Move over Goop and Saint Jane. There’s a new breed of brands taking the clean beauty movement to the next level — and the reason may surprise you.
The secret is the most controversial plant in America: cannabis — as in marijuana, not hemp — which is legal in some form in most states but still illegal at the federal level.
Cannabis is held to stricter standards of “clean” than organic food in most states, particularly California. Not to be confused with CBD hemp products, THC-containing cannabis products — even those that won’t get you high, including topical skincare — must pass multiple rigorous tests per batch.
Hemp products have no such oversight, nor do cosmetics in general.
“Many beauty brands claim to be clean, but the only ones actually backing up their claims are those in the legal cannabis sector,” said David Downs, California bureau chief for cannabis industry web portal Leafly.com.
While the testing lab costs are widely considered a burden, some see it as an opportunity.
San Francisco-based Green Bee Botanicals, which touts cannabis as a super-ingredient for skin, is one of only a handful of clean beauty brands in the U.S. that publicly shares its test results, called certificates of analysis (COAs), for every batch of product.
“We surveyed consumers on what’s most important to them in a skincare product, and the No. 1 answer across all ages, genders and backgrounds was that it’s tested and proven clean of lead, pesticides and other harmful ingredients commonly found in cosmetics,” said Green Bee Botanicals COO Kim Howard.
Green Bee CEO Bridget May, who helped found the company with Howard, added that people are more aware of toxins in products. A former analytical chemist, May formulates all of Green Bee’s products.
“People want non-toxic products that actually work,” May said. “This requires meticulous formulation and research. Best intentions aren’t good enough; if you don’t test for over 100 impurities like we do, your products may be contaminated, whether they’re organic or not. What goes into the product unintentionally matters just as much as the ingredient list.”
Green Bee Botanicals makes clean, organic eye cream, face serums and body oil infused with full-spectrum cannabis that is currently available only from California cannabis dispensaries and delivery services. But Green Bee plans to launch hemp CBD skincare products nationwide that will be tested as rigorously as its cannabis skincare.
According to NPD Group, clean skincare is a rapidly growing segment – up 39% in 2019 — within the $19 billion “prestige beauty” market in the U.S. During the pandemic, sales of skincare products surpassed makeup sales for the first time ever, according to NPD.
With the U.S. cannabis market also growing — to $17 billion in 2020, according to New Frontier Data — Green Bee Botanicals is uniquely positioned to attract trendsetting clean beauty aficionados.