Why it works, how it works, and how to start using CBD as an antioxidant in your skincare routine.
Turns out cannabis could be the best thing you ever do for your skin. And there’s science to back it up.
But before we go into the science behind CBD as an antioxidant in skincare, let’s get back to basics with regard to antioxidants and why they matter.
Related: Does CBD Help with Hair Loss?
Why are antioxidants important in skincare?
Antioxidants are important in skincare because of free radicals. So what are free radicals and why do we want to reduce them?
Why free radicals are bad for your skin
Free radicals are these pesky, unstable molecules that cause cell damage. They damage your cells by stealing electrons from other molecules, thus oxidising them. This oxidisation process damages the cells, causing oxidative stress.
How free radicals damage your skin
Free radicals are responsible for volume loss, sagging skin, hyperpigmentation and wrinkles.
For example, keratin and collagen are essential proteins that provide your skin with elasticity, plumpness and thickness. In your skin, free radicals damage keratin and collagen, thus depleting your skin’s stores of these essential proteins. This causes accelerated ageing, loss of elasticity and loss of volume.
Free radicals induced by UV rays also cause hyperpigmentation. You know how when you cut an apple and leave it out for a just a few minutes, it starts to brown? That’s because free radicals are oxidising the cells in the fruit, creating a brown pigment.
The same thing happens in your skin over time. Free radicals, by oxidising the cells in the skin, cause hyperpigmentation, sunspots, and a reddening of the skin.
What causes free radicals?
Many factors influence how many free radicals you have in your skin. Sun exposure, pollution, smoking, an unbalanced diet, and stress are all factors. The more of those things you do, the more free radicals you have.
So how do antioxidants come to the rescue?
How antioxidants remove free radicals from your skin
Antioxidants give an electron to free radicals, which acts as a natural off-switch.
By turning off the free radicals in your skin, antioxidants protect your skin from free radical damage.
They protect your skin from unwanted pigmentation and sunspots, wrinkles, loss of elasticity (think jowls, hooded eyes etc), and a dull complexion.
Using a daily antioxidant in your skincare routine will help your skin retain its moisture, elasticity, volume, and tone.
Of course sunbathing and smoking will still damage your skin, even if you do use an antioxidant. But antioxidants will act as powerful insurance against skin ageing if you also wear SPF and live a healthy lifestyle.
And you will absolutely have beautiful, glowing skin if you apply antioxidants every day, wear your SPF, and take care of your body and mind.
Now let’s move onto cannabinoids, CBD and their antioxidant power.
Related: The Top 5 Most Powerful Food Supplements.
What is CBD and where does it come from?
CBD is a cannabinoid, a group of compounds derived from cannabis.
Extensive research has been done on CBD in recent years, resulting in CBD-based medicines now being available on prescription.
Research has found that CBD is a potent antioxidant. And further research has found that CBD could be the most powerful antioxidant in skincare – even more effective than vitamin C.
CBD as an antioxidant in skincare
A recent EU study found that CBD protects the skin from UV and free radical damage, oxidative stress and hyperpigmentation.
So why is CBD such an excellent antioxidant compound?
Related: The Anti-Ageing Benefits of CBD.
What makes CBD such an effective antioxidant?
There are several factors that make CBD an excellent antioxidant for your skin.
CBD is readily absorbed into the skin, highly bioavailable, and lasts in the skin for 15 hours, continuing to work all day.
It is non-irritating, naturally derived, and is healthy for your skin’s natural oil barrier.
CBD has more than one antioxidant benefit
CBD not only works as an antioxidant by preventing the formation of free radicals in the skin.
In addition CBD acts as a booster to other antioxidant molecules that are naturally occurring in the skin. This is a highly desirable characteristic of a topical antioxidant.
CBD and Keratin
As mentioned before, keratin is the main protein in the skin, hair and nails. It is responsible for maintaining the skin’s elasticity and thickness, both huge factors when it comes to skin ageing.
A 2019 study found that CBD boosts levels of keratin in the skin by interacting with keratinocytes (the skin cells that produce keratin).
CBD stimulates the keratinocytes to produce more keratin. And this is huge because keratin is naturally lost during the ageing process, as well as depleted by free radicals.
Is CBD a better antioxidant than vitamin C?
Vitamin C is a commonly used antioxidant in skincare. Not all forms of vitamin C work well, but ‘l-ascorbic acid’ is generally considered the best. This is because l-ascorbic acid is more photostable, potent and bioavailable than other forms of vitamin C.
However, l-ascorbic acid and other forms of vitamin C are not without their drawbacks. Vitamin C serums, even those made with l-ascorbic acid, can cause congestion and irritation, especially in sensitive skin types.
It also oxidises relatively quickly and becomes ineffective after a short amount of time.
Why CBD may be a better than vitamin C
CBD, on the other hand, has remarkable anti-bacterial properties. This makes it usually safe and effective for acne sufferers. It has the added bonus of sebum regulation via the sebaceous glands and does not clog pores.
In addition, CBD is highly photostable in all its forms. We know it lasts up to 15 hours in the skin, without being affected by light or exposure to air. Vitamin C often becomes oxidised when exposed to light and air, rendering it useless before your skin has time to absorb it.
Another major plus is that CBD works with low concentrations of 0.1-1%. This is in stark contrast with vitamin C, that requires concentrations of 10% or higher to have the same effect, which can be potentially irritating and a shock to the skin.
The low concentration of CBD needed for antioxidant purposes means the risk of disrupting or irritating the skin is much lower.
How to use CBD as an antioxidant in your skincare routine
Adding CBD oil to your existing moisturiser
Adding 1-5 drops of CBD oil to your existing moisturiser, serum or sunscreen is our favourite way of using CBD as an antioxidant. It allows you to control what kind of CBD is going on your skin, in what quantity.
Apply in your morning skincare routine as usual. You could also apply in your night-time skincare routine for and added overnight treatment.
Related: DIY CBD Face Cream Recipe.
Purchasing a CBD cream or serum
If you prefer a more convenient method, go for a ready-made CBD product. Just be conscious of the quality of the product, and whether it contains any other potentially counterproductive ingredients like perfumes or alcohols.
Using a CBD face oil
A huge benefit of facial oils is that they can be used for massage to aid lymphatic drainage, blood circulation and release tension in the facial muscles.
Types of CBD extract
Not all CBD extracts are created equal, and some CBD extracts have extra benefits for skincare.
Full spectrum CBD extract
‘Full spectrum’ CBD extract contains a full spectrum of all the phytonutrients naturally occurring in cannabis.
It contains terpenes and flavonoids, which are also antioxidants, and have a host of skincare benefits.
Full spectrum CBD oil is also rich in fatty acids, which protect and restore the skin’s barrier, keeping the skin hydrated and plump looking.
Using full spectrum CBD extracts as an antioxidant means that you’ll be getting the benefits of a host of other phytonutrients as well as CBD.
CBD isolate is a 99.99% pure CBD extract. All the other compounds have been removed, so does not contain other phytonutrients.
However, because CBD isolate is pure, it is delivered more effectively into the dermis. It can also be measured with total accuracy by the milligram, so is used in most skincare products containing CBD.
If you decide to use a product containing CBD isolate, you will likely get a higher concentration of CBD than if you were to use a full spectrum extract.
Buy organic CBD oils, pastes and skin products here.