Sooner rather than later, the world of skincare will never be the same. Topical creams, lotions, salves and other products infused with cannabidiol (CBD) are set to appear in a new domain on drug store shelves. It’s quickly becoming easier to sell CBD-infused items, especially topical items, given the rapidly changing legal ramifications behind it.
A domino effect is unfolding, culminating with the 2018 Farm Bill and a statement from the Drug Enforcement Administration about reclassifying hemp-derived CBD. Only the Food and Drug Administration stands in the way, cautioning against health claims. Now drug stores are catching on, with chains like CVS Health Corp., Walgreens and Rite Aid announcing that they will sell CBD-based topical items. CULTURE reached out to medical experts in the field of CBD and skincare to get a glimpse of why this new trend is catching on.
“I’m thrilled beyond words!” Herbologist, Acupuncturist and skincare educator Dr. Jenelle Kim told CULTURE in regards to the sweeping changes in the drug store industry—and the growing potential for business. The first time Dr. Kim was approached about entering the CBD industry, she hung up the phone. But slowly, she learned about CBD and the purposes behind it, how it helps children and how it helps with inflammation. It didn’t take long for her to see the enormous potential for CBD in skincare.
Learning about CBD-based topicals is a good place to start for people who are new to hemp and cannabis or for those who don’t want the psychoactive effects. “The number one question that we’re all aware of—whether it’s internally or topically—is ‘Will CBD products get me high?’ The answer is [pure] CBD does not have any psychoactive effects,” said Kim, hinting at a whole new world of hemp products. “One of the main things I like to speak on is riding this tidal wave.”
Dr. Kim’s company launched in 2012 with the pioneers in the industry, before most people knew what CBD was all about. Clients came to Dr. Kim and her lab, JBK Wellness Labs, based on her background specifically in Chinese and East Asian herbal medicine. “I come from a lineage of herbal doctors in Korea,” Kim explained. “Why that’s important is that CBD comes from the hemp plant and hemp has been around for thousands of years in Chinese medicine.” Dr. Kim explained that since 2000 BCE, it was used by herbologists and recorded later for the exact same reasons we use it today.
“CBD has anti-inflammatory benefits, it’s high in antioxidants, it’s very good for troubled skin. So when you combine ancient formulas with CBD, that’s what we specialize in. That’s why it’s so powerful. They work.”
The ancient lore of using herbs to calm and strengthen skin is nothing new. “My mission in life is to help share the understanding of herbal medicine, and natural medicine in this part of the world. There’s a balance between both. Topicals, dietary supplements, medicine—it’s so important for our bodies that we know when to use what. People often ask me what’s best.”
That’s why Dr. Kim incorporates ancient herbal mixtures with CBD, and her blends come from the Far East. “We call them Bi-Bong formulas, which translates to ‘secret formula’ in Korean, and it’s commonly understood in East Asia,” Dr. Kim said. “These herbal formulas have been carried [down] by my family for generations. For centuries. Anyone can put herbs in a formula. True herbal medicine, though, is knowing how to use an ingredient, like CBD, and balance it with other herbs to enhance the function of that ingredient. CBD has anti-inflammatory benefits, it’s high in antioxidants, it’s very good for troubled skin. So when you combine ancient formulas with CBD, that’s what we specialize in. That’s why it’s so powerful. They work.”
“The number one question that we’re all aware of—whether it’s internally or topically—is ‘Will CBD products get me high?’”
Cannabis Beauty Defined, Dr. Kim’s line of CBD-infused topicals, has been noted as one of the first luxury CBD skincare lines. “I’m very proud of it,” Dr. Kim said. “It’s headed by a MJMA [Medical Marijuana Inc.], which is one of the primaries in this industry. We’re really interested in helping people.”
Dermatologist, Author and holistic expert Jeanette Jacknin M.D., also wasn’t sure about CBD at first. About four years ago, Jacknin broke her ankle leaving her without cartilage and causing several years of excruciating pain—pain that couldn’t be effectively treated with pharmaceutical medicine. “I had a girlfriend come over and say ‘Look. I have this CBD cream, and it really helps with my neuritis. I really think you should try it topically for your ankle pain,’” Jacknin told CULTURE. “I compared it to my lidocaine patch, and I realized it gave me much better pain relief—then I began researching.” There are dozens of other ways CBD can be beneficial topically.
Dr. Jacknin was among the first dermatologists to speak as a panelist on topical cannabinoids, including a pivotal presentation at the Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Dermatology. It worked out great, because she now has much experience presenting dozens of talks about topicals in the holistic space.
While CBD products are new, hemp seed oil products are not. “The acceptance of CBD is good, but it’s also led to a lot of misrepresentation and misunderstanding because people are taking hemp oil and calling it cannabis sativa oil, leading people to believe they get the benefits of CBD out of that,” Jacknin said. “The difference between CBD oil, hemp seed oil and cannabis oil isn’t understood. Hemp seed oil is great as a [moisturizer], and it’s loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, but it generally doesn’t contain significant amounts of CBD.”
Choosing a reliable company with solid CBD sources is no easy feat. “I’ve consulted for two CBD companies that I think have good products,” Jacknin said, recommending Sopris Health and Wellness.