You've Heard of CBD in Skincare—Now What Is CBG?

It's the mother of all cannabinoids.

Orange glass dropper bottle of serum in front of hexagonal decor in dark room with sunlight

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We’re officially on the next chapter of the CBD playbook, and the performer might soon have a starring role in skincare. Considered more precious than CBD (mostly because it's rare and expensive to extract), CBG is not only the ultimate ingredient for acne-prone skin, but it's anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and has antioxidant properties, all of which make it a true workhorse when packed into products.

“The beauty of CBG is that it works with endocannabinoid receptors in our skin, allowing it to penetrate on a subcutaneous layer—and when combined with other antioxidants, it boosts performance, driving them deeper into the skin,” says celebrity aesthetician Georgia Louise Vassanelli.

We spoke to Vassanelli and hemp-forward brand Toast co-founder Shovahn Rincon about their buzzy Your Grace Serum collaboration and the virtue of this hero ingredient. Keep reading to learn all about CBG and where it fits into the world of cannabinoid skincare.

Meet the Expert

  • Georgia Louise Vassanelli is a celebrity aesthetician based in New York City. Her eponymous brand, Georgia Louise, offers a line of extensively tested skincare products and services in her Upper East Side atelier.
  • Shovahn Rincon is the co-founder and COO of hemp-forward brand Toast, which offers beauty and wellness products, pre-rolls, and even products crafted for pets.


Cannabigerol (CBG)

Type of ingredient: Antioxidant

Main benefits: Calms, defends against oxidative stress, can help reduce breakouts

Who should use it: Acne-prone skin types, as well as anyone who lives in a polluted environment or is dealing with inflammation.

How often to use it: CBG is suitable for daily use.

Works well with: Antioxidant products

Don't use with: If you're pregnant or breastfeeding, this ingredient might not be for you.

What Is CBG?

Cannabigerol (CBG) is considered the "mother of all cannabinoids" because it's the parent molecule where other cannabinoids come from. Rinco explains that the acidic form of CBG, called CBGA, is abundant in young hemp plants. Still, as the plant matures and is exposed to ultraviolet light and heat, it converts to the more commonly known cannabinoids CBD and THC. By the time a hemp plant is harvested, it may contain less than one percent CBG overall, making this parent cannabinoid one of the most ancient secrets and oldest compounds on the planet.

"As we learn more about the benefits of CBG, market demand for this cannabinoid has surged and inspired cultivators to identify and grow strains that preserve more of their CBG content through maturity," she says. "Advancements in extraction technology allow us to harvest that essence to craft CBG-forward formulations more readily."

Benefits of CBG for Skin

CBG will calm and soothe your skin when applied topically, but its restorative antioxidant properties can help defend against oxidative stress. This will ward off free radicals and encourage an even, healthy glow, making it an excellent choice for those living in polluted climates.

Since the hemp plant absorbs nearly everything from the soil it grows (good and bad), it’s important to identify trusted brands that are transparent about their sourcing and testing standards.

Why Is CBG So Expensive?

CBG is a rare compound that typically yields less than one percent at the time of harvest, limiting its availability. One bottle of serum alone needs thousands of plants to extract enough CBG for an impactful result.

CBG vs. CBD

CBD and CBG naturally occur in a full-spectrum hemp plant as complements to one another, but in very different quantities: Usually, there is 25 times more CBD. Your body’s endocannabinoid system plays a significant role in your skin’s health and regulates everything from oil and collagen production to pigmentation. “Because CBD and CBG have different molecular structures, they bind to the endocannabinoid receptors in different ways for distinct effects,” Rinco notes. “At Toast, we believe in the power of the plant in its most natural form, so rather than isolating a single compound, we combine them to supercharge the restorative properties of a product.” 

Be sure to read the labels before purchasing a product. Although hemp seed oil is nutrient-rich on its own, it doesn't contain any cannabinoids and, therefore, will not deliver the topical benefits of CBD or CBG. If a skincare product contains CBD or CBG, you'll find the words' cannabidiol' and 'cannabigerol' expressly listed in the ingredients.

Side Effects

CBG has no known side effects, but as with most actives, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, check with your practitioner, who can tell you whether they are confident it's safe or if you should wait to try it.

About the Your Grace CBG Serum

Rincon and Vassanelli developed the Georgia Louise for Toast Your Grace Bi-Phase Nightly Renewal Serum ($270) with a team of seasoned French scientists to make sure the product was packed with powerful, proven ingredients, considering the synergy between CBD and CBG to maximize efficacy while remaining gentle: “The CBD and CBG supercharge the effects of retinol, vitamin C, marine algae, bilberry extract, and hyaluronic acid," Rincon says.

Georgia Louise for Toast Your Grace Bi-Phase Nightly Renewal Serum with CBD + CBG
Georgia Louise for Toast Your Grace Bi-Phase Nightly Renewal Serum with CBD + CBG $270.00
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Unlike many other serums, this one is bi-phase, consisting of two parts: botanical oils and water-based extracts. Actively shake the bottle before using it to get the deeply hydrating benefits of the aqueous extracts as well as the moisture-locking benefits of the botanical oils. Like many serums, it’s best used after cleansing and toning, and since this one has a retinol component, it's ideal to use it in the evenings. “After applying the serum oil with light butterfly taps, wait until it’s absorbed and follow up with cream,” Vassanelli says.

When it comes to CBG, more isn’t always better. As with most skincare ingredients, efficacy begins to plateau beyond a specific concentration, and exceeding that amount can cause irritation. Look for products formulated by an experienced team with a science-backed approach to skincare.

Article Sources
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Oláh A, Markovics A, Szabó-Papp J, et al. Differential effectiveness of selected non-psychotropic phytocannabinoids on human sebocyte functions implicates their introduction in dry/seborrhoeic skin and acne treatment. Exp Dermatol. 2016;25(9):701-707.

  2. Tóth KF, Ádám D, Bíró T, Oláh A. Cannabinoid signaling in the skin: therapeutic potential of the “c(Ut)annabinoid” systemMolecules. 2019;24(5):918.

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