How CBD skincare is taking off in the UAE   

It’s no secret that the UAE has a zero-drugs policy. However, skincare products made with CBD — one of the 120 cannabinoids found in the hemp plant, which has no mind-altering properties — have actually been legal here for two years.   

The UAE government legalized topical use of CBD cosmetics such as serums, creams, lip balms and facial oils back in 2021.

Federal Decree-Law No. 30/2021 On Combating Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances prohibits the “procurement, import, export, manufacture, extraction, separation, production, possession, acquisition and abuse of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances.” Cannabis is specifically mentioned in this law, as are cannabis-derived oils. 

That means pure CBD oil is still treated the same as cannabis, marijuana and other drugs. Digestible CBD products like mouth drops or gummies are also illegal.   

Image courtesy of KLORIS and SENSASIA spa

Where can you buy CBD skincare products? 

Glow Destinations and Juana Skin, founded by mother-son entrepreneurs Yann Moujawaz and Juana Martini, were two of the first brands to bring certified CBD-based skincare products to the UAE.  

Speaking to CNN in 2022, Moujawaz said: “I wanted to go where no one else has dared to go. For my mother, it was an opportunity to show that it’s never too late to start again. She proved quite the contrary, that you can entertain the craziest idea that exists, and launch a cannabis company in the Middle East.”  

Since then, several other CBD wellness brands have appeared on the market. Indeed, Data Bridge Market Research, the newswire distribution network, reports that the global CBD skincare market is expected to reach US$7.58 billion by 2029.  

SENSASIA spa has just brought KLORIS CBD skincare to its branches across Dubai. Alongside selling the products, the chain also incorporates them into its massages and facials.   

Founder Salina Handa says: “More and more people are looking for natural and holistic solutions to manage stress, pain, and various health concerns. CBD is known for inducing relaxation and easing muscle tension, aches and pain. I believe that it has the potential to become increasingly popular in the UAE.” 

Another CBD-beauty brand that has just landed in the UAE is London-born OTO Wellbeing. The brand’s signature spa treatments and hand creams, eye creams, face creams and body oils are now available to experience and buy at The Spa at Emirates Palace, Mandarin Oriental. It hopes to expand to Mandarin Oriental Jumeira Dubai as well.  

Other CBD skincare brands available in the UAE include Perricone, Chantecaille and Ecooking.  

Gemma Colao, founder of OTO Wellbeing

Is CBD safe?   

The World Health Organization states that CBD “exhibits no effects indicative of any abuse or dependence potential”.  

Meanwhile, an article by Dr. Peter Grinspoon, instructor at Harvard Medical School states: “While CBD is an essential component of medical marijuana, it is derived directly from the hemp plant, a cousin of marijuana. It does not cause a ‘high’ by itself.”  

Gemma Colao, founder of OTO Wellbeing, wants to help educate people in the UAE about the benefits of CBD .

“The first thing to understand is that CBD is not a drug. It’s completely safe and it brings all kinds of benefits. Tribes have used it for centuries,” she explains.   

“The other common cannabinoid that is often talked about is THC [tetrahydrocannabinol]. THD affects your brain, and it has a psychoactive effect. CBD doesn’t affect your brain at all. It works with our endocannabinoid system — the bodily framework that regulates all our organs and hormones — to rebalance your body and tackle inflammation.”  

Is it good for your skin?   

Colao first discovered CBD when she was living in San Francisco and working a high-pressure job in the fashion industry.   

“Even in my 30s, I still suffered from severe hormonal acne. But using CBD products cured it completely and it really helped with my anxiety, too. CBD has had a very profound effect on my life,” she says.  

“During our periods or times of stress, we can over-produce certain hormones and develop skin issues. CBD brings balance to the skin and reduces any redness. It first became popular in the US, and then it became legal in the UK around 10 years ago. It’s incredibly exciting to see CBD beauty products taking off here and I think digestible forms will follow in due course.”  

Image courtesy of OTO Wellbeing and the Spa at Emirates Palace, Mandarin Oriental

What are the benefits?

Harvard Medical School’s Dr. Grinspoon notes that there is evidence to suggest that CBD assists with a wide variety of health issues: “We need more research, but CBD may prove to be a helpful option for managing anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. However, without sufficient high-quality evidence in human studies, we can’t pinpoint effective doses.”  

Colao adds that CBD tackles inflammation on the inside and on the outside.   

“CBD has a calming effect. It regulates our hormones, and it takes us out of the ‘fight or flight’ mindset that so many of us are in today. The balms and creams ease muscle ache, and other forms of pain. Both my sister and my mum used it after they underwent surgery for breast cancer. You can absolutely use it alongside other treatments, and it’s incorporated into drugs to treat children with epilepsy,” she continues. 

Is strength important?

Made with optimum strength CBD oil, OTO Wellbeing’s topical products are all designed to deliver a daily dose of 40 to 60mg. However, Colao warns that not all products contain enough CBD to actually work.  

“CBD oil can be very expensive, and so some brands just put a little bit in,” she states. 

 “With some of these natural ingredients, you also need to pair them up with other extracts so that they can properly absorb into your system.”

Colao has one other tip for anyone who is trying these products for the first time: “Integrate CBD into your daily routine in small doses, just like you would with any vitamin supplement.” is for every body and mind in the UAE. This magazine is all about moderation, making small changes, little additions and the odd subtraction.



Receive our newsletters right in your inbox.