How to Know if Hemp Oil or CBD Is Right for Your Beauty Routine

The differences are subtle but important.

Should I Be Using Hemp Oil or CBD?
Photo: Getty Images/InStyle

In recent years, CBD has exploded across the beauty industry. If you've heard about CBD, you likely know that it's derived from the same plant as marijuana, but the hemp plant has a lot of powerful derivatives that may pop up on your vanity and it's good to know what to use when.

CBG, for example, is essentially the Rolls Royce of cannabinoids. There's also Delta-8 THC, which is known as the "light" weed and is popping up in products such as bath bombs. And we can't forget about the ever-popular hemp seed oil, obviously.

If you're confused, you're not alone. So we spoke to two experts to break down everything there is to know about CBD and hemp seed oil for your skin, as they're often used interchangeably in beauty products. Read below to find out more.

What Is CBD?

In very simple terms, CBD is a compound found in cannabis plants. "It's one of the two primary active ingredients of cannabis, the other one being THC — tetrahydrocannabinol — which is the active psychotropic ingredient," explains Nina Desai, MD, a New York-based dermatologist.

CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it won't get you high. What it can do, however, is reduce stress and anxiety when ingested, and studies show that when applied topically, it can reduce inflammation caused by psoriasis and eczema. It also neutralizes redness and reduces pain, and since it's such a good moisturizer, Dr. Desai says it combats dryness and itchiness.

The extraction process is interesting, as well. "When you press the entire cannabis plant, including the stalk, leaves, and flowers, a specific compound called CBD is present. Extracting and preparing the oil that specifically isolates and concentrates the CBD to produce a form of CBD oil often called Pure CBD Oil," explains Bruno Schiavi, co-founder of Uncle Bud's. "CBD oil is then added to various products ranging from sublingual drops to skincare products."

What Is Hemp Seed Oil?

Schiavi explains that, unlike CBD, hemp oil is the botanical oil extracted from the seed of the cannabis hemp plant. So, while it has very similar properties to CBD, there are a few key differences. "It's full of beneficial compounds like amino acids, vitamins, antioxidants, and omega 3s," he adds.

In skincare, Dr. Desai says that hemp oil can help moisturize the skin and repair the skin barrier. Additionally, she says it acts as a humectant and draws water into the skin. "Hemp seed oil can also help regulate the skin's oil production, which can help those with acne," she adds.

And like CBD, the benefits of hemp oil don't stop there. "It's also is part of a 'holistic' or whole-body wellness strategy that seeks to achieve overall health through nutrition, exercise, recreation, and self-care," says Schiavi.

VIDEO: CBG — the 'Mother of All Cannabinoids' — Is Taking Over Beauty, and It May Be Even Better for Your Skin

Are There Any Side Effects That Can Come From Using CBD or Hemp Skincare?

Dr. Desai says that there are no known side effects from using topical CBD or hemp products. "However, as with any new product, if a rash or irritation develops, it's best to discontinue the product as you may be sensitive or allergic to one of the ingredients," she adds.

What's The Best Way to Choose Which One Is Right For You?

"CBD oil is essentially identical to hemp seed oil, the only difference is CBD oil is prepared to purposely isolate the CBD," says Schiavi. "Both CBD oil and hemp seed oil contain therapeutic compounds that can benefit your skin, such as natural moisturizers, amino acids, omegas, and vitamins."

So where does that leave us?

Remember, CBD has many anti-inflammatory properties and can support pain relief. Hemp oil is known for its softening benefits. So, it depends which concern you want to address the most. If you want the benefits of both, know that there are many products that contain both CBD and hemp seed oil.

For example, Saint Jane's Luxury Beauty Serum marries the ingredients and throws in a handful of radiance-boosting botanicals for clear, glowy skin. For CBD-only, allow us to recommend Uncle Bud's 5mg CBD Lip Balm, which reduces the pain of chapped lips. And for super-soft skin, we love Herbivore's Emerald Deep Moisture Glow which is packed with hemp oil and makes skin supple and soft.

From non-toxic makeup and skincare to sustainability practices, Clean Slate is an exploration of all things in the green beauty space. Find out what's really in your products — and what's being left out.

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