Because of the shifts in the way consumers look at cannabis, companies are creating an economic shift in how cannabis products are marketed and sold. Consumers can now pick and choose exactly what kind of cannabis experience they want to have—whether it be from smoking it, eating it, or using it as a topical beauty or body product. In the beauty industry specifically, we’ve seen a major shift in how cannabis is used to market and sell new products in different world markets. In the United States and Europe, this means that consumers have seen a rise in cannabis and CBD-infused products where skin and beauty products infused with CBD make up 8% of a multi-billion dollar market, though the industry is expected to grow by over 700% each year (Cosmetic Business, 2019).

What is CBD

When we talk about CBD we’re referring specifically to cannabidiol, one of two active ingredients that are derived from the cannabis sativa plant, which is commonly known as marijuana. While THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the psychoactive ingredient found in cannabis that got the plant its politicized reputation in the first place, CBD is its closely-related cousin that is widely used for its medicinal effects rather than its psychoactive effects. While both ingredients derive from the same plant and have medicinal effects in their own ways, CBD is widely used in topical ointments and personal care products for its ability to relieve pain caused by muscle tension or injury.

Because it has no psychoactive effects, CBD is often thought of (as well as marketed and sold) as a safer alternative to THC-infused cannabis products. That being said, laws surrounding CBD-infused products still differ by country (as well as state by state within the United States). This can make it complicated to use CBD in many beauty and personal care products because it limits how or where you can sell your product, as well as who you can sell your products to. For this reason, many companies opt to infuse their products with hemp, which comes with its own botanical benefits in personal care products. 

Just as CBD and THC are closely related, the same goes for CBD and hemp seed oil, the active ingredient found in beauty and personal care products that use hemp. Unlike CBD and THC, which are derived from the cannabis sativa plant itself, hemp seed oil is derived from the seeds of the cannabis sativa plant. The seeds of the plant contain only trace amounts of CBD or THC (not even enough to be considered for medicinal or recreational use), making hemp an all-encompassing legal form of the plant in many countries around the world, from Europe to China, and around North and South America.

In beauty and personal care products

When we talk about cannabis in beauty and personal care products, we’re referring specifically to the use of CBD or hemp seed oil as they’re the most common active ingredients derived from the cannabis sativa plant. THC, which is heavily regulated and often illegal depending on which part of the world you’re looking to market in, is rarely found in beauty and personal care products at all. CBD and hemp, on the other hand, have a laundry list of health and wellness benefits depending on where they’re used and what they’re used in. 

In personal care products, CBD is often used as an active ingredient in topical products such as lotions or balms. This is because CBD has a lot of pain-relieving effects that can ease muscle tension or pain caused by injury to the joints or muscles. Symptoms of arthritis or muscle aches and soreness caused by exercise can be relieved with topical CBD products, for example. However, these products often require higher doses of CBD in order to work as a pain relief alternative to medicines like acetaminophen. Each individual state has different laws on how CBD can be sold or infused into products. 

For many states, only hemp seed oil and miniscule doses of CBD can be sold in stores, while bigger doses of CBD must be sold in cannabis dispensaries. Herbivore Botanicals, a popular skin care line that uses botanical ingredients to create high end serums and face oils, offers a 100 mg CBD face oil that consumers within the United States can purchase online. 

Other high end makeup stores are also selling CBD-infused products, as consumers can also find things like the Saint Jane Microdose Lip Gloss at luxury department stores like Barney’s New York.

Hemp as a popular alternative

For this reason, many beauty and personal care companies lean toward using hemp as a way of integrating cannabis into their products without having to jump through the strict legal hoops that go with selling it on the legal market. Hemp seed oil allows personal care companies that haven’t otherwise created a cannabis brand to integrate it into their products. Aside from the legal benefits, hemp seed oil offers a lot of benefits when used in skin and body care that CBD and THC don’t necessarily have. Hemp seed oil is found to have anti-aging and protective properties as it acts as an antioxidant and oil-controller. This means that it helps create an oil balance on your skin without clogging pores—which can trigger acne in oily skin types. 

Since hemp seed oil is also considered an anti-inflammatory, it’s safe for all skin types and is rich in a lot of Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids that the skin needs for cell growth and regeneration. Hemp seed oil is rich in gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), for example, which promotes the turnover and generation of new skin cells, diminishing signs of aging and nourishing new skin as it grows. Studies have also shown that hemp seed oil is found to treat patients with atopic dermatitis because of its high concentration of essential fatty acids (Journal of Dermatological Treatment. 2005). 

Looks can be deceiving, particularly in the cannabis industry. The beauty industry knows that the cannabis boom is creating buzz around any product with the word “cannabis” on its label, but with strict laws in most countries, it means that production and marketing efforts will be costly and inconsistent in products that contain CBD instead of hemp seed oil. Instead, many companies are opting to use cannabis as a marketing tool to sell hemp-infused products. Kiehls, a popular skincare company, does such a thing with its cannabis sativa seed herbal concentrate.


MILK Makeup, for example, has an entire line of cannabis-themed products that contain hemp seed oil, the plant-based cannabis derivative ideal for skincare products that offer no psychoactive side effects. As one of the most popular cannabis-themed lines in the US-beauty industry, the products are designed to help hydrate and calm irritated skin. When it comes to marketing, though, MILK knows its demographic will be more likely to pick up the product if it uses cannabis as a marketing tool, though, MILK knows its demographic will be more likely to pick up the product if it uses cannabis as a marketing tool, rather than a medicinal product.

Hemp-Mascara-Milk-MakeupPhoto: Milk Makeup

The future of cannabis

Now that cannabis is being legalized in places around the United States, the market for cannabis products has seen a rapid rise in just a few years. Currently, the global cannabis market encompasses 150 billion USD annually. By 2025, those numbers are expected to rise to as much as 166 billion dollars per year. This also means that consumers will see a rise in products that use CBD as an active ingredient in place of hemp. Right now, the market may be too new and too newly legal for many beauty and personal care companies to want to get fully involved, but experts suggest that CBD is going to be a major player in the future of the personal care industry. 

Beauty brands can integrate cannabis into their products by slowly infusing hemp and CBD into their lines. Events like the Future Cannabis Strategies in Europe and North America aim to blur the line between cannabis and hemp-infused products in the future. In countries like China, for example, cannabis remains illegal to possess or sell, but hemp seed oil is largely produced and sold around the country and as an exported good. 

At Chemberry

Chemberry does not yet link chemical buyers to suppliers of high concentration CBD products, but our database does have a variety of hemp suppliers available at hand. In topical lotions and lip care, we recommend Hallstar’s Biochemica’s CBD Hemp Butter because it offers all of the anti-inflammatory and nourishing benefits of hemp seed oil, with added ingredients like shea butter for greater moisturizing properties. 

For more versatile products, we recommend Bio Component Research’s (BCR) hemp-GL BT (for aqueous products) and Hemp Oil BCR (for anhydrous products). Each of these products contains only trace amounts of THC and small amounts of CBD, though the hemp oil is found to contain higher levels of CBD than the hemp-GL BT product. 

One of the products that Chemberry links buyers to that offers a CBD/hemp product with a higher concentration of CBD (while still being legal in most markets) is the Active Concepts Hemp Oil Lipsopme PF. This water soluble ingredient is well marketable and free from potentially harmful preservatives, making it a good additive for holistic and natural skin care goods. 

The cannabis industry is ever-evolving and in its infant days as a marketable ingredient in skin and personal care products. This article was written with the most up-to-date information on this ever-changing topic. For specific legal information in your market, we recommend making sure that you understand the ins and outs of using cannabis in personal care products in your specific market before you begin integrating them into your product lines.

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