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Science Takes on Skin Care with Cannabis — and It Works Beautifully

Cannabis enters the beauty market

cannabis oil moisturizer

Since California’s legalization of marijuana in November 2016, San Francisco has fully embraced the 420 lifestyle. On the side of almost every bus are huge photos of organic, GMO-free nugs paired alongside the words, “Marijuana Has Arrived in San Francisco.”

It’s pretty normal to see businessmen with briefcase in one hand and vaporizer in the other. Downtime now consists of regular stony art, enhanced exercise classes, and happy hours where you can get offered $5 dabs. With this conscious entrance into our conscious social scene, it only makes sense to see it infiltrate the beauty market, too.

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Cannabis beauty

The benefits of CBD for your skin

No, your cannabis beauty products won’t get you high. The difference between cannabis and cannabidiol can be pretty unclear to a new user, but cannabidiol (CBD) is a cannabis compound without the typical psychoactive effects.

Instead, it provides relief from pain, anxiety, and inflammation. has shown that CBD can be an extremely effective treatment for multiple conditions, including psoriasis, schizophrenia, depression, epilepsy, and others.

But CBD isn’t just good inside of the body. It can be a wonder treatment when applied topically, too. Studies have found that CBD oil can have and can be effective for and .

It may also have anti-aging potential when combined with hemp seed oil, which is included in many topical CBD products. Usual skin care treatments include either vitamin C, E, A, and omega-3 fatty acids. Hemp seed oil contains all of , making it a quadruple whammy. To top it off, CBD was found to be a in studies on animals.

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Choosing the right product

Choosing the right canna-beauty product for my skin

Before heading to my local dispensary, I looked in the mirror and noticed, per usual, my chapped lips. They’re always flaky and irritated, no matter how much coconut oil I apply. I’ve tried dermatologist-recommended “medicinal” lip balms and every natural kind you can find, so cannabis-infused lip balm was a must.

I also wanted to find a moisturizer or oil to help tame the random small, dry patches around my nose, chin, and under my eyes. My skin around these areas often tends to look dehydrated and tired. And honestly, older than my 21 years. I might not seem like the best candidate for testing anti-aging treatments, but treatments for flat, deprived-looking skin? Sure.

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I went to my usual medical dispensary, Harvest on Geary and 11th Avenue in San Francisco’s Richmond District. In terms of skin care, they don’t offer much variety, but they do carry , made by San Francisco Bay Area local Dania Cabello.

I was drawn to their products immediately. Each product carries very few ingredients, and all of which I knew how to pronounce. So I picked out a lip balm and an oil stick, checked out, and immediately applied them outside the dispensary.

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Cannabis moisturizer

Lavender cannabis oil stick

lavender oil

ingredients: organic hemp seed oil, cannabis flowers, essential oils

First impression: I look like I’m modeling the new “dewy” skin trend taking over the beauty world. The oil absorbs quickly and doesn’t feel heavy at all. It smells amazing (mostly like essential oils, very natural) with a hint of cannabis. It acted almost as a highlighter for specific areas of my face, including my cheekbones and around my eyes.

Results: I use this oil two to three times a day. I’ve definitely noticed hydration quickly return to the dry, irritated patches on my face. My initial excitement with its potential as a highlighter faded when I noticed how quickly the oil absorbs into my skin.

It still leaves me feeling refreshed, but not highlighted — but then again, this isn’t a highlighter, it’s a moisturizer! I also didn’t break out or notice any increase in the blackhead and whitehead population living on my face.

I even started using it, as weird as this sounds, on my ankles. They’ve been covered with swollen scars left by mosquito bites (I’m allergic). I’ve had the scars and red skin for months now.

I began applying the cannabis oil just twice a day, hoping that those anti-inflammatory properties would lend a helping hand. And they did! The itching and swelling both reduced and the skin became noticeably more nourished each day.

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Cannabis lip balm

Lavender eucalyptus lip balm

cannabis lip balm

ingredients: lavender, eucalyptus, coconut oil, hemp seed oil, cannabis, calendula, turmeric, and beeswax

First impression: It’s green! It feels so smooth going on — it’s clearly made from pure essential oils, but it doesn’t feel greasy. The balm absorbs into the lips and skin very quickly while leaving an attractive, gloss-like shine. The cannabis taste is fairly strong, which I don’t mind, but others not as used to the taste may not love it.

Results: This makes a fantastic go-to lip savior. Since purchasing it, I’ve kept this balm at my side 24/7. I apply it multiple times throughout the day, but not so much because I need to. I just love how nourished my lips feel after using it. The dry flakes on my lips have started healing, and the skin surrounding my lips is softer as well.

Since it’s an all-natural balm, you have to be a bit cautious of the temperature you keep the balm in. Heat is going to make the balm melt super easily.

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Verdict

The verdict — to buy or not to buy?

Cannabis-based beauty is going to be a game changer. From the science to the real-life reviews, data shows that cannabis is beneficial for your skin.

Just as other essential oils are gaining popularity in the mainstream beauty world, CBD oil is the next homeopathic remedy. (At least once its vilification fades, and more people become comfortable with all uses of this plant: medicinal, recreational, and practical.)

I’m personally excited to watch the cannabis beauty market grow. Hopefully it expands into more natural and health-based beauty products for me to try.


Brittany Ladin

Brittany is a freelance writer, media maker, and sound lover located in San Francisco. Her work focuses on personal experiences, specifically regarding local arts and culture happenings. More of her work can be found at .

Article resources
  • Biró T, et al. (2009). The endocannabinoid system of the skin in health and disease: Novel perspectives and therapeutic opportunities. DOI:
  • Borrelli F, et al. (2013). Beneficial effect of the non-psychotropic plant cannabinoid cannabigerol on experimental inflammatory bowel disease. DOI:
  • Calloway JC. (2004). Hempseed as a nutritional resource: An overview.
  • Cannabidiol. (2005).
  • Casanova ML, et al. (2003). Inhibition of skin tumor growth and angiogenesis in vivo by activation of cannabinoid receptors. DOI:  
  • Hampson AJ, et al. (1998). Cannabidiol and (−)Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol are neuroprotective antioxidants.
  • Kogan NM, et al. (2007). Cannabinoids in health and disease.
  • Montserrat-de la Paz S, et al. (2014). Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) seed oil: Analytical and phytochemical characterization of the unsaponifiable fraction. DOI:
  • Nagarkatti, P. et al. (2009). Cannabinoids as novel anti-inflammatory drugs. DOI:
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