Julie Merten, Mckenzie Rooney, Meriam Elbahri, Katilin Shivers, Cristina Watson
Dr. Julie Williams Merten | Brooks College of Health | Department of Public Health
Background: Cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive component of cannabis, has emerged as a popular ingredient in skincare products. However, there is limited evidence on the benefits, efficacy, and safety of CBD for skincare. Despite this, CBD is widely endorsed on social media, specifically Instagram. With more than one billion active users and a heavy presence of “influencers”, Instagram is powerful source of health and beauty information.
Purpose: This study uses content analysis to examine how CBD skincare products are portrayed on Instagram. Methods: In 2019, using the search terms “CBD skincare” and “CBD skin”, researchers sampled every third post from the top 1000 posts to collect 205 relevant posts. A codebook was developed, pilot tested, and used to code posts.
Results: Of the sample, the majority (77%) positively portrayed CBD skincare with appearance-related claims including moisturizing (31%), inflammation reduction (14%), and acne prevention (11%). Twenty-two percent of posts claimed that CBD skincare product performed better than other commercial products. There were high levels of engagement with posts having an average of 66 comments and more than 1500 likes and half of the posts (51%) mentioned a product was gifted to the Instagram influencer – in other words, they were given the product or paid in exchange for sharing.
Conclusions: Social media is a powerful source of health information. Instagram portrays CBD as an effective skincare option, however, there is evidence of unsupported claims being shared.