Dope, weed, reefer, ganja — judging by monikers alone, one could easily declare that marijuana has about as much sex appeal as a stoner in a classic comedy. (Apologies if Cheech really does it for you.) And yet, as we write this, cannabis-infused soaps, lotions, shampoos, perfumes, and other assorted beautifying potions are piled high all around us.
Some of their packaging proudly flaunts the familiar leaves. Others discreetly display the magic ingredient on the back of the bottle. But these aren’t all obscure, made-in-my-kitchen companies — we’re talking major beauty brands here.
Pro-pot day spas are also helping to advance marijuana’s makeover. The LoDo Massage Studio in Denver and Renu Day Spa in Deerfield, IL, both incorporate cannabis-spiked creams into their most popular body treatments. LoDo’s Mile High Massage elevates a basic Swedish rubdown with a hit of pain-relieving lotion laced with tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) — two of the most potent active chemicals made by the Cannabis sativa plant.
Both are known for their analgesic and anti-inflammatory powers — THC, of course, is responsible for weed’s inebriating effects. “When combined with massage, they can ease muscle soreness, increase mobility, even lessen the achiness that develops after deep-tissue work,” says Alexi Atkins, a massage therapist at LoDo. But to answer everyone’s burning question: No, cannabis creams cannot get you high. “They aren’t designed to penetrate the skin or enter the bloodstream,” says James Kennedy, founder of Apothecanna.
Spafinder Wellness 365 reports that many marijuana dispensaries have been aligning themselves with the spa school of thought, adopting similar, blissed-out offerings, like massage, acupuncture, “medicinal” smoothies, and consults with naturopaths. Editor-in-chief Elaine D’Farley says the growing support for marijuana legalization and an increased awareness of the potential benefits of cannabis are the driving forces behind this movement. As it stands, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon, Washington state, and Washington, D.C., have green-lit recreational use of pot; 23 states allow some form of medicinal use. And with more legalization initiatives on the 2016 ballot, many more states could follow suit later this year.
Clinical studies have found THC to be a pain reliever, antioxidant, and suppressor of seizures. CBD has anxiety-quelling, antibacterial, even cancer-killing properties. In the derm realm, these same molecules are proving to be useful remedies for treating skin woes, like acne, psoriasis, and eczema (more on that ahead). Yet, despite all the buzz, our understanding of cannabis and the ways it can benefit our skin, hair, and senses has been hazy at best...until now.
Ahead, we call on dermatologists, cosmetic chemists, perfumers, botanists, even a couple of neuroscientists and psychopharmacology researchers (the guys who investigate myriad uses for medical marijuana) to enlighten us on the age-old ingredient when it comes to makeup, fragrance, skin, and hair care. It’s high time, wouldn’t you say?
Refinery29 in no way encourages illegal activity and would like to remind its readers that marijuana usage continues to be an offense under Federal Law, regardless of state marijuana laws. To learn more, click here.