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“Hemp is a bioaccumulator, it’s known to soak up heavy metals from the soil,” Christopher Gavigan, the co-founder and CEO of Prima and an environmental scientist by training, tells BAZAAR. “That’s the big unknown in this category.” To make sure its full-spectrum hemp CBD is free from potentially toxic heavy metals, Prima sources its hemp from a “multigeneration cohort of family farmers” in the United States that farms organically, conducts microbiological testing for contaminants, and is certified by The Detox Project.

But where Skin Deep relies on generalized ingredient data, the EWG Verified certification zeroes in on specific products from specific brands, taking into account everything from where the exact materials are sourced, to how the ingredients are processed, to the concentrations in the finished formulas. “Their team then has a team of toxicologists that goes through and assesses everything and identifies where these ingredients fall on the health and safety spectrum,” Myers explains. (The EWG looks to stricter international governing bodies, like Japan’s Ministry of Health and Health Canada, for guidance.) “There’s an additional documentation review where we provide concentrations of our ingredients, spec sheets, certificates of analysis, sometimes even process flow to look at potential contamination of ingredients,” the Prima COO shares.

“There is nobody enforcing what it means to be clean, nontoxic, or safe,” clarifies Laurel Angelica Myers, Prima’s cofounder and COO. “It’s not something the Food and Drug Administration has defined, and brands can use [those terms] in their marketing in any which way they please.” (See also: the above greenwashing.) “That’s why it’s really important for us to partner with independent, third-party, trusted advocacy groups and nonprofits to provide credibility for what we say that we’re doing,” says Myers.

How Prima Is Redefining Clean CBD

As the first CBD brand to be EWG Verified, Prima seeks to clear up the confusion.

Because Prima is the first CBD skincare brand to be EWG Verified, the nonprofit was tasked with gathering and analyzing all the available research on the recently popularized ingredient. “As with all new ingredients, EWG conducted a thorough review to determine if this ingredient has been flagged as being linked to adverse health or environmental impacts in the scientific literature or by any national and international authoritative bodies,” Nneka Leiba, vice president of Healthy Living Science at EWG, tells BAZAAR.

So what does this mean for customers? Basically, that when you see the EWG Verified mark on a product, you can rest assured that every single ingredient inside has been sufficiently vetted for safety (so you don’t have to do it yourself). This is especially appealing in the very trendy, often confusing, still evolving category of CBD skincare.

Though cannabidiol—also known as CBD, the buzziest cannabinoid in the beauty business—is derived from plants both leafy and green, that fact often has little bearing on the “clean” factor of a product’s final formulation. Plenty of recent launches boast cannabis sativa on the front of their labels and questionable ingredients on the back: mineral oils, PEGs, undisclosed fragrances, known skin sensitizers, and more. “Because CBD has been positioned almost as a hero ingredient, I do feel like there’s a disconnect between it being one of many botanicals in a product, versus it being the highlighted ingredient in a sea of potentially harmful industrial compounds,” Jessica Assaf, the cofounder and chief education officer of CBD skincare brand Prima, tells

If you want to reap the CBD benefits, you have to read your skincare labels. CBD and hemp seed oil are being used interchangeably by popular beauty brands, and they are not the same thing. While hemp seed oil, also packaged as ‘cannabis sativa seed oil’ is a great moisturising ingredient for dry skin, as it’s full of fatty acids, it contains very little if any CBD.

Cannabidiol, more commonly known as CBD, is one of over 100 compounds found in cannabis plants. The reason it’s legal is that it doesn’t get you high, you need the compound THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) for that, and CBD is mainly found in the hemp plant which contains very little, if any THC. ‘Its most popular benefit is pain relief, as It’s thought CBD interacts with receptors in the brain and immune system to reduce inflammation,’ says Charlotte Ferguson, Disciple skincare founder. It’s so good at reducing inflammation, it was reported many A-listers were even using CBD oil on their feet at the Oscars to make their high heels bearable on the red carpet.

And where wellness trends go, the beauty industry shortly follows, as cannabis-infused skincare is set to be one of the biggest skincare trends this year – it’s even available on the high street, as Holland and Barrett have just launched their very own CBD skincare range. It’s said to be both anti-ageing and have healing abilities for problematic skin. Does it work? Or are brands jumping on the CBD bandwagon? I decided to investigate CBD oil benefits for the skin…

Could you benefit from adding the cannabis extract to your beauty regime?

To get an independent view, I asked dermatologist and acne guru, Dr Justine Kluk what she thought of the hype. ‘The effects of CBD on the skin sound very promising,’ she says. Yet, she believes it’s still too early to tell, as ‘the evidence base is still is still pretty limited at present’. So, in the name of beauty, I did my own research…

It’s an exciting find for those with skin concerns, but CBD is also an antioxidant, and an antioxidant should be a stable in all our daily skincare routines – no matter what your skin type. They help combat the elements that are responsible for the visible signs of ageing. ‘CBD acts as a powerful anti-oxidant helping to protect skin from damage from the sun, smoke, environmental pollutants and free radicals,’ says Samir. Looks like you have competition vitamin C!

There’s an ongoing buzz (excuse the pun) around the therapeutic benefits of cannabis in the form of CBD oil, as more and more countries, including the UK, have legalised its use for medicinal purposes. The legal cannabis extract CBD has been flying off the health shelves, too, because research suggests it’s a superstar anti-inflammatory with calming abilities that can help treat pain, stress, anxiety, and insomnia.

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