Glowing skin and hair plus a relaxed attitude? Sign us up! (Photo: Getty Images)
If you want to maximize your gorgeousness, you know it’s smart to work out regularly, eat a healthy diet, and get plenty of sleep. It turns out you can add marijuana to that list of hotness boosters.
Depending on how you ingest it (smoking is always guaranteed to screw over your looks), the occasional cannabis hit can result in anything from glowier skin to a sleeker physique. “I view marijuana like a glass of red wine,” says dermatologist Bobby Buka, director of Greenwich Village Dermatology. “Moderate consumption can accentuate your appearance in a positive way.”
Nope, we’re not high. Here, experts describe why, when it comes to your looks, cannabis is the new green tea.
Skin: Whether you’re puffing on a cigarette or a joint, smoking is your skin’s nemesis. “Using a combustible model of marijuana produces molecules called hydrocarbons that have a slowing effect on fibroblasts, which are cells that live in the dermis and are responsible for creating new collagen,” Buka says. “As a result, you have collagen with less snap and turgor, which leads to sagging skin, fine lines, and wrinkles.” Not pretty.
What’s more, the thinner the skin, the more drastic the effect — meaning your face (and particularly the delicate skin around your eyes) bears the brunt of this accelerated aging process. Lighting up also worsens inflammatory skin conditions like rosacea, eczema, and psoriasis.
But if you vaporize or eat your cannabis, it’s a whole different story. “The cannabinoid compounds and flavonoid molecules in marijuana have a powerful antioxidant impact,” Buka says. “They promote the activity of macrophage recruiters, which are white blood cells that essentially act as garbage collectors, wrapping themselves around toxic molecules in our dermis — like pollutants—and clearing them away.”
Weed’s antioxidant properties also reduce the damaging effects of free radicals. “These charged particles float through the skin’s blood system, lock onto collagen fibers, and degrade them so that they can’t replenish skin cells as productively — it effectively speeds up the aging process,” Buka says. “Antioxidants neutralize the free radicals so they are less able to glom onto collagen.” The upshot? Your skin looks younger, firmer, and brighter.
While there are plenty of antioxidants out there — you’ve doubtless heard the buzz about powerhouses like blueberries and licorice — cannabis stands out because its small, uniquely shaped molecules can penetrate the dermal barrier better than most. “Moisturizers containing cannabis oil help your skin retain water and boost antioxidant effects,” Buka says.
Another huge factor that plays a role in skin quality is stress. “Stress has a tremendous effect on immune function,” Buka says. “When you’re under pressure, your body can’t operate at top-notch when it comes to fighting off microbes.” In terms of your skin, a compromised immune system can lead to chronic inflammation, acne, and the deterioration of collagen and elastin. So, if pot helps you get your mellow on, your skin will be happier too. (Of course, if it makes you agitated or freaked out, the reverse is true.)
Mouth: First, the bad news: Sucking on a joint or vaporizer can wreak havoc on your smile. “Any repetitive motion that calls on the same muscle group will cause those muscles to hypertrophy and get bigger,” Buka says. “You will also develop lines and etchings where the muscles contract.”
“Additionally, the tar absorption from smoking a joint or bong can yellow the teeth,” Buka says. (The discoloration isn’t as severe as cigarettes, since marijuana doesn’t contain nicotine.)
That said, evidence also points to the possibility of a plumper pout for pot users. “Marijuana increases blood flow to the lips, which can potentially give them a fuller appearance,” Buka says.
Nails: The tar in MJ can also stain your nails if you frequently hold a joint between your fingers. But if you ingest weed a different way, it can actually yield foxier fingers, thanks to all those antioxidants. “Nail growth is a function of the health of your nail bed,” Buka says. “Fewer toxins in the nail matrix can trigger stronger, longer nails.”
Hair: Studies have shown that pot use increases testosterone levels by 3 to 5 percent. “As a result, if you use marijuana every day for several years, you might start to see some hair thinning,” Buka says. What’s more, smoking pulls moisture out of your mane, leaving it dry and brittle.
“But, in a similar effect to what we see with nails, the hair papilla, which is the base of the hair follicle, is responsible for promoting health,” Buka says. “The flavonoids in marijuana cause vasodilation, which increases blood flow to small vein receptors. This infuses the papilla with oxygen, encouraging hair growth.”
Bottom line: As long as you don’t overdo it, cannabis can make your locks more luscious.
Well-being: Nothing’s more attractive than an upbeat, relaxed attitude. “Cannabis has a direct effect on our emotions — patients report reduced anxiety and post-traumatic stress symptoms,” says Dustin Sulak, medical director and osteopathic physician at Integr8Health. “They also experience an improved sense of being in the present moment, the feeling of connection to something greater than oneself, and the ability to find creative solutions to problems.”
There is one caveat: “The positive attributes of cannabis are only experienced when people use the right dose,” Sulak says. “Excessive intake can cause anxiety and paranoia.”
Weight: Potheads get the munchies — which means they’re scarfing down tortilla chips, fro-yo, and spoonfuls of peanut butter … and probably packing on pounds, right? Reality check: A study published in the American Journal of Epidemiology found that cannabis users actually have a lower BMI than their straightedge counterparts.
Although researchers couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason behind people’s trimmer waistlines, Sulak notes that cannabinoids help regulate metabolism. “In addition, my patients who use marijuana report sleeping better and becoming more active,” Sulak says. Poor shuteye can raise blood sugar, not to mention leave you feeling drained (and thus less physically inclined), all of which can add bulk to a spare tire.
Sulak also points out that patients who use weed tend to enjoy their food more and eat in a thoughtful manner — as opposed to housing a box of Annie’s mac and cheese. “Their enhanced pleasure while eating made it easier for them to choose healthy foods, chew slowly, focus on the taste, and consume smaller portions,” he says. What’s more, pot’s mood-boosting effect can prevent emotionally driven overeating.