CBD was my gateway into cannabis-infused skin care. I’d heard from friends that the ingredient could help with menopause-induced hormonal changes in my skin, so I decided to give it a try. Admittedly, I was unimpressed with the first few products I tried (a mask, a muscle salve, and a night cream)—which wasn’t exactly surprising considering the lax regulations around CBD marketing in skin care—but I finally found an under-eye cream that turned me into a dedicated user.
From there, I wanted to learn more about the ingredient that gave my skin a glow akin to menopausal sweat (but in a clean, less slimy way), so I set out to test some of the buzziest cannabis-infused products on my mature skin. Keep scrolling for what I discovered.
The benefits of CBD for 40+ skin
CBD is one of more than 100 naturally-occurring cannabinoid compounds, but it’s likely the one you’re most familiar with thanks to its popularity in the skin-care world these past few years.
“CBD is known to be an anti-inflammatory,” explains Kiley Brewster, a licensed- esthetician at Woodhouse Spas in Denver. Additionally, “Cannabis can help fight against aging due to its antioxidant properties that help fight free radical damage,” she says.
All of this spells good news for those of us with mature skin. Free-radical damage is one of the main culprits behind skin aging, and hemp oil’s natural moisturizing abilities can be helpful for those dealing with dry skin as a result of lowered estrogen levels post-menopause. Plus, inflammation can deplete your body’s natural levels of collagen and elastin, leading to more visible fine lines and wrinkles, which is where CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties come in handy.
But how does it work? “CBD binds to a special set of receptors in the skin known as TRPV-1 receptors, where it can help feelings of heat, itch, and pain,” Joshua Zeichner, MD, a New York-based dermatologist, previously told Well+Good. “This explains why it has a soothing effect on the skin. Just as other natural oils are used in skin care, the natural fatty acids and antioxidants in hempseed oil [which CBD is derived from] make it a good choice for people with dry skin and eczema.”
Our bodies have an endocannabinoid system—cellular receptors—in nearly all tissues, including the skin. “CBD molecules are fat-soluble, which allows merging with the endocannabinoid system in a natural and organic process,” says Adelina I. Sanchez, a medicinal massage specialist in Texas who uses cannabis-infused products in her practice. “Topicals allow CBD to reach CB2 receptors directly.”
To reap the full benefits cannabis has to offer mature skin, look for a formula made with full-spectrum extracts, which use different components of the plant—including other complexion-friendly cannabinoids like CBG (which is rich in antioxidants), and CBC (an anti-inflammatory).
“If you just have one cannabinoid, such as CBD, you’re missing out on the over 100 additional cannabinoids that work together to produce the entourage effect,” Jessica Assaf, co-founder and chief education officer of Prima, a brand of premium hemp skin-care and wellness products, previously told Well+Good. “I really believe in the whole plant, full-spectrum extract or oil as the active ingredient in skin-care products.”
One more thing worth noting? CBD products won’t get you high. THC, the psychoactive compound in cannabis, may be present in trace amounts—but you’ll never find more than .3 percent of the stuff due to federal laws.
4 cannabis products I tried—and loved—on my mature skin
Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate — $52.00
This stuff is made from cold-pressed hemp seed oil, and promises to “calm the feeling of stressed skin while helping balance hydration.” And that, it does.
The cannabis-infused formula fortifies and moisturizes the skin barrier, keeping the harmful elements our skin encounters on a daily basis—like pollution and UV damage—at bay. It’s not anti-aging specifically, but it is anti-inflammatory, which means that it helps skin look less dry, dull, red, and wrinkled. It absorbs quickly, immediately alleviates feelings of tightness, and isn’t so greasy that I can’t immediately layer my other products (namely, moisturizer and primer) on top of it.
As for the smell—which Kiehl’s calls a “pleasant herbaceous aroma”—well, let’s just say it takes me back to my youth. Case in point? Once, when I visited my youngest on campus, I momentarily thought it was the scent of my Sativa facial oil wafting out of the dorm room window. (Spoiler alert: It wasn’t.)
Happy Dance Look Alive CBD Eye Cream — $26.00
Actor Kristen Bell developed her Happy Dance line of CBD-infused products to turn down the volume on life’s chaos, and that’s kind of what this cream did under my eyes. While CBD soothes the delicate skin in the area, a slew of other skin actives are also at work. Peptides and quinoa extract reduce puffiness, dark, circles, and bags, while avocado oil locks in moisture and soften skin.
The formula isn’t as oily as some of the other eye products I’ve used: It’s perfectly moisturizing, great for layering with makeup, and leaves my eyes looking bright and buzzy in the best possible way.
Truly Beauty Hemp Oil Facial Serum — $25.00
Truly Beauty’s Hemp Oil Facial Serum goes on like an oil and absorbs like a serum, and as the website marketing claims, really does “live up to its buzz.” It pairs hemp seed oil (a fatty-acid-rich anti-inflammatory) with vitamin A, which stimulates cellular turnover to help kick your body’s natural production of collagen into high gear.
It’s ultra-lightweight and easy to apply sunscreen on top of, and I love that when I wear it outside I can be sure I’m getting an extra dose of antioxidant protection. The scent is light—almost non-existent—which is important for travel considering how often the smell of my Kiehl’s oil attracts the attention of TSA.
Smashbox The Mindful 5 Facial Primer — $42.00
Part makeup, part skin care, this primer will give you the best of both worlds. It gets the name “mindful 5” from its combination of five complexion-friendly ingredients: Cannabis Sativa hemp seed oil and green tea (for fighting inflammation); red algae (for enhancing the moisture barrier); probiotics (to support the skin microbiome); and a primer-oil complex.
It’s slightly sticky when you apply it, so you have to wait a few minutes before layering on makeup, but once it dries it’s extra-helpful for locking foundation into place. The combination of the formula’s Sativa oil and green tint helps minimize redness in my skin, and on days when my complexion is showing limited signs of visible damage I’ve found that I don’t even need to put foundation on top of it— I can wear the primer on its own and it gives me a nice, even glow.
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