Oregon Cannabis Bodycare
By Art Cosgrove
Empower Body Care is a rising star in the Northwest cannabeauty scene. The company embraces a minimalist style and offers a small catalogue of bodycare products that are just as much of a medicine as they are cosmetics.
Trista Okel runs Portland based company, and has been involved in the medical canna-biz for more than 10 years. We spoke to her about her products and the future of the company.
Okel had first become aware of cannabis infused topicals in 2005 while her mother dealt with pain from three forms of arthritis and a broken back. However, it wasn’t until a camping trip that she witnessed the benefits of cannabis in action. “On a camping trip with a friend, a big log dropped on her foot and we broke open some cannabis capsules,” said Okel, while explaining the company’s origins. “We put the oil on this person’s foot, and I watched the swelling go down. It was then I started experimenting with different formulations of cannabis topicals for pain and inflammation.“
After using her daughter’s first creations, Okel’s mother reported decreased pain in her back and from her arthritis. The pain, she described, went from an eight to a four on the traditional medical comparative pain scale.
Clearly she was on to something.
Okel was already an aroma-therapist by trade, so she began combining terpenes, trying to come up with new synergies and harmonies that might take topical pain treatment, combined with a cosmetic sensibility, to a whole new level. She took the terpenes, the molecular compound found in cannabis (and a variety of other plants). After oxidation the terpenes became terpenoids, which she mixed with the terpenoids found in the essential oils of other plants widely used in aromatherapy. The result became the Empower Oils line of body-care products.
Empower Topical Relief Oil
This is the closest to the original oil Okel developed for her mother’s pain. It’s a mix of Bergamot, Lavender, Wintergreen and several other essential oils in a carrier of organic jojoba, grapeseed and sweet almond oils. It helps keep the skin looking and smelling great while treating pain. It’s available in a CBD-only White Label blend that is legal in all 50 states. Their Black Label products contain THC and CBD, and are only available in states with legal cannabis.
Empower is licensed under the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC), meaning they’re available in recreational as well as medical cannabis dispensaries.
“This year I’m hoping to spend more time developing and releasing new products I’ve been working on,” says Okel when discussing her flagship product, “particularly a moisturizing lotion and a spray.” Empower is also developing a new line of skincare products.
Empower Soaking Salts
The soaking salts were essentially designed to get the all-over body feel and aromatherapy effects that one can’t with a small roll-on.
“For my soaking salts, we use three forms of salt: a pharmaceutical grade Epsom salt, Dead Sea salt that we source from Jordan (because they don’t strip-mine, they hand-harvest), and pink Himalayan salt, which is naturally high in Calcium Fluoride,“ says Okel.
“I had a really interesting challenge, which is that cannabinoids and salts have opposing polarities,” she continues, which is why salt works so well to clean weed pipes, “so I had to come up with a way to make the cannabinoids stick to the salt.” In addition, she had to find a way to make the salts less slippery, so users don’t take a tumble coming out of the bath. Okel’s not giving away any details on how she made it happen, but suffice to say, she has found success, with people using the salts for everything she intended and for uses she never considered. Some customers report using the soaking salts to ward off oncoming cold and flu symptoms.
Empower 4PLAY Sensual Oil
Okel says she created 4PLAY at the behest of several customers, and the reviews show why they clamored for it. Released in the autumn of 2015, the popular sensual oil is for those intimate moments — or just while you’re walking around town. Unlike Empower’s other products, 4PLAY actually has decarboxylated THC in it, so it can actually make you feel something (other than sexy), and can also theoretically be detected on a drug test.
“In the other products I make, I don’t decarboxylate, I leave it in THCA (THC acid) form.” Okel says of the process that makes the sensual oil so potent. She says most people won’t get high, but “most people feel a sense of relaxation”
4PLAY oil is part of a new wave of sensual cannabeauty products that could change the face of the industry. It’s been popular for Empower in its short time as part of their offerings.
“We’ve also discovered that it works great for cramps. I take that product category very seriously, in that I only use fractionated coconut oil, because other oils are known to throw off a woman’s pH,” says Okel.
“I started off with a crockpot in a kitchen,” she says when speaking of her factory in Portland. “Now I’m working on an anti-aging serum, some make-up… and we’re a self-funded company, no investors, so our roll-out time is a little bit longer. But we’ll be releasing those products in the next few months.”
Empower is currently only sold in Oregon dispensaries but they’re currently seeking licensing partners in every state where cannabis is legal.
As Okel puts it, “Our goal is to grow Empower into a national brand. I want to be the Kleenex or Q-Tip of topicals.”
For more information, visit EmpowerBodyCare.com