CBD and Hemp Oil: The unidentical twins that tackle bad skin
Anastasiia Myronenko is a Medical Physicist actively practicing in one of the leading cancer centers in Kyiv, Ukraine. She received her master’s degree in Medical Physics at Karazin Kharkiv National University and completed Biological Physics internship at GSI Helmholtz Centre for Heavy Ion Research, Germany. Anastasiia Myronenko specializes in radiation therapy and is a fellow of Ukrainian Association of Medical Physicists.
There are a number of things to know about both CBD and Hemp oil and their proud status as vital skincare elixirs – number one (which is commonly misunderstood) being that they are not the same thing. They emanate from the same plant but are powerful ingredients in their own right and have distinct benefits.
Before we break down the differences between hemp oil and CBD oil, it is important to firstly understand the basics.
Cannabis, CBD, Hemp – what does it all mean?
So, the first thing to note is that there is the Cannabaceae family, which consists of three primary species: Cannabis Sativa, Cannabis Indica, and Cannabis Ruderalis.
Marijuana and hemp are two varieties of the Cannabis Sativa plant species. Marijuana is mainly grown for recreational use, whilst hemp has always had medicinal uses.
The cannabis plant has been cultivated since virtually the dawn of time; it is native to the Indian and Central Asia sub-continent, but it is presently cultivated all around the globe. It is a species consisting of over 200 different plants. They have common characteristics but have varying aesthetics. All of these plants contain compounds called cannabinoids. The most studied cannabinoids of all are CBD and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol).
Scores of studies have demonstrated that both CBD and hemp oil have a whole host of benefits to both physical and mental health; but in the present article, we will be focusing exclusively on their revitalising effects on our skin.
What does the law say?
Hemp seed oil is always legal. Hemp-derived CBD, however, is not as straightforward. In most countries worldwide, Marijuana is illegal and CBD is legal. Marijuana usually contains around 15% THC (the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis); hence it induces a “high” sensation in the user and produces mind-altering effects. On the other hand, in order for CBD to be sold legally in the UK and most EU countries, THC content must not exceed 0.2%. In the US, the equivalent law allows for up to 0.3%.
Since CBD is an extract from the cannabis plant, its legality is steeped in regulation and legislation, which means that not everybody can cultivate it, produce it or purchase it. US laws are especially complicated in this regard, as CBD is legal at a federal level, yet there are inconsistencies between states.
A country-by-country summary of the legality of CBD can be found here.
Great, so how are the oils obtained from the plant, then?
Hemp seed oil is obtained by way of a cold-pressing extraction from hemp seed varieties that contain around 30% oil, but do not contain any cannabinoids. The process involves de-shelling these seeds and removing the outer husk before cold pressing them. After they have been chilled and squeezed, manufactures uncover the hemp seed oil. Sounds easy, right? Well, this process is actually much easier and cheaper than the method used to obtain CBD oil, meaning the subsequent products are cheaper than that of their CBD-based counterparts.
The extraction of CBD oil is slightly more complex, given that it is mainly carried out using the Cannabis plant’s flowers and leaves. This is why products containing CBD might be of a slightly higher price range than hemp seed products.
Hemp seed oil: the benefits to your skin
This kind of oil has a myriad of benefits and is a crucial tool to achieving flawless skin – in fact, it has probably, unbeknownst to you, found its way into many of your skincare products due to its known anti-inflammatory and moisturising effects.
Thanks to its comedogenic rating of 0, hemp oil is also great for keeping skin pores unclogged, and your complexion an oil-free zone - which isn’t at all common amongst facial oils. Indeed, it is one of the very few oils that boasts this power. Furthermore, hemp oil has been said to treat atopic dermatitis and can decelerate the skin’s ageing process.
Think the benefits end there? Think again! Hemp Seed oil can be used as a UV shield and deflect some of the UV rays shooting down onto you from the sun, without obstructing your absorption of vitamin D. That said, we urge you to proceed with caution in the sun, as this alone may not be sufficient armour for protecting our more fair-skinned readers!
Another thing that makes hemp seeds - and accordingly, hemp oil – so great, is that they are rich in antioxidants, omega-3 and -6 fatty acids. They also contain all 21 amino acids (!) as well as vitamin E and beta-carotene, which complement each other brilliantly when it comes to skincare.
Hemp oil has many pseudonyms: it has been known to appear on labels as cannabis sativa seed oil; virgin hemp oil, and hemp oil. Hemp also features in a number of commercial and industrial products, including the likes of rope, textiles, clothing, paper, insulation, biofuel, building materials and plastic. Yep – they are all made using hemp! It is also a worthy competitor of Sunflower seed and olive oil as a cooking base.
An important thing to note, though, is that hemp oil does not contain any Cannabidiol, unlike (you guessed it) CBD oil.
CBD oil: the benefits to your skin
Research surrounding CBD is still in its infancy, but studies are perpetually emerging that testify to its many benefits- especially with regard to skincare.
Thus far, we are aware that it is a powerful anti-inflammatory, just like hemp seed oil. It has been known to help clear up skin blemishes and cases of acne, combat sensitive skin, tackle rashes, eczema, rosacea and even sunburn and insect bites or stings. CBD, when included in sanitisers, also reportedly strengthens the skin’s barrier, protecting us from all manner of bacteria and viruses.
Like hemp oil, it also plays a role in delaying the ageing process. Not only that, but it has been reported that it ameliorates the as-yet-incurable skin condition, psoriasis. More on that later.
In addition, CBD oil keeps our endocannabinoid system balanced – this system is one of the most important in our body and exists throughout all of the body’s 11 physiological systems. Its job is to create homeostasis or balance in each of these systems. In summary, then, CBD oil is crucial to ensuring that the ECS functions optimally - and a healthy and balanced interior = a healthy and balanced exterior!
Like hemp oil, CBD oil has a list of stage names: CBD, hemp CBD, cannabidiol, full-spectrum hemp, PCR (phytocannabinoid-rich) or PCR hemp extracts. We understand that it could be easy to muddle up CBD oil and hemp oil, based on all those mentions of hemp in CBD-based products.
CBD vs skin conditions
Some of the most common chronic skin conditions are still without a cure. We can only try to manage the symptoms as best we can, and this can be a pain - if you pardon our pun. CBD has been known to alleviate the debilitating impact of some skin conditions. Though results produced by studies are inconsistent and inconclusive, and far more studies are needed to make verifiable conclusions; they are promising, nevertheless. Below, we have narrowed down some common skin conditions and outlined how our friend CBD may be able to offer a helping hand.
Acne: The most common of all skin conditions, acne affects people primarily in their adolescence, but can continue into adulthood. At its root, acne is caused by genetics, hormonal imbalances, poor diet, stress and/or face hygiene. It occurs when the skin produces an excess of sebum. Sebum normally plays an important role in skin protection, but acne breaks out when the skin’s sebaceous glands produce too much sebum.
CBD’s role: The CBD molecule may help reduce the formation of sebum in the sebaceous glands. CBD has been investigated as a potential anti-inflammatory, it is purported to carry out complex anti-inflammatory and antibacterial actions. Red acne (not blackheads) are the result of inflammatory skin changes that CBD may be able to tame. One study cited that topical CBD “deserves full clinical exploration as a potent, novel [...] anti-acne agent[s]”.
Eczema: An inflammation of the skin, Eczema flares up when the body is working to abolish a pathogen or a foreign substance that causes inflammation and provides protection throughout the process of one's skin healing itself. The inflammation makes the skin to quickly become irritated and red and often cause dry patches, which may result in bleeding of the affected areas, cracking, and potentially even lead to a skin infection.
CBD's role: Our skin contains the so-called cannabinoid receptors all around our body. They bind with endogenous cannabinoids produced by your body, and phytocannabinoids which are found in hemp, such as Cannabidiol (CBD). Dermatologists have suggested that providing the ECS with CBD by applying a CBD-infused topical product on the skin, could help improve skin conditions such as eczema by minimising inflammation and helping dry patches heal easier. Cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are also present in the human nervous system, which means that CBD can also help to relieve eczema symptoms such as dryness, pain and itching. CBD can also have an antibacterial effect, so taking CBD orally or applying it topically on the skin can serve as a preventative measure for further infections.
Psoriasis: an auto-immune condition that causes raised, red, scaly lesions to appear on the skin. The skin cells in people with psoriasis grow at an abnormally fast rate, which causes the build-up of psoriasis patches.
CBD’s role: There have been some reports, including one by Wilkinson and Williamson in 2007, which found that cannabinoids slowed down the growth and division of skin cells that cause Psoriasis inflammations.
Epidermolysis bullosa: a blistering skin disorder that is challenging to manage because skin fragility and repeated wound healing cause itching, pain, limited mobility, and recurrent infections.
CBD’s role: In one study conducted in 2018, it was discovered that self‐initiated cannabidiol use amongst patients with Epidermolysis Bullosa resulted in faster wound healing, less blistering and alleviated pain.
CBD skincare products on the market
We’ve already learnt of all the ways hemp seeds manifest in numerous products we use in everyday life. Skincare products containing hemp seed oil are ubiquitous and can be found in the form of balms, oils, creams, soaps and lotions.
Now let's look at skincare products that are CBD-based. Below is a list of our best-selling CBD products specifically for skincare – but feel free to carry out your own research too, as skincare may need to be tailored to the individual consumer.
So, in no particular order, we love:
- Facial Serum For Hydration by MGC Derma - Your skin will thank you when it drinks up this elixir, which is enriched with a unique blend of vitamin F, grape stem cells, and of course, cannabidiol (CBD).
- Refresh Face Cream 50ml by CUBID - A perfect avenue to nourished skin, we love this product as it is vegan, gluten-free, cruelty-free, and non-GMO.
- Skin Polish Scrub 100ml by MGC Derma - A tapestry of potent natural ingredients that remove dead cells and polish away rough patches. It exfoliates and illuminates for a vibrant, ageless complexion.
- 500mg CBD Foot Care Cream by Ignite - Are your feet a source of shame? Are they cracked and dry from cheap shoes? Ignite’s foot cream will restore the skin on your feet to silky softness.
And those are just a select few of the dozens of premium CBD skincare products that can be found on our website.
Fortunately, as more studies come to light on the subject of CBD, its presence in the marketplace is increasing exponentially. As discussed, there are many ways to take CBD, so we have compiled a list of our favourite modes of consumption for using CBD for skincare purposes:
- CBD Topicals: This is the number one way we recommend you use CBD for skincare. CBD can be found in various creams, balms, oils and salves. When checking topical products, it is important that CBD can be carried through the dermal layers, so that it doesn’t merely sit on the skin. In order for the CBD to be fully absorbed through the skin, the product should use nanotechnology, encapsulation or micellisation of CBD. When applied, the CBD is absorbed transdermally and targets the ECS receptors in the peripheral nervous system. Note that the CBD does not reach the bloodstream as it does with other modes of consumption.
- CBD Tinctures: These nifty little bottles come with a pipette in the lid so you can drop its contents onto or under your tongue. Many CBD products out there come in the form of tinctures and taking it in this form supplies you with between 100-1000 mg of CBD. Administering the CBD sublingually is extremely effective in delivering it quickly and directly into the bloodstream. This is because there are ample blood vessels and capillaries under the tongue, meaning the CBD can be absorbed and carried there with no detours and practically all of its potency (in other words, it has a high bioavailability). It does not have to undergo digestive breakdown, so its effects may be activated in as quickly as 30 minutes.
- CBD Capsules: Perhaps less alien than tinctures, capsules may be easier to take as they are consumed orally and can provide anywhere between 10-25mg of CBD. It is no different to popping a daily vitamin supplement and is an easy way to secure all the benefits of CBD we have discussed. Usually, 1-2 capsules per day are taken but be sure to check packaging directions. Capsules have slightly lower bioavailability as they have to travel down the digestive tract when swallowed, meaning they are subject to enzyme breakdown. As a result, capsules lose some of their potency en route to the bloodstream. Their effects may be felt in around 30 minutes.
All the above ways of taking CBD come with their own perks and drawbacks. For skincare, topicals may be the best option as they specifically target the skin. For overall boosted wellbeing, which may benefit your skin as a by-product, we recommend capsules and tinctures.
- Hemp seed oil and CBD oil hail from the same plant – the Cannabis Sativa plant.
- Though they originate from the same plant, they are not the same: they are two different compounds; they have different chemical properties and compositions; they are obtained using different extraction methods as they come from different parts of the plant; they appear on products under different (albeit sometimes confusingly similar) names, have different effects and are priced differently. (Do you think we’ve said different enough times?)
- Hemp oil contains little to no CBD. CBD oil (no surprises here) does contain CBD / Cannabidiol.
- Neither can get you high as neither contain enough THC (the main psychoactive constituent of cannabis) to do so.
Now that we have covered pretty much all ground to do with hemp and CBD oil; their fundamental differences, their respective benefits, and the products in which they can be found or ways to be taken, it is time for you to take the reins.
Conducting your own research is important, as only you know what benefits you hope to reap from using CBD / hemp oil for your skin. Some uniform advice that applies all products on the market claiming to contain CBD: check the ingredients.
Generally, the risks are scarce with both hemp and CBD oil. The main concern is that occasionally brands can be dishonest and claim to have CBD as a foundational ingredient in their product, yet no CBD is actually present. There remains some obscurity around the laws governing CBD product labelling and testing. Other than that, there are few known side effects of both hemp and CBD oil to the body – but it is best to avoid such products during and post-pregnancy or whilst nursing.
Still worried? Check with your GP if having their seal of approval gives you peace of mind. In the meantime, whether you opt for hemp seed or CBD.