More states are moving towards legalization of marijuana, either for medicinal or recreational usages. Many people think it’s a step in the right direction, while others are no so happy about this movement. Extracts of the marijuana plant are more frequently being used in personal care products such as massage oils, skin-care products and hair-care formulas too. The question is, is there something to fear from this movement, or is the marijuana plant a miracle ingredient for healthy skin?

To answer, it’s important to understand the difference between marijuana and hemp, which are both varieties of cannabis…

  • Hemp has been around for centuries and is used to make clothing and even nutritional products such as hemp milk and protein powders. It is a fast-growing plant and is considered an industrial crop due to the nature of its applications. Hemp is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant. Unlike its psychoactive cousin species, this industrial form of the plant contains very little tetrahydrocannabinol (TCH), which is the component of the plant that gets users high.

Legally speaking, hemp is cannabis with no more than 0.3 percent of THC content, and is considered okay for use in personal care products. But it is higher in cannabidiol (CBD), which has some pretty appealing characteristics.

CBD offers vitamins, minerals and antioxidants with a plethora of benefits. When applied directly to the skin, it offers targeted relief for many who suffer from inflammatory skin conditions such as acne, dermatitis and psoriasis. The science seems to be supporting these findings, as you can find positive correlations between CBD and inflammatory skin conditions like psoriasis published in respected medical journals such as the Journal of Dermatological Science and the Journal of Clinical Investigation. Our skin has cannabinoid receptors, which allow for excellent penetration and therefore increased effectiveness without requiring processing by the liver. Hemp seed oil is also used in massage oil and hair products due to its omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acid composition, which offer moisture and protection from sun damage by reducing free radicals. In the case of the hair, CBD is likely contributing to the integrity of the cell membrane by helping to ensure that the lipid layer of the cell is intact.

Although many people use the terms marijuana and hemp interchangeably, they’re not identical. Marijuana is produced in a way that enhances the psychotropic effects (aka the high) one gets from smoking it. The power is in the flowers of the plant, and when grown under the right conditions, it can be coaxed into having more blooms, thus increasing the TCH content. In the skincare world, it’s the CBD we are looking for, not the TCH, and CBD is mainly found in the stalks and stems of the plant.

Personally, I’m intrigued by CBD for skincare and my team is doing R&D on some new products to test for our skincare line. Sometimes our fear of something new is based upon unfounded beliefs. In this case, it seems to me that CBD and hemp oil are very different from marijuana and my gut tells me we might be onto something great.

Click here to read Ginger Hodulik Downey’s book The Esthetician’s Guide to Outstanding Esthetics.

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