High on Hemp

High on Hemp

Marijuana Massages

Not your conventional spa treatment by far but one that you might start to hear clients asking for soon. That’s because the beauty industry is seriously crushing on cannabis and it’s developing into a fully-fledged love story.

The perception of the typical ‘user’ has evolved from hippies and students to sophisticated, affluent consumers and this is why you might want to think about adding these hedonistic herbal blends to your repertoire. The Business of Fashion even pitched cannabis as luxury’s next big opportunity.

As well as products being positioned in a radically different way – think health and wellness - more research is unfolding as to how cannabis can help complexions. “What began as a trend is showing science and promise behind it and a solution to many problems, both internally and externally,” says Margo Marrone, founder of The Organic Pharmacy and the first brand to start introducing cannabis oil into their facial treatments. But before we examine who’s leading the leafy revolution, it’s important to understand the difference between the parts of the plant that heal and the parts that cause a ‘high’.


Cannabis produces various compounds – over 100. One of the most talked about is tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the compound behind those psychedelic side effects. Of zero interest to health and beauty brands, it’s cannabidiol (CBD) that’s got the skincare experts excited. Why? Because our bodies produce similar cannabinoids (called endocannabinoids) when it detects them elsewhere, either applied topically or ingested, it encourages cells to naturally start healing and repair any damage.

It does this firstly by producing lipids that calm and regulate skin but also by neutralising free radicals in the environment like pollution and UV rays and producing omega fatty acids that moisturise and strengthen the skin barrier. “Cannabinoids are analgesic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic and are proving beneficial in treating skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, rosacea, dry skin, sensitive skin, sores, burns, grazes, insect bites and scar pain,” explains Michal Takac, founder of Carun UK and Active Hemp products. 

It’s also completely non-comedogenic. “This determines how prone an oil is to clogging the skin. Products are rated on a scale from one to 10 and the lower the number, the better it is for the skin,” explains Ulrika Karlberg, co-founder of cannabis infused skincare brand, Herb Essentials. “Cannabis is one of only two oils that scores zero so it’s good for keeping skin clean and clear and is why it works for people suffering from acne and blackheads.”


Consumers are fast switching on to these skin-boosting benefits, which brings us back to The Organic Pharmacy and their in-house hemp. Their CBD Oil sold out as soon as it hit the shelves at the end of 2018 and has resulted in a constant waiting list. No wonder they wanted to extend it to their treatment menu in 2019. “We’re going to use it with our dermaroller and post microderm abrasion as it’s brilliant at reducing any redness and inflammation,” explains Marrone. “It would also work well after a clinical acid peel as it calms the skin so quickly.”

American spas are already ahead of the game. Thanks to the legalisation of cannabis in some US states you can find hemp-infused offerings at high-end spas including the Away Spa at W Austin, Spa Anjali in Colorado, Bellacures in LA and Modern Sanctuary in New York. (As a side note there is no extra licensing needed to use it in the UK topically or as a supplement so you don’t have to worry about watching your back if you are considering it).
Laure Bouguen, founder of Ho Karan, another new cannabis brand to market believes it won’t be long before Europe catches up, especially as the stigma around the plant is dissipating. “We started off as an online brand but by the end of January we’ll be in 90 Nature and Decouvertes stores and 900 Sephora stores across Europe,” says Bougen. 


The boom in botanical products has also helped hemp grow in popularity. With more and more consumers looking for natural alternatives to synthetic ingredients, the power of the plant has never been more appealing. And The Organic Pharmacy isn’t the only brand experiencing a sell-out. The alluring-looking CBD of London sold over 500 units of their Vitamin Skin Reviver Night Cream within the first nine months of launching, spurred on by glowing Good Housekeeping Tried and Tested reports. Despite being a new brand, they’re expanding the range with seven additional products this year including an Advance Bright Eye Repair Serum and Collagen and Retinol Anti-Ageing Cream. They’ve also seen an increase in sales on their website from professionals and therapists. 

Another chic new brand, MGC Derma went straight into Harvey Nichols Knightsbridge when it launched last year, further cementing the positioning of these products within a luxury market, while recognised skincare stalwarts Murad and Kiehl’s both have new products coming that are laced with CBD. The masses are amassing, too. Superdrug has already started stocking Revolution CBD skincare oil for an affordable £9.99. So popular with shoppers it had to double the number of stores selling it within a month. That said, the percentage of CBD oil in these offerings will vary. While brands like CBD of London contain a minimum of 2% of CBD oil, cheaper versions tend to contain less than 1%. 

Supporting the skin barrier, nulling inflammation, refining pores and suitable for all skin types, it’s not difficult to see why shops and spas are getting high on the potential of cannabis. Invest in some of the following products and you and your clients will be able to as well. 

Get clued up on cannabis and you'll be able to answer your clients questions with confidence...

What’s the difference between cannabis and marijuana?
Cannabis is the name given to the family of plants that includes hemp and marijuana. Marijuana has higher amounts of THC (the psychoactive compounds that make you ‘high’) while hemp has only traces of THC and is dominated by CBD (the cannabinoids that are good for skin).

Is hemp oil and CBD oil the same?
Hemp oil is derived from the cannabis seeds and doesn’t contain CBD while CBD oil is made from the leaves, flowers and stalks of the plant. The most popular plant to extract both oils from is called Cannabis Sativa, which you will often see referred to on bottles and boxes.

Does it smell funny?
No! Hemp does tend to have a muskier, earthy smell but CBD has no scent. That doesn’t mean it can’t work in fragrance though and the super cool US cannabis brand, Herb Essentials has just launched a Perfume Oil. Blending cannabis buds, cannabis sativa oil, patchouli and dry amber the aroma is as relaxing as it is fragrant.

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