce inflammation and decrease the perception of pain,” illustrates Sethi, which is exactly why you can experience a quick mood boost after using CBD-infused products.
By now, you’ve probably seen everything from CBD-infused mascara, that gives your lashes a ‘high’ to gummy bears that help you relax before bed. But how do they actually work? Sethi says, “Pills and supplements enter the bloodstream and ping the body’s endocannabinoid receptors to relieve anxiety or pain, whereas topical creams target the receptors in the skin cells and are good for easing pain and inflammations in the area they are applied. They stay in the topmost layers of the skin, without entering the bloodstream.”
Why are CBD beauty products everywhere right now?
If you look at the root cause of every major beauty woe, from acne to signs of ageing, inflammation is the reason behind it. CBD may just be the ticket to clear and dope skin; “A CBD-infused product essentially tackles inflammation and balances the skin by interacting with the ECS system, which is why it’s used to combat chronic skin conditions like rosacea and eczema,” explains Sethi. It also works as a powerful antioxidant and helps to fight any toxins that accumulate on the skin’s surface, be it pollution or harmful UV rays.
When it comes to relieving pain in muscles or joints, topical CBD creams, balms and post-workout lotions can be a much cooler and efficacious alternative to traditional balms that rely heavily on camphor oil. They also take away the hassle of popping pills and offer the same pain and swelling fighting benefits.
What about the legality?
Several states in the USA, Canada and Uruguay have legalised cannabis for recreational use. In other countries like the UK, only CBD and its extracts can be used, subject to certain local regulations. “Although cannabis extracts have been used in Ayurveda since generations, India as a country is yet to legalise the use of cannabis and all its derivatives like CBD on the federal level,” adds Sethi, which means you can’t really produce CBD beauty products or supplements here. But if you decide to give this ingredient a shot, she recommends you buy the Lord and Jones CBD Lotion on your travels, in addition to your Chanel No 5.