Have you noticed the rising trend of hemp in a variety of products? Well, you are not alone! Most people confuse hemp with marijuana, both of which are varieties of Cannabis Sativa L. Marijuana is the plant that provides the psychoactive effects as a result of smoking it. Industrial Hemp on the other hand has a variety of industrial applications, including being used in skincare and cosmetics.

Is this all a gimmick to garner attention from individuals that use marijuana, or is there an actual benefit of using Hemp within our cosmetic products?

It might be easy to dismiss products with hemp as a trend to capitalize on the culture surrounding marijuana, however, there are real advantages of using hemp within our cosmetic products. Not only being beneficial to our skin, but also the environment.

One of the key components of hemp that is used in cosmetics is its oil; it is simply known as either hemp oil or CBD oil [2]. Due to this oils abundance of polyunsaturated fatty acids, it is shown to be quite moisturizing by keeping the integrity and health of our skin barrier intact. This makes the oil an ideal ingredient for a lot of skincare and cosmetic products aimed at dry skin. Canadian cosmetic company Katakami actually has developed a hemp-infused lotion that seeks to capitalize on this.

Beyond its moisturizing capabilities, the oil has shown to have anti-inflammatory properties by inhibiting key receptors that are responsible for activating the inflammatory response [3]. This simply means that the oil can help with conditions like acne, and atopic dermatitis/eczema [3]. The oil is also shown to be anti-microbial as it can disrupt the biofilm formation from bacteria like S. aureus, a key bacterium that is responsible for conditions like eczema [3].

Hemp oil is not the only hemp-derived ingredient that can be used within cosmetics and skincare; hemp seed extract is shown to be a potent antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and can reduce sebum [4]. Sebum is the oily, waxy substance produced by your body – if you ever wonder why skin can feel oil it may be due to your Sebum production! A scientific study has shown that using a 3% cannabis seed extract cream showed results of reduced skin rash, and reduced sebum condition on the skin compared to normal creams [4]! It’s proven medical efficiency, combined with it’s low irritation, results in hemp seed extract having the potential to be a great ingredient for products dealing with oily/acne-prone skin.

Are hemp derived-ingredients safe?

People often wonder how switching to a new type of cosmetic will affect their skin, with many people wondering if the solution will make the problem worse than it is. The good news is that the compound responsible for most of the positive skin benefits, cannabidiol (CBD), is a non-toxic and non-psychoactive compound, which is different from the active compound, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Due to its low toxicity, it is safe to say that hemp within your cosmetics will not cause adverse effects.

Cosmetic Sustainability

While Hemp Oil has proven topical effects, a question to consider is how does it stand out from other ingredients that provide similar results? One crucial thing about industrial hemp is its positive environmental impact. Currently, Earth is facing detrimental impacts due to the overconsumption of resources by many industries, including the cosmetic industry. The cosmetic industry uses an immense amount of plastic which often ends up in landfills, coupled with the fact that over 70% of cosmetics are palm oil based, there is significant room for improvement on their carbon footprint. The World Wide Fund for Nature did a great piece on the negative impact of palm oil and what we can do to help, feel free to check it out here.

The beauty of hemp is that it is a very versatile plant. Not only oil can be extracted from hemp seeds, but the hemp fibers can be used to form sustainable packaging for cosmetic products! Another great benefit is that many companies that work with industrial hemp and its derived ingredients are also environmentally conscious. Cosmetic companies like Hemp Code, High, and Katakami provide hemp-based products while being sustainable and eco-friendly at the same time!

Overall, Hemp is shown to be a key resource that can have a positive impact within the cosmetic industry. The plant is versatile by providing ingredients that can deal with different skin conditions and concerns. Through research and testing, hemp is shown to be more than just a marketing trick but can provide benefits not only to the consumers but also to the environment as well.

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[1] Crini, G., Lichtfouse, E., Chanet, G., & Morin-Crini, N. (2020) Applications of hemp in textiles, paper industry, insulation and building materials, horticulture, animal nutrition, food and beverages, nutraceuticals, cosmetics and hygiene, medicine, agrochemistry, energy production and environment: a review. Environmental Chemistry Letters 18, 1451-1476.

[2] Vogl, C. R., M lleken, H., Lissek-Wolf, G., Surb ck, A., & Kobert, J. (2004) Hemp (Cannabis sativa L.) as a resource for green cosmetics: Yield of seed and fatty acid compositions of 20 varieties under the growing conditions of organic farming in Austria. Journal of Industrial Hemp 9, 51-68.

[3] Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020) Therapeutic Potential of Cannabidiol (CBD) for Skin Health and Disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology 13, 927.

[4] Ali, A., & Akhtar, N. (2015) The safety and efficacy of 3% Cannabis seeds extract cream for reduction of human cheek skin sebum and erythema content. Pakistan journal of pharmaceutical sciences, 28(4).

[5] Bom, S., Ribeiro, H. M., & Marto, J. (2020) Sustainability Calculator: A Tool to Assess Sustainability in Cosmetic Products. Sustainability 12, 1437.