Are CBD makeup and skin-care products worth the hype?

The cannabis-infused beauty market has taken off, but research into cannabinoids’ impact on dermatology is in early stages

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Long before cannabis was legalized in Canada, cannabidiol (or CBD) was finding a foothold in the mainstream beauty market.

CBD is a naturally occurring compound found in the resinous flower of cannabis. In the past few years, it has gained popularity for its natural benefits, specifically in makeup and skin care, when added in an oil form (cannabinoids). Once the formula is applied and bound to the skin receptors, it reportedly has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties – and helps soothe skin.

Since then the market for cannabis-infused beauty products has taken off. The CBD-infused cosmetics market is expected to hit $1.7 billion USD globally by 2025, according to a report by research and consulting firm Grand View Research Inc.

But are these products genuinely worth the hype? While research into cannabinoids’ impact on dermatology is at an early stage, preliminary studies show that CBD has the potential to be antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and an antioxidant.

Rachael Manion, executive director of the Canadian Skin Patient Alliance says CBD’s effect on skin is something the national non-profit group is trying to learn more about, adding that the Canadian Institutes of Health Research awarded the organization a grant to research the use of cannabis and CBD on the skin.

“Patients will benefit from more research into the use of cannabis products and their application for skin disorders,” she says. “There is currently a dearth of research into potential and actual medicinal benefits of cannabis, despite anecdotal evidence from patients that cannabis products can be helpful.”

Some dermatologists believe that the claims around anti-inflammatory or antioxidant properties may not be accurate, and that cannabis is just another gimmick to get people to buy into a beauty trend with a buzzy ingredient.

Laura Lee Peters, nutritionist and product specialist at, respectfully disagrees.

“CBD has been studied, researched, published and patented with respect to safety, toxicology, inflammation, stress and many other attributes,” she says. “As well, there have been many safety and efficacy studies done by private companies to support claims for cosmetic purposes.”

According to the Cosmetics Alliance of Canada, all products containing cannabis or CBD must be regulated by Health Canada and can only be sold by licensed cannabis retailers. Licensed producers must also manufacture, package, label and import these products, as outlined by the regulations. There are also restrictions and prohibitions related to cannabis in the federal government’s Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist.

“There are so many companies that are simply trying to jump on the CBD product train without taking the time to ensure that the CBD they’re using is safe,” explains Peters, noting it’s important to ensure skin care and beauty products are sourced responsibly.

We’re seeing a huge uptick in the popularity of cannabis beauty products thanks in large part to how they are being marketed.

MILK Makeup is one of the most popular brands, which sells its Kush Mascara line at Sephora. The company’s ads are typical for the beauty industry, showing off a sleek, elevated aesthetic without indicating if the product works or not.

As people continue looking for “clean” beauty, consumers should have honest conversations with dermatologists on what works best for their skin. No matter what product you’re purchasing, it’s important to read the ingredients and do research.

“It’s also important to know that the amount of CBD in the product makes a difference,” explains Peters. “If you have only 5mg of CBD in an entire bottle you most likely won’t see a big difference in the overall health or appearance of your skin. Try to look for CBD skin-care products that contain higher amounts of CBD in order to really benefit from it.”

In Canada, few companies are exploring this emerging market. Brandi Leifso, founder of Canadian brand Evio Beauty recently teamed up with licensed cannabis producer Aurora Cannabis to develop a makeup line that is vegan and cruelty-free. Canopy Growth recently purchased British beauty brand This Works to help develop CBD skin care that will help users sleep and, of course, improve their skin.

While CBD continues to be a global wellness trend, it’s still too early to definitively say whether this trend is fact or fiction.

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