[update] CBD Prohibited in Cosmetics? No. California Sends Mixed Messages


In a recent blog post, the international law firm Harris Bricken picked up on a change made in January 2021 to the California Department of Public Health's (DPH's) FAQ document, originally posted in 2018, outlining the permitted uses of hemp and CBD.

See related: CBD in Cosmetics; A Practical Primer

The updated document suggests that CBD is now considered an adulterant in cosmetics and is therefore prohibited; but industry experts have been unable to confirm any truth to this allegation—until now, see PCPC Update, below. The Harris Bricken blog also acknowledged the suspect nature of this update in its blog title, "Did California Quitely Ban CBD Cosmetics?" At the moment, the answer appears to be "no."

Old Documentation

Debbie Waite, vice president of business administration for the regulatory firm Steinberg & Associates, shared her insights on the reported prohibition of CBD in cosmetics. "...We have received no official word that this is the case. There seems to be some interpreting going on, and [we're] not sure how this is all of a sudden hitting the media. California's FAQ was updated in January 2021. The Los Angeles County document is undated ... However, it does contain a date of 7/1/2019, which gives the appearance that the document is that old."

She added, "Given the January 2021 update by California, the LA document is very suspect. And, as the Harris Bricken blog states, California has no law that bans CBD." The Personal Care Products Council (PCPC) is pursuing clarity from California legislators.

PCPC Update

On June 14, 2021, we received the following update from Lisa Powers, executive vice president of public affairs and communications for the PCPC, who connected with Tom Myers, executive vice president of legal and general counsel for the PCPC.

"I connected with Tom about his call with CA DPH last Thursday, June 10. The call was held to discuss revising the agency’s FAQ document on CBD. You may recall that in January of this year, DPH quietly amended an FAQ document on its website to say that the use of hemp-derived CBD in cosmetics was not permitted.

"The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) ... has never prohibited the use of CBD in cosmetics. Rather, FDA treats CBD like any other ingredient: it does not pre-approve use, and as long as the cosmetic is not adulterated or misbranded (and it doesn’t make drug claims), it can be freely marketed. So DPH’s revisions to the FAQ are extremely perplexing. ... My understanding is that DPH is not going to change it position permitting the use of CBD in cosmetics."

See related: Clearing the Haze Around CBD Cosmetics at SCC Annual Meeting

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