Just a few months ago, Savoir Flair broke the news that CBD beauty products are now officially legal in the UAE. Finally. But just when we thought we couldn’t get any more excited (ICYMI, CBD is amazing at treating everything from acne to eczema and everything in between), we discovered the region’s first-ever CBD beauty brand, Juana Skin.
Not only is that seriously pioneering in itself, but Juana is also on a mission to revolutionize the way people think about, use, and produce CBD, from the way it’s sourced and tested to how it’s formulated and packaged. Can you say #plantpower?
In this exclusive interview with co-founder Yann Moujawaz, we found out just what it takes to bring CBD beauty to the region and why Juana Skin is so much more than just another beauty brand. Read on to find out everything you need to know about this home-grown pioneer – and get ready to clear a lot of space on your vanity table…
Why CBD Beauty?
“I’m French and my parents are originally from Syria. I studied in London and have been in the Middle East for 10 years, where I worked in consulting (a very stressful industry) and was a principal at the Boston Consulting Group.
I noticed a real rise in anxiety and stress over the past few years,
especially with the pandemic, which made things very difficult for people. I became very interested in wellbeing and that put me on my journey of finding natural alternatives and non-intrusive ways to relieve anxiety and stress. That’s how I became interested in CBD”.
A Family Affair
“I was aware of CBD and medical cannabis as my dad is a surgeon in France. My mother is also very passionate about clean beauty and she’s always mixing her own skincare. She goes to the beach at night and collects mineral things from the sea known to be good for cellulite and makes them into products. It’s always been a passion of hers. She grew up in Syria where her family owned olive fields, so from a very young age, she collected olives and made oil and Aleppo soap.
I said, ‘Mom, I know your dream is to have your own skincare company, so why don’t we do it? Let’s use CBD because I believe in its therapeutic effect, and let’s build on your legacy and create this together.’ That’s what we did back in 2019″.
More than Just a Name
“Everything has a reason and a destiny, and I really wanted to help my mom realize her true legacy. When we were thinking about the name, Juana was a no-brainer – it’s my mom’s name and it hints at the word marijuana. It was the perfect fit!”.
The Journey of Creation
“We traveled the world to find the best CBD. It’s an extremely technical product, and if you want high-quality, it’s a lot of work. From where it’s planted to the type of extraction and the soil it grows in – everything needs to be meticulous.
The plant is so strong at absorbing nutrients from the soil, so if the soil is good, the CBD is good for you. If the soil is bad, it’s really bad for you. They used it in Chernobyl to decontaminate the soil! We spent a lot of time researching the best ingredients in the world. Our CBD is sourced from registered farms in the EU and is primarily from Spain. We chose the EU because it’s the gold standard in skincare, and the strain is amazing in terms of the balance of the different compounds”.
Why the Middle East?
“We could have launched in the EU as that’s my backyard and it would be easy, but the real challenge is going where no one wants to go. That’s the core DNA of the brand. We like to dare. But, we’re also very cautious and everything is science-driven. That’s why we thought, let’s get this to the Middle East where people need it.
There are many skin conditions here, like eczema, for example, as well as mental health issues. We wanted to bring a non-intrusive, natural alternative that would really help. We’re not just a skincare company. Skincare is the first step in a bigger journey. We are a wellness movement that is rooted in hemp and driven by science. Our purpose is to reestablish our balance, naturally”.
And the Challenges That Brought
“I had to tap a very influential network to be able to push the topic and change the mindset surrounding CBD. I educated them on the benefits, and they saw the results for themselves. Because of the A/C and particular climate conditions here, many people suffer from eczema and dry skin, and that’s how it started.
I targeted people who had skin issues or who had tried lots of other methods that hadn’t worked. I told them to try the products and the results were immediate. That’s when people started to say, we absolutely need this here!
We work on the medical and therapeutic aspects of the plant, not the psychoactive side, and I’m extremely grateful that there’s been this great movement towards change. I had to push and push and push until I found the right people and partners who believed in CBD. I’m privileged that now I’m a top authority on it, and I get to really educate people properly.”
“We’re pushing the topic of clean beauty and sustainability and we’ve banned over 2,000 potentially harmful ingredients! For us, clean beauty means a product that’s safe for people and the
planet, that’s non-toxic, plant-based, mindfully created, ethically sourced, and made with human and environmental health in
mind. We are the first skincare brand based in GCC to receive EWG verification – a global licensing program that follows the strictest set of health standards, ensuring the exclusion of all ingredients with health, ecotoxicity, and/or contamination concerns. To date, only 1884 personal care products carry the EWG verified mark.
We believe that the plant is beautiful the way it is, so we don’t alter it whatsoever. If it means that a cream is going to have a yellowish color because we’ve kept the terpenes, versus a lifeless white cream that doesn’t have those good-for-you elements, then I’m going to choose the yellow one, because that’s what nature intended.
Fragrance isn’t good for you either, so again we’d rather it has its natural, botanical smell versus some fake vanilla fragrance. We kept the formula as natural as possible.”
“We are pioneers in a very important movement, so we thought, why don’t we take this to the next level? Why don’t we push other important topics? We can and we should, and sustainability is one of those.
All of our outer packaging is sourced from FSC-certified forests and is 100 percent recycled and recyclable. Our bottles are 100 percent recyclable glass. Recycled materials are up to three times more expensive than new paper, which is why not a lot of people use it, but if you’re serious about the cause, then that’s what you do.
When you extract the oil from the cannabis leaves, the leaves are left as waste. So we transformed them into fabric to make hemp bags, which we use for delivery instead of cardboard boxes. They’re 100 percent hemp-based and made using the leaf by-product!”.
They Pack a Potent Punch
“I was really disappointed with the lack of information out there. Some brands claim they contain CBD when they don’t. They use hemp seed oil, which is very different! Or they don’t talk about the potency, which is important. They’ll just add a few milligrams, which literally doesn’t do anything. We are two to four times higher than other brands on the market. I’m not saying that the higher the better, that would also be misinformation, because too little doesn’t work, and too much doesn’t either.
Potency is very important. We all have an endocannabinoid system that helps us regulate ourselves and stay balanced. When you have eczema or a pimple, it’s your body’s way of saying hey, there’s a problem here. You’re not in balance. This system, composed of enzymes and molecules, and receptors, tells your body to regulate itself using endocannabinoids. Sometimes we lack them, or they need to be reinforced, and the only plant that can provide the molecular compounds close to the ones we have in our body is cannabis and the cannabinoid CBD. When that enters our body, it reestablishes the balance.
That’s why if you don’t use the right dosage, it won’t interact with your skin or your body properly.”
And They Actually Work
“As I come from a medical background, it was important that we got the products clinically tested. It’s a big cost for a startup, but we made the investment because it’s important people trust us.
Clinical studies we conducted in France and Germany show that after two weeks of using the ‘Brightening Day Cream’, 75 percent of users agreed their skin appeared calm and that redness and inflammation were reduced, while 95 percent agreed their skin felt hydrated and nourished. 70 percent said their skin looked clear and free from blemishes and imperfections after using our ‘Ultra-Rich Night Face Cream’.
In vitro studies on our ‘Velvety Body Butter’ confirmed that it is ‘highly effective in addressing eczema skin condition’. More specifically, it showed a strong effect in increasing skin immunity, preventing skin diseases, reducing skin sensitivity, and lowering the expression of inflammatory effect.”