SO WHAT IS CBD, EXACTLY? Cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabinoid, one of many chemical compounds found in cannabis plants, which include marijuana (high THC) and industrial hemp (less than 0.3 percent THC). CBD itself is non-psychoactive; it contains negligible amounts of THC, the cannabinoid that gets you high.

WHY AM I SEEING IT IN BEAUTY PRODUCTS? In skincare, CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties may help repair the skin barrier and reduce skin inflammation by regulating the body’s immune response and alleviating itching and dryness. Milk Makeup uses hemp-derived, CBD-infused cannabis oil as a vegan alternative to beeswax to thicken eyelashes and eyebrows.

WHAT DOES SCIENCE SAY? It’s murky. “The reality is that we do not know if CBD actually does work in skincare products,” says Dr. Gurbir Dhadwal, MD, an instructor in the department of dermatology and skin science at the University of British Columbia. “Currently, there are no well-controlled peer-reviewed published studies on CBD specifically for skin conditions.” Most of the available data is from cells in petri dishes or uncontrolled human studies, he says. We do know that CBD binds to receptors in the skin that alter gene expression, which in turn helps lessen inflammation, says Dr. Robert Dellavalle, MD, who is working on a randomized controlled trial of oral CBD for seborrheic dermatitis on patients with Parkinson’s disease. But, he says, “these effects are sometimes dependent on the concentrations of CBD, so further testing is needed.”

I WANT TO GIVE IT A TRY. WHERE DO I GET IT? When the Cannabis Act comes into effect on October 17, you’ll be able to find cannabis oil containing CBD intended for topical use at provincially or territorially authorized cannabis retailers or at federally licensed sellers of medical cannabis. 

This article originally appeared in the October 2018 issue of ELLE Canada.