Covalo's #AskTheExpert series was created to get to know various personal care experts on a more intimate level and to pick their brains on hot topics. From hydrating facial serums to sleep-enhancing oils, CBD beauty products have flooded the market in recent years. The wide-ranging benefits of cannabidiol have been backed by scientific evidence, however regulations on how these compounds can safely be used remain unclear. 

This week, we sit down with matt taylorMatt Taylor at Medic Pro Limited, a regulatory consultancy that helps businesses comply with regulations. Spanning the pharma, cosmetic, vape and CBD industry, they’ve supported companies large and small, across the globe with testing and compliance.  Read on to hear Matt's thoughts on CBD beauty product trends and learn more about the future of CBD regulations in the UK and EU.

Q: Hi Matt! Thank you for taking the time to speak to us today. First question - what’s your favorite personal care product?

When it comes to personal care products I’m not fussy. Anything mid-range and reputable – I’m happy (or whatever my girlfriend has to hand). 

Q: Can you tell us a bit about your background? How did you become a regulatory expert for CBD products?

Moving into CBD was a natural progression. In 2014, after many years of medicine regulation, I diversified into vape to support some new clients with new EU-wide regulations. Then, around 2017, my clients added CBD vapes to their product lines. I knew nothing about CBD at the time and was apprehensive – exclaiming: is it even legal?!

Once the legality was cleared up one question remained: what service could Medic Pro offer in the CBD space? After researching a number of services, we noticed high-quality CBD testing labs were scarce. We partnered with an accredited lab and things took off from there.

Q: CBD – hype or here to stay? What are your thoughts on CBD beauty products?

I think it’s here to stay for the sole reason CBD has a proven therapeutic effect. But what we need right now are testing standards to ensure products contain the CBD as advertised on the label. Without standards, it’s the wild west, and consumer confidence could be hit unless these are introduced promptly.

Provided manufacturers adhere to high manufacturing standards, get a cosmetic safety assessment for each product and ensure CBD content is as labeled, I’m all for CBD cosmetics. I think it’s a good alternative to food as a way to get your dose of CBD.

Q: How did the regulatory setting for CBD products change in the past 2-3 years? 

Over the last few years, we have seen greater clarity on the regulations for CBD: CBD food categorized as a novel food, for example, and regulated under established EU novel food laws. CBD cosmetic regulation, I would say, is still in its infancy and yet to be fleshed out (excuse the pun!). Regulations differ across the EU and look a little patchy with different interpretations across the EU.

Q: How do UK regulations differ from EU regulations (or how will they now that Brexit has happened)?

The one rule that sets the UK apart from the EU is allowing CBD cosmetics to be made from cannabis extract. Most EU member states have prohibited all but synthetic CBD: CBD manufactured in a lab.  

How Brexit affects things is a tough question. I am expecting some divergence after the transition period in 2021 but not too dramatic. Ask me again in 6 months time!

Q: What is your opinion on “weedwashing”? Do you think more regulations and transparency about dosage levels are necessary?

I was aware of the practice but I wasn’t familiar with the term “weedwashing” until your question! Yes – it seems some businesses have resorted to weed washing. We don’t condone it and, until we have regulations, I expect it will continue. 

Q: There has been a recent boom of cannabis degrees (“marijuana majors”) in the United States. What career opportunities do you see with an education like this? Do you think it’s worth it to specialize in this field?

You can get a degree in all sorts these days. I remember a Spice Girl’s degree course back in the 90’s. I agree that marijuana is, to some degree, a specialized field and I think it makes sense if you’re interested in both agriculture and growing marijuana to specialize. But I think government oversight is required to ensure courses actually lead to jobs. 

Q: What does the future of the CBD industry look like to you? Which products do you believe will be in-demand?

I think we’ll see a consolidation of the industry with some small players dropping out as competition increases. In the UK and EU, we’ve also got costly regulations looming such as the CBD novel food regulation – this will hit hard all but well-funded businesses.

CBD vapes will always be popular with vapers. Between CBD food and cosmetics, food may just nudge ahead.

Q: What do you think is needed to help clear up the confusion over the safety and legality of CBD products for consumers?

Regulation. Regulation. Regulation.

Q: On the Medic Pro website, you also talk about “Hand Sanitiser Regulations”. What is important to consider there? How are these regulations affected by the COVID-19 crisis?

Hand sanitizers fall into a number of regulatory frameworks depending on the ingredients and marketing claims. But the main thing to consider – in times of emergency – is the safety and quality of the product. Identify the ingredients and do some basic due diligence. Talk to a biocide or cosmetic regulatory expert if you are not sure.

Q: Final question. (If you've tried Covalo and had a positive experience) What’s your favorite thing about Covalo? 

While I am new to Covalo, from my experience so far, I can say it is an insightful resource for any aspiring cosmetic business. I especially like the ingredient search function of the website.