The CBD market is exploding, and analysts estimate it will be worth $22 billion by 2022. But you don’t need an industry analysis to believe that the U.S. is in the middle of a CBD boom: it’s getting easier for people in a growing number of locations to buy CBD products at local dispensaries, health food stores, salons, boutiques, and online shops.
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. CBD’s potential to unlock many health benefits of cannabis without generating the “high” associated with THC explains much of its attraction.
That attraction is proving particularly powerful in the skincare market. CBD-infused skincare products have achieved significant mainstream success.
Popular fashion publications such as Allure and New York Magazine have published CBD skincare recommendations alongside lists of best new soaps and mascaras, and lotions from hip CBD company Lord Jones can now be purchased in beauty mega-chain Sephora. While topical products are an easy way to take CBD, other delivery methods (such as tinctures and sprays) can also offer skin benefits.
CBD is undeniably hyped, and while much of that hype has roots in real scientific and anecdotal evidence, the complicated legal history of cannabis means there have been few robust studies of CBD’s health benefits. Users should always consult a doctor about health problems and inform them about use of CBD or any other products or supplements.
Keep in mind that CBD’s effects and efficacy can vary from person to person. Indeed, dermatologists studying CBD have warned that CBD’s interactions with skin are poorly understood and can sometimes cause negative effects. In short, CBD is not a miracle cure.
As CBD research continues, we’ll develop a better understanding of how this natural compound affects human health. A growing body of early evidence, however, ties it to the following skin-health benefits.
Acne vulgaris (i.e., pimples) is one of the most common skin issues. Luckily, a growing body of evidence suggests that CBD could provide an effective treatment for this annoying condition.
Less Anxiety and Stress
The relationship between emotional health and skin health is well documented. Periods of high stress flood your body with cortisol--a hormone that contributes to acne and other skin conditions. Anxiety can contribute to flare-ups of eczema and other autoimmune disorders.
Unfortunately, the connection between the mind and the skin can cause a feedback loop as negative feelings contribute to skin problems, making overcoming those feelings even more difficult. CBD isn’t a magic bullet for mental health, but it can help break the cycle: studies suggest it can help users fight anxiety and depression.
Sleep deprivation negatively affects virtually all components of human health, and that includes the skin. Spikes in stress hormones (and the accompanying skin problems), worsening of existing skin conditions such as acne, reduced overnight cellular repair, and poor skin hydration are all possible consequences of insomnia.
CBD’s relationship with sleep is currently not well understood. A 2017 literature review of studies examining cannabis use and sleep patterns noted “mixed” findings.
The review suggests that variations among study findings may have much to do with dosage, CBD/THC ratios, delivery method, and other factors. However, some studies indicate that high CBD dosages may treat insomnia and other sleep disorders.
Slower Skin Aging
Most spending in the skincare industry can be attributed to one simple fact: no one wants to look older than they are. Dr. Jeanette Jacknin recently told the American Academy of Dermatology that CBD will be huge in skincare products.
Pointing to the significance of the CB1 receptor for healthy basal cell regeneration, Jacknin predicted that CBD would become an increasingly popular component of anti-aging skin products thanks to its inflammation-fighting properties.
Psoriasis is a common skin condition that causes scaly, often itchy or painful patches to emerge on the skin. Famous sufferers include Kim Kardashian and Cyndi Lauper.
While the cause of psoriasis isn’t fully understood, CBD may play a useful role in mitigating it. A 2007 study found that cannabinoids inhibit excessive production of keratinocytes, the skin cells responsible for psoriasis plaques.
Eczema, a condition in which patches of skin become dry, inflamed, or irritated, is another widespread skin problem, affecting 3 percent of all adults. CBD could help fight eczema, primarily through the same mechanisms that help it fight psoriasis.
Dr. Robert Dellavalle, a researcher with the University of Colorado School of Medicine, suggests that cannabinoids may be an alternative to steroids in treating eczema.
Fighting Skin Cancer
To be clear: if you detect a lesion or mole that might be skin cancer, your number-one priority should be getting to a doctor, not heading out to buy CBD. But studies imply that CBD could play a role in the next generation of treatments doctors prescribe to combat skin cancer.
Treating Skin Pain
Many skin conditions are associated with discomfort and pain, from mild rashes to serious conditions like fibromyalgia, a central nervous system disorder that results in hypersensitivity.
CBD injections have been shown to reduce pain in rats, and a study in the European Journal of Pain tied topically applied CBD to a reduction in pain and inflammation in animals. Sativex, a drug containing both CBD and THC, is approved in a number of countries to reduce pain for multiple sclerosis patients.
Inflammation is a healthy immune response when your body uses it to combat bacteria or other health threats, but it’s far less helpful when your body is attacking an allergen or (in the case of autoimmune conditions) itself.
CBD likely plays a role in treating the conditions listed above thanks to its anti-inflammatory qualities, as documented in a series of animal studies that are awaiting robust human-subject follow-ups. In addition to playing a major role in acne, premature aging, psoriasis, eczema, and cancer, inflammation also contributes to rosacea, skin redness, and allergic reactions.
As CBD studies proliferate, we’ll get a better understanding of how this cannabinoid interacts with the human body. Early findings and anecdotal evidence, however, indicate that there are real medical advancements to be made when it comes to CBD and human health.
And the CBD market’s boom shows that not everyone is ready to wait for further scientific validation--many people are convinced of CBD’s efficacy now. And, for a sizable portion of those users, skin health is a priority.