CBD Explained: From Skincare to Cocktails, Here’s Why Everyone Loves This Feel-Good Jack of All Trades

With claims such as helping manage menstrual pains, fighting skin ailments such as acne and psoriasis, alleviating insomnia and even aiding in chronic pain, it’s no surprise people are going wild for this seemingly heal-all ingredient. 

If you’ve been anywhere near a Holland and Barrett store in the past few years, Googled ‘ways to ease anxiety’, or even explored the ‘new-in’ section of your favourite skincare brand, chances are you may have come across the somewhat mystifying world of CBD. The industry is predicted to be worth an estimated $20 billion by 2024, and with claims such as helping manage menstrual pains, fighting skin ailments such as acne and psoriasis, alleviating insomnia and even aiding in chronic pain, it’s no surprise people are going wild for this seemingly heal-all ingredient. 

Let’s break it down. What actually is CBD? 

We spoke to Tom Bourlet, writer of the CBD Sloth, an award-winning blog providing impartial information and resources relating to CBD (with Tom himself having tested out somewhere North of 300 different CBD products, including oils, topical treatments, skincare products and gummies) to learn more.

“CBD is a cannabinoid found in cannabis. Both hemp and marijuana are forms of cannabis, the difference between the two is the quantity of THC, which is the cannabinoid that ‘gets you high’. If the plant contains below 0.3% THC then it is considered hemp. Brands, therefore, extract CBD from hemp to make CBD oil, which is low in THC, meaning it can’t get you high.

The most common reasons people take CBD oil is for stress and anxiety or to help deal with pain. CBD doesn’t work like a normal sleep medication, in that it doesn’t make you drowsy, however, CBD can help to ease anxiety which can make it easier to drift off.

Tom Bourlet

Brands cannot legally mention potential health benefits or make medicinal claims when selling CBD, as it is sold as a novel food supplement, meaning any claim they make could put them in hot water from a legal perspective. This is why CBD ads don’t directly talk about the benefits and focus on the price or the design.” says Tom

So whilst brands themselves can’t claim to be aiding in improved mental health or pain symptoms when selling their products, it’s clear so many swear by the benefits of this naturally occurring remedy. One area in which CBD has shown a lot of promise, is in reducing inflammation in the body, particularly within the nervous system and brain which can be of great benefit to individuals who experience chronic pain and have trouble sleeping. It’s often discussed that our mental and physical health are intrinsically linked, meaning those who struggle with long term conditions or chronic pain are more likely to experience low mood, anxiety, depression, insomnia and irritability. Although frustratingly CBD is never going to be a cure-all for pain of every variety, it can aid in improving the symptoms associated with pain, and help to create an environment in which healing is more possible and pain is reduced following a restful night’s sleep for example. 

Because CBD doesn’t contain THC (the component of Cannabis that causes the ‘high’ and euphoric feeling), it is completely legal to be sold and bought within the UK, be it in the form of oils, gummies or skincare. One of the biggest barriers in CBD becoming mainstream has been fighting the negative connotations around cannabis, as the knowledge the general public often have of CBD is largely intertwined with THC. But with endless developments and new learnings about cannabinoids appearing all the time, the positives to be found for so many are slowly breaking through the noise. 

So what’s the best way to consume CBD and feel its benefits? 

“There seem to be new ways to consume CBD on a daily basis, but I would strongly recommend sticking with CBD oil,” says Tom. “For CBD to be absorbed sufficiently, you should take it sublingually, meaning keeping the drops under your tongue and holding them there for a couple of minutes before swallowing the rest. This will help to increase the bioavailability, as much of it is wasted when swallowed. Despite this, you can also buy CBD in tea, coffee, fizzy drinks, gummies, chocolates, honey, peanut butter, tablets, capsules, mints, chewing gum, not to mention topical treatments.”

Where to start when buying CBD Oil:

“The first thing I would do is check to see that the brand has a lab report. You just want to double-check the product you’re getting contains the stated amount of CBD it says on the packaging. The lab report will show whether it does have the stated CBD, while it will also show that the CBD oil doesn’t contain any pesticides, heavy metals or residual solvents.

Focus on the price per mg of CBD. Many people opt for the cheaper option, getting a weak CBD oil, however this might not yield the results they’re afterTom Bourlet

If you can’t find the lab report on the brand’s website, send them an email and they should be more than happy to send it to you. If they refuse, do not go near this brand! “Another factor is not to look simply at the price, but instead to focus on the price per mg of CBD. Many people opt for the cheaper option, getting a weak CBD oil, however this might not yield the results they’re after and if they want 20mg per day, they will undoubtedly save money by focusing on the cost per MG and looking at the higher-priced options. There are also a number of trust signals that they can look out for.

I review a large number of CBD products on my website, but what people don’t see is the amount of brands and products I reject as I see them as inferior or they don’t meet the appropriate quality standards. So they can look through a website such as CBD Sloth. They could also look to see if they’ve won any awards at the World CBD Awards or TheCBDShow, who have a team of expert judges who will heavily test out the product and run their own lab tests to ensure quality.”

It seems the positives of CBD are overwhelming, but as with anything, it’s important to assess the other side of the coin too. “With anything you take, I would always recommend conducting your own research, especially around which brand you purchase something from. Hemp is highly porous, meaning it must be grown organically, as any pesticides or insecticides used on the hemp plant would pass through to the CBD oil in the extraction process. Fortunately, hemp often doesn’t require pesticides or insecticides like other plants do, but you want to be careful where it is grown. The EU is a good spot, as there are strict rules on growing hemp, whereas if the product came from China then there are much lower quality standards in place. The FSA also recommends not consuming over 70mg of CBD per day. This is a low limit, as when they conducted studies they found that a toxic dosage would be around 20,000mg of CBD in a day, so 70 won’t get you near, while people taking it for epilepsy are often taking around 1,000mg per day.” 

Whether you’re battling migraines, back pain, or want to minimise the monthly fear that comes when the spots break out, everything is annoying you and it’s clear *the time* has come, there’s a CBD product that can likely help As a bleeder, it’s expected that you’ll go through over 540 menstrual cycles in your lifetime, and if there’s even a small way in which to minimise the anxiety and uncomfortable symptoms that come hand in hand with menstruating, we’re keen to give it a try! FEWE, a female-founded and inclusive menstrual cycle care brand was established only recently (September 2021 to be exact), but has already created a range of skincare, vulva health and cramp relief products designed to help during every part of one’s cycle. 

“We launched FEWE in September after formulating the brand and products the year before. We sat in a meeting and I was talking about my sleep issues, having long suffered from insomnia,” says Fran Perace, Brand Director at FEWE.

“I mentioned that it only happened once a month for around 5 days, but that the break in my sleep cycle then meant I struggled to get it back on track and would often spend 3 weeks of every month with disturbed sleep. Someone asked me if I had ever considered whether it was hormone-related, which I hadn’t, so we all started tracking our cycle and realised how much our daily wellness was impacted by what was happening by our hormone fluctuations. We created FEWE to provide solutions for each of the 4 phases of the menstrual cycle and help impact health and wellbeing all month long, not just focus on when people are actually on their period.”

We provide product solutions for all 4 phases, focusing on 5 key areas of wellbeing that are affected by our cycle- Skincare, vulvacare, mood, comfort and sleep.Fran Perace

The market for period pain relief infused with CBD is booming, with brands now offering everything from CBD infused tampons, oils, pads, bath bombs and balms to soothe the mind and body. So what makes FEWE different? “Our main difference is that we provide product solutions for all 4 phases, focusing on 5 key areas of wellbeing that are affected by our cycle- Skincare, vulvacare, mood, comfort and sleep.” says Fran. “We have created a selection of holistic products that include CBD, adaptogens and wider active ingredients that can be used together or in isolation across your month to help you get in front of your cycle. We are huge fans of the incredible period brands both in the UK and the US using CBD to support easing symptoms of the period. We want to help create a world where the whole cycle is cared for.”

CBD and Skincare:

“CBD is an incredibly versatile plant-based ingredient which we use across our 4 phase skincare range, designed to help your skin throughout the changes it experiences during menstruation. One, it makes for an incredible hydrating moisturiser, which makes it perfect for our Hyaluronic ‘Thirst Trap’ Serum for use in week one of your cycle when your skin is at its driest as estrogen and progesterone levels are at their lowest. CBD also contains anti-inflammatory properties which means it can help to soothe and lubricate your vulva which can get dry, itchy and painful the week before your period, which can also make sex uncomfortable. The rapid dip in estrogen just before the period causes this dryness but hasn’t (until now) been a focus in supporting period care. We use CBD in our Calm Balm to help ease cramping and tension, by using it topically on the skin to soothe. Probably a super common and recognised symptom of the period is the associated pain of cramps and sensitivity to pain whilst on your period so this is another incredible way to use CBD.”

Sold yet? Us too. If you still have questions or fancy delving deeper into the world of cannabinoids, head to Tom’s site and explore his extensive impartial research and information, or head to the FEWE website to shop their skin and period care!