CBD-Infused Topicals: Addressing Concerns of Current & Potential Consumers

By Noah Tomares, Research Analyst, New Frontier Data

Traditionally, cannabis has been most widely consumed through the forms of combustible or ingestible products. Yet, as governments have become more willing to consider the plant’s potential therapeutic properties, various other product forms have been devised and accepted. One of the more recent developments has been the advent of cannabis-based, infused topical and cosmetic products.

Among legalized European markets, the most popular forms of consumption include oil/tinctures (53%), pills/capsules (22%), and flower (17%). By comparison, cannabis-based topicals and cosmetic goods remain niche items. Among European CBD consumers, massage oil (6%) was the most popular CBD-infused topical, followed by body moisturizer/salves/sprays (5%), bath products like bath bombs and scrubs (4%), and facial moisturizer/lip balm/makeup (4%).

When consumers who had not tried CBD were asked to identify three products that they were either likely to try or were curious about, their choices hewed closely to established consumers’ reported consumption.

Both CBD consumers and nonconsumers expressed concerns about CBD, indicating a potential constraint on CBD-infused topicals’ broader appeal. CBD consumers’ primary concerns included quality of the product (52%), accuracy of dosing (45%), and consistency between batches (35%), respectively. Conversely, nonconsumers were most likely to note not knowing enough about CBD (25%), though, 45% of them reported looking for a good source of information on CBD.

Such concerns might be allayed through more transparent regulations and standards. Considering market disruptions stemming from the United Kingdom’s CBD novel food designation, manufacturers attempting to establish their place in the broader market may be wary of risks in noncompliance.

Beauty retailer Sephora has taken a proactive stance in establishing and declaring its own set of standards to the public. Earlier this year, the company disseminated its standards for CBD-infused products:

  • Include only full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD extracts, not isolate.
  • Source its CBD from U.S.-grown hemp.
  • Carry a certificate of authenticity available to customers upon request.
  • Pass tripled testing for quality and purity.
  • Comply with Clean Sephora in-house standards, including the banning of such ingredients as parabens, mineral oils, or other possible toxins.

Given the lack of federal guidelines and the relatively obscure standards observed by most CBD-producers, Sephora’s approach offers an interesting alternative for potential consumers regarding their concerns about the lack of information or certainty regarding CBD-infused products.