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How is the rise of CBD impacting the beauty industry?

There’s an undeniable buzz around CBD and the beauty industry has been quick to jump on the bandwagon. Marketing Assistant, Annabelle Mayor, takes a closer look at how brands are embracing this trend and whether more needs to be done to educate customers on the effects of CBD.

The beauty industry is no stranger to ‘it’ ingredients. Once something is deemed effective it quickly takes off and before you know it, multiple brands have released countless products containing the stuff. One ingredient that’s been causing a stir over the last few years is Cannabidiol, better known as CBD, and brands and retailers have been quick to adopt the trend.

What is CBD?

CBD is an extract of the cannabis plant, which is made up of around 80 different cannabinoids. Unlike THC, the psychoactive cannabinoid that gives users the high cannabis is known for, CBD is believed to have anti-inflammatory and calming properties without altering a person’s state of mind.

Shortly after cannabis was legalised in various states in the USA, products containing CBD started popping up. The industry has since experienced rapid growth and the US market for CBD derived from hemp is predicted to be worth $22bn by 2022. In the UK, using cannabis recreationally is still illegal but CBD is an exception, and the number of people using CBD oil is steadily growing. The substance’s popularity reflects the prevalence of today’s anxiety economy as many consumers are seeking products that can help them relax. It also fits in more with Millennial and Gen Z lifestyles – both demographics have less of an interest in alcohol and partying than previous generations.

CBD beauty brands

Fleur Marche
© Fleur Marche

CBD has quickly become the beauty industry’s new star ingredient. It’s ultra-versatile – edible as well as topical – and can now be found in makeup, skincare, and even hair products. Established brands are beginning to release products containing cannabis extracts but it’s new beauty brands that are really capitalising on the trend. Many are also giving cannabis a rebrand by creating chic identities and packaging to shake off some of the stigma still attached to the drug. Among them is Fleur Marché with a company mission to get people to ‘think differently about cannabis’. The online retailer sells a number of CBD beauty brands – each having to comply with Fleur Marché’s assurance standards – on a sleekly designed website. It also sells highly Instagrammable CBD Starter Kits that look like luxury goodie bags and contain a curated selection of products.

Retailers go green

Barneys High End
© Barneys

In the US, mainstream retailers are also adapting to the CBD trend, which is helping to normalise its usage. Barneys Department Store is putting a luxury lens on cannabis, launching a department dedicated to CBD products in its Beverly Hills Flagship. Called The High End, the section stocks beauty as well as lifestyle products. Nieman Marcus also began stocking CBD brands online and in some stores this year as part of its Trending Beauty initiative to introduce new product categories. Other retailers like Sephora and Cult Beauty have also created dedicated cannabis categories so people can easily shop for CBD products. As laws around cannabis change in other countries, retailers around the world will likely join their US peers in spotlighting CBD products.

Does it really work?

The effectiveness of CBD is still up for debate. It has been proven to help control seizures and there’s some evidence that it can help manage insomnia, pain, inflammation and anxiety. As for skincare and beauty benefits, much of the evidence of CBD’s effectiveness is anecdotal. There have been promising studies that show it may reduce acne, diminish signs of aging, and soothe sensitive skin but more research is still needed to confirm these claims.

As if the world of CBD wasn’t confusing enough already, not all products with cannabis extract actually contain CBD. Cannabis sativa/hemp seed oil, an increasingly popular beauty ingredient even amongst established brands, contains little to no CBD. There’s often a lack of clarification from brands over the distinction and since there’s still little awareness of the variations, many think products containing cannabis sativa seed oil have CBD present when that isn’t the case.

If CBD’s popularity continues at its current rate, its usage is likely to become normalised and mainstream. Get ready to see CBD in more beauty products from established brands and the launch of even more CBD-centred beauty brands. In the meantime, transparency and education are key. Brands need to assure customers their CBD comes from legitimate sources. Consumers also need a comprehensive understanding of CBD, including its potential benefits, side effects and the differences between CBD and other cannabis extracts. More conclusive research also needs to be done to determine how effective CBD is as a beauty ingredient


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