Sephora Backs This CBD Beauty Product—Is it Legit?

Prima is one of four CBD beauty and wellness brands vetted by the beauty retailer’s new section, CBD@Sephora. We put two of Prima’s new products to the test.

Photographed by Maridelis Morales Rosado

CBD started as a revelation, turned into an enormous trend, and is now a question mark. At first, it was touted as a miracle tincture, used to treat inflammation, pain, anxiety, and stress. The wellness industry and all its brands jumped on the opportunity, and suddenly, CBD could be found in everything from lip balms to soft drinks. Consumers wondered: How much CBD was necessary to be included in a product? And what did it actually do? The FDA has remained mum, not giving its official stamp of approval while the government body states that it is “working quickly to further clarify our regulatory approach for products containing cannabis and cannabis-derived compounds like CBD.” In the meantime, Sephora is stepping into the CBD beauty arena and acting as a third-party backer, vetting today four CBD beauty and skin-care companies under its new umbrella, CBD Standards. It’s the first time a prestige retailer is setting parameters around CBD sourcing and testing. Along with Lord Jones, Saint Jane, and Flora and Bast in this category at Sephora, there is Prima, a label started by the Bay Area native Jessica Assaf, Christopher Gavigan (a cofounder of the Honest Company), and Laurel Angelica Myers.

Four W magazine editors, each with a different relationship to the compound, put Prima’s new products, the Enlightenment Serum and the Afterglow Night Cream, to the test. Here are their honest opinions.

Brooke Marine, Associate Digital Editor

What’s your current relationship with CBD? It’s fairly surface level, I guess. I’ve never used a CBD beauty product or ointment or anything. I’ve had a couple of CBD gummies and felt nothing, so I expected to feel nothing with this night cream. Well, not nothing—I figured it had some anti-inflammatory properties that the top layers of my skin could probably benefit from, but I knew I would not feel high.

My skincare routine is pretty minimal—cleanser, toner, moisturizer, and occasionally a serum—so adding this extra step wasn’t too much of a burden for me.

What were your first impressions of Prima’s serum and night cream? As soon as I opened the night cream I noticed how thick it was, almost like butter. I immediately wondered if it would be too thick for my pores, but once I slathered it on, it thinned out and didn’t feel greasy. To be honest, the smell wasn’t my favorite. I don’t mind an herbaceous fragrance if it’s a mintlike scent, but this one wasn’t something I would want someone else to smell on my skin. I added two drops of the serum on top, for added moisture.

Now, I can’t be sure if the CBD is what made me fall asleep quickly after I got into bed, or if it’s because I read a few pages of My Year of Rest and Relaxation, which is the story of a young woman who essentially sleeps through an entire year. (Yes, I know, very 2018. Sorry, I’m behind on virtually every book on the list of Cool Girl™️ books released in the past five years—it’ll probably be 2021 before I get to Uncanny Valley.) Anyway, I slept well.

Thoughts after using the Prima products for a few days? Would you use them again? I have had some blemishes on my skin and I didn’t necessarily see them disappear or lighten up after using the night cream, but my skin did feel noticeably more hydrated and smooth. My skin also did not smell weird in the morning. I’ll probably use it again (if I can remember to add one more step to my skincare routine).

Andrea Whittle, Features Editor

What’s your current relationship with CBD? I’d say I’m a skeptic turned cautious evangelist when it comes to CBD. I think there’s a lot of useless junk out there and a lot more research to be done, but I’ve been using the relief tincture from Plant People and it has a) cured what used to be pretty constant neck pain and b) helps me sleep significantly better at night. Topical CBD I’m a little more wary of, but there are some preliminary studies that suggest that it can help with inflammation and oil production.

What were your first impressions of Prima’s serum and night cream? Nice packaging, lovely thick texture, not crazy about the very hemp-y smell. But lately I’ve been using a Biologique Recherche moisturizer that has the meaty funk of wet dog food…If I can deal with that, I can deal with this, and it doesn’t linger on the skin. I like the dropper mechanism on the serum too. The button lets out just enough product.

Thoughts after using the Prima products for a few days? Would you use them again? I’m into it! The cream has left my skin clear, bright, and balanced—hydrated but not greasy. It feels like it would be a solid cold weather cream for most skin types. I’ve also been mixing the serum in with my other Biologique products in the morning for an extra hit of hydration. I’ll definitely continue to use the cream and might even re-up on the serum once I finish it.

Maxine Wally, Senior Digital Editor

What’s your current relationship with CBD? I’ve never used CBD products before—whether in the form of ingestible tinctures, balms, salves, or millennial-friendly seltzer drinks. I had too many panic attacks when I used to smoke weed, and these experiences create an aversion within me toward anything with CBD, given its relations to pot (even though I’m aware it’s not the same thing. This is anxiety we’re talking about, and it knows no reality.) I also feel like the oversaturation of trendy CBD products, and brands putting CBD in everything, have rendered its benefits pretty moot. Is this just some marketing ploy to get us to spend money on a pointless product? Despite my reservations, I’m willing to cast it all aside in the name of journalism and try this cream.

What were your first impressions of Prima’s serum and night cream? The Prima Enlightenment Serum is light and watery, and the smell is the first thing I notice—it resembles burned flower, and is hemp-heavy. The Afterglow night cream, with a similar funky scent, is much more creamy and rich, but goes on smoothly and thins out once I’ve worked it into my skin. I love both products’ textures. I go to sleep.

When I wake up the next morning, after just one use, I notice my skin is significantly plumper and more hydrated than usual. It’s clearer, too, and some acne scarring I have on my chin is a little lighter.

Thoughts after using the Prima products for a few days? Would you use them again? I’ll definitely use this product again (despite all my stoner flashbacks, and the smell), due to its efficacy as a hydrating and inflammation-preventing cream. I saw continuous results as I used Prima’s serum and cream in the days to follow—more so than with any other product I’ve used in the recent past.

Tilden Bissell, Digital Designer

What’s your current relationship with CBD? Anyone who’s met me knows that I go zero or one hundred when it comes to anxiety, so I’m pretty cautious when it comes to potential psychotropics. Still, one of my best friends swears by the Lord Jones Lemon Tincture, which I’ve tried a few times with no adverse side effects, plus I’ve sampled a few of the Recess beverages out of idle curiosity.

I find topical CBD a slightly easier pill for me to swallow—or not, I suppose. I keep a giant bottle of the Now’s CBD body oil on my vanity, and I have some of Vertley’s Rose Lip Balm in my bag at all times. I’ve also been a longtime fan of Prima’s Bath Gems—I don’t know if it’s psychosomatic, but they work out any aches and pains after a long yoga class, smell awesome, and leave your skin crazy soft after a soak.

What were your first impressions of Prima’s serum and night cream? I mixed the Afterglow Cream with a few drops of the Enlightenment Serum, patted it in, and went to town with the quartz roller I keep in my fridge. I’m a big fan of Ayurvedic beauty products, so the ingredient list touting turmeric, ashwagandha, butterfly ginger, and gooseberry extracts caught my eye, and the texture was smooth and extremely rich. The whole process was pretty soothing, minus the cream’s overwhelmingly herbaceous scent, and I’m out for the night a scant 15 minutes after applying.

Thoughts after using the Prima products for a few days? Would you use them again? After using the cream all weekend, I noticed that my usual stress-related inflammation was significantly reduced. Since we’re in the middle of Fashion Month, my breakouts have been working overtime as well, but my skin actually looked well rested and bouncy for once. I’m still not totally sold on the idea that CBD is the miracle cure to all my anxiety, but with this cream it’s definitely easier to carve out a little more R&R time.