The beauty business is going green. From toners to facial masks, hand creams to lip balms to perfumes, new beauty products containing cannabis-derived ingredients are hitting the shelves at an ever-rapid pace. After all, the legalized medical cannabis market is changing the world over – and cosmetic brands aren’t about to skip this trend.
“All retailers are looking to bring cannabis cosmetics into their stores,” says Roby Zomer, co-founder and managing director of Israeli-European brand MGC Pharmaceuticals – whose subsidiary MGC Derma recently put 18 products containing premium cannabidiol (CBD) on the shelves of the UK’s Harvey Nichols luxury fashion and beauty retailer. “People are looking for niche and unique beauty brands. Last year it was snail slime, now it’s cannabis.”
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The CBD being infused into beauty products cannot get users high. Although presently still listed as a controlled substance, the World Health Organization is expected to reclassify cannabidiol in the coming weeks.
“The World Health Organization is about to reschedule CBD. It has been misunderstood and shouldn’t be classified as it is. It is 100 percent safe,” says Saul Kaye, a pharmacist and the CEO of iCAN Israel-Cannabis, a leading cannabis tech startup accelerator.
CBD is a chemical produced by the cannabis plant, is non-psychoactive, and believed to comprise anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, painkilling and anti-aging properties.
Kaye says current trials on CBD and topical applications in Israel – considered to be the world leader in cannabis research – have shown that the cannabis compound could help manage “psoriasis, atopic dermatitis, some of the chronic autoimmune skin diseases. Once we started to see that it is effective topically, it is very natural that CBD would go into a broad range of topicals [lotions, balms, oils].”
Indeed, an image of this recognizable green leaf has become ubiquitous on creams, lotions, toners and facemasks promising new ways to hydrate skin, clear complexions and clean pores. CBD is the new “it” additive for beauty products.
“CBD is more like a wellness product today than a pharmaceutical,” Kaye tells NoCamels. “It’s going to be the next additive in everything. Just like Omega 3. It’s going to be in everything.”
Not all cosmetics promoting CBD – just like not all beauty products already on the market — are of equal value. So Israeli companies with the medical cannabis science behind them are entering into joint ventures with cosmetics companies already on the market.
MGC Derma, based in Slovenia, is a joint venture between MGC Pharma and industry-credentialed cosmetics manufacturer, Dr. M. Burstein.
“MGC Derma started as a pharma company. We know how many milligrams of CBD are in our products,” Zomer tells NoCamels. All of MGC Pharma’s executives are prominent leaders in the medical cannabis industry, with both founders hailing from Israel. We looked to merge [our pharmaceutical knowledge] into day to day products. And we thought cosmetics was a good way.”
The company’s cosmetics contain cannabidiol developed and produced by MGC Pharma. Zomer says they have human volunteers to test their products.
“We have more than 54 formulas and so far, 18 on the market. The cosmetics are standalones with a full range of options,” says Zomer, noting the creams have been shown to relieve redness, dryness, flakiness and oiliness.
Another good example of CBD being added into ready known cosmetics is the Premier Dead Sea-Together joint venture.
Together, an Israeli company which specializes in medical cannabis, this month signed an agreement for a joint venture with Premier Dead Sea, an Israeli company which specializes in cosmetics based on minerals from the Dead Sea, to produce a therapeutic product line.
“The agreement will enable the production and marketing of products which combine the medicinal properties of Dead Sea minerals with those of a CBD compound. CBD products are already being marketed around the world, so we believe that the [new venture], which will be based in Europe, will be able to create worldwide markets for us, wherever such products are sold,” Together CEO Nissim Bracha said in a statement.
American singer Mariah Carey is a celebrity presenter of Premier products. There has been no word on whether she’ll front a campaign for the new Premier-Together cosmetics line.
There’s also eau de cannabis. Wilde Vertigga, a unisex clothing line, recently teamed up with Eybna Technologies, a global leader in the research and development of terpene-based solutions, to create a cannabis perfume known as Wilde Kush.
“Our unique research on the medicinal effects of cannabis, in collaboration with several Israeli academic institutes, has leveraged us to solve challenges and produce aromas never smelt before. Terpenes, along with other specialty aromatic ingredients — which have been our main research subject over the past four years– are the secret behind some of the medical values of cannabis treatment and also its very complex aromatic signature. Over 500 terpenes and other fragrance molecules come together in the Wilde Kush fragrance,” Nadav Eyal, Co-Founder & CEO of Eybna, said in a press statement.
And these are just some of the Israeli companies dabbling in CBD cosmetics. The global beauty market shelves are lined with dozens of other brands vying for canna-fans. Not all the green leaf products actually contain CBD though.
Some companies use a synthetic fragrance while others mix in Hemp oil, pressed from the seeds of the plant. Cannabinoids are extracted from the flowers of the cannabis plant.
Zomer, of MGC Derma, says his company is distinctive because they use actual cannabinoids. He says the creams that only comprise hemp oil “can’t guarantee CBD is inside.”
Kaye explains there’s a big difference between beauty products – what he calls “marketing cosmetics” – and therapeutics, topical medications.
“Just like medical cannabis, it comes down to dose and delivery. CBD is an oily substance and its absorption on the skin is horrific,” says Kaye. “More than likely in the marketing cosmetic line – as opposed to therapeutics – it’s going to come down to how much is in there. And there will probably be very little CBD that goes into those cosmetics at the end of the day.”
Indeed, the potential hitch of CBD oil not absorbing properly is the reason companies like MGC Derma use water-based creams that are formulated with natural active ingredients: to ensure absorption.
But even cosmetics without CBD oil per se – and only hemp oil, or even just a cannabis-like fragrance — are likely to market shampoo bottles, face cream containers and lipstick holders in new shades of green. After all, this latest herbal remedy is trending big time.
Viva Sarah Press is a journalist and speaker. She writes and talks about the creativity and innovation taking place in Israel and beyond. www.vivaspress.com