The CBD cosmetics industry has seen a huge surge in popularity over the last year, and it isn’t showing any signs of stopping. But as CBD skin care gets more popular, suddenly there’s a whole load of new jargon to get acquainted with.
From full spectrum to isolate and terpenes to psychoactivity, what does it all mean? Here’s a quick rundown of all the terms you should know before jumping into CBD skincare.
Cannabidiol (aka CBD, the reason we’re talking about all this in the first place) is one of many botanical compounds known as ‘cannabinoids’ found in hemp and cannabis plants. Other cannabinoids include cannabigerol (CBG) cannabinol (CBN) and the infamous tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Hemp is a low-THC variety of the cannabis family. To be classified as hemp in the UK and Europe, hemp plants must have a THC level that does not exceed 0.3-0.2% (the limit can vary depending on the country). Plants with a higher THC level higher are legally considered cannabis.
CBD derived from hemp and cannabis is completely identical, however, it is much easier to source CBD products from hemp (which is legal) instead of cannabis (which is illegal in most places). Since CBD has gained popularity, growers are now producing high CBD strains of hemp.
The Endocannabinoid System
CBD interacts with the body through a network of receptors known as the endocannabinoid system. These receptors are mostly found in the brain and the immune system, however, emerging research shows that skin also has endocannabinoid receptors.
Topical CBD skin care products interact with EC receptors in the skin to produce a variety of effects, like fighting inflammation, regulating oil production and protecting the skin’s moisture barrier.
Many companies advertise CBD as ‘non-psychoactive’, because it doesn’t make you feel ‘high’. In reality, any substance that interacts with your brain chemistry is a psychoactive substance – including the caffeine in your morning coffee.
While CBD can have psychoactive effects (such as soothing stress) it won’t give you the same intoxicating effects that THC will.
Full-spectrum CBD extract contains all the naturally occurring compounds found in hemp. This includes terpenes, phenols and other cannabinoids like CBG and THC.
Full-spectrum CBD is the most ‘natural’ and the least processed form of CBD extract. However, trace amounts of THC can cause complications when it comes to selling the product on the mainstream market.
Broad-spectrum CBD is almost the same as full spectrum extract, just with the THC removed. This extract contains all the same naturally occurring plant phenols and terpenes along with CBD.
As you might have guessed, CBD isolate is an extract made solely with CBD. All other traces of cannabinoids, terpenes and phenols are removed from the final product. This makes it a particularly popular compound for adding to cosmetics, as it is more potent. However, you won’t get the added benefits of the other compounds.
CBD topicals are any CBD products that are applied on to the skin, as opposed to CBD you consume.
Topical CBD is unable to penetrate deeply enough through the skin to enter the bloodstream. As such, products like CBD face serum and CBD moisturiser are totally concentrated on the areas you need them most.
Terpenes are the oils present in plants that give them their signature scent. Hemp and cannabis have the same terpenes as other plants, such as limonene (found in citrus fruits) and linalool (found in lavender).
Phenols are antioxidants found in plants which can be highly beneficial for the skin. Research shows that phenols are “a promising tool in eliminating the causes and effects of skin ageing, skin diseases, and skin damage, including wounds and burns.”
They are only found in full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD extract. Phenols can also be sensitive to oxidation, which is why they’re usually packaged in brown UV resistant bottles.