“The virtues of hemp for skin are amazing,” according to Laure Bouguen, skin care expert and founder of the French beauty brand Ho Karaand, and she isn’t the only one who thinks so. Some of the biggest beauty brands in the world are scrambling to get this ancient plant medicine into their products, including one of the most respected — Estée Lauder. Analysts predict that the industry is just going to get bigger, but many consumers still aren’t completely clear why.
The rise of hemp skin care has occurred at the same time as states across America are legalizing medical and recreational cannabis. The media is talking about these plants more than it has ever done in the past, and yet the general public is still confused about the difference between hemp and marijuana, and the potential benefits (or drawbacks) of each.
In the case of hemp, the story is simple: it won’t get you high, but it’s positively packed with nutrients that are great for your skin. “It can replace a lot of synthetic and less powerful molecules and reshape the beauty industry into a wellness industry with a beauty-in and beauty-out approach,” said Bouguen.
But customers are right to think twice before buying the latest hyped-up hemp product. Gamu Mawora, an ethical beauty and aromatherapy technologist at wellness giant Holland & Barrett, warns that, “As with any upcoming trend, it is easy to be confused by the presentation of products, especially between hemp and CBD which are not quite the same thing. Always look out for CBD oil or cannabidiol on the ingredients list.”
Thankfully, we’ve got the info that you need to buy the best possible hemp products for your skin.
When it comes to the ways that hemp can help to improve the condition and appearance of your skin, there are three main compounds within the plant that pack the biggest skin care punch. Look for products containing these ingredients and you’ll see the biggest results.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found in all varieties of cannabis sativa plants. And although hemp has significantly less of them than marijuana does, it still has enough for your skin to feel the effects.
CBD in particular has been found to have a number of medicinal qualities that are great for your skin. It’s a natural anti-inflammatory, which means it can reduce redness, puffiness, and pain. It’s also antibacterial, which makes it a powerful weapon against the bacteria that cause acne, and it can restore balance to the skin’s sebum production, a boon for anyone with oily skin. As if that weren’t enough, its powerful antioxidant properties help it fight free radicals and prevent wrinkles, and it can restore moisture to dehydrated skin, too.
If you want to pump your skin full of the benefits of cannabinoids such as CBD, you should steer clear of beauty products that contain hemp seed oil. This is because studies have shown that the seeds of the plant don’t contain any cannabinoids, so oils made from them won’t deliver the results you might expect.
It also helps to make sure you’re buying from a brand that values product transparency and includes the level of cannabinoids in the oil, such as Bluebird Botanicals whose hemp extracts boast 80 different phytocannabinoids and a 40 percent CBD content.
Contrary to popular opinion, not all fats are bad for the body, and omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids are the perfect example. As polyunsaturated fats, these essential oils can actually help to reduce cholesterol and heart disease, and they also have many positive effects on the skin.
For example, they increase blood circulation, which boosts the vitality to tired and dull complexions. They improve the suppleness and softness of the skin, reducing the development and appearance of fine lines, and they are gentle enough to be used by people with skin conditions like eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea. Fatty acids can also soothe dry skin irritation and restore balance to sensitive areas.
Hemp seeds are an excellent source of these fatty acids, and they have the optimal ratio (3:1) of omega-6 to omega-3. One ounce (28 g) of hemp seeds contains around 6,000 mg — or 545 percent of the recommended daily allowance.
Terpenes haven’t received as much attention as cannabinoids or fatty acids, but they’re just as numerous and (possibly) just as effective. These are fragrant oils which are present in most plants, including hemp. They’re known best for giving plants their smell and taste, but studies have shown that they also have a wealth of skin care benefits.
Researchers have identified over 100 different terpenes within the hemp plant, each with its own effect on the body. A number have been singled out as having significant positive impacts on the skin. For example, limonene (which has a citrus-like flavour and aroma) has shown anti-inflammatory properties, pinene (boasting pine-like notes) has anti-aging abilities, and myrcene (known for its fruity fragrance and taste) acts as an effective antibacterial.
A hemp product that has a rich terpene profile is more likely to have noticeably positive effects on your skin. To choose one with as many terpenes as possible, look for less refined oils, as they’re often removed during the distillation process.