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7 benefits of CBD and hemp seed oil for skin: Acne, wrinkles and more

Hemp seed oil and CBD oil are one of nowadays trendiest ingredients in cosmetics due to its great anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and many other properties. But what benefits can it bring to us and what makes it so special?

What is hemp seed oil and CBD

First of all, hemp seed oil is an oil from sativa cannabis plant, also known as marijuana, which has usually gone through a process where most of the psychoactive substance (THC) has been removed to make it suitable for legal consumption.

This oil is extracted from sativa cannabis seeds and usually appears on the ingredient list by its INCI name of hemp seed oil or cannabis sativa seed oil.

Fatty acid composition of hemp oil

Generally, hemp oil is composed mostly of linoleic acid (-55.3%), alpha-linolenic acid (-20.3%), oleic acid (-9%), palmitic acid (-5.9%) and gamma-linolenic acid (4.34%), being the rest a minor composition of stebaric acid, arachydic acid…1Mikulcová V, Kašpárková V, Humpolíček P, Buňková L. Formulation, Characterization and Properties of Hemp Seed Oil and Its Emulsions. Molecules. 2017;22(5):700. Published 2017 Apr 27. doi:10.3390/molecules22050700

What is CBD

CBD or cannabidiol is a cannabinoid-type component of sativa cannabis that is normally extracted from its flowers and unlike other cannabinoids such as THC, CBD has no psychotropic effects. This compound has different benefits to hemp oil so we musn’t confuse them.

It should be emphasized that CBD oil is highly concentrated in cannabidiol while hemp oil usually only contains some traces of cannabidiol.

Hemp seed oil benefits

It’s good and suitable for acne prone skin

Hemp seed oil is not comedogenic so it can be used in acne prone skin, in addition its high composition in fatty acids is mostly in linoleic acid (this type of acid is ideal to improve the appearance of acne and it is believed that those who have acne prone skin have less of it).

In addition, many studies have concluded that hemp seed oil helps controlling the excess of skin sebum production, an example of a study case is the application of the extract of 3% of cannabis seeds, in just 12 weeks it was able to reduce both sebum production (40% reduction) and erythema (11% reduction) making it an effective treatment against seborrhea and acne.2Ali A, Akhtar N. The safety and efficacy of 3% Cannabis seeds extract cream for reduction of human cheek skin sebum and erythema content. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2015 Jul;28(4):1389-95. PMID: 26142529.

It is believed that its effects on reducing skin sebum production are due to the inhibition of 5α-reductase, an enzyme involved in the steroids metabolism that has influence in sebum production and androgenetic alopecia.

It prevents skin aging

Due to its high vitamin E content on some of its traces it might contain cannabidiol, both antioxidant compounds, so hemp oil could prevent aging by suppressing free radical damage.

Furthermore, due to its emollient and anti-inflammatory properties it keeps the skin at bay from some diseases and prevents the damage caused by environmental effects such as the dryness produced by the air, preventing aging faster by the damage that those compounds can cause to the skin.

In addition, a study in men between the age of 10 and 35 showed that the application of sativa cannabis extract improved various skin parameters after 3 months of application. Skin improvements were -21.77% roughness, -13.35% in wrinkles, -13.63% fewer scales and 19.26% more softness.3Ali A, Akhtar N, Khan H, Bin Asad MHH, Ahmad Z. The improvement on the skin surface by a new type of dermocosmetic loaded plant extract: A split face skin topographic study. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2020;33(2):531-535.

It acts as an emollient and may help reparing the skin

This oil is loaded with omega 3 and omega 6 essential fatty acids, with an ideal ratio between the two. These fatty acids are part of the skin’s own structure and their application helps with dryness and irritation.

In addition, helping with the maintenance of the skin barrier achieves greater elasticity, decreased itching and a better overall appearance of the skin.

It also has a high content of polyunsaturated fatty acids, known for the relieve that they provide to dry skin.

Benefits of cannabidiol or CBD

Cannabidiol has antioxidant properties

The skin has cannabinoid receptors with which it is able to interact so it decreases oxidative stress.4Atalay S, Jarocka-Karpowicz I, Skrzydlewska E. Antioxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol. Antioxidants (Basel). 2019;9(1):21. Published 2019 Dec 25. doi:10.3390/antiox9010021

For these reasons, CBD has been shown to increase the effectiveness of other antioxidant enzymes in the body such as superoxide dismutase and thiorredoxine reductase (two very potent antioxidants that we naturally have in our body) in skin chelatocytes when exposed to UV radiation.

Not only that, CBD also prevents lipid peroxidation caused by environmental effects by capturing free radicals or by transforming them into less reactive and less harmful substances. It also decreases ROS (reactive oxygen species, a type of free radical that causes skin damage) that are formed due to metal quelation and the production of prooxidant enzymes in the skin.5Jastrząb A, Gęgotek A, Skrzydlewska E. Cannabidiol Regulates the Expression of Keratinocyte Proteins Involved in the Inflammation Process through Transcriptional Regulation. Cells. 2019;8(8):827. Published 2019 Aug 3. doi:10.3390/cells8080827

It is anti-inflammatory

Numerous studies have confirmed that CBD has anti-inflammatory activity when used on the skin so it may be a great help for those who try to deal with some skin diseases, especially those chronic that have to do with inflammatory processes.6Palmieri B, Laurino C, Vadalà M. A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and cutaneous scars. Clin Ter. 2019;170(2):e93-e99. doi:10.7417/CT.2019.2116

It has also shown to decrease inflammation in the skin wounds during healing.7Sangiovanni E, Fumagalli M, Pacchetti B, et al. Cannabis sativa L. extract and cannabidiol inhibit in vitro mediators of skin inflammation and wound injury. Phytother Res. 2019;33(8):2083-2093. doi:10.1002/ptr.6400

It may be helpful in the management of psoriasis and allergic contact dermatitis

An example is its effectiveness in the treatment of allergic dermatitis, a type of dermatitis that occurs when the skin comes into contact with any material or substance to which an individual is allergic, producing irritation and redness, achieving a notable improvement due to its anti-inflammatory ability.8Petrosino S, Verde R, Vaia M, Allarà M, Iuvone T, Di Marzo V. Anti-inflammatory Properties of Cannabidiol, a Nonpsychotropic Cannabinoid, in Experimental Allergic Contact Dermatitis. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2018;365(3):652-663. doi:10.1124/jpet.117.244368

It also helps with psoriasis, as it is known that this disease is due in part to an inflammatory process of the skin by which keratinocytes (a type of cell in the skin that contains keratin) proliferate more than necessary, and cannabidiol has been shown to inhibit keratinocyte production.9Wilkinson JD, Williamson EM. Cannabinoids inhibit human keratinocyte proliferation through a non-CB1/CB2 mechanism and have a potential therapeutic value in the treatment of psoriasis. J Dermatol Sci. 2007;45(2):87-92. doi:10.1016/j.jdermsci.2006.10.009

Cannabidiol helps treating acne and controlling sebum production

To begin with, most ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties generally cause an improvement in acne prone skin, especially CBD, which plays a very important role in acne control.

Cannabidiol in low doses has been shown to decrease the proliferation of sebocytes (a type of cell that produces fat in the skin) and it is able to induce apoptosis of these cells in higher doses.10Oláh A, Tóth BI, Borbíró I, et al. Cannabidiol exerts sebostatic and antiinflammatory effects on human sebocytes. J Clin Invest. 2014;124(9):3713-3724. doi:10.1172/JCI64628

In addition, cannabinoids have also been shown to exert a powerful antibacterial action and although this action has not yet been investigated against acne bacteria, it may suggest a possible effectiveness.11Appendino G, Gibbons S, Giana A, et al. Antibacterial cannabinoids from Cannabis sativa: a structure-activity study. J Nat Prod. 2008;71(8):1427-1430. doi:10.1021/np8002673

In addition, it has been shown that CBD can penetrate the skin and accumulate in the sebaceous glands of the skin, producing a better action over the time.12Lodzki M, Godin B, Rakou L, Mechoulam R, Gallily R, Touitou E. Cannabidiol-transdermal delivery and anti-inflammatory effect in a murine model. J Control Release. 2003;93(3):377-387. doi:10.1016/j.jconrel.2003.09.001

Therefore, due to its anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and sebumr egulating properties, it could become a potential and natural treatment in the acne management, although studies are still lacking in order to verify its effectiveness compared to other more conventional treatments.

How to choose a good hemp seed oil or a good cannabidiol product

To make sure that it has hemp oil, you should look for cannabis sativa oil or hemp seed oil or similar in the product ingredient list, in the case of CBD you should look for cannabidiol.

Regarding the extraction method, like the rest of the oils, it is always advisable to make sure that it has been extracted by the cold-pressed method, as this method will keep most of its properties compared to other extraction methods.

Not all products that contain hemp seed oil contain cannabidiol or significant amounts for noticing the benefits, so you should look for a reliable manufacturer that specifies the mg or the % of cannabidiol that the product contains, so we recommend Enecta brand.

How to use hemp seed oil for skin

Since hemp seed oil is a type of vegetable oil, it can be used directly on the skin without diluting. Keep in mind that before using it on face skin or in larger areas of skin, it is advisable to patch test it on a small place of the skin for a few days to make sure it does not give you a reaction.

To use it undiluted, use it as the last step in your routine after all creams and other treatments (except for sunscreen or a cream with SPF that will always go in the last step).

In case you notice it too greasy to use undiluted or in the case you want to mix it with a moisturizer to combine benefits and to improve hydration, simply mix 1-2 drops of this oil with the amount of cream that you normally put on your face.

Hemp seed oil and Cannabidiol FAQ

Which skin types can use hemp seed oil?

Hemp seef oil is for all skin types, especially those that are oily or acne prone, since this oil has the ability to regulate the skin’s sebum production.

Is hemp seed oil suitable for sensitive skin?

Yes, it is. Furthermore, it also has soothing properties and helps restore part of the skin’s lipids and fatty acids.

Can hemp seed oil be used daily?

Yes, since currently no side effects have been reported on its use, so you can even use it several times a day.

Can hemp seed oil lighten the skin?

No, it can’t. It is true that hemp oil can reduce redness but it does not lighten the skin or have depigmenting effects. In this case it is recommended to use sunscreen everyday and depigmenting ingredients such as niacinamide, vitamin C, tranexamic acid…