We like to think that, as a culture, we’ve gradually moved past the whole “weed is for stoners and hippies” thing. That’s mostly due to pioneers like Verena von Pfetten, who (along with co-founder David Weiner) created Gossamer, a lifestyle magazine “for people who also smoke weed.” Verena was one of the first to not only normalize pot use, but to do so in an upscale and elevated way. She also knows all there is to know about everyone’s new favorite herbal remedy, CBD.
Her former life as a fashion editor means she also has some really fascinating stories about non-weed related topics. And her beauty routine is a study in well-rounded product assortments that are luxurious, but also incredibly effective.
As part of our The Regimen series, we asked Verena to share her product know-how, plus the best way to spot the real CBD products from the fakers, and what it’s like being your own boss.
PSA for fellow insomniacs out there: Gossamer has its very own CBD/CBN tincture, Dusk, that helps lull you to sleep. As people who have spent many a night staring at the ceiling in frustration, we can attest that this magical sleep potion is LEGIT. And, it’s available now at Shen! Stock up and prepare to get the beauty sleep you deserve.
Name: Verena von Pfetten
Profession: Co-founder of Gossamer, a lifestyle brand and publication for people who also smoke weed. Skin-care hobbyist.
Skin type: The kind that lets me get (mostly) away with constantly trying new products in a never-ending search for “the perfect skin-care routine.” Can you hear my eyes rolling all the way out of my head and down the street?
Hair type: Fine, as in… averagely thick, averagely straight-meets-wavy, averagely healthy? Is averagely a word? I’m sorry. (I’m also Canadian.) I get it colored (“brightened,” as I like to tell myself) about once a year, or whenever I decide it’s sufficiently muddy-looking. I only recently started brushing it more than, oh, once a week. Baby steps! I still don’t own a hairdryer.
Duration of beauty routine: 5-10 minutes in the morning, 10-15 minutes at night.
Walk us through your daily beauty routine:
I shower in the mornings but only wash my hair once or twice a week. I’ll shampoo with whatever is handy, and condition with Christophe Robin’s Baby Blonde mask. I just started regularly brushing my hair thanks to Crown Affair, and wow! Brushing! Who knew! I don’t wash my face in the morning, but usually use a couple serums, layer in a moisturizer (Youth to the People or Aurelia’s Cell Revitalise Day Moisturiser) then an SPF like EltaMD.
Makeup is super light: no foundation, concealer under my eyes and anywhere else I need a little coverage, and a hefty dose of cream blush. (I look like a corpse without blush. Just ask my mom.) I do not go anywhere without curling my eyelashes and wearing red lipstick.
Sometimes I top the whole thing (as in, my face) off with an oil or a balm.
What is your philosophy on beauty?
So many things taste better than skinny feels and red lipstick looks good on everyone, I promise. Happiness and a good dose of optimism is best of all.
What is your best beauty advice?
Do what makes you feel best. If that’s a full face, have at it! If that’s literally never having to think about it ever, I support you and am jealous of all your extra free time. Also, an excuse to wear sparkles literally never gets old. Just try it.
What’s the best beauty advice you've ever been given?
I have two older sisters who have been incredibly thoughtful in (mostly successfully) steering me straight past any too-terrible beauty trends. But as I’ve tipped into my mid-thirties, it’s endlessly interesting to me to see that young women (myself included, once upon a time) will always wear more makeup than they need. Let that youthful skin live free, ladies!!!
What are your 3 must-have products and why?
Lucas’s PawPaw Ointment for chapped lips (and sometimes on my cheeks if I need a little dew), Westman Atelier’s Les Rouges Lip Suede Palette, and EltaMD’s sunscreen.
What's the biggest beauty mistake you've ever made?
I remember one time, at my first job out of college and when I was still a little more wildly and unnecessarily experimental with my makeup, I walked in wearing a wash of chartreuse (a very fancy word for “puke green”) eyeshadow. Our marketing director at the time — endlessly chic, ruthlessly blunt — took one look at me and said, “You should never wear that eyeshadow again.” Thank you, Roberta!
What do you love most about your job?
That it’s (terrifyingly) dynamic and that I am my own boss. (Also terrifying, FYI.)
What advice do you have for people who are new to cannabis and/or CBD?
You must arm yourself with information. As with most things beauty, there is so little regulation — and so many brands ready to take advantage of that. Know what to look for (Gossamer can help with that) and weigh transparency above all else. If a brand isn’t telling you exactly how much CBD is in their product, or where it came from, move on.
For both cannabis and CBD: Everyone’s endocannabinoid system is different. Start low and see what works for you. You can always level up. Safety first!
And lastly, if a brand is actively using cannabis (hemp or otherwise) in its products, and not doing something, literally anything, to help right the injustices of the War on Drugs and create a more equal and socially just industry moving forward, please give them the hardest of hard passes. Remember: CBD skin care is cool, but people sitting in jail largely because of the color of their skin is very much not. Your money goes a very long way right now. Use it wisely.
If you’d like to help, here are some advocacy groups Verena recommends that are dedicated to supporting reforming the social justice system and speaking out on behalf of at-risk communities.
Equity First Alliance: Using education, mobilization, dialogue, engagement, and collective action to advance equity in the cannabis industry, to repair harms of the War on Drugs, and to seek justice for those who have been most harmed by it.
Women’s Prison Association: The oldest women’s advocacy group in the country. They work with women in all stages of criminal justice involvement to promote alternatives to incarceration and help women living in the community to avoid arrest or incarceration.
National Bail Out: A collective that works with communities to bail out Black mothers and caregivers so they can be with their families. They also provide fellowship, employment opportunities and support for those they bail out to create a community of leaders who have experienced incarceration.The Equity Org: Working to ensure the people and communities most harmed by the War on Drugs get equal access to the opportunities that’ll come about post-Prohibition.