Jun 22, 2019 - Economy

Beauty giants cash in on wearable weed

Several lip balms arranged in a pleasing pattern next to cannabis leaves

Photo: Istock/rgbspace

You don't have to smoke, eat or vape it. Now, you can smear it on your body.

The big picture: CBD skincare products — which claim to hydrate, moisturize, cure acne, reduce wrinkles and even combat aging — are a big market, but nobody knows for sure if they really work.

Big dollars: The growing market of cannabis-infused skincare products could generate $25 billion in revenue in the next decade, according to an analysis by Jefferies, the Wall Street bank.

  • Beauty and retail giants are trying to cash in on the hype: Just step into your nearest American Eagle, Sephora or CVS for CBD-infused lip balms, mascaras and moisturizers.
  • A search for "cannabis" on Sephora’s website yields 38 products, including a popular $100 "Royal Oil" from Lord Jones that claims “oils so pure, they retain the original aroma of the cannabis plant.”
  • Then there are luxury brands like Nannette de Gaspé, which stocks a $325 Bain Noir Cannabis Sativa Bath Soak Treatment.

How it works: CBD can be extracted from marijuana or from another strain of cannabis — hemp. The 2018 farm bill legalized cannabis products with less than 0.3% THC for the first time, green-lighting hemp. This makes the hemp-derived CBD in most beauty products legal in all 50 states.

But CBD skincare products have “outpaced our scientific understanding,” according to a recent study to be published in Clinics in Dermatology.

  • Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in the department of dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital, tells Axios a lot of research is being conducted right now on CBD oil and it "will likely have widespread uses in dermatology."

The bottom line: One study found cannabis seeds extract cream helped men with acne while another found some anti-inflammatory effects. But there haven't been any large-scale human trials on the efficacy of CBD in skincare.

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