Health & Wellness

CBD Topicals—Your Guide to Salves, Lotions, Creams, Oh My!

By Melena Gurganus

CBD oil is changing the natural health space with its long list of wellness benefits. When applied topically, CBD cream may help alleviate localized pain or increase relaxation.

There is little to no THC in these cannabis extracted products, so you don’t have to worry about getting high from using a CBD topical. It’s simply the healing power of cannabis in the lotions and creams you’re used to.

What are CBD creams?

CBD is used by many to help with pain, anxiety, and sleep. Increasingly, topical creams are being used by athletes or those suffering from joint and muscle pains.

CBD-infused topicals are applied on top of the skin. To get the most out of a CBD topical, gently rub the product into your skin to ensure that it is absorbed.

There are essentially three different consistencies when it comes to CBD topicals.

  • Lotions and creams—these tend to be very similar in terms of ingredients and texture, although CBD creams often feel slightly thicker than lotions. Products that fall under the cream and lotion category typically also include shea butter, aloe vera, and other nutrients to moisturize and restore the skin barrier. (Note that these ingredients can also be found in some other topicals as well, it just depends what kind you use).
  • Balms and salves—a little goes a long way with these products, and the terms are often used interchangeably so it’s hard to determine if there are any real differences between the two. You can expect both of these topicals to have beeswax and essential oils mixed in with CBD, and no water is used to make them. Salves are generally a little softer than balms, which can be quite thick.
  • Oils—naturally, these have the smoothest feeling and usually incorporate other ingredients like olive or coconut oil, as well as other essential oils, vitamins, and minerals. CBD hemp oils may take longer to set into the skin since they are slick, but they work great when massaged into an area.

CBD topicals are convenient and easy to use. But you should shop for a product that works for your needs. For instance, you may select a thick balm or salve for targeted relief in a troublesome area, or if you want an all-over relaxing sensation for your skin, a CBD lotion may be the route to take.

How are topicals different than other CBD products?

Since CBD topicals only affect surface layers of the body, they are unlike any other application method. Other forms of CBD use require you to sublingually apply, ingest, or inhale the cannabis extracted compound, and each of these techniques allow CBD to enter the bloodstream. This means CBD will directly affect the endocannabinoid system, including receptors in the peripheral and central nervous system. However, this is not the case for topicals.

CBD infused balms, lotions, and salves do not enter the bloodstream when applied topically. The first layer of human skin (the epidermis) has low permeability, so the CBD in any topical products will not penetrate far enough past this barrier to reach the blood vessels.

This characteristic appeals to many newcomers in the CBD realm, since direct methods of ingestion or inhalation can seem a bit daunting to those that are unsure of the effects that CBD may have on their body.

Benefits of CBD Topicals

Although CBD doesn’t infiltrate your bloodstream through the use of topicals, they are effective in several other ways. Like the nervous system, your skin also has endocannabinoid receptors which can be activated by applying CBD infused products. This allows your skin to absorb the CBD.

CBD in topicals has the following benefits.

  • The anti-inflammatory properties may help to reduce joint and muscle pain. One study published in the European Journal of Pain showed that pain and joint swelling were significantly reduced in rats with arthritis.
  • CBD topicals may prove helpful for acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
  • Hemp seed oil is less pore clogging than some other oils and is a great moisturizer for dry or cracked skin.

If you’re interested in trying CBD topicals for yourself, here are some of our favorite picks:

Green Roads Muscle & Joint

Quick review: As a brand that’s co-founded by a pharmacist, you can expect that Green Roads products are formulated to provide an effective therapeutic potential. They also have a wide selection of products to choose from, even for their topicals, which have various potencies and application options.

Why buy Green Roads: Green Roads is always looking for new products that might benefit their customers. They recently added heat relief CBD roll-ons to their product line, which are perfect for people who want more than cooling therapy options when it comes to alleviating aches and pains.

“Surprisingly effective.
I must say I was surprised by how quickly the cream worked and how much pain it reduced. I recommended it to my husband for his knee pain and he also was very pleased. I definitely recommend trying this product.” – Erica H. (Green Roads Customer)

Hemp source: Colorado 🇺🇸
Strength options: Pain Cream – 150mg or 300mg; Heat Relief Roll-Ons – 250mg or 500mg
Test results: On website

***Discount: Use code Remedy15 for 15% off

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cbdMD Freeze Roller (1500mg)

Quick review: At cbdMD, their mission is to maintain quality and innovation when it comes to their hemp extracts. This brand is also highly committed to their customers, who love the free shipping and affordability of cbdMD’s products, which have a very low cost per milligram when compared to other brands.

Why buy cbdMD: For high potency topicals, cbdMD has some of the strongest CBD creams on the market. Their roll-on options also work great for hard to reach areas.

Lightweight and easy to use.
A lot of inflammation creams can be greasy and feel heavy when applied to the skin, but not cbdMD’s Freeze formula. It’s lightweight enough to use multiple times a day and provides almost instant relief.” – Casper G. (cbdMD Customer)

Hemp source: Kentucky 🇺🇸
CBD Potency: 300mg, 750mg, or 1500mg
Test results: On website

***Discount: Use code Remedy15 to receive 15 percent off at checkout.

Proleve 500mg Salve

Quick review: Proleve only uses CBD extracts derived from organically grown hemp plants, and they have a strong commitment to high testing standards. This brand is also very dedicated to customer satisfaction, and are available around-the-clock to answer any and all customer questions.

Why buy Proleve: If you’re trying a CBD salve for the first time, Proleve offers a travel size option which is the perfect sampler to help determine if you like the product and want to purchase more.

Impressed.
Pleasantly surprised by this CBD salve. I use it to help with my aching knees after my morning run, and found it applies smooth and works great.” – Keri B. (Proleve Customer)

Hemp source: Colorado 🇺🇸
Strength: 100mg travel size or 500mg 1oz. container
Test results: On website

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Plus CBD Oil™ Balm (Extra Strength)

Quick review: As one of the industry leaders within the CBD market, PlusCBD Oil™ has made a well-known name for themselves and their products. When we met with their team in California, we were impressed with their robust testing standards, as well as their commitment to quality and consistency.

Why buy PlusCBD Oil™: This brand is highly reliable when it comes to traceability and offers a Seed To Shelf™ Guarantee, meaning their products are carefully handled by a Plus CBD team member at every step of the process.

“Highly recommended.
I received a sample of the balm and tried it on my back. It worked within 30 minutes. Smells nice. Absorbs into skin quickly. The relief I received is allowing me to live a more active life.” – James H. (Plus CBD Oil Customer)

Hemp source: European
Strength options: 50mg or 100mg
Test results: On website

***Discount: Use code REMEDY to receive 15 percent off at checkout.

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CBDfx Hemp Cream

Quick review: Another large brand, CBDfx, offers plenty of product variety and maintains high quality standards for all of their products. For their topical options, CBDfx sells a CBD cream that’s designed to target pain hotspots, and a balm for skin nourishing benefits.

Why buy CBDfx: If you’re a fan of bundle and save options, CBDfx offers a topical bundle that comes with both their CBD cream and balm at a lower price.

“Outstanding product.
I bought this for my wife she has major joint issues in one of here hands, after using your product she says she has increst mobility and less pain! Thank you!!” – Michael W. (CBDfx Customer)

Hemp source: European
Strength options: 100mg or 150mg
Test results: On website

***Discount: Use code RR15 for 15% off

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Ananda Hemp Spectrum Salve 125

Quick review: All of the products at Ananda Hemp start their journey with high quality hemp seeds, specially designed to maximize CBD potency. This brand is also very hands-on throughout the entire manufacturing process, and they maintain a transparent quality control standard.

Why buy Ananda: If you’re looking for a truly full spectrum product, Ananda Hemp Spectrum Salve 125 is the perfect option. This CBD cream contains many beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and other naturally soothing ingredients.

“Incredible.
This did wonders for inflammation in my chest. It was soothing, calming, and kept the pain from coming back. Awesome stuff!” – Mary S. (Ananda Hemp Customer)

Read brand review

Hemp source: Kentucky 🇺🇸
Strength: 125mg of active cannabinoids
Test results: On website

***Discount: Use code R1122 for 10% off

CBD and Your Skin

Much like your muscles and joints, the anti-inflammatory properties of CBD offer great benefits to your skin as well. Some people that suffer from medical conditions like psoriasis or eczema have seen great improvement from using CBD topicals, as they help reduce redness and skin irritation. CBD face creams may also provide relief for acne, as it can reduce swelling and possibly regulate oil production in the sebaceous glands.

But the list of topical products doesn’t stop there—you can even get CBD bath bombs from some retailers. Your skin will absorb CBD just as it would from a lotion or balm, but you get the added benefit of relaxation while soaking in the tub.

[Learn more about other types of CBD products]

Relax After a Workout with CBD Cream

Staying fit and frequently engaging in rigorous activity can take a toll on your joints and muscles. “Even though you may be getting stronger, it’s often painful to build muscle due to micro-tears in the muscle fibers that result from physical strain. Your body seeks to repair these tiny tears, which is often what causes aches and pains for a few days after an intense workout,” says Mike Schiemer of Frugal Fitness. CBD topicals pose a potential pain relieving solution for soreness by reducing the effects of inflammation caused by the muscle repair process, without interrupting the way in which the muscle cells rebuild themselves.

CBD Topicals are Not a Cure-All

Before diving head-first into CBD, it’s important to mention that these products have not been evaluated by the food and drug administration (FDA). Because of this, there is little regulation on the production of CBD creams, although there are little to no side effects associated with the use of CBD topicals. CBD itself is considered to be a safe compound whether used inside or outside of your body, but it is not meant to replace other treatments provided by your doctor. As a final measure, consult with your physician and take their opinion into account.

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