trends

A Look at the Burgeoning Market for CBD Intimacy Products

A Look at the Burgeoning Market for CBD Intimacy Products

In recent years, CBD has taken the health, wellness and self-care industry by storm. With its potential to alleviate the anxiety, pain and inflammation that afflict so many people — and sometimes even their pets, for which CBD products are available as well — it was only a matter of time until CBD was introduced as the integral ingredient of a wide range of sexual wellness products. From lubricants and arousal oils to gummies and other edibles, CBD’s healing properties are now being used to improve sex lives, making it a popular ingredient to which shoppers are flocking for enhanced pleasure and intimacy.

Angela Mustone, an entrepreneur with decades of experience in the cosmetics, cannabis and pleasure products industries, who merged her broad range of experience to create her brand, High on Love, explains what makes CBD products particularly welcoming to the mainstream.

CBD harnesses the benefits of cannabis with no psychoactive effects, so it’s way more accessible and appropriate for a wider market.

“CBD harnesses the benefits of cannabis with no psychoactive effects, so it’s way more accessible and appropriate for a wider market,” she says. “You can enjoy the relaxing and anti-inflammatory properties without any ‘high’ that you’d have to manage with a THC product. It’s mild, natural and works well in many different types of products, so it’s a winner.”

Bella Lopez, controller for bath product brand It’s the Bomb, who also serves as a medicinal cannabis and CBD consultant, praises hemp as a “multi-industry product that has a vast range of uses and benefits.” She explains that the advantages span from “farmers agriculturally growing the plant to manufacturers having the creative freedom to produce everything from clothing, paper, building material and extracting the CBD molecule and using its medicinal properties to make massage oils, lubes, balms and tinctures.”

With stress afflicting so many people in various aspects of their life, Personal Fav Co. founder Stephanie Elias finds that CBD has wide appeal.

“A huge reason for the hype is that it is a clean ingredient that helps with our stress,” she says. “Stress has never been higher in this country, so thank goodness people are waking up and realizing we can manage our stress with a powerful plant rather than another pharmaceutical that just makes us feel like a numb zombie. The hype is from a true need.”

As for skeptics who think CBD is just hype, Vinicius Alcuri Campos, who heads up European sales for Intt Sensual Cosmetics, says most people still have a lot to learn about how CBD works.

“There are many other phytocannabinoids in the plant and I believe that it will not be just a trend, as we are increasingly studying these substances and discovering new applications,” Campos predicts. “This is because we have an endocannabinoid system in our body that connects with the phytocannabinoids of the plant, and the function of this system is to seek balance and well-being in our body.”

Because of this synergetic system between the body and CBD, Campos foresees more development of “new products to improve our quality of life.”

Bedroom Kandi Boutique Parties Executive Director Rita Silva-Grondin also sees the market for CBD products as being in its infancy.

“Only over the last 25 years have researchers begun to understand the endocannabinoid system as an important neuromodulatory system — the human body is made to receive cannabanoids,” Silva-Grondin emphasizes. “There’s so much potential for CBD and we’re only now finally getting to test the efficacy and put some data to the claims.”

Citing “well-documented formal studies confirming it helps relieve pain from inflammation and calms anxiety” and reports that “many have been able to reduce or eliminate their pharmaceutical drug intake because of CBD,” Dr. Sadie Allison, founder and CEO of GoLove, which offers a signature CBD Intimate Serum, also expects growth in the CBD industry as “cannabinoid science is progressing, and laws are relaxing.”

“Many of the major drug stores, grocery chains and retailers, such as CVS, Walgreens, Walmart and Sephora, are now offering CBD products,” she points out. “There are already two pharmaceutical medications that contain CBD: Epidiolex and Sativex, which have both gone through multiple clinical trials to be approved by the FDA. And there’s still plenty of room for innovation of creative, effective and meaningful new products.”

CBD’s presence on mainstream store shelves continues to fuel its popularity, notes Heather Bahr, COO and formulation specialist for EngErotics, a maker of CBD-infused intimate body care products.

“CBD is relatively new to many mainstream consumers and people are curious as to the benefits and use,” she says. “Most people who experiment with incorporating CBD into their intimate wellness practices find great satisfaction and want to try it in new ways or in new products. It’s fun and it feels good.”

Lavinia founder Katie Enright says that the taboo surrounding cannabis and the fact that it is illegal is some states also contributes to the popularity of CBD products that can be purchased from major retailers.

“I also love that it has so much hype because it’s really a steppingstone to normalizing cannabis,” she says. “People have a really negative stereotype still. Cannabis has had so much hate for so long and has been stigmatized for so long.”

As for the most popular types of CBD products for sexual wellness, most industry experts say lubricants, topical enhancers and massage oils take the lead in demand.

“We’ve been seeing a trend recently for CBD products for self-care and self-love,” Bahr adds. “Products that pamper and allow folks to have some precious and luxurious ‘me time’ have become more in-demand. At EngErotics, we’ve been selling a lot more of our Body Polish and Soaking Sand Bath Shots.”

“CBD oils are the most popular option as it is a convenient and easy way to incorporate CBD into their daily routine,” says Dr. Dmitry Loktionov, CEO and co-founder of premium self-care and sexual wellness brand Quanna. “Second largest are CBD gummies, followed by CBD topicals, which are designed to provide localized effects to areas when applied directly to the skin. This also include lubricants with CBD. Each type of CBD product offers unique benefits depending on individual needs and preferences, and it’s important to consult with a health care professional before incorporating CBD into your routine.”

According to Campos, the most popular CBD products on the market run the gamut from oils, lubricants, gummies and creams to lip balm and vapes or smokable flowers. However, Allison notes that the adult space has also seen demand for “sensual CBD intimate serums, erotic bath salts/bombs, massage oils, suppositories, clitoral arousers, candles, scented diffusers and more.”

The popularity of gummy vitamins may have contributed to the demand for their CBD-infused sexual wellness counterparts.

“CBD gummies are definitely the most popular because they are familiar to consumers,” Lopez says. “Who doesn’t like a chewy sweet treat?”

According to Lopez, the next-most popular CBD product is sublingual tinctures because this method of consumption, holding the extract under the tongue for 60 seconds, is the fastest way for it to take effect.

“The higher the CBD content, the longer you have to hold the CBD under the tongue,” she advises.

Highly Beneficial

CBD has been shown to have a number of therapeutic benefits and is well known for its anti-inflammatory and circulation-boosting properties, which can help decrease pain during sex — something often experienced after childbirth or during menopause, and with which many people must deal long-term. Mustone points out that CBD can also help boost positive sensations due to increased blood flow, especially when combined with stimulating ingredients.

“In a more holistic sense, it can help us relax and unwind in order to get more out of sex,” Mustone adds. “That’s where CBD can shine in the form of a bath oil or massage oil — it can help relax our bodies to receive pleasure.”

When applied on the skin, the effects of topical CBD products have been reported in studies as ranging from heightened arousal and vasodilation, which promotes blood flow to the areas where applied, to pain relief, relaxation and increased sensitivity.

“Moreover, since the overall effect of CBD is to reduce anxiety, even oral preparations, if taken at the right time, can have effects promoting better sexual experiences, such as reduced performance anxiety,” Loktionov says.

Lopez further elaborates on the sexual wellness benefits of CBD, noting that new research suggests CBD can also assist with pelvic floor pain and increase libido.

“CBD can also help with alleviating PMS and menopause symptoms and is currently being tested in tampons to help reduce inflammation during menstruation,” she adds.

The reason why vulva owners benefit from CBD in particular is because of phytocannabinoid receptors in the vaginal canal, explains Campos, noting that it increases comfort, lubrication and sensation. According to Allison, her brand’s GoLove water-based formula was created with this in mind, as it absorbs more easily into a woman’s vaginal mucosa compared to oil-based alternatives.

“This means the symptoms of pain and inflammation can be reduced in as little as 15 minutes,” Allison explains. “It absorbs into the bloodstream and quickly finds its way to the brain and central nervous system, where it can help to relax muscle tension, reduce performance anxiety and even intensify orgasm. This can lead to more enjoyable sex — or simply allow intercourse to happen at all. Anxiety can be calmed in both partners, which can lead to better, more connected lovemaking. This might be the fast track to letting go, being in the moment and reaching full sexual potential.”

Silva-Grondin agrees that one of the biggest reasons people enjoy CBD in relation to intimacy is for relaxation.

“Americans are more stressed out dealing with mental health issues than ever before; CBD helps you unwind and get into a pleasurable headspace,” she says.

Whether used for solo intimate self-care or to enhance a couple’s experience, Bahr notes, CBD plus prolonged, intentional foreplay makes for better sex: “It gives the CBD time to absorb into the body and provide its relaxing and calming effects.”

1010 Scentuals founder Angel Roselle was inspired to create her line of CBD massage candles following her personal experience using CBD for healing her own physical pain.

“I first started off as a patient,” she says. “I’m a Vegas bartender as well, and I really messed up my back in 2019, to the point where I was bedridden for six months and I had to go through physical therapy. They put me on a bunch of medications and I needed all of the pain pills, and I decided I wanted to try a more natural, homeopathic type of way to deal with pain management. I started using bath bombs and CBD lotions and I smoked a lot during that time, and I was like, “You know what? This is so much better than any medication over the counter that they could give me.”

Roselle finds that the benefits she experiences with cannabis products are wide-ranging.

“When I use it I, it just enhances everything,” she says. “I’m more thoughtful and it enhances all sensations, all around, even my creativity.”

Unregulated Market

As with any new trend, there are both benefits and challenges to consider. A major hurdle facing the CBD sector of the sexual wellness industry is the lack of regulation, which leaves consumers to navigate a confusing and sometimes misleading market.

“I think it is a problem,” Loktionov says. “Without clear regulation, a lot of companies take advantage to promote misinformation which at best is misleading but at worst might cause some serious damage. There is also a problem with mislabeling products. Overall, this creates a big problem for the consumer in the form of mistrust towards CBD products. I certainly see that the industry is moving toward a more regulated market and soon there will be a clear division between OTC CBD and pharmaceutical CBD preparations. I welcome this development as it will be safer for consumers and will also remove ‘bad’ players.”

Mustone notes that in some countries, like Canada, CBD is dealt with as a controlled substance.

“While it does make it harder to land products on the shelves, it also offers a benefit to consumers in the sense that they know what’s in their products and are guaranteed a certain level of purity and quality,” she says. “It’s a controversial debate for sure, but I’m not against regulation.”

Lopez calls the topic of regulation a sensitive subject, noting especially the inconsistency of the FDA in regard to CBD. In 2018, she points out, the FDA approved a prescription drug for children two years of age and older, called Epidiolex, for the treatment of seizures associated with two rare and severe forms of epilepsy. Epidiolex contains CBD isolate as its key active ingredient, and costs patients over $32,000 a year.

“Now fast forward to 2023,” says Lopez. “Because of the lack of CBD knowledge, you have the FDA recently announcing that they have concluded ‘existing regulatory frameworks for foods and supplements are not appropriate for cannabidiol,’ so they will work with Congress on a new way forward. Right now, there are countless companies claiming their products have CBD when in fact they are just hemp seed oil, and hemp seed oil should contain little to no CBD. And vice versa for THC/CBD. There are some products that contain levels of THC when they shouldn’t contain any at all or less than 0.3% THC.

“Sadly, whether we find it necessary or not, our federal and state governments will take control and that’s why we must stay present in the decision-making when it comes to CBD. I want to see lives changed; I want to see this natural product that has less side effects than over-the-counter or prescription drugs finally shine the way it deserves.”

Elias believes that that the FDA does not actually always have consumers’ best interests in mind. However, she is confident that regulations will change since more brands and consumers are coming to understand the advantages of CBD.

“It will certainly help small business owners like ourselves to navigate payment processing more efficiently, and get into more doors, once we are approved to sell CBD products,” she says. “The shift in regulation will create more access for people that want and need to use this wonderful plant!”

While FDA regulation of CBD products would level the playing field and protect consumers from poor-quality products and dishonest manufacturers, Allison says, it wouldn’t be fair to single out the CBD industry for regulation, considering that other large consumer product industries like cosmetics, vitamins and beauty care are not FDA-regulated.

“For example, CBD is a plant-based compound that has therapeutic benefits, just like echinacea is a plant-based compound with therapeutic benefits,” she says. “Yet, supplements containing echinacea are not regulated. Nor is shampoo, conditioner, lotion, makeup, etc.”

As a result, manufacturers must determine their own standards for the quality and safety of CBD products.

“Not all manufacturers are interested in using quality CBD,” Bahr says. “It usually costs more and takes more due diligence with regards to testing. The only way to be sure that the CBD you purchase is of quality is with a lab report, which is not required by law. We always recommend that discerning customers request a lab report if they are curious as to the CBD purity in their product. Similarly, vendors should be able to provide reports or at the very least point the consumer in the right direction. It’s the only way to confirm that the product you’re buying has the CBD content you expect.”

The different types of CBD products, which include isolates, full spectrum and broad spectrum, are sourced differently. Additionally, according to Allison, CBD from marijuana is handled through regulated frameworks in states that allow marijuana to be sold medicinally or recreationally, while CBD derived from industrial hemp is not subject to the same laws.

“We only choose reputable suppliers that are fully vetted and pay a premium for the best-quality organic CBD isolate,” Allison says, going on to explain how every batch of GoLove is tested by a third-party testing facility to confirm the potency and purity of its CBD.

“Potency refers to the actual amount of CBD in the final product and purity refers to an absence of heavy metals, impurities, and pathogens such as mycotoxins and other microbes,” she says. ”This report is known as the Certificate of Analysis or COA. The required COA is posted on the GoLoveCBD.com company website, detailing the lab test results. Each COA is associated with the exact test results for a batch and lot number of every unit shipped. The COA discloses the source and confirms that the CBD comes from industrial hemp, and therefore is also below 0.3% THC content.”

Bahr explains EngErotics’ protocol for selecting its CBD source partners and following government regulations.

“There really is no standard as to how to source CBD,” she says. “When we were first getting started, we sourced from a local Colorado hemp farm that processed their CBD also here in Colorado. Now that our volume and supply-chain stability needs have increased, we source U.S.-grown and -processed hemp from multiple farms and processors. The CBD that we use is always tested for purity and CBD content by a third-party lab and our finished products are also periodically tested by a third-party lab. We provide our retail and wholesale customers with these lab reports upon request. If a batch of CBD doesn’t meet our rigorous standards for purity, we won’t use it.”

It’s the Bomb also relies on a Colorado-based supplier, which the brand has worked with for the past decade.

“Their product is produced with commercial hemp and is certified by the Colorado Department of Agriculture,” Lopez says. “It is grown on a farm in southern Colorado, and produced in an FDA-certified facility. All of their products are manufactured to the highest standard and lab-tested. Their commercially processed CBD is distributed globally in batches, 100 kilograms at a time, to ensure consistency. And their product has been tested by numerous universities and research institutions. They currently distribute to more than eight countries, and offer a full array of products.”

Water-soluble CBD is often touted on packaging because of how effectively it is absorbed into the bloodstream, Loktionov explains.

“For this reason, we had to find a manufacturer that has this preparation,” he says. “We also look at how hemp is grown, making sure there are no harmful chemicals used during growing and processing times. All this is traceable using modern technology and with lab tests to confirm purity and potency at each step.

“Moreover, we test each new batch of ready-made product with third-party labs to make sure there is a correct amount of CBD, no THC present and of course no other additives such as heavy metals, pesticides or any unwanted microorganisms,” Loktionov adds. “Finally, we test our products with Lactobacillus, the common types of bacteria present in the vagina, to make sure our product doesn’t kill it and therefore change the vaginal microbiome.”

Neo Sensual sales executive Joey Wilson also emphasizes the efficacy of water-soluble CBD, noting that Neo Sensual has worked for the past four years to formulate intimate glides and massage oils infused with a nanotech CBD.

“Nanotechnology creates nanoparticles that are so small, they can be absorbed into your bloodstream more efficiently than regular-sized particles of the same substance, to increase the bioavailability,” Wilson says. “Our process uses a form of nanotechnology to make the nano CBD water-compatible. Our bodies are 95% water, so the absorption of a water-compatible molecule is always going to be higher than any other infusion, thus enhancing blood flow and helping with inflammation. Our nano CBD-infused intimate glides have proven, specifically in women, to permeate the mucosa membrane of the vagina faster and more easily than other CBD-infused products, leading to more blood flow to the G-spot area and clitoris, along with what CBD brings to the cannabinoid receptors in the brain, leading to a full-body experience.”

Regarding the lack of the FDA regulation, Wilson says he believes that the organization is still monitoring and researching data on CBD.

“As for Neo Sensual, we are part of a cannabis parent company that produces other CBD health and wellness products, along with THC products under the Jack Herer brand,” he notes. “Therefore, they are bound by the strict legal cannabis guidelines for testing and certifying compliance regulations.”

As a lubricant made with cannabis distillate and containing THC and CBD, Enright reports, Lavinia’s “oh.hi” silicone-based lubricant tests at over 90% purity for its THC and CBD.

“Then, we make sure that we source a 510(k)-based silicone, so that the silicone base that we’re using is FDA-approved,” she says. “Obviously, once we add the cannabis, the FDA does not approve hemp and cannabis, so then it’s no longer recognized. Nevertheless, I think that it is important to use really quality ingredients and, as a consumer, to choose a brand that you know aligns with your values of choosing quality ingredients.”

Campos says that the safety of all Intt Sensual Cosmetics’ CBD and hemp seed oil-based products is ensured by demanding quality control of its raw materials from suppliers, and registering its products with the European and Latin American regulatory bodies to guarantee the safety of applying the products on intimate areas.

“In addition, we do not test our products on animals, which is a big plus in the cosmetics industry,” he adds.

Mustone says that High on Love always asks for certificates from third-party tests to ensure purity and quality when sourcing its CBD.

“It’s nothing new to us since we already do the same rigorous background checks to make sure we’re using clean and cruelty-free ingredients,” she says. “It’s part of what sets our brand apart, and it’s non-negotiable.”

Similarly, Silva-Grondin says that testing for quality and safety is just business as usual at Bedroom Kandi.

“We maintain a high standard for ingredient sourcing, and have trusted manufacturing partners,” she says. “We test every batch of products that contain CBD, and the results can be found on our website.”

The hands-on approach that sees Roselle making and packaging her assortment of 1010 Scentuals CBD massage candles by hand is a testament to its quality, which she says she proudly stands behind.

“I know everything I do put out and put my name behind has clean ingredients and I know I’m making it good for the people. So, FDA or not, I’m sticking by the brand.”

Passion Project

As more people look for natural alternatives to traditional medicine and seek to enhance their sexual experiences, entrepreneurs have taken this unique opportunity to venture into the sexual wellness industry with CBD as their magic ingredient.

“As a sex educator for over two decades, I’ve counseled many women who experience painful sex, a condition known as dyspareunia,” Allison says. “Sadly, this affects nearly 75% of American women. The cause can be vulvodynia, endometriosis, pelvic floor disorders, vaginal dryness, menopausal symptoms and more, but the result is often loss of intimacy, depression, feelings of inadequacy and pain.

“In 2018, I began exploring the therapeutic benefits of CBD, especially its ability to reduce pain, muscle tension and anxiety. I quickly realized how the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD can help solve the issues of the women I’ve been counseling, to allow them deeper intimacy and increased pleasure from less pain and lowered anxiety.

“Since the marketplace was missing a high-quality, water-based, CBD-infused serum, I collaborated with a Ph.D. formulation scientist to research and formulate a solution. The result is our natural, body-safe CBD intimate serum, GoLove.”

It’s the Bomb owner Susan Schibler recognized the value of CBD almost a decade ago when she created the It’s the Bomb CBD line.

“At the time it wasn’t as popular as it is today and she almost gave up on it,” Lopez says. “When I was asked to work with It’s the Bomb, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. Seeing the new CBD studies being released to help aid in the discomfort during sexual intercourse and pain that comes along with endometriosis, I was able to convince her to hold onto it a bit longer.”

As a lifestyle brand that has been creating plant-based products for more than a decade, Bedroom Kandi’s CBD offerings, from its Unwind collection, represent a natural expansion, says Silva-Grondin.

“We chose to add CBD to a handful of excellent body care products that already stood on their own without CBD,” she adds.

Loktionov says he’s confident that further medicinal properties may yet be discovered, especially when it comes to sexual and female health.

“Preliminary research into CBD and sexual wellness shows a lot of promising data,” he notes. “All research on CBD points towards properties which can have positive results on sexual health and I believe in the future CBD will have a lot more applications.”

Coming Soon

The CBD industry is continuously expanding, with no sign of slowing down. As the demand for CBD products continues to rise, companies are looking for innovative ways to incorporate the compound into new products for pleasure.

“Right now, we have a new topical in the works and we are exploring the culinary world,” Lopez says about It’s the Bomb’s future developments. “For example, seasonings, edibles and beverages. We are excited to explore this new frontier.”

As Lavinia’s cannabis lubricant has been limited to being sold only in dispensaries in the state of California, Enright is excited about a new hemp-based lubricant expected to debut in May or June.

“Again, we just want to make sure that we’re sourcing the best ingredients and offering the best quality,” she says. “We have some other products in R&D that literally the whole goal is to enhance people’s sexual experience, so it’s pretty fun to be in the lane of sex and cannabis, although it’s very taboo.”

Allison teases that GoLove’s next CBD sexual wellness product is slated to launch during this year’s third quarter. “I am not at liberty to disclose it currently, but you’ll be glad when it’s available,” she says.

Following EngErotics’ recent debut of mini versions of its Soothing Salve Sticks, Bahr says, the company does not expect to release anything else in the remainder of 2023.

“Good products take a lot of time and care to formulate well before they’re ready for market,” she explains. “Stay tuned! If you haven’t tried our Soothing Salve Sticks, the minis are an affordable, flexible and convenient way to discover the world of CBD-enhanced intimacy.”

Personal Fav Co. also is currently focusing on its existing product, Pique, a CBD pleasure oil that was introduced a year ago.

“It is a magical oil and we want it to stand alone and shine for a while,” Elias says. “We have noticed some brands put trace amounts of CBD in their products to be trendy and that is just not what we are about. We have a quality CBD product, and we want to properly educate our consumers about it rather than crowding the space.”

Intt Sensual Cosmetics is gearing up to launch a new cannabis-based arousal gel in May, while Bedroom Kandi will be making a grand new product reveal during its BK Annual Convention in September.

Roselle is also focused on growth, and her plans are informed by her personal experiences.

“We should be able to embrace our sexiness,” she says. “I’m getting older, my body is changing and I feel like the brand is representing me and the things that I’ve been through — like I have a lot of allergies, so I try and keep everything very clean. Also, I am experiencing different hormonal imbalances on and off, and lube is something a lot of people don’t like to talk about even though it’s helpful. I would love to highlight that and let people know that this actually works, and it feels amazing, and for everyone going through this to know it’s OK. So, I’m working on a CBD-infused lube next.”

With more brands entering the market, retailers are set to find a growing variety of CBD-infused offerings to bring to their customers, who will appreciate having even more options to choose from, making it easier than ever to find a product that meets their unique needs. With its healing, soothing benefits and sensation-enhancing formulations, CBD’s future in sexual wellness looks promising.

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