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I Tried THC Makeup, Because 2020 Is *A Lot*

Erin Bunch

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Photo: Stocksy / Liliya Rodnikova

Prior to 2020, I wasn’t much of a *get high* kinda person. I’ve been using cannabis—to great effect—for sleep ever since it was legalized in California, but I’ve never been super fond of being stoned while upright.

Somewhere around mid-March this changed for me, and I think you can guess why. While I don’t advocate for losing yourself in mind-altering substances during tough times—exercise, meditation, proper sleep, and so forth are all far healthier options for maintaining your mental health—sometimes, a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do to get by. This doesn’t mean I’m spending my days high AF, but it does mean that when night falls, I’ve begun to utilize cannabis outside of the bedroom.

Still, when a brand called Kush Queen sends me a primer—as in, the cosmetic product used to prep your skin prior to makeup application—containing THC (the psychoactive ingredient in cannabis), I’m a little apprehensive. I have a very specific cannabis routine that feels “safe” to me, and I don’t experiment much outside of it. But my curiosity is piqued, as the product is billed as the first of its kind.

The primer is a raising of the stakes from the brand’s KINGDM cosmetics line, which made a prior version with CBD. This new version also contains CBD, with a casual 200mg of THC mixed in. Founder Olivia Alexander tells me this translates to about 1.5mg per pump and says that most people use 3-5 pumps, which amounts to about 5-8mg per application. (For reference, 5mg is considered a moderate or beginner’s, dose of cannabis.) This THC is then absorbed through the skin as an alternative to smoking, vaping, or other forms of cannabis consumption.

THC, which is (duh) meant to get you high, also helps to activate the CBD for added relaxation, Alexander tells me. “There is a strong synergistic effect when cannabinoids like THC and CBD are combined,” she says. “The molecules all work better together in an effect called ‘the entourage effect.’ This is why full-spectrum CBD is preferred.”

As someone who’s experiencing unprecedented amounts of anxiety right now, this all sounds good to me. I decide to test the makeup on a night when I have nothing to do but watch TV (aka almost every night since the pandemic started) just in case something goes wrong. I do five pumps, apply to my skin, and then wait apprehensively to freak out. Bottoms up!

The buzz kicks in pretty quickly: slower than a vape, but faster than an edible. It’s an extremely pleasant, albeit intense (for me), high. I don’t feel knocked out—which is good, I suppose, given this is makeup, which most people who are not Kristin Wiig in Bridesmaids don’t apply in order to go to bed—but I do feel, well, high. Which is a great way to watch Dateline, my new, counterintuitive anxiety remedy.

The buzz kicks in pretty quickly: slower than a vape, but faster than an edible.

It is a less great way to experience historic protests, which suddenly start to unfold before me on social media. I try to post about them to my own accounts, but I’m not sure my words are making sense, so I delete posts immediately after making them. People begin messaging me a lot, sending links and such. “I’m high,” I write back, feeling kind of silly.

Still, I will say that again, while sitting out significant world events stoned is not the solution, my anxiety does not spike through this insanity as much as it normally would. I feel invested, but not overwhelmed. It also feels to me as much like a body high as it does a head high, which is a nice balance—and one that is much-needed, given the number cortisol has been doing on my physical form as of late. I’m neither paranoid nor out of control of my thoughts, which are side effects I’d typically fear with a new cannabis product.

In all, the experiment feels like a success, but would I actually venture out into the world with this THC soaking into my skin? It definitely depends on the occasion, but I think the primer would be fun to take for a spin out on the town once we’re actually able to legitimately socialize again, especially given I didn’t experience any of the negative effects that would typically scare me off public consumption.

In the meantime, I think I’ll use it to spice up the doldrums of dating on a couch, especially given that I can no longer handle my liquor without paying the price dearly the next day. So while this doesn’t exactly amount to a conversion to be stoned while upright, to me it feels like just the right kind of escalation to match the mounting challenges of the tire fire that is 2020.

If you’re a novice to cannabis use, start slow. Do not operate a vehicle after use. Check for contraindications. Be safe!

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