Trendy skincare ingredients come and go, but truly great ones (like ginseng, snail, and propolis) stay in my routine forever. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since I’ve found a new contender for favorite ingredient. My skincare ennui was part of the reason I accepted a sponsorship offer from CBD beauty brand Cannatera. Could these weed-adjacent but totally legal skincare products bring some fresh enlightenment (or at least a little chill) to my face?
This is a paid post sponsored by Cannatera. All opinions, recommendations, conclusions, and photography are my own. Please see my sponsorship policy for more information. This post contains an affiliate link, which allows me to earn a small commission on products purchased after clicking the link. Affiliate link is marked with an asterisk(*).
CBD and your skin
The claimed mental and physical health benefits of cannabidiol (CBD) oil have gotten widespread attention in the past few years, and beauty brands are capitalizing on CBD’s potential as a cosmetic ingredient, too. Some evidence suggests that topical CBD may help limit sebum production and reduce inflammation. Theoretically, this will result in more balanced and even-toned skin. I personally don’t need sebum reduction in my products, but since chronic inflammation accelerates skin aging, my 39-year-old ass is very interested in anti-inflammatory skincare.
My 39-year-old ass is also very interested in the other potential anti-aging properties of topical CBD, but here’s where things get iffy. CBD brands often tout the rejuvenating effects of the vitamin A, C, and E in CBD. While it’s true that the vitamin A derivatives known as retinoids are backed by plenty of research demonstrating potent anti-aging effects, as are vitamin C and its derivatives, that doesn’t mean that any product that contains any amount of vitamin A or vitamin C will deliver the skin-renewing and collagen-building effects those actives are known for. I prefer my retinoids and vitamin C to come in known and effective concentrations.
With that being said, vitamins A, C, and E offer potentially protective antioxidant benefits even in products that don’t qualify as actives, so I see no reason to kick CBD out of bed just for not being a true “active.” The vitamin content and essential fatty acids in CBD oil can replenish depleted antioxidants and moisture in skin. That’s important too.
Ever since I really got serious about skincare, I’ve believed that an ideal anti-aging routine should contain both serious actives, like tretinoin and/or a low pH 15-20% L-AA vitamin C serum, and supplementary soothing and nourishing products. The actives work over time to optimize skin renewal and increase collagen production for structurally more youthful skin. Meanwhile, the hydrating, calming, and antioxidant steps keep skin plump, bright, and healthy at the surface. Both components are critical. Having one without the other leads to less-than-ideal results in both the short and long term.
On paper, CBD oil has plenty of potential to fill that supplementary role in my routine. I’m not about to get straight CBD oil and rub it on, though. I like building out my routine with cosmetically elegant and very layerable products. That’s why Cannatera intrigued me: the simple line looks pleasant and probably easy to layer, so that I can get some CBD benefits into my face without sacrificing enjoyment and the skincaretainment factor.
Cannatera Refresh Cleanser
Out of the three products in the Cannatera routine, I worried the most about the cleanser. My skin does not accept cleansers with a pH over 7. Every experiment with an alkaline cleanser ends in disaster for my face. More naturally oily complexions may be able to handle high pH cleansers just fine, but the low pH cleanser life is the only life for me. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask my contact at the brand what the pH of their cleanser is.
Fortunately, it turns out to be right about a 7. That’s higher than true low pH purists will like, but acceptable for my skin.
Cannatera Refresh Cleanser ingredients: Water, sodium C14-16 olefin sulfonate, cocamidopropyl hydroxysultaine, sodium cocoyl glycinate, glycerin, cocamide MIPA, pyrus malus (apple) fruit extract, capryloyl/caproyl methyl glucamide, lauroyl/myristoyl/methyl glucamide, cannabidiol (CBD) oil, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, citrus sinensis (orange) oil, bromelain, calendula officinalis flower extract, punica granatum (pomegranate) extract, paeonia albiflora (peony) root extract, camellia sinensis callus culture extract, oryza sativa (rice) extract, cannabis sativa seed extract, panthenol, glycerin, polysorbate 20, retinyl palmitate, reservatrol phospholipid, polyquaternium 7, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin
Since cleansers wash off, I’m generally not too excited about extracts and other fun ingredients in them, but the bromelain in the Cannatera Refresh Cleanser is an exception. Bromelain is an enzyme derived from pineapples that can be used as a very gentle chemical exfoliator. Like papain, it dissolves the proteins holding dead skin together, theoretically allowing them to be washed away. If you’ve used other enzyme exfoliating products, like Amorepacific Treatment Enzyme Peel or Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash, then you may be familiar with the effects. Nothing drastic, but a subtle improvement in texture and brightness.
The Cannatera Refresh Cleanser is a thin, pale golden gel with a fresh, bright citrusy-lavender scent. It mixes and foams easily with water and feels pleasantly slick on wet skin.
Confession: I don’t always double cleanse. If I haven’t worn makeup and my sunscreen for the day isn’t water-resistant or particularly heavy, then I try to get by with just foaming cleanser at night, because laziness. Not every gentle, low pH cleanser gets my skin as clean as I like when I do this. The Cannatera Refresh Cleanser does an admirable job, and despite the higher-than-ideal pH, has consistently left my skin soft and comfortable, without any tightness, dryness, or redness.
My one caveat with this product applies to the rest of the products in the Cannatera routine as well. The Cannatera line owes its lovely scent to the lavender and orange oils in the ingredients list. While I appreciate not having a million mystery ingredients hidden under “fragrance” in the ingredients list, some people do find lavender irritating. Citrus oils, meanwhile, can be risky due to phytophotodermatitis, a nasty reaction that occurs when skin is exposed to certain photosensitizing compounds and then to UV light. The lavender and orange oils in these products are likely included at very low concentrations, however, and I haven’t had any problems with either (or with citrus oils in any other commercial skincare products), for what it’s worth.
Overall, I’m thoroughly liking this cleanser. It cleanses well, and the texture, scent, and presentation add sensory enjoyment that makes me much less reluctant to wash my face than I usually am at the beginning and the end of the day. I am very nervous about dropping and breaking the bottle, so I’ve transferred a bit of the product into a foaming pump bottle instead, but the cleanser itself is lovely.
Cannatera Revive Facial Serum
The second step in the Cannatera routine is the Revive Facial Serum, which claims to increase cell turnover, smooth skin, calm inflammation, reduce breakouts, and protect against UV and blue light-induced skin damage. That’s a pretty tall order for one slender little bottle.
Cannatera Revive Facial Serum ingredients: Water, propanediol, cannabidiol (CBD) oil, sodium hyaluronate, panthenol, tremella fuciformis sporocarp extract, glycerin, swertia chirata extract, scenedesmus rubescens extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, punica granatum (pomegranate) extract, paeonia albiflora (peony) root extract, oryza sativa (rice) extract, cannabis sativa seed extract, reservatrol phospholipid, retinyl palmitate, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, camellia sinensis callus culture extract, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, citrus sinensis (orange) oil, maltodextrin betaine, polysorbate 20, ethyl lauroyl arginate HCI, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin
If you’re a sucker for botanical extracts, and I totally am, then you may find this a sexy, sexy little ingredients list. Among the many antioxidant-rich extracts in this serum, I most appreciate the calming calendula and peony extracts and the brightening rice extract, which tends to work very well for my skin. Reservatrol adds some extra antioxidant oomph, and panthenol smooths and calms. An unknown amount of retinyl palmitate, a mild OTC retinoid, may provide some benefit for skin renewal. And the star ingredient, CBD oil, appears very close to the top of the list, a good sign indeed.
The Revive Facial Serum is an ultra-light gel serum with the same basic scent as the cleanser, though a bit more lavendery and a bit less citrusy to my nose. It glides on like liquid silk and sinks into my skin almost immediately, meaning that (yay!) I can use this serum in my morning routine without losing any time. I find one pump of serum enough for my whole face, with a second pump covering my neck and upper chest.
For a supplementary serum like this, I’m not looking for tretinoin-grade results, but rather a fairly quick improvement in skin condition as well as a pleasing enough experience to encourage me to keep using it long term for those protective antioxidant benefits.
In the Revive Facial Serum, the hyaluronic acid and glycerin give it enough humectant heft to leave my face feeling nicely hydrated but without stickiness. Over the week or so, I’ve also noticed that my typical hint of everyday redness has calmed down a bit, particularly around my nose and mouth, which is why I’ve been skipping makeup more often this week. The ultra-light serum plays well with my other layers in a longer nighttime routine and gives my skin a weightless bouncy boost when I use it on its own in the morning. I’m happy with that. I’ll be using this until it runs out, and depending on what I see at the end of that period, I may end up getting myself some more.
Cannatera Renew Moisturizer
The third and final step in the Cannatera skincare lineup is a 60ml bottle of moisturizer that claims to protect from accelerated aging by calming inflammation and defending against environmental damage. I was almost as worried about this product as I was about the cleanser, since to me, moisturizer in bottle = emulsion, and for the most part, I find emulsions overly heavy despite their more liquid consistency. I know. It’s weird. But if you’ve tried a few K-beauty and J-beauty emulsions, you probably know exactly what I mean.
Cannatera Renew Moisturizer ingredients: Water, dicaprylyl ether, cannabis sativa (hemp) seed oil, propanediol, glycerin, tapioca starch, polyglyceryl-2 oleate, polyhydroxystearic acid, coconut alkanes, cannabidiol, tremella fuciformis sporocarp extract, calendula officinalis flower extract, punica granatum (pomegranate) extract, paeonia albiflora (peony) root extract, daucus carota sativa (carrot) root extract, oryza sativa (rice) extract, cannabis sativa seed extract, reservatrol, retinyl palmitate, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, camellia sinensis callus culture extract, scenedesmus rubescens extract, butyrospermum parkii (shea) butter, persea gratissima (avocado) oil, lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, citrus sinensis (orange) oil, polyglyceryl-2 stearate, magnesium stearate, zinc stearate, lecithin, betaine, ethyl lauroyl arginate HCI, sodium chloride, polymethylsilsesquioxane, phenoxyethanol, ethylhexylglycerin, dilinoleic acid/propanediol copolymer, coco-caprylate/caprate
We’ve got a lot of the usual suspects showing up in the ingredients list again: hemp seed oil near the top of the list this time, CBD and hemp seed extract further down, and plenty of calming and antioxidant plant extracts in between and down under (as well as those fragrant essential oils again). But the Renew Moisturizer adds weight to the routine with the addition of sunflower seed oil, shea butter, and avocado oil.
This is a lotiony moisturizer with a surprising amount of richness to it. Unlike the slick cleanser and serum, the Renew Moisturizer spreads on noticeably stiffly; I find it easiest to spread it between my palms and pat it on, rather than dragging it over my face.
The Renew Moisturizer takes a few minutes to sink in. Once it does, however, it gives my skin a super-soft, super-supple texture with a satiny, glowy finish. Even under an alcohol-heavy sunscreen, my face doesn’t dry out at all during the day, but despite the richness of the moisturizer, I haven’t experienced any breakthrough oiliness, either. While I do wish it were a little more slippy, more like the serum, the final result of the moisturizer is enough to make the manual labor of extra patting worth it. Even better, it’s played well with both sunscreens I’ve tried it under: my everyday Missha Safe Block Aqua Sun Gel, and the Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Milk that I reserve for beach and swim days.
As with just about everything else worth doing in life, consistency is half the battle in skincare. Products have to be rewarding enough to use consistently before you can see results, because substantial results take time. It’s been a while since I’ve tried any new products that have felt rewarding enough for me–that’s why I’ve been back on my old faithfuls for quite a long time now. The Cannatera products hit a nice sweet spot for me, balancing interesting ingredients with luxurious presentation and providing enough near-immediate redness reduction and skin texture improvement to keep me interested for the long term. My face might not be stoned, but it’s definitely calm and chill. If your skin and your tastes are like mine, chances are good you’ll enjoy these, too.
Finally, if you have other ethical or ingredient-related concerns, please note that Cannatera products are cruelty-free, not tested on animals, and are also paraben-free. I don’t personally avoid parabens, but I do appreciate that the Cannatera products contain other standard preservatives for an excellent 18-month shelf life, per the brand’s materials.
Curious to see how I’m fitting the products into my usual skincare? Follow me on Instagram for routines and assorted nonsense!