Why Hemp Oil Can Help Strengthen Your Hair & Scalp + How To Use It
Jennifer Chesak is a freelance medical journalist with bylines in several national publications, including Washington Post, Healthline, Prevention, Greatist, Runner’s World, and more. She earned her Master of Science in journalism from Northwestern’s Medill School.
Most people know hemp for its calming, relaxing benefits—but that’s not all it’s good for. Whether taken as a supplement or used topically, both hemp oil extract (which contains beneficial cannabinoids) and hemp seed oil (which is cold-pressed from hemp seeds and does not contain cannabinoids) can deliver benefits to the hair and scalp. Here’s how hemp products can help you achieve healthier hair, according to research.
What does the science say about using hemp extract for healthier hair?
Hemp oil extract is rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids such as omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Your body can’t make these nutrients naturally, but it needs them either through diet or supplementation. When it comes to our manes, these omega-3s and omega-6s may help manage hair loss, help maintain the thickness of the hair shaft (the part that you can see above the scalp), and support hair density, according to one study that tracked the hair health of over 100 female participants over a six-month period.*
Hemp oil extract is also high in antioxidants that protect our cells from damage by combating the effects of free radicals and oxidative stress.* Plus, as long as the product is full-spectrum, hemp oil has an abundance of terpenes and flavonoids that can help manage inflammation as well.* When it comes to your tresses, hemp oil also contains vitamins and minerals that have the potential to protect against damage and hair loss, though more research needs to be done into how exactly they work in the body.*
Hemp oil extract can be taken as a daily supplement to nourish your hair and scalp—and it also comes with a host of other ingredients that can be beneficial to overall well-being.* CBD, for example, can help keep the body in homeostasis.* And when CBD works in concert with the hundreds of other compounds in the cannabis plant, you benefit from what’s called the entourage effect, a synergy of ingredients working together to keep you and your body on an even keel.*
What does the science say about using hemp seed oil for healthier hair? (Plus, how to use it for your hair type.)
Like other oils, hemp seed oil may have protective qualities when applied directly to the hair and scalp. We have long known that oil can prevent too much water or other substances from invading the hair shaft. The more porous hair is from chemical damage or over-styling, the more vulnerable it is to water’s wear. Water can be an enemy to locks because wet tresses swell and become more susceptible to breakage. Oil also helps manage hair harm by lubricating the shaft and reducing combing force on soaked strands.
With hemp seed oil, the protection starts with the essential fatty acids omega-3 and omega-6. Fatty acids have a hydrophilic end that aids in moisture retention, and a hydrophobic end that boosts shine, “making hemp seed oil a perfect product for coarse, curly hair,” says Austin-based stylist Sarah Lund.
Additionally, vitamin E also plays a role in fending off the elements and battling damage. “This will create greater elasticity in the hair while adding shine,” Lund explains.
You can tailor your use of hemp seed oil to your hair type. For dry, coarse, or curly hair, use the product as a daily leave-in moisturizer. “A small amount distributed through hair midshaft [the middle of your strands] to ends will help to strengthen and moisturize hair that is older and more vulnerable to styling damage,” says Leigh Hardges, a Chicago-based stylist. “Those with straight or fine hair that steer clear of daily oils could benefit from hemp seed oil as a hot oil treatment.” For a dry or oily scalp, Hardges recommends applying the hemp seed oil directly to the scalp overnight and then shampooing in the morning. “The amino acids in hemp seed oil can deliver properties to help balance the scalp and regulate the production of sebum, the body’s natural oil,” she explained.
The bottom line.
If you’ve been looking for an all-natural way to up your hair and scalp health, hemp oil extract and hemp seed oil could be great options.* Hemp oil extract can be taken as a daily supplement for added nutrition that helps manage hair loss and promotes thickness and density.* And hemp seed oil can be applied directly to your hair and scalp to moisturize and combat breakage. Or take a two-pronged approach. Enhance your hair from both the inside and out by using both products to produce happy, healthy tresses.
Can CBD Help With Hair Loss? We Investigate
Bianca is a contributing writer for Byrdie specializing in natural hair and skincare. You can find her work in xoNecole, The Everygirl, POPSUGAR, Travel Noire, and more.
CBD is the darling of the beauty industry at the moment. If you’re like us you’re intrigued by the hemp plant-derived cannabidiol. We know that CBD can benefit those with anxiety. There are also claims that CBD can smooth wrinkles, hydrate, and even get rid of acne. The scientific jury is still out on substantiating those claims, but what we do know is that CBD has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. So how can those properties benefit hair? To get more information on how CBD might be able to benefit our hair and help with hair loss, we talked with Michelle Henry, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, Harvard-trained Mohs surgeon, and Cantu Partner.
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of using CBD for hair loss. We want to share the differences between CBD and hemp seed oil. These are two variations of Cannabis sativa that are both hitting the skin and hair care market. They each have anti-inflammatory properties, but they are created differently. On the one hand, CBD oil is derived from the stalks, leaves, and flowers of the hemp plant which means there are higher concentrations of CBD in its makeup. On the other hand, hemp seed oil is made from the seeds of the Cannabis sativa plant.
Now that we’ve given you that tidbit of information, it’s time to talk CBD for hair loss.
Meet the Expert
is a board-certified dermatologist, Harvard-trained Mohs surgeon, and Cantu Partner.
Type of ingredient: Hydrator and anti-inflammatory
Main benefits: Soothes the scalp, regulates oil production, and anti-inflammatory
Who should use it: In general, anyone can benefit from using CBD in their haircare routine. However, if you are dealing with excessive hair loss or scalp issues, you will want to check in with a healthcare practitioner before use.
How often can you use it: It’s safe to use as needed.
Works well with: Most hair care products and can even be dropped into masks and treatments for added benefits.
Benefits of CBD for Hair
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CBD is an anti-inflammatory powerhouse, so much so that it is proven to help lower pain and inflammation due to arthritis. But, how does that benefit translate to our scalp? For starters, CBD naturally boasts a high concentration of antioxidants like vitamins A, C, making it an antioxidant-rich and anti-inflammatory option. “The actual active (cannabinoid) is anti-inflammatory and can help psoriasis and eczema,” Henry tells us. “For scalp and hair issues that are triggered by inflammation such as psoriasis, dermatitis especially in women who have hair loss in women. If women patients don’t want to use traditional medicine. CBD oil can help with those issues.”
Hemp seed oil has also entered the haircare chat, but because hemp seed oil is derived from seeds it doesn’t carry as many anti-inflammatory benefits as CBD oil. However, for those that are looking to moisturize a flaky or irritates scalp, Henry tells us hemp seed oil does just that. “Hempseed oil is going to help lock in moisture in the hair and scalp. What people forget is that the scalp is an extension of the face. What’s become more popular is the skifinification of the scalp and extension of skincare, so we should use similar ingredients. Do all the things we would do on the face (moisturize, nourish) on the scalp to help with hair loss and stimulate hair growth.”
Because hair loss and irritation can be attributed to many other factors, talking with your healthcare provider about your unique concerns is the best option.
Hair Type Considerations
CBD can benefit a range of hair types. However, Henry notes that research on CBD’s ability to promote hair growth is limited. “I have not seen any studies about [CBD oil] directly stimulating hair growth. However, reducing inflammation is encouraging hair growth and protecting the hair.” We can thank Phytocompounds —antioxidant effects and antimicrobial properties— for that. When applied to our skin, the hemp plant can molecularly connect to the CB1 and CB2 receptors in our bodies and reduce inflammation—this includes our scalps. Before you run out and purchase a CBD product for your hair, there are a few things to keep in mind. As we noted at the start of the story, CBD and hemp seed oil are different. Hemp seed oil does offer up fatty acids, which are excellent hydrators of the hair and scalp. However, CBD has a higher level of anti-inflammatory benefits. So when looking at the label of products, you’ll want to be mindful of your needs and the ingredients in your product of choice. The labeling can be a bit confusing, but we hope our breakdown helps.
How to Use CBD for Hair
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When using CBD oil on your hair and scalp, you’ll want to follow the same practices you would with any other hair care ingredient if you’re using a CBD-infused shampoo, conditioner, or styling product used as recommended or as often as your hair type calls for. When it comes to applying CBD oil to the scalp, six to eight drops are typically more than enough for any oil you plan to use on the scalp, and we’d apply that same cadence here.
The Best Products with CBD and Hemp Seed Oil
Made with a blend of 100 mg CBD oil-enriched, arnica flower, hemp, and tamanu seed oils, this oil calms and moisturizes the skin and scalp.
Formulated with cannabis Sativa seed oil, ginseng root, and horsetail extract, this formula moisturizes and softens each strand to encourage thicker, healthier-looking hair.
Made with a 3:1 broad-spectrum cannabinoid complex with a blend of baobab and castor oils, rosemary, cedarwood, and other herbal extracts, this rich multitasking formula can be used as a scalp treatment, leave-in, or as an addition to any hair mask.
With a blend of three natural, raw ingredients: 100% pure and certified organic hemp seed oil, pure shea butter, and coconut oil, this hydrating formula can be used on the hair, scalp, and body.
CBD oil is an anti-inflammatory hydrator that soothes the scalp and regulates oil production.
CBD can benefit a range of hair types. However, Henry notes that research on CBD’s ability to promote hair growth is limited. “I have not seen any studies about [CBD oil] directly stimulating hair growth. However, reducing inflammation is encouraging hair growth and protecting the hair.”
When it comes to applying CBD oil to the scalp, six to eight drops are typically more than enough for any oil you plan to use on the scalp, and we’d apply that same cadence here.