Hemp oil is trending—especially in the beauty industry. Keep reading to learn more about its benefits for skin, according to dermatologists. 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. If you have problem skin, cannabis might be the surprising answer. In our Kiehl’s guide, learn about hemp seed oil and how to use it for healthier-looking skin.
Hemp Seed Oil Is Amazing for Your Skin—Here’s Why
Audrey was an associate editor at Byrdie. She has also worked with Allure, New York Magazine, InStyle magazine and Refinery29.
Nikhita has worked as a writer and editor in NYC for over seven years. Her work has been published in GQ, Instyle, Bon Appetit, and more. She has written for Byrdie since 2020.
Gary Goldenberg, MD is a board-certified dermatologist based in New York. He holds an expertise in many areas including laser resurfacing of wrinkles and acne scarring, melasma and hyperpigmentation treatment.
Liz deSousa for BYRDIE
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 purported 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 several experts 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.
Keep reading for all you need to know about this multi-use ingredient.
Type of ingredient: Hydrator
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 legal and used in large quantities for cosmetics, nutritional supplementation, and skin oils. It can be legally used when it has a tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) content of less than 0.3 percent,” says Raymond Schep, a Member of the CA Association of Toxicologists.
“It can be marketed on its own or as an ingredient in moisturizing topicals,” says Jennifer L. MacGregor, MD, a dermatologist at Union Square Laser Dermatology. “Make sure you know the difference between hemp seed oil and CBD oil. The latter absorbs into the 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 Amity Spiegel, an esthetician at CAP Beauty in Manhattan’s West Village, 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 Joshua Zeichner, MD a dermatologist and Associate Professor of Dermatology and the Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City.
- Anti-acneic: Zeichner also says it “may even modulate skin oil production,” which is huge for people with acneic or overly oily skin.
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.
Tammy Fender, an esthetician and founder of her eponymous beauty line, 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 will likely be 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. 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, 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. This mask promises anti-inflammatory and hydrating properties that make 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.
Topical hemp seed oil has no known side effects.
Consult with your doctor before ingesting hemp seed oil. When taken orally, hemp seed oil can have the same skin benefits.
Hemp seed oil is considered safe for mostly everyone to use.
Byrdie takes every opportunity to use high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
Parke MA, Perez-Sanchez A, Zamil DH, Katta R. Diet and skin barrier: the role of dietary interventions on skin barrier function. Dermatology Practical & Conceptual. 2021. doi:10.5826/dpc.1101a132
How to Use Hemp Oil for the Skin
Verywell Health articles are reviewed by board-certified physicians and healthcare professionals. These medical reviewers confirm the content is thorough and accurate, reflecting the latest evidence-based research. Content is reviewed before publication and upon substantial updates. Learn more.
Leah Ansell, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and an assistant professor of dermatology at Columbia University.
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.
The Skin Benefits Of Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil
If you have problem skin, cannabis might be the surprising answer. In our Kiehl’s guide, learn about hemp seed oil and how to use it for healthier-looking skin.
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Cannabis, derived from the Cannabis sativa plant (also known as hemp), has been used since antiquity for cultural purposes. These days, the plant is best known for the drug it produces: Marijuana. However, recent research indicates that the hemp plant has legitimate uses outside of recreation. In particular, the plant’s seeds are known to be rich in antioxidants and skin-friendly oils that research shows can be beneficial in addressing a variety of complexion concerns.
Because cannabis has been known by the drug it produces for so long, there are a lot of misconceptions around what cannabis seed oil is and how it works. There’s also a ton of research on cannabis and its various compounds. To help you navigate through the deluge of information and non-facts out there, we’ve put together a Kiehl’s guide to Cannabis sativa seed oil. Ahead, learn about hemp benefits for skin, the best Kiehl’s products with this unique plant ingredient, and how to use it in your skincare routine for healthier-looking skin.
What Is Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil?
Cannabis sativa seed oil, also known as hemp seed oil, is a lightweight oil cold-pressed from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant. It’s been used for centuries in cooking, as well as topically to help with a wide range of skin concerns.
This plant oil is unique in its composition. Though it’s mostly devoid of THC and CBD (the active ingredients in marijuana), it does contain various other compounds, including antioxidants and phytocannabinoids. It’s also rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, including linoleic acid—a significant component of the skin’s natural moisture barrier. You’ll find it in our Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate (get the full scoop on the formula below). At Kiehl’s, our hemp seed oil is sourced primarily from Germany, with the seeds being harvested from September through October. After harvest, they’re cleaned, then pressed using a mechanical cold-pressing method before a final filtration and purification step.
Cannabis Oil Benefits For Skin
If you’re interested in trying this ingredient in your skincare routine, it’s important to look for products formulated specifically for the skin; rubbing an edible CBD oil on your face probably won’t give you the results you’re looking for. Instead, reach for skincare products with hemp seed.
Read on to learn about three benefits of cannabis for skin, plus how to use this ingredient for a clearer, healthier-looking complexion.
Cannabis Sativa Benefit #1
Hemp Oil Helps Visibly Reduce Blemishes and Oiliness
Research indicates that hemp seed oil can help reduce the appearance of blemishes. Blackheads, whiteheads, and other types of blemishes (as you probably already know) can develop when a pore gets clogged with sebum, dead skin, and other debris. Multiple studies have shown that _Cannabis sativa _seed oil can help minimize the amount of oil on your skin’s surface. And this can help reduce the amount and severity of clogged pores. Best of all, hemp oil is generally well-tolerated by all skin types.
Cannabis Sativa Benefit #2
It’s Known To Strengthen The Skin’s Natural Moisture Barrier
As we touched upon above, hemp oil is rich in various polyunsaturated fats and antioxidants, including linoleic acid and alpha-linoleic acid. Both of these compounds are abundant in the skin’s natural moisture barrier. Having an adequate amount of these fatty acids in the skin promotes a smoother, more hydrated complexion. It also helps ensure the skin’s natural moisture barrier functions properly to help defend against environmental stressors. As such, using _Cannabis sativa _seed oil topically can help ensure your skin barrier has the nutrients it needs.
Cannabis Sativa Benefit #3
It Can Help Minimize The Appearance Of Redness
Angry-looking, red skin can be difficult to address, and it isn’t always easy to hide with makeup either. If you know this dilemma all too well, it may be wise to adopt a skincare routine for sensitive skin. But you can also work hemp seed into your action plan. According to studies, Cannabis sativa seed oil may help calm the skin and visibly reduce redness.
Try It: How you use hemp seed oil on the face depends on the formula and your specific complexion concerns. To reap the three benefits above, we recommend reaching for Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate. Our non-comedogenic facial oil is formulated with 100% naturally-derived ingredients,* including hemp-derived Cannabis sativa seed oil and green oregano oil. It helps calm problem skin for a more comfortable, hydrated feel and works to strengthen your natural moisture barrier to help your skin protect itself. We recommend using the lightweight oil daily (two to three drops is the perfect amount) to visibly reduce redness and provide relief from discomfort.
*We consider ingredients to be naturally-derived if they retain more than 50% of their molecular structure after being processed from a natural source.
How To Create a Skincare Routine With Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil
To enjoy the benefits of cannabis sativa seed oil, use it in a routine that suits your skin’s needs. Below, find two simple, four-step options.
Routine For: Calm Skin
Start with Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash. The formula with calendula and glycerin helps soothe skin, in addition to gently lifting away impurities, dirt, and oil. If dark spots are a concern, follow it with Clearly Corrective Dark Spot Corrector. Next, apply Ultra Facial Cream with Squalane to give skin lasting hydration. Finally, seal everything in with a few drops of face oil.
Routine For: Hydrated Skin
If your skin needs a little more hydration, your routine only requires one tweak. Swap the above face wash for our Ultra Facial Cleanser. It stars squalane, glycerin, and avocado oil and is pH-balanced to maintain skin’s natural moisture barrier.
Next: Now that you’ve learned all about _Cannabis sativa’s _skincare benefits, read up on another one of our favorite skincare ingredients in our article The Benefits Of Coconut Oil For Hair and Skin.