The mass beauty retailer just took a huge step in the right direction. 

By Hana Hong
Updated February 26, 2020
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Over the last couple years, CBD has taken the beauty world by storm, and many people swear by the stuff to relieve inflammation and calm skin. The problem is that CBD regulations are, well, too chill—mainly because there aren't any at all. As a result, the CBD category has been plagued with false information, misleading marketing, and questionable claims.

As of today, Sephora wants to change that. The company just announced a series of parameters around CBD in order to establish the retailer as a trusted resource in the beauty and CBD landscape. In other words, if a skincare brand wants to tout CBD on a label, it needs to have hard proof to back it up.

According to Sephora, there will be four standards that must be met in order for a product to qualify: 1. inclusion of only full- or broad-spectrum CBD from U.S. grown hemp, 2. the CBD must be tested at least three times for quality and purity, 3. a Certificate of Analysis (COA) that verifies the CBD content matches any label claims must be available upon request, and 4. all products must meet the Clean at Sephora standards.

According to Cindy Deily, vice president of skincare merchandising at Sephora, the brand developed the new guidelines in partnership with a panel of industry insiders and utilized extensive industry research to see what was lacking from the community. "We wanted to develop a tool that would aid clients in their product discovery and instill a level of trust that they’re getting a quality product," she told Byrdie.

So, what does this mean for the CBD beauty community? A whole lot. One of the biggest areas of distrust with CBD skincare are brands that market a product as CBD when it doesn’t actually have any. Instead, they'll be made with hemp seed oil, a common ingredient that doesn't contain any cannabinoids. Now, brands sold at Sephora that advertise themselves as CBD need to actually contain CBD, which seems like a good place to start.

CBD products will also have to pass potency, ingredient quality, and sourcing tests. This solves a huge issue around lack of transparency when it comes to the production of CBD, including where it’s grown and how it’s extracted. Customers will be able to shop at Sephora knowing that all the products in their cart have been tested for safety and efficacy.

"We’ve seen clients’ demand for transparency continue to grow, and it’s important to Sephora that we are a trusted resource," said Deily. "With the amount of products flooding the market, there can be confusion and mistrust. As part of our research and client listening, our clients told us they weren’t fully confident in shopping the category. Therefore, we saw an opportunity to have a point of view for the benefit of all—much like we did with our Clean at Sephora standards that launched in 2017."

Similar to the brand's Clean at Sephora badge, the new CBD standards mark will be clearly visible on each product description when customers are browsing sephora.com. It’s a huge win for the growing category. It's imperative that retailers do their diligence to eliminate misleading claims and support the brands that go the extra mile to use quality ingredients. Although this news is only the first step towards ensuring trust and transparency around the murky world of CBD, it's a great one.

With these new standards in mind, Sephora will expand its CBD-dedicated range to include Prima, a hemp and botanical-based line of skincare and body care. Prima's exclusive retail partnership with Sephora will begin on the site and eventually expand to include more than 170 store locations, beginning May 2020. The brand will be Sephora’s fourth CBD brand, joining Lord Jones, Saint Jane, and Flora + Bast. Sephora will also continue carrying CBD products from general skincare brands, like Herbivore and Josie Maran, that adhere to the brand's new standards.