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10 best cannabis beauty products

It’s high time you got on board with the latest beauty buzz. We blazed through the competition and weeded out the duds

There’s no need to be dazed and confused about cannabis’s beauty benefits

Cannabis is the latest ingredient giving beauty editors a buzz – and no, they’re not smoking it. The use of cannabis for medical purposes has been debated for a long time, but the recent legalisation of recreational cannabis in California and the news that Holland and Barrett has become the first shop to sell cannabis oil on the high street in the UK, have brought the conversation to the possibility of more everyday applications.

The cannabis plant produces hundreds of different cannabinoids – chemical compounds – the most well-known of which is THC, the psychoactive (and illegal) part. But many of the other compounds have potentially huge benefits and won’t get you high. Weirdly, the human body has a natural biological affinity to the cannabis plant. “There are lots of cannabinoid receptors throughout the brain and body, and our body produces endogenous cannabinoids,” says Dr Adam Friedman, consultant dermatologist at The Harley Street Dermatology Clinic. This system of receptors is involved with everything from pain to appetite, and can be stimulated by both the cannabinoids our bodies produce and by those found in the cannabis plant. “The effects [in skincare] can reduce keratinocyte (skin cell) turnover, inflammation and even sebum production,” says Friedman. “They are also likely to have an antioxidant effect.”

Hemp, the industrial variety of cannabis produced for non-drug purposes, has been used in skincare for many years, popularised by The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick and its hemp line in the late Nineties. It is still the most common form of cannabis used in skincare. “Hemp oil is renowned for its moisturising properties and is often used in food,” explains Dr Alexis Granite, a dermatologist at the Cadogan Clinic. “The cannabis seeds are pressed to remove the fatty oil.” Hemp oil is high in omegas three, six and nine and is a humectant, meaning it helps the skin preserve moisture. It’s also non-comedogenic, meaning it can be used on the skin without causing breakouts.

Another option, which is much talked about at the moment, is CBD oil, which, says Granite, is “a non-psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, sourced from the flowers of the cannabis plants, which has anti-inflammatory properties.” Initial studies suggest that this makes it a great ingredient for reducing redness, irritation and even signs of ageing, plus skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema. 

For those who like the idea but aren’t sold on applying cannabis compounds topically, there are also plenty of products that make use of its earthy, spicy fragrance – we promise it smells very different to what you’re imagining – so you can get on board with the trend without committing fully.

There is still a lot of research that needs to be done before we can dub cannabis the new holy grail skincare ingredient, but if you want to give it a try, we’ve been testing products that contain it to see if they live up to the hype. And, before you ask, it’s all perfectly legal.

MGC Derma CBD Hyaluronic and Peptides Day Cream: £80, Cult Beauty

MGC Derma has recently launched in the UK at Cult Beauty and leads the field by using CBD in every one of its products, from eye serum to toner. Its day cream is neutral scented and has a light, easily absorbed texture, and combines the moisturising, anti-inflammatory properties of CBD with hyaluronic acid to lock in water and peptides to help reinforce naturally occurring proteins in the skin.

Buy now

Perricone MD CBx for Men Super Clean Face Wash: £29, John Lewis

Dr Perricone first put forward the idea of a link between inflammation and skin conditions, so what better brand to put CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties to use? The highlight of its CBx range for men is the cleanser, which has a pleasant fresh, grassy fragrance and leaves skin smooth and clean but not dry, and reduced oil levels with repeated use. Our tester has very sensitive skin and had absolutely no reaction from using this.

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Josh Rosebrook Balance Shampoo: £32, A Beautiful World 

This natural shampoo combines hemp oil with aloe vera, African black soap and a whole load of natural oils and extracts to leave hair clean, soft, frizz-free and glossy. It’s slightly weird to use at first as it doesn’t lather; apply a little to the top, back and each side of your head to distribute evenly and use a little water to help it go further if you need to.

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Malin+Goetz Cannabis Hand and Body Wash: £20, Space NK

American brand Malin+Goetz is another that has recently jumped on the cannabis bandwagon with its new cannabis line, which includes a candle and perfume oil. Our pick is this herby, cannabis-scented hand and body wash, which cleanses without dehydrating our wintry dry hands any further.

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Boy Smells Kush Scented Candle: £32, Trouva 

Bear with us on this one from LA brand Boy Smells – it’s a far cry from the distinctive whiff you may be thinking of. The delicacy of the cannabis flower is balanced with suede and musk, making this an intoxicating combination of sweet and savoury, quite unlike any other candle we’ve found. You get 55 hours of burn time for your money. 

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Escentric Molecules 04: £79, Escentric Molecules

The core molecule of 04 is javanol, a lab-created note that is like sandalwood, but fresh and crisp rather than heavy. It is paired with pink grapefruit, juniper and marijuana to make a tart, peppery and slightly nutty fragrance. It’s unusual and completely addictive and the cannabis element adds a herby, sharp character rather than anything more pungent. 

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The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector: £5, The Body Shop

One of The Body Shop’s most iconic products, Hand Protector uses hemp oil to lock in moisture and form a barrier against the elements. We find it needs applying just once to nourish all day, unlike other hand creams that take multiple applications to make much headway on dry knuckles. It also has a neutral, milky fragrance, so great for those who don’t like cannabis-fragranced products.

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Dr Bronner’s Almond Pure-Castile Liquid Soap: £7.69, Dr Bronner’s

Another body care classic, all Dr Bronner’s original biodegradable and multi-use soaps contain hemp oil. The brand offers a lot of different fragrances and formulas including hemp, from shampoo to lipbalm, but our favourite remains the comforting and slightly sweet Almond variety.

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Votary Super Seed Facial Oil: £70, Votary

A pick in our recent face oil round-up, this is a nourishing, earthy-scented blend of 21 seed oils, including hemp, in a chic dark green bottle. Massage three or four drops into clean skin every night to reduce redness, restore suppleness and restore balance to hormonal skin. 

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Kiki Health CBD Oil 5%: £40, Kiki Health

If you want to go all out, Kiki Health makes CBD oil that you ingest like a supplement – three drops under the tongue and then swallowed up to three times a day. Benefits are reported to include helping anxiety, pain, nausea and poor appetite, but thus far we can only attest to its help with sleep. It has a flavour like very strong tea, which sours at the back of the throat.

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The verdict: cannabis beauty products 

For the full benefits of CBD, MGC Derma leads the way in formulation and results, while the hemp oil Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector is a classic for a reason.

IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.

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