Is hemp oil effective in treating skin conditions?
Hemp oil derives from the seeds, flowers, or leaves of the Cannabis sativa plant. There is some evidence that molecules and chemicals found in hemp oil may be beneficial for skin health.
Hemp oil may help treat inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema and psoriasis, acne scarring, and dry skin. However, research is still ongoing.
Read on to learn more about what hemp oil is, its possible health benefits, what the research currently says about whether it helps reduce or prevent skin conditions, and other natural skin remedies.
Is CBD legal? Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are legal federally but still illegal under some state laws. Cannabis-derived CBD products, on the other hand, are illegal federally but legal under some state laws. Check local legislation, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have not approved nonprescription CBD products, which may be inaccurately labeled.
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Some people refer to hemp oil as hemp seed oil or full-spectrum hemp oil, but the products are different.
Manufacturers produce hemp seed oil by compressing hemp seeds rather than the leaves and flowers. Hemp seed oil does not contain any CBD, which is the main active component in full-spectrum hemp oils.
Full-spectrum hemp oil is a type of CBD oil made from the pressed flowers and leaves of the C. sativa plant. Manufacturers use hemp oil as the carrier oil, and it contains less than 0.3% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Technically, both types of hemp oil are cannabis products, as they both come from the C. sativa plant.
Both types of hemp oil have a greenish color and a nutty flavor and smell. Unrefined hemp oils tend to be darker green and contain more nutrients than refined oils. Refined hemp oils tend to be clearer.
Scientists need to carry out more research to discover the full range of health benefits that hemp oil can provide.
However, some studies have indicated that hemp oil may have numerous potential health benefits, such as:
- moisturizing properties
- reducing inflammation
- helping control oil production
- reducing symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS)
- reducing the risk of infection
- reducing symptoms of menopause
- excellent source of healthful fats, protein, and antioxidants
- preventing seizures
- helping manage or treat addictions or substance misuse disorders
- protecting nerve and brain cells
- reducing depression symptoms
- reducing or controlling anxiety
Scientists believe that most of the health benefits linked to hemp oil are due to the oil’s rich mixture of beneficial plant chemicals called phytochemicals, as well as other nutrients.
Important phytochemicals and nutrients found in full-spectrum hemp oil include :
- cannabinoids terpenes
- omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids
- linoleic acid, γ-linolenic acid, and α-linolenic acid
- oleic acid
- palmitic acid
Some studies have found preliminary or limited evidence that molecules and chemicals found in hemp oil may benefit skin health. Skin conditions that may benefit from using hemp oil include:
Hemp oil, especially hemp seed oil, is rich in unsaturated fats such as linoleic acid, γ-linolenic acid, and α-linolenic acid.
These three fatty acids may help improve skin structure by helping the skin retain moisture. They also have a beneficial effect on dry, rough skin and can influence the fluidity of cell membranes and transport of electrolytes.
A 2017 study found that applying 0.5 cm3 of an emulsion that contained hemp seed oil helped moisturize the dehydrated skin of some participants.
Hemp oil also contains omega-3 and 6 fatty acids, and people with omega deficiencies can develop rough, scaly skin.
Acne and acne scars
Hemp oil contains several compounds with oil-reducing, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial properties that may help improve acne vulgaris.
Studies using mice and human cells show that compounds in hemp oil, such as CBD, may also help improve acne scars by reducing healing time, boosting collagen levels, and stimulating other healing processes, such as cellular turnover and regeneration.
Inflammatory skin conditions
Hemp oil contains potent anti-inflammatory compounds, such as fatty acids, antioxidants, and CBD, that may help reduce symptoms associated with inflammatory skin conditions, such as skin dryness, itchiness, and pain.
A 2014 review concluded that applying hemp oil may benefit people with:
- atopic dermatitis
- seborrheic dermatitis
- varicose eczema
- lichen planus
- acne rosacea
Consuming hemp oil may also benefit people with inflammatory skin conditions. Some research has found that dietary hemp oil intake can reduce medication use in people with atopic dermatitis.
Symptoms of skin aging
According to a 2015 journal article, hemp oil can treat and prevent the skin symptoms associated with aging.
According to an older article , this may be because people who consume higher amounts of linoleic acid seem to have a lower likelihood of developing age-related dryness and atrophy, or thinning.
Hemp oil also contains compounds that reduce oxidative stress. Oxidative stress occurs when molecules called free radicals damage the skin, leading to wrinkles and fine lines over time.
Hemp oil also contains compounds that combat signs of skin aging by:
- stimulating skin regeneration
- improving skin elasticity and firmness
- reducing the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines
- reducing skin dullness and improving skin brightness
- retaining moisture in the skin
- increasing collagen production
Hemp oil contains antimicrobial compounds and antioxidants that can help destroy microbes, such as viruses, bacteria, and fungi, that cause disease.
It also contains compounds that help strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, making it harder for microbes to enter the skin and cause infection or disease.
UV damage and hyperpigmentation
Hemp contains both α-linolenic acid and linoleic acid, which help repair UV skin damage by increasing the removal of melanin.
Melanin is the name for a broad group of natural skin pigments that give the skin’s upper layer its color.
Both α-linolenic acid and linoleic acid can also help reduce hyperpigmentation, or excessive skin darkening, that tends to occur with sun exposure, by suppressing the production of melanin.
Some studies have found preliminary evidence that molecules and chemicals found in hemp oil may benefit skin health. Learn more.
The Exact Skincare Products That Helped Clear This Woman’s Cystic Acne in Just 3 Months
We wish we had known about this routine back in our hormonal, pimply teenage years.
Many of us have dealt with acne at some point in our lives, whether it was hormonal pimples in high school, birth control breakouts, or acne that took us by surprise in adulthood (wait, now I have to pay off my student loans and combat zits that just won’t go away?!). WT-actual-F, universe? And why does it seem like adult acne is ten times harder to get rid of than uneven adolescent skin? At this age, a bottle of Proactiv just won’t cut it.
Reddit user DdoesKeto knew this struggle all too well—until she was able to get rid of her adult acne through the use of a few simple products. The Redditor posted a viral before-and-after photo of her acne treatment, and the difference in her skin is night and day. Her incredible results have us dying to know exactly what products she used to clear up her breakouts—and surprisingly, it’s all thanks to a very pared down routine, without the help of prescription medications or acne-targeting products. Seriously!
She begins her Reddit post in the thread r/SkincareAddiction with a side-by-side image of her skin: two photos that were taken only three months apart. She was so thrilled with her progress that she decided to share her journey and skincare routine with the rest of us. The best news? DdoesKeto may have discovered a natural product that works to banish acne for good.
DdoesKeto says that once she hit puberty, she began to experience problematic skin (like so many of us do). Her skin had always been tight, dry, and sensitive, but when pimples began to crop up, she started reaching for products tailored toward oily skin and acne.
At the start of December 2017, her skin was the worst it had ever been—covered with painful cystic pimples, pustules, and what felt like a million closed comedones—and she couldn’t pinpoint why. She tried using AHAs and BHAs (acids like glycolic acid and salicylic acid), signed up for Curology, and at one point even treated her breakouts as if they were fungal. Everything seemed to make her face worse.
One day, DdoesKeto walked into Sephora, where an employee in the skincare section suggested it wasn’t that her skin was oily and causing acne, but rather that her face was reacting to being extremely dry and irritated. The woman suggested she switch to an oil-based cleanser, cut out all additives, and make moisturizing a priority.
After practicing a ‘less is more’ approach to skincare for three months, DdoesKeto’s results are jaw-dropping. Ready for the super affordable hero products this Reddit user swears by to transform irritated skin into a brighter, smoother complexion?
Her morning routine consists of simply splashing her face with water, followed by hydrating with Stratia Liquid Gold, a skin repair moisturizer that includes ceramides, cholesterol, and fatty acids. “It’s definitely not moisturizing enough on its own, but layered with other stuff it adds just the extra oomph for me,” DdoesKeto says. Afterward, she applies a mixture—just a few drops of each—of Jason Vitamin E Oil ($8; amazon.com) and Now Foods Rose Hip Seed Oil ($13 for 2-pack; amazon.com) and then moisturizes with CeraVe Moisturizing Cream ($15; amazon.com). She finishes with EltaMD UV Shield Broad-Spectrum SPF 45 ($48; dermstore.com), an oil-free sunscreen that contains vitamin E to prevent damage from free-radicals and zinc oxide to protect from UV rays.
Other affordable rose hip oils to try for similar results: The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Rose Hip Seed Oil ($10; sephora.com), an organic oil with a cult following, and Trilogy Certified Organic Rosehip Oil ($23; amazon.com), which is so effective that a bottle sells every 20 seconds on Amazon.
At night, she oil cleanses using natural Manitoba Harvest Organic Hemp Oil ($11; amazon.com). When she first started using hemp oil, she would massage it for a few minutes and get “grits.” Now she massages it around her face once, uses a warm baby washcloth (we suggest trying this hypoallergenic option by Bamboo Organics, $13; amazon.com) to wipe away all of the dirt and oil, and repeats until she feels her skin is clean. Afterward, she rinses her face with warm water, and follows up with Stratia Liquid Gold, her vitamin E and rose hip seed oil mixture, and CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. On extra dry days, as a final step, she’ll smooth on a thin layer of Aquaphor Healing Ointment ($13; amazon.com) to ensure that she wakes up with hydrated, glowy skin.
Someone who has really irritated and inflamed, flaky skin—like DdoesKeto describes—is probably dealing with underlying rosacea, says Rachel Nazarian, MD, a New York-based dermatologist and fellow of the American Academy of Dermatology. To treat conditions that cause severe dryness, like rosacea and eczema, you want to repair the skin barrier and improve hydration with emollients and humectants, which will also help calm skin, she adds.
The fatty acids in the Stratia Liquid Gold keep the skin hydrated and plump, while the ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide in the CeraVe moisturizer protect the skin’s barrier, lock in moisture, and even out skin color, New York City-based dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD tells Health. Vitamin E and rose hip seed oil can help to neutralize free radicals, slow down the aging process, minimize fine lines, and give the skin a radiant glow, she adds. DdoesKeto’s sunscreen choice is one of Dr. Jaliman’s favorites, and is a great option for anyone with oily or acne-prone skin.
As for the Redditor’s evening routine, not only is hemp oil anti-inflammatory, but it’s also deeply moisturizing , can regulate the skin’s level of oil production, and is non-comedogenic (read: won’t clog your pores.) Rich in GLA-Gamma linolenic acid (an essential fatty acid), it can even help you achieve younger-looking skin by improving inner health, Dr. Jaliman notes. Even better news? It’s safe for all skin types.
One potential problem with oil cleansing is that if you do not follow up with a traditional cleanser, you could leave oil residue on your skin, and this film won’t allow skin-healthy ingredients to penetrate afterwards, Dr. Nazarian warns. You may want to consider using a gentle, hydrating cleanser—like this dermatologist-approved option from CeraVe ($14; amazon.com)—as a second cleanser.
While oil cleansing took some getting used to at first, DdoesKeto says that after sticking to her routine for three months, she’s now a convert for life. “My skin is no longer flaky, dry, and tight,” she shares. “I still am dealing with some bumps here and there as well as blackheads, but for the most part all of the gunk I had trapped beneath the surface has gone away.”
A woman on Reddit shared a before-and-after photo of her cystic acne, along with the exact products—like hemp oil, rose hip oil, and moisturizers—she used to clear and calm her skin.