High Country: Sephora embarks on largest CBD skincare launch yet with Saint Jane
As a new decade begins, the beauty industry’s infatuation with cannabis continues.
CBD as a skincare ingredient has proved it’s much more than just the next trend thanks to conscious, clean beauty companies like Saint Jane, which earlier this month, hit shelves in 281 Sephora stores in 22 states across America.
It’s the largest CBD launch the LVMH-owned multinational chain of beauty boutiques has ever supported following its foray into cannabis skincare—first introducing Lord Jones online and in-stores (across 171 locations comparatively) in 2018. Saint Jane is also one of Sephora’s fastest success stories, with its best-selling Luxury Beauty Serum making a dot-com debut just four months after the brand launched.
Earning Sephora’s support was a full-circle moment for founder and CEO Casey Georgeson. While studying for her MBA at Stanford University, she begged for an unpaid internship at the company’s North America headquarters in San Francisco to pursue her passion for beauty products. Unlike Sephora’s standard high school- and undergraduate-level interns, Georgeson boasted previous career experience as a producer at CNN and the creative force behind Cupcake Vineyards for The Wine Group, one of the largest wine companies in the world.
Upon graduation, she was swiftly hired by the beauty brand incubator Kendo to lead its partnership division where she led the development for designer brands like Marc Jacobs, Kat von D, and Disney for Sephora. But even the beauty industry veteran thought pitching her own product was a long shot.
“Even with my background, to be totally honest, I thought, ‘There is no way Sephora is going to bring this on,’” Georgeson shared via phone. “We’re not even a brand yet. We have 100 followers on Instagram. They’re just going to look at this as a favor and tell me, ‘OK Casey, this is a cute little idea you have here. Don’t call us, we’ll call you.’”
Georgeson got an email response from Sephora’s vice president of skincare merchandising, Cindy Deily, within 15 minutes after she received the Luxury Beauty Serum sample at her office. The rest is CBD skincare history.
Saint Jane was born Jan. 28, 2019, and as it approaches its one-year anniversary, it has already achieved what most beauty companies aim for in a lifetime. Clean beauty retailer Credo was the first outside stockist with Sephora, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Space NK soon following suit.
The patron saint of healing herself was born on the same date in the 1500s and is who Georgeson wanted to honor through her still 100% self-funded company.
“Saint Jane was an actual person—anointed into sainthood for healing people—specifically healing women that French society shunned …the elderly, the sickly, or unwed mothers,” Georgeson explained. “And like this pioneering feminist, we have a healing-centric approach to beauty. It has a double meaning for the innocent side of ‘Mary Jane,’ too, because I always wanted CBD to be the hero ingredient.”
Georgeson views and treats CBD as a vitamin and classifies it as a skincare superhero ingredient alongside hyaluronic acid and vitamin C and added, “It’s a molecule not a miracle, and depending on what it’s paired with, it works even better. As the (beauty) industry gets more educated on cannabis, people are starting to see it as more of a supplement—a good-for-you ingredient versus as a psychoactive.”
She personally sources Saint Jane’s hemp from sustainable, female-owned farms and has every batch tested for potency and purity by a third-party lab partner. According to the brand, the Luxury Beauty Serum contains the highest concentration of CBD for a facial serum on the market (and at Sephora) with 500 milligrams in each bottle; the Luxury Body Serum contains 200 milligrams of CBD oil.
More than 20 effective additional botanicals enhance her formula, such as wood oil, prickly pear, sea buckthorn, rosehip and pomegranate, which when combined, improve radiance, reduce inflammation, detoxify impurities and soothe the skin.
“We strive to provide clients with the most on-trend and sought-after products,” Deily said. “We saw a strong desire for an assortment of prestige CBD offerings, and Saint Jane has been a pioneer in growing the space. With their goal of bringing CBD to the forefront as an efficacious ingredient in prestige skincare, Saint Jane is passionate about education and category innovation and ingredient exploration and are thrilled to introduce more of our community to this new indie brand.”
As such, Saint Jane will be merchandised in-store on Sephora’s Indie Beauty Wall, a showcase of the most promising up-and-coming, buzz-worthy brands. As part of Saint Jane’s dedication to consumer education, outreach includes a video tutorial, written material and product samples for Sephora staff.
The Luxury Beauty Serum bottle itself looks and feels luxurious—think thick, matte black glass with a gold-plated brand badge—but it’s what’s inside that warrants the opulent packaging and high price point (the regular size retails for $125). Saint Jane’s new travel size ($38) is exclusive to Sephora and the Luxury Body Serum available online only ($58).
With customer testimonials ranging from regular use resulting in flawless skin to clearing up cystic acne to relieving rosacea pain, Saint Jane has deservedly earned awards from The Zoe Report (Best New Luxury Skincare Product of 2019), O, The Oprah Magazine (Best Body Product), Health (Best Facial Oil), PopSugar (Most Innovative Product) and more. It has also cured chronic skin issues for two top beauty editors at Glamour and Refinery 29.
The accolades and overwhelmingly positive customer reviews are also now validated by a medical stamp of approval from a medicinal cannabis pioneer. Dr. June Chin was recently announced as the company’s chief medical adviser in conjunction with the Sephora expansion. A chronic pain survivor practicing in New York City, Chin holds multiple degrees in nutrition and osteopathic medicine. Her personal experience led to the discovery of CBD, which she incorporates into her integrative approach to overall patient care and treating diseases including epilepsy, cancer and autism.
“Saint Jane is the most innovative CBD beauty company in the U.S., with an impressive team developing cutting-edge products,” said Chin, a noted expert in the space whose been featured on the “Today Show” and in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and elsewhere. “Since its inception, Saint Jane has introduced important transparency to the world of CBD beauty products. In this strategic role, my focus is to empower consumers to make more confident decisions with accurate and reliable information and to demystify CBD.”
Georgeson added, “In all of my years in beauty, I’ve never seen an ingredient that has this level of potential and performance in the skincare and wellness world.”
During the first quarter 2020, Georgeson plans to add Sephora-specific positions to her small team of 10 (she’s also a mom to three young daughters) to help oversee the day-to-day operations and communication with stores. Saint Jane is also working on releasing additional exclusive products exclusively for Sephora, which underscores her company’s commitment to the retailer—its largest point of distribution. Complementing Saint Jane’s Microdose Lip Gloss collection, a CBD-infused lipstick line will launch later this year.
Katie Shapiro can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and followed on Twitter at @bykatieshapiro.