As one of the world’s earliest cultivated crops, hemp is a nutrient-rich botanical whose seeds, stems, leaves and flowers all have beneficial applications for daily life. Achieving the maximum benefits of a hemp-based oil, however, requires understanding each part of the plant. Hemp seed oil comes from pressing the nutrient-rich seeds, while cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from its flowers, and each part offers a different range of benefits. A lack of clarity about these differences can confuse people as to which type of oil they need. Knowing the specific benefits of each is the key to unlocking the power of the hemp plant.
Hemp Seed Oil
Cold-pressed hemp seeds produce what’s been described as nature’s most perfectly balanced oil. The protein-rich oil delivers generous amounts of antioxidants, essential fatty acids like alpha-linolenic (omega-3) and gamma-linolenic (omega-6), vitamins like B, D and E, and minerals like phosphorus, potassium, sodium, magnesium, sulfur, calcium, iron and zinc. This luscious oil became an early star of the healthy fats movement and luxury beauty routines, and its popularity grows exponentially each year. When it comes to hemp-based topicals designed to promote healthier, fresher-looking skin, the seed oil is king.
A 2014 study concluded that hemp seed oil is an “excellent choice for nourishing the skin and protecting it from inflammation, oxidation and other causes of aging.” The researchers highlight its potential as a treatment for skin issues like eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, varicose eczema, inflammatory skin conditions and acne, but it can also help with common issues like dryness, itching and breakouts.
When it comes to hemp seed oil, the best of the best comes from cold-pressed, U.S.-sourced seeds from non-GMO organic hemp that is pesticide-free. Settle for nothing less because lower-quality seeds naturally produce lower-quality oils.
The Benefits of CBD Oil
CBD oil is actually CBD + oil. Chemists extract the compound from hemp flowers using processes like carbon dioxide extraction, and the crystalline CBD powder is then mixed into an oil base. CBD increases certain chemical levels and activity in the body that might help with issues like epilepsy, anxiety, depression, insomnia, addiction, neurodegenerative conditions, pain and inflammation. The FDA recognizes its antiepileptic effects, and research is still ongoing as to the validity of CBD’s other potential uses.
CBD is not a vitamin or a mineral or a moisturizer or a fatty acid — it is a chemical that affects neurotransmitter activity in the body. Based on its therapeutic profile, CBD is typically taken orally. When applied to the skin, CBD alone may provide some beauty benefits if it’s proven to reduce inflammation, but its potential as a pain reliever may be the real prize as it might help improve conditions like sunburn, arthritic pain and immobility.
Some beauty products simply add the CBD compound to hemp seed oil, in which case the seed oil is primarily responsible for the improvements in the skin. This can confuse people who credit CBD for the seed oil benefits. It would be comparable to creating an edible CBD + hemp seed formula and crediting the seed oil for reducing symptoms of epilepsy.
Can you trust your CBD? Not always, and this is a significant concern. The combination of shady operators, a complex extraction process and the rush to jump on the CBD bandwagon make certain oils less reliable.
In 2019, the Mayo Clinic warned, “Care must be taken when directing patients toward CBD products because there is little regulation, and studies have found inaccurate labeling of CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol quantities.” Case in point, a 2018 study ran tests on 14 different CBD brands, and nine came back wanting. Worse still, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) found that some brands add dangerously high levels of lead, and it issued a mandatory recall of several CBD products in July 2020.
The only viable CBD products of any kind are formulated by pharmacists in FDA-registered facilities and feature batch-tested, third-party verified information on sourcing, extraction method, dosage levels and the hemp plants themselves (e.g., organic, non-GMO, pesticide-free). Furthermore, CBD is a compound, not an oil, so find out the type of oil it’s in and make sure it does not contain additives like parabens, colorants, phthalates or sodium laureth sulfate.
As a largely unregulated product, CBD oils should be thoroughly researched to avoid an inferior and potentially harmful skin care experience.
Hemp Seed vs. CBD Oil
Seed oil is indisputably the hemp leader for beautiful and healthy skin, while studies suggest CBD oil may be the hemp leader for pain relief and other medical uses. Both provide valuable benefits in their respective roles.
As far as hemp-based products promoting healthy and radiant skin, organic hemp seed oil sits alone at the top of the beauty pyramid.