Every time the government re-draws the line on cannabidiol, brands from all corners of consumer-dom race to get within a hair’s breadth of it, weaving CBD into everything they legally can.
CBD is more than just big money—it’s a chance for pigeonholed businesses to breathe some novelty into their offerings and their image.
This kind of “hipness signaling” is fun and innocent enough when the integrity is there, but on the other side of that line, it’s often used as a gimmick or a distraction.
This is really more for fun, but because we always want to insert a little customer awareness, we’ll include a “red flag” score (0-10, with 10 meaning “avoid at all costs”) with each obscure CBD product we review.
CBD-infused mouthwash, toothpaste, and even toothpicks are now very much a thing, and they just might be legitimate—at least in theory.
The evidence is stacked more in favor of the mouthwash and toothpaste, which deliver CBD through buccal (between the gums and inner cheek) and sublingual (under the tongue) methods as you go about your normal use of these products.
These absorption methods are used in clinical settings when a drug needs to work quickly because they bypass liver metabolism and go straight for the bloodstream, which makes CBD mouthwash and toothpaste look pretty good on the absorption front.
This study from Euro Dent Belgium even suggests that cannabinoids have stronger anti-microbial properties than some leading oral care products, as petri-dish-raised “bacterial colonies” in the study were found to be smaller in the CBD-treated dish than in the Oral B and Colgate dish.
Red flag levels: 3.5/10 for the toothpaste and mouthwash, 7/10 for the toothpicks.*
* This rating and all to follow are informal assessments of product types irrespective of brands, which can greatly influence a product’s quality and legitimacy.
Speaking of absorption routes that get straight to the point, rectal absorption is so powerful that an alcohol enema equivalent to one drink can kill.
This isn’t to say that cannabidiol toilet paper and suppositories are automatically dangerous; there are plenty of safely developed suppositories out there that take advantage of this rather direct approach.
Thus far, THC has enjoyed the lion’s share of attention in research when it comes to cannabis-based suppositories, but we can still use these findings as a jumping-off point.
This study from the National Institute on Drug Abuse in Baltimore found that “the bioavailability of the rectal route was approximately twice that of the oral route due to higher absorption and lower first-pass metabolism (of THC).”
Of course, a sizable amount of the CBD infused into toilet paper will be applied to the buttocks as well, which reportedly helps clear up skin irritation locally, per anecdotal reports.
Since CBD is safe at even very high doses, we’re going to give the suppositories a 5/10 on the red flag scale, and toilet paper gets a 7/10 because you’re probably not absorbing very much with a second or two of wiping.
This is where we cross the line from funny and quirky gimmicks to outright predatory and unethical practices.
Sadly, the COVID-19 pandemic that is still going strong as of this writing saw a brazen uptick in false claims made by opportunistic scammers selling CBD hand sanitizer.
As mentioned, CBD may indeed have some antimicrobial properties; it’s not completely out of the question that it could be effective as a hand sanitizer.
However, the claims by CBD hand sanitizer sellers were completely unsubstantiated in research, and the timing of these products against the regular hand sanitizer shortage was all too telling.
Many sellers claimed that CBD hand sanitizers could actually “boost immunity” and “prevent disease transmission,” fashioning it as a miracle COVID-19 protectant when the rest of us were still trying to get the acronym down.
The research is nowhere near validating these claims in the context of CBD-infused sanitizers, and in fact, CBD is commonly classified as an immunosuppressant in studies examining its potential to treat autoimmune disorder symptoms.
This earns a red flag score of 10/10 from us, and ethically marketed CBD hand sanitizers get a 5/10 for a lack of research.
From the summer of 2019 on, brands like Acabada have been launching CBD-infused clothing lines—in Acabada’s case, activewear.
Today, a two-minute troll through Google will exhume all manner of CBD-infused workout tops, pants, socks, and other garments from one of the quirkiest corners of the CBD industry.
Brands are claiming that the CBD is “microencapsulated” into the fabric, and even more boldly in the case of Acabada, that each garment will last up to 40 wear-and-wash cycles.
The same logic is precariously propped up by CBD-infused bedding brands, who we may as well lump into this category.
Considering each garment of CBD-infused clothing (and some bedding products) contains around 25mg of CBD total, which is far less than even a single dose as used in most studies, they’re highly unlikely to approach the bioactive threshold at any point during their “timed release” of CBD.
Plus, it’s much harder to pass substances through the highly selective barrier that is the skin than these companies are making it seem; simply wearing a garment infused with CBD is not going to come anywhere near the efficiency of transdermal patches and topical creams.
A gimmick in its truest form—fun to wear, fun to say, but that’s about it.
Red flag level: 9/10
You don’t have to hunt down a niche startup to find CBD-infused beauty products, as huge names like Sephora are already making them in many forms.
Especially at this point in the CBD boom, you can now find CBD-infused mascara, body oil, lipstick, fragrances, lotions, and much more being offered by a growing list of retailers.
Concentrations are understandably all over the place, but you can find products containing more than 100mg of CBD, which is a start.
These products are more promising in terms of CBD delivery capability than our last candidate to be sure, but we still need more research to determine how efficient this kind of “topical application” really is.
Incidentally, the fact that many of these chemically conscious CBD-infused products leave out the parabens, sulfates, formaldehyde, and other potentially harmful substances makes them safer than conventional cosmetics to begin with.
We’re going to go with a red flag level of 4/10 on this one.
There’s something inherently fun about researching scams and gimmicks (like watching really bad movies), but after enough gawking, you may find the lines between weird-but-effective products and useless gimmicks start to blur.
When assessing CBD products, the most important questions to ask yourself are:
1. Is the CBD safe, pure, and lab-tested for contaminants?
2. How is the CBD being delivered?
3. How much CBD does the product contain?
4. Is the seller upfront about how the product is made?
This is just a sample, but it’s a step towards the mindset you need to equip in order to avoid scams while supporting new innovations in the CBD industry.