On paper, Aaliyah Ei is a versatile model who’s worked with brands big and small, in cannabis and out, since first being discovered by American Apparel in 2008. In reality, they’re a lot more than a pretty face—a multi-hyphenate talent and an outspoken advocate for sex and body positivity and social justice in cannabis. Aaliyah, a.k.a. The Little Beast, is also the author of Mama Marijuana, a guide to cannabis basics and the cultural context of racial disparity in relation to cannabis arrests. If you ask them, Aaliyah describes themself as “your resident trans gender non-conforming orphan who’s a mix of Greta the Gremlin and Flapjack.”
Their sense of humor and affinity for the furthest realms of pop culture have made them a beloved figure in the cannabis-friendly scene, and that’s one of the reasons Blunt Skincare tapped them for the launch of our new Rolling Stone Gua Sha Tool. In this Q&A, we chatted with Aaliyah about their lifelong relationship with cannabis, model skin secrets (and regrets), and favorite ways to spend a high.
Where are you based currently?
AE: I’m based in Los Angeles.
Where are you from originally?
AE: New York City.
What role(s) does cannabis play in your life?
AE: It’s played a bigger role in my life than I even knew. I found out as an adult my abuelo was one of the best growers in town. He had an above-ground pool he grew in and we always wondered as kids why we couldn’t just go swimming. It's always been a constant in my life, but now I know it's in my blood.
How has your relationship with cannabis evolved over time?
AE: I think it’s become more intentional and grateful. I smoked to keep myself sane as a troubled youth and can now appreciate it as something sacred and beneficial to my life.
Solo sesh or group sesh?
AE: Both lol.
Joint or bong?
Edible or beverage?
Cozy indoor sesh or the great outdoors?
Describe your ideal way to spend a high.
AE: My ideal way to spend a high is relaxing on my couch with my dog Sweetpea
What are your favorite farms/cannabis products right now?
AE: I’ve had a harder time recently in LA sourcing different farms, it seemed easier the past few years but I love my grower friend's’ flower. My current go-to has been the Rollers Delight pre-ground flower infused with THC-a diamonds.
Tell us about how you found your cannabis niche in your career — what was the first cannabis-related gig you got paid for?
AE: I honestly was just a model who always consumed but in the NYC modeling scene it was extremely taboo and looked down upon to talk about. In reality, I was seshing with some major supermodels so when I moved to LA I was more open to talk and advocate for the plant and its many uses. I guess technically my first paid gig was when I got a job as a budtender shortly after moving.
How does cannabis inform your creative process?
AE: I’ve always been a highly creative person since I was a wee kid, but my creativity and art definitely evolved and took on more forms of media when I started consuming as a teen. I was into some pretty far-out movies, art, and books. I even became politically radical back then because of the media I was taking in.
How does it play a role in your mental health?
AE: Luckily, my psychiatrist and I see it as another medicine that works in accordance with my other medications. I genuinely think cannabis has helped keep me sane and hold it together my whole life.
What’s your skincare regimen style? Are you more of a simple gal or a 12-step queen?
AE: I flip between keeping it simple and incorporating a lot of products. I’m gifted an unreasonable amount of skincare, so I try new things when I want to deviate from my tried-and-true Dieux skin regimen.
Have you always been that way?
AE: My face is my bread-and-butter, so I’ve always been very skin-conscious.
What are some must-haves in your am/pm routines?
AE: In the a.m.: SUNSCREEN ALWAYS. In the p.m.: Vaseline.
What’s the craziest skin hack you tried, and did it work?
AE: I exfoliated with baking soda for a hot minute because another model swore by it. I’m SURE I destroyed my skin barrier at the time.
What’s the best skincare advice you ever received?
AE: Always wear sunscreen!
What skincare knowledge do you wish you knew when you were younger?
AE: I wish I knew about Korean skincare and pimple patches! I make sure my nieces always have Starface on deck so they don’t pick.