On the cusp of cannabis laws chang­ing in Canada, Ju­lia Mcewen heads to France to cel­e­brate The Body Shop’s 20th an­niver­sary of its hero hemp body-care range.

Canadian Living - - Contents -

The Body Shop’s best­selling hemp range turns 20

One of my ear­li­est skin-care mem­o­ries

is of vis­it­ing The Body Shop in Ot­tawa’s Rideau Cen­tre to pur­chase its soon-to-be-iconic hand cream made with hemp. Be­sides cola-flavoured lip balm and coloured hair mas­cara, as a 12-year-old, I saw this as a very grown-up pur­chase— and with the graphic hemp leaf stamped on the metal­lic tube, I had a hunch there was some­thing re­bel­lious about that salve.

In 1998, Anita Rod­dick—the late cru­sad­ing en­tre­pre­neur who founded The Body Shop—de­buted the Bri­tish brand’s hemp range, and the con­tro­ver­sial in­gre­di­ent gar­nered a re­cep­tion that sur­prised even Rod­dick her­self: When the com­pany be­gan the roll­out, French po­lice seized prod­ucts con­tain­ing hempseed oil (the part of the plant used in the line), claim­ing it en­cour­aged drug use; in the United States, the launch piqued the in­ter­est of the Drug En­force­ment Ad­min­is­tra­tion; and here at home, Health Canada threat­ened to raid ware­houses hold­ing the hemp prod­ucts that were des­tined to be de­liv­ered to a store near you.

We’ve come a long way, baby! As cannabis is about to be le­gal­ized across Canada on Oct. 17, it’s dif­fi­cult to be­lieve that this provoca­tive beauty range is al­ready cel­e­brat­ing its 20th an­niver­sary. Mind­sets have changed re­gard­ing hemp, though there’s still plenty of mys­tery shroud­ing the link be­tween hemp and mar­i­juana. “The same cannabis plant cre­ates both,” says Jen­nifer Hirsch, renowned botanist and con­sul­tant for The Body Shop. “The dif­fer­ence comes down to the chem­istry within the plant.” In­dus­trial hemp is cul­ti­vated to en­sure the low­est amount (less than 0.2 per­cent) of tetrahy­dro­cannabi­nol (THC), which is the psy­choac­tive chem­i­cal com­pound in mar­i­juana that im­parts the high.

To­day, the hemp range is one of The Body Shop’s most prof­itable, with a tube of Hemp Hard-work­ing Hand Pro­tec­tor be­ing sold ev­ery nine sec­onds world­wide. Dur­ing win­ter­time, it’s the brand’s best­selling prod­uct in Canada. Why so pop­u­lar? Be­cause it works, says Hirsch. Hemp oil is rich in es­sen­tial fatty acids, like omegas. “Your skin pro­duces se­bum and nat­u­ral mois­tur­iz­ing fac­tors, and hemp has that per­fect bal­ance of omega-3, -6 and -9,” says Hirsch. She likens hemp oil’s struc­ture to your own se­bum. “It en­hances your skin’s bar­rier func­tion, which means you’ll re­tain more mois­ture and your skin will be able to do its job in pro­tect­ing you.”

Since 1987, Rod­dick’s pi­o­neer­ing com­mu­nity trade ini­tia­tives have be­come an es­sen­tial part of The Body Shop’s DNA, and the com­pany is proud to source its hemp oil from La Chan­vrière, a hemp co-op in the heart of France. There’s noth­ing seedy—ex­cept the hemp oil—about the suc­cess of this iconic beauty range. It was pop­u­lar long be­fore cannabis was a buz­zwor­thy skin-care in­gre­di­ent, and it will be beloved long after.

The car­bon ab­sorp­tion of hemp is four times more ef­fec­tive at cap­tur­ing CO2 than trees— im­pres­sive!

The Body Shop World Bio-bridge Mis­sion will re­ceive $1.60 from the sale of each hemp hand cream. These bridges con­nect habi­tats help­ing en­dan­gered species mate, sur­vive and thrive.

Fash­ion & Beauty di­rec­tor Ju­lia Mcewen toured La Chan­vrière’s hemp fields.

THE BODY SHOP Lim­ited-edi­tion Hemp Hand Pro­tec­tor, $21, the­bodyshop.ca.

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