Don't confuse these two buzzy ingredients—they're entirely different things.

By Elizabeth Swanson
September 27, 2019

Two oils, CBD and hemp seed, have started to appear on beauty shelves everywhere lately. Both are seemingly star-worthy ingredients used in skincare products, supplements, and even makeup. Both can be ingested, and both are touted as ingredients that promote beauty and wellness internally and externally. But what, exactly, is the difference between the two? We turned to a few experts to find out.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About CBD

They're both varieties of the cannabis sativa plant.

"CBD is a naturally occurring chemical compound, called a cannabinoid, that's found in both variations of the cannabis sativa plant, hemp and cannabis," says Brooke Alpert, registered dietitian and founder of Daily Habit. (Cannabis is often referred to as marijuana.) There are more than 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis and hemp, says Dr. Richard Firshein, founder of the Firshein Center for Integrative Medicine in New York City. THC, the chemical known for producing that "high" feeling, is another cannabinoid. Hemp plants, however, contains less than .3 percent THC, and can't make you high. Nor can CBD for that matter, as it's a different chemical from THC that does not produce a psychoactive effect. "CBD affects the physical, not the cerebral," says Erica Lang, creative marketing manager at Herbivore Botanicals. "It's commonly used to treat anxiety, PTSD, pain, and inflammation."

Hemp seed oil and CBD oil are often mixed up.

Because they're extracted from the same plant, it's easy to confuse CBD oil and hemp seed oil, Alpert says. While legal CBD oil is extracted from the flower, stems, and stalk of the hemp plant, hemp seed oil is cold-pressed from the seeds of the plant. But neither is better or higher quality than the other, Lang says. "The two ingredients share similarities, as both are very nourishing and gentle, but when used on the skin, they also target different concerns," she says.

If you have dry skin, opt for hemp seed oil.

Hemp seeds are rich in omega fatty acids and vitamin E, Lang says, nutrients that are moisturizing and reparative. Hemp oil is non-comedogenic, too, so it hydrates without clogging pores. Keep it on hand if you have dry skin—especially when the seasons change from fall to winter. Used in cooking and touted as a superfood, hemp oil can also beautify and moisturize from the inside out. "Because hemp oil is rich in healthy fats, it’s a great option to use in foods," Alpert says. "It doesn't have a high smoking point, so it's best not heated, and instead used as a finishing oil or salad dressing. It has a great nutty flavor, making it a delicious alternative to olive oil."

If you have sensitive skin, go for CBD oil.

The main benefits of CBD oil, however, lie in its anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties. "Research suggests that CBD helps mediate skin processes that regulate inflammation, pain, and chronic skin conditions such as eczema and psoriasis," Lang says. When your skin feels red, inflamed, or itchy—or if you have sensitive skin in general—reach for CBD oil. Bonus: It also contains antioxidants that help prevent aging caused by environmental stressors like ultraviolet rays and pollution. Like hemp seed oil, CBD can also be ingested—usually in the form of a powder—which can work from the inside out to promote healthy skin and help relax the body. Dr. Dendy Engelman, a dermatologist in New York City, also recommends taking a CBD supplement if you want quality sleep.

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