Last month, Cosmoprof North America whisked me away for a weekend in Las Vegas, NV during which time I was able to connect with a number of Black-owned skincare and beauty brands such as Luna Magic, Ceylon and others doing dynamic things to transform the industry. One brand that particularly stood out to me was the Latinx-owned and woman of color-operated brand called Just Beauty CBD that not only demonstrated a clear passion for Black women and women of color but also created a source of education for consumers to learn about the benefits of CBD-infused beauty.

During her years as a stay-at-home mother, Shamor Belliard experienced high bouts of anxiety. When she first went to her doctors, they immediately suggested putting her on anti-anxiety medication but due to her healthy and holistic approach to daily living, the idea of medicating completely turned her off. After having a conversation with her husband Israel, her interest began to peak around the alleged benefits of CBD and she started to dip her toes into the water little by little.

She got her informal introduction through tinctures, which Belliard claimed to help calm her anxiety and allow her to sleep better. Once she began to see the benefits in her own day-to-day life, Belliard turned her attention to her mother-in-law, who suffers from rheumatoid arthritis. “She was taken off two pills when we introduced tinctures to her,” Belliard tells ESSENCE proudly. “Long story short, we saw the benefits of using the CBD approach in contrast to pills or other approaches.”

Belliard continued to explain how CBD changed her relationship with her skincare routine after becoming a mother. “I was always very self-conscious of my skin. I’ve had really good skin, but I just felt going into my mid-twenties and into my thirties, especially after having kids, my body and my skin changed,” she confided.

She continued that when searching through Sephora or other large retailers, she would get intimidated by not being able to understand products. “It wasn’t that easy to understand for me. I went with what I knew, which were ingredients,” she says as she revealed that she was a professional chef prior to her CBD entrepreneurial ventures. By combining her culinary expertise and appreciation for ingredients with her husband’s background in luxury wines and spirit with Moët Hennessy, they conceived Just Beauty CBD for the advancement of accessibility of CBD beauty products for Black and brown communities. “We wanted something that was approachable, understanding, clean, transparent, and that’s how this brand was born,” she shares.

Just Beauty CBD is branded as one of the most affordable, earth-friendly CBD beauty brands in the industry and is clean, affordable, vegan, cruelty-free, and sustainable all the way from the ingredients to the packaging. From their Body Love CBD Butter and Face + Neck Night CBD Oil to their Eye Divine CBD Serum and Lip Mood CBD Balm, the collection is a waterless brand with eco-friendly ultraviolet premium glass packaging to protect the all-natural blends without preservatives. More recently, Just Beauty CBD partnered with the One Tree Planted 501(c)(3) nonprofit to plant a tree for every order sold in areas suffering from deforestation.

Following the conference, ESSENCE caught up with Belliard and esthetician Shawntee Alexander about the inspiration behind the Just Beauty CBD brand, the benefits of CBD in skincare and body products, and their hopes for the future of Black and brown women in the CBD industry.

Myths and Misconceptions About CBD and Hemp Plants:

Shawntee Alexander: I think one of the biggest misconceptions, first and foremost, is that people are confusing CBD with THC. So their first question always is, “Is it going to make me feel high?” I think that’s the number one question that people are actually really concerned about. I think that people don’t necessarily realize that CBD is an anti-inflammatory. It actually helps soothe your skin and calm your skin. Especially if you have skin breakouts, such as psoriasis, eczema, and things of that nature. CBD also helps to even skin tone on top of all the other benefits of it being extremely moisturizing.

Personal Experiences of the Benefits of CBD in Daily Living:

Shamor Belliard: I continued to take my CBD tinctures with my skincare line. I’ve seen great benefits of evening out my skin tone from using rosehip in our face and neck oil at night. Our face and neck night oil, which has rosehip, grape seed oil, has great antioxidants, helped even out my skin tone. Like I said, I didn’t take care of myself too much after the kids. I wasn’t wearing sunblock. I was just not wearing makeup and doing any of these things to take care of myself. I really needed a very simple skincare routine that had the best benefits and that was potent. Our skincare line is waterless so you don’t have any preservatives. We have ingredients such as pomegranate, which is high in vitamin C, for our skin tone that helps; we need vitamin C.

I grew up seeing my grandmother with her beauty regimen. That woman would put anything you gave her. As I got older, my grandmother passed away from breast cancer. As females, we put hair products, we have skin products, we have makeup, we have lotions, nails – you name it. We’re just constantly piling it on. I wanted to make sure that we, as our community, are represented in the green, clean movement. We should be able to have access to things that are good for us. It’s unfortunate that we don’t always have the whole foods in all these places in our communities. So I’m not a whole foods. I’m not any of those stores, but if I can provide skincare line, that’s accessible and clean, that lets me sleep at night.

The Benefits of Pomegranate Extract In CBD-Infused Beauty:

Alexander: Pomegranate oil is actually a very gentle natural form of vitamin C for your skin. You don’t necessarily see it that much in products, which is what makes Just Beauty CBD very unique. It’s a healthy aging agent. It helps support the skin and it helps the skin bounce back. It also helps provide sun protection. I feel like a lot of people, especially people and women of color, have this notion that because we have melanin skin, we don’t need sun protection; it’s quite opposite. We need sun protection more than ever because the sun loves us.

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While getting that extra benefit of using pomegranate seed oil, as well as using your sunscreen, you’re really protecting your skin for the entire day. It helps with collagen production. As we get older, we want to make sure that our collagen is nice and plump. That helps give our skin that radiant healthy glow and overall helps us feel better about our skin. It helps protect the layers of our skin, too. The pomegranate oil being included inside of the CBD, working with the anti-inflammatory, you’re protecting your skin 360 degrees, all the way around.

Representation in the CBD Industry for Black and Brown Women:

Belliard: I think that right now is our time. This is a time for women. We’re empowering each other right now. We have this opportunity that people are aware that we have potential. We have things that we want to talk about. We have an opportunity. When it comes to empowering women of color, our brand relates to that. Coming from my Latina background and growing up in New York, I never saw products like what we have. I would have to go to SoHo to witness or experience, and even that was intimidating. I couldn’t go into a store. Could I afford that?

That’s what sets us apart. We’re eco-friendly, we’re conscious of our future. We’re conscious of what we’re putting onto our skin. We care about being accessible especially with the times that we’re living in. We’re able to mark ourselves at $48 because it’s being accessible. We shouldn’t have to choose, “can I afford rent or take care of myself today?” You shouldn’t be able to take care of yourself. I would love to see our products in big stores, but I want to make sure it’s accessible for everybody. I think this is our moment and I think we’re in a very good space.

Alexander: I have been in the beauty industry for a very long time. Just recently, there are companies that have been around forever that are doing target marketing towards women of color but I don’t have any faith or belief in those brands because I feel like it’s just a whole marketing tool. I feel like people are really creating products for us, by us and it’s exciting. I can finally see products that I believe are truly meant for women and people of color versus the brands that have been around for however many years. All of a sudden, they just slap a little different label on something, and then boom, it’s for us all of a sudden. It’s exciting to be a part of Just Beauty CBD and it’s a growing brand where there are so many possibilities. I feel like we’re in the beginning of a new era.

Beauty Product and Knowledge Accessibility For Black and Brown Communities:

Belliard: Going back to what is available to us as far as food and what we’re eating look at the diseases in our community, everything is layered on. Education is so key and part of our mission is to educate and to break the stigma of what CBD is and that we are able to have access to clean food and clean ingredients. That stereotype that only being Caucasian, being skinny, and looking like a runway model was beautiful is so real. My husband’s Puerto Rican, but he looks Asian. I’m Dominican and you don’t know what I look like until I open my mouth sometimes.

Checking off a box just doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel honest. With the beauty industry, you can market a serum for $300. Why? Why do you have to do that? Is it because you want to fit a certain community, a certain zip code? Those are just things that we want to break that stereotype down to the sieving and package sizing. We’re printed on soy ink. These are things that normally people would never even think about. I started learning about toxic beauty and layering all these things onto my body, not until this year.

We faced so many challenges when we launched during the pandemic. It was super challenging for us to have access to certain things again, but we want people in our communities to take the time to educate themselves and that you can have these things accessible to you. There are brands like us that will make sure that you have access to these things. You want to be able to say, “I paid $48 for this. I pay $55 for this,” and if it feels rich. It feels like I deserve to have this stuff.

Removing The Stigma Around CBD and Creating Spaces For Black and Brown Women in CBD Beauty

Alexander: It goes down to every single thing – what you consume, how you’re eating, what you’re putting on your skin. I would really like to see the negative stigma around CBD take a seat. They make it really negative when it has so many properties and benefits for people. I feel like anything natural that actually works, they try to gear us away from. I would really hope to see the stigma around CBD fade away and people will be able to see all of their options out there for skincare. As women, we have so many standards, right? We have to be perfect, our makeup has to be perfect, our skin needs to be clear. There’s just so many rules and limitations, I feel that it gives us all anxiety and this quest for perfection, which is like there’s nothing is perfect. 

Belliard: We’re always distracted by the other women that were not embracing our own self-love. That’s something that was key for us – embracing self-love and the unfiltered version of you. Stop worrying about other women; focus on how beautiful you are. Embrace those tiger stripes because I know I have them, but to end this because I know we have to wrap it up is that we do want to end up being in big retail stores. We want to be an online direct to consumers. We want to just to let everybody know that there’s access to clean sustainable vegan skincare for us as well. I would like to see us in more big stores. I won’t say names of other companies but I do want to see CBD skincare and hair products in big stores. I want to see representation, not on the packaging, but who’s working behind the scenes doing this.

Just Beauty CBD is offering ESSENCE readers a special offer! Visit www.iamjustbeauty.com and use code JBESS20 for 20% off your first purchase until 10/31 at 11:59pm, free shipping on orders over $50 and 30-day money-back guarantee!

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