Big Box or Indie Beauty? How to Tread Past the Trends and Pick a Product that Works for You

By: Izzybea Miller

You don’t have to be a beauty fanatic to recognize that CBD is one of the fastest-growing trends on the market. Whether it’s your favorite drugstore makeup brand introducing a selection of infused products, or an all-new cannabis cosmetic company, CBD-infused products have hit the mainstream and are becoming the new norm for most beauty lovers. But what does this mean for the small mom-and-pop shoppes of the infused beauty world?


Is it Better to Support Local Companies? 

It’s an exciting feeling to see cannabis beauty enter the makeup aisle. But the recent commercialization of infused beauty increases the chance of hurting CBD entrepreneurs and even possibly eliminating the need for these small businesses. It’s okay to test out these flashy new CBD beauty products, but it’s important that you are mindful when making the choice between buying big or supporting local. That being said, here are three things to look out for when deciding between big box or indie beauty:



up close Cannabis Plant

1. Cannabis is Key


It’s always important to read the ingredient list on whatever product you put on your skin — infused or not. Our skin is the biggest organ of the body, so it’s essential to be aware of what you apply to it. 

When reading the ingredient list, keep in mind that they are listed in order from highest to lowest concentration

When buying infused beauty from the drugstore, it’s not uncommon that cannabis seed oil is not listed as a top ingredient. A lot of these commercial cannabis products are marketed as hemp-based when they really only have a very small amount of oil infused in them. 

In fact, a recent Penn Medicine study showed that over 70% of CBD products sold online are mislabeled, and contain much more, or much less, CBD than advertised. 

Another thing to keep in mind when reading an ingredient label is all of the lovely words we cannot pronounce. Stick to a simple list of ingredients that you are familiar with. It’s also best to avoid products with harmful fillers. Some ingredients to avoid are: alcohol, sulfates, parabens, talc, artificial scent or colors. 

To ensure you are getting quality ingredients, purchase from brands you trust. Most small cannabis beauty owners are proud to showcase their ingredients rather than hide them amongst a long list of added fillers. Getting to the main source of the brand can help us gain knowledge of where they harvest their ingredients and how potent a product actually is.


dispensary storefront


2. Shopping With Your Senses


When shopping for weed, we tend to consider the smell, sight, touch and taste of the bud. We shouldn’t limit this shopping experience strictly to cannabis flower. But, this is hard to do at a drugstore. 


Independently-owned cannabis companies are known for creating personalized shopping experiences. When you shop locally, you are able to develop a closer relationship with the brand and the people who represent it. That is in part because consumers are able to ask questions about the product, and how it is made. Additionally, small businesses understand the needs of their customer base and can move quickly to make sure those needs are met. 


The employees at a store that specializes in cannabis products are more knowledgeable on the ins and outs of CBD than those at a typical drugstore. As such, they can help recommend products for your specific needs. Becoming a valued customer of a small business is much more rewarding than shopping from huge industry brands. 


Neon sign reads: 'Do Something Great"


3. Support Brands that Support You


Another important factor to keep in mind when deciding to shop big box or indie is the brand’s corporate social responsibility (CSR). CSR, which incorporates give back, equity and sustainability programs, are important for consumers to consider because they help buyers understand the brand’s ethics. 


CSR programs can emphasize the brand’s use of raw or natural products; where and how products are made; and their policy on animal testing. They can help us identify with a company’s core values, so you can ensure you are consuming with conscience.


In 2020 it is crucial to go green – and not just by smoking it! Our planet is our home, so supporting brands that are environmentally friendly or give back to their communities will help clean up our planet while also providing us with quality infused products. 


So, next time you’re shopping for cannabis beauty products, consider purchasing from a small or independent brand while keeping these three factors in mind: ingredients, customer service relationship, and the brand’s core values. 


Some ways you can discover indie cannabis companies are: ask your budtender for their recommendations/suggestions, or shop at your local farmers market for products like handmade soaps and body lotions. Finally, stay up to date with cannabis news and events in your area with sites like, or Facebook groups centered around supporting local businesses. Using these tips will help you decide whether to support local or buy from big cannabis. 

Emerald contributor since October 2020


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