Cannabis products have been all the rage as of late and topical products are no exception. They are used for pain and inflammation and in skincare. I’m going to give you an overview of the active components of cannabis, the types of oils available and what they’re good for.
First, a little science. Bear with me here, as there has been a lot of confusion created by marketing; either to avoid problems with governments or to fool you, the consumer. There are two types of cannabis plants. First, there’s Cannabis indica which is a typical marijuana plant. Second, there is Cannabis sativa, another type of marijuana plant but also the name for the hemp plant. And most marijuana plants are now hybrids. These plants contain over 100 hundred types of cannabinoids (chemical compounds).
TetraHydroCannabinol (THC) is the best known and is psychoactive (can make you stoned, paranoid, etc.) and can be used for:
CannaBiDiol (CBD) is non-psychoactive and can be used for:
Cannabis or marijuana oil can be made from dried flowers/buds and infused into oil. It can be used as is or in a lotion or balm and applied topically, without a psychoactive effect. THC works topically by binding to our pain receptors and it won’t reach the bloodstream, preventing any psychoactive effects. These oils contain both THC and CBD and relieve localized pain, muscle soreness, arthritis, headaches, cramping and inflammation but are said to be most effective for nerve pain. From my personal experience and from the experience of others, it can start relieving pain in as little as five seconds (and longer, depending on how deep the pain is). The amount of THC and CBD will vary depending on the strain of the cannabis plant used but you can expect 5-27% THC and less than 1-15% CBD in the flowers themselves. The oil would contain less as some would be left behind in the flowers. I can’t confirm the proper naming for the ingredients label but the one I make for my husband I label as Cannabis indica (flower) extract. You may also find Cannabis sativa (flower) extract but remember, this may also refer to the hemp plant.
CBD oil can come from the marijuana or hemp plant and has a higher amount of CBD (18-24%) and less than 0.3% THC. If you’re buying this, make sure you’re getting actual CBD oil and not hemp oil. It should be listed as cannabidiol, full spectrum hemp, hemp oil or phytocannibinoid rich (PCR) hemp extracts in the list of ingredients. You may also find broad spectrum which is full spectrum CBD that is THC free.
Hemp (seed) oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant (a variety of the cannabis plant) and contains less than 0.3% THC and trace amounts of CBD and is high in vitamin E. It’s good for dry, irritated skin and has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. It is used in cooking and skincare products. This is listed as cannabis sativa (seed) oil on the ingredients list.
For skincare, little scientific information is available. Beauty magazines report that CBD is beneficial for acne as it helps with inflammation and decreases sebum production as well as for anti-aging as it contains antioxidants. Many other plant oils have the same benefits and CBD oil hasn’t been proven to be superior to other sources. CBD oil is also said to be soothing and suitable for sensitive skin.
Research has been limited to studies on allergic and post-herpes skin reactions and pain relief. It may help psoriasis, some types of dermatitis and itching, wounds, pimples, corns, certain nail fungus, rheumatism, sore throat, bronchitis, colds, asthmatic problems with breathing, cancer, aging (study was done on mice), etc.
Did you know our bodies produce endocannibinoids? These are similar to cannibinoids and they affect your sleep, mood, appetite, memory, metabolism, pain, inflammation, motor control, stress and reproduction as well as other systems.
20% of the population has a genetic mutation that releases our endocannibinoids into our bloodstream which makes topicals less effective. My observations lead me to believe that people with high pain thresholds, who are happy all the time, good sleepers, frequent eaters and have memory problems are likely to have this mutation.
Our bodies production of endocannibinoids may reduce with age. Eating essential fatty acids (hemp, flax, chia, walnuts, sardines, anchovies, eggs), chocolate, herbs, spices and tea stimulates production. Meditation, yoga, massage, sunlight, masturbation (presumably sex too), exercise, social time and play time also helps. Avoid pesticides, phthalates and moderate to high alcohol consumption which will impact your production.
Now that marijuana products are legal, I have high hopes that more research will be done!
We all know alcohol is bad for us but what about for our skin? Isn’t it drying?
It all depends upon the alcohol. Alcohol is a molecule that contains carbon atoms and an oxygen and hydrogen atom (a hydroxyl group), and their names end in ‘ol’. The one we know best, ethanol (or ethyl alcohol), is a product of fermentation and is drying. Denatured alcohol (where something is added to ethanol to make it undrinkable) is also drying and is used in window cleaner, camp stove fuel, paint removal, etc. Isopropyl alcohol (isopropanol or rubbing alcohol) is created using petroleum-based ingredients or from reducing acetone (TOXNET Toxicology Data Network) and is drying.
Now for the good alcohols. Cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, cetearyl alcohol are fatty alcohols derived from coconut and nuts. These alcohols are emollient, leave your skin soft and smooth and are used as thickeners and co-emulsifiers.
Witch hazel is often obtained from solvent extraction with alcohol and some of it remains in the witch hazel. Store bought witch hazel can contain 15-30% alcohol. Our Facial Toner & Cleanser contains witch hazel and the alcohol content is about 8%. We have recently found some alcohol-free witch hazel which we’ll be using in the future.
Benzyl alcohol is another ingredient you’ll find on many of our labels. It’s an aromatic alcohol and is an ingredient in the natural preservative we use. It is found naturally in plants and essential oils and is safe.
If you’re concerned about dry skin, check the labels of your toners, hand sanitizers, mouthwashes and oily skin care products.
Health Canada has Cosmetic Regulations that state what ingredient information needs to be on a cosmetic label and the Consumer Packaging and Labelling Act & Regulations describes other mandatory information.
Labels must include:
This potentially incredible oil is generally unheard of here in North America but it's known as the "remedy for everything except death"! It has been used for over 2000 years and goes by many names including blackseed, black caraway, black sesame, fennel flower, black oil, Baraka, fitch, Kalonji, Love in a Mist and many others. Many of its suggested uses have not been proven scientifically or they haven't been tested on humans yet.
There are claims that this oil treats muscular aches and joint pain, tension, allergies, diabetes, asthma, Alzheimers, autism, glaucoma, dementia, apathy, schizophrenia, Parkinson’s, obesity, hair loss, liver problems, eczema, headaches, high blood pressure, digestive disorders, arthritis, acne, psoriasis and dry skin. It's also said to be antibacterial, antifungal, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancer, immune boosting, anti-viral, pesticidal, anti-ulcer and antispasmodic. Wow, that's one hard working oil!
Even though its so potentially beneficial it should be avoided in people on blood clotting medication and those who are pregnant or breastfeeding.
I just received my bottle of oil today and am looking forward to seeing how I can incorporate it into my products!
For more information, check out the following links:
Zinc oxide is a white fluffy powder that comes from a natural mineral. It is commonly found in sunscreens, calamine lotion, baby powder and diaper rash formulas. Zinc oxide is probably known best for providing a physical barrier to UVA and UVB rays. It's also known for its antibacterial, astringent, anti-itch, water resistant, non-irritating, non-allergenic, non-comedogenic (won't clog pores) properties, making it ideal for use on irritated skin, chafing, poison ivy, dermatitis, eczema and abrasions.
How white it will make your skin and the possibility of absorption through the skin depend upon the size of the zinc oxide particles. Nano sized particles will not make your skin look white and may be absorbed through the skin. Non-nano sized particles will appear white on your skin and are less likely to be absorbed. The bigger the particles, the whiter they will appear. Whether absorption of zinc is an issue or not is still debated as our bodies use zinc. The concern seems to lie with high levels of zinc in the body, as in the use of zinc supplements.
(We use a non-nano zinc oxide in our Sunny Day Lotion, as an option in our peppermint lip balm and as an option in our face lotions. The particle size is large enough to not be absorbed but small enough to not appear too white.)
Pronounced bay-o-bab, this oil is extracted from the seeds of the large Baobab fruits produced by trees that grow wild in South Africa. They are often referred to as the Tree of Life because they provide food, shelter and water to the indigenous people of Africa. They live for 500 years or more and some will live for up to 2000 years!
The tree has a massive trunk (we're talking seven to eleven meters in diameter!), is extremely drought resistant and the bark is fire resistant. It's also called the upside-down-tree as its branches resemble its roots.
The Baobab fruit has been nicknamed the ‘superfruit’ as it naturally contains essential fatty acids, including omega 3 and 6, stearols and antioxidants, vitamins A, E, D, F and high levels of vitamin C.
Baobab oil penetrates quickly, is soothing, non-greasy, moisturizing, anti-inflammatory, regenerative, antioxidative, won't clog pores and promotes skin elasticity and anti-aging benefits. It's beneficial for dry, sensitive, inflamed and mature skin. This oil is also believed to be good for cancer patients, wounds, eczema, psoriasis and acne.
Want to try it? We use baobab oil in all of our face lotions and in our Dry Spots and Blemishes face serums.
Another new favourite oil of mine! This plant can be found in gardens in parts of the world. Borage oil restores moisture, softens, smooths dry, damaged and aging skin, reduces redness, itching, appearance of pores, destruction of collagen and age spots and thickens the skin. It contains the highest known source of GLA (gamma linolenic acid) which helps dermatitis, psoriasis, rosacea, eczema, acne and itchy, scaly skin and is high in vitamin E and antioxidants.
Borage oil is considered the best oil for allergy-prone and inflamed skin. It is also available as a dietary supplement but it is not recommended in pregnancy. Studies are being conducted to see if it's useful for treating the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, atherosclerosis, Alzheimers and fatty liver disease. It's also being taken internally for hangovers before drinking!
Borage oil can leave a greasy feeling on the skin and it is expensive so it is usually used in a blend of oils for skin care products or massage oil. Look for it in our premium face serum, Dry Spots.
Loves living a healthy lifestyle and sharing what she learns along the way.