In a cloud of “Do you even vape, bro?” culture, a vaporizer aimed at women is a breath of fresh air.
The lipstick-toting portion of the population has been largely ignored by marijuana product specialization while the industry waits on concrete consumer data to figure out how many — and how — women consume cannabis.
But the writing is on the wall. One ongoing study by market research firm BDS Analytics reports women make up the majority of new consumers in Colorado and California. Meanwhile, a 2016 Gallup poll found that one in eight Americans consumes cannabis; if women comprise just one in four of those consumers, there are more than 10 million lady stoners in the country.
Cannabis is realizing a feminist revolution that, like it or not, is gendering previously non-gendered objects such as the vaporizer.
New Lipstick and Mascara vapes from Colorado-based INDVR are byproducts of this revolution. Their goal? To be hidden in plain sight. The company’s tagline proudly reads, “Sleek, stylish, stealth.” So, do these new vapes offer function to match their form factor?
Betting big on stealth
Demand for recreational concentrates grew from 10 percent of sales in 2015 to 21 percent of sales in 2016 fueled in part by a desire for increased discretion, according to cannabis analytics firm New Frontier Data. INDVR is betting big on that desire with its lineup of three vapes sold under the “stealth” message: Elite pen (Executive pen style coming soon), Mascara and Lipstick.
The INDVR packaging is minimalist and the basics are included: one universal USB mini charger and a wall dock. All three of its vapes are sleek and smooth, made with heavy alloy steel topped in black matte. The Mascara and Lipstick retail for a reasonable $60 each, while the Elite pen runs $80.
The Elite is the stealthiest of the three — it writes and almost looks like a Montblanc, except you can use the back end of it as a mouthpiece. Yes, sucking on the end of a pen looks weird and possibly dirty. But unlike the Mascara and Lipstick, you don’t need to take off the lid to hit it. During use, it’s 100 percent disguised as its intended object. Both of INDVR’s makeup-styled vapes look like regular ol’ vape pens when you remove the lids.
And even with their lids on, each of these vapes could easily pass for objects other than makeup. While shopping on a few separate occasions at The Joint in North Denver, the dispensary owned by the entrepreneurs behind INDVR, I heard customers say that the Lipstick looked like a USB drive, a portable phone charger and even a vibrator. It’s a bit larger than a regular lipstick container and shaped weirdly enough to pass for many items that may be in your purse. The Mascara is a better match — the design is stretched longer and it has a gratifying weight in-hand. Be warned: It’s round and will roll off of any flat surface.
The outside appearance of these respective vapes is almost too generic to pass as makeup. The lack of logos and other branding are dead giveaways, but not evident to the untrained eye — i.e., dudes. In fact, the team behind these two makeup vapes are entirely made up of men.
When asked why they chose to create these two vapes for women, INDVR vice president PJ Rinker explained that the company saw a huge women-specific market going untouched.
The Lipstick and Mascara are aimed at the woman “who doesn’t necessarily want to proclaim that she’s a stoner but wants to have that ability to use the product any place, any time, without being ridiculed or thought of as anything less,” he said.
The company is garnering positive female feedback, Rinker said.
“Women love it,” he said. “They love the looks and they love that they can carry it in their clutch or purse and never get questions about it.”
Should you put it in your purse?
INDVR’s aim seems true. Still, the concept that a company owned by men would design these devices may not sit well with some feminist vapists. The implications of such a product are that makeup is all women care about or want, and that women would prefer cute vapes to those that work well.
While those implications are ever-so-slightly problematic, the mere development of these products hints at a positive cultural shift in acceptance of female smokers as more than just Instagram models or Dabbing Granny. Many professional women and cannabis consumers are goddamn pros who don’t have time to mess with sub-par vape pens.
The on-the-go woman may be willing to make sacrifices, though, and even a seasoned pro can find comfort behind the cover of INDVR’s Lipstick and Mascara vape pens. Drop one in your purse as a back-up when traveling, going to shows, or if you’re extra paranoid. Its best asset is indeed its stealth.
Hitting both the Lipstick and Mascara requires a long pull, one that stings slightly to the back of the throat, a feeling I’ve come to expect from even the cleanest of oil cartridges. A slow, long hit will reap plenty of vapor as reward, but it’s not a huge cougher. The initial taste is clean; the aftertaste lingers, and the sting can cause a bit of a scratchy throat if used heavily.
Both makeup vapes fit the standard 510 universal cartridge thread widely available at dispensaries. You’d be wise to buy a cartridge — including mouthpiece — that is short. For instance, O.pen Vape’s 510 cartridges have a longer mouthpiece, so while they fit in Lipstick and Mascara, their length makes it impossible to close the lid. The cartridge recommended by INDVR is sold in their dispensary and just two inches long. It is prefilled with 500 milligrams of oil and retails for $40 pre-tax. It’s worth getting the right sized cartridge for these incognito units, because the most satisfying aspects of these vapes is taking a drag, snapping on the magnet lid, and throwing it back in your bag.
Does the concept of needing to hide your vape come along with an underlying implication of shame? What do these products say about women who are cannabis consumers? Some might say the message is: “Hide who you are from the world in style, ladies. Sure you can smoke but keep it tight, keep it classy.”
There’s no need to wait for the consumer studies to figure out what women want. I can confirm that female vape consumers want the best product possible, regardless of aesthetic appeal and regardless of whether or not looks like something everybody else carries in their purse. Most women vapers I know choose function over form.
The INDVR Lipstick and Mascara vapes are fun, but they feel like female-focused products designed through the male gaze. Yes, each of these vapes provides a good rip in a rush, and either makes for a cool party trick. In the future when cannabis is normalized, we won’t have to hide our vapes in lipstick and mascara casings. Until then, you’re paying for peace of mind with these incognito vaporizers.
Lipstick and Mascara each retail for $60 and are available directly from Indvr.life
Gallery: INDVR Lipstick and Mascara