cbd beauty products
CBD Skincare

What You Need To Know About CBD Beauty Products Before You Buy: What To Look Out For, What To Avoid + Top CBD Skin Care Brands

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Are CBD beauty products game-changing, sales gimmick, or the future of skincare?

CBD started as (and continues to be) predominantly an oral wellness supplement. It started to make its way into skincare products when proponents noticed its notable skincare benefits. Since then, CBD and hemp products have been recently legalized in many states, letting the cannabis industry flourish.

Now, many beauty brands are entering into this lucrative market and making a lot of claims about what their cbd infused beauty products can do for their users. Yet there remains very little regulation in terms of quality control standards and contaminant testing.

So what is this buzzy ingredient and why is CBD being hailed as the next big thing in skincare?

What is CBD and Why is it in Skincare?

 First of all, let’s start with what cannabidiol (CBD) isn’t: marijuana. CBD is a naturally occurring chemical compound found in hemp and marijuana. But while CBD is found in marijuana, the two are very different.

For one, CBD contains very little to no THC (less than 0.3%), the psychoactive chemical found in marijuana – the chemical that makes you feel high. Instead of making you feel high, CBD has some great medicinal properties. These properties have earned CBD a prominent spot in the beauty industry.

You’ve probably stumbled on products with CBD in them whether you sought them out intentionally or not.

The next thing you’re probably wondering is if CBD is so hyped up right now, does it really work? And while research is limited at this point, CBD has been associated with a wide range of benefits when used topically, which we’ll get into later.

If you’ve ever been curious about this up-and-coming development in skincare, read on for a crash-course in CBD.

The Different Types of CBD in Skincare

CBD Isolate

This is the purest form of CBD. It doesn’t have any other chemicals or compounds found in the original hemp plant; it’s pure CBD. This can be good for  a topical product in that you know exactly what you’re putting on your skin. It won’t clog your pores, has virtually no smell, and retains the antioxidants your skin loves.

However, it does miss out on something called the entourage effect, which we’ll get into in just a second.

Full-spectrum CBD

This form of CBD contains all the compounds in the original hemp plant, which does mean it has (a very small amount of) THC. However, it’s such a small amount that you won’t feel any psychoactive effects. Be aware that products made with full-spectrum CBD may smell ever-so-slightly like hemp.

The best part of full-spectrum CBD is that CBD has generally been found to work best in conjunction with the other compounds found in the hemp plant. This is called the entourage effect. Full-spectrum CBD retains these, so you get the full benefit of everything the hemp plant has to offer.

However, this does also mean that if the hemp plant used to make your full-spectrum CBD has been exposed to toxins, pesticides, or other impurities, those may show up in your CBD based beauty products as well.

Broad-spectrum CBD

Like full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD has a range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids from the original hemp plant. This means you still get the benefits of the entourage plant. The main difference between full-spectrum and board-spectrum CBD is that broad-spectrum CBD has been filtered and purified to remove the trace amounts of THC.

CBD Distillate

CBD distillate is similar to broad-spectrum CBD in that the only thing removed to create distillate is the THC. CBD distillate offers a wide range of benefits but can clog your pores – and since you’re working with more chemical compounds, it’s a little more unpredictable.

The quality of the plant determines the quality of the oil, so you want to make sure you’re using products with the best quality oil you can find.

Water-soluble CBD

CBD is usually oil-based, making it a hydrophobic compound (it doesn’t mix with water). Water-soluble CBD has undergone processing to make it water-soluble, which can help with absorption. However, it’s most commonly taken orally rather than topically.

So which one is best?

The answer depends on your personal needs. Some studies have shown CBD is most effective as part of the entourage effect. This has made some people loyal to full- or broad-spectrum CBD exclusively. However, some people like that CBD isolate is pure and has fewer factors at play. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of preference.

The important thing is, when you’re looking at a CBD skin product, check the ingredients label to find out what CBD is in the product.

Only you can decide what you want out of your CBD skincare product.

CBD Extraction Methods

When shopping for CBD skincare products, it’s important to consider how the CBD product has been produced. Here are the extraction methods used.

Alcohol Extraction

This highly efficient method of extraction has been around for a long time. CBD is pulled from the plant by soaking it in ethanol or another high-proof alcohol, resulting in a full-spectrum CBD oil. This method has been determined to be Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA.

Oil Extraction

This is perhaps the most popular method for making CBD oil and has been in use for a long time. Oil extraction can be done commercially on a small scale, or even at home. Chemical compounds in the hemp plant are activated in a process known as “decarboxylation.”

Oil (usually olive oil) is then added, and the mixture is heated for a length of time. During this, CBD leaves the plant material and is infused in the oil. The oil is then strained.

One thing to remember is that the resulting CBD is impure since it’s been mixed with oil. You want to make sure the quality of the carrier oil is high enough that you feel comfortable putting it on your body.

CO2 Extraction

This process is sometimes called “supercritical fluid extraction.” This is a newer method, but is the same process often used to make decaffeinated coffee and tea, or to extract essential oils from plants.

Carbon dioxide is used to separate CBD oils from the plant itself.

This is the purest method of extraction and is generally considered to be the preferred method for making CBD beauty products. The process is safe, efficient, and produces high-quality oils.

The manufacturer can also adjust the concentration level in the CBD, allowing them to precisely dose their products.

When shopping for beauty products containing cbd, look at the extraction method. Considered alongside other factors, it will inform the quality of the product and how it’s best used.

Hemp Oil vs. CBD “Oil”

The term “hemp oil” usually refers to hemp seed oil, which is just oil pressed from the seeds of the hemp plant. Think of it similarly as sesame or olive oil. Hemp oil contains no THC and has been used as a skincare ingredient for a long time, though it isn’t used as an active ingredient. It can be a good moisturizer and is low comedogenic, so it probably won’t make you break out.

But it isn’t CBD oil.

CBD oil, on the other hand, is thicker and more viscous. It’s made from the hemp plant’s seeds and stalks, not just the seeds. It has a high CBD content and contains the same cannabinoids and valuable chemical compounds as the hemp plant.

If you just want a lightweight oil in a moisturizer, hemp oil is cheaper than CBD oil, making it a good option for simple moisturizing. But if you want the benefits of CBD oil like calming irritation or fighting acne, CBD oil is a better choice.

Types of Cannabis-based Products

CBD is widely used in a large range of health and wellness products ranging from cooking to wellness gummies. Of course, for our purposes we’re more interested in its skincare uses.

In skincare, CBD oil is often used in serums, skin oils, creams, and gels. Remember that CBD oil is usually hydrophobic, meaning it binds to fats rather than water. This makes it an optimal ingredient in oil-based skin products.

The good news for you is that there are a lot of ways you can work cbd oil infused beauty products into your routine. Even if you love all your current products, if you’re curious about CBD and just want to give it a try, it comes in so many forms that you can easily find an item to test-drive.

CBD Beauty Products Benefits

At this point, you might be thinking “CBD sounds complicated. Is it worth it?” And for a lot of people, the answer is yes.

CBD has a wide range of benefits which may help with some skin conditions. For example:

  • It contains antioxidants, which can help fight the visible signs of aging.
  • CBD helps calm stressed and irritated skin by assuaging itching, dryness, and damage from free radicals in the form of wrinkles, dullness, and redness.
  • It can help fight acne by reducing sebum production.
  • It reduces inflammation and can even help treat dry skin, eczema and psoriasis.
  • For some people, it can help treat scarring.
  • It’s soothing, which makes it great for stressed and sensitive skin.
  • And it works with any skin type.

Research is limited at this point as CBD and hemp products become more widely accepted. But it’s widely considered to be safe, so there’s no harm in trying it and seeing if it’s beneficial for you.

Don’t worry – CBD isn’t an irritant…

… If you do have a reaction to a CBD infused skincare product, it’s probably due to a non-CBD ingredient.

Negative Side Effects or Health Concerns with Cannabis Beauty Products

Like any active ingredient in skincare, CBD does have potential side effects. The most commonly reported ones are drowsiness, gastrointestinal issues, dry mouth, and nausea. It can interfere with some medications, so check with your dermatologist or esthetician if this is a concern for you.

The good news is that most of CBD’s potential side effects apply mostly when taken orally, not topically. By using CBD topically, you’re absorbing a fairly low dose into your bloodstream, so the chance of side effects is low.

Keep in mind, though, that CBD isn’t regulated by the federal government. Dosages reported by companies may not be accurate. Look for CBD products made with organic plants, grown without pesticides and heavy metals. Use similar diligence you’d use for any other clean beauty skincare item; make sure the company is reputable and that you’re comfortable putting their product on your skin.

Can You Get High Using Topical CBD?

Nope! As we mentioned before, CBD isn’t the chemical compound in hemp that makes you feel high; THC is. Most skincare products with cbd oil don’t contain any THC. And even if you use a full-spectrum product with trace amounts, it won’t be enough to produce psychoactive effects. So you can use them throughout your day without fear.

What You Need to Know about CBD-Infused Skincare Before You Buy

Because CBD is lipophilic (that is oil-loving), it works well with oil-based skincare and hair care. Avoid water-based products like cleansers unless the CBD has undergone processing to make it water-soluble.

Instead, look for lotions, creams, oils, serums, and gels. Balms, massage bars and oils, lip balms, and emulsions are also great applications for CBD.

CBD plays nicely with other skincare products; look for products that combine CBD with other skin-calming ingredients for maximum benefit. If the company you’re looking at uses oil extraction to create their CBD, look for an oil that also has skincare benefits like grapeseed or olive oil.

On the flip side, avoid CBD products that contain alcohol. Alcohol can dehydrate your skin, strip away its natural oils, and damage your skin barrier. Because of this, it’s generally best to avoid alcohol-extracted CBD products.

Keeping all these guidelines in mind will go a long way in helping you get the most out of your CBD skincare treatment.

Choosing High-Quality Topical CBD Skincare Products: What to Look Out For

 “Greenwashing”: This is a term for marketing designed to make a product look eco-friendly without substantiating those claims. When shopping, decide what makes a product environmentally responsible in your eyes and stick to it.

Ignore the imagery and marketing buzzwords. Instead, look for certifications, lab testing, and actual sourcing information.

This is true for all skincare (especially while “green” skincare is such a trend), but it goes doubly for CBD skincare because of the demographic that tends to be interested in it. Don’t assume that just because a company uses CBD in their products that they’re eco-friendly.

Check the ingredients list and make sure the company is reputable.

Remember, you’re not buying a skincare item because it has green leaves and flowers on the label; you’re buying it because it works.

“Weedwashing”: As CBD skincare becomes more and more popular, companies are looking to capitalize on this beauty trend and claim the benefits of CBD without actually doing the work of incorporating responsible CBD into their product lines. Because CBD is derived from the hemp plant, some companies may try to use buzzwords to sell you on their product without actually delivering on CBD’s promises.

Keep an eye out for buzzwords like “calm,” “destress,” and “blissed out” and marijuana leaves or green color palettes on the packaging. Check the ingredients list for items like “hemp stem cells” or “hemp seed oil.” These ingredients don’t contain CBD.

Instead, look for terms like “full-spectrum hemp oil,” “phytocannabinoid-rich (PCR) hemp oil,” “PCR hemp extracts,” or “cannabidiol.”

Inclusion of other worrisome ingredients: Just because a product has CBD doesn’t mean it’s right for you. CBD can be paired with allergens or other ingredients you’re avoiding. Always check the ingredient list.

CBD isolate: While isolate is cheaper and has the benefit of being pure CBD, it isn’t always the way to go. It isn’t always as effective as full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD because you miss out on the benefits of the entourage effect. Know what you want to get out of a product before you buy.

Now that we’ve talked about what to avoid, here are things you should do when shopping: 

  • Look for full-spectrum CBD beauty products to get the full benefit of the entourage effect.
  • Check what extraction method the company uses.
  • Check for sustainable sourcing.
  • Look for companies that report the levels of CBD, terpenes, and THC in their products.
  • As with any other skincare product, make sure your CBD products are free from harmful preservatives, fragrances, and other unwanted ingredients.
  • Buy organic, contaminant-free products. Look out for these common contaminants found in CBD:

Pesticides (left over from the growing process): These are common. Remember, if a chemical is found in the original hemp plant, it’ll be concentrated in the final CBD product. Look for companies that use pesticide-free plants.

Synthetic cannabinoids: These may be added deliberately to CBD oil to increase weight, yield, or potency.


Unintentionally included toxins such as heavy metals, molds, bacteria, and aflatoxins: These have obvious health risks and can be bad for your skin (though not exclusive to CBD products). Toxins can be introduced during manufacture, storage, and distribution due to unhygienic practices. As with any other skincare purchase, research the company and make sure you trust its integrity and health practices.

  • Look for third-party testing. Most reputable companies that work with CBD make their Certificates of Analysis available on their website. This allows you to see for yourself that their product is wholesome and has been tested for purity by a trusted third-party.

Remember, reputable CBD producers are excited and proud of their work. They’ll be eager to tell you what’s in their product and what each ingredient does for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Best CBD Skincare Brands

To help you get started finding your new favorite CBD skin-care products to add to your skincare routine, we did the legwork for you. Below you’ll find fast facts about some of the top brands in CBD skincare right now.

1. Prima

This was the first CBD brand to receive EWG Verification, with good reason. Their sourcing information is expansive and thorough.

Organically Grown | While their site never uses the word “organic,” they list their very strict standards in full. They source ingredients sustainably and test all their products for heavy metals, pesticides, solvents, mycotoxins, and bacteria.
Type of CBD | Broad-spectrum
Sourced From | Oregon
Extraction Method | Alcohol-free CO2 extraction
CBD Content | Varies by product, ranges from 100mg to 750mg
THC Content | Their extraction process leaves less than 0.3% THC, and additional processing removes all traceable levels of THC.
Certificates of Analysis (COA) | After making your purchase, you can check the Certificate of Analysis for the specific batch your product came from on their website.

Shop Prima

2. Seabedee

Organically Grown | Yes
Type of CBD: Full-spectrum
Sourced From | Oregon
Extraction Method | Solvent-free CO2 extraction
CBD Content | Varies by product, ranges from 250mg to 1000mg. Shows CBD per recommended dose. Products also include their proprietary terpene blend.
THC Content | Less than 0.3%
Certificates of Analysis (COA) | Yes. Lab results on specific batches are coming soon to their website.

Shop Seabedee

3. One Farm

Organically Grown| Yes – and USDA Certified Organic
Type of CBD | Full-spectrum
Sourced From | Colorado
Extraction Method | Supercritical CO2 extraction
CBD Content | Varies by product, ranges From 50mg to 425mg
THC Content | 0.3% or less
Certificates of Analysis (COA)| Yes

Shop One Farm

4. Hempfield Botanicals

100% of this company’s products are vegan.

Organically Grown| Not shown on website
Type of CBD | Full-spectrum
Sourced From | Pennsylvania
Extraction Method | Not shown on website
CBD Content | Varies by product, ranges From 15.6mg to 600mg
THC Content | Less than 0.3%
Certificates of Analysis (COA)| Yes

Shop Hempfield Botanicals

5. B Great

This company’s manufacturing facilities meet the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) standard, the same standard that US pharmaceutical companies have to meet. Their products are 100% vegan, non-GMO, animal cruelty-free, and kosher.

Organically Grown | Yes
Type of CBD | Full-spectrum
Sourced From | Kentucky and Tennessee
Extraction Method | H20 extraction
CBD Content | Varies by product, ranges From 15mg to 750mg
THC Content | 0.3% or less
Certificates of Analysis (COA) | After making your purchase, you can use the product’s batch number to check the corresponding batch’s COA on their website.

Shop B Great

6. Green Gorilla

Organically Grown | Yes – and UDSA Certified Organic
Type of CBD | Pure CBD and full-spectrum CBD
Sourced From | Proprietary farms in Arizona, California, Nevada, Colorado, and Oregon
Extraction Method | Supercritical C02 extraction
CBD Content | Varies by product, ranges From 20mg to 1200mg
THC Content | Products that use pure CBD have 0% THC. Products with whole plant full-spectrum CBD oil have natural terpenes and less than 0.3% THC.
Certificates of Analysis (COA) | Yes

Shop Green Gorilla

7. Saint Jane

This company has won multiple beauty awards including the Oprah Magazine Fall Beauty O-Wards 2019, Cosmetic Executive Women Beauty Award, PopSugar Power Your Pretty 2019, and The Zoe Report 2019 Beauty Awards.

Organically Grown | Not stated on website
Type of CBD | Full-spectrum
Sourced From | United States
Extraction Method | Not stated on website
CBD Content | Not stated on website
THC Content | Not stated on website
Certificates of Analysis (COA) | Yes, on every product page

Shop Saint Jane

8. Khus + Khus

All their formulas are 100% plant-based and non-GMO. Check their cannabinoid collection for their CBD offerings.

Organically Grown | Their product line is 99% organic and batch-tested for contaminants
Type of CBD | Broad-spectrum
Sourced From | Colorado
Extraction Method | Not stated on website
THC Content | 0%
CBD Content | Varies by product, ranges From 50 to 250mg
Certificates of Analysis (COA) | Not found on website

Shop Khus + Khus

9. Cannuka

All their products are PETA-certified cruelty-free.

Organically Grown | Not stated on website
Type of CBD | CBD Isolate
Sourced From | United States
Extraction Method | Not stated on website
CBD Content | Dosage not provided for products
THC Content | None
Certificates of Analysis (COA) on Website | Yes

Shop Cannuka


This company’s entire line is vegan, cruelty-free, sulfate-free, vegan, and gluten-free.

Organically Grown | Not stated on website
Type of CBD | Full-spectrum or THC-free broad-spectrum
Sourced From | Not stated on website
Extraction Method | Not stated on website
CBD Content | Varies by product, ranges From 200 to 500mg. Their extraction process retains terpenes.
THC Content | Full-spectrum CBD products contain less than 0.3% THC
Certificates of Analysis (COA) | After making your purchase, you can use the product’s batch number to check the corresponding batch’s COA on their website.


If you’ve ever been curious about CBD in beauty products, now you know everything you need to know to give it a try. Decide what you want it to accomplish for you, decide the type of CBD product that can help accomplish those goals, and give it a go!

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