Each year, The Makeup Show — one of the biggest makeup events in the world, held simultaneously in New York, Chicago, Houston, San Francisco, and Washington DC — brings together close to 5,000 makeup artists to showcase dozens of new indie products and brands in front of a curious public. At the 2019 show in New York last month, one newcomer to the beauty world stood out in particular: CBD.
CBD has attracted a lot of buzz as a skin care ingredient, but it’s also emerging as a popular one for makeup. Creators of cosmetics infused with CBD oil claim they deliver not only the coverage, pigment, or texture that one might expect from such products, but also the skin-enhancing effects of CBD, including anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties .
This amalgamation of makeup and skin care, or cosmeceuticals as some are calling it, is a growing trend in America. These products are formulated with more than just “the look” in mind. They also take into account the most common skin complaints and use ingredients specifically designed to tackle them — and CBD makeup is fast becoming one of the cosmeceuticals of choice.
At the 2019 Makeup Show, CBD-infused sheet masks were the center of attention, with a New York-based brand called MASK Skincare unveiling three new products. These masks embodied the potential — and potential shortfalls — of CBD makeup: on one hand, they all contained full spectrum CBD oil (which is the most effective variety); on the other hand, none of them provided any information on where the CBD came from, how it was tested, or even how much each product contained.
There’s little doubt that CBD makeup is popular, as evidenced by the recent explosion of offerings on the market. Makeup giant NYX Cosmetics has launched a range of infused products called the Bare With Me collection, Color Organics has released a line of enhanced lipsticks, tints, glosses, and pencils, and Milk Makeup has their own Kush infused mascaras and brow tint.
But popularity may not always be justified, and in the case of this trend, some are concerned that the emphasis has been placed on style, not substance. This has been an overriding theme across the CBD beauty industry, with brands using vague and often downright misleading marketing language to attract customers and sell products.
Take the Kush line from Milk Makeup, for example. While they were initially praised for being the first makeup brand to infuse their products with CBD, it was soon discovered that their products didn’t contain CBD at all, but hemp seed oil (which is not at all the same thing).
The brand came under more fire when they posted an image to their Instagram page in which the small plastic bags typically associated with illicit drugs like cocaine were stamped with the Milk logo. Critics argued that the company wasn’t being honest or transparent with their customers, and glamorized drug culture for marketing purposes.
“We would like to see brands be more ethical and honest and for them to stop glamorizing drug culture to sell their products. If they have a quality product, they would not have to resort to these types of measures,” as Estée Laundry, an anonymous group who use their online platform to draw attention to unethical practices in the beauty sector, told Healthline.
While there are few signs of the CBD makeup trend slowing in the immediate future, its long-term growth is not inevitable, especially in light of recent developments. At a May hearing held by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to address CBD regulation, beauty products were again under the spotlight — and this time, they received a harsher reception. An executive from the popular beauty brand Wildflower was forced to admit that there was no clinical research that supported the use of CBD in beauty products, giving fuel to the argument that CBD beauty is mostly a scam.