People think a lot of things when you say hemp, mostly its association with marijuana. It might not be the first thing you would expect to find in quality beauty and skin care products, but hemp seed oil is actually quite good for the skin.
Hemp seed oil, and the coveted Manuka honey, are at the center of a new local body care line, Hemp & Honey Plus. Cousins Scott Sondles and Michael Bumgarner created the line that is packed with all-natural ingredients.
“We wanted to go top of the line, all-natural as much as we can, organic whenever possible,” Sondles says.
He’s the mixologist behind Hemp & Honey Plus’ bar soaps, lip balms, body and hand creams. As for the products’ namesake components, hemp seed oil has what doctors describe as the perfect balance of omega-3 to omega-6 fatty acids which means good things for the skin. Products with hemp seed oil absorb into the skin quickly, lock in and help retain moisture.
When it comes to the honey, “Not all honeys are made the same,” Sondles says. “Manuka honey has the highest qualities of antibacterial properties of any honey in the world.” The honey is only found in New Zealand, and is increasingly being used in medicinal applications for its antibacterial properties.
The plus represents the other natural products they use like coconut oil, grapeseed oil, beeswax, green tea and shea butter.
“We wanted to use a lot of food-grade ingredients in our products,” Sondles says. Products like hemp seed oil are not only good for skin, but hemp seeds can be part of a good diet. Since the skin is our largest organ, what you put on it matters. It can be another way to take care of your body.
“More people need to look at a skincare routine as a supplement routine,” he says.
Hemp & Honey Plus had a soft launch in April to gain customer feedback with an official launch coming this month. The products have found overwhelmingly positive feedback – and their way on to several store shelves in the first few months.
In addition to their website, products are available at Celebrate Local, Wholly Craft, It’s All Natural, Royal Factory (coming soon!) and Natural Nail Spa and Salon. The salon owner enjoys the products so much she is finding ways to integrate them into manicures, pedicures and facials.
Hemp & Honey Plus has even garnered national attention from Denver-based Hemp Box. The company sends monthly boxes of hemp-based products to subscribers, and Hemp & Honey is this month’s feature.
Unsurprisingly one of the biggest hurdles the duo has had to overcome is expelling any myths about hemp, which included Sondles initially explaining the finer points to Bumgarner.
“Being in Midwest there is that educational challenge when you say hemp,” Bumgarner says.
Sondles interest in hemp was first piqued during his time at the University of the Kentucky. Historically the region was known for industrial hemp growth and proposed legislation was attempting to legalize growing industrial hemp for research purposes on this storied ground. He research the topic and became intrigued with the product’s health benefits and so much so with the industry that he penned a book called Hemponomics.
When Sondles went to Bumgarner and said they needed to get into the hemp industry, he was a little surprised to say the least, given the product’s association with marijuana. After an education on what industrial hemp is and what it is not, “Industrial hemp is a commodity just like corn [and] soybeans,” Bumgarner says.
As for what it is and what it isn’t, it isn’t marijuana. Hemp has 0.03 percent or less THC, meaning if you eat it or put it on your skin you won’t get high or fail a drug test. Both hemp and marijuana are part of the cannabis family, but it’s relationship akin to a wolf and a poodle – both are part of the canine family, but are very different creatures.
Once that was all clear, “We wanted to do something in the hemp industry but didn’t know what,” Bumgarner says of their beginnings. This wasn’t the first entrepreneurial venture for both, either. Bumgarner had started a more tech-based company after graduating from Virginia Tech, while Sondles was in clothing.
The duo settled on a body care line as an approachable way to introduce people to the idea of industrial hemp. They wanted to educate people through products.
The body care line is just a piece in the puzzle of the duo’s bigger objective and section of their larger parent company Hempstrong Brands. They want to bring awareness to industrial hemp as a viable crop for small farming operations. Currently they have to import their hemp seed oil from Canada. Instead, they ask why it can’t be made here?
“We have a bigger social type of objective we are trying to accomplish,” Sondles says.
Ideally once more research is done on industrial hemp, infrastructure can be build and jobs created, ultimately leading to a positive impact on the economy.
For more information, visit hempandhoneyplus.com.