Hemp-Derived Ingredients in Cruelty-Free Beauty Products–Real Benefits or Just Another Trend?

The term “hemp” is a broad classification for a range of Cannabis Sativa plants that contain 0.3% or less of THC, which is a psychoactive compound. Due to the low concentration of THC, hemp is a non-intoxicating form of Cannabis Sativa (unlike Marijuana which contains more than 0.3% and up to 30% THC). Hemp plants are used to harvest derived products for a variety of items like textiles, food, paper, building materials, and more recently, personal care products and cosmetics. 

Hemp-derived ingredients that are now fairly common to see in cosmetics, are CBD (which stands for “Cannabidiol”) and hemp seed oil. It’s important to note that these ingredients contain little to no THC and will not make you feel “high.” CBD is extracted from the stem, stalk, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant, while hemp seed oil only comes from hemp seeds. I wanted to discuss these ingredients because I’ve noticed several popular cruelty-free brands like e.l.f., Flower Beauty, Milk Makeup, and Pacifica, recently releasing products formulated with CBD and/or hemp seed oil. I was curious, as I’m sure many of you are, about the efficacy of these ingredients. Do they provide any real benefits, or is this just another trend? I’m going to do my best to answer that question for you!

While these ingredients are used in many different types of products, I’m going to be focusing on their benefits to the skin.

Is CBD (Cannabidiol) an oil?

Often when you see CBD referenced, you’ll see it called “CBD oil.” This name is misleading in my opinion, because CBD is extracted from the hemp plant as a powder. It becomes CBD oil when the CBD powder is mixed with an oil such as coconut, hemp, or olive oils. 

Benefits of CBD in skincare

In cosmetics, CBD is marketed as an ingredient that is good for a few different skin concerns:

  • Acne
  • Anti-aging
  • Wrinkles
  • Sensitive skin

While scientists have not yet confirmed that CBD is beneficial for acne-prone skin, it has some properties that are very promising in treating acne. CBD is known to reduce inflammation and sooth skin, which is important to note because acne is an inflammatory skin condition. CBD may also reduce excess oil production, balancing the skin and potentially reducing breakouts. 

The claim that CBD is an anti-aging ingredient or that it will diminish wrinkles, comes from the fact that CBD is a powerful antioxidant. Many other plant-derived ingredients also contain antioxidants, so this property alone does not make CBD particularly special.

CBD is beneficial to sensitive skin for reasons already listed above. CBD’s skin-soothing property calms skin to reduce redness and irritation.

It is even possible that CBD could be useful in treating skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis, according to Dr. Gharavi at Cedars-Sinai Cosmetic Dermatology Program. Those conditions are usually treated with topical steroids, but those drugs can have side effects. CBD would be an excellent alternative treatment if it is found to be as effective at reducing inflammation.

What to look for when shopping for CBD skincare

There are a couple of simple things to look for when shopping for skincare containing CBD. First, make sure the ingredient list includes “cannabidiol” which is CBD. Other terms are not compliant with INCI (International Nomenclature Cosmetic Ingredient) names, which are internationally recognized. Other terms may be misleading. 

Look for products with stable packaging that minimizes exposure to light and air. This will help to preserve the ingredients so they remain effective longer. This is a good thing to look for in any type of skincare product to protect active ingredients.

CBD + hemp seed oil = a match made in heaven

The terms “CBD” and “hemp seed oil” are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same. They’re kind of like cousins since they’re both derived from the hemp plant, but come from different parts of the plant. If you can find a skincare product that contains both of these ingredients, you’re in luck! Hemp seed oil actually enhances the skincare benefits of CBD. As stated on PaulasChoice.com, “This is likely due to the interaction between trace amounts of cannabinoids in hemp seed oil and pure cannabidiol.”

Benefits of hemp seed oil in skincare

Hemp seed oil is a unique skincare ingredient. Your skin can benefit from it whether it’s applied topically or ingested (dietary hemp seed oil). Hemp seed oil is a good ingredient to use for several skin concerns:

  • Excess oil production
  • Acne
  • Inflammation
  • Anti-aging

Hemp seed oil is able to balance the skin and reduce excess oil production. It’s also very moisturizing without clogging pores. This is a great ingredient for all skin types, but especially for combination and oily skin.

Hemp seed oil contains gamma-linolenic acid (GLA), an omega-6 fatty acid, which has anti-inflammatory and skin-regenerative properties. This means that hemp seed oil is great for reducing inflammation associated with acne or other skin conditions. 

Hemp seed oil contains many other fatty acids as well. These are beneficial for strengthening the skin barrier and retaining moisture. 

In addition to fatty acids, hemp seed oil also contains phospholipids, plant sterols, amino acids, and vitamin E. All of these things aid in making the skin more resilient, moisturized, and youthful.

Are you ready to integrate products with CBD or hemp seed oil into your skincare routine?

There is still much research that needs to be done for both CBD and hemp seed oil, but as of this moment I do not see any sources citing negative side effects from CBD or hemp seed oil. Both ingredients seem like excellent additions to the skincare world. While those with the skin concerns listed above would probably benefit the most from these ingredients, I think CBD and hemp seed oil would work well for anyone, regardless of skin type. Who doesn’t love some good calming ingredients in their skincare products? It’s also a good idea to consider using CBD and/or hemp seed oil products alongside skincare that can be somewhat irritating, such as certain acids and retinoids, to reduce or eliminate irritation.

I’m very excited to see what lies ahead for these innovative skincare ingredients. There will definitely be a lot more research to come, and there might be even more benefits that we aren’t aware of yet!

Have you tried any skincare products formulated with CBD or hemp seed oil, or do you plan to? I’m currently using one product that contains hemp seed oil, and another that contains both CBD and hemp seed oil. Stay tuned for reviews on both of those products! 🙂


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2 thoughts on “Hemp-Derived Ingredients in Cruelty-Free Beauty Products–Real Benefits or Just Another Trend?

  1. This is so interesting, Lauren! Thank you for your in-depth research on CBD and hemp seed oil. I was discussing this with my husband a few days ago and you have answered all of my questions! I have only used one product containing CBD, and it was only a sample size, but I did actually really like it. It was from the brand Smith and Cult, and they are cruelty-free, but when checking out the parent company, I didn’t get a definitive answer as to their CF status. In any case, I am really interested in CBD products so I’m really liking forward to the reviews you have coming up! Thanks so much!

    • Hi Nancy! I’m so glad you found this information helpful. 🙂 I have good news for you about Smith & Cult! That company is cruelty-free as you said, and I couldn’t find any information about a parent company. That leads me to believe that they are independently owned and therefore we don’t need to worry about a parent company in this case.

      Thank you so much for commenting!


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