Hempseed Oil vs. CBD Oil for Skincare: Fact Finding and Myth Busting

Mar 27, 2022by Heather Smith

CBD for skincare is on trend, and for good reason - CBD oil for skin has many benefits. Unfortunately, there are some serious misconceptions and myths to debunk. More specifically, there needs to be a much better understanding of hempseed oil vs CBD oil regarding their uses and benefits.

Hemp oil, CBD oil, and cannabis (often known as marijuana) are derived from the same plant species, Cannabis sativa, but they all have different genetics and applications. Because they share the same genus name, people frequently group them into a single family, with much confusion surrounding their differences.

So let's break it all down.

Cannabis Sativa

Cannabis sativa is an annual flowering plant originally indigenous to Asia. The plant was used throughout history as a fibre, textile, food, seed oil, psychoactive agent, and medicine.

The Cannabis sativa plant is known to contain many extractable phytochemicals - at least 500 compounds. The most well-known is THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the main chemical responsible for the psychoactive effects.

In addition to THC, there are over 100 more phytocannabinoids. All cannabinoids are structurally related to the THC molecule and capable of interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the human body. The endocannabinoid system is complex. Receptors are found throughout the nervous system and help regulate things like appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory.

The name Cannabis sativa should now be thought of as an umbrella term due to the large number of plant strains (cultivars) that exist. These cultivars are bred for their desired traits, and the results are vastly different levels of phytochemicals like THC.

In general, there are three main classification groupings of cultivars for the many varieties of the cannabis plant:

    • strains developed for their fibres
    • strains grown for the seeds for nutrition and hemp seed oil extraction
    • strains grown for medicinal or psychoactive purposes

In determining whether a substance is considered psychoactive (and potentially illegal depending where you live), a regulatory determination has been made based on the concentration of THC. The cutoff point is called the "THC threshold" which is 0.3% max THC by weight. This value used in many legal definitions of "what is hemp" vs "what is marijuana."

As more jurisdictions legalize the recreational use of these substances, the lines between hemp vs CBD vs marijuana get blurry.

CBD Skincare | Infographic comparing Cannabis Sativa in Beauty Products


Are Hemp Oil and CBD Oil the Same?

While similar, the differences are vast.

Hempseed oil is made from cold-pressing only the seeds from the plant. Usually, the plants are farmed using cultivars bred specifically to harvest a seed crop. Hempseed oil contains 0% THC.

The seeds are used and marketed for nutritional value due to their very healthy fatty acid profile and high protein/amino acids levels. Similarly, the oil is also used in skincare products, like face oils.

CBD stands for cannabidiol. Cannabidiol is a cannabinoid that has been relatively well studied for its many potential medicinal benefits. CBD is an oil extracted from the entire plant - the flowers, leaves, and stalks. The amount of THC in CBD oil varies depending on the manufacturing process and the plant cultivar used. Generally, however, CBD oil contains very low levels of THC, so it is not psychoactive. CBD oil products are legal in most countries.

It's hard to compare hemp oil vs CBD oil because they're used for such different reasons. No doubt, consuming hemp seeds and oil has many nutritional and health benefits. There is some debate about the various medicinal uses of CBD oil, but there's no arguing it has a role.


Let's move the discussion away from the nutritional and medicinal uses and focus on these oils and their role in skincare.

Hemp Seed Oil Benefits in Skincare

Hemp seed oil is rich in omega-3 fatty acids and other beneficial nutrients, making it excellent for skincare products. It is very high in linoleic acid, which gives it anti-inflammatory benefits and the potential to improve acne.

Here are some of the benefits you may experience from using hemp seed oil on your skin:

    • Reduced inflammation
    • Improved skin barrier function
    • Increased moisture retention
    • Relief from dryness, itchiness, and redness
    • Softer, smoother skin
    • Reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
    • Won't clog pores. Hemp seed oil comedogenic rating is 0, making it ideal for all skin types. It may even improve acne in some people.

Hemp oil for acne, hemp beard oil, and hemp seed massage oil are all common, current uses given all the benefits of hemp seed oil. While hemp seed oil offers a variety of benefits for the skin, it is essential to remember that it does not contain CBD or THC.

Like other carrier oils, hemp oil has many benefits overall, but it doesn't have high concentrations of specific, active phytochemicals.

How to Use Hemp for Face Oils

To use hemp seed oil as face oil, dispense a few drops into the palm of your hand and massage it into clean, damp skin. You can also add a few drops to your favourite face cream or serum. If you want to know more about face oils, we've written a lot about how to use them and the best face oils for your skin type. 

Hemp oil shelf life is around six months to one year. You can store hempseed oil in a cool, dark place like your pantry or cupboard. Be sure to keep the lid tightly closed to prevent oxidation. You can also refrigerate it to extend its shelf life. If you notice any changes in colour or odour, it is best to discard

CBD Oil Benefits for Skin

CBD oil is relatively new to skincare, and further research is coming out about the skin-related benefits of CBD. We know so far that it's been found to be an effective anti-inflammatory, similar to hempseed oil. In addition, it may help with the healing of acne, sensitive skin, rashes, and eczema. It may be more potent for soothing and recovery due to its ability to affect the endocannabinoid system, including receptors found in the skin.

Are CBD beauty products truly better and worth the extra money?

It's too early to tell now, and results will differ from person to person. However, if a beauty company makes broad claims, you may want to do some digging.

A brand isn't required to disclose how much CBD is in its products. So, how can you tell what you're buying? Check the ingredient list. Hempseed oil will be labelled as Cannabis sativa seed oil. CBD will usually appear on the label as cannabidiol, full-spectrum hemp, or PCR (phytocannabinoid-rich) hemp extract. A full spectrum hemp oil lotion would be expected to have detectable CBD oil, not just hempseed.

Another issue is that some brands try to capitalize on the name Cannabis sativa by including regular hempseed oil in their products instead of CBD oil. So, check the label carefully before purchasing any product that claims to contain CBD oil. You want to make sure it's what you're getting.

**It's estimated that up to 70% of CBD containing products are labelled inaccurately.

Cannabis Serum?

Because these terms aren't regulated, some businesses may use them interchangeably. A good example is a recent product we saw advertised as a "cannabis serum". The marketing implications of calling something a cannabis serum are suspect to say the least. For starters, people think of marijuana when the word cannabis is used in isolation, and it certainly isn't a marijuana face serum. Cannabis serum is most likely a face oil that contains hemp oil (otherwise, why wouldn't it be marketed as a CBD serum?).

Check the ingredient list and ask the brand for more information if it seems unclear.

CBD Skincare Myths to Debunk

Time to dispel some myths about CBD when it comes to using it in your skin care regimen:

Myth 1: CBD oil will make you high

CBD oil does not contain much THC, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana that produces the "high" effect. Therefore, using CBD oil will not make you high. Instead, it is a non-psychoactive phytocannabinoid with a milder and more modulatory effect on the endocannabinoid system, which is involved in pain, sleep, and anxiety.

These effects are generally desired by people who consume the oil. Psychoactive CBD effects do not absorb through the skin.

Myth 2: CBD oil is illegal

CBD oil products are legal in most countries. However, there has been increasing confusion since the legalization of marijuana and recreational THC-containing products in some countries and states. If you're not sure, best to check - especially if travelling.

Myth 3: CBD oil is new and untested

Extracts and oils from the cannabis sativa plant have been used for centuries for its medicinal properties. It has gained popularity as a natural treatment for various skin conditions in recent years. As with all-natural products, research can be hard to do and is more limited than in the pharmaceutical industry.

Myth 4: CBD oil is only for people with medical conditions

While CBD oil is often used to treat serious medical conditions like epilepsy and anxiety disorders, it can also be used for everyday purposes, such as reducing inflammation and relieving dry skin.

Myth 5: CBD oil is just marketing hype

CBD oil can be used in various ways, including oral ingestion, vaporization, and topical application. When it comes to skincare, the benefits aren't fully known. Unethical skincare marketing and inaccurate cosmetics claims are abound right now, so buyers beware.

Hemp Oil vs CBD Oil for Skin

The jury is out. It's possible that combining the two may give you the best of both worlds.

Currently, the research is up for debate. Hemp oil is a fairly passive carrier oil while CBD oil is a more active substance, definitely an active botanical. There is some indication that it may be better when targeting issues like eczema due to its more robust anti-inflammatory profile and potential effects on pain sensation.

**However, those types of claims cross into the medical realm and really shouldn't be the marketing focus of cosmetics products.

Is Hempseed Farming Sustainable and Environmentally Friendly?

Yes! The Cannabis plant is a natural plant that is grown for its fibres. Hemp is made up of the stems of the plant. Hemp fibres are stronger than cotton and require less water to grow. In addition, hemp is biodegradable, and it replenishes the nutrients in the soil that help improve the soil's health.



bareLUXE Skincare specializes in face oils and active botanicals. They are working to educate consumers and eliminate marketing hype. Hempseed oil is a major component of their bare Essential Elevated Face Oil, designed to be calming and one of the best face oils for sensitive skin.


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About the Author

Dr. Heather Smith developed her love for skinimalism and clean beauty years ago when she began making home remedies for her newborn's eczema. She is an expert in natural ingredients and active botanicals and has now launched bareLUXE Skincare - a full line of effective oil serums. She dedicates this blog to consumers who are researching ingredients and working to make their beauty ritual more natural and sustainable.


This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers/viewers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. Neither Dr. Smith nor the publisher of this content takes responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content should consult their physicians about their skincare concerns and routines.