Since middle school, Haddie Cooke has woken up daily with troubled skin.

As a 27-year-old living in Austin, Texas, breakouts, redness, scarring and dryness plagued her complexion. It wasn’t until she added a controversial ingredient to her skincare routine that she began to see a radical difference in the health of her skin.

The ingredient? Cannabidiol, also known as CBD.

In September, the University of Colorado School of Medicine released a report that examined the effects of cannabis extracts on the skin. After reviewing multiple studies, the report confirmed that cannabis extracts can help reduce symptoms related to psoriasis, acne, eczema and allergic dermatitis when applied topically.

In Cooke’s case, she started using Los Angeles-based Crave Skincare to achieve clearer skin through CBD.

“Within one month of applying (Crave Skincare’s Salvation Oil Serum and Virgin Skin Serum) in the morning and evening, my skin transformed,” Cooke said.  “It was so shocking. All the red blotchiness went away, my dry skin finally felt moisturized and I had less and less zits which seemed to heal faster and be less red.”

As California inches towards legalization, CBD beauty products are exploding, making cannabis one of the hottest ingredient on the market. From eye-cream to pain-relief lotion, CBD-products don’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon.

Luxury nail salon Bellacures is now offering cannabis-infused manicures and pedicures known as “canna-cures” and “canna-pedi.”

Luxury nail salon Bellacures is now offering cannabis-infused manicures and pedicures. (Courtesy of Bellacures)

The treatment includes CBD bath bombs, a hand and foot scrub, pain relief lotion and chocolate made by Kush Queens. With six locations in California and one in Texas, Bellacures charges $50 for the “canna-cure” and $55 for the “canna-pedi.”

Although the cannabis nail treatment is popular at the salon, according to Bellacures owner Gerard Quiroga, there is still a learning curve for customers trying to understand the differences between tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, and CBD.

“I think the most common misconception (about CBD beauty) is that the products will get you high and alter your state of mind, which is not the case at all,” Quiroga said.

Unlike THC, CBD does not produce euphoria or intoxication, according to a study at the Institute of Psychiatry in the United Kingdom. The study also shows that sativa-dominant cannabis strains typically have a higher THC content, whereas indica-dominant plants have a higher CBD content. Both CBD and THC are cannabinoids, chemical compounds released by the cannabis flower.

Cannabinoids activate specific receptors throughout the body to produce a powerful effect — specifically in the nervous and immune systems, according to the National Cancer Institute. Further research is needed to verify the effects of CBD, but it has the potential to relieve pain, lower inflammation and decrease anxiety without the psychotropic effects of THC, the cancer institute reports.

The institute’s studies of mice and rats have also shown that cannabinoids may inhibit tumor growth by blocking cell growth. Other possible effects of cannabinoids include antiviral activity and relieving muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis, though again more research is needed.

As is often the case with cannabis-based products, the legality of CBD lands squarely in a gray area. A report by market research firm Brightfield Group notes that hemp-derived CBD is still treated as a controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency.

This lip moisturizer contains hemp seed oil and sells for $3. (Courtesy of LOVEBUD)

Many of the CBD beauty companies encounter banking issues due to federal regulations.

“I had no idea when I started working with CBD that I would find myself in a predicament where the traditional banking system sees me as an outsider and my business as ‘high risk,’” said Janet Schriever, founder of Crave Skincare.

”The problem for me has not been finding the right consumer, it is about finding a way to do business in a world where the banks are controlling the marketplace,” she added. “This is an issue that forces the bigger CBD manufacturers to bank off-shore and the rest of us sit and wait for better solutions to arrive.”

San Diego-based Medical Marijuana Inc. has faced similar challenges with federal banking yet managed to become one of the few publicly traded cannabis companies. The company’s beauty brand, Cannabis Beauty Defined, features a range of CBD skincare products including an anti-aging facial cleanser, moisturizers and a mineral bath soap.

“It took some work with the regulators. But when we showed them that our company did not actually touch a federally controlled substance — that our business model surrounded ancillary services and legal hemp-based products — we received the green light,” explained Dr. Stuart Titus, CEO of Medical Marijuana.

The LOVEBUD beauty line includes this eye cream made with CBD. (Courtesy of LOVEBUD)

The entrepreneurs behind cannabis-beauty brands sprout out of a range of backgrounds.

Becky Adam, founder of Los Angeles’s LOVEBUD, was a cosmetic chemist at mainstream beauty brands before she started experimenting with CBD. She founded LOVEBUD in 2015 after sharing her homemade CBD products with friends and family. The beauty line now includes a cooling lotion bar, vegan lip balms and hydrating moisturizer. One of LOVEBUD’s top sellers is its “Puff Puff Past” CBD eye cream.

San Francisco-based natural brand Vertly was founded by a husband and wife team, Claudia and Zander Mata. She previously worked as a magazine editor while he grew a career as a yogi/nutritionist before launching Vertly. A small cannabis-company, Vertly sells lip balm with 25 milligrams of CBD in each pod.

“There is a lot of attention on cannabis right now because of the legalization efforts,” Claudia Mata said. “But we are also excited to see people finally becoming more aware of CBD’s healing potential.”

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