Hemp oil skin care products are increasingly popular. Find out the benefits of hemp oil for the skin and what science really tells us about its effectiveness. Does your beauty product contain CBD or is it just a scam? Brands are going 'green' and marketing their products with 'cannabis' in it. Cannabis sativa seed oil.
How to Use Hemp Oil for the Skin
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Leah Ansell, MD, is board-certified in cosmetic and medical dermatology. She is an assistant professor at Columbia University and works in private practice in New York City.
Hemp oil, more accurately called hemp seed oil, is the cannabis product most often used in topical over-the-counter skin care products, cosmetics, and cosmeceuticals. What is unique about hemp seed oil and why are so many people using it in their skincare routines?
What Is Hemp Oil?
Hemp seed oil is obtained from pressing the seeds of the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa L.). Unrefined hemp seed oil is a dark greenish color with a mildly nutty aroma. Refined hemp seed oil is clear with little to no smell, but it doesn’t contain as many of the skin-health benefits.
Hemp seed oil has become a very popular skincare ingredient. It’s also used in cooking.
Cannabis, Hemp, and Marijuana
Understanding the differences among cannabis, hemp, and marijuana can be confusing because marijuana and hemp all come from the same plant, Cannabis sativa. The distinction is the variety of the plant.
Cannabis is the name of a family of plants. Hemp is a variety within this family, and marijuana is another variety in the family.
Think of the types of tomatoes you find at the grocery store, like big beefsteak tomatoes versus small Roma tomatoes. Both come from the same plant (tomato vine) but are different varieties, and therefore, they produce different results if you were to cook with them. They would vary in nutrients, taste, texture, and more.
In the case of cannabis, the varieties differ in the amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) that they contain. THC is the psychoactive constituent responsible for the high that cannabis gives.
Hemp generally contains very little THC, so it has no psychoactive effects. As a result, hemp seed oil contains trace to no amounts of THC.
This, however, is under some scrutiny as some studies have shown that certain hemp seed oils may have detectable levels of THC. This could be the result of the oil becoming contaminated with other parts of the hemp plant during production.
Hemp seed oil won’t get you high. It is legal to be used and sold in skincare products.
Hemp Oil vs. CBD Oil
Hemp oil and cannabidiol (CBD) oil are also often confused with one another. Although they are obtained from the same plant, hemp oil and CBD oil are very different.
CBD is a chemical compound found in the cannabis plant (both marijuana and hemp). You may be surprised to learn that hemp seed oil is naturally rich in CBD.
Hemp seed oil is comprised of a wide variety of different compounds, with CBD being just a tiny part. CBD is found throughout the entire plant, including stalks, seeds, leaves, and flowers.
While hemp seed oil is produced by simply pressing the seeds of the hemp plant, CBD oil is created by extracting and isolating the CBD compound. This compound is then blended with different ingredients to create a CBD product. Olive oil is most often used as a base to create a CBD oil.
CBD itself does not have psychoactive effects, but it can be formulated with THC for a product that does cause a high. CBD oil is often used for medicinal purposes.
Hemp-extracted CBD oil is also used in over-the-counter skincare products, but it’s not nearly as common a cosmetic ingredient as hemp seed oil.
It’s also important to know that hemp oil is not the same as marijuana oil or cannabis oil, either. Cannabis oil is extracted from the entire plant and has both CBD and THC. Cannabis oil is legal only in states that have legalized marijuana.
Hemp oil is widely incorporated in many skincare products and cosmeceuticals. In fact, it’s become quite a trendy ingredient. Hemp oil is not just trendy, but it can offer benefits for your skin.
- Moisturizing: This is the biggest and most well-verified benefit that hemp seed oil can deliver. Hemp oil is emollient and leaves the skin feeling soft and supple.
- Antioxidant qualities: Hemp seed oil is high in antioxidant constituents: fatty acids like gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), and vitamins A, C, and E. Antioxidant skincare products may help give your skin some protection against premature aging.
- Anti-inflammatory: Hemp oil contains components that have anti-inflammatory properties, and current research suggests it may help relieve skin inflammation. There’s more research that needs to be done here, though, to fully understand how this works on the skin.
- Potential antibacterial qualities: Studies also suggest that hemp oil has antibacterial qualities. What effect this has on the skin, if any, is still being looked at.
Hemp oil, CBD oil, and other cannabinoids are being studied as possible treatments for a vast array of skin conditions like acne, eczema, psoriasis, rosacea, and skin cancer.
Hemp seed oil has no side effects on its own, although it’s possible you may be sensitive to the ingredient.
When trying any new skincare product for the first time, be on the lookout for any signs of irritation: redness, itching, burning, or rash. If you notice any of these, stop using the offending product and give your healthcare provider a call if irritation doesn’t improve after several days.
Choosing a Hemp Oil Product
Hemp oil is incorporated in many cosmetic products, from soaps, lotions, balms and salves, facial products, and bath products.
- Take a look at the ingredient listing. Sometimes manufacturers will put just a small amount of hemp oil in the product, simply so they can market their product as a trendy “hemp” product. Hemp oil needn’t be the first ingredient, but it shouldn’t be last, either.
- Consider your skincare goals. Don’t just choose a skincare product simply because it contains hemp oil. Consider what the product is designed to do and see if it aligns with your skin’s needs. For example, if your skin is dry, you’ll be happier with a more emollient cream rather than a light lotion.
- Look at the other ingredients. The other ingredients in a product are going to have a lot to do with how the product functions, too. For example, if you’re looking for a highly moisturizing product, one that also contains hyaluronic acid is a good bet. For anti-aging, retinol or glycolic acid are good additions.
- Experiment. All hemp oil skincare products are going to feel differently on the skin. If you don’t care for one, don’t be shy about switching it out for another brand you may like better.
How to Use Hemp Oil for Your Skin
You may decide to forgo the store-bought products and apply unrefined hemp seed oil directly on the skin, too. Hemp oil is considered noncomedogenic, which means it isn’t likely to clog your pores.
Hemp seed oil is considered a “dry” oil. This means it absorbs rather quickly and has a non-greasy feel, as far as lipid oils go.
Some ideas for using hemp seed oil:
- Massage a few drops over a cleansed and moisturized face, for a DIY facial serum.
- Apply after bathing or showering as a body oil.
- Use as a carrier oil in aromatherapy.
Unrefined hemp seed oil is fragile and can quickly go rancid. To extend its shelf life, keep your hemp oil in the refrigerator.
A Word From Verywell
More research is being done to really know how hemp oil works on the skin. Although preliminary findings are intriguing, much more research needs to be done. Overall, you should like the way a product makes your skin feel and be happy with the results (and the price).
For treating skin problems, though, you should not rely on hemp-based skincare products for improvement. Many skin problems can be treated by your primary care physician. Your healthcare provider can also refer you to a dermatologist if necessary.
Remember, hemp oil is a unique addition to your daily skin care regimen, but it’s not a miracle cure. It shouldn’t be used as a substitute for a healthcare provider’s care.
Don’t let ‘cannabis’ within the beauty industry fool you.
If you use it, everyone already knows. In any case, you’re not alone in your enthusiasm. After all, CBD boasts many benefits for your skin and for your mental health.
But not all cannabis products are actually CBD or contain THC, the psychoactive that gets you high. Some brands that tout cannabis aren’t being so transparent and are capitalizing on this entire green movement. CBD is really confusing because marketers aren’t doing their best to provide information to consumers. Whether a product has CBD, THC or hemp oil makes a huge difference in the outcome of your beauty experience.
As a single ingredient, CBD sounds magical. Studies have shown that CBD has anti-inflammatory effects and can calm down your skin as well. The oil is nourishing, has plenty of vitamins and can give you an instant, healthy glow. But there’s also so much confusion when it comes to the actual oil. So popular is cannabis, the industry now projects that the market will reach $16 billion by 2025, with beauty being a huge part of it.
By now, you’ve probably used a product or three with “cannabis” on the label. But did it work for you? Did you find it to be anti-inflammatory or something that lessened your anxiety? If not, it’s probably because the product you’re using has zero CBD in it at all.
To understand CBD, one must understand that not all products are made equal. Hemp oil, for instance, is legal everywhere where as marijuana isn’t. To be considered hemp, a product can only have up to .3% of THC, the ingredient that gets people high. While these hemp oils have low THC, it has a high level of CBD, the ingredient that many have heralded as being an amazing anti-inflammatory ingredient. CBD is amazing for skin because it not only has said properties, it also contains essential fatty acids and vitamins A, D and E, all incredible ingredients for keeping your skin beautifully nourished.
But even if you have CBD oil, it doesn’t mean it’s exceptional as a single ingredient. “Not all CBD is created equal,” says Emily Heitman, the CMO and COO of LEEF Organics, to Very Good Light. “With the popularity of CBD you have those only seeking dollars vs. efficacy, taking advantage of a pure marketing play and human desire to live a healthier life.” What’s important, is seeing where your CBD is sourced from and whether it says “full spectrum” on the late or not. This is important, Emily says, because CBD products that aren’t lack the efficacy as those that do.
This means that products ranging from Peter Thomas Roth’s Green Releaf Sleep Cream, Herbivore’s Emerald oil, Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate are as edgy as drinking coffee out of a plastic straw.
“Science shows that full spectrum is where the efficacy is at,” she says. “Remember, the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts.”
Possibly the biggest thing to look out for, though, is the word “Cannabis sativa seed oil,” a tricky marketing term that capitalizes off of the CBD movement but has zero CBD at all. Cannabis sativa seed oil comes from the seed and not the plant, whereas CBD comes from the actual plant. In fact, the term “cannabis sativa seed oil” is actually just another name for hemp seed oil, which you’ve heard for years. It’s the ingredient that’s been found in crunchy, outdoorsy brands sold in-stores or at farmer’s markets, for years. While hemp seed oil has no CBD properties, it does provide you with an amazing supply of beautiful non-comedogenic oil.
(Photo Courtesy Lime Crime)
To end, DO NOT FALL for “cannabis” products, folks. Brands are coming out daily with new ones that will make you think you’re getting some CBD or THC benefits when you’re not at all. Just today, Lime Crime dropped its new campaign with a new liquid lipstick, Lip Blaze. It may seem that the product has marijuana in it by the product’s name or campaign, but nah, it just has cannabis sativa seed oil. Which, as we know, is as edgy as eating granola.