As more countries legalise cannabis for medicinal use, it's also becoming big news for the beauty industry with cannabis compound cannabidiol or CBD said to be a powerful soother for problem skin. Susannah Taylor investigates

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If you hadn’t heard, cannabis is big news in the world of health  and as more and more countries legalise its use, it’s fast becoming big business too. Many companies that have legalised it have reported a 'gold rush' on cannabis-derived products. Australia, Greece, Croatia, Turkey and Switzerland (among many others) have all legalised cannabis for medicinal usage, whilst in America, 21 states including New York, Arizona and Florida, have done the same.

We've long known that there are also highly therapeutic elements to the cannabis plant. As more research is carried out, it's proving to have wide-ranging and powerful medicinal and health benefits, from halting seizures and epilepsy to reducing tumours in cancer patients, stopping migraines and numerous analgesic and neuro-protective effects.

Beauty companies are also getting in on the act with many using it in skincare products. Alexia Inge, CEO and Co-Founder of Cult Beauty  says, “One of the reasons the cannabis plant has featured throughout human history is that our bodies have native receptors of cannabinoids (what experts call the endocannabinoid system), especially on the surface of the skin. This makes hemp extracts incredibly bioavailable and instantly absorbed by your skin to start working straight away. Cannabinoids are great for helping heal overly sensitive or inflamed conditions such as eczema, flaking, dry skin or acne,” she says, “But they also make incredible moisturisers for all those with ‘normal’ skin types."

CBD has a non-psychoactive effect, so you don’t need to worry about getting high once you apply

One brand on board with using CBD in its products is Perricone MD ; known for its groundbreaking and highly effective, clinically-tested skincare systems, Perricone MD has used phytocannabinoids (naturally-occurring cannabinoids in the cannabis plant) said to have anti-inflammatory effect, to improve stressed and oil-prone skin. Founder Dr Nicholas Perricone says, "We are particularly excited because cannabis extracts have a long history of counteracting inflammatory conditions and inflammation is the hallmark of the ageing process."

CBD has a non-psychoactive effect, so you don’t need to worry about getting high once you apply. There is another, sister-ingredient from the cannabis plant that pharmaceutical companies are also very interested in, which is called THC. This is very effective medically at stopping seizures but does have a psychoactive effect and is not being used in skincare.

If you are looking for an effective anti-inflammatory product that suits sensitive skin, then a product that contains CBD looks to be highly effective.

The difference between hemp and CBD

Hemp (the name for the cannabis plant) is nothing new in skincare - Anita Roddick, creator of the Body Shop first introduced a skincare range of products using industrial-strength hemp back in 1998. Don't be confused between hemp and CBD, though; "Cannabis and hemp are varieties of the same plant species, cannabis sativa. Because they share the same species name, confusion often arises around their differences," explains a report by leading cannabis market intelligence company Prohibition Partners . "Cannabis, which contains the psychoactive THC component, is derived from the flowering tips of the cannabis sativa plant, while hemp seed oil (cannabis sativa seed oil) is cold-pressed from the seeds that contain no THC and small amounts of CBD."

"Although they come from the same cannabis family, they are often incorrectly marketed as the same thing, leading to consumer confusion," the report continues. "On labelling, hemp seed oil is listed as cannabis sativa seed oil; and CBD, as cannabidiol, hemp oil, full-spectrum hemp, PCR (phytocannabinoid rich) or PCR hemp extracts. CBD oil is a more expensive ingredient compared with hemp seed oil and tends to be associated with premium-positioned beauty products."

CBD skincare products to try

Bybi CBD Booster, £12 for 15ml

This tiny little pipetted product packs a punch when it comes to soothing acne-plagued skin. It has powerful blemish-calming properties - the dry oil is absorbed easily; either add it to your serum or moisturiser, or apply neat for an intense dose. Prepare for your skin to feel seriously blissed out.

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Revolution Skincare CBD Tonic, £9.99 for 200ml

We can always rely on Revolution to bring out bang-on-trend skincare at affordable prices, and this tonic is no exception. Formulated with cannabidiol and purifying tea tree extract, a quick swipe of this on a reusable cotton pad will have your skin breathing a sigh of relief.

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Rodial CBD Sleep Drops, £85 for 31ml

We know these are painfully expensive, but you only need a few drops each night, so a little does go a long way. As well as anti-inflammatory CBD to calm redness and irritation, these drops also hold host to collagen and squalane for a hydration boost that will keep your skin looking young.

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Aurelia CBD Super Serum, £64 for 30ml

Aurelia's range of skincare in made from 10 per cent pure bioorganic botanicals with no synthetics or parabens, so it didn't surprise us that the probiotic skincare brand had gone above and beyond for its CBD serum - this product doesn't just use any old CBD, instead, it includes a powerful crystal isolate known for anti-inflammatory powers. It's lightweight, fast-absorbing and also houses hyaluronic acid to deliver a hit of hydration.

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 Votary Super Boost Night Drops, £95 for 30ml

Another product with drops in the name, this offering from Votary can be used alone for an intensive overnight treat for sensitive skin or added to your serum or moisturiser for ongoing maintenance. Strawberry seed oil has been added for an extra dash of luminosity.

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