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CBD in Cosmetics



CBD and cosmetics

Products containing CBD are currently a big trend. As more and more providers jump on the bandwagon, more and more CBD products are appearing on the market. CBD is currently found not only in cosmetics, but also in foods, dietary supplements, tobacco substitutes, pharmaceuticals, or even pure as a raw material for no specified use. 

CBD is claimed to bring many health benefits to the consumer, including the reduction of stress and anxiety, better sleep, anti-inflammatory properties, and pain relief. However, the many therapeutic benefits publicized on the Internet should be treated with caution since most of the claims are scientifically unproven or, at best, insufficiently proven.

Depending on which category the product falls into, different regulations apply to the marketing of CBD products.

There is even uncertainty in the governing laws: How should the existing laws be interpreted? Will new provisions be introduced alongside the existing legislation? Does each country have its own separate regulations that must be observed? 

Before we address these questions later in this blog, we should clarify one other question first.

What is CBD?

The hemp plant (Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica) is known to contain more than 80 so-called cannabinoids. In chemical terms, these are terpene phenols that are found in highest concentrations in the cannabis plant. 

The most notable and most studied cannabinoid is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). THC is responsible for the psychotropic effect of cannabis, the euphoric “high” that occurs after consuming the substance. 

Another cannabinoid found in large quantities in the plant is CBD (cannabidiol). Unlike THC, CBD has no psychoactive effect. 

Legal situation in the EU for hemp products

The general principle is that cosmetic products must be safe for human health. Annex II to Regulation (EC) No. 1223/2009 lists out the prohibited substances. One will not find a direct entry on “hemp”, “cannabis”, or “CBD” in this list. However, it does include a listing for natural or synthetic narcotics (reference number 306):

Narcotics, natural or synthetic: All substances listed in Tables I and II of the single Convention on narcotic drugs signed in New York on 30 March 1961.

The annexes to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs 1961 (as amended by the 1972 Protocol) also include the following entry:

Cannabis and Cannabis resin       and EXTACTS and TINTURES OF CANNABIS

It further defines the term “cannabis” as follows:

“Cannabis” means the flowering or fruiting tops of the cannabis plant (excluding the seeds and leaves when not accompanied by the tops) from which the resin has not been extracted, by whatever name they may be designated.

This means that only extracts and tinctures obtained from the flowering or fruiting tops of cannabis are considered narcotics, while extracts and tinctures from the seeds and leaves are excluded from this definition.


What exactly does this mean for CBD? 

From this it can be concluded that CBD derived exclusively from leaves, and not from the flowers or fruits of cannabis, is allowed in cosmetic products. Of course, the manufacturer’s recommendations for the application concentration should be followed and the general requirements, such as safety data sheets, should be observed.

The CosIng database correctly points out that, in addition to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs, national laws must be observed. To see why this so, one can compare the Swiss and German narcotics laws, for example: while in Switzerland the THC content must be below 1% in order not to fall under the narcotics law, in Germany the limit is set to less than 0.2%.


CBD Trend in Cosmetics

At the beginning of the trend, the raw material CBD was especially popular in naturalistic concepts of the beauty industry, and above all in skin care products. Yet, the ever-growing interest in CBD and other hemp-related products has accelerated the appearance of product innovations on the market featuring these trendy raw materials. There is currently no end in sight to this product pipeline.

Undoubtedly another factor behind this is that many of these products are being advertised through social media and being bought and sold online.

In conclusion, there is nothing standing in the way if you wish to lend your cosmetic products new impetus with CBD, provided you comply with the regulations and laws up to the national level. The regulatory situation is unfortunately uncertain, obliging manufacturers to continually monitor the many changes and to act accordingly. Caution is also required when making claims about CBD products intended to influence some function of the human body, for example, given that additional laws will apply in most of these cases.



  2. Swissmedic, Produkte mit Cannabidiol (CBD) - Überblick und Vollzugshilfe, from 05/07/2019
  3. CosIng - European Commission database for information on cosmetic substances and ingredients


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Alessandra Kessler

Product & Sales Manager

“Sitting still? I can’t. Thankfully there is always something to do as Product and Sales Manager at IMPAG, whether it’s supporting our customers in projects or in commercial matters. I also find it great that my work takes me everywhere in Switzerland. I go back to the best places in my private time to marvel at the scenery on a hike, or on a snowboard or kiteboard. Then, maybe, if I’ve really worn myself out enough, I can relax for an hour or so.”

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