Hydrate and heal with hemp!
Does your skin get dry and itchy in the cooler months?
There are lots of things we love about winter in Tasmania, but icy winds on chilly mornings is not one of them! Even though the daylight hours are beginning to get longer having just passed the winter solstice, there is still a while to go before the temperature begins to climb and harsh outside conditions subside. Do you find that when the wind blows your skin gets irritated? You are not alone! Research has shown that many different types of people report experiencing dry skin, and this is particularly so in the cooler months.
When the weather gets colder the humidity drops and the air moving around us wicks away the moisture in our skin. We also tend to indulge in longer and hotter showers which washes away the oils that help keep our skin soft and supple. For some people winter can mean red and raw skin, flaky and dry hands and even eczema breakouts. This all sounds a bit gloomy but there are ways you can manage these issues naturally, with a super food - hemp! While using hemp might sound to some like a ‘new-age’ idea, it is in fact a plant that has been understood as having varied and many benefits, for centuries.
But before we jump into how hemp can be a helpful part of our skincare regime, particularly in relation to its hydrating effects, lets first take a step back and consider why this might be important.
The simplicity of skin… or maybe not!
While skin may seem to serve the pretty basic function of covering up all our insides, it is in fact the largest organ of the body and, as with all our organs, is actually highly complex and specialised. Our skin, through containing thousands of nerves and nerve endings, facilitates one of our 5 senses – touch – and therefore is integral in allowing us to interact with and perceive the world we live in. It is also our bodies first line of defence when it comes to interacting with the environment, protecting us from infection caused by nasty bacteria entering the body. For these reasons and more it is super important to do what we can enable our skin to do its job to the best of its ability!
Before we can understand the skincare benefits of hemp we need to understand how our skin works, so let’s delve even deeper into this: Skin is made up of two layers, the inner dermis and the outer epidermis. The epidermis is what we’re going to be focussing on here. It is also made up layers, and is largely responsible for managing how our skin looks and feels. You can think of it as layers upon layers of tessellating tiles, constantly drying out and flaking off our body at the top, and being replenished by fresh, soft tiles from below. Sounds weird, I know, and every day around one million of these skin particles will fall off our bodies!
The epidermis, and all its layers, consists of cells and lipids. Lipid is a chemical term for fat, and in the human body lipids are, among other things, fatty acids within the body. In the epidermis, they help to preserve the integrity of our skin and its functionality as a barrier between our vital organs and the outside world. The level of essential fatty acids in our epidermis directly affects our skin’s appearance and ability to work properly.
Essential fatty acids?
Our human bodies need fatty acids to survive. Most of the fatty acids we require can be synthesised within ourselves from other foods that we eat. There are two essential fatty acids that we cannot synthesise however, so we must seek them out, either as a food or a topical or edible supplement.
Alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) – an Omega 3 fatty acid
Linoleic acid (LA) – an omega 6 fatty acid
The essential fatty acids Omega 3 and 6, as well as the non-essential (but still beneficial) fatty acid omega 9 are very like our skin’s own lipids, and are all known to promote healthy skin cells. There are supplements that we can take that contain these fatty acids, like fish oil, that are beneficial but a lot less sustainable and less effective than hemp, but more on that in a future post!
How can we maximise the health of our skin?
Do a little check now, lightly scratch the skin on your thigh or arm. Did it leave a white mark? If so, it is evidence of dead, dry cells, which means the skin there needs to be exfoliated and moisturised. It’s inevitable that the more exposed areas will suffer more, especially in the cold, so for most of us the main areas to concentrate on are the most exposed parts - our face, neck and chest, and hands - but the rest of our body still needs care, like regular exfoliation with a loofah. As I mentioned earlier, the long and steamy showers are not helping, so try turning the heat down a little and getting out quicker (I know, it’s winter, but it does help!).
Use clean and natural products for your moisturising routine – avoid using scented or antibacterial products as, despite what advertising may tell us, they are generally unnecessary and can tend to irritate the skin.
As we get older, and let’s face it, that means all of us, we need to look after our skin more. The amount of lipids in our epidermis begins to decline once we hit our 40s, and our skin dries out quicker at the best of times, let alone once the temperature drops outside. A great routine to get into is to use a moisturiser every morning on your face, neck, and hands; a cleanser in the evening to remove the impurities accumulated on and in our skin and pores; and finally, a night cream before bed.
So, what is hemp exactly and how do we use it?
Hemp, also known as industrial hemp, is a variety of cannabis. Unlike marijuana, which is a different variety of cannabis, hemp contains ultra-low amounts of THC – the active component in marijuana that gives it intoxicant effects when ingested or inhaled. So, before anyone asks, no need to worry, hemp will not make you feel high.
Hemp has been used for thousands of years, primarily as a fibre for ropes and to make paper. More modern applications stretch from textiles and paper to biodegradable plastics, fuel, construction material, and health food. It was once a required crop in the US, and the first Ford Model T ran on and was made from hemp!
Hemp seeds have been used as a food for animals and humans, however the new methods of de-hulling result in a much different product to that eaten historically.
Oil from the seeds has also been used for centuries and is known to have anti-inflammatory benefits, especially as a treatment for eczema. In fact, hemp seed oil is the only naturally derived, plant-based oil that contains omega 3, 6, and 9, the very same fatty acids that we know help to nourish and hydrate our skin! The omega 3 and omega 6 fatty acids are also present in a ratio of 3:1, the required ratio for a healthy human body, which is great too!
Hemp seed oil contains vitamin D, is a deeply penetrative humectant, highly hydrating, is non-comedogenic, is very nourishing for our skin, and can help with psoriasis, eczema, dermatitis, and even acne.
Understanding as we do the way and why the skin works, it is easy to see how even for those of us who do not suffer from these conditions or irritations, hemp seed oil can have huge benefits when applied to the skin regularly. Boosting the lipid content in our epidermis can not only assist it to do its job of protecting us, but can leave our outer layer feeling silky smooth to touch. What better reason to start working hemp seed oil into your skincare regime asap!
We here at 13 Seeds have a range of skincare products to help you care for your skin. Our products harness the powerful benefits of a super food, hemp oil, alongside all-natural ingredients, to provide you with a rejuvenating product without any nasty chemicals.