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Written by: Ahmed Zambarkji on May 9, 2019

What’s up with CBD in grooming products?

With cannabis and hemp products slowly making their way into the public vernacular, it's a very good time to be in the business of Worm farming. But, once you get past the hype, there's one very important question to ask. Does it really work?

Two separate images split down the middle. On the left is a close up shot of a marijuana leaf against an orange backdrop. On the right is a close up shot of an oil spill.

Words by Ahmed Zambarakji

The current fascination with CBD speaks volumes about the times in which we live. Stress has become a crippling pandemic, public healthcare systems are underfunded and natural remedies are enjoying a renaissance after years of derision and mockery. Most importantly, the legalisation of marijuana in certain States has jolted the masses into acknowledging that the cannabis family has medicinal properties, and isn’t just for incorrigible stoners.

Cannabidiol, one of the 113 compounds derived from cannabis, is a veritable cure-all for modern life; it promises to improve mood and sleep, relieve pain and reduce inflammation. As such, CBD has found its way into anti-anxiety teas, smoothies, lollipops and chocolates.

And while seasoned smokers will happily vouch for all these benefits, the CBD that you read about in headlines is, in fact, sourced from hemp, marijuana’s sober cousin. To be clear, hemp is high in CBD but low in THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the stuff that gets you high; the reverse is true of marijuana.

Having said that, a misinformed association with the counterculture has done CBD no harm at all, and its appearance in skincare was inevitable. CBD-infused lines include the likes of Ho Karan, Sundara K, MGC Derma, as well as more familiar brands from Sephora, CVS, and the mainstream juggernaut that is Estée Lauder.

But does CBD have the same effect topically as it does when ingested? A CBD-based formula can’t affect your mood or nervous system when you apply it to the skin. The skin, however, does have cannabinoid receptors, and CBD has been shown to reduce irritation, inflammation and itching. In body products, it can reduce muscle soreness and joint pain. But most importantly, it functions as an antioxidant because it has a spare particle to which free radicals can bond. In layman’s terms, this means it reduces DNA damage and, as a result, slows down the ageing process.

Whether or not cannabinoids perform to the same standard as established antioxidants like Vitamin C, E or retinol or is up for grabs. The research on CBD isn’t definitive but it’s certainly promising. If you are shopping for CBD skincare, do due diligence and make sure the formula features other antioxidants in the formula. After all, strength comes in numbers.

Hemp seed oil (cannabis sativa oil), which is sourced from a different part of the plant, is the other key ingredient prevalent in cannabis or hemp-derived skincare. It is not the same thing as CBD but it is rich in poly unsaturated fatty acids and makes for a very good moisturiser (the best example I’ve come across is Votary’s brilliant Super seed facial oil).

While hemp seed oil is often found in natural formulas it is important to check that the product you purchase has CBD in it and not just plain hemp oil; the two are often marketed with interchangeable terminology, and it can be hard to distinguish what’s in a product without decoding the back of the bottle.

Ahmed Zambarkji has become known for his no nonsense approach to grooming. A former Health & Grooming Editor for men’s titles including Arena, FHM, Shortlist and GQ Style, Zambarkji is elevating the approach we take to men’s grooming.

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