As a writer who’s extensively experienced the beauty and wellness world through research – I wrote my graduate school thesis on men and grooming – retail – I owned a Brooklyn-based apothecary for ten years – and reporting – I started writing as a men’s grooming and style contributor for T: The New York Times Style Magazine – I’m not easily swayed by trends or hype.
So, when everyone started buzzing about CBD and its touted benefits earlier this year, I paused. As with previous trending ingredients, I wanted the dust to settle bit, and see how I felt post-hype. And last month, during a visit to Hotel Jerome’s spa in Aspen, I was finally presented the opportunity to try it – with the CBD-infused Deep Rub salve by Ambary Gardens – during a signature massage, the High Altitude Sports Recovery.
Sure, I felt more relaxed after the treatment, and had an easier time falling asleep than usual (I’m an insomniac), but couldn’t figure out if it was the massage, the CBD cream – or perhaps, a combination of both?
To learn more, I reached out to Kristen Glass, Hotel Jerome’s spa director, and Julie Winter and Beth Stavola, sisters and founders of CBD For Life, a collection of CBD-infused skincare and pain management products.
For starters, what is it? CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is a chemical compound derived from the hemp plant. They key point here is you will not experience any sort of high. “CBD is derived from the hemp plant, not marijuana plant, and does not contain THC,” explains Winter. “Therefore, CBD does not produce any psychoactive effects.” It’s also important to note that CBD is legal in every state, so there’s zero risk to using it. Glass adds, “The only difference between marijuana and hemp is a federal regulation (under the U.S. Farm Bill of 2014). All hemp and CBD products have to be below .3% THC.”
And what are its supposed benefits? There’s already been a ton of reporting on its ability to ease epileptic seizures – which was just recognized by the FDA this past June. There’s been an equal number of firsthand accounts of how CBD can help alleviate anxiety, pain, and insomnia.
But since we’re talking about beauty here, how does CBD help in that department? Turns out, “CBD is packed with essential fatty acids that are known to have beneficial impacts on the skin, hair, and overall body,” says Stavola. And because of its antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties, it may also, in her words, “reduce the appearance of fine lines, and help improve irritating skin conditions including acne, rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.” As evidenced by my recent experience at Hotel Jerome, CBD’s also increasingly popping up on spa menus throughout the country, as it can help soothe aching muscles and joints.
Since the market’s getting increasingly crowded with CBD products, what should you look for when selecting one? Glass, who researched the ingredient extensively when she was brought on board at Hotel Jerome, says you should do the same: “Ask for lab reports. Ask questions. Don’t just buy off of Amazon.” Being diligent about knowing how your products are being treated and sourced is crucial for a very obvious (but oftentimes forgotten) reason. “Since your skin is the largest organ, you have to be aware of what you are placing on it.” says Glass.
Below, four easy ways to incorporate the skin-healthy benefits of CBD into your everyday beauty and grooming regimen. The companies represented here are all completely transparent about their practices, sourcing, and ethics – to ensure peace of mind and healthy results.
This California-based brand founded by Cindy Capobianco and Robert Rosenheck wins awards for chicest design and packaging, but good looks aside, a single pump of the refreshing lotion delivers 2mg of the soothing stuff. After faithfully applying this on my legs for a week, my pesky psoriasis actually settled down. The patches didn’t appear as red or scaly, weren’t nearly as itchy, and it felt good to swap out my steroid cream for something more natural. There’s also an unscented formula, if you’ve got especially sensitive skin.
This makes using CBD regularly a breeze. The handsome, old school tins are easy to stash in your purse, gym bag, or carry on, and the solid form means you don’t ever have to worry about flying or traveling with it. It has a slightly warming feel upon application, and the tiniest dab goes a long way. (Pro tip: I find this especially refreshing and hydrating on my hard-working hands and feet at the end of the day.)
Arguably the heroine products of their line, CBD For Life tinctures stand out from the competition with their unique combination of CBD isolate and CBD isolate-boosted CBD oil. How does this translate into helping you? The isolate offers quick relief, while the oil has more long-lasting effects. Fitness fanatics will flip for taking CBD in this form, because “its anti-inflammatory properties help the body combat aches and pains, making it wonderful for replenishing muscles after a hard workout,” says Winter.
In addition to nourishing CBD extract, this lip balm incorporates other natural emollients, like shea butter, coconut oil, and organ oil. The formula is a bit thicker than most, so a swipe or two is all you need. And I love that this is absent of peppermint oil, an ingredient that’s commonly featured in many other lip balms because of its cooling effect, but can actually be irritating and drying.