What comes to mind when you think of cannabis: stoned old hippies? Teenagers smoking illicit joints? It’s about as far away from luxe skincare as you can get.
Yet cannabis looks set to be the hottest new ingredient in beauty products in 2018. Yes, it’s legal. And no, these creams won’t get you high.
Both luxury and High Street brands are launching products containing extracts of the cannabis sativa plant, and are busy proclaiming its unique anti-inflammatory, anti-ageing and skin-healing potential.
It’s already a huge growth area in the U.S., where cannabis has been legalised in some form in 29 states.
So, what’s the magic ingredient? It turns out there are two: hemp oil, which is made from the seeds of the cannabis plant, and cannabidiol (CBD), which is extracted from the flowers and leaves.
CBD is one of the two main active ingredients in cannabis, but not the mind-altering one — that’s THC, illegal in the UK.
Hemp seed oil doesn’t contain either CBD or THC, but it’s prized for its moisturising properties. It has more of the essential fatty acids our skin needs than any other vegetable oil. So far, so uncontroversial.
But it’s the growing trend for using cannabinoids such as CBD that’s potentially more revolutionary. Around 250,000 people in the UK use CBD oil (usually orally) to treat medical conditions including multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, Parkinson’s and inflammatory diseases like rheumatoid arthritis.
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties are promising for skincare, explains consultant dermatologist Dr Alexis Granite at London’s Cadogan Clinic. ‘If you can reduce inflammation, you can also reduce ageing.’
She points out that scientific proof is thin on the ground as yet, although a research review last year showed CBD could have an anti-inflammatory effect on skin.
‘We have to be careful because the studies that exist so far are small,’ says Dr Granite. ‘As the U.S. continues to legalise cannabis there will be bigger scientific studies, which will be very interesting.’
Here are some of the best cannabis-related products to consider in 2018 . . .
What’s on offer: Make-up artist Arabella Preston, who gave Kate Middleton make-up lessons before her wedding, is behind the natural oil skincare brand, Votary. Its newest range, Super Seed, contains hemp seed oil: there’s the Super Seed Cleansing Oil, £55; Super Seed Nutrient Cream, £65 and Super Seed facial oil, £70 (votary.co.uk)
What it contains: All three products contain oil from cannabis seeds. ‘Hemp oil is a calming oil that absorbs into skin beautifully,’ says Arabella.
How it works: Massage a few drops of the cleansing oil into your face and neck. Wet the face cloth and wipe away dirt.
What’s on offer: The Body Shop was the first High Street brand to bring out a range of hemp products 20 years ago. It was banned in Australia, but now one tube of its hemp hand protector is sold worldwide every nine seconds. The three bestsellers in the range are Hard-working Hand Protector, £5; Heavy Duty Body Moisture Protector, £15 and Hemp Rescue Balm, £16.
What it contains: All three products contain hemp seed oil, made from the seeds of the cannabis plant, with virtually no CBD (less than 25 parts per million), but plenty of essential fatty acids.
How it works: Hemp seed oil has potent moisturising properties, explains Neil Watson, the company’s research director. The range is aimed at those with very dry skin: the Heavy Duty Body Moisture Protector promises 96 hours of moisture with one application.
MEGHAN’S MIRACLE SOAP
What’s on offer: Cult U.S. soap brand Dr Bronner’s has a legion of celebrity fans, including Meghan Markle (who swears by the almond soap). All eight liquid soaps — peppermint, lavender, citrus, tea tree, rose, eucalyptus, almond and unscented — contain hemp seed oil. £10.49, drbronner.co.uk.
What it contains: Hemp seed oil, along with other essential oils. ‘The exact percentage of hemp oil in our soap is a trade secret,’ says president Mike Bronner, whose grandfather began the company.
How it works: ‘Hemp oil has an especially creamy lather and also mirrors the natural oils in the skin’s sebum, leaving skin feeling smooth,’ says Bronner.
What’s on offer: Multiple sclerosis sufferer Jasmin Thomas, 26, started her own range of cannabis skincare products after she found that ingesting a few drops of CBD oil alleviated muscle spasms caused by her condition.
Her interest spread to skincare, and her company, Ohana, now offers three products: Lavender Soothing Balm, £30; Revitalising Body Oil, £40, and Ylang Ylang Lip Balm, £10, which officially launch next month (ohana-cbd.com).
What it contains: All three products contain CBD oil (200mg in the balm, 250mg in the oil and 15mg in the lip balm) in combination with other oils such as shea butter and avocado.
How it works: ‘The lavender balm is really soothing on the skin, and although I can’t make any claims for it, I know people with arthritis and psoriasis buy it,’ says Jasmin. The body oil can be used for massage or to moisturise.
What’s on offer: A supplier of CBD products, CBD Oils has introduced the Love Hemp range. Most products are designed to be taken orally, but their Body Salve is a skin cream containing CBD oil (£29.99, cbdoils uk.com).
What it contains: CBD Oils says the Body Salve has 300mg of CBD oil (in a 50ml pot), around average for a general purpose soothing cream. Some creams aimed at a more medicinal market have up to 900mg of CBD in a 30ml pot.
How it works: Use it on the body or face to soothe skin. Customers of Love Hemp say they use it to help reduce post-surgery scars, and to relieve conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema.
By Rachel Carlyle – DailyMail