CBD as a solution for skin woes caused by stress? ‘Mental health and skincare are directly related’

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Homegrown skincare brands with global aspirations are using powerful African botanicals to create formulations that work inside and out.
Homegrown skincare brands with global aspirations are using powerful African botanicals to create formulations that work inside and out.
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Stress levels soared as we spent more time at home, on lockdown, staring at our screens.

It wasn’t just working from home that had the ‘stress hormone’ cortisol on overdrive. Covid-19 brought a lot of uncertainty about jobs, kids’ schooling and our general health and mental wellness.

At the same time, recent beauty trends such as skinimalism, blue light protection, anti-inflammatory skincare and sustainable beauty have shown that consumers are looking for skincare that makes them look radiant – even with no makeup on – and is good for the planet.

Read more | Cannabis for hair growth: 5 products containing CBD to try for a healthier scalp and longer locs

“We have more time for skincare now,” says Goodleaf’s Cathy Wyn, who joins Drum after a hectic day of launching the SA brand’s new range that uses more environmentally friendly packaging, is organic, vegan, dermatologist-approved and perfume- and animal cruelty-free.

Lockdown made many people slow down, invest in themselves more and practise self-care more regularly, says Cathy, speaking to us from Cape Town where she on Thursday, 29 September, together with her team, introduced the locally formulated collection dedicated to treating stressed out skin.

The brand launched soon after the cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) scheduling status was changed by the Minister of Health in 2019 to exclude CBD under restricted conditions.

This made cannabidiol-based products containing a maximum daily dose of 20mg of CBD and which did not claim to heal any specific disease or conditions, for example, legal.

“Stress levels were going through the roof during lockdown, so we started to have a look at what impact stress had on our skin. 

“And we realised that mental health and skin health are directly related.”

High levels of stress cause the body to release cortisol, often called the “stress hormone”, to help regulate the body’s processes, Cathy explains.

Read more | How to use essential oils to get the stress-busting benefits of scents in your home

“We are all familiar with those dreaded breakouts when under strain or feeling low, but there’s actually more to it. Sustained high levels of stress lead to an overproduction of cortisol which disrupts the hormone balance and can cause inflammation, compromising the skin’s natural barrier, resulting in common reactions like dry, itchy, or sensitive skin to more serious conditions like eczema, dermatitis, or psoriasis. 

“We’ve been conditioned to understand the impact of stress on many parts of our life except on our skin.”

With ambitions to expand to the UK and EU, the homegrown brand is also using more African botanicals. 

Besides cannabis, plants such as devil’s claw, resurrection plant, moringa, baobab and Kalahari melon seed are powerful ingredients for targeting inflammation.

“Hemp seed is really high in omega 3 and 6, which is very hydrating. We’ve also got aloe vera, shea butter, olive oil – all there’s moisture-rich ingredients.”

Realising that the entourage effect of cannabis terpenes and flavonoids – what gives a plant its taste and smell – could enhance the smell of a product aiming to be perfume-free was a game-changer.

“We were playing around with smells and nothing seemed to work. We then decided to look at the terpenes and flavonoids found in the cannabis plant.

“And the ones that are known to be found in the cannabis plant are clary sage, petitgrain, patchouli and rose geranium.”

These are the scents that can improve mood and enhance relaxation, she believes.

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