Cosmoprof North America: CBD and Beauty at a Crossroads

Undeterred by 112-degree heat and swarms of grasshoppers, the beauty industry descended upon Las Vegas last week for the 17th annual Cosmoprof North America event.
Held at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center, the three-day trade show drew more than 40,000 attendees, a 3 percent increase from last year. Floor space was also up 3 percent from 2018, to 312,638 square feet, with 1,435 exhibitors from 43 countries.
The 2019 show marked a changeup in executive leadership. After 12 years heading Cosmoprof Las Vegas, former head of North America marketing Daniela Ciocan departed the organization in October. This was the first show for Liza Rapay, the former Esteé Lauder Cos. Inc. executive who succeeded her.
CPNA this year was split into three sections — cosmetics and personal care, professional beauty and Cosmopack North America, which features suppliers and manufacturers. Within the cosmetics and personal-care section, there were several themed areas, including Discover Beauty (new brands), Discover Green (brands marketing "clean" products) and a small dedicated section for multicultural brands.
Trends observed included sustainable packaging and waterless products; “clean” ingredients; vegan formulas; a broadening definition of beauty that includes home, lifestyle and even cleaning products; modernized feminine care, and masstige price points. Most notably, CBD was a common thread running throughout the show, scattered across each of the three sections, and a recurring topic of conversation. Among attendees and exhibitors, there were private-label manufacturers prowling for clients, ingredient suppliers, brands devoted to CBD products and brands that were launching CBD products and buyers hot on the CBD trail.
As a distinctly U.S.-based trend, CBD also served as differentiator from the Bologna show, where many exhibitors are European, said attendees surveyed by WWD.
In the U.S., brands are grappling with CBD as an ingredient trend, especially with how to use it and market it in topical skin-care products.
“CBD is known for reducing inflammation — it’s great for skin conditions like psoriasis, eczema and puffiness,” said Stephanie Wissink, managing director at Jeffries, who was also at Cosmoprof and sees a burgeoning trend in CBD used in topical skin care. “ is how do you position it in the market? How do you educate? Most CBD products today are gummies, lotions or drops.”
Many CBD products on the market are wellness-oriented, meant to have calming or pain relief benefits. Wissink noted she has observed influencers primarily “talking about CBD in the context of emotions — calming down and getting better sleep.” At Cosmoprof, some CBD skin care products with a more conspicuous beauty correlation were on display in the Discover Beauty and Discover Green sections.
"There's a total intermingling of CBD with natural and sustainable ," noted Lucie Greene, who runs a futures consultancy, of the Las Vegas show. "With a lot of brands there was a very natural adjacency, which makes sense because the way CBD is being marketed is in line with well-being."
CBD brands of note included Physicians Grade, a prestige skin-care line that tracks the sourcing of its ingredients through QR codes on its product packaging, and Hemp Beauty, a Florida-based professional skin-care and wellness line run by former Keratin Complex executives. Physicians Grade is set to launch its skin care — including the CBD Revive Drops Illuminating Adaptogen + Vitamin C Facial Oil, $60 — at Bloomingdale's and Nordstrom next month. Hemp Beauty, which sells to salons and spas, was showing both beauty and wellness-oriented products, including the Bright Day Face Cream, $60, and the Calm Down Body Balm, $80. Sunny Isle, a brand for textured hair found in the multicultural beauty area, was showing a new line of CBD hair products that is rolling out to mass and grocery this week.
Manufacturers and suppliers peddling CBD were a significant presence at the show — many of them were there for the first time. Commonwealth Extracts, a CBD and hemp supplier from Kentucky, was at Cosmoprof, its first attended beauty event, displaying various pure CBD and hemp derivatives that could be used in beauty products. The company, which sells primarily to food and wellness brands, sees a big opportunity for new business in the beauty industry, said chief operating officer John Taylor. Mile High Labs, a Denver-based manufacturer of CBD products, was out trolling for beauty and personal-care brands to add to its client roster, having just purchased a 400,000-square-foot facility in which it plans to produce turnkey private-label products.
Cosmetic Solutions, a private-label manufacturer, was showing products it expects to be trending over the next one to five years, especially masks, serums and oils, including an herbal-infused antiblemish oil made with hemp. CBD is hot in beauty right now, said chief executive officer Warren Becker, though “even more than that, it's herbal and botanical ingredients” that he sees as the greater trend.
Retailers from Ulta Beauty and Neiman Marcus acknowledged CBD as a big trend and said they are dipping their toes in the water with THC-free brands. A buyer from QVC said the retailer is not passing on CBD yet, but is looking at legal and regulatory issues to confirm what is feasible.
Still, not everyone in beauty is fully on-board the CBD bandwagon.
Ian J. Ginsberg, president of C.O. Bigelow, was surprised there weren’t even more CBD vendors at the show. “It’s funny, I thought there was less than I expected — I expected it to be massive,” he said. Ginsberg, citing regulatory constraints and the lack of clinical evidence that CBD can be efficacious in topical skin care, said he carries certain brands he’s vetted in his New York pharmacy, such as Lord Jones, Cannuka and Beboe, but is generally cautious about the stuff. “I could fill the store with CBD — you have to find a way of editing,” said Ginsberg. Though “walking around the show, everyone was talking about it,” for Ginsberg, the CBD chatter is “a lot of noise.”
It could be that the merging of CBD and beauty is just on the brink of becoming massive, said Wissink. “The question is push versus pull,” she said. “There’s a distinct consumer pull that is moving faster than retailers and the supply side.”
With consumer demand for CBD beauty products on the rise, Evio Beauty Group founder Brandi Leifso, who was at Cosmoprof for supplier meetings, noted there is room for more collaboration between the cannabis and beauty industries. Evio Beauty, a Canada-based company with a portfolio of CBD lifestyle and beauty brands, counts cannabis producer Aurora Cannabis as an investor. “It’s necessary because cannabis is so complex,” said Leifso. “You can’t possibly understand it to the depth that’s necessary if you’re a beauty expert. Something I find interesting is that it’s difficult to have a knowledgeable conversation about cannabis in these environments.”
CBD aside, there were other trends on display at Cosmoprof. Here's a look at some of the major ones:
Sustainability was a key theme at Cosmoprof Bologna this year, and that carried over to the Las Vegas show, especially with the addition of Cosmopack for the second year in a row. On the manufacturing side, HCT Group had a slew of innovations, including its Unreal line of vegan makeup brushes, which look and feel mimic animal hair, and a mono-material lipstick tube. Foamie, a bath products company debuting from Germany, was showing a shampoo bar that eliminates the need for plastic bottle packaging.
Water is overrated. D’Alchemy, a holistic skin-care brand from Poland, uses plant hydrosols in place of water in its formulations. Chic Chiq, an Ayurveda-inspired mask company also from Poland, makes powder-based masks from crushed natural ingredients like blue nettle and cornflower, meant to be activated with water at home.
Rael, a natural and organic feminine-care products company, makes products for periods and topical skin-care targeted at different phases of a menstrual cycle. Products included the brand’s organic cotton pads and liners, along with sheet masks infused with botanical ingredients. Rael recently inked a distribution deal with Target for its tampons and pads.
From supplements to candles and now cleaning products, the boundaries between beauty and lifestyle are blurring. Polish brand Yope, which is sold in some 15 Anthropologie stores in the U.S., is a prime example — the line consists of plant-based personal care and cleaning products, from floor cleaner to shampoo, in scents like green tea and fig tree.
While certainly not a new trend, the most interesting hair products at Cosmoprof dealt with scalp and hair health. Save Me From, a brand from the founders of skin-care line Hydropeptide, were touting their “tip-to-root” hair masks for severely damaged hair. Each mask correlated with a different type of damage, from pollution to sun and sweat, to aging, heat and product overload. Raincry, a premium hairbrush brand, unveiled its line of nontraditional shampoos and conditioners formulated with natural ingredients like charcoal and sea kelp, designed to treat scalp health for better hair.
Where "The Handmaid’s Tale" meets beauty: Bluestone Sunshields was showing its fashion-forward full-face visors, which are designed to protect the entire face from the UV rays post-cosmetic procedures. Two colorways, including a chromatic rainbow style, have already been picked up at Nordstrom.
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