A new generation of hemp extracts for natural cosmetic products

Date: 12.02.2021

''Therefore, caution is particularly important when selecting the products containing hemp extracts and CBD.''

Marjeta Cesen

Marjeta Česen Ph.D.
(pharmacy, ecotechnology), Regulatory Affairs, PharmaHemp

The global as well as domestic market for cosmetic products containing cannabidiol (CBD) and other important cannabinoids from cannabis is steadily growing. The increasing prevalence is due to the scientifically proven positive effect of these natural substances. Recently, a large part of the research has been focused on the development of different procedures for obtaining safe and effective extracts from industrial hemp with a high content of CBD and other cannabinoids.

The first use of industrial hemp dates back to BC times. Due to the excellent properties of industrial hemp, it is increasingly used in various industrial sectors, such as the construction, food, paper, textile and cosmetics industries. Hemp extracts have recently become one of the most important natural cosmetic ingredients. Research studies report beneficial effects of cannabinoids present in hemp, which can protect, moisturise, soften, regenerate and soothe the skin with their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects. Scientific studies also report the positive effects of cannabinoids in cases of severe skin diseases such as psoriasis and atopic dermatitis. Apart from cannabidiol (CBD), the most researched cannabinoid in this field, there are over 100 others present in industrial hemp – the most common are CBDA (the acid form of CBD), CBDV (cannabidivarin), CBG (cannabigerol), CBGA (the acid form of CBG), CBN (cannabinol), THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin) and cannabichromene (CBC). Clinical studies have shown a synergy of cannabinoids, which means their combined effect is greater than the sum of the effects of a single cannabinoid.

Besides all these cannabinoids, traces of tetrahydrocannabinol, i.e. THC, which has adverse psychoactive properties, are also present in hemp. In the extraction process, all cannabinoids including THC are concentrated. For producers of hemp extracts, the higher concentrations of THC represent a problem, as it is classified as an illicit drug. Therefore, the isolation of one cannabinoid from plant biomass has been used in the past to obtain pure CBD. Regardless, the aforementioned synergy of cannabinoids called for the development of special processes that would enable the production of hemp extract with a low THC content and at the same time high concentrations of other cannabinoids.

One of the innovative approaches that enables us to obtain industrial hemp extracts that contain negligible amounts of THC and are rich in other important cannabinoids is CO2 extraction with further purification procedures. The first stage represents the extraction with supercritical CO2, which is followed by winterisation (cooling and removal of waxes from extracts), distillation (additional purification process) and preparative chromatography. The latter presents a special procedure that enables selective removal of psychoactive THC from hemp extract. The separation is based on various physico-chemical properties of THC and other cannabinoids. This can greatly increase the ratio between the desired cannabinoids (such as CBD and other non psychoactive cannabinoids) and the undesirable THC in the purified extract.

Cosmetics manufacturers are already using such purified hemp extracts in various formulations such as creams, oils, lotions and lip balms, as well as personal care products like toothpastes and mouthwash. However, due to the relatively high cost associated with the production of the described purified extract, some producers still use isolated CBD or other types of less refined extracts which may be either less efficient or potentially dangerous. Therefore, caution is particularly important when selecting the products containing hemp extracts and CBD.


Male, 47 years old Burnout JANUARY 2021
Dr. Arno Hazekamp Cannabis in the Netherlands DECEMBER 2020