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Gone are the days when the topic of cannabis in skin care was met with apprehension or, even worse, snickering. These days everyone's aware of the tremendous health benefits of hemp seed oil, from treating acne to fighting cardiovascular diseases. Contrary to popular belief, hemp is not marijuana. Hemp is more like a close cousin, derived from the same Cannabis genus plant family. Most hemp seed oil comes from industrialized hemp that has next to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. However, the distinction can be confusing — even the DEA can't get it right.
Rich in essential fatty acids, hemp seed oil has a range of nutritional benefits. Its metabolites, gamma linoleic acid (GLA), oleic acid and stearidonic acid, aid a range of skin issues like eczema and rosacea. It's also excellent for overall body health and weight loss. But if praise of hemp seems a little hyperbolic, sometimes it is. The FDA recently sent letters to several hemp manufacturers asking them to stop claiming their products can "cure cancer and Ebola."
Okay, so hemp won't save your life, but it can definitely save your skin.
Rich in the same essential fatty acids that's present in skin lipids, hemp seed oil improves moisture and elasticity to the skin by lubricating beneath the surface. Unlike other oils that simply coat the skin, hemp seed oil's penetrative properties dry naturally while locking in moisture and improving skin's quality.
Good news for eczema sufferers. Hemp seed oil has anti-inflammatory properties that are perfect for those with sensitive skin, eczema or rosacea. This 2005 study reported that hemp seed oil used on eczema sufferers gradually improved their skin for dryness and itchiness, thanks to an increase of polyunsaturated fatty acids. The acids also help to reduce redness and irritation associated with acne and rosacea.
To liven up dull, brittle hair, add a few teaspoons of hemp seed oil to shampoo. The oil moisturizes and improves the hair's elasticity, resulting in shiny, healthy hair. It can also be massaged into the scalp to help alleviate issues like dryness or dandruff.
You'll find hemp seed oil in a medley of products. Moana Renewal Day Cream ($68 in the shop) uses hemp seed oil to reinvigorate dull skin and so does Sciote Micro Derm Creme ($60 in the shop). Trinite Organiques Tender Mercy Scalp Elixer ($26) uses hemp seed oil to help mend problematic scalps, while Mad Hippie Antioxidant Facial Oil ($24.99 in the shop) uses hemp seed extract in its non-greasy moisturizer.
If you don't feel like slathering it on your face, hemp seed oil is ingestible as-is. With a slight nutty flavor (depending on how refined it is), it goes perfect on salads, in protein shakes or in other cold meals.