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Are CBD Cosmetics Legal? Should You Care?

We're in the midst of a "marijuannaisance," as one blogger calls it, and the skincare and cosmetics industry caught on to this long ago. Hampered by weed's illegal status in the States, it turned to cannabidiol (CDB) instead—the cannabis compound with less bad press and a host of fabulous properties. CBD cosmetics and skincare are touted to be celebrity favorites (fans include Olivia Wilde, Mandy Moore, and Busy Philipps), and high-end ranges increasingly grace shop shelves in sleek designer packaging. But consumers are still plagued by questions such as: "Are CBD cosmetics legal? And are they safe to use?" [1]

Are CBD cosmetics legal?

RELATED: All CBD Facts You Need To Know 

CBD Cosmetics Legality—Should You Care?

It's no wonder consumers ask questions, because marijuana, hemp, and CBD legality in the U.S. are in what seems to be a constant state of confusion and change. At best, one can look at a couple of national legal landmarks and conclude for oneself while keeping an open mind.

Here's the lowdown on the some of the legal highlights regarding cannabis and derived products:

  • Currently, marijuana (cannabis with high tetrahydrocannabinol or THC content) is fully legal for possession and use in 10 states, including Washington, D.C. In most of those states, all marijuana and derived products can be legally manufactured, sold, and used. The best bet would be to investigate the relevant state department in each state for regulatory details, as the latter differ among states. What's allowed in one may not necessarily be allowed in another, even if the law permits marijuana possession and use. [2]
  • As mentioned previously, though, federally, marijuana is still a Controlled Substance and is therefore illegal. Marijuana-derived CBD is also still among the ranks of heroin, LSD, crack, etc. by law. Its possession and use are not allowed in any form or shape, according to national law.
  • Yet in 2017, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA)'s Diversion Control Division introduced a new Drug Code that changed the industry somewhat. The New Drug Code (7350) for Marijuana Extract now states that cannabinoids extracted from legal parts of the cannabis plant (such as the stalk) are no longer illegal. It also states that these parts of the plant don't have a high cannabinoid content and are therefore not a viable source of such, but the code was still used as a legal gap by CBD oil manufacturers and vendors. That's the law for you, but fortunately, this was all about to change anyway because of the Farm Bill 2018. [3]
  • Then, at the end of 2018, the Industrial Hemp Act liberated the cannabis market almost completely when farming and processing industrial hemp were legalized, also setting in motion the big wheel of industrial hemp-industry regulation.

CBD Cosmetics Legality—Should You Care?

RELATED: The Greatest Victory For Hemp: The New Farm Bill Signed Into Law! 

Now, the general trend countrywide is toward more permissive cannabis laws, better product quality control, and an increasingly slick and structured market. This means that hopefully soon, snake-oil manufacturers and vendors will be fewer (they are out there, unfortunately. Read on to learn what to look out for on your product labels), and consumers will be able to buy without fear of the law.

So, the question of whether CBD cosmetics are legal doesn't have a straight answer just yet, but the signs are looking good.

RELATED: Is CBD Hemp Oil Legal in All 50 States? 

What about CBD Cosmetics and Safety? Do They Have FDA Approval?

For other types as well as CBD cosmetics, FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approval is not necessary—but regulation is, and then only in terms of the purpose of use.

To quote directly from the FDA site:

"The FD&C Act defines cosmetics by their intended use, as ‘articles intended to be rubbed, poured, sprinkled, or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body...for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance’ ... Among the products included in this definition are skin moisturizers, perfumes, lipsticks, fingernail polishes, eye and facial makeup, cleansing shampoos, permanent waves, hair colors, and deodorants, as well as any substance intended for use as a component of a cosmetic product. It does not include soap...

But, if the product is intended for a therapeutic use, such as treating or preventing disease, or to affect the structure or function of the body, it’s a drug (FD&C Act, 201(g)), or in some cases a medical device (FD&C Act, 201(h)), even if it affects the appearance. Other ‘personal care products’ may be regulated as dietary supplements or as consumer products.” [3]

What about CBD Cosmetics and Safety? Do They Have FDA Approval?

So, in short, this means that CBD cosmetics are not lawfully required to have FDA approval unless the product is advertised and used for medicinal purposes. The acquisition process of such is long, arduous, and expensive, so most manufacturers don't focus on medicinal CBD beauty and skincare products. Their marketing may mention the compound's healthful properties and a long list of research-supported benefits, however.

  1. CBD is safe for human consumption and use, according to a large body of preliminary and clinical study. [4]
  2. Dermatology research has found the compound to have "potential as a promising therapeutic agent for the treatment of acne vulgaris." [5]
  3. It also demonstrates significant anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties, which will augment any beauty product. [5]
  4. Unlike THC in marijuana, CBD doesn't cause a high in any quantity.

What to Look for in CBD Cosmetics

RELATED: What is CBD (Cannabidiol)? 

What to Look for in CBD Cosmetics

To make sure you reap the most of this amazing molecule's benefits, you may want to look out for a few important things on the label.

  • The official "organic hemp" stamp on any CBD-enhanced product should be a deal-maker when shopping. The CBD oil should then be chemical-free.
  • Also, be sure to shop for cosmetics with no harsh chemicals and parabens in the other ingredients. Search for those with a natural oil base and natural colorants.

If CBD cosmetics' legal considerations are very pressing, look for products with lab reports. These should give a precise list of the ingredients as well as info on whether the CBD is hemp-extracted. Law enforcement is very unlikely to hunt down CBD oil cosmetic product users, but personal discretion is always advisable.


  1. https://www.allure.com/story/cbd-oil-in-beauty-products
  2. https://www.businessinsider.com/legal-marijuana-states-2018-1?IR=T
  3. https://www.fda.gov/cosmetics/guidanceregulation/lawsregulations/ucm074162.htm
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5569602/
  5. https://www.jci.org/articles/view/64628

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