Evidence of marijuana's many health benefits is nothing new. As of March 2016, 23 states and the District of Columbia allow the use of the drug for medicinal purposes. But it's not just smoking, vaping or ingesting that can bring benefits. More recently, the market's seen a boom in new beauty and personal care products made with some form of marijuana or the marijuana plant.
While some of these are just laden with moisturizing hemp oil or honor the cannabis plant in an olfactory way, others now claim to have cannabinoids like THC and CBD. CBD is non-psychoactive that is more plentiful in hemp, a cannabis varietal), while THC, a psychoactive, is the compound that causes one to feel "high."
Read more: Marijuana May Be Good For Your Skin, But Smoking Is Not — That's Where Vapes Come In
Proponents of topical application claim that, when infused in products, cannabis can treat a variety of ailments, from managing chronic pain, moods and stress levels, to reducing inflammation and dry skin.
But others are skeptical. "We [humans] have deliberately designed portals for things to come in: our noses for air, and our mouths for food," Dr. Jordan Tishler, Harvard-educated doctor and medicinal marijuana clinic owner, told Mic. "From a functional point of view, your skin is designed with one major purpose: to keep things out."
So do weed skincare and beauty products actually do anything? As someone who's no stranger to pot (did I just lose my presidential bid?), I wanted to put these products to the test. Would my skin glow? Would my pain disappear? And perhaps most importantly: Would I get high?
And so my weeklong weed beauty regimen began.
Day 1: Weed does a face really good...
According to the Colorado Pot Guide (so yes, take this with a grain of salt), cannabis-infused skincare products can actually help the skin appear more youthful, increase elasticity and reduce acne. With that in mind, I tried out a few face and eye creams with hempseed oil — both local, custom-made batches and a high-end iteration from Kate Somerville.
I found the organic, locally made stuff from vegan label Athar'a Pure a bit watery, though it didn't irritate the super-sensitive skin around my eyes. But the pricey face cream by Kate Somerville pumped some serious moisture into my wind-burned skin. While the cream did give a zit or two, my cheeks looked plumper after a week's use, as it's supposed to. (According to Somerville's team, hemp seeds "increase the look of firmness.")
Results: Not stoned, but my skin looked pretty on-point.
Day 2: And it moisturizes your body even better.
Hemp seeds and hemp oil are a rich source of ultra-hydrating omega-6 fatty acids, so I was curious to see if some weed-laced moisturizers would make my skin feel less taut and scaly. So I tried a few items from the Body Shop's signature 12-piece hemp collection, including the Rescue Balm on my chafed skin after some long runs (thanks, bra straps and big boobs), as well as the hand cream, with a cool package designed by street artist Ben Eine.
Also amazing? Lesser known Jao Brand Goe Oil, which was kind of like the OG version of Glossier's Universal Skin Salve Balm but in a far larger tube. The floral, viscous formula can do just about anything: smooth onto rough skin patches, massage into the face at night, soften just-shaved legs, remove eye makeup, tame flyaways, add sheen to strands and fix chapped skin from things like a cold as well as a chemical peel. After a full-leg, pre-hot yoga shave (I mean, I do wear short shorts), I used the oil all over my legs.
Results: Not stoned whatsoever, but my body feeling more hydrated than it has all winter long. The Body Shop products still had me hydrated after 96 hours, and Goe Oil kept me going for at least 48.
Day 3: There's definitely a scent-sualness to weed (sorry, had to).
Fresh is one of the best skincare lines out there, albeit exorbitantly expensive. I tried the Cannabis Rose and Cannabis Santal perfumes, both of which feature the "cannabis accord" as a heavy middle note. While I can't confirm whether there was any real marijuana in there or not (The Frisky all but confirmed there's not back in 2010), I can tell you that they're like little bottles of Sex Panther for women.
I wore both scents (one on each wrist, a bit sprayed near my fun parts) for date night with my husband. He was particularly enamored with the Cannabis Satal, asking me if it was some kind of sex-inducing perfume.
Results: I smelled sexy AF, according to my husband. Not stoned, of course, but I did end up very, um, satisfied.
Day 4: But its effectiveness as a topical painkiller is questionable.
"Marijuana is particularly good at controlling pain," Dr. Tishler told Mic, but only a few reliable studies address its topical pain-killing ability. But Sandra Hinchliffe, author of The Cannabis Spa at Home, told Mic that topical cannabis is effective on skin for inflammation.
"Prohibitionist laws in America and stranglehold from the Drug Enforcement Administration on research has made clinical aspects of study difficult," said Hinchcliffe, who also said there's evidence to prove its efficacy, including its topical use by Asian cultures for thousands of years. Sure enough, brands like Apothecanna and Mary's Medicinals say their creams, compounds and lotions can alleviate pain and a slew of other symptoms topically.
With both of my shoulders more knotted than a sailor's rope, I tried Mary's Medicinals Muscle Freeze Gel and Apothecanna Pain-Relieving Spray. While the spray also had arnica, a known natural pain reliever, I swear my shoulders felt looser from both of the products. Nicole Smith, owner of Mary's Medicinals, said the CBD-laced gel helps with muscle tightness due to CB-1 and CB-2 receptors in the skin, which allows for absorption of cannabinoids on the skin's surface without making its way into the bloodstream.
I also tried a Mary's Medicinals transdermal patch that contains CBD, which can reportedly surpass the mucous membranes and enter the bloodstream. I was hoping it would bring my stress levels down; instead, my mood noticeably soured and I promptly got into a fight with my husband over Gchat.
Results: Part of your body may feel more relaxed from the pain-relieving skincare, but in no way are you stoned Slater from Dazed and Confused. Pain was minimized, but only temporarily.
Day 5: It makes for a stoner's bathtub delight by candlelight.
For a post-workout relaxation treat one evening, I lit up a Malin + Goetz Cannabis Candle and filled the tub with Epsom salts and the brand's Cannabis Hand and Body Wash.
Malin + Goetz specifies that it uses neither hemp nor marijuana of any kind in the Cannabis line, but rather, the products are supposed to be evocative of it. The smell? Fresh. The candlelight? Mellowing. The bubbles? Amazing.
Results: The high? Zero, of course. But it felt like I was high — maybe because I turned off the rest of the lights and just let myself relax for once. The bubbles and candlelight create a bath environment that smells like someone's idea of pot, without the buzz.
The upshot: If you want to get high, beauty products can't help much.
But if you just want to be glowing and moisturized, it would appear anything with hemp seeds or hemp oil will moisturize even the most parched of skin, especially since they're often paired with other hydrating ingredients like rosehip oil, pumpkin seed butter and dimethicone. (Just beware if you're prone to breakouts, as these formulas may be a little heavy for you.)
As for weed skincare products to relieve pain or anxiety, I can't say that I found that large of a difference from these products versus formulas that don't contain CBD. For now, I'm tempted to side with Dr. Tishler, who exclusively recommends medicinal marijuana to his patients in edible or smokeable form. Besides, I could use a brownie right about now.