Harvey Nichols has become the first department store in the UK to stock a cannabis-infused skincare range.
Before you start imagining skunk-infused sheet masks, let’s clarify. We are, more specifically, talking here about Cannabidiol (commonly known as CBD), a totally non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant. CBD, in short, is not the part of the plant that gets you high. Tetrahydrocannabinol (also known as THC), the other main component of the cannabis plant, is.
The balance of these two main components depends on which type of cannabis plant the oil comes from – oil from hemp plants contains no, or very little, THC, while oil from marijuana plants can contain high levels of THC.
Medicinal cannabis products (the definition of which encompasses any cannabis oil containing more than 0.5 per cent THC) are currently illegal in the UK. However, thanks to the high profile campaigning by several CBD oil users, like the mother of 12-year-old epilepsy sufferer Billy Caldwell who recently had the cannabis oil he used to treat his epilepsy confiscated at Heathrow, the government last week announced they would begin a review into the medicinal benefits of cannabis products.
Cannabis oil that contains no THC (or less than 0.5 per cent) is however totally legal in the UK, and is used by many to ease symptoms of various ailments from joint pain and multiple sclerosis to anxiety and depression. Holland and Barrett were the first UK retailer to stock a CBD oil back in January of this year, and since then a smattering of other brands have hit the shelves.
Now, Harvey Nichols has launched a luxury CBD oil-infused skincare range from a brand called MGC Derma. The brand was created by an Australian pharmaceutical company (MGC Pharma) specialising in medical cannabis (it’s legal there), who worked with an established Israeli cosmetics company, who manufacture products for the likes of Estee Lauder and Elizabeth Arden, to design the premium range.
“As a pharma company we thought about how can we utilise our knowledge of the active ingredients to create a product so people can enjoy the benefits of medical products day-to-day,” says Roby Zomer, Co-Founder & Managing Director of MGC Pharmaceuticals. “We saw that our medical grade products had helped reduce inflammation and that they worked very well with the auto-immune system of the body.”
After conducting a four-week clinical trial of 90 people with a variety of skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema, the creams on average reduced 70 per cent of the side effects.
The 18 products in the collection range from luxurious anti-ageing creams, to everyday cleansers and moisturisers and then four “derma plus” treatments targeting particular skin conditions. The products are all water-based and contain a water-based CBD that absorbs easily into the skin, and there are 50 further formulations on the way.
“It took us almost two years to build the formulation to find the right way to combine the CBD into the creams,” explains Zomer. “We had to create a water soluble CBD that would absorb perfectly into the skin.”
MGC Derma cultivate their cannabis plants in Czech Republic, where (unlike the UK) it’s legal, and extract the CBD and manufacture the products in Slovenia. All their products are registered in the EU.
Unlike some other CBD-oil brands, whose products can be crude, MGC Derma has the combined knowledge of a major cosmetics company and a major pharmaceuticals company behind them.
“We are not a cannabis company trying to produce cosmetics,” says Zomer, “we are a cosmetics company and a pharma company combining their skillsets and know-how to create high quality skincare that’s then infused with high-quality CBD.”
So, what should you look out for when buying a CBD product?
1. “Check it’s certified. That it has been certified either by the EU or the regulatory body in which you’re buying it. The extraction is done using ethanol so it’s important that there are no such solvents or dangerous compounds left inside that can make the skin itchy or worse.”
2. “Try it! Don’t buy something that’s good marketing but you don’t feel good about it. But if it’s good on your skin and your skin is looking good because of it, use it.”
Wise words indeed.
MGC Derma is available to purchase from Harvey Nichols stores and HarveyNichols.com. Prices range from £30-£80
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