Hemp-derived CBD (cannabidiol) may have been trending in the beauty world for a while but now it’s going mainstream with established retailers such as Sephora and Joyce Beauty in Hong Kong starting to stock CBD skincare. The latter recently launched a series of exclusive brands featuring this new power ingredient, which is often confused with its cousins, the plant marijuana (which is illegal) and hemp seed oil, which is also derived from the hemp plant. “Hemp seed oil or cannabis sativa seed oil is made from the seeds of the hemp plant, while CBD is extracted from the whole plant including the flower, stem and leaves,” explains Casey Georgeson, founder and CEO of CBD beauty brand Saint Jane Beauty. “It is one of 100 or so compounds known as cannabinoids that are also found inside the hemp plant. While hemp oil is very good for the skin, it’s different to CBD, which stimulates the endocannabinoid system to promote homeostasis and put the body and skin back into balance.” Initially, many CBD skincare products available on the market were targeted at relieving symptoms such as body aches and pains. The next generation of formulas, however, are now focused more on skin health. “The CBD compound is full of essential fatty acids, omegas 3, 6 and 9, and also vitamins A, B, C, D and E, so you get anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and skin-soothing properties,” says Simone Pedersen, strategic adviser to Joyce Beauty. “It also reduces dryness, and is amazing for acne-prone, sensitive skin, as well as treating chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis.” The Chanel of cannabis: luxury marijuana brand Beboe While dabbling in CBD skincare sounds exciting, it can also be intimidating. For a start, it comes with a new set of descriptions such as “isolate”, “full spectrum” and “broad spectrum”, which indicate the type of CBD used in the product. “Isolate is purified CBD extract in a crystal or powder form where all the other compounds of the plant have been stripped away,” Georgeson says. “Full-spectrum formulas feature all the nutrients from the flower stem and leaves of the hemp plant including traces of THC [tetrahydrocannabinol] , which is the psychoactive substance also found in the marijuana plant. Broad spectrum goes one step further to strip out the THC completely.” In general, many brands favour full-spectrum formulas for skincare as they feature multiple cannabinoids and other beneficial compounds found in the hemp plant. These work together to create what is known as the “entourage effect”, thereby increasing the efficacy of the product and its overall benefits. Some brands such as Saint Jane offer full-spectrum formulas where levels of THC are so low they are undetectable, making it ideal for markets such as Hong Kong where THC is illegal. In addition to choosing between “full” and “broad” spectrum formulas, customers can also experiment with dosages. “If you’re looking for real antioxidant benefits, I would suggest buying products with a few hundred milligrams in one bottle – say around 500mg per bottle,” says Jessica Assaf, co-founder and chief education officer of skincare brand Prima. “Be aware that with CBD there is no regulatory body to validate if the product contains a specific amount, which is why choosing a brand that does independent, third-party testing is important. Many come with QR codes that customers can scan to access certificates of analysis and batch test results.” Aside from a reputable brand and source, choosing the right ingredients can also transform your CBD skincare experience from average to effective. Saint Jane’s Luxury CBD Beauty Serum, for example, includes an additional 20 botanicals known for reducing inflammation, such as sea buckthorn and prickly pear oil; while its C-Drops features 20 per cent active vitamin C. At Prima, CBD is mixed with skin-loving ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vegan collagen and ayurvedic herbs such as turmeric and ashwagandha. “We’re only just scratching the surface when it comes to CBD and the benefits it can have on healing the whole body,” Assaf says. “The best part is you do not need the high to heal. Through CBD skincare, one can experience all the benefits without experiencing the toxic effects.” 5 CBD skincare brands to try Hora Founded in 2017, Hora is a favourite with celebrities including Kourtney Kardashian, with whom the brand collaborated on a limited-edition serum. Star products include the Super Serum + CBD, which regulates sebum levels with soothing ingredients including marine collagen and vitamin B3; and its Overnight Exfoliating Mask, which dissolves dead skin using CBD plus vitamin A and salicylic acid. Lord Jones Lord Jones is one of the biggest players in the market and initially made a name for itself due to its ingestibles and topical creams for pain relief, including a bestselling stiletto foot cream co-developed by Jimmy Choo co-founder Tamara Mellon. Its skincare line includes a repairing moisturiser that promises to restore the skin’s protective barrier and a multipurpose CBD oil. Prima Prima was founded last year by a team of CBD and beauty experts who previously worked at Jessica Alba’s The Honest Company. Its line focuses on clinically proven and functional ingredients while its CBD comes from all-female plants which are known for their high concentration of cannabinoids. Highlights include the Enlightenment Serum, a broad-spectrum formula containing niacinamide and hyaluronic acid, which can be added in other products for an additional boost. Sagely Naturals One of the oldest brands on the CBD block, Sagely Naturals has two skincare lines which include an eye serum, night cream and face serum. Its newest Brightening range contains additional ingredients like bakuchiol seed oil, sea buckthorn oil and meadowfoam seed oil. Its CBD is grown to organic standards and its formulas are free from nasties such as sulphates, PEGs and parabens. Saint Jane Saint Jane was launched last year by Georgeson, whose career has included stints at Sephora and Marc Jacobs Beauty. The luxe line includes a series of indulgent, nature-based serums for the body and face, and lip glosses housed in sleek packaging. The brand is also stringent when it comes to quality and uses US-grown CBD that has been quadruple lab-tested and clean-extracted using a supercritical CO2 process.