The CBD Beauty Market Takes Off

Multipurpose products appeal to a broad audience
CBD Beauty
Photograph: Shutterstock

As we sat at home in 2020 and largely into 2021, we neglected our skincare and beauty routines and enjoyed a life of sweats and no makeup.

But that’s starting to change, as are the products we reach for.

With the world returning to its prepandemic state, BDSA, a cannabinoid market research company in Boulder, Colo., forecasts that the CBD beauty market will reach $720 million this year, a whopping 60% increase over last year. This means the beauty segment of this industry constitutes 10% of the total CBD market.

L.E.K. Consulting, a global strategy consulting firm in Boston, states that U.S. sales of topical and skincare products with CBD totaled around $1 billion in 2019, proving this will not be just another fad. That same year, major retailers including drugstore chains (Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid) and Sephora all began selling CBD products.

The initial adoption, however, of CBD beauty products, occurred—and continues to occur—through e-commerce channels. It has expanded to specialty stores and dispensaries, but mass merchants like grocery and convenience retailers are still leery, says Emile Santos, managing director and partner of L.E.K. “Legislation is a requisite to see it grow,” he points out, adding that Target removed CBD oils from its shelves “due to the uncertainty around it.”

Euromonitor International expects skincare products to drive CBD growth. “As health becomes intrinsic in every brand’s strategy, cannabis’ remedial and therapeutic credentials present an immediate investment prospect,” says Irina Barbalova, global lead, beauty and personal care for Euromonitor, in a report. “Cannabis may well become as ubiquitous as any other mainstream beauty ingredient in the not-so-distant future.”

A Range of Benefits

Independent companies like Milk Makeup and MGC Derma are leading the way, with larger corporations being more cautious about CBD products, due to the lack of FDA regulation, Santos points out.

The true benefit of CBD beauty products is that they can meet a number of needs. According to L.E.K., skin moisturizing is the number one reason consumers look to CBD beauty products, followed by pain relief and easing of inflammation.

And the group of people interested in CBD products is diverse, says Santos. While it has mostly appealed to women, it’s starting to gain traction with men, mostly for pain management and recovery after sports.

Men are using more personal care products these days, according to market research company Mintel, with 28% of them reporting that they use a facial cleanser. CBD products for men, says the company in its report, Cannabeauty: CBD and Hemp in BPC, “should be straightforward and not too gimmicky to attract CBD users interested in trading up.”

CBD products also tap into the growing demand for products without artificial or harmful ingredients. It’s even better if these products can double up on claims, such as including their support for social justice or sustainable packaging, says Maeve Webster, president of foodservice consultancy Menu Matters, in Arlington, Vt.

At the same time, these products are also high-end, while still mainstream, offering consumers some luxury as they return to beautifying themselves.

Education and Transparency

And finally, CBD beauty products must be transparent. Consumers—especially younger consumers—want to know everything about the products they buy and put onto, or into, their bodies. Products like Kiehl’s and Khus + Khus include lots of clear information on their packaging.

“This is a necessity, as with any ingredient consumers are less familiar with,” says Webster. “This is particularly critical if the industry wants to grow consumption beyond its core audience. In the mainstream market, most consumers have little to no familiarity with CBD products so are unfamiliar with what the potential benefits may be.”

According to Mintel, education is so important that stores unable to provide customer service, including those in the grocery and convenience channels, should carry educational materials, such as flyers from brands, or should direct customers to information and QR codes on packages.

There’s a lot of room for a lot of confusion in this category, says Santos. “Brands should state their value proposition clearly and then they’ll be successful.”






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