I remember my first smoking experience as vividly as I remember my deflowering one. I was in high school, in my friend's backyard, with my parents' voices in one ear and the influence of peer pressure in the other. I was brought right back to that day when, earlier this week, I lay down for a cannabis facial at Harlem Skin & Laser Clinic.
There are a couple of differences between the two experiences. I’m 28 now instead of 16. And I wasn’t inhaling the cannabis; rather, it was being rubbed into my skin. Plus, the stigma surrounding the drug is less prominent than it was over a decade ago. In 2018, having a service involving cannabis pop up on a spa menu seems almost inevitable as opposed to controversial.
CBD and hemp oil have become the most buzzed-about ingredients in the beauty industry. Thanks to some scientific backing, both are being incorporated into more and more skin-care, body, and even makeup products. Benefits include relieving breakouts, helping with inflammation, and calming eczema and psoriasis. It’s going to become the new argan oil, my aesthetician, Tracey, declared.
The service at the spa I visited is simple. It starts out with a gentle green tea cleanse, which is followed up by a cannabis sativa hemp-derived CBD oil massage. Then, a manuka honey mask—which is mixed with essential oils, herbs, and crushed pearls—is applied for about 15 minutes. If you try the facial, this is the exact point where you’ll probably start to doze off, while Amy Winehouse, Beyoncé, and Lauryn Hill soundtrack your sleep. Once the mask is removed, the service ends with a hemp-derived CBD facial serum. Each product is curated for each customer, Tracey tells me, but cannabis oil will be present regardless of your skin woes.
One thing to note for facial snobs, there’s no extracting or steaming involved. It’s a very granola service, which, when you think about the main ingredient, is very fitting. I left Harlem with a one-hour commute ahead of me, (on a Monday!) and zero anxiety about it. My skin was plump and smooth, and I went to sleep with the faint smell of my teenage days lingering on my skin.
Is it necessary to get a spa facial to have a similar experience? Could you just buy cannabis-oil products and apply them yourself? Perhaps, but what’s a facial for if not to treat yourself to something you probably don’t need, but definitely want? Plus, if you're in New York, the Harlem Skin & Laser Clinic is currently offering a deal in honor of Spa Week where the treatment is only $50 (rather than $250), so you can spoil yourself on a budget.
So, this 4/20, if you find yourself in need of a moment of relaxation that doesn’t involve rolling anything up, this is a good alternative. You won’t experience a high of any kind, but you’ll leave feeling a whole lot better regardless. You can book your appointment here.