Hemp Seed Oil vs. CBD Oil for Skin Care

July 02, 2021

Hemp oil vs. CBD oil: what’s the difference, and which is best for your skin?

Hemp oil and CBD oil are two different types of oils that are derived from the same plant, Cannabis Sativa L. They are both beneficial for skin health, but in different ways.

A lot of skin care and beauty brands are putting hemp seed oil in their products and upcharging to cash in on the plant’s current buzzworthy status. Don’t be fooled into paying more for products with hemp seed oil in them! Hemp seed oil, in terms of pricing, is on par with MCT oil or sunflower seed oil. CBD, on the other hand, requires a much more complex extraction, distillation and manufacturing process. Therefore, CBD is an active ingredient that warrants a little bump in price compared to common plant-derived, cold-pressed oils.

Industrial Hemp vs. Hemp-Cannabis

industrial hemp

Industrial Hemp plants for seed and fiber production

In order to better understand the difference between hemp seed oil and CBD oil, let’s talk about how the oils are derived.

Hemp oil, or hemp seed oil, is derived from seeds of Industrial Hemp plants. There are super important differences between seed and fiber hemp and CBD-rich hemp, which is now commonly referred to as “hemp-cannabis”, but they have one very important thing in common: a THC concentration below .3%. The only thing that determines whether or not a cannabis plant is “hemp” rather than “marijuana” is that THC concentration.

tricolla-farms hemp new-york

Tricolla Farms’ hemp-cannabis for CBD production

The primary differences between seed and fiber (industrial hemp) varietals and CBD-rich (hemp-cannabis) varietals are:

  1. Cultivation methods
    • CBD-rich plants are grown in a horticultural style, usually planting rooted plugs in raised beds with 4 foot spacing between each plant.
    • Industrial hemp for seed and fiber production is grown in the same style as row crops like corn, for example. The seeds are drilled directly into the ground and placed very close together.
    • Harvesting CBD takes a lot of care (when done the right way), whereas seed and fiber varietals are harvested with a combine similarly to other row crops.
  2. Sex
    • CBD-rich cultivars (seeds) must be feminized. Female plants are the ones that grow big, bountiful, flowering buds that are rich in cannabinoids and terpenes.
    • Male plants, on the other hand, produce seeds. Since most of the male plants’ energy goes towards seed production, they are not able to produce buds anywhere near as bountiful as female plants.
    • As you can imagine, if you are growing for *seed* and fiber, then you would want those male plants producing a whole bunch of seeds for you.
    • If you are growing for CBD, you want female plants that will produce big, CBD-rich buds.
  3. Genetics
    1. The 2 factors mentioned above don’t mean anything if you’re not starting with the right genetics. Genetics are your strains, or cultivars, or varietals. Whichever nominclature you prefer, just know that the genetics determine whether or not you will be sprouting bamboo-looking plants (industrial hemp for seed and fiber) or big ol’ christmas trees (hemp-cannabis for cannabinoids).

CBD oil benefits for your skin

One of CBD’s primary therapeutic targets is inflammation. Since it is non-intoxicating, CBD is a great way to access the medicinal benefits of cannabis without experiencing the high associated with THC-rich cannabis. CBD interacts with over 65 molecular targets throughout the body to influence a wide range of physiological activities. The cannabinoid’s influence spans from inflammation, to anxiety, to oil production at the skin’s surface!

Outer Space Universal Skincare by TONIC CBD

Inflammation, stress, and oil production all play a huge role in conditions like acne, as well as overall skin health. Two main causes of hyperpigmentation and acne include Endocannabinoid system irregularity and Epidermis free radical damage. CBD can help address both.

Endocannabinoids have complex cell receptors located throughout the layers of the skin. These receptors are responsible for balancing the skin’s key functions. The functions these endocannabinoid receptors balance include melanocyte production (pigmentation) and oil production.

CBD is good for the skin because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory qualities. CBD not only allows more of the endocannabinoid anandamide to be active in the system and activate these important receptor sites, it also has potent antioxidant effects that influence the body’s largest organ. Some key benefits of CBD for skin care include, its ability to balance the skin’s natural oil production, reduce inflammation and redness by balancing immune function, and provide potent antioxidant and antibacterial power.

Hemp seed oil’s benefits for your skin

Hemp seed oil, also referred to as hemp oil, is produced by  cold-pressing the seeds of industrial hemp plants. It is dark green in color and has a nutty, earthy flavor. Hemp oil does not contain CBD, THC, or any other cannabinoid, at least not in any significant concentration. Like we mentioned before, plants that are bred to produce seed put all of their energy towards the seeds. As a result, they don’t produce large flowers, and the flower of the plant is where the cannabinoids and terpenes are found.

Despite the absence of cannabinoids, hemp seed oil is still a skin care power house. It has a rich vitamin and mineral content, is packed with essential fatty acids that are vital for skin health, and absorbs easily without clogging pores. 

hemp seeds in hands in shape of heart

Hemp seed oil balances out oily skin while hydrating at the same time due to its unique fatty acid profile that provides deeply nourishing benefits. Hemp oil contains omega 6 fatty acids that have gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Along with its anti-inflammatory properties, GLA also helps with the regeneration of skin cells. It is also helpful with psoriasis, acne, and providing soothing nourishment for your skin.

Hemp oil’s fairly unique concentration of oleic and linoleic essential fatty acids (fatty acids that our bodies cannot produce on their own) helps to fight signs of aging by keeping skin soft and supple. In turn, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles are reduced and skin looks and feels much healthier.

Atopic dermatitis

Hemp Seed oil can be consumed orally as well as applied topically. The oil’s omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids provide ingestible benefits that can be compared to fish oil supplements. Surprisingly, studies have shown that conditions like atopic dermatitis can be treated by the oral consumption of these nutrients, even moreso than the topical application of the oil! Evidence has found that dietary hempseed oil reduces the appearance and symptoms of atopic dermatitis.

Differences between hemp oil and CBD oil

CBD oil has more potential benefits

CBD oil’s benefits are more comprehensive and significant than those of hemp seed oil. To put it in perspective, cannabinoids like CBD would be considered an “active ingredient”, while hemp seed oil would be “inactive”. Although hemp seed oil has amazing benefits, both orally and topically, CBD has the ability to produce more notable effects. CBD is able to produce those effects by influencing activity throughout the receptors of our Endocannabinoid System, as well as influencing non-ECS targets throughout the body.


Hemp seed oil is subject to a much more lax regulatory framework than CBD. You can find hemp seed oil on the shelves of any major grocer in the country, but those same grocers are still very hesitant to stock ingestible CBD products.

FDA CBD regulations

While hemp has been federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill, CBD is regulated separately as a distinct compound derived from hemp. This is due to the fact that GW Pharmaceuticals had already invested lots and lots of money into developing their CBD epilepsy drug, Epidiolex. To protect that investment and ward off competition to the pharmaceutical market, companies like GW lobby the FDA to avoid classifying CBD as a dietary supplement. Instead, they would prefer it to be classified as a drug.

The difference between a dietary supplement and a drug? The former can be bought anywhere by one, while a drug needs to be prescribed by a physician and filled through your pharmacy.

What to look out for when purchasing hemp or CBD oil

Are you confused by the way a brand is labeling their product? Not sure if it is hemp seed oil or CBD? Look for lab results!

Hemp seed oil does not have to be subject to third party lab testing in the same way that CBD does. In fact, one of the main reasons third party potenccy testing is so important in the CBD industry is to avoid people being scammed into buying hemp seed oil, which contains little to no cannabinoid content. 

Also keep an eye out for additional ingredients! Are the other ingredients in the product going to help or hurt the mission that you want your hemp seed or CBD oil to be carrying out? Are the other ingredients inflammatory? Are they filler ingredients that don’t warrant the $75 price tag for 200mg CBD? These are important things to think about!

Author Bio:

Ashley Stephan is a graphic designer by day at a stealth startup and a freelance health writer by night at https://VIGOR.icu. Her hobbies include swimming, gardening, and binge-watching popular TV shows.

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Ashley Stephan content blog writer


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