What’s allowed and what isn’t when it comes to formulating with hemp in cosmetics and personal care products like soap, shampoo, makeup, and lotion?
Google hemp seed oil or hemp oil and a lot of results appear: from products made with hemp seed oil, to articles about its benefits, to recipes that use hemp seed oil.
There’s also some confusion about the terms “hemp oil” and “hemp seed oil.” What exactly is hemp oil? And where and how can it be used in personal care products? If you’re unfamiliar with the U.S. regulatory environment around how you can use hemp in cosmetics and skincare formulations, you’re not alone. “Skincare formulators are less aware of the regulatory environment around hemp,” says Kristin Adams, of Satori Minds, Inc., and a hemp consultant and advisor to Victory Hemp.
Hemp seed oil—which in some cases may also be referred to as hemp oil—comes from the seed, not the flower. How the oil is extracted from the seed influences the quality of the oil. For example, at Victory Hemp, our V-ONETM Hemp Heart Oil is pressed from the de-hulled hemp heart. As a result, it gives you all of the clarity of a refined oil with the benefits of a natural hemp oil (e.g., the skin-healthy nutrients!). Additionally, our proprietary process means we don’t need to use solvents or bleaching in our processing (another way we maintain those good-for-you skin nutrients).
Where Is Hemp Seed Oil Legally Allowed to Be Used in Cosmetics?
If you’re concerned that hemp seed oil is unsafe, or hasn’t been tested enough, think again. Hemp seed oil is actually a “GRAS” ingredient. GRAS stands for Generally Recognized As Safe, which is a FDA designation that was approved in 2018. Hemp seed oil isn’t the only hemp ingredient that’s GRAS: hemp seed protein powder and hulled hemp seed (aka hemp hearts) are as well.
This designation is key if you plan to formulate with hemp in cosmetics or personal care products because an ingredient that’s GRAS is safe to eat and, thus, safe to put on your skin. If you formulate a product with a GRAS ingredient, it doesn’t need any additional approval by the FDA.
As a result of hemp seed oil’s GRAS status, it can be used in cosmetic formulas as either a carrier oil or an active ingredient. On a cosmetic label, it will appear as “hemp seed oil”. And it’s added to function as an emollient or a skin conditioner. The European Cosmetic Ingredient Database, called CosIng, also recognizes hemp seed oil for its skin conditioning functions.
Where else internationally is hemp seed oil considered GRAS, or an equivalent? “Around the world, hemp seed oil is permitted for use in cosmetics in many countries, including Canada, the European Union, and Latin America,” explains Morgan Davis, a hemp business attorney. “It can also be used in cosmetics in Australia, so long as it meets strict screening criteria.”
An example of how a cosmetic label may list V-ONE™ Hemp Heart Oil.
National Trusted Cosmetics Brands Are Using Hemp Seed Oil in Their Formulations
"Hemp seed oil has a long history of use abroad and in the U.S. in food and cosmetics,” says Davis. Well-known, trusted brands have been incorporating hemp seed oil into their cosmetic products in the U.S. and globally for decades. For instance, Dr. Bronners has made hemp seed oil a mainstay in their products since 1999. In fact, they use Victory Hemp’s hemp seed oil in their products. (You can read more about Dr. Bronner’s and our partnership with them here.)
Another famous company that’s been incorporating hemp seed oil into cosmetics for a few decades is The Body Shop, which they launched in the early 1990s. These days, you can find hemp in products such as their hand, foot, and face lotions, shower oil, and more.
Download our skincare brochure to learn more about the advantages of using innovative hemp seed-based ingredients for skincare and cosmetics applications.