Now that nine states and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana, and with many other states with varying latitudes of access, cannabis has gotten a whole lot more sophisticated. And the beauty business is not about to miss out.
Cannabis-derived ingredients feel trendy, and they may well offer a raft of possible benefits, which beauty brands are quick to tout. CBD oil, specifically, is nonpsychoactive (it won’t get you high) and is said to offer relief from pain, anxiety and depression, stimulate appetite and have anti-inflammatory and anti-acne properties. Cannabis products also nod to enthusiasms that have already gained momentum in the beauty industry, like ingestibles (CBD-infused gummies, caramels and drops) and wellness (CBD lotions to relieve soreness from new year workouts).
There are already devout fans, some boldfaced, who are drawn to CBD topical products largely for their pain-relieving properties. Olivia Wilderecently told this reporter that she used it to relieve physical aches during a Broadway run. The fashion stylist Karla Welch, who works with Ms. Wilde, Ruth Negga, Katy Perry and Sarah Paulson, uses Lord Jones CBD lotion on her clients’ feet when they walk the red carpet.
“It’s perfect for long nights in high heels,” Ms. Welch said. “All my girls love it, and bottles live in my styling kit.”
“The closer we get to de-stigmatizing cannabis, the better it is for all,” Ms. Capobianco said.
That sentiment is shared by upstarts including Cannuka, a line of topical products containing CBD and manuka honey; Khus & Khus, a skin- and body-care line by the ayurvedic specialist Kristi Blustein; and Vertly, a line of lip balm by Claudia Mata, a former W magazine accessories editor, which is introducing body care this year. And beauty lines, including Malin & Goetz and Boy Smells, make reference to cannabis in their products purely for the scent.
But looks are one thing, efficacy is another. As CBD oil seeks to go mainstream, it’s tough to tell which products hold up to scrutiny. “I get sent a million different brands saying they have CBD, and the stuff doesn’t work,” Ms. Richards said.
That’s because there is confusion in the marketplace, said Verena von Pfetten, a onetime Lucky digital editor and a founder of Gossamer, a publication dedicated to the chic side of cannabis culture. “The cannabis plant is complex with many compounds,” Ms. von Pfetten said. “CBD is one of them, and THC is one of them.”
There are studies, she said, showing that for pain relief, CBD works best within the plant’s cannabinoid system, meaning that combinations of compounds are more effective than isolated ones. That’s termed the “entourage effect,” and Lord Jones, for one, has sought to compensate for it by using CBD rendered from the entire hemp plant.
“We’ve found CBD isolate, or crystals of pure CBD, to not work,” Ms. Capobianco said.
Speaking of hemp, there’s debate there, too. Hemp is a type of cannabis that has had the THC largely bred out of it. It’s legal across state lines, so only CBD derived from hemp can be distributed nationally. There is a lot less CBD and other cannabinoids in hemp than in cannabis strains that contain THC.
“The reality is that the levels of active ingredient in hemp are so low that, though CBD definitely offers benefits, there might not be a wake-up-and-feel-it moment,” Ms. von Pfetten said.
But Shereene Idriss, a dermatologist in Manhattan, said that those papers are vague. “There was one study in 2014 that said CBD can help reduce oil production and thereby have anti-acne and anti-inflammatory attributes,” Dr. Idriss said. “It wasn’t a perfectly well-rounded study, but it does have merit.” The other study, from 2017, addressed cannabinoids in dermatology in general, including THC, but didn’t deal with risks.
“I would need more, a randomized clinical trial, before I could with full-fledged belief recommend CBD oil as something more than just offering regular hydration,” she said.
If you’re using CBD lotions for pain relief, Dr. Idriss said, there are better studies demonstrating efficacy but that more needs to be done.
“CBD lotion that also has THC in it, it’s going to help you much more with pain relief,” she said. “But the ones from hemp, are they going to help as much? It’s hard to tell because we don’t have the data and studies. Also, the problem is you often don’t know how much you are getting — it’s completely unregulated.”
There are no products listed under this category.