A Guide to CBD Topicals, Balms, and Lotions


CBD isn’t just something you find in the local dispensary. You might see coffee shops offering CBD-infused lattes or yoga studios selling CBD oils. The most accessible products are usually topicals: balms, lotions, and salves.

CBD topicals are hot items in health food stores and among beauty gurus. But are they worth it? Should you trade in CBD oil for a topical product? The answer depends on what you’re looking for and how you like to use CBD.

Use this guide to help you shop for CBD topicals, but remember to do research on the individual products you are looking to buy.

What Are CBD Topicals?

CBD topicals are CBD-infused products that you apply directly to the skin or hair. Topical products usually have therapeutic or medical benefits, and CBD topicals are no different. Users apply these products to the skin for a variety of benefits, including pain relief or reduced inflammation.

Types of CBD Topicals

CBD topicals come in all shapes and sizes, including: -Lotions and balms -Salves -Face serums -Roll-on topicals -Soaking salts and bath bombs

How Do CBD Topicals Work?

CBD in topicals penetrate the hair and skin to reach the endocannabinoid system (ECS.) The ECS runs throughout the entire body, containing receptors that interact with CBD and kickstart specific functions.

These functions include inflammation and pain, two symptoms typically targeted by CBD topicals. For example, a CBD face serum may aim to reduce inflammation in the face. Reducing inflammation will reduce redness and potentially eliminate blemishes.

It is important to note that topicals will target only the areas where it has been applied. The CBD in these products do not reach the bloodstream or the brain, so they are unlikely to affect mood or reach the entire body. If you have joint pain around your knee, you should apply a CBD topical to the knee. Don’t apply the topical to the elbow or other parts of the body if you want to feel relief in your knee.

Will CBD Topicals Get You High?

While some CBD topical products contain THC, you won’t get high from just applying the product to your body. Products containing THC will get you high only if you ingest or inhale THC during consumption. CBD alone will not get you high, and CBD topicals will certainly not get you high.

Should You Use CBD Topicals?

CBD topicals are often cheaper and more accessible than CBD oil or other products. But does that mean it’s the best choice for your symptoms?

The answer depends on your experience.

If you are experiencing pain or inflammation in a few localized areas, you should consider CBD topicals. Applying the product to the affected areas will offer relief so you can continue working out, sleeping, or going about your day.

If you want a mood boost, consider CBD edibles, oil, or other ingestible products. Remember, topicals do not reach the bloodstream or the brain. You may feel less stressed after using your favorite product, but it’s not because CBD is reaching your brain.

If you are having trouble sleeping, assess your symptoms further. Are you having trouble sleeping because your mind is racing? Or because your lower back is hurting? If physical pain is keeping you up at night, a CBD topical may help to reduce that pain and offer the added bonus of better sleep.

Assess your symptoms and research alternatives to CBD topicals before making your purchase. You may benefit more or less from buying: -CBD flower -CBD oil or tincture -CBD edibles

If you’re looking for products for your pets, consider a CBD product made specifically for dogs or cats. CBD topicals and pets typically don’t mix - the balms may not reach the pet’s skin and they’re harder to administer. Consider CBD-infused treats and tinctures before shopping for a doggy CBD lotion.

Consider Other Ingredients in the Products

Make sure you are looking at other ingredients in the product. A CBD roller with lavender may help to quiet your mind, but it may be due to the other ingredients in the products. On the other hand, a face serum containing heavy oils may cause you to break out, even if CBD can help to reduce inflammation.

A full understanding of everything you are putting on your skin will help you choose the best products and get the best results.

How to Know You’re Buying High-Quality CBD Topicals

If you want the benefits of CBD topicals, make sure you are buying a product that actually contains CBD. This might seem like common sense, but it’s very easy to confuse CBD products with products that only appear to contain CBD. Due to the high demand of CBD, there are a lot of brands hoping this confusion will sell more products.

CBD comes from the cannabis plant, which includes hemp and marijuana. But not all “hemp products” contain CBD.

Topicals containing “hemp oil” may use the entire hemp plant - it’s likely that there is CBD in these products. But “hemp oil” may also refer to “hemp seed oil,” which contains no CBD. Hemp seed oil has benefits, but these benefits differ from the benefits of CBD.

Tips for Buying the Best CBD Product

Reading the packaging should give you insight into the amount of CBD in your topical. If a “hemp oil” product says nothing about CBD, you can assume that it does not have CBD and won’t give you the benefits you’re looking for.

Get the best CBD topicals for your needs with some extra research and caution: -Read reviews from users. You’ll get more insight into how the product works, what it feels like on the skin, and whether it’s right for you. -Stick to buying from trusted retailers. Your local dispensary should be vetting products before selling them online or in stores. Plus, your favorite budtender can give you more insight into the best CBD topicals and how to use them properly. -Test it out first. Try a small sample before buying or applying a larger amount to the body. It shouldn’t take too long for the CBD to “kick in” and for you to feel relief.

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