CBD & Retinol Are The “Most Impressive” Combo In Skincare

Photo: Jeremy Moeller/Getty Images.
Throughout his twenty-three year career as a plastic surgeon, Julius Few, MD has become somewhat of a public figure, traveling between offices in Chicago and Los Angeles to meet with clientele that includes Gwyneth Paltrow. In addition to garnering respect in the aesthetics space, Dr. Few has most recently pioneered impressive clinical research in one of the most misunderstood areas of the skin-care industry: CBD.
According to Dr. Few, CBD is the future of the skin-care industry. Here, he explains why, and how the specific combination of CBD and retinol has revolutionised his approach to skincare.
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Like many of us, Dr. Few was first introduced to topical CBD in the form of a muscle rub. "A few years ago, one of my patients in Los Angeles who is very involved in CBD gave me a topical for muscle pulls," Dr. Few explains. "I was personally impressed with what it did, because it lessened my pain, but didn't alter my mood or level of awareness." He began to contemplate the potential benefits of CBD in facial skincare. His initial theory was that cocktailing CBD with retinol might lessen the irritating effects of the latter.
The hypothesis had legs: The main challenge we face with retinol is irritation and CBD has known anti-inflammatory properties. However, what troubled Dr. Few about CBD from the get is that when it's extracted from the cannabis plant, it's an oil. As someone with oily skin, he wanted to alter the composition of pure CBD from oil to water-soluble as to better cater to all skin types.
"Cannabidiol is a relatively thin oil, and through various chemical reactions, you can make it water soluble," Dr. Few explains (though the specifications of his technology are proprietary). "You have to make it water soluble without effecting the efficacy of the CBD. The benefit of water soluble is great for people with oilier skin, like myself."
With a water-soluble CBD concentrate, Dr. Few was ready to test his theory in a clinical trial. His research tested the full adult age range, between 18-65. The experimental group used a topical combination of water-soluble CBD and retinol, while the control group treated their skin with retinol alone. The study's results and key findings proved so impressive that they were published in the most recent issue of the Aesthetic Surgery Journal. "What we found is that the results went even further than my hypothesis," Dr. Few explains. "Not only was the retinol working with no irritation, because of the CBD, but the combination of the two led to decreased inflammation in the skin."
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The combined use of water-soluble CBD and retinol proved to treat a wide range of common skin concerns, including acne and rosacea. "Participants with acne, both male and female, saw results," Dr. Few explains. "I had someone with pretty significant maskne, especially around her menstrual cycle, and after two weeks of use, it was gone. Not just reduced, gone. Even patients with rosacea, who often struggle with retinol because it can make rosacea symptoms worse, they saw skin improvement with the combination of CBD and retinol."
Before/After results of a participant in Dr. Few's clinical trial
Moreover, for people using retinol to treat wrinkles and sun damage, its combination with water-soluble CBD actually allows it to be used in higher concentrations. "With the CBD and retinol, we can then up the dosage of retinol," explains Dr. Few. "Let's say someone has sun damage or wrinkling, maybe in the past they couldn't tolerate a high concentration of retinol because their skin is too sensitive. Combined with CBD, we don't see that sensitivity, so we can amp up the retinol with no side effects."
Possibly the most interesting aspect of Dr. Few's research on combined CBD and retinol is the benefit it offers for skin of colour, calling it "dramatically effective" at preventing hyperpigmentation. "There aren't many applications of retinol that are colourblind," he explains. "I've been in practice for 23 years and prior to this retinol, there was very little to offer skin of colour. My own mother, she's tried products throughout the years and [retinol] will give her hyperpigmentation and then she has to work to correct it."
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Through his clinical findings, Dr. Few developed his own water-soluble CBD + Retinol treatment serum, CR Emulsion, the newest addition to his topical skin-care line, Aforé. But it's his hope that this early research on the combination can lead to further innovation in the industry. "It's been a game-changer in my practice and I think it's just the beginning," Dr. Few says. "Based on our study data, we haven't seen a single person who hasn't benefitted. We're now thinking about water-soluble CBD and how it can be applied to other topical skin-care products."
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