Hemp in cosmetics: benefits & restrictions

Hemp in cosmetics: benefits & restrictions

The use of hemp oil and cannabidiol (CBD) in cosmetics has become incredibly popular – but what are its benefits to the skin, and how is it’s use viewed by regulators? This article will review the latest developments – both efficacy and regulatory – of the use of hemp in cosmetic formulas. Please watch this video for a visual summary of this information.

How does hemp, CBD and marijuana differ?

The plant Cannabis sativa is naturally rich in a variety of cannabinols, which are chemical substances within the plant. Of these cannabinols, there are two main known ones: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

Cannabis sativa can be grown as two different plants:

  • marijuana – the recreational drug. This plant is distinguished from hemp in that it contains THC (the substance that gets you high). It also contains variable amounts of CBD.
  • Hemp – the plant that gets used for a variety of industrial uses, including cosmetics; and where legalised, for medicinal purposes. It is characterised as containing ≤3% THC by weight of dry product, with trace amounts of CBD.

What are the benefits of hemp oil in cosmetics?

Evidence shows hemp oil can have anti-inflammatory benefits for the skin, especially where it contains small inputs of CBD. In personal care products, these effects range from soothing/moisturising benefits for sensitive skin, as well as reducing redness and even anti-ageing/skin smoothing results in dry or mature skin types. It has also been shown to control excess sebum secretion and control acne (both through sebum control and anti-inflammatory benefits). Even hemp seed oil without any CBD present is rich in omega fatty acids.

How is CBD in cosmetics regulated?

Regulatory status can change regularly,  but as of August 2022, CBD limits in various countries is:

Country Current regulation (as at August, 2022)
ASEAN region CBD that is derived from hemp seed oil or is synthetically produced is allowed.

Note: Different member countries may differ from this ‘general advice’.

Australia Permitted where the CBD is naturally occurring in the hemp seed oil and is ≤50mg/kg (0.005%w/w) and THC is ≤20mg/kg (0.002%w/w). Labels must also state ‘Not for internal use’ or ‘Not to be taken’.
Canada CBD is banned in cosmetics; hemp oil without CBD is okay
EU & UK CBD that is derived from hemp seed oil or is synthetically produced is allowed.

Note: Different member countries may differ from this ‘general advice’.

New Zealand CBD is banned in cosmetics; hemp oil without CBD is okay
United States CBD naturally occurring in hemp is permitted in cosmetics in any amount where marijuana is legalised for recreational use. It may or may not be permitted in other states.

* Please remember to always check your local country regulations before releasing a product containing CBD into the marketplace as these regulations may change without notice.

Are there any special labelling or marketing restrictions on the use of hemp oil?

This is one part of the regulations that is always very clear. Regardless of whether a product is permitted to contain CBD or not, the product must comply with cosmetic regulations and not imply medicinal benefits such as being able to treat or prevent disease – even skin diseases. Products must not be marketed in a way that would be confusing to a consumer about CBD or THC content or the benefits beyond cosmetic application.

Innovative cosmetic ingredients containing hemp or CBD

Remember to check your local and up to date regulations when using any hemp oil or material that contains CBD. I’ve listed in bold those that do not contain CBD; and underlined those with CBD, to help you navigate the innovations easily.

  • Hemp oil without CBD – still contains omega fatty acids with known skin benefits.
  • Hemp oil with CBD – anti-inflammatory and sebum regulating benefits
  • BioChemica CBD Hemp Butter (Hallstar) – contain a standardised amount of CBD for outstanding anti-inflammatory, skin smoothing and hydrating benefits.
  • Hemp Tein Z NPNF (Tri-K) – a hydrolysed hemp seed extract without CBD, with protein benefits for skin and hair
  • Lipobeads (Vantage) – encapsulated hemp seed oil for a dazzling visual effect; they have a CBD-free version (Lipobead Bronze) and a version containing CBD (Lipobead Leaf Green with CBD) – to suit all country requirements!
  • Lipobelle PinoC (Mibelle Biochemistry) – encapsulated oil and leaf extract containing CBD to improve skin tone, smooth the skin and relax facial tension and wrinkles
  • Kannabia Sense (Vyrtus Biotech) – cannabis stem cells without CBD that works with the skin microbiota to promote positive emotions, smooth wrinkles, hydrate the skin and make it glow.

Opportunities for hemp and CBD in cosmetics

There has always been strong interest in hemp containing products – it is a fast growing, highly sustainable crop, and may appeal because of its THC containing counterpart.  There is also strong evidence and interest in medicinal hemp products. Even without CBD, there are still considerable skin and hair care benefits from hemp oils and proteins.

It is an exciting area for innovation where new cosmetic uses are proven or further established with clinical efficacy; and brands are quick to get to market with any trending innovation. When its as hotly debated as CBD it makes it even more exciting to bring out a product with proof behind its benefits – just make sure you check your local country regulations carefully throughout the development and marketing phases.

Happy formulating!

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Belinda is the Director of Institute of Personal Care Science, leaders in on-line Internationally Recognised Training for Cosmetic Formulation and Regulatory Affairs. She holds a Bachelor of Natural Therapies, Diploma of Cosmetic Science and Certificate in Training and Assessment. She has written 5 books on Cosmetic Formulation from Beginners through to Advanced levels as well as Organic and Colour Cosmetic Formulations and Brand Management. Belinda provides training to all levels of industry, from Beginners through to Advanced Diplomas both on-site and via distance. She has also developed thousands of personal care formulations and document dossiers over the years. She specialises in training on innovative and compliant product developments.

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