4 Min Read |

With the marijuana revolution showing no signs of losing pace, luxury fragrances are tapping into an emerging demand for earthy, woodsy creations.

“Going Green” now brings with it an entirely new meaning. High-end beauty influencers are welcoming fragrances designed to highlight the scent of cannabis. 

Barney’s New York is leading the way when it comes to capitalizing in this new category. One fragrance stocked called Dirty Glass produced by Heretic Parfum’s Douglas Little, is an earthy scent with 500 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD oil in each bottle. Malin + Goetz’s Cannabis Eau De Parfum, balances white floral notes with spicy herbs.

As the tolerance for marijuana becomes more recognized, both in legal regulation and public opinion, perfumers and fragrance manufacturers are finding innovative ways to rise above any lasting pot-head stereotypes. They are also taking advantage of the CBD trend creeping into almost every consumer category, featuring in everything from hair care and cosmetics to drinks and vape cartridges.

Research estimates that the market for CBD in the U.S. alone could be worth almost $24 billion by 2023. The global fragrance market was valued at $52.7 billion in 2018 and is expected to be worth $72.3 billion by 2024, according to Mordor Intelligence. 

Five years ago, when Cannabis Eau de Parfum was released to the market by Malin + Goetz, it was seen as risky. “Now everyone is trying to find their way in and their opportunity,” co-founder Andrew Goetz states.

President of the Fragrance Foundation Linda Levy says cannabis-based fragrances “seem to be very trendy, very of-the-moment.” The organization’s members include Chanel, Guerlain, and LVMH.

Although many of the industry giants have yet to enter the market with cannabis-themed products, things may be about to change. “In the past two years in the beauty category, cannabis became one of those real conversation pieces,” Levy says.

A More Understated Scent 

Demeter Fragrance Library was one of the first to launch a cannabis offering to the market with Cannabis Flower in 2006. Chief executive officer, Mark Crames, formulated it to have “that skunky cannabis smell,” although in a more discreet version.

“It’s the true cannabis smell modified enough, so it was wearable,” he says. “I didn’t want you to get pulled over for driving under the influence while wearing my cologne.”

The typical customer profile is women up to about the age of 35, however the fragrance is now one of the company’s bestsellers, and available in about 100 stores. Cannabis Flower is a more gender-neutral offering than others available from Demeter Fragrance Library.

More recent fragrances are inclined towards smoky or woodsy notes, with hints of cedar and sandalwood, Levy says.

Released in May, unisex fragrance Dirty Grass, created by Heretic Parfum is a 50-milliliter bottle containing 500 milligrams of hemp-derived CBD oil to give it a slightly sweet, herb-like scent. The company previous developed products for Dita Von Teese and Lady Gaga.  Although specific research is yet to confirm the benefits of inhaling CBD fragrances, breathing the perfume can deliver it directly to the bloodstream according to Douglas Little, founder of Heretic Parfum.

Brooklyn-based CBD producer Lily has a premium roll-on that catering for the travel retail market and on-the-go application. A “mixture of smoky oud wood notes” it has 200 milligrams of its premium, full-spectrum CBD. 

Both Lily and Heretic’s packaging is tailored for the luxury market including sleek, glass bottles that distinguish themselves from cannabis products of the past. “They may not be smoking weed on their lunch break,” Little says, “but they may love to have a bottle of cannabis fragrance in the bathroom.”

“The main priority was to make a perfume out of it, not just: This smells like weed.” says 19-69’s Chronic, creator Johan Bergelin. He defines it as a leafy, vibrant green that mellows out into a cashmere wood fragrance. “Weed is on top of mind right now, it’s part of the counterculture, it’s part of society.”

“We Perceive Scent Very Much Like A Memory”

David Edwards, a professor of bioengineering at Harvard University who’s done work on digitizing scent, suggests the appeal of cannabis-based fragrances may lie in their ability to foster positive association with past experiences.

“Olfactory nerves go right to the brain, very near to the hippocampus,” he says referencing The Department of Olfactory Art, Museum of Arts and Design in New York. “We perceive scent very much like a memory, and it stays in our mind like a memory.”

“For the most part, the ones I’m smelling have more to do with the outdoors, trees, woods,” says Levy. “Now that the U.S. is allowing weed to be legal state-by-state, it also allows it to be something everyone is talking about.”

Bergelin compares it to the aloe vera craze a decade ago. Brands are almost certainly using interest in CBD to their advantage. His desire was not to strictly imitate the marijuana scent but to interpret it to inspire a beautiful perfume. 

“We’re dealing with cosmetics,” Bergelin says. “That means it’s not real. It’s a dream or illusion.”

Subscribe & Join 50,000 Fellow Beauty Industry Professionals

Get our complimentary briefing, featuring agenda setting news & analysis on the global beauty industry.

By signing up I agree to the service terms and privacy policy