Lately, I’m not above any attempt to make all the everything of this past year feel a little less stressful. I long to be the type of person who can keep plants alive, have a flawless self-care morning ritual and not fall into negative stress spirals despite living through a global pandemic where medical guidance is deemed optional by so many — but I’m just not there. Instead, I stress! I grind my teeth and I bite my nails and I talk to myself/my dogs about all the various things that are making the vein in my forehead throb at that given hour. Chill? Not me. I don’t know her. Never met her.
Of course, there’s no way to buy a stress-free mindset (unless its alleviating all the financial and health-related stressors, I suppose?) and a lot of it comes with finding ways to collaborate with your community of loved ones to be kinder to yourself and practice real self-care. So while I’m definitely and semi-efficiently working on all that as best as my broken brain can, I am also participating in the time honored ritual of Buying Things To Smear On My Body Until I Feel Something (Maybe)— which brought me to a host of CBD products for self-care. And it feels all the more appropriate to share the findings of this journey with you on the highest of holidays, 4/20.
I’ve been told again and again to consider the benefits of CBD (blessedly short for cannabidiol) for its anti-inflammatory, pain relieving qualities without the mind-bendy-ness of straight-up weed (with the psychoactive ingredients still in the mix). But, straight-up: What does CBD do and how does it work?
“CBD and the other cannabinoids act as a ‘homeostatic regulator’ [it helps regulate the physiological systems] for the body by returning the function of many different systems in the body back to normal,” Brian Sanderoff, a licensed pharmacist who manages the Curio Wellness dispensary, previously told SheKnows. “This is why you can see such a wide range of effects in different people with different conditions….Although it does not appear to directly activate either of the known cannabinoid receptor sites, EC1 or EC2, it likely has a potentiating effect for other cannabinoids and/or activates a yet-to-be-discovered ECS receptor site.” The few studies that are available have found evidence of antibacterial, antioxidative and anti-inflammatory qualities in CBD products.
Regulation? Back to normal? Those are some magical, anxiety-killing words I love to hear. I’m no novice to cannabis products and deeply appreciate them (Happy 4/20, friends!) — and the shift into recognizing all the things the plant can provide to different bodies in different communities (while also recognizing how we can properly create a just world for non-violent drug offenders who are incarcerated based on old ideas about cannabis use) is so important to me. Albeit, the lack of research on CBD can still mean that there’s a lot to be understood and unlocked about it and the most effective ways to use it.
The items I picked up over the last month or so (mostly from bleary-eyed early morning/late night online shopping) were based on my very own secret consumer science of “oh, that seems cool!” and “that looked pretty on instagram” and “my skin is bad and I feel bad!” paired with a few mainstays I’ve been using since pre-pandemic life that felt relevant. By no means do they represent all the ways CBD can be used/is used in the modern market — I’m one woman with one body and only so much time and patience for slathering things on my skin.
But slather I did! And the fruits of that labor created this CBD self-care routine that I valiantly stuck to over about a month. Spoiler alert: I am not chill yet, but I did find a bunch of products that delivered on their promises, smelled (mostly) really great and made me consider some benefits of grooming rituals. Read on for my CBD self-care product journey:
This Earthy AF Deodorant
This one was a total shock to me. Any time I’ve shifted into natural vegan deodorant territory, I’ve eventually gone back to some extra strength middle school gym brand by nature of feeling like I stank like a middle schooler in gym class. I wore this one for the first time before an ill-advised two hour summer bike ride (a rough test) and was pleasantly surprised when the understated, outdoorsy smell wasn’t overtaken by my post-workout stink. I easily could’ve rolled into my favorite coffee shop after and remained unoffensive (if damp), which isn’t far from what I’m going for anyway. On the day-to-day, I haven’t noticed anything too horrific about using it for laying around either and the smell stays earthy and chill.
Dewy Unicorn Realness
By far one of the best smelling products on this list, this body butter is a great post-shower gift to yourself. With 300mg of CBD, it’s said to be “key for calming inflammation, reducing redness and promoting glowing.” I luckily hadn’t had a lot of inflammation or redness to combat to know if it did much for the first two parts, but definitely got my glow on whenever I used it. It’s thick — super whipped but requires a bit of effort to spread where you want it to go — and definitely leaves your skin feeling nice and moisturized after each use.
Glow With the Flow
Another product from Truly, this glow serum feels so nice after a hot shower. The ingredients are meant to firm, brighten and hydrate with the hemp-derived CBD locking in that moisture. I haven’t noticed anything groundbreaking in the firming or hydration department (albeit I don’t have any real dry areas I’m navigating on the reg), but I will say that the extra nice smelling scent and less-heavy moisturizing step feels like an extra decadent 45 seconds to my morning routine.
My Holy Grail Item
I have pretty much raved about this Switch2Pure CBD rub since I first tried it late last year. I’ve rattled it off to friends and family and co-workers and strangers confiding in me on trains — really just about everyone — as a go-to for sore back, neck, leg, ache-y post-workout pain. It’s got a nice minty smell and doesn’t leave you feeling like a greasy mess and in need of a shower. I feel the results pretty quickly when my sore neck and lower back start acting up and can fairly quickly resume laying in the fetal position without staining my sheets or the couch. I’m in love with it.
Lube Lovin’ Baby!
As a health and sex editor it is my duty to indoctrinate everyone I meet into the church of good lube. For toys, for sex with partners and solo (particularly my folks who are hanging out in and around menopause), it is super helpful for getting in the mood and staying there — and lubes with cannabis bring their own benefits to the table.
Foria, a sexual wellness brand that uses all plant-based and various CBD and THC-infused cannabis products, delivers on a great lube for self-care. And masturbation is a net-good approach to self-care. Their lube and their arousal oil were a great way (particularly around my periods) to ease into the mood and get where I wanted to be. Plus, they don’t have synthetic chemicals, fragrances or anything icky that messed with my pH. Heads up, as it is a coconut oil-based product it is not meant to be used with latex or polyisoprene protection or toys — and it’s always a good practice to make sure your lube plays well with your body and whatever kind of sexual act you’re trying to enjoy.
For me, the CBD products were a mixed bag. While all of them served their functional purpose (moisturizer, deodorant, muscle rub), I can’t say every product delivered on the soothing, anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidative/bacterial qualities in each one. But as far as a CBD self-care routine goes, I think the biggest benefit was actively choosing to have a self-care routine to begin with. So take that as you will and maybe give a few of these products a spin yourself.
A version of this story was published August 2020.
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