SKINCARE 101 : THE BUZZ ON CANNABIS (HEMP OIL) IN FACIAL SKINCARE
It wasn’t all that long ago that the word hemp was a dirty word, nothing more than a synonym for marijuana. It just took some time for us all to come to terms with the fact that they are actually different. Very, very different. Even now, I had to look it up to be sure of myself — and to write about it intelligently. Where else but the Ministry of Hemp website would one go for the answer?
Straight from the hemp horse’s mouth:
Are hemp and marijuana the same?
Short Answer: No, they are just both part of the Cannabis family. Hemp is completely different from marijuana in its function, cultivation and application. In its application, hemp and marijuana serve completely different purposes. Marijuana, as it is widely known, is used for medicinal or recreational purposes. Hemp is used in a variety of other applications that marijuana couldn’t possibly be used in. These include healthy dietary supplements, skin products, clothing, and accessories. Overall, hemp is known to have over 25,000 possible applications.
Twenty-five thousand applications for hemp. Marijuana has one. But why is all of this suddenly all over the place? The reason that it’s now a thing is that until recently, the US FDA had classified all species of the cannabis plant as a Schedule I Drug under the Controlled Substances Act. Meaning that Hemp Oil was essentially considered a drug on par with heroin, LSD and magic mushrooms.
How drugs are classified by the US FDA:
Through legislation, all of that recently changed and Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil aka Hemp Oil is now free of its guilt-by-association ties to marijuana. Skincare marketers were just waiting to pounce — with products in development over the past year and ready to ship the second the legislation became law. At the beginning of January, Sephora suddenly launched like 187 products formulated with Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil. I knew it was coming and have been eager to see what kinds of whacko claims the skincare marketers would be making about what the oil does.
On Sephora’s site alone, beauty brands are making these claims about Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil and Hemp Oil:
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil 20% helps strengthen skin’s lipid barrier.
Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil [is a] nourishing, amino acid-rich oil that helps soothe irritation and impart glow.
Organic Hemp Seed Oil strengthens and boosts resiliency with all 20 protein-rich amino acids.
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil helps improve skin’s barrier, reduce visible redness, and relieve discomfort while calming and soothing skin.
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil nourishes with essential omega-6 and omega-3 acids, and addresses skin concerns like dryness and redness.
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil [is] an emollient oil derived from hemp that is rich in omegas and helps calm, soothe and relieve distressed skin.
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil [is a] hemp-derived oil with nourishing and antioxidant properties.
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil provides skin-nurturing and antioxidant properties.
I don’t think it’s out of bounds to claim that Hemp Oil nourishes, nurtures, soothes, moisturizes, or replenishes skin. It’s a non-fragrant plant oil no different than so many oils commonly used in skin care — including Jojoba Oil, Squalane, Argan Oil and Sunflower Oil, to name a few. I’m not entirely convinced, however, that it’s as effective at soothing irritation as tried-and-true centella asiatica, calendula, and the active component of calendula — bisabolol. But things are always evolving in skin care — and certainly never boring.
Over the last several weeks, I’ve put to the test several skincare products formulated with Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil and, more than anything, I have to say that I’ve found them all quite intriguing if not outright pleasurable. Not in that psychoactive marijuana sense, but as well-formulated skin care.
Here are the stand-outs so far…
The Inkey List Hemp Oil Cream
My earliest foray into hemp-based products was an interesting, inexpensive offering from breakout brand The Inkey List. The Inkey List’s Hemp Oil Cream is a super lightweight, relatively effective moisturizer infused with several non-fragrant plant oils and extracts, including Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Coconut Oil and Green Tea Leaf Extract. It’s actually a pretty solid option for normal, normal-to-oily and even oily skin types, but I wouldn’t recommend it for dry and especially very dry skin. Both the nourishing Hemp Oil and antioxidant Green Tea Extract are at very high levels, making this a superb pro-skin health product. If you’re as excited by the concept of Hemp Oil in skin care as I am, this is a great place to start since it’s so reasonably priced at £7.99 or $10.37 on Cult Beauty.
Peter Thomas Roth Green Releaf Calming Face Oil
The PTR Green Releaf Calming Face Oil is a well-formulated facial oil that’s loaded up with a number of the non-fragrant plant oils commonly found in oils of this type, including high levels of Avocado Oil, Blackberry Seed, Grape Seed Oil and Cucumber Seed Oil. But right up there in the top ten ingredients is, of course, the product’s star ingredient, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil. I’m quite confident that as a non-fragrant plant oil, the non-psychoactive oil would naturally contain skin-replenishing and antioxidant benefits to some degree. Is it the best of similar oils among those included here? I doubt it. That said, PTR makes one simple claim about the Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil in the formula, saying that it “provides skin-nurturing and antioxidant properties.” Thank you, PTR, for not going overboard. The Green Releaf Calming Face Oil is a lightweight blend of fatty acid-rich plant oils like Bisabolol that helps calm irritation and soothe skin. I love products that smell like natural herbs and especially those that smell medicinal. This one takes it there and more. You really have to smell it for yourself!
Peter Thomas Roth Green Releaf Therapeutic Sleep Cream
I love the caveat at the bottom of the Sephora product page on this one: “Green Releaf products are legal and free of psychoactive THC and CBD.” As is now clear, you’re sure not going to get high off of any of these trendy new skincare products. But your skin is sure to benefit from the replenishing and antioxidant benefits of what I believe is a rather normal non-fragrant plant oil. Honestly, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil is no different than so many others used in skincare, including those in the Peter Thomas Roth Green Releaf Therapeutic Sleep Cream.
In addition to the hemp-derived Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, PTR included a 2% retinoid complex to deliver a proven anti-aging benefit that helps smooth lines and even out skin tone and texture. One of the more intriguing ingredients to me is Colloidal Oatmeal, a form of oatmeal produced by finely grinding the oats. It’s long been relied upon to treat and relieve skin irritation, including itching due to rashes, eczema and other skin conditions. This sleep treatment has kind of an intense green hue. The formula itself has an interesting texture that’s quite thick and even slightly grainy. (Not 100% sure what that’s from exactly, but I imagine those finely ground oats have a role in it!). Green Releaf sleep cream feels very comforting on skin just before bed and does have an occlusive quality that helps to prevent moisture loss while you sleep. Oh, and like the companion Green Releaf Calming Face Oil, it smells kind of odd. Actually, more so than the facial oil. I don’t mind it, but I can imagine it would be off-putting to many.
Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate
In my deep dive into all this new cannabis/hemp-infused skin care, I’m realizing that they all have the same unusual smell to them — some more offensive than others. That’s certainly the case with the Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sleep Cream. That stuff just plain smells. I tend to view products that smell medicinal or overtly herbal as more authentic. Whether or not PTR got it right on that one will play out in sales of the product. But I can tell you this: Kiehl’s definitely got the smell right with its Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate. It’s not the least bit off-putting.
The Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate is super herbal and smells like an old-world apothecary!
The formula has a very tight ingredient list that includes Green Oregano Oil and Sunflower Oil, with the Hemp Oil as the top ingredient. The formula is both soothing and nourishing and I gotta admit quite a pleasure to use. The one thing I do not like about the formula is the inclusion of two potentially harmful fragrant plant oils — the two worst offenders, in fact! — Peppermint Oil and Lavender Oil. There’s an excellent, research-supported article here on the benefits of plant oils in skin care entitled, How Facial Oils Help Skin. Not all plant oils are beneficial to our skin and it’s important to know the good ones from the bad ones.
Interestingly, Kiehl’s is somewhat more aggressive with its claims against Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, saying it “helps improve skin’s barrier, reduce visible redness, and relieve discomfort while calming and soothing skin.” Hmm…
The coming months are going to be really exciting in skin care as brands continue to explore the benefits of Hemp Oil in their formulas. What I’m really looking forward to is seeing some legit clinical testing to substantiate the more aggressive claims.
You just can’t trust those marketers.
The Ingredient List of The Inkey List Hemp Oil Cream:
Aqua (Water), Glycerin, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Isoamyl Laurate, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Betaine, Pentaerythrityl Distearate, Propanediol, Camellia Sinensis (Green Tea) Leaf Extract, Polyacrylate Crosspolymer-6, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Levulinate, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Anisate, Sodium Stearoyl Glutamate, Xanthan Gum, Ethylhexylglycerin, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Sodium Hydroxide, t-Butyl Alcohol.
The Ingredient List of the Peter Thomas Roth Green Releaf Calming Face Oil:
Persea Gratissima (Avocado) Oil, Rubus Fruticosus (Blackberry) Seed, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Salvia Hispanica Seed Oil, C9-12 Alkane, Tocopherol Acetate, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Seed Oil, Bisabolol, Echium Plantagineum Seed Oil, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root E X Tr Act, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Extract, Caprylic/ Capric Triglyceride, Coco-Caprylate/ Caprate, Polysorbate 20, Tocopherol, Lecithin, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Glyceryl Stearate, Glyceryl Oleate, Citric Acid, Glycerin, Allantoin, Ceramide Np, Water/Aqua/E Au, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium B Enzoate, Phenox Ye Thanol, Sorbitol, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Gluconolactone, Xanthan Gum, Ca Prylyl Glycol, Diatomaceous Earth, Disodium Edta , Glyceryl Caprylate, Yellow 11 (Ci 47000), Green 6 (Ci 61565), Violet 2 (Ci 60725).
The Ingredient List of the Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sleep Cream:
Water, Propanediol, Glycerin, C9-12 Alkane, Butylene Glycol, Hydrogenated Polyisobutene, Melatonin, Dicaprylyl Ether, Dimethyl Isosorbide, Behenyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Polyglyceryl-2 Stearate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Phenoxyethanol, Polyglyceryl-6 Distearate, Octyldodecyl Oleate, Glyceryl Stearate, Stearyl Alcohol, Carbomer, Coco-Caprylate/Caprate, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Extract, Octyldodecyl Stearoyl Stearate, Xanthan Gum, Disodium EDTA, Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, Plantago Lanceolata Leaf Extract, Jojoba Esters, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Adansonia Digitata Seed Oil, Allantoin, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Corylus Avellana (Hazelnut) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract, Mica, Sorbitol, Vitis Vinifera (Grape) Seed Oil, Bisabolol, Cetyl Alcohol, Polyglyceryl-3 Beeswax, Sodium Hydroxide, Polyhydroxystearic Acid, Laminaria Digitata Extract, Octyldodecanol, Potassium Sorbate, Sodium Benzoate, Lecithin, Centella Asiatica Leaf Extract, Ceramide NP, Caprylyl Glycol, Gluconolactone, Avena Sativa (Oat) Kernel Extract, Diatomaceous Earth, Tocopherol Acetate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Extract, Tocopherol, Yellow 5 (CI 19140), Blue 1 (CI 42090), Red 33 (CI 17200), Red 4 (CI 14700).
The Ingredient List of the Kiehl’s Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate:
Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Dicaprylyl Ether, Tocopherol, Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Origanum Heracleoticum Flower Oil, Helianthus Annuus Seed Oil / Sunflower Seed Oil, Cymbopogon Schoenanthus Oil, Mentha Piperita Oil / Peppermint Oil, Citral, Citronellol, Geraniol, Linalool, Limonene