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CBD · October 3, 2019

Everything to Know About CBD and Hemp Beauty | Birchbox

What are the basics?

  • Cannabis can be classified in two ways: as marijuana or as hemp, depending on the level of THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) it contains. Hemp has less than 0.3% THC, and marijuana has 5-35% THC. If you havent guessed yet, THC is the cannabis compound that gets you high. For years, THC was more commonly consideredit wasnt until researchers started studying low-THC cannabis that the benefits of CBD emerged.
  • CBD stands for cannabidiol, one of the other natural compounds found in the cannabis plant. The key takeaway is that CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning if youre waiting for it to change your state of mind, youll be sorely disappointed. CBD will not get you high because of its low levels of THC. To recap: Marijuana contains low levels of CBD (and high levels of THC), and hemp contains high levels of CBD (and very low levels of THC). Got it?
  • Hemp seed oil, also known as cannabis sativa seed oil, is a cold-pressed extract from the seeds of the hemp plant (think of it the same way you would jojoba seed oil or olive oil). Its made by pressing hemp seeds. It does not have CBD in it, as CBD and hemp seed oil come from two different parts of the hemp plant.

So, how does it work?

To understand how CBD works, its important to know that CBD and THC are the two most well-known cannabinoids (the name of the natural compounds found in cannabis). There are over a hundred cannabinoids in the cannabis plant.

Our body makes its own cannabinoids in whats called the endocannabinoid system. We have cannabinoid receptors not only in our brains, but also in many tissues throughout our body, says Daniel Belkin, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist at the Laser & Skin Surgery Center of New York. CBD stimulates and activates the cannabinoid receptors on our nerves and skin cells, which in turn produces therapeutic effects.

Whats all the buzz about?

The CBD market is predicted to reach $22 billion by 2022, according to the Brightfield Group. But why? Theres historically been a stigma attached to marijuana and hemp: The government used to criminalize both due to confusion about their differences. Cannabis has blown up, however, since industrial hemp was legalized in 2018.

The Agriculture Improvement Act has, in a way, legitimized [cannabis] in wellness routines, because the consumer has now been given the green light to consider CBD and hemp in beauty products, says Anthony Saniger, founder and CEO of Standard Dose, a healing and wellness community that vets and curates CBD products with a brick-and-mortar store in Manhattan.

The magic formula? Removal of the stigma + exposure of its benefits = CBD mania.

What are its beauty benefits?

Tons more research needs to be done on CBD and hemp seed oil, but that doesnt mean we cant get excited about its possibilities.

Many tout CBD as a natural, plant-based alternative to Western medicine in treating various conditions like chronic stiffness and pain, anxiety, depression, PTSD, arthritis, and insomnia (to name a few). Clinical testing for CBD is limited, but in June 2018 it was approved by the FDA to treat two rare forms of epilepsy.

But what about in your beauty routine? CBD's primary beauty benefit is anti-inflammation, says Saniger. This means it can help reduce lines and wrinkles, puffiness and redness, and even acne, because something thats anti-inflammatory reduces your immune systems response when its not actually needed, explains Belkin.

CBD has also been shown to reduce itch, which, according to Belkin, is one of its most promising applications. There arent many topical products that can effectively reduce itch and redness, so CBD is really exciting in that realm.

So what about hemp seed oil? Its a good emollient, says Belkin, because its chock full of omega fatty acids. This means its a naturally powerful moisturizer for dry hair and skin, but not necessarily more so than any other oil youd use.

What should I keep in mind when looking for a CBD beauty product?

1. Make sure its actually CBD.
Cannabis sativa seed oil, or hemp seed oil, is not the same as CBD, although youll sometimes see misleading advertising, says Saniger. If youre looking for a CBD product, make sure it lists cannabidiol in the ingredients.

2. Look for the concentration.
A higher concentration of CBD (usually measured in milligrams) will generally indicate its effects are greater (but will also affect its price, FYI). However, a CBD product is about so much more than milligrams. Look at the concentration, yes, but dont get hung up on it. Look at the other ingredients too and stay curious about the products youre using in your daily routine, says Saniger.

3. Be aware of full vs. broad spectrum CBD.
Full spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids beyond just CBD, including less than 0.3% THC. Broad spectrum CBD contains multiple cannabinoids beyond just CBD, but does not contain any THC.

4. Start small.
The risks of topical CBD are most likely minimal, but as with most botanicals, they can cause allergies, so make sure to see how your body reacts. Applying it to a huge swath of skin may cause enough systemic absorption to have untoward effects, says Belkin.

The most important thing to remember? CBD will affect everyone differentlyso the best thing you can do is try different formulas to see what does (and doesnt) work. CBD is still a mystery, but it seems like it may do a lot. Theres all these areas where it actually does look promising, says Belkin.

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Alexis Bridenbaugh