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CBD products in Hong Kong
CBD products in Hong Kong I TA

An introduction to CBD and products available in Hong Kong

Here are the need-to-know basics to get you started

By Tatum Ancheta
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CBD products are now easily accessible in Hong Kong, be it online, in stores, or as added ingredients in food and drink in cafes. With the increase in product availability, it seems like the CBD movement has made enormous strides forward in the city. 

"People in Hong Kong, as well as mainland China, have not lost their connection to plant and herbal remedies for overall health and wellbeing like we have stateside and to an extent in Europe," explains Jamie Leilani Pelayo, co-founder of Natureofthings, a wellness platform from the US that offers an array of CBD luxe bath products and bodycare. "I think Hong Kong consumers are very savvy and knowledgeable on using natural remedies to take care of themselves," she adds. 

At first, products available in the market – may it be digestible or topical – are mostly used for anxiety, sleep disorders, and chronic pains, but today even beauty industry retailers are embracing the anti-ageing and antioxidant properties of CBD, and are releasing more skincare products in the market. 

"When Saint Jane launched in January 2019, there were not many luxury CBD brands on the market, especially ones that focused on skincare," says Casey Georgeson, CEO and founder of Saint Jane, a luxury beauty brand offering CBD-infused skincare products. "The market at the time was dominated by edibles, tinctures, and products targeted for muscle and pain relief. That lack of beauty-focused products is why I created Saint Jane. Once I learned about CBD's powerful benefits that transform the skin, I wanted to share those benefits and created a Luxury Beauty Serum with thoughtfully curated botanicals that supported CBD's wellness mission," she adds.  

With so many available options, it can get overwhelming which product to use, and how to even get started. So, let's break down the basics. 

RECOMMENDED: If you're looking for skincare products without all the extra fuss, check out this list of the best homegrown skincare brands in Hong Kong.

An introduction to CBD and products available in Hong Kong

Treaty Focus Oil
Treaty Focus Oil
Photograph: Courtesy Joyce Beauty/Treaty

What is CBD?

CBD stands for cannabidiol, an active ingredient in cannabis derived from the hemp plant. Hemp is often confused with marijuana hence the stigma surrounding CBD. Though coming from the same family, these two plants are very different. "CBD is considered non-intoxicating, so individuals will not get high when consuming it," explains Fiachra Mullen, marketing director of Altum International, a cannabinoid innovation platform that distributes various CBD products for the retail, food, and beverage industry. Hemp plants don't produce enough tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) to have an intoxicating effect, unlike its cousin marijuana, so CBD derived from hemp is not psychoactive.

How does it work, and how does our body benefit from the use of CBD?

"The benefits of cannabidiol are numerous and vary person to person," says Mullen (Altum). "CBD helps moderate the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is the system responsible for regulating mood, appetite, stress, sleep, motor control, immune function, and more. CBD helps balance some of the imbalances in our ECS. In other words, CBD helps balance the system that balances us," he adds. 

The human body naturally produces its own endocannabinoids to support this system, but just like any other nutrient, it can sometimes cause deficiencies, and that's when CBD comes in for support. "Everyone is familiar with the effects of caffeine on their body," says Mullen. "Unfortunately, the caffeine experience usually ends with an 'energy crash' and sometimes an uncomfortable feeling of agitation if taken in high quantity." He then explains that CBD can help balance some of these adverse effects and even prolong the positive ones. "As it promotes homeostasis in the body, CBD helps even out any increased agitation or nerves from caffeine consumption. It also lessens the suddenness of the 'energy crash', allowing the individual to come gently back down to regular energy levels – usually in time for evening relaxation or before bed," he explains. 

People often take CBD to help with anxiety, pain, depression, and sleep. But, there's a much wider use for it on our skin. CBD helps improve skin hydration and reduce inflammation, which helps treat skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and acne. And because of its antioxidant properties, it helps in managing ageing and dry skin.

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CBD cafe Found, cannabis
CBD cafe Found, cannabis
Life Pure CBD easy-mix liquid for drinks I TA

Are there any side effects? And can CBD make you fail a drug test? 

CBD is considered non-intoxicating, so individuals will not get high when consuming it. "CBD products generally do not cause side effects, but we do advise that anyone already taking significant medication to consult their physician before adding CBD to their daily routine," explains Mullen. "CBD is unlikely to cause someone to fail a drug test (World Anti-Doping Agency, WADA, have announced that CBD is not a banned substance for professional athletes), but we do recommend that individuals who are required to take drug tests – for work or other reasons – clarify whether CBD is considered a banned substance for their particular situations," he says. 

In Hong Kong, pure cannabidiol (CBD) is legal and is not classified as a dangerous drug provided the company importing and distributing the products are licensed to do so. THC and its derivatives are prohibited in Hong Kong, so CBD products coming from proper channels in the city contain no traces of THC. "Hemp has been used as a wellness tool for thousands of years, and its safety has been validated by numerous scientific studies," explains Melany Dobson, founder of Treaty, a premiere CBD company from the US whose edible products are currently being sold at Joyce Beauty in Hong Kong. "We encourage the person to ask questions and educate themselves about CBD; there is a lot of confusion and misconception, and it helps to be informed!" explains Dobson. "Most drug test companies only test for the THC cannabinoid, which is the psychoactive compound in marijuana plants. You can contact the lab to verify what you will be tested for," she adds.

CBD cafe Found, cannabis
CBD cafe Found, cannabis
Found cafe I TA

How to choose the right CBD products

The type of CBD product you choose should come down to what exactly you need to get out of the product. But before deciding, know that not all CBD are created equal. When reading each product description, look out for the following terms: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate. To make it easier to understand let's compare it to a burger, do you want a regular burger with just meat? Or do you want it with cheese and all the other fillings? The same goes for full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate. 

Full spectrum – refers to CBD extracts that contain all naturally occurring compounds found in cannabis plants, including terpenes (what gives marijuana its unique smell), flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. In other words, full spectrum has it all, which includes THC. Sometimes referred to as ‘whole plant CBD’, full spectrum CBD oils or tinctures processed from hemp never exceed 0.3 percent THC so it cannot make a person high. Some skincare products label their ingredients as full spectrum if the whole plant is used for the CBD extraction, but if there are zero traces of THC this falls under the broad spectrum.

Broad spectrum – refers to CBD extracts almost the same in full spectrum CBD, except that THC is removed after the compounds have been extracted from the plant. 

Isolate refers to CBD extracts that only contain CBD. They don't contain terpenes, flavonoids, or any other cannabinoids.

CBD comes in many forms –  If you're ok with the taste of liquid drops under your tongue, then high-grade oil or tincture products are suitable for your consumption. If you want to skip the vegetal and earthy taste, you can opt for pills, capsules, gummies, and food-infused products like chocolates, cookies, and other treats. 

 

Topical and digestible CBD products

"For customers who are buying CBD for the first time, we recommend starting with a CBD tincture. It is the classic type of CBD product and one of the most straightforward to use," says Mullen (Altum). "One simply uses the dropper to place some CBD oil under their tongue, leave it there for 30 to 45 seconds (to allow absorption) and then swallow the rest of the oil," he adds. 

"We recommend titrating your dose," Dobson (Treaty) shares. "Start low and go slow. Titration is the process of determining the medicinal dose that reduces symptoms to the greatest possible degree. Titrating requires consistently and slowly increasing the daily dose you take. This practice helps to develop mindfulness and strengthens the relationship one has to our health," she adds.  

For topical applications, products with CBD include serums, lotions, creams, balms, or body wash. Choosing depends on what you expect from the product but always opt for high-quality products from reputable manufacturers. As with any skincare products, avoid harmful ingredients, and opt for ones that are free of pesticides, and heavy metals. 

"For CBD, it is important that it is clean and thoroughly tested," says Georgeson (Saint Jane). "The hemp plant, where CBD is extracted from, is a bio-accumulator – which means that it soaks up all the toxins and other harmful chemicals that are often present in the soil. It's essential to use CBD that has been grown with meticulously clean standards from seed to bottle," she explains. "Saint Jane is a clean beauty brand, that means that all of our products and ingredients are 100 percent free of toxins, harmful ingredients, and pollutants," she explains. "We sustainably source our materials and test our formulas for integrity and efficacy. To ensure the highest quality, we publish all of the third party lab tests with complete transparency." 

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CBD products in Hong Kong
CBD products in Hong Kong
CBD products in Hong Kong I TA

Where to get CBD products in Hong Kong

There's a plethora of online stores and on-ground venues to get quality CBD products in Hong Kong. For a diverse assortment of products and brands head to Heavens Please's online store, a premium CBD lifestyle brand offering eco-conscious brands from all over the world ranging from CBD infused coffee, nuts, tinctures, serums, creams, and even lubricants! Gentle Bro CBD carries their own brand of US-made organic CBD products that include softgels, dog treats, gummies, balms, creams, and oil drops. Cubed CBD also offers a gamut of their own CBD line which include oil drops, pet oils, skin creams for psoriasis and eczema, spot treatments, lotions, and cooling body sprays. US brand Born CBD offers three oil tinctures of varying strengths.

Altum International launched Felix & Co, a business-to-consumer website in Hong Kong offering edible and topical CBD products including CBD oil for pets, and Life CBD, a business-to-business platform offering CBD powder and liquid to various companies. Last June, Altum also opened Found in Sheung Wan, Hong Kong's first CBD-focused cafe and shop offering Felix & Co and the only place to get Life CBD isolates. Starting this August, the cafe will introduce CBD-infused packaged food, drinks such as coffee, tea, kombucha, chocolates, cookies, pastries, dog cookies, and many more. Life CBD is also available as an added ingredient in Elephant Grounds' drink menu and Be Juiced cold-pressed juices, blue majik bowls, açaí bowls, and smoothies. Beauty retailer, Joyce Beauty now offers renowned luxe CBD brands Saint Jane, Treaty, and natureofthings – all of which are available for a limited time until August 16. Though best sellers from the brands might remain in the stores depending on the demand of the market. If you're looking for a hair product infused with hemp, Lush carries a Jasmine and Henna Fluff-Ease pre-wash hair treatment. And for something boozy, Oh CBD Beer, sells locally crafted CBD IPA beers.

Products we love

Treaty CBD oils
Treaty CBD oils
Treaty CBD Oils I TA

Treaty: Calm, Focus, Balance

CBD type: Broad spectrum   
CBD potency: Calm (1,200mg/bottle, 20mg/dose), Focus (600mg/bottle, 10mg/dose), Balance (900mg/bottle, 15mg/dose)
Price: Calm ($1,350) Focus ($1,350) Balance ($850)

What it is: Hemp oil enhanced with plant extracts

What it does: Help users be calm, find focus, and regulate imbalances throughout the body 

Who it's for: Calm is for people who are anxious or stressed; Focus is for busy people always working in frenetic phase and needs mental clarity and mindfulness; and Balance is best for beginners who want to incorporate CBD in their life  

Why we love it: It does what it promises. Calm gives you a sense of tranquillity after a few seconds it melts under your tongue, but we recommend to use it best during bedtime as it helps you relax especially when you find it hard to switch off. Balance helps ease feelings of anxiety, though being that it doesn't have any add-on ingredients, the CBD's vegetal and earthy flavour is very prominent. And, so far out of the three products, Focus is our favourite. It's a good booster for a frantic day, especially for days when you need mental clarity for an overactive brain. And it doesn't taste bad compared to other CBD oils – it's nutty and minty, and a bit zesty. The full product range can also be used altogether as long as you take it in intervals of six to eight hours between formulas.

Available at all Joyce Beauty stores, until August 16.

Life Pure CBD 
Life Pure CBD 
Life Pure CBD I TA

Life Pure CBD 

CBD type: Isolate  
CBD potency: 600 mg/bottle, 20mg/dose
Price: $660

What it is:  Easy-mix water-soluble CBD

What it does: A perfect ingredient to add to food, juices, coffee, kombucha, and alcoholic drinks  

Who it's for: For people who hate the taste of CBD oils and want to incorporate CBD in their daily food and drink 

Why we love it: It mixes well with anything you want to eat or drink! So far we have tried it on water, for when you're going on walks or run; it's anti-inflammatory so small dosing while you're exhausting your body helps your muscles heal and recover faster. It's also great with kombucha – for days when you need a digestive boost. And our favourite: it mixes well with cocktails as it relieves the feeling of intoxication. But it may depend on the person, so it may not have the same result for others. CBD may reduce some side effects from alcohol, while for some, it may amplify the effects, so it is best to approach with caution.  

Available in Found CBD shop and cafe. 

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Saint Jane C-Drops
Saint Jane C-Drops
Saint Jane C-Drops I TA

Saint Jane C-Drops

CBD type: Broad spectrum (whole plant but with zero percent THC)
CBD potency: 500mg of full spectrum in 30ml bottle 
Price: $900 

What it is: A brightening elixir packed with vitamin C, CBD, and citrus alpha hydroxy acid (AHA)

What it does: Helps brighten skin

Who it's for: For people who want to boost their skin's radiance. Perfect for combination skin with minimal discolouration

Why we love it: It's very lightweight and smells good on the skin. Perfect to use as part of your morning beauty regimen as its citrus notes perks you up a little. And since it gets easily absorbed, it's great to use under your moisturiser and sunscreen. After using it for a couple of weeks, you'll notice that your skin looks glowing. 

Available at all Joyce Beauty stores, until August 16.

Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum
Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum
Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum I TA

Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum

CBD type: Broad spectrum CBD (whole plant but with zero percent THC)
CBD potency: 500mg of full spectrum CBD in 30ml bottle 
Price: $1100  

What it is: An antioxidant face serum 

What it does: Balances the most stressful skin issues, helps skin hydrate, reduces the appearance of fine lines, and smoothes skin texture

Who it's for: For people with dull and uneven skin tone, and people prone to fine lines and wrinkles

Why we love it: It's very lightweight, and doesn't feel oily on the skin. After using it for a couple of weeks, you'll see your skin brightening and actually gives a bit of glow. The packaging looks really elegant and classy, making it stand out among other CBD beauty products in the market. Oh, and it's great to pair with C-Drops. The combo helps boost skin radiance. 

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Saint Jane Luxury Body Serum
Saint Jane Luxury Body Serum
Saint Jane Luxury Body Serum I TA

Saint Jane Luxury Body Serum

CBD type: Broad spectrum CBD (whole plant but with zero percent THC)
CBD potency: 200mg of full spectrum CBD in 120ml bottle
Price: $650 

What it is: A silky body serum infused with full-spectrum CBD and 28 brightening and hydrating botanicals like lemon myrtle, sandalwood, raspberry, and rosehip 

What it does: Help brighten, hydrate, and rejuvenate the skin

Who it's for: For people who love body oils more than lotions and creams 

Why we love it: It smells like luxury! You can use it after a bath or as a bath oil. It gives off a calming and soothing fruity-herbal redolence with lasting creamy woody sandalwood notes. Apply it before bed, and it'll help you relax to sleep. It's also great to apply in the morning as it doesn't feel greasy, easily absorbs, and somehow soothes the nerves. This product will definitely get you attached. 

Available at all Joyce Beauty stores, until August 16.

Felix & Co Organic Body Balm
Felix & Co Organic Body Balm
Felix & Co Organic Body Balm I TA

Felix & Co Organic Body Balm

CBD type: Isolate
CBD potency: 500mg CBD 
Price: $350

What it is: A soothing all-around balm  

What it does: Localised relief for muscle aches and pains

Who it's for: For active people prone to aching muscles; for people who crave relief from desk-induced stiff neck muscles; or basically anyone who likes applying menthol balms to targeted areas of the body  

Why we love it: More than aching muscles, we love applying it on the temples when we get tension headaches after staring at a computer screen for too long. It smells minty-fresh which promotes the feeling of airways opening up, especially when you feel congested and a bit off the weather. 

Available at felixandco.com.

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Natureofthings Restorative Floral Bath
Natureofthings Restorative Floral Bath
Natureofthings Restorative Floral Bath I TA

Natureofthings Restorative Floral Bath

CBD type: Broad spectrum 
CBD potency: 250mg of broad spectrum CBD (250ml), 50mg/per bath
Price: $1,250 

What it is: A floral bath soak 

What it does: This aromatic soak helps replenish the skin's natural moisture, and soothes the nervous system while hydrating and nourishing the skin.

Who it's for: For people who want to bring a spa-like rejuvenating bath into their homes

Why we love it: The heady bouquet of plumeria, jasmine, and vetiver cruises you to a relaxing bath, perfect for when you need to really wind down and have a moment of serenity. It helps relieve muscle tension and the deliciously fragrant oils stay in your skin even after you towel dry. 

Available at all Joyce Beauty stores, until August 16.

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