Hemp & CBD Market Value: January 2020 Price Trends for Crude, Flower Biomass, Isolate
Home » Hemp & CBD Market Value: January 2020 Price Trends for Crude, Flower Biomass, Isolate
Are we producing too much Hemp and CBD?
The short answer is yes. According to financial media outlet, Benzinga America is growing exponentially more hemp than the market can feasibly process and consume. This is the number one reason why the cost of hemp has steadily declined in 2019 and has reached an all-time low as of January 2020.
While wholesale prices are dropping across nearly all hemp products–from raw biomass, to flower, to isolates, and distillates–not all hemp products are created equal. Moreover the current drop may ultimately level out as the market stabilizes. As a hemp supplier, processor or consumer, it’s important to understand all of the factors that make up hemp and CBD pricing trends so that you can plan for the future.
Here we dive into major factors like product type, moisture content, quality and volume with an extensive guide to today’s hemp and CBD market price trends.
In this post –
Price Trends by Hemp Product
CBD Biomass (raw)
Biomass refers to the whole hemp plant materials. The vast majority of the market utilizes biomass to produce CBD, which is derived from the leaves and stalks, aka “waste” after the plant’s flowers and seeds has been used — in a wide variety of products and supplements. Prices for biomass are generally dependent on the CBD content per pound, which is measured on a dry weight basis on a standard that requires it be at least 80% dry (according to Hemp Benchmarks ). When CBD biomass is not dry enough, it will result in a decreased wholesale price.
CBD Biomass Market Value
According to a Hemp Benchmarks report, up to 25K pounds of CBD Biomass sold for roughly $4.02 per %CBD per pound in June 2019. That price dropped significantly to $2.32 in October and is selling at $1.31 as of the latest report in January 2020, representing an 6 7% decrease overall.
Dried CBD Flower
Dried CBD flower refers to the bud and trichome portions of the hemp plant, which are removed from the stalks and stems. Dried flower is smokeable and sold alone or in pre-rolled joints. Dried CBD flower commands a higher price point than CBD biomass because it has been cut, trimmed and is ready to sell.
Dried CBD Flower Market Value
Croptober did not affect the price of CBD flower as dramatically as it did biomass. In June 2019, CBD flower sold for about $349 per pound wholesale. The price dropped to an average of $319 per pound in October followed by sharper decline as of the latest report in December. CBD flower is now selling at $226 per pound, representing a 35% dip in 6 months.
Crude Hemp Oil
Crude hemp oil is extracted from the hemp plant through one of several methods. The most common methods are pressurized CO2 or solvent extraction using ethanol or a hydrocarbon. Crude hemp oil contains all of the cannabinoids (including THC), terpenes and flavonoids found naturally in the plant. It’s often further purified ( winterized ) to remove organic plant compounds such as lipids, waxes and chlorophyll, which increases the product’s overall potency. But can break down some more fragile compounds like terpenes and flavonoids.
Crude Hemp Oil Market Value
Crude hemp oil has also experienced a sharp decline in value, dropping from $2,066 per kilo in June to $1,016 in October. By December, Hemp oil dropped to $668 per Kilo, representing a 68% decrease in value.
Refined Hemp Oil (distillates)
When crude hemp oil undergoes distillation to produce an even purer product, it becomes refined hemp with a much higher market value. Refined hemp further breaks down into three categories:
- CBD full spectrum oil , which contains all cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
- CBD broad spectrum oil , which has been fully or partially expunged of cannabinoids, plant materials, and terpenes.
- THC-free distillate, which is a broad spectrum oil that has also been expunged of all THC components using advanced techniques such as chromatography.
Refined Hemp Oil Market Value
Full spectrum CBD oils are the least refined and warrant the lowest market price at about $1,791 per kilo. THC-free CBD distillates on the other hand, warrant nearly double that price ($3,120) due in part to the expensive processing as well as the market demand. However, refined hemp oil overall has significantly declined from June, 2019 ($5,628) to January, 2020 ($2,528). As a whole, the three categories of refined hemp oil have dropped by 55%.
CBD isolates are the purest CBD products available to the market, produced by extracting all of plant components including, terpenes, flavonoids, and cannabinoids. CBD isolates come in granular or powder form and have no taste or fragrance. The final product contains 0% THC and is made up of 96%+ CBD.
CBD Isolates Market Value
Despite this seeming advantage, isolates are not as popular as refined oils. The average price of CBD isolate per kilo as of January 2020 is $1,624 which dropped from 66% at its price in June.
Industrial hemp seeds are used to produce a wide range of hemp biomass, usually for grain or fiber purposes. Grains are derived from hemp seeds and used for products like food and beauty oils. Fiber, which is derived from hemp stalks is used for products like papers and textiles. Industrial uses for hemp represents a much smaller portion (approximately 13%) of the market compared to CBD (approximately 77%), but demand exists and supply is low, which means the price per pound is much higher. Moreover as prices have been declining across most hemp products, industrial hemp seed prices are on the rise.
Industrial Seeds Market Value
The value of industrial seeds more than doubled from May to October 2019, according to Hemp Benchmarks. In October, hemp seeds were selling for $5.59 per pound. However, since October, the price has steadily declined to $4.57 per pound as of the January report.
Trends Based on THC Content, Volume and Quality
The USDA recently published its interim rules for hemp sale and cultivation, which determined that total THC content cannot exceed 0.3%. Moreover the rules define total THC to include THCA content as well through the following equation: (%THCA*.877) + %Delta9-THC.
This threshold is very easy to surpass, especially when plants grow to full maturation. Therefore cultivators whose crops test above the legal limit (known as hot crops) must seek remediation to remove the THC or else they must destroy the entire harvest. THC stripping services can cost about $1/input gram, thereby driving down overall profits.
Like most commodities, volume is a major factor in determining overall market price. According to Hemp Benchmarks’ January, 2020 report, the price of CBD biomass when purchasing up to 25K pounds is about $1.31 per % CBD per pound. By contrast when volume increases to 100K pounds, 1M pounds, or 1M+ pounds the price subsequently drops to $1.14, $1.01, and $0.55 respectively.
Extraction methods generally fall into the categories of CO2 or liquid solvent extraction (using ethanol or hydrocarbons).
In order to process hemp using CO2 , it must first be pressurized in metal tanks to transform from a gas into a supercritical fluid. From there, the CO2 solution draws the desired components from the plant such as cannabinoids, terpenes or flavonoids. The CO2 solution is later evaporated leaving a concentrated oil, shatter or budder behind.
Liquid solvent extraction uses solutions such as butane, propane or ethanol to collect the components from the raw CBD biomass. After extraction, these solutions are purged of the solvents, leaving behind the extracted hemp material.
Extraction Method Pricing
Carbon dioxide extraction is the safest method because it doesn’t leave behind any toxic solvents that could contaminate the final product. It’s also the slowest and most expensive extraction method, due to the steep cost of the technology. For instance a 5-liter CO2 extraction machine can cost about $100,000. By comparison, a hydrocarbon machine costs about $20,000. This higher operating cost may warrant a higher wholesale price if the market understands its value, but extraction method does not necessarily have a 1:1 relationship with wholesale price.
Machine vs Hand Harvesting
Machine harvesting uses industrial devices to cut, collect and transport mature hemp biomass. While this requires a large initial investment in machinery, it is generally more efficient and cost effective in the long term. Especially when harvesting hemp for industrial purposes, specialized machines can cut a swath about 40 feet wide through a field. This type of machinery is optimal when harvesting on a wide scale, but they can easily shatter seeds and compromise overall quality. Despite the fact that machine harvesting works rapidly, it may not be the best method when harvesting hemp for its delicate flower heads.
In these cases, hand harvesting may produce a higher quality yield because the process is more precise. Higher quality seeds and buds may also translate to higher profits. But in order to ensure the return is worth the investment, hemp cultivators must hire the right amount of labor, which can be costly. For example, if there are not enough people to hand cut the harvest in time, crops may over-mature and overproduce THC, rendering them illegal and potentially worthless.
Fast Dry vs Slow Curing
Once hemp is harvested, growers must immediately transport the plants to a drying facility to remove the majority of moisture content. On strategy is slow curing, which requires growers to utilize a facility that is between 60 and 70°F with humidity levels between 45 – 55%. This process helps preserve volatile terpenes, which can degrade at higher temperatures. It also provides an environment whereby freshly harvested hemp can continue increasing in cannabinoid potency. While this method certainly produces a higher quality product that could warrant more money due to a higher CBD concentration, it may also end up producing more than the legal limit of THC.
Heated dryers and continuous air flow dryers can be used to cure hemp quickly. While efficient, they can also compromise the seed and plant through overheating or cracking of the seeds. Additionally, during the aeration process the roof will be cold and could develop condensation without proper ventilation. That condensation can drip into the hemp bins and form mold buildup around and on the plants.
While the curing process itself does not directly dictate the price of hemp biomass or flower, the resulting quality of the product will. For example, slow curing may produce a higher concentration of CBD which will warrant a higher wholesale price, but if THC rises above the legal limit, the product is not sellable. Similarly, fast drying will improve output and ensure that the crop does not continue increasing in THC potency, but cracked seeds, contamination, and lower CBD content will all drive down pricing.
By Cannabinoid Level
When harvesting hemp for smokable flower, oils or isolates, cannabinoid levels matter. For example, CBD biomass pricing is directly dependent on the percentage of CBD per pound. With regards to distillates, THC content directly affects the wholesale price. As mentioned above, when hemp oil is 100% stripped of THC, it sells for nearly double the price of full spectrum oil.
Aside from CBD and THC, lesser known cannabinoids like CBG (will link to the blog) or CBN are making the biggest difference in price. According to Hemp Benchmarks the price of CBG biomass varies, but generally sells for around $22.42 per % CBG per pound (wholesale), equating to roughly $175 to $325/pound overall.
Regardless of product type or processing method, market flooding is the biggest factor behind today’s trends in hemp and CBD pricing. Today, cultivators can forecast 1,000 plants per acre and roughly 0.5 – 1 lb per plant. That equates to 500 – 1,000 lbs per acre, which can be doubled when planting earlier in the season. This may have sounded great in theory, but the reality of today’s oversupply of hemp means approximately 60% of growers cannot find buyers.
Today’s wholesale trends looks bleak but it does not mean doom and gloom for the future. According to trading platform, PanXchange , this type of volatility and oversupply is normal in emerging markets and will ultimately correct itself. After all, the U.S. hemp market is projected to grow to $2.6 billion in sales by 2022 with plenty of profits to go around.
For farmers, key strategies may be to grow a little less than capacity, set up contracts in advance, and safely store hemp that cannot be immediately sold. It may also mean changing strategies for growing, harvesting, drying and extracting to ensure that the end product warrants the highest prices. The hemp industry has an incredible trajectory and it’s vital to stay focused on producing the best quality product available.
At ACS Laboratory, we stay current with market trends and legal compliance so that we can better serve our customers. Contact us today to schedule a test or ask a question about your hemp harvest.
ACS Laboratory in Tampa, FL – Hemp & CBD Market Value: January 2020 Price Trends for Crude, Flower Biomass, Isolate Hemp and CBD price drops as a result of Croptober.
CBD in Cosmetics: A Practical Primer
September 2, 2020 Contact Author Paul C. Lessard, Ph.D.; Varin Science, LLC, Aptos, CA USA
Progressing Safety, Sustainability and Sincerity with Synthetic Ingredients — Croda Inc
Color and style transformation, on the go — Lubrizol Life Science Beauty
Organic vs. Mineral: Where Sunscreens are Headed and Why. — Sensient Cosmetic Technologies
Naturally Turn Up the Volume with Echinacea Purpurea — Biocogent, LLC
Providing Solubilizers in Personal Care Products that Consumers Want — Sensient Cosmetic Technologies
- Figure 1. Hemp plants convert cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) into cannabidiolic acid (CBDA)
- Figure 2. Main processing steps to convert hemp biomass into high purity distillate
Most Popular in Methods & Processes
- 1 Kao Predicts 86 Changes in Skin with Age, Menstrual Cycle and More
- 2 Comparatively Speaking: Minimally Disruptive vs. Functional Formulation
- 3 Formulating Water-in-Oil Emulsions: A Scary Endeavor
- 4 Comparatively Speaking: Lowering Surface Tension in Water vs. Oil
- 5 Attacking Acne: OTC Topical Treatments
- 6 CBD in Cosmetics: A Practical Primer
- 7 AI-aided Pathways Effectively Synthesize Naturally Occurring Compounds
- 8 Comparatively Speaking: Epilation vs. Depilation
- 9 Cold Processing of Emulsions
- 10 Linking Sensory and Rheology Characteristics
Disclaimer: The present article explores the use of CBD in cosmetics and personal care. It is offered solely for your consideration and further exploration. Readers are advised to research the rules and regulations set forth by the proper authorities in relevant operating districts to ensure CBD-containing products are compliant. In no way does the author or Cosmetics & Toiletries assume any responsibility or liability in relation to the use of CBD in cosmetics.
The global cannabidiol (CBD) cosmetics market is expected to increase at a compound annual growth rate of more than 30% from 2020 to 2024 to reach $3.1 billion (USD), according to Market Reports World. 1 As a point of clarity, the CBD used in cosmetics is derived from the low-THC, industrial grade and non-psychotropic form commonly referred to as hemp although CBD is generally present in low quantities the higher-THC containing marijuana plant. Cannabis refers to the overall genus of both hemp and marijuana plants.
Unfortunately, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is walking a winding and complex path toward the regulation of CBD’s use and consumption. One reason for this is because compounding precedents have been set. For example, the approval of Epidiolex a in 2018 as a prescription drug, with CBD identified as the active pharmaceutical ingredient (API), affects the addition of this chemical to any food, dietary supplement, 2 prescription, OTC drug or cosmetic. Furthermore, a 1940s court ruling against Helene Curtis 3 set a precedent that disallows cosmetic companies to claim a product contains CBD. At that time, a shampoo claiming “plus egg” was deemed false and misleading because the ingredient was present at levels too low for cosmetic benefits. Since CBD is an approved drug, claiming that a product contains CBD presumes the material is present at levels for drug-like effects, unless companies can prove both its cosmetic benefits and non-drug effects.
For these reasons, the INCI name Cannabidiol is used instead, and CBD-containing cosmetics must not make any drug claims; e.g., anti-inflammatory. As an aside, the use of CBD in other drugs, whether prescription or OTC, requires pre-approval by the FDA.
In addition, although the Farm Bill 4 passed by the U.S. Congress in 2018 removed cannabis containing less than 0.3% delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (D 9 -THC) from the Controlled Substances Act, significant confusion and misunderstanding have prevented the mainstream use of CBD in U.S. Commerce. Also, while most states support the Farm Bill, making it perfectly legal to grow hemp in those states, others do not. This makes it illegal to grow or even transport hemp within or across those state boundaries—even if the destination is a Farm Bill-supporting state. According to one industry expert, the bill is even hung up in semantics over the Latin word for hemp. At press, the most updated source of information from the FDA attempting to clarify the regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products including CBD is found in a Q&A posted on the FDA’s website. 5
The Farm Bill will expire in October 2021 and it is expected that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will address the many thousands of comments submitted to the agency (this author’s included) during the rule-making process. Significant factors contributing to this confusion are the FDA’s firm stance prohibiting the consumption of CBD in food and beverage products, 5 issues and stigma resulting from the recreational use of marijuana, and a general reluctance of large-scale producers to risk litigation until there is more clarity, research and standards to support its use.
Politics aside, the good news for formulation chemists and manufacturers is that the price of CBD has declined greatly over the last 12 months. This is mainly due to oversupply and excess of product on the market. CBD isolate, for example, was typically priced around $6 per gram in May 2019 and almost one year later, it sells for approximately one-fifth of that price. Furthermore, additional studies continue to demonstrate the potential efficacy and cosmetic benefits of products containing cannabis, as will be discussed later.
The present article explores the cultivation of hemp, how CBD is derived from it, quality control considerations and full-spectrum vs. CBD isolate. It also presents recent research supporting the benefits of CBD in cosmetics, and product formulation and dosing. It is intended as a primer to highlight key aspects of CBD sourcing and use in cosmetics.
Cultivation of Hemp
Cannabis is one of the oldest known medicinal plants. Archaeological evidence shows it entered Europe from Asia sometime around 500 B.C. All cannabinoids, regardless of THC content, originate from the same species, Cannabis sativa L.—a member of the Cannabaceae family.
One of the most troublesome issues for hemp farmers is that both THC and CBD originate from the same precursor molecule, cannabigerolic acid (CBGA) (see Figure 1). As the plant reaches maturity, both CBD and THC are produced enzymatically from the same molecule. 6 Thus, getting the harvest timing right can prove difficult to economically produce hemp with THC levels below the permitted 0.3% threshold while also maximizing CBD production, typically around 8%. If the THC limit is exceeded, the farmer must destroy the crop; and if the crop is harvested too early, the farmer risks low CBD yield and financial burden. Weather, soil, fertilizer and plant genetics can also affect yields, further compounding the issue.
Processing Hemp into Raw Oil and Distillate
After hemp is harvested, it is typically dried to about 10-12% moisture using natural or mechanical means. After drying, the flowers are separated from the fan leaves and stalks, since these typically contain a higher quantity of cannabinoids and terpenes. Sometimes the plant parts are ground to increase surface area and enhance extraction recovery. Indeed, recent internal testing has found that milling can increase the extraction yield by more than 10%.
The major steps for processing and purifying hemp are shown in Figure 2. While various methods are used, ethanol-based extraction is the most common; note that the FDA has approved only one extraction method for the production of CBD for drug indications. 7 After extraction, the resulting crude hemp oil, which is generally around 60-70% pure CBD molecule, is winterized to remove undesirable fats and lipids. If these are not removed, the final product will be cloudy and opaque—which is generally considered a sign of poor quality and sold at a lower value.
Winterization is accomplished by dissolving the crude oil in food-grade alcohol, freezing to precipitate the solids, then filtering with micron-sized media. After this, the ethanol is recovered using rotary evaporators, or rotovaps, and decarboxylated by heating for a known temperature and time. The decarboxylation step, shown in the second reaction in Figure 2, removes carbon dioxide from the aromatic ring of the cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) naturally produced by the plant to produce cannabidiol (CBD).
The final step is to purify the mixture via distillation, which typically raises the CBD molecule purity to more than 90% and creates the final product, commonly referred to as the distillate. Before the distillate is created, the terpenes are removed at lower distillation temperatures. Many types of distillation equipment are available; here, the author’s lab uses wiped, thin-film equipment for efficiency, speed and short residence time in the vapor phase to minimize possible product degradation (see Short Path Distillation Demo on Page DM8 of your digital magazine).
Quality Control in Wholesale Supply
Quality assurance testing for CBD is generally regulated at the state level. In California, a state that follows one of the most rigorous testing standards in the nation, Phase 3 testing became mandatory on January 1, 2020. 8 Depending on the final product type and route of use, testing is usually conducted for cannabinoid levels (also referred to as potency), residual solvents and pesticides, heavy metals, terpenes, foreign matter, homogeneity, mycotoxins (Type B1, B2, G1 and G2) and microbes (A. fumigatus, A. flavus, A. niger, A. terreus, Escherichia coli and Salmonella spp.).
The resulting data is included in the product’s Certificate of Analysis (COA), which should be evaluated in detail before purchasing from a producer. After the product is purchased, it should be stored in a dark, cool environment to minimize product breakdown and ideally used as soon as possible after acquisition. Once it is incorporated into the final product, it should be tested again to ensure the accuracy of content and labeling.
When a lab report measures values in the COA report, these usually include references to the limit of quantification (LOQ) and the limit of detection (LOD). The LOD is the lowest quantity of a substance that can be observed by the instrument in comparison with a blank sample. The LOQ, on the other hand, is similar but takes into account predefined statistical parameters for bias and precision; this value is generally higher than the LOD. 9 When interpreting results, the LOQ should be considered as the lowest concentration at which the compound may be reliably detected, and well below the action limit to ensure a margin of safety.
There are several things to look for in the COA. Be sure the COA batch number is traceable to your product and that its purity is sufficiently high; it is recommended that the CBD distillate is 85-90% pure, and isolate should be above 99%. Also, the date of the COA should be fairly recent (within 30 days)—considering that CBD approved by the FDA only has a shelf-life of three months. 8 Studies show that CBD degradation mechanism is first order with a half-life of about eight months. 10 Research performed in the 1970s found CBD to be extremely light sensitive but the authors assert that “cannabis or extracts are reasonably stable for one to two years if stored in a dark room at room temperature.” 11
Furthermore, harmful compounds should be absent or below action limits. Regarding this point, a complete discussion of relevant test methods and regulatory limits is beyond the scope of this article but several key points can be made. First, cannabis is a known bioaccumulator and can uptake and concentrate metals from the soil. Thus, naturally occurring arsenic in soil may pose a problem in some areas of Northern America, 12 so this an important test.
Also, pesticides approved by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) such as myclobutanil (also known as Eagle 20, Masalon and/or Nova), which is a commonly used fungicide for grapes, stone fruits, strawberries, apples and other crops, can impact hemp cultivation. If used near hemp crops in areas of unfavorable wind conditions, residual myclobutanil may be flagged during testing since it has an action limit of 9 µg/g—equivalent to one part per million. Chemical solutions can be used to remove residual pesticides if necessary. Fortunately, the EPA significantly limits the use of allowable pesticides for hemp cultivation to just eight relatively benign types, including neem oil and insecticidal soaps. 13
Lastly, the COA analysis should originate from a reputable lab as results can vary drastically. This is currently a problem in the industry. In 2019, for example, one round-robin test of several Northern California labs for potency and residual pesticides in THC distillate showed wide inconsistencies. The false negative rate, indicating a compound to be present but not reported, was greater than 70% and the potency for THC registered higher than 15%. 14 Aside from basic ISO certifications, there is no accreditation program in place to certify or approve the testing lab—so it’s a case of caveat emptor, “buyer beware.”
A Note on Terpenes
Terpenes are volatile molecules found in all plants that impart unique aroma profiles. They are present in essential oils, which have been used for many thousands of years. There are more than 200 terpenes found in cannabis 15 and they participate in what is known as the entourage effect—a synergistic effect where the outcome is enhanced by the presence of both cannabinoid and terpene molecules. 16
Due to the complexities of 200+ known terpenes interacting with 100+ known cannabinoids at varying concentrations, it is difficult to accurately assess the exact therapeutic mechanism in “whole plant” cannabis medicine. However, most agree the effect is valuable and may be missing when isolated CBD is used in the absence of terpenes; this will be discussed further later.
When crude oil is distilled, as in the last step of Figure 2, the terpenes are removed prior to distillation. They are generally collected and retained in one or two fractions and may have medicinal qualities by themselves. In vape pens, they are reintroduced to the distillate to give it flavor and to reduce viscosity. Some products may have a “skunky” pot smell, however, if not properly refined. Residual chlorophylls are particularly offensive—and the reason why marijuana brownies can taste awful. This can be caused by ethanol extraction where the temperature is too high and/or filtration is defective.
Full-Spectrum vs. CBD Isolate
There are no legal or formal scientific definitions for the terms full-spectrum, broad-spectrum oil, distillate or isolate as they refer to CBD. However, it is widely recognized that full-spectrum refers to extracts or distillates that contain mostly CBD along with lesser minor cannabinoids such as THC, cannabichromene (CBC), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabidiol acid (CBDA) and cannabidivarin (CBDV). The lesser cannabinoids are generally present at 1% or less and if psychoactive, as in the case of THC, they will not alter the user’s faculties at such low concentrations. In fact, the presence of these lessor cannabinoids is important since, as noted, they are believed to work in a beneficial and synergistic manner.
Broad-spectrum refers to oil or distillate from which the THC has been removed to the lowest practical quantity, presumably to meet legal requirements that vary from country to country and state to state. Finally, isolate refers to the purified crystal precipitate form of CBD, which is typically high in purity—usually in excess of 99% CBD molecule. Interestingly, there is no THC version of the isolate since the molecule is unable to crystallize unless it is in the acid form, THCA.
CBD Activity and Safety
On a molecular level, cannabinoids become functionally active by binding to what are referred to as the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors in the body’s endocannabinoid system. CB1 receptors are found on brainstem neurons 17 and glial cells. CB2 sites are found in the spleen tissue. 18 These receptors were first described by Maccarrone et al. in 200319 and reviewed in detail by Biro et al. in 2009. 20
The quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technique has long been used to determine if particular genes are expressed in in vitro skin cultures. To date, 163 genes have been identified in skin, ranging from inflammation, pigmentation, wound healing, anti-aging and hydration, to name a few. 21 Interestingly, researchers have found that more than 100 genes are regulated by CBD in a manner dependent upon the concentration, solvent and duration of the test. This approach offers an interesting means to target formulations with intended effects in real skin tissue.
Several dozen peer-reviewed research papers report the benefits of CBD for skin. Examples include combating inflammation, 22-24 acne, 9 pain 25 and melanoma; 26 acting as an analgesic to promote wound healing 27 and relieving itch 13, 28 —although note that the FDA has not approved CBD for these or any other topical treatment applications.
In human trials, Palmieri et al. found the topical application of CBD to effectively reduce psoriasis, eczema (atopic dermatitis) and tissue scarring. Also observed were significant improvements in hydration, elasticity and the Psoriasis Area Severity Index (PASI). 29 Likewise, Wilkinson showed CBD to act on psoriasis in cultured human epidermal keratinocytes. 30
Studies also have indicated that CBD can regulate epidermal differentiation through the CB1 receptor 31, 32 and reduce histamine responses in human skin. 33, 34 Other work documents its use in treating inflammatory acne vulgaris due to its ability to decrease the proliferation of human sebocytes, as shown in vitro. 35 Chelliah et al. even reports on the topical application of CBD to treat the rare, blistering skin disorder of Epidemolysis bullosa, finding that patients healed faster and experienced less pain and blistering. 36
Furthermore, the safety of CBD also is well-established. No adverse effects levels (NOAEL) were reported by Max, et al., for example. 37 Also, Human Repeat Insult Patch Tests (HRIPT) showed no irritation or allergic response in 52 subjects. 38
CBD distillate, rather than crude oil, is used most commonly in modern formulations. At room temperature, CBD distillate is a thick, sticky mass resembling honey. To facilitate transfer and measurement, it is usually heated to about 90°C before use. To formulate products such as balms, salves and body butters, CBD distillate is readily soluble in most vegetable oils including medium-chain triglycerides, which are found in coconut and palm oils, as well as olive, grapeseed, almond, avocado and sunflower oils. It also is compatible with common emollients including Butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, Mangifera indica (mango) seed butter and Simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) oil, among others.
For emulsions, glyceryl monostearate, polyethylene glycol and polysorbates are compatible with most cannabinoids. Quillaja saponaria extract from the soap bark tree also offers a natural alternative for clean beauty formulations. Cetearyl alcohol can be used with CBD distillate as an emulsion stabilizer, while sodium stearoyl lactylate can be used to improve viscosity and volume.
Many vendors also add essential oils to CBD distillate that contain terpenes such as pinene, myrcene, limonene, linalool and b-caryophyllene. As described above, the effects of these compounds in combination with cannabinoids are not well-understood, but their synergies may be important to achieve the desired outcome. The pioneering neurologist Ethan Russo wrote a comprehensive review 39 on the potential effects between cannabinoids and terpenes. He identified studies where linalool and CBD distillate appeared to help skin healing and scarring; 40 and where limonene, 41 linalool and pinene 42 combined with CBD distillate were effective in acne therapy. Researchers have also observed that essential fatty acids such as a- and g-linolenic acid, oleic acids and phytosterols (b-sitosterol) can be combined with CBD distillate to impart the added function of improving skin elasticity and hydration by inhibiting enzyme 5-a-reductase, which inhibits excessive skin sebum secretion, 43, 44 independent of the cannabinoids present.
As mentioned previously, especially after processing, the final CBD-containing product should be retested to ensure accuracy and agreement with the labeling value.
CBD is a highly lipophilic molecule (logKo/w ≈ 6)45 that tends to accumulate in the stratum corneum rather than penetrate into the deeper strata. 46 For this reason, researchers have evaluated other methods of delivery, including gels made with carbomer b , 47 encapsulation and transdermal patches (discussed below), or in combination with hyaluronic acid, 48 argan oil 49 and boswellic acid 50 to enhance absorption.
In a study with carbomer gel, 39 researchers found that transdermal dosing from 0.62 mg to 6.2 mg per day of CBD had an excellent correlation with plasma levels and was effective in reducing arthritic inflammation and swelling. A high dose of 62 mg per day did not fit the pharmacokinetic modeling and the authors postulate a saturation threshold was reached or exceeded.
- Market Reports World (2020, Jan 23). Global CBD-Infused Cosmetics Market 2020-2024. Available at: https://www.marketreportsworld.com/global-cbd-infused-cosmetics-market-14383619
- Cornell Law School (accessed 2020, Aug 10). 321 U.S. Code (ff)(3)(B)(i) and (ii). Available at: https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/21/321
- NIH National Library of Medicine (accessed 2020, Aug 10). 168. Misbranding of Helene Curtis Egg Shampoo. U.S. v. 13 Jugs, etc. Available at: https://fdanj.nlm.nih.gov/catalog/csnj00168
- U.S. Senate Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition & Forestry (accessed 2020, Aug 10). 2018 Farm Bill. Available at: https://www.agriculture.senate.gov/2018-farm-bill
- U.S. FDA (accessed 2020, Aug 10). FDA regulation of cannabis and cannabis-derived products, including cannabidiol (CBD). Available at: https://www.fda.gov/news-events/public-health-focus/fda-regulation-cannabis-and-cannabis-derived-products-including-cannabidiol-cbd#qandas
- ElSohly M.A., Radwan, M.M., Gul, W., Chandra, S. and Galal, A. (2017). Phytochemistry of Cannabis sativa L. In Kinghorn, A.D., Falk, H., Gibbons, S. and Kobayashi, J., eds., Phytocannabinoids: Unraveling the Complex Chemistry and Pharmacology of Cannabis sativa. Cham, Switzerland, Springer.
- U.S. FDA (accessed 2020, Aug 10). Drug approval package: Epidiolex (Cannabidiol). Available at: https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/nda/2018/210365Orig1s000TOC.cfm
- Bureau of Cannabis Control Order of Adoption (accessed 2020, Aug 10). Bureau of cannabis control text of regulations. California Code of Regulations Title 16. Division 42. Bureau of Cannabis Control. Available at https://cannabis.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/13/2019/01/Order-of-Adoption-Clean-Version-of-Text.pdf
- Armbruster, D.A. and Pry, T. (2008 Aug). Limit of blank, limit of detection and limit of quantitation. Clin Biochem Rev. 29 (suppl 1) S49–S52.
- Smith, B. (2017, Nov). Determination of cannabis oil potency degradation rate and mechanism by infrared spectroscopy. Terpenes & Testing.
- Fairbairn, J.W., Liebmann J.A. and Rowan, M.G. (1976). The stability of cannabis and its preparations on storage. J Pharm Pharmac 28 1-7.
- Chrostowski, P.C., Foster, S. and Preziosi, D. (2002, Feb 3-6). Scientific peer review of the case for caution. New York Water Environment Association, 74th Annual Meeting, New York, NY.
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (accessed 2020, Aug 10). Pesticide products registered for use on hemp. Available at: https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/pesticide-products-registered-use-hemp
- Smith, B.C., Lessard, P. and Pearson, R. (2019 Jan-Feb). Inter-laboratory variation in cannabis analysis: Pesticides and potency in distillates. Cannabis Sci and Tech 2(1) 48-53.
- Upton, R.H., Craker, L. and ElSohly, M., eds. (2014). Cannabis inflorescence quality control monograph. Scotts Valley, CA, American Herbal Pharmacopoeia.
- Baron, E. (2018 Jul). Medicinal properties of cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids in cannabis, and benefits in migraine, headache and pain: An update on current evidence and cannabis science. In Headache 58(7) 1139-1186; doi: 10.1111/head.13345
- Van Sickle, M.D., et al. (2005 Oct). Identification and functional characterization of brainstem cannabinoid CB2 receptors. Science 14 310(5746) 329-32; doi: 10.1126/science.1115740
- Munro, S., Abu-Shaar, M. and Thomas, K. L. (1993 Sep 2). Molecular characterization of a peripheral receptor for cannabinoids. Nature 365(6441) 61-5; doi: 10.1038/365061a0
- Maccarrone, M., Centonze, D., Finazzi-Agrò A. and Bernardi, G. (2007 Apr). The endocannabinoid system in targeting inflammatory neurodegenerative diseases. Trends in Pharmacological Sciences 28(4) 180-187; https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tips.2007.02.004
- Bíró, T., Balázs, I., Tóth, G.H., Paus R. and Pacher, P. (2009, Jul 14). The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: Novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. Trends Pharmacol Sci 30(8) 411-420; doi: 10.1016/j.tips.2009.05.004
- Langerveld, A. (2002, Feb 3-6). The next era of CBD: Data and validation. Society of Cosmetic Chemists 73rd Annual Meeting, New York, NY.
- Jastrzab, A., Gegotek, A. and Skrzydlewska, E. (2019, Aug 3). Cannabidiol regulates the expression of keratinocyte proteins involved in the inflammation process through transcriptional regulation. Cells 8(8) 827; doi: 10.3390/cells8080827
- Oláh, A., Tóth, B.I., … Bíró, T., et al. (2014 Sep). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects on human sebocytes. J Clin Invest 124(9) 3713-24; doi: 10.1172/JCI64628.
- Sangiovanni, E., Fumagalli, M., …Dell’Agli, M., et al. (2019 Aug). Cannabis sativa L. extract and cannabidiol inhibit in vitro mediators of skin inflammation and wound injury. Phytother Res 33(8) 2083-2093; doi: 10.1002/ptr.6400
- Fine, P.G. and Rosenfled, M.J. (2013 Oct). The endocannabinoid system, cannabiniods and pain. Rambam Maimonides Med J 4(4).
- Hwang, Y.S., Kim, Y.J., … Lee, J., et al. (2017, Aug 1). Cannabidiol upregulates melanogenesis through CB1 dependent pathway by activating p38 MAPK and p42/44 MAPK. Chem Biol Interact 273 107-114; doi: 10.1016/j.cbi.2017.06.005
- Chelliah, M.P., Zinn, A., Khuu, P. and Teng, J.M.C. (2018 Jul). Self-initiated use of topical cannabidiol oil for Epidermolysis bullosa. Pediatr Dermatol 35(4) e224-e227; doi: 10.1111/pde.13545
- Wolff, D. and Reijneveld, S.A. (2019, May 3). Use of cannabidiol in children. Ned Tijdschr Geneeskd 163 D3145 (in Dutch).
- Palmieri, B., Laurino, C. and Vadalà, M. (2019 Mar-Apr). A therapeutic effect of CBD-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. Clin Ter 170(2) e93-e99; doi: 10.7417/CT.2019.2116
- Wilkinson, J.D. and Williamson, E.M. (2007). Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis. J Dermatological Sci 45 87-92.
- Maccarrone, M., Di Rienzo, M., Battista, N., et al. (2003). The endocannabinoid system in human keratinocytes. Evidence that anandamide inhibits epidermal differentiation through CB1 receptor-dependent inhibition of protein kinase C, activation protein-1 and transglutaminase. J Biol Chem 278 33896-33903.
- Toth, B.I., Dobrosi, N., Dajnoki, A., et al. (2011). Endocannabinoids modulate human epidermal keratinocyte proliferation and survival via the sequential engagement of cannabinoid receptor-1 and transient receptor potential vanilloid-1. J Invest Dermatol 131 1095-1104.
- Dvorak, M., Watkinson, A., McGlone, F. and Rukwied, R. (2003). Histamine induced responses are attenuated by a cannabinoid receptor agonist in human skin. Inflamm Res 52 238-245.
- Spradley, J.M., Davoodi, A., Gee, L.B., Carstens, M.I. and Carstens, E. (2012). Differences in peripheral endocannabinoid modulation of scratching behavior in facial vs. spinally innervated skin. Neuropharmacology 63 743-749.
- Olah, A., Toth, B.I., Borbiro, I., et al. (2014). Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and anti-inflammatory effects on human sebocytes. J Clin Invest 124 3713-3724.
- Chelliah, M.P., Zinn, Z., Khuu, P. and Teng, J.M.C. (2018). Self-initiated use of topical cannabidiol oil for Epidermolysis bullosa. Pediatr Dermatol 35 224-227.
- Marx, T.K., Reddeman, R., … Szakonyiné, I.P., et al. (2018, Jun 7). An assessment of the genotoxicity and subchronic toxicity of a supercritical fluid extract of the aerial parts of hemp. J Toxicol 1-26; https://doi.org/10.1155/2018/8143582
- Pelger, L. (2019, Dec 17-19). CBD, GRAS and the largest organ. Society of Cosmetic Chemists 73rd Annual Meeting, New York, NY.
- Russo, E.B. (2011 Aug). Taming THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Special issue: Cannabinoids in biology and medicine, part I. Bab, I. and Alexander, S., guest eds. British Pharm Soc J 163(7) 1327-1562; doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x
a Epidiolex (cannabidiol), by GW Pharmaceuticals, is the first and currently only FDA-approved prescription CBD used to treat seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome.
This article introduces some of the basics of CBD in cosmetics; from the cultivation of hemp and quality control, to full-spectrum vs. CBD isolate and formulation considerations. CBD cosmetics have boomed in popularity although the regulations surrounding them and controversies overdosage labeling are chaotic and erratic at best.