Health & Wellness

Best CBD Creams and Topicals—2019 Buyer's Guide

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.

Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from a substrain of cannabis sativa known as hemp, which means you don’t have to worry about getting high from using a CBD topical. It’s simply the healing power of cannabis plants 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 ointment or cream, gently rub the product into your skin to ensure that it is absorbed, especially if you are trying to get pain relief.

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 chronic pain, especially for joints and muscles. 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:

Populum Hemp CBD Rub

Price: $45.00

Populum’s hemp rub comes in a 3 ounce tube that contains 100mg of CBD, as well as other ingredients that create a cooling sensation that can help soothe sore muscles and joints.

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

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Charlotte's Web Hemp-Infused Balm

Price: $14.99 or $39.99

This hemp infused balm contains 300mg of hemp extract per ounce, as well as additionally beneficial ingredients like vitamin E and sunflower seed oil that work to nourish and soothe the skin.

***Discount: Use code RR2019 for 10% off (1 use per customer, max 5 products, and exclusions apply incl. original formula and bulk products.)

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Green Roads Muscle & Joint Relief Cream

Price: $39.99 or $69.99

With the help of an experienced pharmacist, Green Roads has developed several topical products that use CBD for pain relief. Their THC free CBD creams are available in either 150mg or 300mg potencies, and they feature menthol for a cool and soothing application.

***Discount: Use code RR10 for 10% off

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cbdMD Freeze Roller

Price: $29.99, $59.99, or $99.99

For high potency options, cbdMD has some of the strongest CBD topicals on the market that come in 300mg, 750mg, or 1500mg. Their freezer roll-ons are also super helpful for applying to hard-to-reach areas.

***Discount: Use code Remedy15 to receive 15% off

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CBDistillery Topical Salve

Price: $50.00

The CBDol salve from CBDistillery has a rich 500mg of CBD per 1 ounce container, which is one of the strongest CBD topical products on the market. This product is also full spectrum to promote a synergistic effect.

***Discount: Use code RR10 for 10% off

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Spruce CBD Salve

Price: $89.00 or $169.00

This salve from Spruce CBD is available in 1000mg or 2000mg concentration options, making it the strongest topical on our list. The all-natural and full spectrum formula is a hit with customers, as they love the effects they experience when using this product.

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Theramu Relieve Balm

Price: $69.95 or $129.95

Theramu uses a unique ingredient in their balms—emu oil—which is believed to be the perfect carrier for CBD since it increases the transdermal absorption when applied topically to the skin. They also have an original (100mg) and pro strength (250mg) option for their topicals.

***Discount: Use code REMEDY for 20% off

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Ananda Hemp Spectrum Salve 125

Price: $23.95

If you’re looking for a truly full spectrum product, Ananda Hemp Spectrum Salve is the perfect option. This CBD topical contains 125mg of various beneficial cannabinoids and terpenes, as well as other naturally soothing ingredients.

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

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CBDfx Hemp CBD Cream

Price: $29.99 or $39.99

This topical pain cream is designed to target hotspots with a non-greasy formula that includes white willow bark extract, caffeine, and 100mg of CBD per ounce to provide a natural way to reduce pain.

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

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Dixie Botanicals Sunscreen

Price: $21.99

This premium sunscreen is infused with 100 mg of CBD isolate to nourish skin while protecting it from harmful UVA and UVB rays. The cream has SPF 50 and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes.

***Discount: Use code RR15 for 15% off (not valid on gift cards, vaporizers, or hemp foods)

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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