Since the beginning of time, plant life has played a powerful role in being a source of sustenance and healing. Cannabis sativa is one such plant, and although it is widely known for its psychoactive properties, with a tweak of the strain, it becomes a darling of industry and skin care known as hemp.
Hemp and marijuana are both derived from Cannabis sativa, but only one is surrounded by controversy. All cannabis plants contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the substance known for its psychoactive characteristics. However, Cannabis sativa can be cultivated for different levels of THC. THC levels are 5-10% in marijuana, but are 0.3-1.5% in hemp. The low-level of THC in hemp does not cause any mind-altering side effects.
The primary reason the argument around THC has been so contentious is the adverse side effects that accompany smoking. In actuality, THC has great potential to improve health by fighting against many illnesses including skin disorders, a wide variety of cancers and even asthma. All of these benefits are comparable to those of cannabidiol, the heart of cannabis, which luckily does not have any restrictions or limitations of use. Cannabidiol in hemp seeds is naturally available in high concentrations, and there are only mild traces of it in marijuana. As hemp continues to gain attention and popularity, its impact to improve skin and wellness has no bounds.
Hemp is abundant with antioxidants from vitamins A and E. It is rich with polyunsaturated essential fatty acids including alpha-linolenic acid (omega-3), gamma-linolenic acid (omega-6), oleic acid (omega-9), palmitic acid and stearic acid. Its mineral content includes manganese, potassium, magnesium, calcium, zinc, iron and phosphorus. It even has eicosanoic acid also known as arachidic acid, a saturated fatty acid. Presently, hemp is recognized mostly from the nutritional side, and it is only in its infant stage in the skin care world. Slowly though, the demand for the ingredient is growing, and it certainly looks to be promising as a trending ingredient that will gain momentum in the year ahead.
There are different forms of hemp seeds that serve different purposes. Industrial hemp is easy to find and can be purchased even in the local supermarket. Ground or whole hemp seeds offer a healthy addition to smoothies, cereal or yogurt.
Hemp oil is most active as a cold-pressed oil because it maintains all of its nutritional characteristics. The key to incorporating hemp oil into a balanced diet is to ensure that there are no dramatic changes to the temperature of the oil. Sprinkling the oil on a salad is a perfect way to get all the antioxidant and omega benefits.
In general, hemp oil is nourishing and moisturizing for the skin. The predominant omega composition (omerga-3 and omega-6) is responsible for the impeccable moisture the oil provides. Some people experience that their skin may feel dry as the day progresses; however, regular use of hemp oil products will condition the skin to better retain moisture throughout the day. This is due to the omega content creating a protective barrier for the skin. The omega content also allows skin cells to reproduce and ultimately become smooth and even-textured.
Vitamins A and E provide vital antioxidants to the skin and body. The daily stress and environmental assault that many people experience makes the body vulnerable. Vitamin E stimulates cellular repair and regeneration, enabling healthy cell structure. The powerful antioxidant properties in hemp defend against and neutralize cell-damaging free radicals. Antioxidants along with the complete composition of hemp has lead researchers to examine and suggest that the cannabis species has promising anti-carcinogenic and healing potential. In addition to shielding skin from UV damage, vitamin E and A also better equip skin for efficient cell renewal. Ultimately, skin looks firmer and younger with improvements to the fine lines and wrinkles.
Magnesium and zinc are two minerals that enhance cell metabolism and quality. The antioxidant action combats premature aging and facilitates skin rejuvenation. Magnesium has soothing characteristics that alleviate skin irritation and redness common in sensitive, rosacea or acneic skin. Zinc helps contract pores because of its astringent properties, it accelerates wound healing and it lessens acne scarring.
Acne and Blemish Control
Breakout or acne-prone skin tends to be more sensitive because of all the underlying inflammation and irritation caused by the infectious matter sitting below the surface. Hemp oil supports the purging of congested sebum in the sebaceous glands. Sebum trapped inside the pores ultimately triggers infection, which leads to acne. The fatty acids in hemp are non-comedogenic; thus, hemp oil does not block pores. It is important when caring for acne skin to balance the excess oils, which may require using some drying ingredients. Simultaneously, skin must remain moisturized, and hemp oil provides a perfect option. It provides skin with a perfect amount of moisture that will not cause extra sebum to build up on the surface of the skin. This eliminates the risk of causing a bacteria breeding environment. This decreases the severity of future breakouts and improves acne.
Some studies suggest that cannabidiol as well as gamma-linolenic acid promote immunity and may have the ability to balance hormones. This qualifies hemp as a potential phyto-hormone. For people who suffer from hormone-related acne, in a nutshell, their androgens (male hormones) are overactive. Phyto-hormones are Mother Nature’s gift to help block androgen hyperactivity, promoting internal balance. As a result, hemp helps regulate sebum production and corrects hormone-related acne. The hormone-like action is also effective in balancing skin changes that occur during menstruation and even menopause.
Atopic dermatitis, or eczema, is when dry, red, itchy patches develop on the skin. Flare-ups are a usual occurrence with eczema, and the itchy areas can become blistery and even bleed in extreme cases. Eczema effects people of all backgrounds and ages. The key to moderating eczema symptoms is to calm inflammation and keep skin overly moisturized. Gamma-linolenic acid (GLA) is an essential fatty acid that the body is not able to produce on its own, so supplementation is critical. According to a Thorne Research study discussing alternative medicine, clinical data demonstrated that regular GLA application caused skin to respond positively and decreased the severity of atopic dermatitis. The synergistic composition of hemp oil is a holistic therapy for skin and body healing.
People with psoriasis are known to experience red, dry and flaky patches on their skin that are often inflamed and itchy. The ongoing cell growth cycle is a normal process of skin rejuvenation, but when the growth becomes hyperactive, psoriasis advances. Over time, dead skin accumulates on the surface and builds up into silvery skin plaques that form a scale like coat over red, itchy, sensitive skin. Currently, there is no cure for psoriasis.
Hemp oil has been shown to be an effective remedy that works to counter inflammation, subsequently, soothing psoriasis-stricken skin. Omega-6 and manganese are just two of the elements in hemp seeds that help fight against inflammation. The oil lubricates the skin, and penetrates the epidermis to aid vital cell development.
In the Spa
Cold pressed and unfiltered hemp oil varies from a light to a darker green color, and it is the purest and highest quality offering the greatest wellness benefits. Hemp oil can be implemented into a holistic spa service in a variety of ways.
To achieve “outside-in” benefits, apply a dime size amount of hemp oil to the skin. Massage the oil, working it into the skin until it absorbs. Continue the treatment by applying a cooling and hydrating mask. The mask will create an occlusive layer that will insulate the skin and allow the ingredients to continue to penetrate into the epidermis to optimize the results. To complete a hemp-featured treatment, offering clients a smoothie enriched with immunity boosting blended hemp seeds and probiotics will be an appreciated addition. Another healthy option is to offer hemp tea.
Rising in the Ranks
The attention cannabis has been receiving in the media continues to escalate, which has sparked the interest of many industries. The beauty industry is one that can truly implement the wide benefits of hemp into products and services. Although it is scarcely available, hemp is an ingredient that will continue to emerge as a top natural skin care ingredient with an anticipated strong consumer demand. People of all ages and demographics continue to be intentional with being proactive in maintaining skin and body wellness, and hemp is an ingredient that unquestionably supports overall health.
- G Dhadwal and MG Kirchhof, The Risks and Benefits of Cannabis in the Dermatology Clinic, Journal of Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery (2017)
- C Leizer, D Ribnicky, A Poulev, S Dushenkov and I Raskin, The Composition of Hemp Seed Oil and Its Potential as an Important Source of Nutrition, Journal of Nutraceuticals, Functional & Medical Foods 2(4) 5-51 (2000)
- M Worm and BM Henz, Novel Unconventional Therapeutic Approaches to Atopic Eczema, Dermatology Journal, 201(3) 191-195 (2000)
- DF Horrobin, Nutritional and Medical Importance of Gamma-Linolenic Acid, Progressive in Lipid Research Journal 31 163-194 (1992)