Is cannabis the biggest thing in skincare for 2018?

A host of brands are utilizing oils from the plant in their potions.

A host of brands are utilizing oils from the plant in their potions.

(Credit: Jessa Carter)

In 2017 cannabis started making waves, eventually becoming a buzzword in beauty. Now with legalization starting on January 1 in California and set to come nationally to Canada in July, there are a host of brands poised to be pioneers in the cannabis-infused skincare space.

Actor Olivia Wilde was profiled in The New York Times touting the benefits of CBD body lotion earlier this month. CBD is the non-psychoactive molecule found in cannabis, that reportedly helps to relieve anxiety, pain and stress, and Wilde used it to help manage neck pain during a rigorous six month stint on Broadway. As more mainstream names begin to chat about the benefits of the plant — Rihanna, Sarah Silverman, Whoopi Goldberg, Susan Sarandon and many more celebs are fans, in skincare or smokeable form — the stigma behind cannabis and its uses begins to wane.

Also, in 2017 there were a plethora of cannabis-related medical studies released, some of them concluding that cannabis can help your sex life, that CBD can reduce the number of seizures each month for children with epilepsy, and that THC increased the number of brain connections in geriatric mice.

But back to skincare. While studies are still being performed on the effects of THC in topical form some believe that you can get high from a THC-infused lip balm, for example. But, no, you won't get a buzz off using a beauty concoction that is made with CBD or hemp seed oil.

"Cannabis has gained a lot of traction lately as regulatory markets open and consumers become more educated on cannabis 'beyond the high,'" April Pride, chief creative officer of Van der Pop, a female-focused cannabis lifestyle brand, said. "2017 was the year of CBD, which activates receptors beneath the skin's surface to truly offer whole-plant benefits for an integrated beauty solution." Pride added skincare to her stable of products last year, which includes chic and minimal stash bags made out of leather. Her current favourite beauty product? "I'm crushing on the FORGET Balm. It's ideal for soothing neck and forearm pain from the daily grind."

"The benefits of cannabis in skin care are something to be celebrated in the natural personal care space as a great alternative to synthetics currently on the market," Brandi Leifso, CEO and founder of Evio Beauty Group, Ltd. recently told me via email. Leifso is currently working to bring CBD into a new range of skincare for her Evio line and, has partnered with a licensed producer to help make that happen. "The beauty industry is thirsty for safe, natural alternative ingredients as the natural beauty market grows year over year."

While we wait for more information to be gleaned from upcoming studies, hemp seed oil, which can be found at the mass level in a lot of products (The Body Shop has been using it since the 1990s!) have proven skin-enhancing benefits.Side note: Cannabis is broken down into two types: Sativa and indica. Hemp is a variation of the sativa strain. Hemp has most often been used in skincare, with Cannabis as a whole now making more of an appearance.

"We like to refer to hemp oil as the superfood of skin care," Becky Adam, founder of Lovebud, LLC, a skincare line based out of California, said. "Oils derived from the hemp plant are great for skin care because they are high in vitamins A, C and E, and are also high in the omega-3 and omega-6 essential fatty acids that our skin loves to absorb. This means that the oil is naturally anti-aging, because it has natural antioxidant properties and works as a skin-conditioning agent."

Berrin Noorata, a Marley Natural spokesperson, concurs (MN is a cannabis lifestyle brand created by Bob Marley's family). "Hemp seed oil contains up to 80 per cent essential fatty acids, which is one of the highest percentages of any plant in the world. This unique blend of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids acts in harmony with your body's daily needs." Noorata also notes that hemp seed oil has been used in skincare and wellness for centuries.

"People are learning more about the benefits of cannabis in all contexts from wellness to skincare," Noorata continued. "As people learn about the positive potential of the plant and taboos break down, people are seeking out natural product lines that incorporate cannabis to experience its benefits."

So the question now is, can you buy cannabis-infused products in Canada? Well, the answer is yes and no.

Products that list hemp seed oil as an ingredient are ok. Brands that are looking to take advantage of the healing properties of CBD and THC (the psychoactive molecule that makes you feel high), will have to wait until legalization later this year.

"At this time we're restricted with what we can bring to market due to legislation," Leifso said. "For now, legislation allows topicals to include 0.3 per cent CBD. So, that's what we're working with on our cannabis-infused skin care line." 

"As legislation changes and we have a more clear understanding of THC and CBD tolerance in topicals," Leifso continued, "we'll be working with our partnered cannabis license producer, manufacturers and cannabis advisors to continue innovating in the space."

So until recreational cannabis is legal in Canada, there will be women behind-the-scenes doing a ton of research before a massive roll out of infused skincare later this summer!