I unbundled my new CBD-infused lip balm from its swaddle of bubble wrap and went upstairs to enjoy the first application in peace, away from my mother, who would have probably asked me not to drive afterwards had she seen me using a weed-derivative to prevent chapped lips.
Cannabidiol (CBD’s birth name) is a naturally occurring chemical found in cannabis plants — different from THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana. The non-intoxicating-yet-buzzworthy extract is being added to everything from soap to soda to skincare products for its “numerous health benefits.” “Our endocannabinoid system is responsible for keeping homeostasis in systems and functions such as mood, appetite, sleep, our skin and more,” says Alexis Rosenbaum of Rosebud CBD, an Oregon-based CBD farm. “Cannabinoids such as CBD help our receptors communicate more effectively and efficiently to restore balance.”
Despite the encouraging claims, I wasn’t optimistic about the powers of what I considered an over-hyped plant extract. But by the time CBD reached the point of ubiquity via Instagram fame, internet virality and myriad celebrity-endorsements, my curiosity was officially piqued. I decided not only to dip my toes into CBD beauty, but jump right in by putting it to the ultimate test: seeing if it could soothe my oft-scaly, oft-suffering, occasionally acne-prone winter skin.
For the next six weeks, my beauty diet was as follows: Cleanse my face with Sunday Riley Ceramic Slip (non-CBD); moisturize my face with a heavy dollop of Herb Essntls Cannabis Infused Moisturizer; moisturize my body with Jergens lotion mixed with three drops of Rosebud CBD Oil per limb; rub three to four drops of Herbivore Botanicals Emerald Glow Oil into my face before bed; and apply lots and lots of Vertly CBD Infused Lip Butter throughout the day. An important note: A few of these contain hemp oil rather than CBD oil, which is similar but does not contain cannabinoids, meaning it has a slightly different set of vitamin-packed benefits. I love both.
After a month and a half on this regimen, I’ve weathered New York’s 10 degree-and-below days with nary a patch of dry skin or a single flake of eyebrow dandruff. My skin is maintaining a non-scaly appearance for which I have received more compliments this blustery season than in the entire past year. More pleasing than my failure to become a human blister is the fact that my transition to a new routine didn’t include the oft-requisite pain of many, many breakouts. I’m in awe: For the first time in my life, I have truly clear skin.
CBD detractors still exist — wondering whether the compound actually works, or is safe at all. While I’m not equipped to pronounce them wrong, I will say that perhaps most surprising of all was that incorporating CBD and hemp oil into my lotioning routine significantly chilled out the small, red bumps caused by inflamed hair follicles on my arms — a.k.a. the famously hard-to-treat skin condition keratosis pilaris.
Still, whether or not any beauty craze will prove to be a panacea for all our dermatological woes remains to be seen, but this particular beauty craze? Really worked for me. Below, some of the best formulations I encountered while on my CBD and hemp oil skin journey.
Vertly Hemp CBD Infused Lip Butter in Rose: Any lip balm claiming to be a butter really ought to prove itself. After putting my full trust (and finger) into this potted balm as my winter standby, I concur that it has earned its name. Consider using as a complement to your #stickofbutter attire.
Herb Essntls Moisturizer: My face has a new best friend, and it is this moisturizer. Aside from keeping my skin together this winter, my favorite part of this moisturizing experience is how it makes my head smell like a little herb cookie.
Herbivore Emerald Deep Moisture Glow Oil: Not generally one for oils (my face makes enough of them already), I was pleasantly surprised when this hot little blend left me feeling nothing more than moisturized. Apply before bed if you’re an oil factory (like me) to sleep off the cognitive dissonance.
Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate: Green juice for your face. Leave it to Kiehl’s to make an oil made up of 60% cannabis sativa seed oil smell like a well-perfumed therapist’s office. Better yet, the formula leaves skin feeling like pure velvet just minutes after application.
Life Elements CBD & Honey Ache and Pain Relief Stick, 125mg: Available from the wonderful CBD beauty emporium that is Fleur Marche, this CBD stick follows through on its promise, relieving everything from my TMJ symptoms to the side effects of the Stairmaster. Thanks to the chilling sensation of peppermint oil, this CBD stick has made cool, calm, and collected a way of being.
*Update: This story has been updated to acknowledge the difference between CBD and hemp oil (or cannabis sativa seed oil), both are which are featured.
Photos by Alyson Zetta Williams.