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How cannabis is getting under our skin



Some experts think CBD could help a variety of skin conditions

CBD is changing the face of the beauty industry, but are the benefits more than just skin deep?

From retinol and hyaluronic acid to charcoal masks and snail mucus (yes, apparently this was a trend in 2018) – the beauty industry knows we’ll put almost anything on our skin in the search for a flawless complexion.

But one ingredient which appears to be living up to the hype is CBD.

The CBD skincare market has exploded in recent years as more evidence comes to light of the cannabinoid’s anti-inflammatory effects. And with the industry projected to generate £734m in annual sales by 2024, those in the field predict this is a trend that will continue to snowball.

Leading UK CBD brand Love Hemp, has seen its cosmetic range – which includes a 300mg body salve and cellulose fibre face mask – prove particularly popular with consumers and CEO Tony Calamita, expects to see a great deal more products entering the market in the coming years.

“Consumers are focused on health and wellbeing now more than ever and CBD is a large part of this market, as one of the fastest growing product categories in the UK,” he told Cannabis Health.

“Topical CBD and CBD-infused skincare products are quickly making their way into skincare and self-care routines across the UK and as consumers become more invested in natural beauty and skincare, and I don’t see this slowing down anytime soon.”

Tony continued: “The benefits of CBD and skincare have been well documented, with many leading skincare companies beginning to incorporate it into their products. Combining the spirit-lifting properties of the hemp plant alongside natural skincare ingredients can only mean good things for the skin.”

“I expect CBD-based products will continue to grow in popularity and we’ll see a lot of new products enter the market.”

While a handful of big-name beauty brands have cottoned on – The Body Shop released its CBD range in recent weeks – an industry report published by Prohibition Partners earlier this year found that it is actually the smaller brands which are driving the developments in the CBD beauty market, while multinational companies remain wary of its legal position.

One such UK brand is The London Botanists, which recently launched an organic skin balm containing CBD, rosehip and shea butter, which is said to be safe for even ‘the most sensitive of skin’.

The London Botanists founder, Chloe Lawrence-Green

“The skincare trend has already begun, but I believe it is only going to get bigger and bigger,” commented founder Chloe Lawrence-Green, who launched the brand after struggling to find all-natural products on the market.

She added: “CBD applied directly to the skin has been found to have significant soothing properties helping minimise issues related to skin sensitivity, including redness and reactivity.”

Taking it one step further, the world’s first beauty industry-endorsed CBD facial which arrived in the UK in October, along with its first full range of cosmeceutical CBD products.

The Grass Roots Facial, which it is hoped will soon be available in salons up and down the country, is a five step treatment which can be personalised to target certain conditions including acne, rosacea, sensitive, pigmented and ageing skin.

The Grass Roots range includes seven products designed to replace the client’s skincare regime, avoiding the additional steps and expense that comes with adding more products to an existing routine.

The facial and product range will only be available in salons where beauty therapists have completed the required training course, so they are able to educate their clients about CBD.

Grass Roots co-founders (L-R) Lyndsey Price, Jo Minchin and Zoe Wilkinson

Although it’s still early days, Grass Roots founders believe that the benefits of CBD could have huge implications for how skin concerns are treated, with the people most commonly using CBD-infused products reported as being those with conditions such as eczema, acne and psoriasis.

Co-founder Zoe Wilkinson said: “Doctors often prescribe strong ointments for skin conditions like psoriasis or eczema, but if we can treat these conditions with something natural, before going down the medical route then that will massively change how we use skincare.”

Until recently the interest in cannabis extracts and their potential benefits for the skin has been predominantly cosmetic, but last year, Sapphire Medical Clinics opened the UK’s first medical cannabis dermatology service for patients with hard-to-treat skin conditions.

For the first time, doctors can now offer cannabis-based treatments to patients with rare and challenging conditions who have not responded to conventional therapies.

Consulting dermatologists at the clinic told Cannabis Health this could ‘dramatically change’ how health professionals treat skin disorders such as atopic eczema, genital psoriasis and allergic contact dermatitis.

While scientific evidence into the efficacy of cannabis in treating skin conditions is limited, it is thought that its anti-inflammatory properties could help reduce inflammation in a wide range of conditions including discoid lupus erythematosus and scarring alopecia.

“There is evidence that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects but there is still a lot of work to be done in terms of determining efficacy,” said Dr Richard Watchorn, a dermatologist based at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust.

“The numbers involved in the studies are not what we would usually work with, so at this moment in time the evidence base is in its embryonic stages, but there’s enough to show that it is promising.”

The Sapphire Medical dermatology service will play a vital role in collecting this much-needed data. Participating patients – treated with either topical or systemic therapies – will be entered into a registry where doctors will record their symptoms and any improvement in their conditions to help inform future studies.

Serious skin conditions can have a devastating impact on people’s lives, affecting everything from their sleep to work life and personal relationships.

“If you’re living with chronic itching or chronic pain, it can affect your sleep, your ability to be productive in your work and therefore your job prospects,” Dr Watchorn explained.

“Skin conditions can affect people’s appearance, their self-worth and how they enter into romantic relationships – it really can be devastating for their whole life.”

He added: “Being able to access a new treatment, even one that doesn’t have a huge evidence base at this time, but that will hopefully in the future, is very exciting.”


Cannabis Health is a journalist-led news site. Any views expressed by interviewees or commentators do not reflect our own. All content on this site is intended for educational purposes, please seek professional medical advice if you are concerned about any of the issues raised.

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