How CBD became one of the biggest ingredients in beauty

From masks to oils and creams, CBD has infiltrated every corner of the skincare realm. But what’s the secret to its world domination? And what exactly can it do for stressed-out complexions? Stylist investigates…

If you came across the term ‘CBD’ even just three years ago, you’d have most likely thought it was some kind of text-friendly acronym that had managed to pass you by. Fast forward to 2020, and the world of CBD has well and truly exploded.

Nowadays, you can barely scroll through Instagram, flick through a magazine or enter a beauty hall without seeing those three letters crop up in some capacity. It’s perhaps the most buzzed about ingredient of our generation, and it’s purported soothing and stress-relieving merits have been applied to nearly every single consumable good imaginable: CBD now comes infused into drinks, mixed into food and siphoned into oil-based remedies.

But perhaps its most ubiquitous (and popular) application is the world of CBD skincare. In fact, back in 2018 the global CBD skincare market was estimated to be worth $633.6 million, and it is expected to reach a value of $3,484 million by 2026.

From cleansers and masks to serums and creams, the shelves of beauty stores are stocked high with CBD skincare products. But why, exactly, have we become so hooked on this buzzy ingredient? And given it’s still shrouded in a little confusion, what does it actually do?

What is CBD skincare?


To put it simply, CBD skincare is any skincare product that contains CBD in its formulation. It’s most often found in oils and serums, although nowadays, it’s become increasingly popular as an ingredient for masks and creams.

CBD, or Cannabidiol to use its full name, is an ingredient extracted from the stem, stalk and seeds of cannabis plants, most often using CO2 extraction methods. The plants contain many different component ingredients (also known as cannabinoids), however, the two main ones are CBD and THC. And before you ask: it’s THC that has the psychoactive properties, whereas CBD is completely legal in the UK and has none of the mind-altering effects.

CBD shouldn’t also be confused with the ingredient hemp, either. “CBD (Cannabidiol) and hemp seed oil are both derived from the same plant - hemp - but are sourced differently,” clarifies Filipa Loureiro, senior brand manager of skincare at The Body Shop

“Whilst CBD is present in several parts of the plant, hemp seed oil, as the name suggests, derives from the plant seeds.”

What has fuelled the rise of CBD skincare?


CBD as a skincare ingredient hit the mainstream back in 2018. A perfect storm of an always-on work culture, physical burnout and political and economic uncertainty meant we were all looking for a little relief, which the wellness movement delivered in spades. 

We started colouring and meditating to soothe our minds, took up yoga to ground the body and started looking outside the box for our skincare solutions.

“The CBD boom in skincare is often associated with the popularity of this ingredient in ‘health’ drinks and supplements,” explains Loureiro. These ingestible formats and their possible benefits have created a halo effect and led to CBD in topical formats, too.”

What are the benefits of CBD skincare? 


Even as lockdown lifts, our lives have never been busier as we contend with day jobs, side hustles, crammed social schedules (socially distanced, of course) and the increasing pressure to keep up with the latest fad, be it baking sourdough or perfecting TikTok dance routines.

And although we might think of stress as a mental strain, its effects can also show up on the skin, manifesting in concerns like lost luminosity, discomfort from dehydration and dryness.

Let’s face it: no cream, serum or oil could ever zap away the root cause of your stress* (if only!), but one of the main benefits of CBD enriched skincare/ formulations is that they help to relieve the effects that stress has on the skin.

But hearing our collective cries for skincare formulas that tackle this modern-day complexion concern, The Body Shop has crafted a luxurious new CBD collection designed to draw out the best of this wonder ingredient.

To start, there’s the CBD Soothing Oil-Balm Cleansing Mask. It blends naturally derived CBD with nourishing Community Fair Trade olive oil, purifying white clay and hemp seed oil, to wash away the day’s grime while simultaneously leaving the skin feeling nourished. A formula that transforms, it squeezes out from the tube as a balm, but as you apply, the heat of the skin helps it melt down to a decadent texture. And when you’re ready to rinse it off? A splash of water turns it milky, making it ridiculously easy to remove.

Then there’s the CBD Restoring Facial Oil, a blend of naturally derived CBD, natural essential oils and hemp seed oil in a dry texture that doesn’t feel in the slightest bit greasy. All it takes is a few drops to help amp up moisture levels and make your skin look more radiant.

And the third formula in this stress-relieving* triple threat? The CBD Replenishing Moisture Cream. A rich, velvety face cream containing naturally derived CBD, hemp seed oil, plant-derived squalane and patchouli extract, to douse dehydrated skin in moisture and helps calm signs of dryness discomfort.

Ready to introduce CBD to your routine? Shop the new products below.

The Body Shop seeks to make a positive difference in the world by offering high-quality, naturally inspired skincare, body care, hair care and make-up produced ethically and sustainably and their CBD range is no different, enriched with 100% Natural Origin CBD and vegan certified. Shop online and in store now.

*The Body Shop classify stressed skin as skin that experiences discomfort from dehydration, dryness, loss in luminosity and decline on skin’s overall appearance.