Cannabis & beauty

Among the countless applications of hemp (Cannabis Sativa) of particular interest is its use in cosmetics. Thanks to its beneficial properties, hemp seed oil (hemp oil) and CBD oil are in fact included in cosmetic formulations, increasing the panorama of the beauty universe. Always known for many other uses, such as textiles that saw her protagonist of the realization of the Gutenberg Bible in 1940 and the sails of caravels, the seeds of this controversial plant represent an important resource for our skin, Enough to make you bet on more and more cosmetic companies.

(According to Arcview Market Research, the cannabis beauty market will generate about $22 billion by 2021).


Hemp oil

Hemp seeds are a unique combination in the plant world. They have a protein content of 20-25% and are rich in mineral salts including iron, phosphorus, calcium, potassium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc and vitamins (A, E, PP, group B). Lipids (25-35%) are represented by 70 – 75% polyunsaturated fatty acids in particular linoleic, linolenic and γ-linolenic and the unsaponifiable fraction 1.5-2% is an important source of compounds such as γ-tocopherol, phytool and ß-sitosterol.

The cold pressing of hemp seeds produces an oil with important dermocosmetic properties: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, regenerating, soothing and antibacterial.

The essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6 participate in the synthesis of collagen, making the skin more hydrated and able to retain water.  Vitamins B1 and B2 have eudermic effect, while vitamin Vitamin PP has restructuring and moisturizing effect, stimulating the synthesis of lipids that limit the dispersion of water molecules.

Vitamin E is antioxidant, protects cells from aging and participates in maintaining a proper water balance.

Vitamin A promotes the proliferation and differentiation of keratinocytes (skin cells), glucosaminoglycans, which bind water molecules improving skin hydration, and collagen synthesis, strengthening the supporting structure of the skin.

CBD oil

Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the cannabinoids present in the inflorescences of Hemp: unlike the better known cannabinoid THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is not psychoactive; it acts by binding to CB2 receptors, in the central nervous system and at the level of the T cells of the immune system.

It has anti-inflammatory and immunomodulatory action. In cosmetics it is mainly used for its anti-inflammatory properties and is indicated for muscle and joint pain.

CBD soothes inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, balancing sebum production and inflammation due to the formation of pimples, wrinkles (due to its remarkable antioxidant properties), psoriasis and eczema.  (Dermatol Online J. 2018 Jun 15;24(6)).



CBD is predominantly present in the buds of Cannabis sativa, however European legislation allows the use for cosmetic use only of extracts and oil derived from cold-pressed seeds and CBD as long as not derived from inflorescence.

For this reason, CBD used in cosmetics is synthetic: although obtained by chemical process, it has the same properties.


Cosmetic formulations containing cannabis are numerous, and are not limited to oils and ointments. Thanks to its use in hair care lines, face masks, shaving and beard care products, body scrubs and detergents, hemp seems to be one of the main ingredients of skin care in the coming years.

By Dr Alessandra Manca

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