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Hemp Seed Oil Is Amazing for Your Skin—Here’s Why

It won’t clog pores, according to dermatologists.

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In This Article

By now, we’ve all learned that essential oils are a necessary part of our routine if we want to keep our skin in tip-top shape. Clear skin, a brighter complexion, evened-out discoloration—there are a lot of benefits to incorporating an oil or two into our everyday skincare. From coconut to Moroccan oil, it seems that we’ve heard ad nauseum about every oil we need—until now. Allow us to introduce you to the next “It” oil in skincare: hemp seed oil. We spoke with dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD; Dr. Raymond Schep, the Chief Chemist of Colonial Dames Co. and a Member of the CA Association of Toxicologists; Jennifer L. MacGregor, MD, at Union Square Laser Dermatology; and estheticians Tammy Fender (of her eponymous beauty line); and Amity Spiegel (of West Village-based CAP Beauty) and asked them to break down the benefits of hemp seed oil, from how great it is for dry skin to why we should mix it into a salad.

Type of ingredient: Oil

Main benefits: Reduces inflammation, hydrates, regulates oil production.

Who should use it: In general, people with acneic or combination skin.

How often can you use it: As often as you would use any oil—roughly twice a day.

Works well with: Acids and retinoids as it may mitigate the irritation they cause.

Don’t use with: Hemp seed oil can be used universally.

What is Hemp Seed Oil?

Hemp seed oil—not to be confused with hemp oil, which is a blanket term for all oils that come from hemp and can include cannabidiol (CBD) oil—is made out of purely hemp seeds. CBD oil, in turn, is made from leaves, stalks, and flowers of hemp (and sometimes seeds as well). “Hempseed Oil is the oil derived from the seeds of the hemp plant which is a cannabis plant cultivated for non-drug use. The oil is legally and used in large quantity for cosmetics, nutritional supplementation and skin oils. It can be legally used when it has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 0.3%,” Dr. Schep tells us.

“It can be marketed on its own or as an ingredient in moisturizing topicals,” says MacGregor. “Make sure you know the difference between hemp seed oil and CBD oil. The latter absorbs into skin and binds to cannabinoid receptors in the brain. It can have effects that are only beginning to be understood on anxiety, mood, sleep and many other conditions. CBD can also have low levels of THC which has obvious psychoactive effects.”

While other kinds of hemp oil are rich in cannabinoids as mentioned, hemp seed oil typically has no-to-few cannabinoids and contains mostly omega fatty acids. So, if you were worried about getting high off of hemp seed oil, you won’t. You can already find it in a variety of skincare products, and you can even eat it.

Benefits of Hemp Seed Oil for Skin

  • Locks in hydration: According to Spiegel, hemp seed oil is high in omega acids 3, 6, and 9, all of which help repair the skin barrier and form a seal over the skin to keep moisture trapped inside.
  • Attracts moisture: “It is also a humectant, so it draws moisture to the skin,” she says.
  • Anti-inflammatory: Those same omega acids in hemp seed oil also help lower inflammation in the skin.  
  • Soothes skin: “Hemp seed oil is rich in fatty acids, which help hydrate and soothe inflamed skin,” says Zeichner.
  • Anti-acneic: Zeichner also says it “may even modulate skin oil production,” which is huge for people with acneic or overly oily skin.

Side Effects of Hemp Seed Oil

Topical hemp seed oil has no known side effects.  

How to Use It

Naturally, hemp seed oil is being integrated into plenty of beauty products as a hydrator and anti-inflammatory. In particular, we love to use it with retinoids or after acids because it’s so effective at staving off inflammation. It works wonders for redness and acne, too  . It’s pretty easy to know how much to apply—just use as much as you would any other oil. However, we would be remiss if we told you hemp seed oil’s effects ended at skincare.

An example? Well, if you wear nail polish, you know that one downside to loving it is that sometimes it might cause nails to grow weaker and slower. Lisa Bronner, author of the blog Going Green with a Bronner Mom, wrote for the Huffington Post that because hemp oil contains amino acids for protein building, it’s great for strengthening nails and healing cuticles. She suggests applying the oil directly to them and massaging it in.

Fender is also a huge fan of incorporating hemp seed oil into your diet because its nutrients are so good for your body. “I especially like to use raw hemp seeds in cooking, because they are in their natural state, so the body can absorb all the nutrients they offer most easily,” she says. “Hemp seeds are great in salads, granolas, smoothies, and mixed in with grains, deliciously delivering vitamins A and E, but also essential trace minerals and a wealth of antioxidants.”

“It has a crispy, nutty taste and can be used on salads as a replacement for olive oil,” adds Spiegel. “It is high in omegas and full of essential amino acids that help make younger, smoother-looking skin and reduce inflammation in the body.” Because it is a highly volatile oil, she does say it must be kept refrigerated and not heated.

The Best Products with Hemp Seed Oil

This product from Herbivore comes in both CBD-free and CBD-inclusive versions, and which one you use is up to you. While the CBD-inclusive iteration is great for inflammation, the mixture of hemp seed oil, adaptogens, and squalane is good for you regardless of which one you buy.

When Milk Makeup came out with a full line of hemp oil-based products, we were a little skeptical. I mean, it’s the perfect marketing gimmick. But we soon fell in love with the nourishment the Kush line provides—in particular, this lip balm, which comes in four shades as well as clear and leaves your lips hydrated.

Everyone loves a good retinol, but we don’t feel as positively about the irritation that comes along with them. MARA uses hemp-derived CBD and cannabis sativa seed oil meant to mitigate the inflammation you may experience, as well as fermented green tea, so you can get your antioxidant fix, too.

Kiehl’s was one of the first brands to get on the hemp seed oil train, which is why their oil is now a crowd favorite. It also includes oregano oil, something else we don’t see advertised much in skincare, meant for purification and elimination of bacteria.

Dr. Bronner’s very well may have been your first foray into the world of natural beauty—it was for plenty of us, although we didn’t know it at the time. But what you probably didn’t realize is that hemp oil is one of the primary ingredients of the basic multi-use soap, and yes, it’s been that way forever.

Cannabis sativa seed oil is particularly great in masks, this one from Origins being one of the most popular items to utilize it as an ingredient. Its anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties mean it makes quick work of plumping your skin and getting rid of any redness. It’s perfect for a night out.

For those who want CBD in their products, you can’t beat CBD- and manuka-honey-based brand Cannuka. Their skin balm is wonderful for any kind of skin irritation or even soreness.

Hemp oil is trending right now, especially in the beauty industry, according to dermatologists. If you want to know the skin benefits of hemp seed oil keep reading.

9 Ways to Use Hemp Oil In Body Care (And Why You’d Want To)

There are a lot of superlative claims about hemp oil: most unsaturated oil, best essential fatty acids (EFA) ratio and combination, highest amino acid variety, only plant source of vitamin D. Can one oil be all that? In short, yes.

Before we go further, let me address that unspoken question, “Will hemp oil make me high?” No, it won’t. Hemp oil is pressed from the seed of the hemp plant, and this seed does not contain THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. However, because of this concern, many hemp oil suppliers provide transparent certifications to assure buyers of the lack of THC content in their products. Test Pledge is one such resource, wherein “producers and processors of hemp oil and hemp nut must commission THC tests on each and every lot of hemp nut and oil, performed by a properly accredited laboratory according to the official Health Canada protocol.”

In their assessment of hemp cosmetics on workplace drug testing, Petra Pless, DEnv, and Gero Leson, D Env, state, “In case of the highly unlikely full-body application of pure hemp oil with a 10 ppm THC content on partially compromised skin THC uptake could conceivably be raised to 11 µg/day. Even this higher rate is only a fraction of the 450 µg/day of oral THC intake, found not to result in a positive screening test for marijuana.”

Don’t judge hemp because it may have a kooky cousin. That’s hardly fair. Who doesn’t have an offbeat family member or two?

Why Hemp

Hemp oil contains unsurpassed essential fatty acids (EFAs). As we are increasingly learning, there are good fats and there are bad fats. What makes a good fat good has much to do with these EFAs, specifically omega-3 and omega-6, which are present in hemp oil in the perfect ratio of 1:3. Plus, hemp oil contains the anti-inflammatory gamma linoleic acid (GLA) as well as omega-9. Its fatty acid profile is better than fish oil’s, better than flaxseed oil’s–it is the best. Among many benefits, these EFAs provide for more elastic skin and shiny, stronger hair.

Hemp oil contains a power-packed punch of additional nutrients, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5, vitamin B9 (folate), and vitamin D (of which it is the only plant source), along with a useful dose of the antioxidant vitamin E (tocopherols) as well as all 10 amino acids for protein building. Add to that list chlorophyll (that’s why it’s green), phytosterols, phospholipids, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, and a bit of iron and zinc.

Hemp oil is extremely non-comodogenic. In other words, it doesn’t clog pores. And because its lipids mirror the lipids that our skin produces naturally, it works in sync with our body to soothe and cleanse. Healthy skin produces linoleic acid. If, for whatever reason, the skin can’t produce linoleic acid, it alternatively produces oleic acid, a thick and sticky pore blocker. Hemp oil contains the good linoleic acid.

Hemp oil is also a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture into the skin. Instead of sitting on top of the skin the way less-effective oils do, it’s able to penetrate the skin, moisturizing between cells and strengthening the cell matrix. It can get to hair roots, as well, strengthening the scalp and reducing dry flaking or dandruff. It evens out skin tone and reduces blotchiness.

How to Use It

  1. Alleviate dry skin. Rub the oil directly onto dry, cracked skin. For a deep conditioning treatment for hands and feet, massage in the oil then wear socks or gloves overnight to let it work its magic.
  2. Strengthen nails and heal cuticles. Massage a small amount of hemp oil directly into nails and cuticles–great for both fingernails and toenails.
  3. Remove makeup. Oil follows the “like dissolves like” rule, which means that hemp oil will dissolve the oils and waxes in makeup, especially in stubborn eye makeup. Gently rub a small amount of oil into the makeup and wipe with a cotton ball or a soft tissue.
  4. Mask overnight. Massage hemp oil into cleansed facial skin before bedtime.
  5. Steam facial skin. Massage a tablespoon of oil into the skin on your dry, clean face, massaging for several minutes. Then lay a hot (not scalding) damp washcloth over your face and let it sit until it cools. Wipe with the washcloth. Repeat with another hot washcloth until all the oil is wiped off. Washing your face afterwards is optional.
  6. Condition hair. Before shampooing, massage a tablespoon or so of hemp oil into your scalp and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Afterwards, shampoo as normal. You might find you don’t need conditioner.
  7. Reduce acne. This may sound crazy, but this oil actually reduces acne. Massage hemp oil into problem areas and work it in gently for several minutes. The oil will actually draw out sebum plugs that cause whiteheads, blackheads, and even cysts. Do this daily during breakouts.
  8. Relieve eczema. A 2005 study found that 2 tablespoons of dietary hemp seed oil consumed daily may help relieve the effects of atopic dermatitis, or eczema.
  9. Support overall health. Eat it. You can eat it straight and enjoy its nutty flavor or you can put it in salad dressings, as a butter replacement on toast, rice, potatoes, vegetables. it’s delicious! Keep in mind that pure hemp seed oil cannot be used for high-heat cooking. It has a low smoke point and will totally break down even at a moderate heat, at which point all nutritional benefits are lost.

Lisa Bronner is the writer of the blog Going Green with a Bronner Mom, in connection with her family’s company, Dr. Bronner’s, makers of best-selling organic personal care products. Through her writing and public speaking, Lisa guides consumers through the quagmire of the organic marketplace and simplifies the process of green living at home. Embracing the concept of stewardship, she recognizes individuals’ ability to make a world of difference by how they live their every day. A stay-at-home mom to three, she believes that regularly gathering with them around the family dinner table is the single most important parenting act in her day.

9 Ways to Use Hemp Oil In Body Care (And Why You’d Want To) There are a lot of superlative claims about hemp oil: most unsaturated oil, best essential fatty acids (EFA) ratio and combination,