What’s The Deal With Cannabis-Based Beauty?

The benefits behind the controversial plant (and no, getting high isn’t one of them)

After a season full of harsh cold temperatures and drying indoor heat, I can say that the winter has been pretty rough on my skin. My normally clear complexion has been left parched and weather-beaten, with my sometimes-eczema coming back in the form of rough, red patches on both of my cheeks. For someone who seldom has a pimple, I was suddenly breaking out nonstop. I decided I needed to change things up.

After doing a bit of poking around to find a new heaven-sent product or ingredient to save my face (or, simply some advice on how to get my skin back to a normal state), I came across a few brands that carry cannabis-infused beauty products. While I had been seeing a number of products containing hemp seed oil or other ingredients derived from the cannabis plant in the market for some time, I wasn't sure what all the hype was about. Was it moisturizing? A miracle ingredient? Did it get you high?

Intrigued, I decided to try a fully cannabis-based beauty regimen for a course of 10 days to see what would happen. I gathered as many products as I could (legally) get my hands on, from hemp seed oil shampoo to THC-infused lotions and started my experiment.

First off, contrary to what you may assume (and what 90 percent of my friends asked me right off the bat), you won't get stoned from cannabis face cream. However, it will certainly be a pampering experience. Cannabis sativa seed oil, often referred to hemp seed oil to avoid any stigmas about marijuana, is super beneficial in terms of skin health—especially hydration. “The fascinating thing about cannabis sativa seed oil is that it stimulates your skin’s natural ability to keep itself both protected and hydrated,” says Ulrika Karlberg, co-founder of cannabis-infused skin-care brand Herb Essntls:

Instead of emulating or adding a layer of protection or hydration, it triggers your skin to take care of itself. Because of the fact that it’s biologically compatible with the oils found in your skin naturally, it can help you reset when it’s thrown off balance due to the circumstances of your life: working hard, going out, stress, etc. Just like your mind, your skin needs the right stimulation to stay creative.

Additionally, topical creams containing CBD or/and THC derived from the cannabis plant have been found to be extremely healing—whether used to aid in the improvement of skin conditions like eczema (yes, please!) and rosacea or to provide pain relief for everything from arthritis to menstrual cramps—even being used by cancer patients to reduce pain naturally.

At the end of my experiment, I found all of the products to be extremely hydrating. Over the course of the 10 days, my skin’s condition had improved—though not drastically—but, overall, I felt my skin and hair were able to maintain a healthy amount of hydration without ever feeling greasy. I also found a new solution for my sometimes excruciating menstrual cramps. Being that I’m currently dealing with my own bout of facial eczema, I did find that the stronger creams that contained THC and CBD were pretty helpful. While it didn’t completely eradicate the rough patches on my cheeks, any hives or inflammation I was experiencing were calmed when I applied.

While I don’t think I’ll ditch my well-curated dresser display of Herbivore Botanicals for a fully pot-infused beauty regimen, I do plan to keep these on hand and incorporate them into my occasional routine—especially when I feel like my skin is acting up.

Click through below to check out my favorite new cannabis-based products, and read more about the benefits of each.

Photo courtesy of Herb Essntls

Herb Essntls, Moisturizer, $60, available at Herb Essntls.

The cannabis sativa seed oil in this daily facial moisturizer helps stimulate natural oil production to keep skin hydrated, but also works to counter the overproduction to prevent clogged pores. The formula is lightweight and suitable for daily morning use, never leaving my face feeling greasy or oily—oh, and it smells so good.