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How Cannabis Crept Into the Cosmetics Industry, Thanks Mostly to CBD

How Cannabis Crept Into the Cosmetics Industry, Thanks Mostly to CBD
PHOTO Marco Verch

Culture

How Cannabis Crept Into the Cosmetics Industry, Thanks Mostly to CBD

Hemp for health is nothing new, but the extent to which the cosmetics industry has embraced cannabis represents a sea change in consumer and investor attitudes. 

Premier is an Israel-based company that makes cosmetics. Central to the company’s brand identity is the Dead Sea, and the idea that cosmetic products involving “minerals” from the ancient, salty lake are somehow age-defying or skin-preserving.

But in the event the appeal of the Dead Sea wasn’t enough for health-conscious consumers, the company recently announced an addition to this product line: cannabis. Sometime this year, the company plans to add CBD to its Premier Dead Sea line of products. Premier will market and sell CBD-infused cream, ointment, and oil in Canada and in Europe, where hemp-derived CBD is perfectly legal—and where consumers are becoming increasingly hip to the allure of marijuana’s less-psychoactive cannabinoid. CBD has nothing to do with the Dead Sea, in other words, but everything to do with the current cultural moment.

Hemp On-Trend

If this ploy sounds familiar, it’s because it is. CBD is literally everywhere right now, in coffee shops and apothecaries in New York City and bookstores in Boulder, Colorado. Since the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized U.S. production of hemp (cannabis sativa plants with less than 0.3 percent THC), we have heard reports of gas stations in America’s heartland selling “CBD pre-rolls” for $20 a package.

The speed with which legacy industries like alcohol and tobacco are running towards cannabis can stupefy and discomfit, but the truth is that CBD-infused frenzy was well underway well before the Farm Bill. And one of the first industries to embrace CBD as either a palliative aid or a highly effective marketing tool — or, maybe, both — was the cosmetics industry.

Beauty products advertising their hemp-oil or hemp-seed content are available for sale at Sephora and Walmart. At Kiehl’s, a subsidiary of L’Oreal, you can find “cannabis sativa seed oil concentrate” for your problematic skin at $49 an ounce. Does CBD indeed “reduce skin redness and provide skin relief from discomfort,” does it “calm the feeling of stressed skin while helping balance hydration?” Sure, maybe. Hemp was a health product well before it was a commodity ready for Wall Street traders, but it is also most certainly the it-product of the moment.

CBD, TBD

Which begs the question: Is the cosmetics industry’s CBD frenzy a good thing or a bad thing? Or if it is amoral, can it at least be an honest thing?

It could be good — more CBD in the world might be a net positive, but how and from where are big questions that need answering. But the truth is that at this point, CBD is also a victim of its own success — it’s over-hyped.  As a writer from Glamour pointed out when she replaced her normal beauty products with CBD-infused offerings, there was no immediate perceptible change to her skin or her life.

And lost in the gloss is an honest and sober understanding of what, exactly, CBD is and what it does. We still don’t fully understand its market value as a health and healing aid as opposed to a neat and cool buzzword with an amorphous meaning fed to a confused public with too many consumer options.

How much CBD is in hemp oil? Not a lot, probably. How much CBD do you need to see a difference in your hair, your skin, your nails? Does anyone know? Might you be better off with a diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids? And for the cannabis industry at large, what will the consequences of emphasizing hemp-derived CBD over CBD derived from cannabis be?

These are all questions the CBD fad does not seek to answer. All it knows is that CBD sells. And until it doesn’t, CBD-infused everything, including cosmetics, will crowd shelves and compete for consumer attention.

TELL US, would you be more likely to buy a beauty product if it was CBD-infused?

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