As cannabis legalization creeps forward, consumers are enjoying a use for the plant that defies unkempt stoner stereotypes: cannabis beauty products.
“Weed, because of its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties is great for the skin,” says Aspen-based medical marijuana doctor Wendy Zaharko, M.D., noting the importance of endocannabinoid system homeostasis. Even mainstream medical professionals are touting appearance-enhancing abilities (and no, we don’t mean a weed version of beer goggles).
“Cannabis is an antioxidant; it can help slow down the damage to skin cells from oxidation by free radicals, which prevents aging,”
says New York City-based dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Michele S. Green, MD.
“It is rich in supplements for healthy skin such as potassium, magnesium, iron and zinc which is beneficial for skin rashes, acne, and many other skin conditions.”
Molly Peckler of Highly Devoted, cannabis-friendly date coaching, swears by hemp products to treat her breakouts. “I started suffering from hormonal acne right around the time I turned 30, and I came across the Hemp Blemish Salve from Uncle Harry’s Natural Products. Unlike other acne treatments I had tried; the hemp salve didn’t irritate my skin or dry me out too much. Now when I feel a pimple coming on, I reach for the hemp salve rather than the salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide,” says Peckler.
Like Uncle Harry’s Natural Products, most of these beauty products are currently typically created out of hemp, marijuana’s more industrial sister in the cannabis species. The Body Shop has a reasonably-priced hemp body care line, as does Marley Natural. Moon Rore, who makes hair oil, body butter, and lip treatments, differentiates itself by opting for CBD oil from hemp extract. (Moon Rore also charges each of their items with crystals, for an extra magical kick). “I noticed that there are a lot of hemp oils in everything, but there’s not a lot of people utilizing the CBD oil,” says Moon Rore founder Maggie Murphy.
If beauty manufacturers want their product to be available nationwide, they are forced to opt for hemp products rather than whole plant cannabis. While cannabidiol (CBD) is found in hemp, as Project CBD reports, hemp oils contain far less cannabidiol than cannabis, and lack medicinal terpenes and crucial secondary cannabinoids like THC, CBN and CGB. It is CBD that is responsible for the anti-inflammatory effects, an important role in skin care, and an effect that works better if cannabinoids and terpenoids are working together, due to the entourage effect.
Some skin care companies, such as Cannabis Basics, create both cannabis and hemp-only lines, so a hemp version of their product is available for purchase everywhere, but those in legal states can still enjoy the beauty benefits of whole plant cannabis. For those in such states, another wonderful cannabis-based beauty brands is Kush Creams.
Even the real-deal cannabis oil products are non-psychoactive when used on your body, as they bind to the CB2 receptors needed to produce the therapeutic effects but do not enter the bloodstream, and CB2 receptors are mostly located outside of the brain and central nervous system. As much of legalization opponents’ cannabis fears stem from the high produced by the THC in cannabis, non-psychoactive beauty products could fight stigma as well as pimples.
“When you take the high out of the equation, but the medicinal and therapeutic benefits are still strong, cannabis changes from an illicit drug to a medicine. That’s how you change hearts and minds in the general public. Once you’ve personally experienced the positive effects, you’ll be more comfortable talking about it with the people in your life,”
This post was originally published on April 19, 2016, it was updated on October 5, 2017.