The wellness movement — biohacking and fitness classes meet consumerism — continues. Consumers continue to want cleaner, healthier and … organic-er products. And as usual, the market is quick to respond to demand.
Whether it's organic juice-based makeup, herbal hair care or non-toxic nail polish, or whatever else Gwyneth Paltrow recommends, the wellness-focused consumer has many botanical options at his or her disposal. In fact, the global natural and organic personal care products market revenue was valued at more than $12 billion in 2017 and is expected to reach $29.5 billion by 2028, according to Persistence Market Research.
The wellness movement's natural ally? CBD.
With the cannabis market also in a state of expansion, the industry is pairing up nicely with big names such as Neiman Marcus, Whole Foods Market, and Sephora, jumping on the bandwagon by way of cannabidiol (CBD). Neiman Marcus is selling several lines listed under the CBD product category, and Sephora has been selling Lord Jones' CBD line online since October 2018. Amazon-owned grocer Whole Foods has predicted a boom for hemp and CBD products for 2019.
“With the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill, large retailers will be the next wave in the CBD market,” said Brandon Beatty, CEO of Bluebird Botanicals, a hemp extracts and CBD oil manufacturer. “Prior to the bill's passage, there was a great deal of confusion surrounding the legality of selling hemp-derived CBD. But, with hemp now removed entirely from the Controlled Substances Act, retailers are preparing to jump in.”
It should be noted that while hemp has been removed from the Federal Controlled Substance Act, it has yet to be approved as a food additive or dietary supplement by its new regulating body, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In a press release after the signing of the Farm Bill, FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the FDA has “sent warning letters in the past to companies illegally selling CBD products.”
CBD in Food, Health and Beauty Aisles
These products can fall under any category — including beauty, personal care and food — and contain some amount of CBD often with the goal of bestowing one or more of its purported benefits, which proponents say include anti-inflammatory and antioxidant. CBD can be derived from marijuana or hemp.
Neiman Marcus carries CBD brands online and in five stores located in California, Massachusetts, and Colorado. It sells balms, lotions, soaps, oils, serums and masks from brands including Sagely Naturals, Cannuka, Cannabliss Organic, Code of Harmony, Ildi Pekar, Vertly, Yuyo Botanics and Saint Jane, said Neiman Marcus Beauty Buyer Kim D'Angelo.
“When Neiman Marcus first entered the CBD beauty arena in November 2018, we wanted to restrict the in-store sales to only those states which had specific laws permitting the sale of CBD/hemp products,” D'Angelo said. “When the opportunity presented itself to sell online, we decided to allow for online sales of the same products available in the stores.”
Janet Schriever, founder of Code of Harmony in California, said her CBD skin-care line has been in Neiman Marcus for about a month.
“For me it's always been about researching the ingredients, finding good quality standardized ingredients and combining them with the CBD for specific effects,” she said. “Because CBD is really versatile, it seems to work with other ingredients really well.”
The focus of her line is mostly using botanical ingredients with minimal synthetic and chemical ingredients to achieve anti-aging benefits without irritating the skin. She said when she started experimenting with CBD in her product line a few years ago, it made an impact.
Nicholas Christensen, founder of Cannabliss Organic in Colorado, said the CBD skin care line launched at Neiman Marcus in January 2019.
“It's truly an exciting time for consumers to have the ability to choose a product that works with your own endocannabinoid system to target a variety of issues naturally,” Christensen said. “As we age and due to poor diet, environmental toxicity and numerous other factors we start to have an endocannabinoid deficiency and the ECS is responsible for balance and homeostasis.”
He said products like Cannabliss Organic can help support that deficiency by infusing phytocannabinoids via the skin for improved skin health.
But he warned that not all CBD products are created equal, so research is key.
CBD Boom Follows Increased Cannabis Acceptance
With an increasing number of states loosening cannabis laws across the country and the recent federal legalization of hemp from passage of the Farm Bill, it was really only a matter of time before CBD started entering the big stores.
However, CBD wasn't made fully legal by the passing of the Hemp Bill, as some New York restaurants are discovering in the wake of foods with CBD additives getting banned in early 2019. Sarah Remesch, founder of New Highs CBD, said the trend is being tempered by the gray areas that surround CBD despite hemp's legalization.
“Big retailers are still hesitant to get involved with the industry because of the legalities surrounding full-spectrum CBD,” she said, adding that New Highs' CBD is whole plant and full spectrum. “Therefore, isolates and seed oils are becoming popular additions to beauty and wellness products — largely, these are not full-spectrum or whole-plant products, and vary widely in formulation and efficacy.”
She said what is fueling the trend is that consumers are intrigued by plant medicine in all forms and cannabis is very popular right now — even in forms that have no added benefit.
“Consumers remain unaware of the difference in benefits between true cannabis and hemp products compared with mainstream products, some of which add only a touch of the plant in diluted form to the formulation,” she said.
Remesch said it's important for consumers to read labels, research, and look into each company they are considering.
“There is still some confusion about how the FDA will be regulating CBD products moving forward, and many are waiting for more guidance from the agency before introducing products into their stores,” said Beatty, the Bluebird Botanicals CEO. “However, we expect this to change very soon. Large natural chains are already showing interest and bringing in CBD products.”
He said what this means for consumers is that they will have more access to CBD than ever before.
“But, with its growing popularity also comes a flux of bad actors,” he said. “Consumers need to use caution when selecting CBD products to make sure they're actually getting what they are paying for.”
Beatty said the most important thing to look for when purchasing a CBD product is third-party lab testing.
“The best way for consumers to verify that they're getting the real deal is to look for third-party batch testing on the company's website,” he said. “These lab tests allow consumers to check the potency of their products as well as any potentially harmful contaminants that might be present, like mycotoxins, heavy metals or pesticides.”