With the world of beauty evolving quicker by the day, it can be hard to keep up with the newest trends, ingredients and technology that are set to shake up our skincare and makeup. A new year brings a new forecast on beauty’s annual calendar, and one ingredient that’s firmly on 2019’s agenda is CBD (or cannabidoil). CBD is extracted naturally from the flowers and buds of the marijuana plant. It’s an active compound known as a cannabinoid and - contrary to some popular belief - it won’t get you high. This is because CBD doesn’t contain THC, the psychoactive strain of the cannabis plant that is traditionally linked with the feeling of being ‘stoned’. As a result, CBD that is extracted from plants with less than 0.02% THC is legal in the UK and can be used in natural medicine, as a food supplement and - interestingly for us - in beauty.
More and more brands are turning to CBD for its powerful, healing properties that lend itself to skincare. You may have spotted the odd CBD-infused facial oil or cannabidoil cleansing bar and wondered just exactly what this natural substance can do for your skin, as well as your body. Shiona Redmond is the founder of Graces London, who make high-quality CBD products for internal and topical use. She’s spent the last 10 years studying the cannabis plant and has become an expert on it, as well as leading the UK field in cannabidoil-based products.
“My father Paul was terminally ill suffering from multiple sclerosis since I was 3 years old. He was asked to be a part of a UK cannabis medicinal trial back in 2002 and unfortunately he chose not to take part, however it had already sparked an interest in me and I started studying the fascinating plant and varied strands of the cannabis plant” explains Shiona, “I was sent an email back in 2014 from the food standards agency to say CBD was legalised in the UK as an ingredient. Sadly my dad passed away a few months before, so my partner and I got to work to set up Graces London in his loving memory.”
Using only Soil Association certified ingredients and lab tested CBD extracts, Graces create oils, butters and waxes formulated with botanical extracts for use on the skin, as well as digestible formulas for internal use. A recent collaboration with organic tampon subscription brand Ohne saw them create a 1% CBD topical oil that’s designed to ease period pain.
As it stands in the UK, CBD is being studied for more therapeutic reasons - primarily for use in medicine - and it’s available on the NHS in very limited cases. Some research has found that it may reduce the symptoms surrounding epilepsy, diabetes or, like Shiona’s father, multiple sclerosis. So what is it about CBD that makes it so powerful?
The human body has an endocannabinoid system that helps regulate functions such as our immune system, sleep and pain. Receptors in the endocannabinoid system respond directly to not just the endocannabinoids the system produces itself, but external cannabinoids as well - in particular, CBD. This means that the positive outcomes of using CBD could be potentially endless for some, with studies showing it could help with stress, anxiety, pain and inflammation.
However, when it comes to using CBD topically, it’s clear to see why beauty brands are turning their attention to its natural properties. “It has potent anti-inflammatory properties and can help to reduce sebum production. CBD works with the natural sebum levels of the skin and is also a non-comedogenic oil, meaning it won’t block your pores” says Shiona.
“CBD also has wonderful antioxidant and antimicrobial properties” she explains, “It’s been found to help protect skin from free radical damage, external weather stresses and pollutants. CBD is also rich in Omega oils and these fatty acids found in CBD are essential in keeping skin looking radiant, healthy and giving you that ultimate skin glow.”
Although historically the cannabis plant has been utilised in natural medicine and healing (mainly before its prohibition in 1937), its existence in beauty has definitely been more of a recent development. A change in law came into effect last year meaning that if the CBD product was “sourced from one of the 63 industrial hemp strains that have been approved by the EU” it is 100% legal. Cue a steady stream of brands looking to incorporate CBD into their beauty products - Milk Makeup released a CBD oil-infused mascara late last year and organic brands in particular are utilising the natural substance for use in facial oils and moisturisers.
At Glasshouse, we’re no stranger to the power of plants and are always open to the skin-loving benefits of new, unique ingredients. However, a flurry of interest in CBD has seen the plant go from underground to edging its way towards the mainstream practically overnight. As consumers, how can we be sure brands aren’t just cashing in on the buzz surrounding the substance?
“Yes, maybe brands are cashing in on CBD” agrees Shiona, “There are a lot of fantastic brands that I have personally become friends with over the years. My partner and I have been formulating CBD products for nearly 6 years now and it does seem that so many more people are jumping on the bandwagon. However, as long as they educate, source the highest quality ingredients and come from a place of integrity - good luck to them I say!”
If you are thinking of incorporating CBD into your beauty regime, there are a few things to bear in mind. Look out for products that contain CBD that is extracted from the Hemp Cannabis flower - this is where “optimum cannabinoids” are found, according to Shiona, and will result in a more potent formula. Soil Association certified ingredients will also ensure you’re getting the highest quality and is a good overall indicator of a well-made product. And finally, don’t be afraid to ask for lab reports: “It’s the consumers right to see or request” explains Shiona. These can allow you to ensure the percentage of CBD stated on the packaging is actually true, guaranteeing you’re getting what you paid for.
As the natural and organic beauty industry shows no signs of slowing down, CBD is giving new meaning to the word ‘green’. Combining science with nature is something we’re advocates of at Glasshouse, and there’s no denying that CBD seems to tick all the boxes we look for in skincare ingredient. We predict 2019 is just the beginning for it.
Words: Lucy Vincent
Feature image: Dunja Opalko for Glasshouse Salon