Essential information about selling CBD services and skin care to spa-goers.

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CBD is stealing the show throughout the wellness space. Touted for its holistic healing properties, the ingredient—officially known as cannabidiol—is being used in everything from face creams and massage oils to oral tinctures. A naturally occurring compound found in cannabis plants, CBD won’t get your clients high, but it could take your profits to new heights. In fact, according to cannabis industry analysts the Brightfield Group, CBD sales are predicted to hit $22 billion by 2022, up from $591 million in 2018.

Why the skyrocketing sales? For starters, congress approved the Agricultural Improvement Act (aka the Farm Bill) in December 2018, which removed CBD as a Schedule 1 substance and reclassified it as an “agricultural commodity” as long as it’s derived from industrial hemp and contains less than 0.3 percent tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive component of cannabis. CBD products were already legal in 47 states, the exceptions being Idaho, South Dakota and Nebraska, but the new legislation allows all states to decide whether or not to okay the sale of CBD products made from hemp.

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Increased public awareness about CBD’s benefits has also sparked demand. “I believe CBD is becoming such a big part of the wellness industry because it can elicit changes within the body that aid healing,” says Ciana Hilton-Farmer, owner of The STUDIO Massage in Renton, Washington. Indeed, CBD is believed to work by acting on the body’s endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in pain sensation, stress response and inflammation, with evidence suggesting that it can help ease chronic pain, anxiety and even skin conditions like acne. That said, CBD is not yet FDA approved, so it’s illegal to claim that CBD products or services can “prevent, treat, diagnose or cure a disease”—a key reason it’s important to be mindful of how you market these offerings.

 

Know Your Product

As with anything you promote to guests, knowledge is power when it comes to talking up CBD—and that’s especially true when you consider how little clients may know. “I’ve navigated an insane range of questions, but it boils down to working to convey accurate information,” says Ella Cressman, LE, owner of Ella Cress Skin Care in Wheat Ridge, Colorado, and director of sales and education for Color Up Therapeutics, a CBD-infused skincare line. “CBD is helpful for calming inflamed skin. It won’t get you high, but it can be beneficial for aches and pains,” she details, adding that although you can’t discuss illnesses like cancer, you can share your own personal experiences.

Of course, you must also thoroughly vet the quality of any products you add to your offerings. Because the government doesn’t regulate CBD, label claims don’t always match what’s inside the bottle—and a 2017 study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that of 84 CBD products analyzed, only 31 percent were accurately labeled. So, how can you be sure you’re stocking the right stuff? Hilton-Farmer carries only Cannabis Basics and Kush Creams, as they’re approved under Washington State’s Cannabis Health and Beauty Aids (CHABA) law, and they’ve both built up a reputation over the years. Similarly, Katerina Rozakis, PhD, LCSW, BCIM, founder of the Insight For Wellness Center in San Ramon, California, sticks to organic, third-party tested CBD from established companies like Borbón Skincare, Charlotte’s Web and Canna Hemp.

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If you’re not sure about a particular brand, talk to the manufacturer directly, advises Cressman. “Ask for the science that supports their position. Ask for the Certificate of Analysis (COA) to show the composition of the hemp extract. Ask what specific ingredients they paired with CBD, and why,” she says. “Also, look for a company that has intentional products. You should use a massage oil for massage and a sublingual tincture under the tongue, and they shouldn’t be interchangeable.”

 

Sample With Care

You may be tempted to sell spa-goers on CBD by offering freebies, but keep in mind that these aren’t the sorts of giveaways that always elicit an immediate sale. “At times, we offer samples of our topical CBD oils, creams and serums for those who may be hesitant to purchase. However, with CBD, effects may be felt slowly; sometimes it takes more than a few applications to see the benefits,” explains Rozakis.

That’s why Cressman would love to see fewer free products given out, and more free consultations. “Samples are great for experiencing scent and texture, but not for real results,” she notes. “In the CBD-infused services and products niche, it’s education that will satiate the curiosity.” Rozakis agrees: “I get the word out by providing literature, consultations, presentations and podcasts to educate my clients and the public on the benefits of CBD. Staying on top of the changing times is a plus and a secret to success.”

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Cover Your Ads

Above all, be wary of launching online ads or large-scale marketing campaigns. Because marijuana and CBD advertising laws are so vague, Facebook and Google—the two largest online ad-buying platforms—don’t permit CBD advertising. Your better bet: word of mouth. Not only is this a cost-free way of spreading information, but according to a Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising report, 84 percent of respondents say they are most likely to trust recommendations from their friends and family.

Furthermore, a study conducted by the Brightfield Group finds that more than 50 percent of consumers learn about CBD through friends or family. So, it should come as no surprise that this is one of the key ways spas spread the word. Case in point: The CBD-infused CHABA Massage (60 min./$95; 90 min./$135) is incredibly popular at STUDIO Massage—and yet they’ve never advertised it. “We’ve offered it for about a year and it has definitely been a draw, as have our retail products. Clients like the scent and feel of the oil—and they tell their loved ones,” says Hilton-Farmer.

—Allison Young

This story first appeared in the August issue of DAYSPA Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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