USDA to research hemp ingredients in skin- and personal-care products

The research arm of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is working to find better ways to use hemp oils in skin creams and other personal-care products.

The Agricultural Research Service announced Tuesday that it would start a 24-month agreement with the Midwest Bioprocessing Center, a Peoria, Illinois, firm specializing in organic chemical and pharmaceutical manufacturing.

The goal: to find ways to use enzymes and heat rather than chemicals and solvents to catalyze reactions that bind natural antioxidants like ferulic acid to lipids in hempseed oil.

No funding limit was placed on the research.

In prior research, the USDA team worked on similar goals with soybean and other vegetable oils.

The agency said that the new partnership could lead to new opportunities to use hemp derivatives in “cosmeceuticals”- skin-care ingredients that perform specific functions, such as protecting skin from UV light, retaining moisture or stabilizing other active ingredients used in formulations.

“Like soy or corn oil, hemp oil also contains a variety of nutrients, fatty acids (including omega-3 fatty acids) and bioactive compounds that can be transformed into specialty chemicals offering useful new properties,” the agency said.

The USDA’s National Center for Agricultural Utilization Research is also researching ways to better process hemp into fuels, lubricants and adhesives.