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Hemp oil is an edible oil obtained by the cold pressing of hemp seeds. It contains several ingredients and active substances that can promote health and well-being. Hemp seed oil has probably been used by humans for around 10,000 years and has recently been gaining popularity as a potentially beneficial addition to skin and hair care. Non-psychoactive and rich in high-quality nutrients, hemp seed oil has a balanced composition of essential fatty acids such as omega 3 and 6, as well as linoleic acid. The health-promoting properties of hemp oil include [1,2]:

  • moisturization
  • antioxidation
  • collagen-promotion
  • antimicrobial
  • anti-inflammatory
  • anti-lipogenic

What is the history of hemp oil?

With evidence from Japan dating back to 8,000 B.C., hemp may be one of the earliest plants ever cultivated by humans.[3] In ancient China, hemp was also used to make clothing, food, shoes, rope, ship sails and paper, among other things.[4] Even Cleopatra is said to have used the herb as part of her beauty routine 2,000 years ago[5]. Industrially, hemp oil has been used in the manufacture of paints, varnishes and other coating materials, as well as plastic flooring.[6]

Hemp oil in skin care

Hemp oil is suitable for providing the skin with important high-quality nutrients. This applies to healthy skin as well as irritated skin. One of the beneficial roles of hemp oil in skin care is its ability to moisturize the skin through its balanced composition of polyunsaturated fatty acids.[2] In order to maintain skin moisture, a hydrophobic functional barrier between the skin and the external environment is required.[7] The fatty acids in hemp oil provide such a barrier through their unique chemical properties, which is why users of hemp oil often report improvements in skin dryness and itching. [8,9] This improvement in skin hydration was confirmed in a randomized placebo-controlled clinical trial of the treatment of eczema, also known as pruritus, with hemp oil.[2] In particular, skin dryness and associated itching can be very serious problems in eczema, as they often lead to additional complications such as opportunistic infections. In this study, patients with eczema took hemp oil while olive oil was used as a placebo control. In contrast to the chemical composition of hemp oil, olive oil does not have a fatty acid composition that is beneficial for skin care. Patients who took hemp oil reported not only an improvement in symptoms, but also less use of skin medications.

In terms of the potential anti-ageing properties of hemp oil, another randomised placebo-controlled clinical trial from 2020 concluded that hemp oil can improve skin smoothness and reduce wrinkles on the face[10]. Participants were instructed to apply hemp oil to their right cheek and a placebo control to their left cheek for twelve weeks. The skin’s scaliness, roughness and wrinkles were then measured using high-resolution cameras. The results showed that hemp oil significantly improved the smoothness of the skin and wrinkles on the face, which consequently means that hemp oil could reduce the signs of ageing skin.

Hemp oil in hair care

In addition to skin care, hemp oil is considered a possible effective treatment for hair due to its composition of beneficial active ingredients. Applying hemp oil to the hair can moisturise, promote hair growth, protect the hair and help repair damage, as well as add shine to the hair.[11] Some of the benefits of hemp oil for hair may be due to its positive effects on the skin, including the scalp.


The potentials of hemp oil are versatile, both as an edible oil and in cosmetics. For example, hemp oil is freely available on the market for use as a cosmetic.


Frequently asked questions (FAQ) about hemp oil

What is hemp oil good for?

In addition to its health-promoting effects as a food supplement, hemp seed oil can also have positive effects on skin and hair care due to its moisturizing and hair-growth-promoting properties.[2,11]

Can hemp oil be used for frying?

Since hemp oil has a low smoke point of about 163 °C, it is not suitable for frying. Instead, hemp seed oil can be used for refining, for example in marinades, salads or bread.[12]

Is hemp oil psychoactive?

No, hemp oil does not contain the mind-altering active ingredient in cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC. Therefore, it is not psychoactive.[6]

Does hemp oil contain CBD?

Since CBD is produced in the trichomes of the flowers of the cannabis plant and not in the seeds, hemp seed oil does not contain CBD.[12]

What does hemp seed oil taste like?

Hemp seed oil tastes a little like walnuts or sunflower seeds, making it ideal for salad dressings or as a dip for bread.[8]

How is hemp seed oil stored?

Once opened, hemp seed oil must be stored in the refrigerator or freezer and should be used within three months.[9]


1. Jin S, Lee M-Y. The ameliorative effect of hemp seed hexane extracts on the Propionibacterium acnes-induced inflammation and lipogenesis in sebocytes. PLoS ONE [Internet]. 2018 Aug 27 [cited 2021 Apr 14];13(8). Available from:

2. Callaway J, Schwab U, Harvima I, Halonen P, Mykkänen O, Hyvönen P, et al. Efficacy of dietary hempseed oil in patients with atopic dermatitis. J Dermatol Treat. 2005 Apr;16(2):87–94.

3. Long T, Wagner M, Demske D, Leipe C, Tarasov PE. Cannabis in Eurasia: origin of human use and Bronze Age trans-continental connections. Veg Hist Archaeobotany. 2017 Mar 1;26(2):245–58.

4. Cervantes J. The Cannabis Encyclopedia: The Definitive Guide to Cultivation & Consumption of Medical Marijuana. Van Patten Publishing; 2015. 594 p.

5. Derma MGC. How we’ve been using Cannabis for centuries [Internet]. Medium. 2017 [cited 2021 May 4]. Available from:

6. Hempseed oil in a nutshell [Internet]. [cited 2021 May 4]. Available from:

7. Sugarman JL, Fluhr JW, Fowler AJ, Bruckner T, Diepgen TL, Williams ML. The objective severity assessment of atopic dermatitis score: an objective measure using permeability barrier function and stratum corneum hydration with computer-assisted estimates for extent of disease. Arch Dermatol. 2003 Nov;139(11):1417–22.

8. Hanföl: Ein neues “Highlight” für die Küche? [Internet]. [cited 2021 Apr 14]. Available from:

9. Leson G, Pless P, Roulac JW. Hemp Foods and Oils for Health. Sebastopol, Calif.: Small Farmers Journal; 1999.

10. Ali A, Akhtar N, Khan H, Bin Asad MHH, Ahmad Z. The improvement on the skin surface by a new type of dermocosmetic loaded plant extract: A split face skin topographic study. Pak J Pharm Sci. 2020 Mar;33(2):531–5.

11. Gavazzoni Dias MFR. Hair Cosmetics: An Overview. Int J Trichology. 2015;7(1):2–15.

12. Small E. Cannabis: A Complete Guide. 1st edition. Boca Raton: CRC Press; 2016. 567 p.


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