cbd vs hemp oil for hair

Detection of cannabinoids in hair after cosmetic application of hemp oil

All data generated or analyzed during this study are included in this published article.


The detection of cannabis constituents and metabolites in hair is an established procedure to provide evidence of exposure to cannabis. We present the first known evidence to suggest that applying hemp oil to hair, as cosmetic treatment, may result in the incorporation of Δ 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), cannabinol (CBN), cannabidiol (CBD) and in one instance, the metabolite 11-hydroxy-Δ 9 -tetrahydrocannabinol (THC-OH). 10 volunteers treated their head hair daily with commercially available hemp oil for a period of 6 weeks. Head hair samples were collected before and after the application period. Hair samples were washed with methanol and subjected to clean up via liquid/liquid and solid phase extraction procedures, and then GC-MS/MS for the analysis of THC, CBN, CBD, THC-OH and THC-COOH. Application of hemp oil to hair resulted in the incorporation of one or more cannabis constituents in 89% of volunteers, and 33% of the group tested positive for the three major constituents, THC, CBN and CBD. One volunteer showed low levels of the metabolite THC-OH. We suggest that cosmetic use of hemp oil should be recorded when sampling head hair for analysis, and that the interpretative value of cannabinoid hair measurements from people reporting application of hemp oil is treated with caution in both criminology and public health.


Cannabis Sativa is a plant species of Cannabis. In addition to its recreational use as a drug of abuse, the plant has widespread alternative uses including the production of food, cosmetics (hemp), textiles and medicinal applications 1 . When toxicology laboratories are required to investigate past exposure to cannabis, analysis of hair can provide powerful evidence. The compounds usually targeted for hair analysis to identify cannabis exposure are: Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the main active compound of cannabis, the metabolite [11-nor-Δ(9)-tetrahydrocannabinol-9-carboxylic acid (THC-COOH)] and two cannabinoids (cannabinol (CBN) and cannabidiol (CBD)) 2 . Typically passage of these cannabinoids into the hair includes passive diffusion from blood, diffusion from sweat/sebum or external contamination. One of the key questions to be addressed when interpreting the results of cannabinoid hair analysis is that of proof of consumption. Are the results sufficiently clear to suggest cannabis was consumed, or could the results actually be the result of passive exposure to cannabis smoke, or other mechanisms? Passive exposure is defined by an individual being in an environment that is exposed to drugs, an important public health problem. Cannabis smoke can be inhaled or absorbed into the hair by persons other than the intended smoker/user 3 . Researchers have evaluated second-hand cannabis smoke exposure and the corresponding levels of cannabinoids in biological samples 3 , 4 . Herrmann et al. discovered that in unventilated, confined conditions cannabinoid detection was above threshold and higher concentrations of THC and THC-COOH were found predominantly in the blood, urine and hair 4 . THC and THC-COOH have lower incorporation rates in hair in comparison to other bodily matrices. The low presence of THC may be explained by its weak affinity to melanin while the acidic nature of hair may be the reason for the absence of THC-COOH 5 . Along with the levels of cannabis constituents detected in passive exposure, analysis has been conducted to understand what physiological impact exposure has 3 . Past research has shown evidence of increased heart rate and minor impairments in coordination and memory 4 , 6 , 7 . Identification of THC/CBN/CBD in hair suggests exposure to cannabis, which could be due to low level or infrequent use of cannabis or historic or passive exposure. However, some argue that the presence of cannabinoids in hair, especially THC is indicative of repeated or chronic exposure 5 , 8 . The distinction between external contamination and consumption can be difficult for cannabinoid hair analysis 9 , and the implication of a positive test result can have significant consequences for the individual involved. THC-COOH is only formed inside the body, and the presence of this gives unequivocal proof of consumption when detected in hair samples. The metabolite has never been discovered in cannabis smoke ruling out environmental contamination 10 . With hair analysis, THC-COOH is detectable at very low concentrations. The drawbacks for detection from this biological matrix are the requirement for expensive instrumentation and sample preparation can be a more time-consuming process when compared to urine 11 . Routine laboratory screening of hair for cannabis varies and includes the detection of cannabinoids and/or THC-COOH 8 . Hemp is a variety of Cannabis Sativa and is closely related to Cannabis with the difference being in the percentage of THC 12 . Hemp is grown for industrial use and found in food, lotions, medicines, clothing and construction materials. Hemp oil is extracted by pressing the seeds from the female hemp plant 13 . The legalisation of hemp has caused controversy. This is because research has shown that the use or consumption of hemp products could have the potential to impact on drug testing for cannabis 14 .

Hemp oil products are advertised in health shops for their good source of omega fatty acids 15 . Bosy et al. 16 assessed whether oral consumption of hemp oil would negatively affect existing drug screening protocols. Various oils were screened (THC content of bottled oils was 36.0, 117.5, 36.4, 45.7, 21.0, 11.5 mg/g) and administered to volunteers and their urine measured for metabolite levels. GC-MS analysis determined the amount of THC-COOH in each participant’s urine to be below the confirmation cut-off within a 48 hour cessation period. Similarly to hemp oil, hemp foods are classified as ‘natural foods’ and are commercially available. Leson et al. showed that daily consumption of hemp food can lead to the presence of THC and THC-COOH in urine, but these compounds were below the confirmation thresholds 17 . These authors 16 , 17 suggest that hemp food and oil products do contain cannabinoids but in very low concentrations, and that ingestion of such products should not be deemed as a concern in drug testing. The Cannabis plant has been used in the production of cosmetics through the use of hemp oil and cannabis extracts 18 . An evaluation of Cannabio® shampoo revealed levels of THC, CBD and CBN, three constituents that indicate cannabis exposure 19 . However, normal hygiene practice using the cosmetic produced no positive results in hair. Extreme use could generate positive results for CBN and CBD but not the primary constituent, THC.

Hemp oil is marketed as an effective cosmetic treatment for hair, with claims that direct application of the oil to hair has moisturizing benefits, can aid hair growth, may protect the hair and aid in damage repair, and the oil may add shine to the hair. These claims are unsubstantiated but there is a substantial number of online retailers selling various hemp oil based products intended for direct application to head hair. The composition of these products range from pure hemp oil, to hemp oil included at a relatively low concentration into shampoos and other hair treatments.

In this paper we investigate direct hemp oil application to head hair and the implications on resulting cannabinoid measurements.


Cannabinoid concentrations pre and post hemp oil application

Head hair samples were collected from volunteers as described in Methods, and analysed before and after the six week period of hemp oil administration. Results are displayed in Table  1 .

CBD vs Hemp: Understanding the Similarities and the Differences

The global Cannabidiol is worth $2.8 billion and rapidly growing. There are hundreds of products on the market that contain CBD or hemp oil. How can you tell which product will suit your needs? How can you distinguish CBD vs hemp?

You may have heard of CBD oil and hemp oil. They are both very different products, with different uses and production processes. Often, all products coming from a type of cannabis plant are under the general title ‘cannabis.’ There are stark differences between all the different ‘cannabis’ products on the market.

Keep on reading to understand the critical differences between the varying plants and products.

What Is Hemp?

Hemp or Cannabis Sativa is a plant. It is often grown commercially. The hemp plant has a lot of practical uses and properties.

Yarn is made from spinning hemp stems; this can become fabric to make clothing or rope. Biofuel and many biodegradable plastics are also made from hemp. It is a very sustainable material.

Hemp oil, or hemp seed oil as it is often known, comes from the hemp plant’s seeds. The properties of hemp are very different from the properties of cannabis.

There is no THC in hemp. THC stands for Tetrahydrocannabinol, and it is the psychoactive chemical in cannabis. Hemp has no psychoactive properties, which is why in most states, hemp is legal. People do not experience the ‘high’ usually associated with cannabis by consuming hemp.

The seeds from hemp plants are very healthy and full of omegas (good fats). Many vegetarians and vegans eat hemp seeds to obtain their omega nutrients.

Another of the many benefits of hemp is that the seeds are a great plant-based protein source (another reason they are popular with a vegan or vegetarian diet).

Hemp seeds are also used to make hemp seed oil. To make the oil, the seeds are cold-pressed, the oil is unrefined and can be very good to use on the skin. People with inflamed or irritated skin often use hemp seed oil to soothe it.

You can also use hemp seed oil to make salad dressing, for example. Consuming these complete omegas is excellent for skin health.

What is CBD?

CBD stands for Cannabidiol and comes from the Cannabis Sativa plant too. It is the most abundant chemical in the Cannabis Sativa (hemp) plant.

CBD oil is made from the flowers, leaves, and stems of the hemp plant. CBD is obtained from the hemp plant through a process of extraction. One of the most common processes of extraction is CO2 extraction. Once extracted, the oil is distilled.

Once the oil is in its pure form, it is used for many different CBD products you see on the market. It can be used in beauty products, edibles such as gummies, or sold as oil for oral consumption.

You may be wondering what the benefits of CBD are. People use it to relieve multiple ailments and have done so throughout history.

The reason CBD is often an effective pain reliever is that it activates your serotonin receptors. Serotonin is the ‘happy hormone’ the one responsible for balancing your mood. If CBD can help balance our serotonin levels, it can potentially help with alleviating depression and anxiety.

Who should take CBD? Many studies suggest that CBD is beneficial to those suffering from anxiety, depression, or insomnia. Taking CBD in drop form is one of the most common ways to take CBD.

Using products on the skin enriched with CBD may also reduce joint pain or muscle soreness. Much research has gone into finding out if using CBD products is effective for those with arthritis.

CBD vs Hemp: What Are The Similarities?

There aren’t many similarities of CBD and hemp as they come from different parts of the hemp plant. Although that is a similarity in itself – that they are both derived from the same plant.

Both hemp and CBD have antioxidant properties. Due to the antioxidant content, both CBD and hemp are thought to have potent anti-inflammatory properties.

Both hemp seed oil and CBD oil appear in skincare products. These products can treat skin conditions such as eczema, acne, and rashes. Remember to always consult your doctor or dermatologist before trying a new product to treat acute skin conditions.

Differences Between CBD and Hemp

Cannabis Sativa is the plant hemp comes from and has high levels of CBD. The Marijuana plant is the plant used for cannabis (what people typically smoke). There is a difference between these two plants.

Hemp is normally legal when it has no more than 0.3% THC. The Marijuana plant has more than 0.3% THC combined with CBD.

The hemp plant usually contains about 12-18% CBD, which is more than a typical marijuana plant. However, there are numerous different strains and combinations of CBD and THC in Marijuana plants.

The hemp plant may contain CBD, but the hemp seeds used to make hemp oil contain tiny traces if any, CBD. Hemp seed oil is not known to have pain-relieving properties as CBD oil does.

Hemp’s health benefits are more significant than its ability to affect the body’s serotonin levels.

Due to the extraction process the leaves, flowers, and stems of the hemp plant go through to get CBD oil, CBD is often much more expensive than hemp seed oil.

Choose the Right Product For You

All the information out there can be a little baffling, but don’t get put off by all the different companies making different (maybe sometimes false) claims. You should also look out for hemp products falsely marketed as CBD products. CBD is more expensive, so just check you are actually getting what you pay for.

You now know the CBD vs hemp low down. The hemp seed oil has plenty of omegas and good fats and can be consumed as part of your diet or in skin products to nourish your skin.

CBD oil is for treating pain, anxiety, or depression. It can be taken as drops or applied to the body as a lotion, balm, or oil. If you would like to explore CBD body products, then check out our range of paraben and sulphate-free CBD topicals.

Yes, There Is a Difference Between CBD and Hemp Oil—Here’s How to Tell

With so much talk about CBD and hemp seed oil swirling around (not to mention newcomer Delta-8, which is actually derived from hemp), it's easy to get confused about what's what—and, even more so, why these compounds are worthwhile in the first place.

First things first, it's important to know why these compounds are surging at this point in time—and it all comes down to the 2018 Farm Bill. With its passing came the legalization of industrial hemp, which made hemp seed oil and CBD (which is derived from hemp) available to the masses.

With that in mind, we decided it was high time to do a deep-dive into what sets CBD and hemp seed oil apart. Ahead, with the help of industry experts, discover the benefits of each cannabis Sativa-derived compound.

What’s the difference between hemp oil and CBD oil?

To kick things off, understand that both compounds come from the same plant family but they each come from different species within it.

"The Cannabis Sativa plant family has species that range from high THC/low CBD to high CBD/low THC and are both female and male," explains Tariq Hasan, the founder and CEO of terraform, a CBD skincare brand. "The male species produce seeds which contain oil—much like any carrier oil from seed such as sunflower oil—and is where hemp seed oil comes from. The female species produce flowers, which contain potent cannabinoids such as CBD, CBG, CBC, CBN, and THC. The cannabinoids are predominantly found only in the female species with only trace amounts being found in the male species."

In layman's terms, CBD is extracted from the flowers of cannabis Sativa plants (though, some brands will state that it's from the stalk and stems, which, while possible, only offer terrace amounts, and is often a scapegoat for brands looking to create CBD products in states where the flower is illegal), while hemp oil comes from the seeds. And, while both products come from the same plant, hemp plants contain a significant amount of CBD (compared to cannabis plants), while hemp seeds do not.

Since hemp seed oil (not to be confused with hemp plants as a whole) comes from the seeds, Ian Bush, the marketing director of HiiStick, a hemp-derived Delta-8 brand, says that it doesn't contain any cannabinoids. "You're really using hemp oil for its nutritional and anti-inflammatory benefits, which is why it's popularly found in supplements and skincare products," he explains. "CBD, on the other hand, is extracted from mature leaf [aka flower] that does contain cannabinoids, so when you ingest it through sublingual, transdermal, or other delivery methods, you can feel the effects. It's known for its neuroprotective and anxiolytic benefits, so it's ideal for mental health."

What are the benefits of CBD and hemp oil?

Now that you know where each compound comes from, let's talk a bit more about each of their benefits.

CBD is renowned for its calming effects, whether when applied to the skin (it can soothe acne, eczema, and psoriasis, just to name a few) or consumed in liquid, capsule, gummy, or vapor form.

While there is still so much research being done on CBD's exact benefits, Hasan says that the most beneficial type of CBD oil is full-spectrum, which contains not only CBD but many of the other minor cannabinoids, such as CBG, CBC, and CBN—and sometimes even THC—as well. "These together provide the 'entourage' effect, which has an amplified benefit compared to using only CBD by itself," he explains. "The main benefit many experiences is pain management, anxiety relief, better sleep, helping with acne, and helping with brain health, among a plethora of others."

Hemp seed oil:

Hemp seed oil, on the other hand, is a quality choice thanks to its hydrating effect and fatty acid make-up.

"Hemp seed oil is like any carrier oil that will provide great hydration, helping to lock in moisture," Hasan says. "In addition, hemp seed oil contains large amounts of omega-6 and omega-3 fats, which are two types of unsaturated fats, or 'good fats,' and all nine essential amino acids, the materials your body uses to make protein."

Because of this, research has found that consuming hemp seed oil can help reduce the likelihood of heart disease. Who would've known?