CBD Oil vs. Hempseed Oil: How to Know What You’re Paying For

In 2018, a farm bill passed that made the production of industrial hemp legal in the United States. This has opened doors for the legalization of the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) — although you still need to check your local laws for legality in your area.

Hemp Seed Oil vs. CBD Oil: What’s The Difference?

Dr. Myles Spar is a double board-certified medical expert in performance medicine, men’s health, advanced testing and integrative medicine.

Commissions we earn from partner links on this page do not affect our opinions or evaluations. Our editorial content is based on thorough research and guidance from the Forbes Health Advisory Board.

Table of Contents

Hemp seed oil and cannabidiol (CBD) oil are sourced from the cannabis sativa plant species. Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant, which is a variety of the cannabis sativa plant that contains less than 0.3% THC, while CBD oil comes from the leaves, stalks and flowers of both cannabis and hemp plants. Both oils can be identified across a variety of products, from beauty to food.

Read on to learn more about the similarities and differences between hemp seed oil and CBD oil, including how they’re made, what they’re used for and potential benefits they provide.

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Joy Organics CBD Oil

Joy Organics CBD Oil

  • Made with only two USDA Certified Organic ingredients: olive oil and broad spectrum hemp
  • Can add to your favorite massage oil, baked goods, or beverages to promote wellness and balance
  • Third party lab-tested
  • Unflavored and vegan

What Is Hemp Seed Oil?

Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant and offers a robust and nutty flavor. Consisting of around 70 to 90% of polyunsaturated fatty acids (often referred to as healthy fats), it’s abundant in omega-3 essential fatty acids, tocopherols and linoleic and linolenic acids.

Depending on the way hemp seeds are handled and processed, hemp seed oil may contain delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and CBD oil, according to a report by Oklahoma State University. Most companies producing hemp seed oil for consumption must adhere to strict guidelines, ensuring that the products contain almost imperceptible amounts of THC, 0.3% or less. This amount will not cause psychoactive effects.

How Is It Made?

Hemp seed oil is extracted from the seeds of the hemp plant. The seeds are cold pressed, similar to the way olive oil is made. Once oil is extracted from the seed, it’s stored in a cool, dark place for processing and shipping.

How Is It Used?

Hemp seed oil can be used as a culinary oil to enhance flavor and may be drizzled on vegetables or made into salad dressings. It can also be taken straight from the spoon as a dietary supplement, as it’s found to be rich in polyunsaturated omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids, according to the American Oil Chemists Society (AOCS).

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Hemp seed oil also has a variety of industrial uses, such as paints, varnishes and other coating materials, due to its drying properties. The oil is also used in plastic flooring, such as linoleum.

Potential Benefits

Potential benefits of hemp seed oil include boosting omega intake, thanks to the oil’s unique composition of a 3-to-1 ratio of omega-6 (linoleic) to omega-3 (alpha-linolenic) essential fatty acids. In general, a diet rich in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids contributes to skin health, cardiovascular health, maintaining healthy blood pressure and reducing pain and inflammation, as well as potentially reducing some PMS symptoms like breast tenderness.

The dense nutritional profile of hemp seed oil also includes:

  • Antioxidants, such as vitamin E
  • Omega-3, omega-6 and omega-9
  • Carotene
  • Chlorophyll
  • Calcium
  • Sulfur
  • Magnesium
  • Potassium
  • Phosphorus
  • Zinc
  • Iron

Partner Offers feature brands who paid Forbes Health to appear at the top of our list. While this may influence where their products or services appear on our site, it in no way affects our ratings, which are based on thorough research, solid methodologies and expert advice. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services

Level Select Level 2 CBD Oil Drops

Level Select Level 2 CBD Oil Drops

  • Broad spectrum CBD oil
  • 1,200 milligrams of CBD per 60-milliliter bottle
  • Ideal for anyone new to CBD oils
  • Helps support everyday wellness
  • Available unflavored or in natural mint flavor

Potential Risks and Side Effects

Hemp seed oil’s composition of fats can cause the oil to go rancid easily. A relatively low flash point—the temperature at which a liquid will vaporize or ignite when exposed to an open flame—also means it’s unsuitable for frying and is best consumed raw when fresh.

This oil is also difficult to store. Due to its fatty acid make-up, hemp seed oil is at risk of going rancid (oxidative deterioration), meaning it degrades when exposed to oxygen, according to the European Journal of Lipid Science and Technology.

For best use, hemp seed oil should be used at temperatures below 300 degrees Fahrenheit (150 degrees Celsius), and is best stored in the refrigerator or freezer after opening due to its short shelf life.

What Is CBD Oil?

CBD is one of the most abundant active constituents of the cannabis plant. It’s a non-psychoactive isomer of THC—meaning it won’t result in the intoxicating, “high” sensation. It’s derived from the leaves, stalks and flowers of hemp and cannabis plants, but as the legality of cannabis is still controversial in some places, most CBD oils are extracted from hemp plants.

“CBD is a plant compound found in cannabis sativa—both hemp and cannabis,” says Yvonne Perez Emerson, an herbalist and the founder of Make and Mary, a CBD boutique in Portland, Oregon. There are thought to be at least 100 unique compounds found in hemp known as cannabinoids, of which CBD is the second most abundant. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that interact with the body’s central regulatory system (endocannabinoid system), which manages the body’s homeostasis (physiological balance) among bodily processes such as appetite, mood, memory, sleep, and immune system functions, adds Emerson.

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They can be either consumed as phytocannabinoids found intrinsically within CBD products or produced naturally by the body (endocannabinoids). When ingested, CBD oil can help the brain and body by interacting with the endocannabinoid system and neurotransmitters that impact inflammation, pain, mood regulation and stress response.

How Is It Made?

CBD oil is made from an extraction, often using carbon dioxide, that creates nutrient-dense products with high cannabinoid content.

“CBD oil is made by adding the hemp extract to a carrier oil,” says Emerson. The most common carrier oil used with CBD is medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil, which is made from coconuts. Vegetable oil, sunflower oil, almond oil and olive oil can also be used as carriers.

Once a carrier oil has been paired, the focus shifts to potency, which determines the product’s strength based on the amount of CBD content present. “A formulation needs to be calculated by what percentage you want the dosage or potency of the end product to be. This depends on the potency of the raw material first,” continues Emerson.

When the desired potency is reached, additional ingredients can be added to the oil depending on the use for which it’s intended. For example, Emerson’s products include other plant-based materials, such as rose hip seed oil and jojoba oil, that address specific concerns like inflammation or skin hydration.

Partner Offers feature brands who paid Forbes Health to appear at the top of our list. While this may influence where their products or services appear on our site, it in no way affects our ratings, which are based on thorough research, solid methodologies and expert advice. Our partners cannot pay us to guarantee favorable reviews of their products or services

CBD Oil vs. Hempseed Oil: How to Know What You’re Paying For

In 2018, a farm bill passed that made the production of industrial hemp legal in the United States. This has opened doors for the legalization of the cannabis compound cannabidiol (CBD) — although you still need to check your local laws for legality in your area.

There’s been a “green rush” of cannabis-inspired products flooding the market, including beauty products. While CBD is a new ingredient to many consumers, hempseed oil has around for decades. It’s sold at health food stores and is used in both cooking and skincare.

When CBD oil and hempseed oil are put side by side, a lot of misleading labeling happens.

To filter out the CBD marketing, here’s a cannabis breakdown: Cannabis (often referred to as marijuana) and hemp are two varieties of the same plant species, Cannabis sativa.

Since they share the same species name, they’re often lumped into one big family, and there seems to be a lot of confusion around their differences.

Averaged about 17% tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the psychoactive compound that makes a person feel “high,” in 2017

Has to contain less than 0.3% THC to be sold legally

Averaged less than 0.15% CBD in 2014

Have no more than trace amounts of CBD

Cannabis has medicinal and therapeutic uses for chronic pain, mental health, and illnesses

Stalks of the hemp plant can produce clothing, rope, paper, fuel, home insulation, and much more
Seeds are cold-pressed for oil production; the oil can be used in cooking (as in hempseed milk and granola), beauty products, and even paint

CBD oil and hempseed oil are both trendy ingredients used in topical skincare products.

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Hempseed oil, in particular, is known for not clogging pores, having anti-inflammatory properties, and providing superior moisturization to keep the skin looking and feeling supple. It can be added to a product or just used on its own as a face oil.

New research is coming out all the time about the skin-related benefits of CBD. What we know so far is it’s been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory, like its cousin hempseed oil. It reportedly helps in healing:

CBD also has a ton of antioxidants. But are CBD beauty products actually more effective or worth paying more for?

It’s still too early to tell, and results can vary depending on the person. If there’s a beauty brand making major claims, you may want to do extra consumer research. Brands aren’t obligated to tell you how much CBD is in a product.

With the “green rush,” some brands are jumping on the chance to sell their cannabis-infused beauty products but mixing the terms CBD and hemp seed up — intentionally or not.

Since CBD and hempseed oil are in the same cannabis family, they’re often incorrectly marketed as the same thing. Why would a brand do this?

One reason is that consumers are willing to pay more for CBD oil, which is a pretty expensive ingredient compared to hempseed oil.

It’s easy for a brand to add hempseed oil to a product, adorn it with marijuana leaves, and highlight the word cannabis to make consumers think they’re purchasing a CBD product when it contains no actual CBD at all. And paying a premium!

Some brands may also market their products as hempseed-based to avoid Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations on cannabis- or marijuana-derived products.

So how can you tell what you’re purchasing? It’s pretty simple, actually. Check the ingredient list…

Hempseed oil will be listed as cannabis sativa seed oil. CBD will usually be listed as cannabidiol, full-spectrum hemp, hemp oil, PCR (phytocannabinoid-rich) or PCR hemp extracts.

While companies aren’t required to list the milligrams of CBD or hemp on the bottle, it’s become a common practice to do so. If they’re not listed, you should wonder what’s in that bottle you’re paying for.

The FDA has sent warning letters to some companies for illegally selling CBD products and falsely advertising them as safe or as effective medical treatments. That’s another reason why doing your own consumer research is vital.

It’s so important to be an educated, savvy consumer. Don’t fall into the trap of weedwashing (hemp-based product hype)!

Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.

Dana Murray is a licensed aesthetician from Southern California with a passion for skin care science. She’s worked in skin education, from helping others with their skin to developing products for beauty brands. Her experience extends over 15 years and an estimated 10,000 facials. She’s been using her knowledge to blog about skin and bust skin myths on her Instagram since 2016.

Last medically reviewed on December 23, 2019