How the CBD trend is unfolding in Europe

By Simon Pitman

- Last updated on GMT

Getty Images
Getty Images
Cannabidiol (CBD) skin care has already taken the US market by storm, and it is starting to make a splash in European markets too, underlined by a recent spike in new product launches containing the ingredient.

In the UK in particular, which is often seen as the front runner when it comes to trends in Europe, new CBD skin care brands have been appearing at an increasing rate, suggesting it might be a taste of what is to come in the rest of the region.

Another sign that this is a hot trend was the recently held Future Cannabis Strategies Europe, a new cross-industry face-to-face event that took place in London at the end of January.

The two-day programme spoke volumes about the current status of the industry in Europe, with a number of presentations referencing the more mature industry in North America.

Two key issues crucial to CBD

But as has been the case in North America, there are two key issues to overcome if the CBD trend is going to gain any serious momentum, the first being regulation, and the second being consumer perception of a substance that is synonymous with getting stoned.

These issues were mirrored by the Future Cannabis Strategies Programme, which, amongst a broad range of topics, looked at purification of CBD oil, a vital means to ensure its legality as a cosmetic ingredient,

As is the case in North America, the CBD industry is still in its infancy, which means that the Cannabis Product Directive Framework is still very much a work in process for EU regulators.

Meeting regulatory requirements

Currently CBD is listed in the EU Cosmetics Ingredient Database, but this does not define it as legal to use as a key ingredient in a cosmetic product, which is why there is still much work to be done to iron out any ambiguity.

The UK has very much been a driving force in pushing and evolving the regulation, with the Cannabis Trades Association playing a pivotal part in helping to push the regulation forward.

But for the cosmetic and personal care industry, there are additional regulatory requirements to meet, the most important being that the CBD oil meets purification requirements for topical purposes.

This means that the CBD must be free from all but a tiny and ineffective trace of THC, the psychoactive compound that is associated with the high from smoking or ingesting cannabis.

Education the consumer about CBD

And also, here lies the biggest issue with marketing CBD in skin care and other personal care products, namely that a lot of consumers will mistakenly associate purified CBD with its psychoactive properties.

There is an increasing number of consumers that can make the distinction between CBD and THC-containing cannabis, and the increasing number of consumers in North America that are aware of this has been the driving force behind the success of it as an ingredient in cosmetic and personal care products.

In Europe, the education of some consumers is not at the same level, so skin care brands wanting to get CBD containing products launched still have some way to go to convincing consumers they will not get high from slathering their skin in their products.

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