beauty

'Cannabis' skincare: What is it, does it work and can it get you high?

A few weeks ago, I received a Facebook message from my mum that perfectly sums up the confusion around ‘cannabis’ beauty products.

“Darling, does this have… dope… in it?” she asked alongside a photo of The Body Shop Hemp Hand Cream I sent her. It made me giggle, but considering the tube has a big ole cannabis-esque plant on the front and an ‘earthy’ fragrance, I don’t blame her for being confused.

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As we edge closer to CBD oil, also known as cannabis oil, becoming decriminalised in Australia (meaning you would be able to buy CBD products without a specialised medical script), more and more ‘cannabis’ serums, face oils, body creams and hair products are popping up in green bottles and tubs.

Naturally, your mind goes to marijuana or CBD oil when you see the word ‘cannabis’. So, are these beauty products legal, and what can they actually do for your skin?

The answer comes down to two things, my friends: green marketing, and some science.

What is Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil?

First thing to know: Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil is another fancy name for Hemp Seed Oil, which, let’s face it, just doesn’t sound as sexy.

Then, to understand the difference between cannabis sativa seed/hemp seed oil, CBD oil AND the cannabis used, erm, recreationally, think of the cannabis sativa plant (the plant all of the above come from) like an apple with juicy flesh and the seeds near the core.

Cannabis sativa plants have leaves, flowers and seeds that contain around 500 cannabinoids (compounds secreted in the cannabis plant). In the leaves and flowers, you’ll find the two major ones: cannabidiol (CBD or medicinal cannabis) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC or marijuana/recreational cannabis).

CBD oil is legal in Australia as a ‘scheduled product’ – you can obtain it from a doctor with special approval from the department of health to prescribe it. THC cannabis is not legal.

hemp seed oil australia
This Kiehl's product is a very sexy cannabis (sativa seed) oil, no? Image: Supplied.
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Moving on to cannabis sativa seed/hemp seed oil. This comes from the seeds of the cannabis sativa plant, and doesn’t contain any of the medicinal or psychoactive properties of CBD and THC.

In other words, cannabis sativa seed/hemp seed oil is not the same as CBD oil and doesn’t have any medicinal benefits used to help manage pain and chronic health conditions.

Oh, and it definitely won’t get you high.

Therefore, it’s legal and can be purchased wherever you buy beauty products.

Hemp seed oil benefits.

OK cool, but what does cannabis sativa seed/hemp seed oil actually do, then?

A few things. It has anti-inflammatory properties that are great for reducing inflammation that presents as acne, rosacea and other skin conditions. It’s also a non-comedogenic emollient, so it’ll hydrate the skin without clogging your pores. Sometimes, you'll find it in a formula with other popular skincare oils like jojoba oil and reosehip oil.

Essentially, it’s a lovely, hydrating, soothing face oil that smells a bit like something that could be weed.

Where things get tricky is when products are marketed in a green bottle covered with marijuana plants as ‘cannabis’ skin care, and at a premium price. The easiest way to know what you’re actually paying for is to look out for ‘cannabis sativa seed’ in the ingredients list on hemp seed oil products. And remember, you can't currently purchase CBD oil products over the counter at the chemist so ignore any marketing that tells you otherwise.

Now for the fun bit: product recommendations. If you're keen to give hemp seed oil a try, here are six hemp seed oil beauty products I'm enjoying slathering all over my face and body.

Best hemp seed oil beauty products.

1. Cannabella Renewal Serum and Clarify Serum, 10ml for $34 each.

Cannabella Renewal Serum and Clarify Serum
Image: Supplied.
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I was sent these two 10ml testers from this Aussie-made, vegan and cruelty-free brand. They're the perfect size to see if a botanical, hempy-smelling face oil is for you before committing to a full-size bottle.

Both serums have a very light, almost dry oil consistency, and contain hemp seed oil (the renewal serum's is unfiltered so you have to shake the bottle before using). The clarifying serum also features squalane, and rosehip, argan and jojoba oils. In the renewal serum, you'll find jojoba, rosehip, broccoli seed and camellia oils, among others.

2. Andalou Naturals CannaCell® Glow Mask, 50g for $24.99.

Andalou Naturals CannaCell® Glow Mask
Image: Supplied.

You Beauty co-host Kelly McCarren loves this face mask for glowing skin and talks about it constantly. The natural product features the brand's own patented CannaCell® hemp stem cells complex, as well as organic hemp seed oil.

Apply to clean, dry or damp skin and wait for 10-20 minutes before gently rinsing off. Glow city!

3. RAWKANVAS Rememdy Calming Hemp Body Oil, 100ml for $55.

RAWKANVAS Rememdy Calming Hemp Body Oil
Image: Supplied.
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How gorgeous does this green bottle look? RAWKANVAS is a new-ish Aussie-made, vegan and cruelty-free brand and I've been applying this body oil all over my limbs straight out of my evening shower.

The body oil has a serumy texture and really does sink into the skin very quickly. It also has a lush, sleepy scent that's a mix of hemp, citrus and ylang ylang. As it's made using essential oils, it's not recommended for use during pregnancy or when trying to become pregnant – always double check with your medical professional.

4. The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector, 100ml for $20.

The Body Shop Hemp Hand Protector
Image: Supplied.

The Body Shop's hemp hand cream has come up over and over again in the You Beauty Facebook group because it's just a really bloody good hand cream.

It's intensely hydrating, sinks in quickly and doesn't leave your hands feeling sticky or slimy. It also makes an excellent gift.

5. Swisse Skincare Hemp Seed Enriching Face Oil, 30ml for $26.99.

Swisse Skincare Hemp Seed Enriching Face Oil
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This recommendation actually comes from my partner, but I agree it's a great affordable hemp seed face oil.

The silky formula also contains jojoba oil and macadamia seed oil for further anti-bacterial benefits, and smells natural, but not too earthy.

6. Kiehl's Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate, 30ml for $69.

Kiehl's Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil Herbal Concentrate
Image: Supplied.

Last but not least, the oil that kicked this trend off.

This one is great for congested and/or inflamed skin. It does smell very hempy, but the packaging looks chic in my bathroom.

The texture is fairly light but still takes a while to sink into the skin, so I only use a drop or two when massaging into my face at night. I can't say whether it's reduced my redness and blemishes, but it's a lovely product to use and my skin feels plump and hydrated after use.

Feature Image: Supplied/@theamyclark.

Have you tried any hemp seed oil products? Tell us in the comments!

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