Extracted from the flowers, leaves and stalks of the cannabis sativa (hemp) plant, this seemingly miraculous molecule has sky-rocketed in popularity over the last few years and for good reason.
Since its initial discovery back in the 1940s, we’ve gone on to find out that our in-built “endocannabinoid system” (ECS), with which CBD interacts, is one of the most important physiological systems for maintaining overall wellbeing. The ingredient is most commonly used to reduce stress, decrease pain and inflammation, and improve sleep. But now, the cosmetics industry has cottoned on to the incredible potential of CBD in skincare too.
In fact, there are more than 41,000 studies investigating the vast array of therapeutic applications it has to offer. And as a result, there are more than 6 million people in the UK enjoying the benefits in an amazing number of ways: taking oral drops, soaking up a bath bomb, sipping a CBD infused coffee and applying it topically to the skin, to name but a few.
Unlike the psychoactive THC molecule (which you won’t find in any UK CBD products, as the hemp approved for use contains no more than a nominal 0.2 per cent), CBD doesn’t get you high. But what it does do is bind to a range of receptors, including ECS receptors that can be found in almost all skin cells. Studies have shown that this action can help reduce inflammation and regulate the normal function of the waterproof skin barrier. This plays a vital role in the maintenance and healthy turn-over of new skin cells, sebum production, reducing the effects of free-radical damage and more.
By applying a CBD product topically, you can support the skin’s own immune system and encourage the process of healing – easing inflammation and pain transmission to reduce redness, swelling and irritation almost immediately. With prolonged use, and with the use of oral CBD too, the effects go deeper, working to rebalance your body internally and throughout the layers of the skin.
Eighty years on from the discovery of CBD (and thirty years on from the discovery of the ECS) we’re finally starting to see some really exciting results of long-haul studies, across all areas. And many of the millions of CBD users all over the world give rave reviews that are as glowing as their skin. It’s suitable for all skin types, thanks to its gentle and adaptogenic nature which supports the body in doing whatever it needs to do to regain balance, and it’s perfectly safe and legal too.
With so many wonderful CBD products to choose from, there’s no reason not to give it a go. We’ve reviewed our favourite skincare CBD buys below.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
Sweet Pink turmeric & lemongrass CBD balm, 30ml
There’s something to say for a once-in-a-blue-moon pampering sesh where you indulge in layering a load of pricey products onto your skin. But, day-to-day, most of us appreciate a handy multi-tasker – it saves money, space, packaging and time. This 100 per cent natural all-purpose balm, laden with potent anti-inflammatories and deeply nourishing skin-loving ingredients, is just that.
The first thing you notice upon opening is the unmistakable scent of fresh turmeric root, with a hint of zesty lemongrass. You can’t smell the hemp, but it’s there – 300mg of it, which has been organically grown on a small, artisan farm. There are no cloying, clogging chemicals here, which your skin will thank you for. The product is a little tricky to get out of the jar, as it’s a hard texture (due to the coconut oil base), but a small scraping immediately melts into a smooth balm which can be applied anywhere, head to toe! And we did.
We tried it as a moisturiser mid acne breakout; as a lip balm for chapped lips; a foot treatment for sore, aching bunions; a body balm for dry, itchy skin; and even as an intensive overnight scalp treatment. Each time we were blown away by the results. This is a true desert island product.
For the eco-conscious, rest assured this is a plastic-free zone – the jar is glass, the lid is wood, the box it comes in is cardboard. And what’s more, these products are made with heart. The brand was created by Tannine Montgomery, who campaigned for new medical cannabis regulations in the UK after seeing her infant daughter's Dravet syndrome seizures dramatically reduced by high strength CBD oil in Holland. The understanding of and passion for the whole cannabis plant is noticeable in the quality of this wonderful range.
Cubid CBD rescue body butter, 500mg
Rich, creamy and a total delight to use, this deliciously scented shea and almond body butter is ideal for anyone looking to rehydrate, soothe and nourish very dry or irritated skin, with the support of 500mg CBD. A little goes a long way, and even when used sparingly the oily content might prove a little greasy for some – but it does absorb well after around ten minutes, particularly on parched skin.
We put this one to the test on extremely sore, broken, unhappy skin, and this butter was as gentle as could be. Where nothing else had worked to heal the problem area (not even prescription creams), this one did the job in less than a week with a twice-daily application. You can’t really get a better review than that.
BNatural face oil
We tested a lot of fancy CBD face oils, but the five hero ingredients in this award-winning product makes it stand out from the crowd. Rosehip oil and jojoba oil can work wonders on evening out skin tone and fading scars, so this makes a perfect base, and the 100mg of organic cannabis sativa extract takes the oil from great to amazing.
The formulation is gentle and suitable for all skin types – even oily. And the orange and geranium essential oil scent is nothing short of heavenly too. A few, readily absorbed, drops were enough to leave the skin silky soft and hydrated – not just upon application but hours later too. And you can also use it on your hair, which provided a fantastic moisture boost and de-frizz during the day. We found this an absolute godsend for healing breakouts and in fact, one tester found that their 20-year-battle with acne became a thing of the past by the end of the bottle.
La Rue Verte detoxifying face mask, 30ml
It’s tough to find a skincare product that packs a punch without being harsh, but this detoxifying face mask steps up to the challenge and then some. Our testers found that this was mild enough to use daily, despite the inclusion of potent ingredients including tea tree oil and hyaluronic acid. The brand has perfected the ratio of the two, blending with brightening vitamin C, one per cent CBD and a range of hydrating oils. As a result, the formula works to reduce signs of ageing and combat the damaging effects of pollution, while calming even the most sensitive skin.
Kloris luxury CBD balm, 60ml
This is a rescue balm everyone should have in the house. The high CBD content makes it a go-to for when you’re in need of some serious soothing – whether that’s due to muscle aches, joint pain, irritated skin or even emotional stressors. Just 1ml of this product contains 13.3mg CBD, so each application provides a very decent dose of this remarkable wellbeing supplement.
It’s fragrance-free and THC free, broad spectrum (meaning it contains a range of beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes), organic and third party tested – making this is a brand you can really trust. It’s a small jar for the price, but you only need to use a small amount for big results. And the balm absorbs very well allowing the CBD to get to work quickly, inside and out.
Chantecaille CBD 300 face and body cream, 50ml
We know that CBD helps to maintain the natural moisture barrier of the skin, making it ideal for anyone who is eczema-prone, but so does eggplant stem cell extract – which is included in this wonderfully replenishing cream. There are a number of other unusual ingredients we were excited to see featured, like cherimoya extract (which is really high in vitamin C and antioxidants) and cannabis sativa stem cell extract (in addition to the 300mg CBD) which contains high levels of the anti-inflammatory flavonoid, cannaflavin B.
The consistency of the cream is thick, yet light and absorbable on the skin, and it smells like lemon curd. A couple of testers noticed a slight tingling sensation when applied, but nothing beyond a quite satisfying zing. After the first use, we found that the skin was left feeling soft and supple. After a week, dryness was well reduced. And beyond that, it provided stressed out skin with some very welcomed relief. The only downside is the plastic packaging, through and through – hopefully, that’s something that will be reviewed by the brand in the future.
Apothem unplug CBD bath salts, 250g
There might literally be no better way to unwind after a long day than soaking in the tub with a scoop of these super strong CBD bath salts. Our weary muscles simply rejoiced while being enveloped by the relieving and restorative blend of CBD, arnica, magnesium and epsom salts, complemented by a mind-clearing scent of rosemary and eucalyptus.
We also loved that the pot comes complete with a metal measuring spoon, to ensure you use the perfect amount each time. Although this product contains no THC, we felt so chilled out after using it that our arms and legs were almost jelly like. And the sleep that followed was blissful. This is definitely one to save for a luxury bedtime routine.
Grass Roots AHA cleansing wash, 200ml
Cleansing the skin is such an important part of any beauty routine, and getting the right face wash for the job is essential for ensuring good skin health. We love this active wash, loaded with a mild but effective combination of acids (lactic, malic, citric and glycolic), natural fruit extracts, aloe vera and 200mg of balancing CBD, which removes make-up and daily build up with ease.
This wash impressed us on multiple levels – our skin was left feeling fresh and thoroughly cleansed, without being dried out. The choice of ingredients used are ideal for blitzing bacteria and removing dead skin cells without any rough abrasion. And of course, the addition of CBD and aloe vera leaves upset skin feeling soothed and reduces uncomfortable inflammation. Plus, it’s vegan, paraben-free, synthetic fragrance-free (it’s delicately scented with citrus essential oils) and a percentage of each purchase goes to the prevention of young suicide charity, Papyrus. If acne ails you, this is one you need in your bathroom.
DermaQuest CBD replenishing eye cream, 14.3g
We put this one to the test on the dry, tired, puffy eyes of sleep-deprived mums, so it really had a challenge to take on. But we were very pleasantly surprised by the results. After just a week on twice-daily use, we found that eye bags and fine lines were reduced and there was no hint of irritation in sight. One tester was hesitant to give any eye cream a go, as every other product they had tried had resulted in instant stinging and redness, but that wasn’t the case with this gentle option.
The fragrance-free cream glides on with ease, with an almost light gel-like feel, and absorbs fast (which was a winning point in the mornings before make-up application). The delicate eye area felt instantly soothed and hydrated, even after a long night. Unlike some of the other products we’ve picked, this one uses a 99 per cent pure CBD isolate, which means that there aren’t any other cannabinoids present, but this molecule is delivered via a patented “hydroxysomes” system which promises enhanced product penetration. In addition to CBD, the cream also contains high levels of vitamin C and argan plant stem cell, to boost collagen production, soothe inflammation and fight free-radical damage that can result in wrinkles.
Nay velvet sky CBD lip balm, 4.5g
The first thing worth raving about here are the flavours – take your pick from strawberry, blueberry and caramel (all made using natural oils) for a delicious, but not intrusive, taste on the lips. The classic stick shape makes this easy to use and a considerably better choice than balms that require finger application during this germ-conscious time.
We were impressed with how nourishing the balm was – we put it to the test on someone working in the cold outdoors and another person with very sore, chapped lips and the results were the same: a protected, hydrated and healed pout. A few days of use was all that was needed to fully sort out ongoing issues, but the intense moisturisation was felt immediately and lasted well. The only downside is the plastic packaging, but despite the low price, this beat many other expensive contenders.
Hapi Hemp hapi hands CBD hand and nail cream, 30ml
Whether you’re hoping to calm damaged skin, fortify your nails, or ease the pain of arthritis – this single, very affordable product is all you need. Its easy pump delivery system makes this a cinch to use on-the-go and everything about it is soothing, right down to the floaty lavender, chamomile and lemon scent.
This is a fairly thick cream, so as you rub it in it really does feel like an intensive treatment, but it absorbs well (and fast) so you don’t have to worry about any sticky residue. Our testers noticed instant relief from mild to severe aches and pains, and extremely dry skin. With prolonged use, nails and cuticles appeared to be stronger and healthy too, making this a fantastic all-round hand product. And we really rate the rest of the range too.
The verdict: CBD and hemp-derived beauty products
The multiple uses of the turmeric & lemongrass CBD balm by Sweet Pink makes this one our best buy. The fact in can be used for just about anything, from pain relief to acne treatment, makes the very affordable price all the more reasonable. And it’s a real pleasure to use too. If you’re looking for one luxury product to add to your skincare routine every day, for all skin needs, we highly recommend the BNatural face oil – particularly if acne is a problem for you.
We’ve also rounded up the 15 best CBD drinks that will help you relax: From infused tea to gin
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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