Can cannabis-derived ingredients be used in cosmetic products?

Skincare products containing cannabis are growing in popularity. Cannabis derivatives have become trendy ingredients for cosmetics manufacturers. Let’s have a brief look at the current regulatory status of this popular cosmetic ingredient in Canada.

Cannabinoids come from three species of plants: Cannabis Ruderalis, Cannabis Indica and Cannabis Sativa. Cannabis derivatives can contain either THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or CBD (cannabidiol). THC is the psychoactive fraction of cannabis and CBD is the medicinal, non-psychoactive fraction.

Cannabinoids-based products can be classified into two categories:

  • Cannabis products: containing THC and CBD
  • Hemp products: containing CBD, and very little or no THC

Research showed CBD provides many skin benefits such as improving moisturization, improving skin barrier, soothing and anti-inflammatory roles, helping in acne control, etc. (Jacknin, J, 2018 ADD Annual Meeting, San Diego) Based on these interesting therapeutic and cosmetics claims: can we use CBD containing products to formulate cosmetics?

Health Canada states that cosmetics manufactured, imported or offered for sale in Canada must be safe for use. They must meet the requirements of the Canadian Food and Drugs Act (FDA) and the Cosmetic Regulations (CR). The Cosmetic Ingredient Hotlist (Hotlist) is an administrative tool that Health Canada uses to communicate to manufacturers and others that certain substances may be prohibited or restricted for use in cosmetics. The Hotlist consists of two distinct tables, one for ingredients identified as being prohibited and another for those identified as being restricted for use in cosmetics products.

  • Prohibited ingredients, including synonyms, salts and related compounds, should not be present in cosmetic products sold in Canada.
  • Restricted ingredients are permitted only if the conditions of use and/or cautionary statement(s) are met as outlined.

Currently, cannabis containing products are prohibited in cosmetic products.

Hemp products are authorized but with restricted use at concentration of THC below 10 µg/g.


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