What It Is: Lotion, lip balms and various other skincare products that contain cannabinoid, a.k.a. CBD oil, derived from the hemp plant (not to be confused with hemp oil, which is derived from the seeds). CBD is present in marijuana and hemp plants (both of which are forms of cannabis), but has a much higher concentration in hemp. Unlike its cousin Mary Jane, CBD is legal in all 50 states because it contains only trace amounts of THC, and it’s becoming a hugely popular ingredient in the beauty world, thanks to its prevalence of vitamin E, omega fatty acids and chill vibes.
Who Tried It: Lindy Segal, Style Social Media Editor
Why We Tried It: Let’s just say CBD is on a high right now. The ingredient has been rising in popularity over the last couple of years, and is one of the buzziest ingredients in the industry (Milk Makeup even launched a CBD oil mascara). But there’s a reason for the rise: More and more states are legalizing marijuana — as I write this, recreational use is legal for adults over the age of 21 in eight states plus Washington D.C., while medical marijuana is legal in 29 — and a growing number of Americans support legalization (61 percent, according to a Pew Research poll from January). And in late March, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced he will introduce legislation that will take hemp off the controlled substance list. (The crop has thrived in McConnell’s state of Kentucky.)
And in states where pot is legal, you’ll see skincare products that contain THC too. Mary Jane’s Medicinals founder Dahlia Mertens started her cannabis-infused wellness line back in 2009, and now her products are sold in over 300 stores in Colorado. Mertens, who told me she’s an “ambassador for the plant,” offers everything from body salve to a “lip bong,” which contain a mix of THC and CBD.
“Cannabinoids each have therapeutic properties for human health,” Mertens explains. “When these cannabinoids are isolated they have some benefits, but when they can work together (known as the Entourage Effect) they can be much more powerful. In short, CBD is more beneficial to human health when some THC is present, and vice versa.”
But just because most of the products available (legally) in the rest of the country don’t contain THC doesn’t mean they aren’t beneficial, at least according to the beauty industry. But what does it actually do? The answer is a lot of things, if labels are to be believed. Because it contains a negligible amount of THC, CBD is non-psychoactive, so you won’t get high from it, but you still reap some of the same chilled-out benefits. The oil is said to help with inflammation, dry skin, mood, sleep, immunity — and, of course, relaxation. (Even my grandma, age redacted for the last four-ish decades, uses CBD oil to ease anxiety.)
To go back a bit, I had been interested in testing out CBD skincare products ever since I saw some media-industry colleagues posting about the virtues of their Vertly lip balms several months ago. Then my interest was really piqued when I read that Mandy Moore used Lord Jones’ CBD-oil lotion on her feet to prevent heel pain at the Golden Globes in January.
And Olivia Wilde gave the same lotion her stamp of approval in a profile in the New York Times. A cannabis beauty product! In the Times! What a world. “Recently I did a play on Broadway for six months, and my body was wrecked. My neck was really tight,” Wilde explained. “The CBD has relaxing benefits, and the idea is to avoid using too many painkillers.” From there, I had to give the stuff a shot.
When I first inquired with my boss Andrea — in a full whisper, mind you — if we had any CBD products in our beauty closet, she thought I was speaking in code. (Again, I can’t stress enough how legal CBD is.) Sure enough, approximately one zillion products and pitches awaited me, and I was off and running.
Level Of Difficulty: 1/10. Use as you would your favorite skin and body care products — just manage your expectations.
The Verdict: Before we begin, I should say that I kept my test to only a few skin and body care products; although pitches for CBD shampoo and conditioner, bar soap and mascara hit my inbox, I had to edit my selection. (But hey, maybe a sequel?) Also, somewhere around the middle of my testing, my fashion/beauty/everything icon Zoë Kravitz told InStyle that cannabis-infused products aren’t cool because they “don’t get you high,” and truthfully, I considered abandoning my entire experiment right then and there. But alas, I powered on despite Kravitz’s distaste, because journalism.
We’ll start with the product I was most excited to try: the Lord Jones body lotion. The “high CBD” cream contains 100 mg of the miracle ingredient, which is delivered in a pump-style bottle. Let’s start with the pros: Like Olivia Wilde and Mandy Moore before me, I became an instant fan of the lotion’s soothing properties; I rubbed it into my feet, calves and neck at night after working out and immediately felt like it was melting right into my muscles (that sensation is also thanks to an ingredient called Frescolat, “a natural agent that creates a cooling sensation upon contact”). Some people say CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties help with bacne, but my arms don’t bend that way so I unfortunately can’t speak to that.
I do, however, have a couple of complaints: The lotion feels so good, I want to use it every day, on every ache and pain — and at 50 mL, the deodorant-size bottle doesn’t have a whole lot to give. (At $50 a pop, it also ain’t cheap.) For the time being, I’m rationing out 2-mL pumps to my feet and neck.
The other thing that takes getting used to is the scent. Lord Jones’ signature blend of sage, mint and green citrus (and, you know, cannabis) reminds me of a Spencer’s Gifts at the mall. It’s not enough to make me stop using it, and I know some people who are big fans of the fragrance, so, as with everything, it’s all subjective.
Buy It! Lord Jones pure CBD pain and wellness formula body lotion, $50; lordjones.com
You may have noticed the fashion set sharing Vertly lip butters all over Instagram lately; the little pots (ha) are super-chic. One thing I love about Vertly is that it’s the only product I tried that smelled like any other product. The balms come in rose and mint varieties, and there’s nothing remotely “herbal” about them. The other ingredients — a mix of coconut oil, beeswax, cocoa butter and a smattering of other moisturizing oils — come together for a pleasant balm. The only downside is it’s on the waxy side, so it’s not super easy to get out of the container; you have to melt it down with your finger a bit to really get enough for a solid application.
Buy It! Vertly lip butter, $22; vertlybalm.com
The other balm I tried is by a brand called Jersey Shore Cosmetics, a non-toxic, eco-friendly brand I’d never heard of but obviously decided was founded by Pauly D. (It wasn’t.) Their “Super Sativa Medicinal Medicated Hydrating Balm” is organic and made of non-GMO ingredients, and comes in two sizes. The green stick smells a somewhat herbal and somewhat like lavender — but nothing over-the-top. The brand also offers a CBD balm in their “AMH” line, which I learned after testing stands for “Adult Male Humans,” although the line is unisex (not that it really matters, it’s lip balm!). I tried the rosemary lavender variety which, although lovely, was a bit strong. Of the three options, I’d recommend the larger version of the hydrating balm — especially in the thick of winter when the skin around my lips gets dry.
Buy It! Jersey Shore Cosmetics Super Sativa Medicinal Medicated Hydrating Balm, $10 for small and $15 for large; jerseyshorecosmetics.com
Babor’s ampoules full of face serum, launched strategically on 4/20, are a mix of hemp oil*, aloe, cactus and panthenol — all ingredients meant to act as an antidote to the elements at a music festival. Plus, the ampoule packaging means they’re portable and perfectly packable. Now, I don’t know whether they’ll survive Coachella, but I will say, after a couple of uses my skin was glowing. And completely clear. As in, I used zero concealer, other than on my undereyes, and just a touch of tinted moisturizer. Selfie proof:
I’m not a festival person, nor do I think I ever will be (I just prefer having access to bathrooms), so I’d prefer this product in a serum bottle, but as far as effectiveness I give the formula an A+.
Buy It! Babor Chill Out ampoules, $30 for 7; babor.com
When all is said and done, I can’t help but wonder if my new love for CBD products is due to placebo effect — but if it works, it works, right? I highly recommend giving them a shot.
*Note: The Babor ampoules contain hemp seed oil, not CBD oil.