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Updated June 2020: Last week Dr. Bronner’s announced that 100% of the USDA Organic hemp seed oil in our product line – that’s 30 metric tons annually – is now sourced from U.S. farmers. I thought this was the perfect time to republish this article about the benefits of hemp seed oil and answer the oft-asked question: “Why have we used hemp seed oil in many of our body care products for over 20 years?”

There are a lot of superlative claims about hemp oil: most unsaturated oil, best essential fatty acids (EFA) ratio and combination, highest amino acid variety, only plant source of vitamin D. Can one oil be all that? In short, yes.

Before we go further, let me address some unspoken questions.

Will hemp seed oil make me high?

No, it won’t. Hemp seed oil is pressed from the seed of the hemp plant, and this seed does not contain THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive component of marijuana. The 2018 Farm Bill made clear this distinction by defining industrial hemp as Cannabis that contains no more than 0.3% THC by dry weight, well below any threshold of impact.

What’s the difference between hemp seed oil and CBD oil?

There’s been a lot of hubbub around CBD oil on the market lately, which derives from the same plant: Cannabis sativa. However, while neither are psychoactive compounds, CBD oil is not the same as hemp seed oil. CBD oil, or cannabidiol, is found in the flowers and leaves of industrial hemp. Hemp seed oil is pressed from the unshelled whole hemp seeds. While it is possible that some flower or leaf remnants are present among the hemp seeds, the potential amounts of CBD oil in Dr. Bronner’s products would be minute.

Why Hemp

Hemp seed oil contains unsurpassed essential fatty acids (EFAs). As we are increasingly learning, there are “good fats” and there are “bad fats.” What makes a “good fat” good has much to do with these EFAs, specifically Omega-3 and Omega-6, which are present in hemp seed oil in the perfect ratio of 1:3. Plus, hemp seed oil contains the anti-inflammatory gamma linoleic acid (GLA) as well as Omega-9. Its fatty acid profile is better than fish oil’s, better than flaxseed oil’s—it is the best. Among many benefits, these EFAs provide for more elastic skin and shiny, stronger hair.

Hemp seed oil contains a power-packed punch of additional nutrients, including calcium, potassium, magnesium, copper, vitamin A, vitamin B1 (thiamin), vitamin B3 (niacin), vitamin B5, vitamin B9 (folate), and vitamin D (of which it is the only plant source), along with a useful dose of the antioxidant vitamin E (tocopherols) as well as all 10 amino acids for protein building. Add to that list chlorophyll, phytosterols, phospholipids, magnesium, sulfur, potassium, phosphorus, and a bit of iron and zinc.

Hemp seed oil is non-comedogenic. In other words, it doesn’t clog pores. And because its lipids mirror the lipids that our skin produces naturally, it works in sync with our body to soothe and cleanse. Healthy skin produces linoleic acid. If, for whatever reason, the skin can’t produce linoleic acid, it alternatively produces oleic acid, a thick and sticky pore blocker. Hemp seed oil contains the good linoleic acid.

Hemp seed oil is also a natural humectant, which means it draws moisture into the skin. Instead of sitting on top of the skin the way less-effective oils do, it’s able to penetrate the skin, moisturizing between cells and strengthening the cell matrix. It can get to hair roots, as well, strengthening the scalp and reducing dry flaking or dandruff. It evens out skin tone and reduces blotchiness.

How to Use It

Hemp oil is inexpensive – especially when you think of all the products it replaces: acne treatments, makeup to cover problem areas, moisturizers, and makeup removers, for instance. Here are just a few ways you can use this effective oil in your daily skin and hair care routines.

     1.  Alleviate dry skin. Rub the oil directly onto dry, cracked skin. For a deep conditioning treatment for hands and feet, massage in the oil then wear socks or gloves overnight to let it work its magic.

     2.  Strengthen nails and heal cuticles. Massage a small amount of hemp seed oil directly into nails and cuticles—great for both fingernails and toenails.

     3.  Remove makeup. Oil follows the “like dissolves like” rule, which means that hemp seed oil will dissolve the oils and waxes in makeup, especially in stubborn eye makeup. Gently rub a small amount of oil into the makeup and wipe with a cotton ball or a soft tissue.

     4.  Mask overnight. Massage hemp seed oil into cleansed facial skin before bedtime.

     5.  Steam facial skin. Massage a tablespoon of oil into the skin on your dry, clean face, massaging for several minutes. Then lay a hot (not scalding) damp washcloth over your face and let it sit until it cools. Wipe with the washcloth. Repeat with another hot washcloth until all the oil is wiped off. Washing your face afterwards is optional.

     6.  Condition hair. Before shampooing, massage a tablespoon or so of hemp oil into your scalp and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Afterwards, shampoo as normal. You might find you don’t need conditioner.

     7.  Reduce acne. This may sound crazy, but this oil actually reduces acne. Massage hemp seed oil into problem areas and work it in gently for several minutes. The oil will actually draw out sebum plugs that cause whiteheads, blackheads, and even cysts. Do this daily during breakouts.

     8.  Relieve eczema. A 2005 study found that two tablespoons of dietary hemp seed oil consumed daily may help relieve the effects of atopic dermatitis, or eczema.

     9.  Support overall health. Eat it. You can eat it straight and enjoy its nutty flavor or you can put it in salad dressings, as a butter replacement on toast, rice, potatoes, vegetables. Keep in mind that pure hemp seed oil cannot be used for high-heat cooking. It has a low smoke point and will totally break down even at a moderate heat, at which point all nutritional benefits are lost.

Bear in mind that pure hemp seed oil goes rancid easily. It needs to be kept in the fridge. However, you can look for it as a shelf-stable ingredient in other personal care products.

In celebration of Hemp History Week, Maria Rodale, from the Rodale Institute originally published a version of this article in 2016 on her blog, Maria’s Farm Country Kitchen. For more details and a fantastic timeline of Dr. Bronner’s hemp advocacy, which culminated in the passage of the 2018 U.S. Farm Bill, which separated industrial hemp from the Controlled Substances Act, check out this press release.

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Thanks for sharing this amazing information.

I opened my hemp seed oil up and forgot to put it in the fridge for one day. Will it go bad or is it still good as long as I get it in the fridge now?

Hi Cheryl – If it’s gone rancid, it will smell off. Does it smell any different? I think you’re likely to be ok after only a day.

Hi, I was wondering about your 18 in 1 hemp peppermint pure castle soap. My husband suggest it might be good for a foot soak to aid sore feet. Would this work?

Hi Lyn- Yes, that will refresh tired feed. Use 1 1/2 tsp in a a small tub of hot water. You might also try massaging our Arnica-Menthol Magic Balm ( into feet at the end of the day. Not only will the balm invigorate feet but it will soften tough skin.

Hemp oil is the answer for those people who are being obsessed of their skin getting old, Hemp oil can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles as well as prevent signs of aging from developing. we all know the most of us still want to remain young-looking skin. use hemp oil now ?

If I put hemp oil on my scalp for two weeks will it go through my body?

Hi Delois- Anything that we put on our skin has the likelihood to be absorbed into our bodies. If your concern is THC content, the psychoactive component of cannabis, industrial hemp has insignificant amounts of it, certified below a threshold of 0.3% THC by dry weight. THC is found in the flowers and leaves of the plant, not in the seed, from which this oil comes.

hi i have eczema on my eyes and tried everything and my eyes are dark and dry and itchy. can hemp oil help ? Thanks.

Hi Sady- I don’t think it would hurt, but I don’t know if it would help either. I recommend researching this further and speaking to a medical provider. Hemp seed oil is a heavier oil, so if you do use it, do so only at night.

Does this mean your products using hemp oil must be refrigerated?

Hi Cindy- Hemp seed oil has a high rancidity rate because of its free oxygen content. The tocopherols (Vitamin E), derived from non-GMO sunflower oils that we add to the soaps are antioxidants, bind up those free oxygen molecules that cause rancidity.

What an interesting article. No wonder Dr. Bronner’s products keep my skin soft.

Question: Would hemp oil help hydrate my meibomian glands in my eyes? I have severe dry eye, specially at night when sleeping. I use castor oil on my eyelids a couple of times during the night.

It’s worth a try. The mask is a great idea. Which brand do you recommend?

Always find so much value in your posts. Thank you, Lisa

Hi Margarita- Thanks so much for your kind words! I am not familiar with using hemp oil for meibomian glands. Perhaps run this use by your medical advisor. I don’t have a specific brand that I’ve used, though I look for USDA organic certification to verify integrity and purity.

This is right on time! Thank you for writing this article! Hemp oil has been miraculous for my eczema.
I am confused a bit. I know that hemp oil goes bad quickly and needs to be refrigerated. If I make a hand butter, can I add hemp oil as a carrier oil as well and not worry about it going bad? If hemp oil isn’t shelf stable, I would think I couldn’t add it to my balm.

Hi C.L.- I’m so glad this is helpful to you! Hemp oil readily oxidizes at room temperature, which is what causes it to go rancid (bad smell, etc.). If you add an antioxidant to your mixture, you can retard the oxidization of the hemp oil. In our products, we use tocopherols (vitamin e – sourced from sunflower oil), which is a natural antioxidant. I’ve never experimented with blending hemp oil into products at home, so I have no idea of the ratios you would need, but I hope this idea gives you a starting point for research.

That’s great! Several years ago I listened to a panel discussion about hemp at The Heirloom Expo in Santa Rosa, CA. Can’t remember the first name, but I think it was your brother? cousin? representing the Dr. Bronner family/company, and one of the big issues was the ridiculousness of needing to source all the hemp oil from Canada. Progress is being made!

Hi Naomi- Yes! It’s great to see all the work pay off. It shows you that change can come. That was probably my brother David Bronner, Dr. Bronner’s Cosmic Engagement Officer. This issue has been close to his heart since the get-go.

i am 77 yrs old and i have”saggy” skin, would either the hemp lotion or hemp oil help any? Won’t even wear anything that is sleeveless and i live in tx and it gets hot here.

Hi Peggy- Unfortunately, no. But our Castile soaps and lotions do help promote healthy skin that can better heal itself.

Does Dr. Bronner also work as vaginal wash? If so all of them? I’ve tried the lavender and it like burned me

Hi Raquel – I use the Castile head to toe, but on more sensitive areas, you need a lot less. Just a couple drops. Also, the lavender soap, with its pure essential lavender oil, is surprisingly spicy. Synthetic lavender, which is more common on the market, lacks that punch. You might do better with one of the milder essential oils such as Rose or Almond, or even the Unscented.

I love my Hempseed oil ! I consume 2 to 3 tsp a day! I use after a shower, when my skin is still wet, Then towel dry! I use on my face at nighttime ! I love the way my skin looks & feels in the morning! I’m 48 & still get carded! ??

Hi Rose – As you’ve found, hemp oil is very nourishing for the skin. Thank you for sharing!

My skin is starting to wrinkle, and I heard that hemp oil can be used to help stop these effects. Your article had some great information about oil like this, and I liked how you said that full spectrum hemp oil is extremely non-comodogenic, meaning it doesn’t clog pores. It also has lipids mirror the lipids that our skin produces naturally, so I’ll keep this in mind when considering hemp oil for my skin care routine.

Hemp oil is pressed from the seed of the hemp plant, and this seed does not contain THC. Good read!

I used it with Shea butter,vit E oil,calendula,grape seed oil in a body healed my sons dry &eczema son is 5months,it’s so mild&effective for newborn sensitive skin.

Time for true confessions, folks. It is February 9, 2017, and I have missed several months of comments for the simple reasons that things went a little crazy around here. I very much apologize. I am tackling them now for the sake of those faithful and new readers who might actually read them all. I am going to start with the most recent. Bear with me.

Hi Lisa!
I just made a body butter with Hemp oil, the recipe called for two tbsp. Do I refrigerate it? I wanted to sell to my clients but now I’m not so sure.

Thank you

Hi Veronica – Yes, because hemp oil needs to be refrigerated, the body butter does as well. The hemp oil will make it very nourishing for the skin – especially during the winter months.

What type of Hemp seed oil do I buy to use on skin or face, refined or unrefined?

Hi Dionne – Unrefined, or raw, would have more of the benefits than refined. It will definitely need to refrigerated, though.

I have been looking for some remedies to take care of health since long time finally I found here.
Thank you for writing such an important post.

Hi, I was wondering if you know of adverse effects of hemp oil? I was all set to make my own hair oil using hemp oil, until I just read that a lady who was consuming it started to get a receding hairline and her period also stopped. That’s worrying stuff, so I’m not sure if my hair would be harmed by using it topically. Perhaps more research is needed into this substance.

Thanks for the great info. I remembered I bought some hemp oil because of this article. I have psoriasis and suffer from dry skin. I applied it today for the first time and it made my skin feel great.

My brother has cancer . after doing chemo his skin is very dry. I will have try this oil. Thank you so much

My mom has been having issues with eczema, and her doctor recommended she try hemp oil for some relief. Sure enough, it works really well. So well that she’s starting to use it elsewhere, including in her food! I’ll definitely have to try some, thanks for sharing.

That’s great, Rachel! Let us know here if you have further success stories!

I, too, am interested in any updates from Rachel re her mothers excema, including if she saw a difference after adding it to her food as a supplement; With Thanks.

Can I buy good quality ham oil in a health food store or where?

Hemp oil is available in health food stores across the US. It may be kept in a refrigerated section. You can also order it online. Nutiva sells directly from their website, but if you Google “where to buy hemp oil”, you’ll get other options as well.

Never realized all the benefits of this pressed oil. Interesting!

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