What Pros Have to Say About Using Hemp Oil for Hair
Zoe Weiner・ February 26, 2020
L ong before CBD was the cannabinoid star of the beauty aisle, hemp seed oil reigned supreme. The OG plant-derived ingredient—which has always been legal—might not have the same name recognition as its buzzier cousin, but it does have plenty of benefits worth being aware of. One worth diving into? Hemp oil for hair.
But before we get into the wonders of coating your strands with hemp seed oil, let’s make sure we’re all on the same page about what’s what in the world of cannabis derivatives. Certain ingredients—namely hemp oil and hemp seed oil—may sound the same, but ultimately, these ingredients do different things for your hair and skin, so it’s important to understand what you’re spending your money on. Allow us (and the pros!) to break it down for you, so you know exactly what’s worth buying… and why.
The difference between hemp seed oil and hemp oil
First things first: you need to understand the terminology, because hemp oil and hemp seed oil are two completely different things. They both come from the cannabis plant, but hemp is derived from the leaves and the stalk. Meanwhile, hemp seed oil is derived from—you guessed it!—the seeds, and is cold-pressed the same way other carrier oils like jojoba and sunflower seed. The biggest difference between the two is that hemp oil is chock full of cannabanoids, like THC, CBN, and CBD, while hemp seed oil doesn’t have any of these.
Hemp seed oil, however, does have antioxidants, as well as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, which have made it a skin-care staple for decades. It’s known for its moisturizing and non-comedogenic properties, and considering that your scalp is skin, too, that means potentially great things for your hair as well.
“Hemp oil contains anti-irritant, anti-inflammatory topical properties, it’s rich in amino acids, vitamins and antioxidants which provide nourishing and soothing benefits for the scalp,” says Fabian Lliguin, co-founder and president of Rahua Beauty. He notes that in the same way that all skin types can benefit from using hemp seed oil, all hair types potentially can, too.
The potential benefits of using hempseed and hemp oil for hair
While there isn’t any declarative scientific evidence to support the specific benefits of hemp seed oil or hemp oil for hair, pros say there are still some reasons it could be worth integrating a few drops into your hair-care routine. “Hemp oil provides nourishment and hydration, because it has one of the highest concentrations of polyunsaturated fatty acids of all naturally occurring oils,” says Jennifer Weiderman, the CMO of Hempz. “It is non-greasy and provides an optimal balance for moisture retention.” There have also been murmurs on the Internet that hemp seed oil can help with hair growth and strengthening strands, thanks to the fact that it’s packed with proteins, but there has yet to be any research to back this up.
What we do know, however, is that hemp-derived oils are natural oils, and that other natural oils like coconut, mineral, and sunflower have been tapped all over the world used as hair treatments for centuries and have well-documented benefits. A 2015 study from the International Journal of Trichology found that oils play an “important role in protecting hair from damage,” and that “applying oil on a regular basis can enhance lubrication of the shaft and help prevent hair breakage.” While hemp seed and hemp oil for hair in particular haven’t been studied, it’s not a huge leap to say that they could potentially have some of the same benefits.
How to use hempseed and hemp oil for hair
If you want to integrate any sort hemp seed oil or hemp oil for hair into your routine, pros suggest doing it by way of a shampoo, conditioner, or treatment that combines it with other nourishing ingredients. Shop our picks, below.
Rahua Founder’s Blend Scalp & Hair Treatment, $40
This treatment mixes hemp oil with palo santo, sunflower, and rahua Oils, plus shea butter and quinoa. “These star ingredients strengthen the user’s follicles, balance the scalp’s moisture levels, act as an anti-inflammatory and anti-irritant, as well as nourish and sooth the scalp,” says Lliguin.
Love Beauty and Planet Hemp Seed Shampoo and Conditioner, $7 each
Yup—you can get your hemp oil for hair fix at the drugstore. Love Beauty and Planet’s sulfate-free shower products use hemp seed oil and nana leaf to cleanse your scalp while nourishing your skin and strands. Users have raved about how gentle it is, and love it for its cooling sensation.
Briogeo B.Well 100mg CBD + Arnica Flower Soothing Skin & Scalp Oil, $48
Want to use hemp and hemp seed oil together? Try this treatment. It combines CBD (aka hemp) with its close cousin hempseed oil, plus arnica flower and tamanu oil, to calm your scalp before you even step out of the shower.
Hempz Herbal Healthy Hair Fortifying Shampoo and Conditioner, $18
Formulated for the sake of strengthening hair, these products use hemp oil alongside pomegranate and sunflower seed oil keep strands healthy and well-fortified.
Here’s what happened when our beauty editor tried CBD shampoo and conditioner for herself. Plus, why argan oil is another natural ingredient worth adding into your haircare routine…. especially if you want to grow your stands, STAT.
Using hemp oil for hair has many benefits, including nourishing your scalp and preventing breakage. Here's how to integrate it into your routine.
10 hemp seed oil products for hair
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Hemp seed oil, which is extractable from the seeds of the hemp plant, may have some benefits for hair care. Hemp seed oil is a dark green oil that manufacturers make by cold-pressing these seeds or using solvents to extract their oil.
Hemp seeds are the fruit of the hemp plant. They consist of 30–35% oil.
Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa plant. It does not contain nearly as much delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the ingredient that causes the “high” that people associate with smoking weed, as other varieties.
Hemp is sometimes referred to as “industrial hemp,” because this is its primary use.
Indeed, humans have cultivated hemp for thousands of years, using it to make rope, sails, food, fabric, and medicinal products. The use of hemp seed oil for hair care is hardly new, but it has seen increasing popularity in recent years.
Keep reading to learn more about hemp seed oil and how it may benefit the hair.
Scientists have not yet identified the specific mechanism by which using hemp seed oil for hair might produce its benefits. However, there are data to show that hair somehow incorporates hemp seed oil.
For example, researchers found that after study participants used hemp oil for hair treatments for 6 weeks (by applying it directly to their hair), 89% of hair samples tested positive for one or more cannabis constituents.
Although scientific testing has not yet backed up these claims, the following are some of the ways in which hemp seed oil could benefit the hair:
- by promoting hair growth
- by moisturizing the hair
- by thickening the hair
- by preventing water loss to protect the hair
- by reviving damaged hair
- by adding shine
Hemp seeds are rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, in what some experts call the perfect ratio. This may contribute to the many potential health benefits that people attribute to hemp and hemp seed oil.
Some studies have suggested that hemp seed oil can help relieve the symptoms of dry skin and itchiness in atopic dermatitis. Another study found that hemp seed oil could be helpful in treating acne.
Some of the alleged benefits of hemp seed oil for hair may be due to its positive impact on the skin, including the scalp.
Researchers have also found that hemp seed oil may help protect people from cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. The anti-inflammatory properties of hemp seed oil that some scientists say may help protect against chronic conditions could also contribute to hair health.
The composition of hemp seeds provides some clues as to the source of their benefits. Indeed, hemp seeds contain many important nutrients, vitamins, and minerals, including:
- gamma-linolenic acid
- vitamin D
- vitamin E
Consumer products that incorporate hemp seed oil for hair care range from shampoos and conditioners with low concentrations of the oil to pure hemp seed oil that people can apply directly to the hair and scalp.
The following sections will look at some of these products in more detail.
Organic Pure OilINC: Hemp seed oil shampoo and conditioner
These products are formulated to strengthen, moisturize, and restore all hair types.
The manufacturer states that the products feature a blend of hemp seed oil, hemp proteins, and hemp extracts to promote shine, reduce frizz, and support dry ends.
Love Beauty and Planet: Hemp seed oil shampoo
This shampoo contains hemp seed oil, coconut oil, nana leaf, and plant-based cleansers.
The manufacturer claims that the fresh, woody scent of nana leaf promotes relaxation and a sense of balance.
Maui Moisture: Fortifying and hemp seed oil hydrating vegan shampoo
The manufacturers designed this shampoo to prevent breakage in dry hair.
The formula includes aloe vera, hemp seed oil, and cacao butter to improve hair strength while keeping it soft.
Wellness Premium: Organic hemp seed oil hair serum
The manufacturer formulated this hair serum to provide all hair types with the strength and protection necessary to handle heat from styling products.
The cold-pressed hemp seed oil in this product provides important vitamins and minerals.
OKAY: Hemp seed and shea leave-in conditioner
The manufacturer claims that this leave-in conditioner promotes hair growth and prevents future hair breakage.
It does this by moisturizing and strengthening each strand.
Hempz: Original herbal deep conditioner and hydrating hair mask
The manufacturer states that this hair mask revives dry hair, using a mix of hemp seed oil, shea butter, pomegranate extract, and cogon grass extract.
This lightweight conditioner, scented with grapefruit and peach, may help hydrate hair and leave it soft and lustrous.
Wellness Premium: Organic hemp seed oil intensive hair mask
The manufacturer recommends this hair mask for thin to wavy hair.
It uses cold-pressed hemp seed oil, vitamins, and keratin to repair damage from the sun and chemical processes.
People should apply it after washing their hair, leave it on for 5–60 minutes, then wash it out to reveal softer, healthier hair.
Herbal Essences: Hair oil mist, hemp seed oil and aloe
This product may help fight frizz and tangles while hydrating and moisturizing.
It contains hemp seed oil, aloe vera, and botanicals that the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew (in the United Kingdom) endorse.
Shea Moisture: Cannabis sativa (hemp) seed oil lush length conditioner
This conditioner supports thicker and healthier hair with a combination of Cannabis sativa (hemp) seed oil, horsetail extract, and ginseng root.
The manufacturer claims that the hemp seed oil contains no THC or cannabidiol.
Sephora Collection: Multipurpose oil, hemp seed
This product can nourish, moisturize, and soothe the hair and skin. The manufacturer recommends it for the hair.
To use, apply it before shampooing or apply directly to dry hair for hydration.
People seeking hair care alternatives to products that contain hemp seed oil can choose from a number of different products.
Shampoos, for example, can prevent damage to the hair while cleansing and treating the scalp. Manufacturers can formulate them to address everything from dandruff and greasy hair to frizz.
That said, people with frizzy hair should avoid using harsh shampoos, as these can make the problem worse.
Conditioners protect the hair by mimicking its natural outer layer. They can also make hair easier to comb, which reduces the risk of damage, minimizes frizz, and makes it easier to manage.
People can also use other oils for hair care, such as olive oil, mineral oil, sunflower oil, and coconut oil. Researchers have found that coconut oil could prevent protein loss for both healthy and damaged hair.
The American Academy of Dermatology recommend that people let their hair type determine their hair care practices. For example, a person might only use products designed specifically for their hair type, wash oily hair more often, or use conditioner regularly while concentrating on the tips of the hair.
Hemp seed oil may have beneficial effects on the hair. Learn about these potential benefits, as well as some hemp seed oil-based hair products, in this article.