The beginner’s guide to decoding CBD beauty products

We’re not even going to try to deny it: CBD is officially found in everything, whether it’s baked goods, candles, pet food, or even activewear (yes, really). CBD beauty products have also become immensely popular, and many skincare and makeup brands are now incorporating this buzzworthy ingredient into their product lines. It’s so popular, that we even gave it its whole category in our 2020 Beauty Crush Awards.

However, as cutting-edge as CBD beauty products may seem, Jacqueline Kang, a cosmetic chemist and head of product development at Rose & Abbot, suggests that the jury is still out on any positive effects CBD may have on overall skin health.

“CBD is still under [FDA] regulation for how to be used in skincare products,” Kang tells HelloGiggles. “Many products claim that the ingredient reduces inflammation (which may be true for some people who have tried it), but more clinical trials will have to be run before it is officially stated.”

Unsubstantiated claims aside, CBD beauty products also use confusing marketing terms in their ingredient lists. Many CBD lotions and serums, for example, seem to feature both CBD and non-CBD-derived ingredients, making it very confusing to the consumer who isn’t quite sure what they are actually buying.

To help clear up confusion surrounding hemp-related ingredients used in CBD beauty products, we tapped dermatologists, CBD product founders, and a medical professional to break down all the product ingredients (we’re talking extracts, oils, and more!) that you may encounter when shopping for these products.

From full-spectrum CBD to CBD isolate to hemp seed oil and more, we broke down the major product terms and ingredients for you to familiarize yourself with, should you be considering adding some CBD-infused products into your skincare regimen.

1Hemp Seed Oil

Yes, you’ve probably seen hemp seed oil listed on the back of your go-to hydrating CBD facial oil. However, board-certified obstetrician Dr. Felice Gersh, M.D., says it’s important to know that this type of oil may not contain any CBD (or therapeutic value) whatsoever.

“This term simply refers to the oils extracted from the plant, and does not require the oil to contain the medicinal components of the plant,” Gersh tells HelloGiggles. This is very similar to the situation with fish oil, she explains, as some products may not contain nutritionally beneficial omega-3.

2CBD-Rich Cannabis Oil & Phyto-Cannabinoid-Rich Cannabis Oil

“CBD-rich cannabis oil is essentially an unclear form of cannabis oil, with added CBD,” Gersh tells HelloGiggles. “This is a manufactured product, manipulating what would naturally be found in the plant with added CBD.” Since the base oil and added quantity of CBD are usually unknown to the consumer, Gersh strongly advises against buying CBD beauty products containing this ingredient.

Similarly, Gersh also recommends steering clear of products containing phytocannabinoid-rich cannabis oil, as she says this is usually any type of oil (like olive oil) enriched with additives of cannabis oil.

“Phyto-cannabinoid-rich cannabis oil is basically extracted cannabis oils added to another oil base,” Gersh explains. “How much useful cannabis product is contained, and which portions of the cannabis products are contained is unknown, making it probably best to avoid products with this ingredient.”

3Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract and Full-Spectrum Help Oil

Full-spectrum hemp extract is essentially the rawest kind of hemp extract, according to Gunhee Park, founder of the new CBD brand Populum, meaning that it still contains all the cannabinoids and terpenes (organic compounds) from the hemp flowers and buds.

According to Park, this makes it ideal for the consumer who is seeking the full CBD experience, since it’s the least processed form of CBD available. Park also suggests that full-spectrum hemp oil is a good ingredient to look for in CBD beauty products because, he says, it contains an array of cannabinoids (including CBD), as well as many essential vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, and terpenes.

4Broad-Spectrum Hemp Extract

Broad-spectrum hemp oil, much like full-spectrum hemp extract, is a suitable ingredient to look out for, according to holistic dermatologist Jeanette Jacknin, M.D., of Medterra CBD (a global leader in the CBD space). It contains CBD, plus other terpenes, with trace amounts of THC (the main psychoactive compound in marijuana that gives people a “high” sensation).

Since the concentration of THC inside broad-spectrum hemp extract is not high enough to be psychoactive, Jacknin says it’s pretty good for the skin. “Studies for acne, eczema, psoriasis, wounds, itch, and other rarer skin problems responded positively to CBD topically,” Jackin tells HelloGiggles.

5CBD Isolate

“Lots of CBD brands also use ingredients such as CBD isolate, which is an extraction method that removes all other cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant,” says Michelle Clemens, co-founder of Soji Heath. Clemens says researchers have found that CBD isolate doesn’t provide the same effectiveness as broad-spectrum CBD.

6Cannabis Sativa Hemp Extract and Cannabis Sativa Hemp Oil

If you spot the term “Cannabis Sativa Hemp Extract” on the back of your products, you may be getting duped. Jacknin says that this ingredient is essentially hemp extract, since it can be made from the seeds and stalks (and sometimes flowers) of the hemp plant. And unlike cannabis sativa hemp oil, which is pressed from the seeds, she says that this extract contains minerals such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids and antioxidants.

Now that you know what product ingredients to look out for, we’re highlighting eleven CBD beauty products that we love. From bath bombs to face oils, trust any of these products to take your routine to a whole new level.

1Lord Jones + Tamara Mellon High CBD Formula Stiletto Cream


Shop it Available at Sephora

If you’ve ever fallen victim to high-heel pain after dancing all night, look no further. Apply this cream to your feet before slipping on your heels, and pack it in your bag in case you feel sore later on. It uses 200 mg of broad-spectrum CBD and will keep your feet ready for just about anything.

2Josie Maran Skin Dope 100mg CBD Recovery Face Moisturizer


Shop it Available at Sephora

Soothe irritated skin with this lightweight facial moisturizer. It contains 100mg of CBD-rich cannabis sativa hemp extract, argan oil to moisturize, and red clover flower extract to condition skin. If you’re looking to calm redness, this could be the moisturizer for you.

3Saint Jane Luxury CBD Beauty Serum


Shop it Available at Sephora

This radiance-boosting serum is packed with two of our favorite skincare ingredients: Full spectrum CBD (500 mg of it!) and grapeseed oil. It has a lightweight feel that quickly absorbs into the skin, and because it’s formulated with a high-end botanical blend (with sea buckthorn and rosehip), it promotes skin cell turnover to reveal lit-from-within glowy skin.

4Beboe Therapies High-Potency CBD Body Balm


Shop it Available at Nordstrom

With a whopping 750 mg of full-spectrum CBD, you can kiss body ache goodbye for good. This balm also uses arnica, making it a great product for an athlete or someone who experiences more serious discomfort.

5Prima Bath Gem Effervescent CBD Mineral Soak for Relaxation & Recovery


Shop it Available at Sephora

Talk about self-care! Soak your troubles away with this bath bomb that combines 25 mg of broad-sepectrum hemp CBD, meadow foam sea oil, and Epsom salts to keep you chillin’ like a villain in the tub.

6Herbivore Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Oil


Shop it Available at Sephora

Packed with adaptogens and 100 mg of premium and organic full-spectrum CBD, a few drops of this face oil will have you glowing all day. For best results add three to 10 drops onto cleansed skin, gently massage it into your face, and let it absorb for about three minutes before applying makeup.

7Farmacy Better Daze Ahead CBD Moisturizer


Shop it

Say hello to your soon-to-be-favorite winter moisturizer! This formula uses full-spectrum CBD hemp oil (50 mg) and adaptogens that will keep your skin feeling velvety smooth. Also, Farmacy is a clean skincare brand, so if that’s what you go for, then you’ve found your match.

8Aerie MOOD ZZZ CBD Infused Body Cream


$14.96 (orig. 19.95)
Shop it Available at Aerie

This lavender-scented body cream is infused with 150 mg of hemp derived CBD, which work together to soothe your body and mind.

9Onyx & Rose CBD Bath Bomb


Shop it

Don’t let its pretty appearance fool you—this bath bomb is made with 35 mg of organic full-spectrum CBD oil and CBD isolate to help you unwind and relax after a long day.

10Populum Cold Therapy Hemp Rub


Shop it

This cooling hemp-infused CBD body rub is the perfect spot-treatment for joint and muscle pain. It uses 100 mg CBD which will be sure to alleviate some discomfort.