Reeking of weed” used to be a bad thing. Now high-end beauty influencers are embracing fragrances designed to highlight the aroma of cannabis.
There’s one called Dirty Grass, an earthy $185 scent with 500 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD oil in each bottle. It’s the latest release from Heretic Parfum’s Douglas Little, the nose behind Goop’s all-natural fragrances. Another, called Chronic ($175), is from Swedish brand 19-69 and contains notes of grapefruit and moss. Both are available at Barneys New York.
They join the likes of Malin + Goetz’s Cannabis Eau De Parfum ($165), which balances white floral notes with spicy herbs, and Maison Margiela’s Replica ($126), an ode to the Woodstock music festival that is described as smelling of “patchouli and fresh bud.”
As marijuana gains more acceptance, both in legal regulation and public opinion, fragrance makers are finding new ways to transcend any lingering bong-water stereotypes. They are also capitalising on the CBD craze sweeping across almost every consumer industry and now featured in everything from shampoo and gum drops to mascara and pet treats.
Researchers estimate that the market for CBD in the US alone could be worth almost $24 billion by 2023. The global fragrance market was valued at $52.7 billion in 2018 and is expected to be worth $72.3 billion by 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence.
Andrew Goetz, cofounder of Malin + Goetz, says that the name of his company’s Cannabis Eu de Parfum was risky even five years ago, when it was released, because recreational marijuana was still mostly illegal. “Now everyone is trying to find their way in and their opportunity,” he says. He notes that the candle version ($55) is still a bestseller.
Linda Levy, president of the Fragrance Foundation, says cannabis scents “seem to be very trendy, very of-the-moment.” The organisation’s members include Sephora, Macy’s, and LVMH.
Although the biggest players in the market such as L’Oreal, Estee Lauder, and Chanel don’t currently have cannabis-themed products, this may be only a matter of time. “In the past two years in the beauty category, cannabis became one of those real conversation pieces,” Levy says.
One of the first cannabis fragrances on the market was Demeter’s Cannabis Flower ($36) in 2006. Mark Crames, chief executive officer of Demeter Fragrance Library, designed it to have “that skunky cannabis smell,” albeit in a more understated version.
“It’s the true cannabis smell modified enough, so it was wearable,” he says. “I didn’t want you to get pulled over for driving under the influence while wearing my cologne.”
It’s mostly being bought by women 35 years old and younger, but the scent — one of Demeter’s bestsellers now and featured in about 100 stores — is more gender-neutral than others at the brand.
The newer fragrances are more likely to play off smoky or woodsy notes, with hints of cedar and sandalwood, Levy says.
Heretic’s perfumer Little, who has also created scents for Dita von Teese and candles for Lady Gaga, released the unisex scent Dirty Grass in May, which contains notes of pink pepper and lemon zest. The 50-millilitre bottle also has 500 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD oil to give it a slightly sweet, herb-like scent.
Lily, a Brooklyn-based CBD producer, has a $65 roll-on that’s handy for travel and on-the-go applications. It has a “mixture of smoky oud wood notes” along with 200 milligrams of its premium, full-spectrum CBD. Both Lily and Little’s packaging include sleek, glass bottles that target a more upscale clientele than marijuana products in the past. “They may not be smoking weed on their lunch break,” Little says, “but they may love to have a bottle of cannabis fragrance in the bathroom.”