In recent years, many people have turned to products and supplements containing natural ingredients for their beauty regime in preference to products made from pharmaceuticals. Along with ingredients such as coconut oil, almond oil and cocoa butter, to name a few, hemp seed oil has become a popular choice for inclusion in both body and hair care products. But what is hemp seed oil, and will it improve the condition of your hair? We look at why more and more people are choosing hemp seed oil to care for their hair.
What is Hemp Seed Oil?
Before we discuss the potential benefits of hemp seed oil, let us first explain where it comes from. Hemp is a variety of the Cannabis sativa species and a relative of the Cannabis sativa species commonly known as marijuana. The oil produced from hemp will not give you the high associated with marijuana as it does not contain the chemical tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
To obtain the hemp seed oil, the hemp seeds are cold pressed to produce a clear green oil. This differs from cannabidiol (CBD) oil which is also produced from hemp but it uses the flowers and leaves of the plant rather than the seeds.
Hemp seed oil is believed to have numerous health benefits, one of which is providing the hair with protection from damage.
What’s in Hemp Seed Oil?
Now that we know where hemp seed oil comes from, let’s look at its composition. A tablespoon (approximately 15 millilitres) of hemp seed oil contains 14 grams of fat which is made up of 12.5 grams of polyunsaturated fat and 1.5 grams of saturated fat. The oil is made up of omega-6 and omega-3 fatty acids in a ratio of 3:1, together with smaller amounts of oleic acid, stearidonic acid and gamma-linolenic acids – all of which are classed as polyunsaturated fatty acids.
A combination of omega-6 and omega-3 is often used as an oral supplement to improve the condition of the hair. Some studies have shown that the hair diameter and density increase when taking supplements containing omega-3 and omega-6. In addition, researchers found that when these two fatty acids are taken in conjunction with antioxidants, there was a reduction in hair loss amongst the participants of the study.
In addition to these fatty acids, the oil also includes:
- Antioxidants, for example, vitamin E
- Carotene – an orange or red pigment found in plants
- Chlorophyll – a green pigment found in plants that’s responsible for photosynthesis
- Phytosterols – which are used to reduce cholesterol
- Phospholipids – another type of fatty acid within the plant structure
- Minerals such as iron, zinc, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus
Possible Benefits of Using Hemp Seed Oil for Your Hair
To date, there hasn’t been a great deal of research conducted to understand more about the benefits of using hemp seed oil on your hair. However, those that do use hemp seed oil to care for their hair suggest that it has similar properties as other well-used natural hair conditioners such as coconut and olive oil.
So, what kind of benefits do natural plant oils provide?
It’s believed that such oils, including hemp seed oil, can help to protect the hair from both environmental and heat damage by:
- Enhancing the lubrication of the hair shaft thus preventing hair breakage
- Preventing hair breakage from combing or brushing when the hair is wet
- Providing a physical barrier that prevents the penetration of substances, including excess water, into the hair follicles
- Smoothing the hair cuticles into place to give a glossy sheen to the hair.
The Bottom Line
Currently, not enough specific clinical research has been undertaken to clearly identify the benefits of using hemp seed oil as a hair care product. However, there are many anecdotal claims from people who prefer to use natural hair and beauty products that suggest that hemp seed oil helps to moisturise and strengthen the hair and stimulate hair growth.