Our self-confidence is closely associated with our complexion; luckily, we live in an age of more skin transparency through social media and the body positivity movement. We’re seeing more candid perspectives on what “real” skin looks like with acne, dark spots, wrinkles and all. Simultaneously the demand for cleaner, sustainable ingredients continues to push innovation. I’ve written about how research shows cannabigerol (CBG) as the skincare cannabinoid with its anti-oxidant, anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory and anti-proliferative properties. More recently, research on genetic markers responsible for balancing skin indicate CBG’s close relationship with strengthening and balancing skin cells for a healthier complexion. So even if you’re born with a disposition towards inflammation, CBG could be a possible skin ally.

A natural skin soother

A new addition to the Cosmetic Ingredient Database (CosIng), the European Union Commission approved CBG as a safe and effective personal care and cosmetic ingredient. As the matriarch of cannabinoids, CBG is the precursor to all other cannabinoids and loaded with skincare benefits. We all know how ingredients like omega 3-fatty acids, magnesium, zinc and vitamin D are key components in healthy skin. Now CBG’s skin soothing properties can be added to the roster. It has potential to soothe and calm redness, reduce pain and inflammation, combat acne, offer UVA protection, regulate circadian rhythm and detoxification, support wound healing and regulate melanin synthesis and hyper-pigmentation. 

Genetic markers play a significant role in understanding our susceptibilities to certain health conditions. Protecting the skin’s barrier is the first line of defense in addressing major skin conditions like wrinkles, hyperpigmentation and inflammation. On a cellular level, studies show CBG as a potential trigger for genetic markers like WFCD5, ANXA9 and ADRB2 which are responsible for improving the skin’s barrier, strengthening skin cells and improving cell differentiation for healthy, youthful skin.

Addressing inflammation

Consider that the eighth most common disease in the world is acne, it’s estimated to affect 9.4% of the global population. Think of acne as a cascade of reactions. Excessive sebum production creates an environment for bacterial growth which triggers immune reactions and inflammation to ultimately cause pimples on the skin. Medications range from prescriptions like Retin-A to drug store topicals. Results may vary and depending on the medication, users can experience severe side effects. 

CBG’s benefits as an anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory can serve as an alternative or a complement to traditional ingredients. The WFCD5 gene is responsible for inflammation suppression. When this gene is activated, inflammation is blocked, preventing the cascade of reactions to form into acne on the skin’s surface. Another gene, ANXA9 also showed interesting results surrounding inflammation when CBG was added to a sample. CBG showed potential to amplify the ANXA9 gene, which exhibited notable upregulation in strengthening the skin’s barrier and reducing inflammation. 

Similarly, eczema (atopic dermatitis) is another result of inflammation, affecting over 31 million Americans. Eczema is a chronic condition that is characterized by itchy, flaky and red skin. Though there is no known cure from flare ups, it can be mitigated by prescription or OTC medications depending on its severity.

As a result of residual scarring from eczema, acne, folliculitis or shaving, skin is more prone to post-inflammatory dark spots and hyperpigmentation. Here, oxygen is necessary for the skin’s melanocytes to produce and distribute melanin. The ADRB2 gene which is responsible for oxygen balance is upregulated by CBG, showing potential to even skin tone. Current topicals for skin lighteners can come with potentially toxic side effects and banned in many countries. As a safe and effective active, CBG could serve as an alternative to support wound healing and prevent overproduction of melanin. 

Addressing aging

An aid to the skin’s barrier, CBG also shows potential to reduce the appearance of wrinkles. Whether it’s from the natural aging process or from environmental stressors, wrinkles are a fact of life. And it doesn’t get any easier looking for products in an oversaturated market. Reaching over $422.8 billion by 2030, the global anti-aging market is driven by easy-to-use products and technological advancements. 

We all know sleep is essential to our skin’s health. When we sleep our body recharges, giving our skin a break from standing guard from outside stressors all day. CBG’s anti-oxidant benefits can potentially help detox skin cells and improve skin texture by amplifying the NOCT gene, which is regulated by the circadian rhythm. In other words, CBG could serve as an active anti-aging ingredient in night creams and serums (for example), giving our products an extra boost while we sleep.

I’d be remiss to overlook the need for sustainable production of CBG. Harvest and extraction methods that are traditionally used to produce cannabinoids are costly and rely heavily on resources (land, water, power). Through traditional agriculture, we’re also running the risk of extracting plant compounds that are contaminated with pollutants, heavy metals and irritants. Using a proprietary fermentation process, Creo manufactures cultured CBG at commercial scale without the cannabis plant. The final product is a fully traceable, pure and consistent isolate readily available for wellness markets. In an era where consumers are looking for simplified skincare with clean ingredients, CBG’s multi-active benefits serve as a hero ingredient for formulations.

Words by

Deniz Ataman

Deniz Ataman is a freelance writer who served as the editor of Perfumer & Flavorist magazine for four years. Her writing explores plants, essential oils, fragrances, flavors and sensory research for B2B audiences and independent publications. You can follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.