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CBD is undoubtedly the current golden child of the wellness world, touted in everything from bottled water to dog treats, as a solution for pain, anxiety, sleeping issues, you name it. (As a quickie reminder, CBD stands for cannabidiol, a type of plant-based compound known as a cannabinoid that’s found in the flower and leaves of the hemp plant. But no, it’s not psychoactive and won’t get you high.)
But CBD is a beauty buzzword too, the latest ingredient slapped on the labels of skincare, makeup, and more. And it does have some credibility in the beauty benefits department. “Research suggests CBD has significant natural anti-inflammatory properties. In topical applications, these properties could result in reduced puffiness, redness, and irritation,” explains Coco Meers, CEO and co-founder of Equilibria, a CBD company for women set to launch topical products this spring. Credit the fact that it’s a potent antioxidant; it also has been shown to reduce oil production, making it a good acne-fighter as well.
The big (big) caveat here? Just because you see the word ‘CBD’ on a label doesn’t mean you’re going to actually be getting CBD and all those good-for-your-skin benefits. Many products simply use hemp seed oil, which yes, is a good moisturizer but doesn’t contain any cannabinoids like CBD, the compounds that contain the aforementioned benefits.
Then there’s the concentration question. While there’s no agreed-upon amount that’s needed in order to be beneficial, it’s important to read the ingredient label and make sure that CBD, phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil, or full-spectrum hemp extract (all synonyms for CBD) are listed towards the beginning. At the end of the day, no matter how you’re using it, CBD is still somewhat of the wild, wild west. “This is an unregulated market, and marketers are definitely taking advantage of the industry buzz,” says Meers.
The bottom line: CBD doesn’t suddenly need to pop up in all of your beauty products out of nowhere for no reason, she adds. Instead, educate yourself and be a smart shopper. One good place to start? Any of the top CBD skincare and beauty products below.
Serums, in general, are a good way to ensure you’re getting a hefty dose of any active ingredients (given that they’re much more concentrated than moisturizers), CBD included. This particular pick contains 250mg of CBD oil in its minimal and super clean ingredient list full of other beneficial skincare standouts. Think hydrating hyaluronic acid, brightening vitamin C, and soothing aloe juice, to name a few. It’s effective and a great option for all skin types, a universal crowd-pleaser if we’ve ever seen one.
Meers says it’s always a good move to seek out CBD products that have third-party lab results, no matter whether it’s an oral or topical product. This standout night cream is, in fact, lab-tested, with 150mg of broad-spectrum CBD hemp oil. That’s paired with bakuchiol oil, another botanical that’s known to mimic the anti-aging effects of retinol—but without any of the irksome and unsightly side effects. Slather it on before bedtime and wake up to smoother, softer skin come morning.
A best-seller from this uber-popular CBD brand, this infuses CBD into a hydrating, shea butter base. The special vacuum pump doses out two milligrams of CBD per pump, on the lower end, but enough that we feel the effects. You can use it as an all-over hydrator, for sure, but our favorite trick is slathering this on our feet before a big night out (i.e. a night when you’re wearing crazy high heels). Not only does it hydrate cracked heels, but it also makes wearing otherwise uncomfortable shoes notably less painful, truly.
This brand combines the power of two buzzy ingredients, CBD and manuka honey (hence the name). In this rich eye balm, the former soothes and calms the skin, while the latter moisturizes. Despite the thick texture, it melts beautifully into the skin and even layers well under makeup, so you can use it morning and/or night. Also nice: It feels initially cooling as it goes on, a major boon for any type of eye product.
There’s a well-known vitamin C and ferulic acid serum out there that everyone knows and loves; you can think of this kind of as the souped-up, CBD version of that. You get a powerful hit of wrinkle-fighting, spot-fading active vitamin C (20%, to be exact) as well as ferulic acid, another powerful antioxidant that works synergistically with the vitamin. But then you also get the CBD to help reduce both redness and puffiness, and add a little more antioxidant protection to the mix.
Meers says seeking out organically-grown CBD is ideal when possible, and this touts 50mg of exactly that, perfect for soothing lips and calming down any inflammation. It also contains kokum butter (it comes from the fruit kernels of the West Indian kokum tree, we hadn’t heard of it either) to help heal a chapped pout. There’s both a colorless version with a peppermint flavor or a tinted rose option that delivers the perfect amount of just-bitten sheer color; you can also get either in a stick or pot.
This pairs broad-spectrum phytocannabinoid extract (where you get the CBD benefits) with hemp seed extract, another good source of antioxidants. There are a litany of other botanicals in here as well, 28 in total, all in a lightweight formula that works while you snooze to help heal, hydrate, and brighten skin.
The hemp-derived cannabinoid oil in this head-to-toe hydrator contains not only CBD, but also CBG (cannabigerol), another type of cannabinoid for additional topical benefits. The only other thing in this body oil? Oils, namely a wide range of ones including jojoba, almond, and calendula. It makes for a formula that’s not only a top-notch moisturizer (duh) but also ideal for dabbing onto inflamed or itchy spots.
It’s on the pricier side, yes, but worth every penny, particularly given that this hero product delivers a whopping 500mg of full-spectrum CBD. (FYI, full-spectrum means it comes from the whole plant and has maximum concentration and penetration.) The hemp plants used are also grown in the U.S. and evaluated four times, higher than the industry standard, for ultimate purity. And because the other ingredients matter too, it’s paired with 20 different botanicals, all made to boost the efficacy of the CBD. Lightweight and fast-absorbing, you won’t be able to get enough of it.
Get your hands on this newbie, stat. CBD aside, it’d be a great lip balm on its own—super, super creamy thanks to coconut and olive oil, and with a minty flavor that also feels nice and tingly (in a good way). But yes, you do get the benefits of CBD too, further helping to soothe irritated, chapped lips. Not to mention that the price can’t be beaten, given that CBD products, in general, tend to skew way more towards the pricey side.
Long day? Tough workout? Stressful convo with your significant other? Period cramps? Toss one of these into the tub to soak away any or all of the above. CBD bath bombs are a dime a dozen, but these have the unique distinction of coming in three different strengths: 50mg, 100mg, and 200mg of broad-spectrum CBD oil. (The brand helpfully likens the 50mg to a Swedish massage and the 200mg to a deep tissue, so choose based on what your body and/or mind need.) Either way, they’ll make a soak ultimately physically and mentally relaxing, hang in the tub for at least 20 minutes to reap the full benefits.
When shopping for CBD skincare, it’s also important to consider the other ingredients in the formula. “Topical applications require the cannabinoids to pass below the surface of the skin. So be on the lookout for formulations that are not only highly concentrated, but also don’t contain waxes, which can impede absorption, and that have other botanicals that can help facilitate the transdermal delivery of the CBD itself,” suggests Meers.
Why Trust Byrdie?
Byrdie contributor Melanie Rud has over a decade of experience in the beauty industry, writing for some of the biggest magazines and websites out there. She’s very on board the CBD train, and takes it both internally and uses it topically (she especially loves it for muscle aches and period cramps). Many of the products on this list are regulars in her routine.
Coco Meers is a serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and startup advisor. She is the co-founder and CEO of Equilibria, a CBD company for women revolutionizing the industry. As a busy mom of two, Coco has become an expert on CBD and its everyday uses; she initially started using it to relieve pain from an autoimmune spine condition.