Is hemp skincare a cosmetic game changer?

As one of the newest wonder ingredients on the market, hemp is taking the cosmetic and skincare world by storm, but is it all it’s cracked up to be?

You might have heard a lot about dope skincare or cannabis-based cosmetics lately.

These products won’t get you high, but A-listers like Gwyneth Paltrow and Kristen Bell swear by cannabidiol-infused products and the amazing things they can do for your skin.

Since hemp seed was legalised for human consumption in Australia, cosmetic products such as face masks, moisturisers, sun creams, and lip balms containing hemp seed extract have hit the shelves.

Is hemp the new wonder ingredient in skincare?

Despite being relatively new, there’s growing evidence that hemp is excellent for skin.

The main active component is cannabis Sativa L, which has numerous benefits, according to Associate Professor Rosemary Nixon from the Australasian College of Dermatologists.

“Topical hemp products are thought to hydrate, moisturise and modulate the skin’s oil production, particularly hempseed oil, which is rich in omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids such as gamma-linolenic acid,” Assoc Prof Nixon says.

Studies suggest it may be useful in treating certain skin disorders, adds Melbourne dermatologist Katherine Armour.

“It seems to be very helpful with eczema and psoriasis,” she says.

“One of the areas we see it used a lot is treating acne, and that’s because it has anti-inflammatory properties, but it also seems to modulate sebum (oil) production, so it’s good for people with oily skin.”

Preliminary research also shows hemp might also be great at killing bacteria on the skin.

But despite these upsides, the real reason behind the mounting popularity of hemp in the cosmetic field is not because of what it can do – the buzz is being fuelled by increasing demand for organic non-synthetic ingredients, Katherine explains.

“Consumers are looking for natural skincare, and they see hemp and think it fits the definition,” she says.

How is hemp being used in skincare?

As the hemp revolution continues to kick-off, moisturiser appears to be the primary skincare product flying off the shelves.

CBD creams – which can be made from hemp or medicinal marijuana – are intensely hydrating, Katherine says.

And companies also spruik hemp-creams as having anti-ageing properties and soft texture, making them an irresistible addition to people’s daily skincare routine.

Skin serums are another popular item, according to Rosemary.

These use hemp seed oil concoctions and are applied topically, with manufacturers claiming they improve elasticity and softness in the skin.

Another option is food-grade hemp seed oil, which at least one study has found reduces the symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

There is a wide range of cosmetics promoting hemp among the ingredients, but Katherine warns buyers to be discerning about how beneficial some of these products really are.

“Often, the quantities (of hemp) used in these products is negligible,” she explains.

“The benefit of any skincare ingredient is going to depend on the concentration within the product, and I would be quite dubious about whether the concentrations in some of these products are going to be significant.”

What do the experts say about hemp skincare?

When it comes to the skincare benefits, dermatologists and naturopath skin experts say while early signs are positive, it’s too early to label hemp a game changer.

“As with many beauty trends, hype and fashion play a big role,” Rosemary says.

“Equally, with many beauty products, there is very limited evidence with regard to the actual effects and more research is required to investigate the outcomes of hemp on the skin.”

There may also be risks for some people, she adds.

“No safety studies have been conducted on full-spectrum phyto cannabinoid oils, which included hemp oils,” Rosemary says.

“Hemp oils may irritate the skin.

“Additionally, the preparation may contain other ingredients such as fragrance or preservatives – so it’s important to patch test prior to use.”

Written by Alex White.