We investigate whether this skin-care trend is B.S. or actually worth experimenting with.BY GRACE GOLD
PHOTO BY SHUTTERSTOCK
Pot’s not just for brownies and cookies anymore: The recently published book The Cannabis Spa At Home details how to make your own marijuana-infused lotions, massage oils, ointments, and bath salts. Author Sandra Hinchliffe says there’s a long history behind the idea. “Cannabis spa isn’t new,” she writes. “It has been used for thousands of years in the traditional health practices of Eastern cultures.” Hinchliffe’s recipes pack a punch: “Please avoid driving or operating heavy machinery after bathing three to eight hours,” she warns in a bath salt recipe.
Of course, the catch is that you must be in an area where cannabis is legal for general or medicinal purposes before you plan on cooking things up. But even if you are—are there any real benefits for skin?
There have been some studies done on cannabis seed oil used in topical skin-care products. “It’s rich in fatty acids, which can help hydrate and improve barrier function of the skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research at The Mount Sinai Hospital in New York. “For this reason, it’s helpful in treating dry skin, eczema, and psoriasis.”
Zeichner points to a study that suggested cannabis also reduces sebaceous gland activity, which is responsible for the oil on your skin. By decreasing oil production, pot’s been shown to prevent the development of acne. There is a caveat, though: “While preliminary data shows that cannabis may be helpful when applied topically, we need further studies to truly evaluate the efficacy,” says Zeichner.
If you’d like to give the category a try, hemp, the cosmetic form cannabis that contains less than 0.03 percent of the psychoactive ingredient tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), is readily available in beauty products and can be purchased and used in any state. We gave a bunch of hemp goodies a go in our own bathroom and think the following picks smoke the competition.
The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector and Hemp On A Rope Soap ($20 and $12, thebodyshop.com)
It’s no surprise this hand cream is the brand’s best-selling hemp product; it soothed our dry skin in just one use. Meanwhile, the soap’s unisex scent is fresh and enlivening, and the rope allows you to hang it so that it doesn’t get sludgy and pick up bacteria sitting on the edge of the tub.
Nature’s Gate Hemp Moisturizing Lotion ($12, wholefoods.com)
This generously large bottle of creamy body lotion contains hemp seed oil, which is high in nourishing essential fatty acids, as well as moisturizing shea butter, milk thistle, and kukui nut oil. The replenishing trio softened our skin instantly, with hydration that lasted a solid 24 hours.
Fresh Cannabis Rose Eau De Parfum ($88, fresh.com)
Sensual is the keyword for this Fresh fragrance that combines cannabis accord with Bulgarian rose, dark chocolate, white musk, and patchouli. While many hemp products tend towards the hippie aesthetic, this one feels fancy, arriving in an artisanal glass bottle. Our date said it smelled “exotic.” Mission accomplished.
Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar: Primer ($18,occmakeup.com)
A lip balm and color primer in one, this conditioner hydrates with a blend of essential oils that includes hemp, peppermint, and vitamin E. It comes with a travel-sized lip brush that helps spread the recommended “tiny bead” of product from the center of the mouth outwards.
Malin+Goetz Cannabis Hand+Body Wash ($22,malinandgoetz.com)
If you like the earthy scent of cannabis but don’t want any of the actual plant in your product (it just contains a fragrance), this wash fits the bill. We found that it was not only a gentle cleanser for hands and body but also foamed up nicely as a relaxing bubble bath with just a few pumps under running water.
The bottom line: Emerging studies show that cannabis provides a variety of benefits for skin, from preventing acne to soothing dry skin and chronic conditions like eczema and psoriasis. And until marijuana becomes available nationwide, you can purchase beauty products that contain hemp, a type of cannabis that contains a minute percentage of the psychoactive ingredient THC.