COSSMA: CBD – A New Coalition

Cannabinoids infused products

The cannabis plant contains various chemical compounds that are responsible for therapeutic and other health-benefits. Cannabinoids are becoming an increasingly common ingredient in skincare products that are being formulated to meet the new age demand of special cosmetics

Out of the large pool of cannabinoids identified and researched, Cannabidiol (CBD) has taken the centre stage in the cosmetic industry and has been challenging the conventional formulation norms. Unlike THC, CBD is not psychoactive, positioning it as a captivating option for a new category (therapeutic cosmetic products), minus the mind-altering effects which happen due to cannabis. These novel creams, lotions, and oils are targeted to address multiple skincare concerns like inflammation prevention and control, while working as an add-on to meet the therapeutic demands of the population, such as anxiety and stress relief. Due to this, there is a rapid expansion in the consumer base, which has shown an exponential surge in the demand for the ingredient.

The anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties of CBD are also attracting formulators across the board to develop cosmetic products. Many claims apply to this ingredient such as eco-friendly, natural, and sustainable, which falls directly in line with the clean label trends presently popular in the market. It is directly influencing the degree of preference for formulating products with CBD. The product launches for CBD infused personal care and cosmetics products have grown by approximately 500% in just five years1, sending a beaming signal that the demand in the therapeutic cosmetic segment is only going to go up.

With previous market projections for CBD-infused cosmetics estimating between $900 – $1,000 billion by the end of 20242, the highlight on mental health and the appreciation for therapeutic cosmetics that came as part of the pandemic will only propel the demand.

Three Big Hurdles

The industry seems to be moving at a speed faster than light which is going to project this ingredient as something that will be hard to evade, specifically for formulators. However, with so many product launches happening, there are three major hurdles CBD needs to overcome to reach its full potential in the cosmetics space. The first is awareness3 : Many consumers, particularly those above the age of 50, are not readily aware of the ingredient and its cosmetic benefits. However, the younger generation comprising of the millennial and Gen Z consumers are poised to drive the market growth, in retrospect of their increased interest in natural ingredients, a higher focus on mental well-being, and growing expendable income. In markets such as the US and India, consumers have started to embrace the ingredient and are showing no signs of stopping anytime soon, as they are willingly incorporating CBD into their lifestyle.

The second is slightly more complicated and that is knowledge3, especially in differentiating between CBD and THC: As the CBD market grows, brands need to be open with consumers about the distinct differences between the two ingredients and emphasise the benefits of ‘good’ cannabinoids. Care must be taken to ensure that products are marketed in a way that does not confuse the consumer between the content of CBD and THC, thus neglecting the overall skincare and therapeutic benefits of the cosmetic product.

The last problem, but not the least is the lack of unified regulations: Even though the USFDA legalised CBD to be used in cosmetics, in many other countries, the regulations are still undefined4. In Europe, the use of CBD in cosmetics is prohibited if it is derived from extracts, tinctures, or resins of the Cannabis Sativa plant, but can be used if it comes from its seeds or leaves, and with the proper documentation5. China, which is one of the largest hubs of private label manufacturing, has banned using CBD in cosmetics formulated locally and the imports of similar products6.

The varied stances from different governing bodies have resulted in inconsistencies in quality, testing standards, marketing, and overall terminology. It is imperative that companies and governments are working towards successfully developing effectively unified regulatory regimes that can be followed across the globe with ease.

CBD Infused Cosmetics Market

With all the buzz around CBD, it needs to be noted that the focus on the ingredient and the development in this sector comes from small and local indie brands7. These indie brands are going to see diversity only with an increase in research that sheds more light on the distinct photo: benefits of CBD.

The big brands have slowly started to follow suit with corporations8 experimenting with CBD-based oral care products9 and deodorants10. Ingredient manufacturers are also launching active ingredients to enable innovative formulations, such as the water-soluble, encapsulated CBD11 and many others.

The industry is still in its nascent stage and has a huge potential that is attracting stakeholders from across the value chain. However, the need to create brand obsession is critical, as approximately half of the consumers still do not have a preferred CBD brand, according to New Frontier Data’s Consumption Drivers report12, paving the way for brands, both big and small, to differentiate themselves with product innovation.


The recent events have caused consumers to form a new outlook toward CBD and therapeutic cosmetic products. Cosmetic companies, both big and small, need to creatively adapt to the new focus on this niche category of products to satiate the new age consumer. All things considered, what started as a fad is now likely seeming to be poised as an unavoidable trend in the beauty and personal care space.


1. Mintel GNPD 2017-2021

2. Market value of cannabidiol (CBD) skincare worldwide in 2018 and 2024 – Statista

3. Distilling the CBD market – Global Web Index

4. How are hemp and other Cannabis sativa L. extracts used in cosmetics? – The International Nature and Organic Cosmetics Association

5. CBD beauty in the EU: It’s ‘reasonably predictable’ inspections will increase – Cosmetics Design Europe 10/03/21

6. NMPA announcement: Immediate ban on CBD in cosmetics in China – Ecomundo 06/16/21

7. Cannabis beauty: CBD is ‘an exciting area for innovation’, says expert – Cosmetics Design Europe 03/22/21

8. Unilever Joins the List of Major Corporations Blowing into CBD by collaborating with The Laval, a Canadian CBD maker – Hemp Industry Daily 09/22/20

9. Colgate-Palmolive files trio of patents on ‘antibacterial’ CBD oral care blends – Cosmetics Design Europe 04/15/22

10. Colgate-Palmolive files patent on ‘anti-irritant’ CBD antiperspirant – Cosmetics Design Europe 06/10/21

11. New Launch: Lipobelle Pino C; More than CBD – Mibelle Biochemistry 05/12/20

12. U.S. CBD Consumer Series, Consumption Drivers (Vol. 3) – New Frontier Data


Note: This article was originally published in COSSMA 6/2022,

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