In the world of skincare, trendy new ingredients come at you fast. Recent buzzworthy ingredients include manuka tree oil, polyhydroxy acids, squalane, mushrooms and even snail mucus, but one of the trendiest right now happens to be a classic: hemp seed oil. As one of the world’s first cultivated crops, hemp has been extensively used since ancient times, but renewed interest has helped unlock its full potential as a beauty ingredient. Here are some of the ways oil from organic hemp seeds can help supercharge your beauty routine.
Bring the Essentials
Hemp seed oil claims one of the highest concentrations of essential fatty acids that the body cannot produce itself but that have important biological roles. In particular, the seed features an ideal 3:1 ratio of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids that make it “nature’s most perfectly balanced oil” (Fats That Heal, Fats That Kill). When applied topically, these fatty acids promote the production of keratin, replenish missing oils and penetrate deep into the lipid layers of damaged skin cells. As examined by WebMD, “Essential fatty acids like omega-3s and omega-6s are the building blocks of healthy cell membranes [and] help produce the skin’s natural oil barrier, critical in keeping skin hydrated, plumper and younger looking.”
Tame Those Free Radicals
“Antioxidants are the foundation of skin rejuvenation” (Allure) because they help prevent or reduce the damage that free radicals inflict on cells through oxidative stress. Hemp seed oil — with a vitamin list (A, B, C, D, E, etc.) that reads like the alphabet — is packed with antioxidants that fight free radicals. A 2019 study noted that hemp seeds are “rich in natural antioxidants such as phenolic compounds, tocopherols, and phytosterols” that help fight inflammation and oxidation, while this 2014 study called hemp seed oil an “excellent choice for nourishing the skin and protecting it from inflammation, oxidation and other causes of aging.” Beijing-based researchers in 2010 summarized these benefits as the “anti-aging effect of hemp seed oil.”
Quench Your Skin’s Thirst
Thanks to its poly-unsaturated fatty acid content, hemp seed oil locks in moisture and helps alleviate dryness. According to skin-related hemp studies, the seed oil appears to increase moisture content, skin thickness, and collagen and elastic fibers; decrease dryness, redness, itchiness and irritation; and repair the outer layer of the skin. How impressive are hemp seeds? Apparently just eating them may help promote healthier skin, so imagine the benefits of applying the oil directly to your body.
In 2015, researchers tracked two groups — one that used regular face creams and another that used hemp seed oil creams — and concluded that the hemp-based cream was superior, noting that its “improved efficacy” highlights its potential “for treatment of acne vulgaris, seborrhea, papules and pustules to get attractive facial appearance.” Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), one of the fatty acids in hemp seeds, has been found to reduce inflammation and stimulate skin growth. “Besides its strong moisturizing feature,” added this Turkish study, “[hemp oil] is suitable for acne-prone skin with its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, antimicrobial and sebum-regulating effects.”
Hemp seed oil may help balance out oily skin by increasing the level of natural endocannabinoids in the body, including anandamide (AEA), which studies suggest can reduce the levels of an oily secretion called sebum. Likewise, hemp seed oil enhances hydration that helps regulate the skin’s oil production so it doesn’t overproduce, and unlike some commercial moisturizers, it does not clog the pores.
Protect Ya Neck
French and Canadian researchers tested hemp seed oil in microwave treatments and found that its “absorbance in the UV-B and UV-C ranges [shows] potential for use as a broad spectrum UV protectant.” In other words, hemp seed oil provides natural protection from the sun. That said, estimates put the protection level at around SPF 6 — dermatologists typically recommend 30+ — so hemp seed oil should not be the primary source of sun protection. Rather, seed oil-based creams should be treated as a supplement to high-SPF sunscreens, but it’s still a tremendous added benefit for your skin.