What Cannabis Beauty And Wellness Entrepreneurs Think About Sephora’s New CBD Standard

In this edition of Beauty Independent’s ongoing series posing questions to beauty entrepreneurs, we ask 27 brand founders and executives: What’s your reaction to Sephora’s new requirements that cannabis beauty brands use CBD from hemp grown in the United States, include only full- or broad-spectrum CBD, test CBD three times, make available a certificate of analysis to verify CBD content, and adhere to its clean beauty guidelines?

Jessica Bates Founder and CEO, Moon Mother Hemp Company

We absolutely agree with Sephora’s new CBD standard. The CBD industry is still in it’s infancy and highly unregulated, leaving consumers at risk. Reports of CBD products containing pesticides, heavy metals and little to no CBD are coming in daily. As brand owners and retailers, it is up to us to set the regulations and standards to protect our consumers. As a CBD beauty and wellness brand, we hold ourselves to the same standard as Sephora’s new regulations and hope that this will encourage more brands to rise to higher levels of quality and transparency.

Victoria Flores Co-Founder, Lux Beauty Club CBD

Every CBD company should be held to these standards. If brands are already following these standards, anything the FDA proposes down the line won't be so scary. We knew we had to get it right from the beginning with quality, organic, clean ingredients to blend with the plant. Adding blockchain technology for transparency of the supply chain will only differentiate a brand from the pack as well. It's an exciting time, and we've only scratched the surface of all the different phytocannabinoids in the plant.

Erin Simon Co-Founder, Simon Wolff

I’m excited about Sephora’s CBD policy not only because it is consistent with Simon Wolff’s policy, but also because we feel it’s a big step towards inspiring consumer confidence in the legitimacy of CBD products as well as more clarity around the real benefits of CBD.

Solange Astudillo CEO and Founder, Millennial Beauté

I think that everything is stellar as far as allowing consumers to have more transparency with lab tests and COAs. However, full- and broad-spectrum CBD may not be for everyone. Isolate is the only THC-free form of CBD, and it’s also extremely clean. Full- and broad-spectrum CBD are typically cut with an oil so, in turn, you have a lower percentage of CBD per dose. We hope Sephora continues to explore the CBD space and does a more in-depth search of the CBD extraction that is going into these beauty items.

Janet Schriever Founder, Code of Harmony

This sounds to me like Sephora is taking advice from either ingredient manufacturers, brands or both and making legal decisions so they don’t get sued. They are asking brands to jump through lots of hoops for one ingredient that has become a political hot button like no other ingredient in the history of skincare. Ever. If they are doing this for CBD, why not do it for vitamin C or hyaluronic Acid or all botanicals? Why aren’t they triple testing for purity on all ingredients, including ones that aren’t naturally-derived?

So, once again, all of us indies who make small batch goods and don’t do all the testing because we can’t afford to test every batch of 100 or even 1,000 pieces will not be able to meet this requirement. It just doesn’t make sense for small-production brands. This ensures that they are only taking in larger national brands that can support what they are asking.

On the inclusion of only full- or broad-spectrum CBD from U.S.-grown hemp, this makes zero sense and is coming from marketing or from brand or cannabis manufacturer advice. If they actually understood CBD as an ingredient for skincare, they would know that full- or broad-spectrum CBD has a higher risk of containing residual pesticides, unpredictable THC content, irritants, etc. What this results in is CBD manufacturers creating extracts from isolate, and adding back in other cannabinoids and terpenes to fulfill the full-spectrum requirement. Most full- or broad-spectrum extracts are made by using gas chromatography, which means that they extract all the parts of the plant and separate them. Then, they put them back together to make an extract. Lastly, there is research and genomic testing that shows what CBD isolate does on the skin. Clearly, they haven't seen this and are following their marketing team's advice based on what is popular sentiment online.

Stas Chirkov Founder, Blunt Skincare

I think the standard is significant for Sephora’s vetting process. However, exclusion of the purified isolated CBD excludes many consumers who are just looking for CBD and no other cannabinoids. Testing CBD three times is also a great initiative. CBD consumers, including beauty consumers, demand the certificate of analysis, and I hope the COAs will be made available for consumers before the purchase. This is becoming more important as the consumer develops a preference for cannabinoids and would want to see the actual numbers of other cannabinoids (CBG, CBN, CBC, etc.) that are included in the full- or broad-spectrum cannabis oils.

Blunt Skincare’s cannabis face oil collection’s main message was, “Not all CBD is created equal.” We are featuring three completely different cannabis-derived ingredients: cannabis sativa seed oil, purified cannabidiol—the actual CBD molecule—and full-spectrum cannabis sativa extract extracted from the whole plant to contain CBD and other cannabinioids.

While researching all three, I have found that each interacts with the skin differently. The seed oil is a great moisturizing ingredient. Purified CBD is great for balancing the acne-prone skin because it does not contain any other ingredients from the plant, and full-spectrum cannabis sativa extract mainly contains CBD, but also contains trace amounts of THC and other cannabinoids, and that varies based on the strain and the harvest. We offer full-spectrum extract along with other plant-based antioxidants to fight free radicals to protect the skin.

I think bringing standards to the CBD beauty space is a great initiative to improve the vetting process. There are a lot brands of selling hemp seed oil products as CBD. It looks like the purified CBD isolate is not included in the standard, which excludes a lot of consumers that are looking for just CBD. Many of our customers prefer isolated molecule for many reasons, the most popular being that purified molecule potentially has less risk of irritation simply because it does not contain other compounds.

Josey Orr Co-Founder, Hugs Wellness

I think the standard is important and the right choice. Most brands worth their salt are already doing these things as standard operating procedure anyway, so it seems that Sephora is doing their due diligence in holding brands to their word. I'm in full support of this move and any that help bring transparency to the CBD industry. We strive to do all this at Hugs Wellness and love seeing this from big-box brands across the board.

Robert Brown Managing Partner, Physicians Grade

We at Physicians Grade believe that setting standards for CBD products is great for our industry and for our consumers. We commend Sephora for establishing their own guidelines. We feel that providing full transparency to our customers is critical. Physicians Grade pioneered the use of QR codes on all retail packaging, which allows consumers to easily view third-party lab results for that specific product, thus ensuring utmost transparency and quality.

Martha Van Inwegen Founder, Life Elements

On the inclusion of only full- or broad-spectrum CBD from U.S.-grown hemp, this is good as too many new brands are using isolate and using terms such as "100% pure" or "medical grade, which confuses the public. This is because the consumer does not yet understand the differences between the three types, so when they see "100%,” "pure" or "medical grade," they believe it to be the best without realizing they are missing out on the benefits of all the other beneficial CBDs within the plant that are needed for true homeostasis. It would also be important to note that while full spectrum has .3% THC, it is not necessary when using in topical applications, so an explanation of how the two differ and affect skincare would be beneficial as well.

On the requirement that CBD must be tested at least three times for quality and purity, it's nice to say this, but what does it really mean? We've seen brands state that their products are triple tested, but never actually describe the process. For us, we know that our CBD oil is tested at the source, and we receive a certificate of analysis (COA) with each new batch. This COA identifies the potency, including any THC, residual solvents, heavy metals, terpenes and pesticide levels. However, to ensure those tests are accurate, we send a sampling of the oil to our own lab for testing and verification of the levels. To me, that's two tests. I'm not sure what a third test would entail. So, I would ask Sephora, and these other brands with this claim for clarification.

A COA that verifies the CBD content matches any label claims must be available upon request: This should be a must for all brands. As important is for Sephora to anonymously purchase the products and do their own testing to ensure honest reporting. Plus, the results should also list with any percentage difference between the test and the stated amount noted. A large, well-known cannabis knowledge source that is starting to sell third-party products contacted us and advised that we would have to come in within 5% of our stated dosage amounts. We had no problem with the requirement as we test within .05% or higher. Later, they came back and said they moved it to 10%, which dumbfounded us. If 5% if bad, 10% is worse. Still later, they came back and announced they would accept brands that were within a 20% range. That blew our minds! How in the world can 20% be acceptable? We were told they had to move the acceptable range because so many of the brands they tested failed the 5% to 10% range with higher than 20%. So, I would suggest they establish an acceptable range and publish that as well within the description of the product.

Jessica Mulligan Co-Founder, Winged

We applaud Sephora’s CBD standards and appreciate industry-leading retailers establishing strict requirements for purity, safety and efficacy of hemp extract products. Responsible brands should have no trouble conforming to these standards. At Winged, we use only full-spectrum hemp extract that is standardized for CBD, but also contains the other beneficial cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. Combined, the full array of cannabinoids offers a more beneficial product, commonly known at the entourage effect. Testing at multiple stages of the hemp farming and production process is critical to offering safe products to customers. The hemp plant has an amazing ability to purify soil, so any residual solvents found in the farmland could easily find its way into the hemp plant even if organic farming practices are used. Testing should start with the soil, then verification of the plant’s purity should be performed at every stage of growth, extraction and manufacturing.

A certificate of analysis verifying that the product meets the legal definition of hemp—contains less than .3% THC—should be performed on every batch, but the COA shouldn’t stop only with CBD and THC content. The COA should also test for pesticides, heavy metals and microbes, and include a QR Code on every label allowing the customer to easily check COAs for each batch to make sure the product meets their standards. Everyone deserves to know what is in the products that they are putting in or on their bodies.

The FDA has been slow to set guidelines, so industry has to self-regulate in order to separate out the bad players. Hopefully, guidance from the FDA will come  sooner rather than later, but, in the meantime, it’s retailers like Sephora that can help build consumer trust by enacting these guidelines.

Selam Kelati Co-Founder, I + I Botanicals

In any industry, it is always a good idea to have regulation. I + I Botanicals products were made based on the Clean at Sephora standard, and the Sephora CBD standard is a good addition. I believe it will keep brands accountable and make sure consumers are getting what the product labels are claiming. It is not clear to us why Sephora CBD standard only allows full- or broad-spectrum CBD. Some products will need isolate CBD in order to achieve desired results.

At I + I, we use CBD from U.S.-grown hemp and test the CBD at the raw material stage. We also test our final products. Both times, we use a third party and have a certificate of analysis that verifies the CBD content. The triple testing Sephora CBD standards require is not necessary as long as brands can provide that both the raw materials and the final products are tested by a third party.

Katharine Marinaro Founder, CBD+nature

I am thrilled to hear that Sephora has created a CBD standard. Sephora being one of the largest worldwide beauty stores is protecting their customers and educating them by setting these clean beauty parameters. At CBD+nature, we advocate knowing your source and oil from seed to bottle. With CBD trending, there are so many new CBD companies, and most of them show no care or concern for the consumer They just want to push their product and make money.

With that being said, there is a lot of noise in the CBD world, and it’s important to weed out the bad seeds. We agree that products should always use full-spectrum CBD, so you reap all the benefits and the constituents of the plant, and they should always be third-party tested, and COAs are a must.

However, we have to disagree on being exclusive to U.S. hemp. Europe has been farming hemp longer than the U.S. With such strict regulations in place, the soil and growing practices are far cleaner. CBD should always be clean, pure and natural.

Allison Tryk Founder, Floramye

It’s great news that Sephora is introducing CBD standards. Since the industry in general does not have them, it’s a positive step that large companies are taking initiative on their own.

Andrea Barrera Founder, Gracious Om Botanicals

I am very happy to hear about Sephora's new CBD standards. Sephora is one of the most trusted retailers in the beauty industry, recognized not only in the United States, but internationally as well, and they have a responsibility to provide their consumers with products that are fully screened and tested. It was astonishing to see the number of emerging brands just in the last year make claims that were inaccurate or misleading, not to mention the marketing strategy behind most brands does not focus on educating their audiences. There was a lot of “greenwashing” done, where companies advertise their "cannabis" products to customers as if they have cannabidiols, usually CBD and, only after carefully examining their ingredient list, one realizes that the product only contains hemp seed oil, which is not the same thing and can easily confuse customers. Sephora should uphold their CBD brands to proper testing and full transparency when it comes to their ingredients.

In addition to this, because the FDA regulations are not overseeing the claims on products, brands can easily get by making false claims. By providing COAs and being triple-tested, brands can prove that their products are accurate in their claims. How else will one truly know the amount of CBD if products are not tested? Batch testing is crucial, just like testing for microbial and chemical contaminants. Customers should not have to take a brand's word when buying their products. They should be able to see the lab results and know with certainty what they are purchasing and if it's safe. For those of us who have been going through the testing process from the beginning, it is extremely disheartening that anyone can essentially slap a label with a CBD dosage on it and sell it to the public as is. The testing process is costly and takes more time, but, at the end of the day, we care about integrity and want to take accurate steps toward being a brand our customers can trust wholeheartedly.

Michael Faiella Founder and CEO, La La Leaf

I think it's great to see Sephora come out with guidance on this topic. They have an amazing brand, and this will prompt other retailers to come out with similar guidance. There are still many retailers that have resisted selling CBD topicals even though the FDA has come out with its guidance regarding the category. I believe that, if Sephora makes a big push in the category, other major retailers will follow. From a manufacturer's perspective, this will help eliminate illegitimate companies that fail to provide transparency and accountability to the consumer.

From inception, La La Leaf’s products and ingredients have been subjected to third-party testing, and all of our product labels have QR codes directing consumers to our full lab reports. We offer consumers the transparency and accountability that they deserve so that they can feel confident in their purchases. So far, the customer feedback to this transparency has been amazing. As a result of our efforts, we are one of the few CBD brands that meet the Sephora’s Clean standards.

La La Leaf’s goal has been to mesh clean skincare and CBD from the beginning and have spent a great time, effort and research ensuring that our products contain the best ingredients. As an example, based on our research, we don’t agree with formulating our products with full- or broad-spectrum CBD distillate, as many others in the industry do and even promote. La La Leaf and our formulator believe that there are significant benefits in formulating with isolate such as: 1) Isolate contains 0% THC plus or minus, whereas full- and broad-spectrum Distillate usually contains between .1% to .3% THC. Anything above .3% THC is illegal based on the 2019 Farm Bill. 2) Isolate typically contains 98% to 99% CBD, whereas there are large variances in the CBD content of full- and broad-spectrum distillate, which can range from 55% to 90% CBD. This variance can pose issues in large batch production runs leading to inferior products. 3) There is typically an odor from the terpenes (aromatic oils) associated with a full- and broad-spectrum Distillate that not all consumers like. Adding fragrance to a product has been a no no. Even some essential oils such as lavender and tea tree can potentially be an endocrine disruptor. 4) There are virtually no independent peer-reviewed findings in topical skincare on the benefits of the other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBDV, CBE, CBN or CBDA found in broad-spectrum products that are claimed to be beneficial.

The biggest liability for any retailer or manufacturer really lies in making unsupported health claims. This has been the cause of most of the actions from the FDA and the litigation in the industry. As a result, we should continue to support further studies on the benefits of CBD to further grow the industry’s regulatory acceptance and consumer awareness.

Kevin Moran Co-Founder, Beam

We’re very excited to see Sephora releasing standards on the CBD market for their stores. By creating this list of standards, it will directly impact their customers positively. We view this as a great step in the right direction for the CBD category as it pertains to retail and hope this is the first of many retail brands releasing internal guidance.

With the lack of lab testing standards and procedures, requiring triplicate testing ensures accurate product labeling and potency standards that only the highest quality brands are requiring in a self-regulated market. It's exactly what we do at Beam. Certificates of analysis can help ensure label claim, but we also demand pesticide, heavy metal and microbial tests for our products to take our safety standards to a higher level and ensure our hemp sources have not accumulated harmful materials from their soil or extraction.

Kara Soule Co-Founder and CEO, Verdant

While the baseline standards set forth by Sephora aren’t new to reputable brands and retailers, they do confirm a growing consumer demand for transparency and safety within the CBD space and beyond. There’s still more work to be done, however. The long-term future of this industry will be dependent on greater consumer understanding, regulation of both products and marketing claims, and scientific research.

As in any industry, it’s important for consumers and retailers alike to invest in brands that go the extra mile to ensure quality, safety and efficacy. This is certainly a step in the right direction.

Olivia Alexander Founder, Kush Queen

Ultimately, it is a step in the right direction, and I applaud Sephora for taking actions to help ensure the products they carry are held to high standards, but, as somebody that has been in the cannabis industry for years, I see the holes. It’s not a significant standard when you consider that these are basic steps of self-regulation every CBD brand should be following already. Until they require a lab test with every batch, this really means nothing, especially since they continue to sell products with basic oil infusions where very little CBD is actually being delivered in the dose. Most people who are in cannabis see Sephora’s attempt at selling these products as capitalizing on the trend.

Sephora is a big-box beauty retailer, not an expert in cannabis or CBD products, so it seems like a stretch. Maybe if they hired real experts or independent scientists, I could take this more seriously, but I don’t see that happening. Even their clean standards are questionable and still allow tons of chemicals if you do a basic search on the EWG website. It’s misleading to consumers who aren’t fully educated.

The California Bureau of Cannabis Control requires our brand to submit the entire batch into quarantine during testing, and the panels required are heavy metals, pesticides, residual solvents, and a 10% margin of error on label claims. These regulations are significant and ensure only the best brands making the best products end up on the shelves. Until Sephora is posting a lab test for every single batch, I would never buy a single CBD product from them. Telling brands that COAs need to be available upon request simply is not enough. It’s too easy to send products to labs—even three—and get the result you want. It is unfortunate that not one single brand Sephora sells participates in the legal regulated cannabis market in California, so I’m overall unimpressed. If they carried brands that met the California standards, I would be impressed.

Grant Boatman Co-Founder, Canna River

This new standard further validates our industry’s legitimacy and presence in pop culture. It also opens up a new era in the beauty subsection of CBD by creating a higher standard to aspire to. Even brands that aren't carried at Sephora will likely strive for this standard to remain competitive. That’s good for consumers. It means less snake oil out there.

This will keep quality high. Canna River’s internal standards have always been similar to this standard for that reason. We specialize in high-potency full- and broad-spectrum CBD products. All of our CBD is third-party tested and comes from U.S.-grown hemp. We also craft our body lotion without parabens and sulfates.

One thing we noticed early on in the CBD boom is brands putting trace amounts of hemp oil or CBD isolate in their products and marketing themselves in a way that’s misleading. There simply wasn’t enough CBD in the product to be effective or justify their prices or claims. We noticed products like this at retailers like Sephora and thought it was unfair to consumers who were buying them and to all the brands who were actually making authentic, high-quality CBD products without a big platform. This new standard levels the playing field a bit more.

The triple lab testing stood out to me. While I think third-party testing and COAs are essential, it is unclear whether the triple standard means the CBD needs to be tested at the same third party lab three times or if it needs to be tested at three different labs. If the former, I’m not sure the number of times matters. It’s more marketing angle than true difference in quality at that point. A certificate of analysis will prove that the product is pure, and the results aren’t likely to change at the same lab. It’s the same equipment and CBD after all.

On the other hand, if the rule requires testing at three different labs for extra verification, that’s impressive. The only downside is it may drive up prices even more. Gratuitous CBD inflation is an issue Canna River has been trying to combat from the beginning. We have low prices because we want CBD to be accessible. I’m curious how brands will handle balancing that and their price points. I hope steps are taken to make sure people aren’t overcharged.

Claudia Mata Co-Founder, Vertly

Setting a CBD standard by a major industry player like Sephora is great because it will help build consumer confidence around such a beneficial ingredient. We're not surprised by this. Early on, we realized this is the direction the industry would need to move towards in order to validate the use of CBD. This is why Vertly has always followed these parameters since we launched in 2017: triple-testing, online posting of test results, U.S.-sourced full spectrum CBD. Our family has been in the cannabis space for some time, so we're well aware of all the testing and precautions taken when formulating with CBD, and Sephora can help push the needle of awareness to a more mainstream audience.

I hope this trend continues in the beauty industry at large to other ingredients that have not been as scrutinized. As a clean beauty brand that sustainably sources our plants from local farmers and makes fresh batches of products weekly, we welcome the industry requiring more clean transparency regarding ingredient sourcing.

Joan Sutton Founding Partner and CEO, 707 Flora

When I originally started R&D for 707 Flora in early 2017 pre-Farm Bill, we sourced nine different CBD types, which included whole plant extract, a few isolates and some CBD that was from out of the country. We tested in the formulas for efficacy, consistency and how they physically worked with the formula recipe. It quickly became apparent that we only wanted whole plant extract at high purity and concentration, and not in a carrier oil for our CBD complex, which could include broad- and full-spectrum CBD that was grown in the U.S., and I say whole plant extract because broad spectrum wasn’t even a thing when I formulated my products.

That said, while I can appreciate Sephora’s position on their inclusion of products only full- or broad-spectrum grown from U.S. hemp, and I understand why I chose whole plant extract, there is a bit more if you dig deeper into what is being sold in CBD raw materials and, ultimately, used in formulations. I’m an active member of a few hemp and cannabis organizations and hear a lot from the farmers and their communities. There are companies spiking low-concentrated CBD whole plant extract with isolates, which is undetectable in testing, and this drives down the costs of the extract and drive ups the milligram claim. The purchaser may not even be aware that is what they are buying if the supplier doesn’t disclose it. Hopefully, Sephora has a plan to test for this as well because a COA or three won’t be enough to detect if the CBD extract has been adulterated to make a product more potent and less expensive to manufacture.

The testing labs in the cannabis industry and the cosmetic labs testing for cannabis are not caught up to the demand and efficiency requirements of the market. I believe testing is important and should be mandatory. I’m not sure which tests they are requiring or if they are requiring three tests on the raw material and the finished good. Either way, there are a lot of extra hoops for us CBD brands to jump through and all of it gets costly quick. I would want to understand what their concerns are and whether they are choosing the right tests. They should have a list of their preferred testing facilities. In terms of the testing, I am guessing they want U.S.-supplied hemp because there have been cases of tainted CBD coming in from other countries, but it can also be tainted in the U.S. So, if they really want to set a standard they should be requiring microbial, mycotoxin, pesticide and heavy metal testing on the CBD concentrate and each batch of each product.

Marcy Capron Vermillion Co-Founder and Chief Innovation Officer, Equilibria

Sephora’s new CBD standard is a smart move, a way to differentiate themselves from other places with less efficacious products that may have isolate. Just like our insides, our outsides benefit from a whole-flower strategy with cannabis products. Our bodies do not understand how to interact effectively with CBD when it is presented on its own. In terms of testing, COAs are always good to include, but it’s important to note that they can vary pretty widely from lab to lab depending on data set regarding cannabinoid and terpene contents, but should still be consistent regarding mold, pesticides, metals, etc.

Coco Meers Co-Founder and CEO, Equilibria

CBD is about heath, not hype. This past year, we saw a surge of CBD companies to market and a drastic amount of new products, but the consumerism of CBD is the opposite of what we stand for as a brand. Therefore, I think Sephora’s new standards are a step in the right direction. At Equilibria, we believe in quality over quantity and have therefore strategically chosen not to rush new products to market. This move confirms what we’ve been saying all along. Consumers are becoming more aware and discerning of the efficacy of the products they purchase. As CBD becomes more integrated in the conversation on overall health and wellness, brands will be forced to share more information on farming practices, product composition and sustainability, pushing the conversation forward.

Michael Cammarata CEO, Neptune Wellness

Transparency is everything to consumers, which is why Forest Remedies, the brand recently launched by Neptune Wellness, is making information from seed to shelf available and accessible to the consumer. Sephora's announcement reinforces the need for full transparency and will hold brands accountable so they don’t continue to throw the word CBD on their packaging without knowing where it came from or what ingredients it actually contains. This will keep brands honest and responsible to consumers and, as someone who stands behind clean, honest and transparent products, this is exactly what the industry needs.

Tori Bodin Co-Founder, Dazey

We're excited to see Sephora recognize an opportunity to raise the bar in the CBD marketplace and earn trust with their customers. We've seen CBD retailers like Fleur Marche and White Label CBD Market find success by curating their assortment with similar requirements, and we believe Sephora's standard will continue to pave the way for brands that are offering quality products without shortcuts. Those are the brands that will be around for years to come.

Eric Raszewski Head of Sales, Nutralife Wellness

While we here at Nutralife Wellness agree that it is important for the CBD industry to create safety and quality standards, we feel that they should be created by those within the industry who have experience and knowledge of hemp cultivation and CBD extraction and formulation. Additionally, the testing standards put forward by Sephora are unclear at best and restrictive at worst. Do CBD brands need to gain three separate tests from three different labs or three tests at one lab? Is the testing required at multiple points in the manufacturing process or on the raw CBD oil itself? What if each lab test from three different facilities comes back with a different result due to their testing standards? Without clear answers to these questions, the standards have no weight.

This type of idea also creates a double standard against the CBD industry as a whole. Other similar industries have not been through this type of rigorous testing and scrutinized so poorly. This industry as a whole has unfortunately been dealt with this level of scrutiny due to lack of actual guidelines and oversight from appropriate agencies.  Ultimately, testing restrictions like this can prove to be prohibitive for CBD companies due to its high cost, and it may not guarantee quality products. What those in the know understand is that lab testing of CBD oil is a problem area for the CBD industry because there are no standards or guidelines for labs. This leads to issues like inconsistent test results from lab to lab and even from the same lab and, in the most extreme cases, the ability to pay for the results you want.

Requiring hemp to be sourced from U.S. farmers may also be a mistake until that side if the industry has stabilized. Hemp cultivation in this country is in its infancy, and many farmers are inexperienced in creating the types of hemp crops that will create high quality, federally legal CBD products. In contrast, farmers in regions like Northern Europe have been cultivating hemp for generations, ensuring that the CBD oil extracted from the plants are safe and contain the ideal levels of cannabinoids like CBD and THC.

Again, while we agree that industry standards are critical to the safety and satisfaction of CBD customers, standards like those presented by Sephora are restrictive to CBD companies, do not ensure quality products, and may give consumers a false sense of security because they cannot guarantee safety.

Grace Saari Co-Founder and Marketing Director, Svn Space

We don't know when the FDA will set regulations or what this will look like and, until then, we—retailers, vendors, media, brands—need to take matters into our own hands, especially as this concerns the public's safety. Pelin Thorogood, president and co-founder of the Wholistic Research & Education Foundation and chief trust officer for Svn Space, states, "From the research side, this is the largest uncontrolled human experiment we’ve ever encountered.” The FDA is saying, “You can’t use these products, they’re not legal,” and tens of millions of Americans are using it all the time.

Bravo and kudos to retailers like Sephora and Shop Good for stepping in and stepping up to set forth standards similar to our very own Svn Space Verified program. We launched this initiative with strict criteria in place to ensure we're working with quality products and reputable companies. It further builds trust and value with their customers.

I would add stay away from brands and companies that make claims. Administering CBD is so person-specific, and results will vary within individuals. Companies need to be clear in their marketing not mislead the public just to make a sale. Bad players only set the industry back and hurt those who truly need to benefit from this ingredient. We've seen CBD brands make false claims on labels when there are no clinical trials to prove efficacy, and even go as far as photoshop their labels to advertise products to bypass Facebook’s and Instagram's strict ad policy on CBD. Although we have the same frustration on advertising with the word “hemp” or “CBD,” it doesn't mean you compromise the labels just to market a product. For those reasons, we won't work with those brands.

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