Cannabinoids in cosmetics

Cannabinoids are a large group of phytochemicals found in hemp plants. Many cannabinoids are used as medicines for different types of diseases. Cannabinoids are also very suitable for skin and scalp care. Since many people are quite unfamiliar with cannabinoids in skin care, I decided to write an article on the subject. Cannabinoids arouse discussion because the best-known cannabinoid is a psychoactive substance. The effect and use of other, non-psychoactive cannabinoids is not generally known. What are cannabinoids and what effect do they have on the skin and in cosmetic products?

Cannabis plant

The cannabis plant was originally classified into three different species; Cannabis sativa, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis ruderalis. Nowadays, many researchers are of the opinion that the commonly cultivated cannabis plant is called C. sativa L. Its subspecies “sativa” can be called hemp and the other subspecies “indica” can be called recreational cannabis or marijuana. The indica variety has significantly more psychoactive substances than the sativa. In this article, I will only talk about cannabis sativa, which has a very balanced ratio of all cannabinoids.

What are cannabinoids?

Cannabinoids can be divided into three groups

  • Endocannabinoids; cannabinoids produced by the body itself
  • Phyto cannabinoids; cannabinoids found in flora
  • Synthetic cannabinoids; factory-made cannabinoids


Cannabinoids are also naturally present in all of our bodies, not only in the hemp plant. These are called endocannabinoids.

Endocannabinoids are cannabinoids produced by the body, which have their own important function in the body. Endocannabinoids work through receptors on the surface of body cells. These receptors are everywhere in the body, such as in the muscles, internal organs, brain and also in the skin. When necessary, for example in stressful situations, cannabinoids always affect the right place in the body.

Cannabinoids are completely natural and necessary chemicals for the body. The body is able to utilize the cannabinoids of the hemp plant in the same way as it utilizes its own endocannabinoids.

Sometimes, for many different reasons, the production of endocannabinoids decreases in the body. Then the body’s balance is disturbed. Disorders can be treated using cannabinoids obtained from plants. The most useful cannabinoids for the body are the non-psychoactive cannabinoids.

Phyto cannabinoids are a broad group of plant chemicals

Phyto cannabinoids are mainly obtained from the hemp plant. When talking about cannabinoids, the first thought is usually the psychoactive THC but not the non-psychoactive CBD. These are the most well-known cannabinoids. In reality, there are 120 different cannabinoids in the hemp plant. They each have a slightly different effect. Only two of them have an intoxicating effect, the others are not psychoactive at all but instead have incredible therapeutic effects. The research and utilization of Phyto cannabinoids is only in the beginning. Cannabinoid research has been hampered by the use of cannabis for intoxicating purposes.

Synthetic cannabinoids

Synthetically produced cannabinoids are mainly used in the pharmaceutical industry. Extracting isolated cannabinoids from plants is very challenging and not always successful. The pharmaceutical industry wants to use single, isolated cannabinoids in their products to produce a specific effect. The easiest way to do this is with synthetic cannabinoids. Synthetic cannabinoids do not have the same synergistic effect as natural Phyto cannabinoids.

Other phytochemicals contained in the hemp plant

In addition to cannabinoids, 400 different terpenes and hundreds of flavonoids have been found in hemp. The numerous flavonoids contained in the hemp plant essentially affect the pharmacological effect of the cannabinoids contained in hemp. All of these phytochemicals make hemp a truly therapeutic plant. The terpenes and flavonoids of the hemp plant work together with different cannabinoids. They form an incredibly powerful synergistic compound that has many effects in skin care. This is called the Entourage effect.

The terpenes contained in the hemp plant are rich in cannabinoid-supporting effects. The most important terpenes contained in the hemp plant are;

  • alpha-pinene; helps memory and works to prevent inflammation
  • beta-pinene; helps memory and works to prevent inflammation
  • limonene; brightens the skin, antioxidant
  • terpinolene,
  • beta-caryophyllene; mainly responsible for the anti-inflammatory effect
  • beta-myrcene; improves skin permeability, antioxidant

Entourage effect

Research into the complex Entourage-effect of the hemp plant’s phytochemicals began as early as the 60s in Israel. It has continued until these days. Researchers have made some breakthroughs in studying the effect of phytochemicals on humans. They have noticed that the therapeutic effect is the best when the whole plant is used. If you want to isolate CBD only from the plant and use it, the effect is not that good at all. Much more research is needed to understand the interaction between cannabinoids and other phytochemicals in the hemp plant.

Cannabinoid products

There are many types of cannabis products. There are many restrictions on cannabinoids, maybe in your country it is not legal to use THC even externally. If you want to sell your products, make sure that none of your products contain any THC. THC is also not necessary in skin care. The other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids of the hemp plant completely replace the THC.

The most recommended form of cannabinoid oil for cosmetics is a broad-spectrum product from which only THC has been removed. Such a product includes all the terpenes and cannabinoids contained in the plant (except THC). Broad-spectrum cannabinoid oil has a highly effective, synergistic effect. All the phytochemicals in the product work together to support each other.

In broad-spectrum products, the problem can be the THC contained in the product. In case the oil you are using contains some THC,  you are in possession of an illegal product. The quality of the product may also vary depending on the cannabinoid content of the plants used. Cannabinoids are very unstable plant chemicals. They may change shape depending on temperature, the effect of oxygen and light, and the quality of the original plant material.

Isolates are also very common cannabinoid products. Isolates mean that one cannabinoid, most commonly CBD, has been isolated from cannabis. The product then does not contain any other cannabinoids or terpenes, and such a product is not as effective as broad-spectrum cannabinoid oil. Of course, you can add the necessary essential oils to the product yourself, which contain terpenes same and typical of cannabis. In this way, you get back some of the synergy. You need to know the terpenes in essential oils well in order to create an effective product using the isolate.

How do cannabinoids affect the skin?

Cannabinoids affect the skin in many different ways. Researchers have discovered that there are two cannabinoid receptors in the skin; CB-1 and CB-2. Cannabinoids affect the growth of melanocytes, keratinocytes and fibroblasts through these receptors. Cannabinoids affect skin cell growth, reproduction, differentiation and natural cell regeneration. The numerous terpenes and flavonoids in the cannabis plant support the effect of cannabinoids on the skin.

Cannabinoids have been used successfully in the treatment of many different skin diseases. In this blog, I will not go deeper to skin diseases and the treatment of them.  If the topic interests you, you can get more information on the topic online.

In healthy skin, cannabinoids especially affect the moisture balance of the skin. They strengthen the skin’s protective layer.

Cannabinoids together with terpenes act to soothe the skin and prevent inflammation. There is a lot of evidence for this in the treatment of various skin diseases, e.g. acne, psoriasis and atopic eczema. The skin-soothing effect of cannabinoids also treats itching.

Cannabinoids regenerate the skin effectively. This property is useful in the treatment of aged skin. The skin’s ability to renew itself disappears with aging. The renewal process can be accelerated by using products containing cannabinoids in skin care.

Cannabinoids have a balancing effect on skin function. They reduce excessive sebum production and are therefore a good active ingredient for oily skin. Oily skin is also prone to infections. The anti-inflammatory property of cannabinoids is useful in acne prevention.

Cannabinoids should also be used in hair products. There are studies where cannabinoids have reduced hair loss. Cannabinoids also soothe an irritated, itchy scalp.

Unfortunately, there is very little official research data on the use of cannabinoids on the skin. We definitely need more research and experience on the use of cannabinoids in skin care. However, here were some ideas for you on what types of skin problems you could try treating with cannabinoids.

Use of cannabinoids in a cosmetic product?

Cannabinoids should be added to nourishing cosmetics such as serums, facial masks, facial oils, night creams and nourishing day creams. Cannabinoids should not be added to wash-off products, as they do not have time to take effect in a very short time.

Cannabinoids are fat-soluble, so you can also include them in completely water-free products such as balms and salves. You cannot use cannabinoids in products that do not contain any oils, such as toners.

Feel free to also use essential oils with cannabinoids. Terpenes in essential oils work synergistically with cannabinoids. In this way, the skin care effect of cannabinoids is significantly better.

As I mentioned earlier. Cannabinoids are fine but unstable products. They should not be heated at all. Therefore, add cannabinoids to the product only when the product has clearly cooled, meaning preferably below 30 degrees Celsius.

Protect cannabinoids from light and oxygen. Pack the product in a dark glass bottle or jar. Always close the can carefully after use and store away from direct sunlight.

Use no more than 1% of cannabinoids in the product. Higher amounts of cannabinoids can irritate the skin. Of course, the amount depends entirely on the cannabinoid product you are using. However, in the beginning, be very careful and avoid overdosing.

Have you already tried cannabinoids in skin care?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


Olive oil vs sunflower oil

Read post