The best cbd topicals are made using non-GMO, organically grown hemp bred to be rich in CBD. The plants must be grown according to certain standards and harvested at the right time to ensure optimal cannabinoid concentrations. It takes a lot of training, experience, and knowledge of the cannabis plant to pull down a healthy crop.
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CBD topicals are skincare products infused with hemp-derived CBD. They are designed to be applied directly to the skin and often contain ingredients that would not be safe for ingestion. In topical applications, CBD may provide targeted relief from aches, soreness, and skin problems like acne. Many topical CBD salves, creams, and lotions also contain other beneficial herbal ingredients.
Want to try CBD, but not sure if a CBD topical will be the right choice? Read on to find out everything there is to know about this class of CBD products.
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What are CBD Topicals?
CBD topicals are skincare products infused with hemp-derived CBD. They are designed to be applied directly to the skin and often contain ingredients that would not be safe for ingestion.
In topical applications, CBD may provide targeted relief from aches, soreness, and skin problems like acne. Many topical CBD salves, creams, and lotions also contain other beneficial herbal ingredients.
While all CBD topicals contain cannabidiol, they’re not all the same. Before discussing the different types of topical products available, let’s start at the beginning. To choose the right product, you’ll need to know the difference between CBD isolates, broad-spectrum CBD, and full-spectrum CBD.
Frequently Asked Questions
Broad-spectrum topicals are far more common than CBD isolate skincare products. They contain a wider range of hemp-derived phytochemicals, including additional cannabinoids and terpenes. Unlike full-spectrum CBD products, broad-spectrum topicals contain no THC. The additional extraction processes required to remove the THC may also remove some of the other beneficial compounds.
CBD isolates contain just one hemp-derived ingredient: cannabidiol. These extracts come in either powdered or tincture form. It’s rare to find topical products that contain CBD isolates. Instead, this type of extract is more commonly found in food, beverages, and specialized products like vape juices.
Full-spectrum CBD topicals contain the full range of cannabinoids and terpenes found in hemp plants. That includes a trace amount of THC. Full-spectrum CBD products designed for topical use do not produce psychoactive effects, nor do they provide systemic benefits. However, some consumers find that they are more effective than broad-spectrum and isolate products.
All skincare products contain other ingredients in addition to CBD extracts. The types of other ingredients used to manufacture the products vary widely. Some manufacturers use traditional chemical compounds, while others take a more holistic approach and use essential oils and natural carrier bases.
Before buying a new CBD topical, check the ingredients list to make sure you aren’t allergic to any of its components. If you want to take advantage of the many benefits of CBD without worrying about added chemicals, look for a product that contains only natural ingredients. Just make sure you’re not allergic to any of the essential oils or carriers.
CBD creams are typically thicker than lotion. They absorb quickly through the skin and can penetrate both dermal and subdermal layers. Research shows that CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid receptors and other enzyme factors in your skin that modulate both pain and inflammation. While the cannabinoids found in CBD cream can penetrate the skin, they will not enter the bloodstream.
CBD lotions aren’t as thick as creams. They’re usually recommended for addressing skin problems rather than joint or muscle pain since they may not penetrate as far into the subdermal layers. A good CBD lotion may help you control dry skin or repair surface wounds. Just don’t expect it to work miracles when it comes to managing sub-surface aches and pains.
Unlike lotions and creams, CBD salve does not contain water. Instead, a good salve will be made with oil and wax. Your CBD salve may also contain essential oils, nut butter, and other herbal or chemical ingredients depending on the manufacturer. Salves are the thickest kind of CBD topical around, so they may take longer to provide relief.
CBD lip balm is a specialized type of topical product. It contains only ingredients that are safe for human consumption. That means you don’t have to worry about accidental ingestion if you use it on dry, chapped lips.
CBD topical sprays come in aerosol form. They’re designed to be sprayed directly on the skin. Keep in mind that topical sprays differ from oral sprays. You shouldn’t try to use a CBD spray designed for topical use internally, as it may contain products that aren’t suitable for ingestion.
CBD gels contain water, alcohol, and cellulose in addition to their active ingredients. Their primary advantage in terms of skincare is that they are oil-free, which means you can still use them even if you have very oily skin. Gels absorb rapidly and often have a drying effect, making them unsuitable for consumers with especially dry skin.
Transdermal CBD patches are a recent invention and product development is ongoing. So far, research shows that transdermal applications of CBD allow cannabidiol and other components to breach the blood-brain barrier. In fact, that’s the primary difference between topical CBD oil and a transdermal patch.
According to D.C. Hammel et al, 2016, transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain related to arthritis in laboratory studies. To date, there are not enough clinical data available to show that these same actions are reflected in human study participants. Once more studies have been medically reviewed by written researchers like Hammel et al, it will be easier to make generalizations.
For now, you might want to stick with topicals if you want to use CBD for skin problems or discomfort. If you find a CBD lotion, salve, or cream that contains a sufficient amount of CBD per dose and check the COA to confirm cannabinoid content, you can’t go wrong.
There are many medically reviewed studies that show the overall benefits of CBD. Instead of rehashing those, let’s take a look at the unique benefits of buying a topical product.
Medically reviewed research shows that CBD may act as an anti-oxidant. A high-quality CBD cream may help to fight off oxidative damage, which is believed to be responsible for a good deal of age-related skin problems. Even the best CBD product won’t eradicate wrinkles or make you look 10 years younger overnight, but it might protect you from UV damage and environmental pollutants.
CBD’s ability to modulate sebum production may help to prevent acne outbreaks. High-quality full- or broad-spectrum CBD lotions, creams, and salves may also help to inhibit lipid production and reduce oil output. The ability to modulate endocannabinoid receptor activity may also help to reduce the symptoms of other skin conditions like eczema, atopic dermatitis, and allergic rashes.
High-quality CBD topicals can be used by almost anyone. The only people who shouldn’t use any given CBD topical are those who are allergic to one or more of its ingredients.
Before choosing a topical, you should also consider your unique skin type. People with oily skin are better off buying gels. Those with exceptionally dry skin may benefit from salves. Lotions, creams, and balms all fall somewhere in between and are good for consumers with any skin type.
You’ll also have to think about your intended use. Some topical products penetrate into the skin better than others. If you’re concerned about surface-level problems like acne, choose one that sits on top of the skin. Problems like joint pain and muscle soreness are better addressed using deep-penetrating products.
Like all CBD products, topicals support the proper function of your endocannabinoid system. Unlike oral ingestion methods, topical applications do not provide system-wide effects. Instead, the cannabinoids found in CBD topicals modulate or bind to the endocannabinoid receptors found in and directly beneath your skin’s dermal and subdermal layers.
Every CBD topical works a little differently. Full-spectrum creams and salves are generally considered the best CBD topicals for managing aches and pains. They contain trace amounts of THC, which binds to your CB1 and CB2 receptors. In conjunction with the balancing effects of CBD, this action helps to modulate your body’s pain and inflammation responses.
The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any CBD topicals for managing, treating, or curing any health conditions. However, anecdotal evidence and content measurement audience insights point to diverse reasons to use a high-quality CBD topical.
These reasons include:
- Joint pain
- Muscle soreness
- Arthritis of the feet or hands
You can absorb CBD through your skin, but it will only penetrate deep enough to provide beneficial effects in the area immediately surrounding the application site. The CBD enters your skin through your pores and penetrates your sebaceous glands through hair follicles. It’s this topical action that lends CBD its well-known soothing abilities.
CBD isn’t the only compound you can absorb through your skin. The average cooling cream relies on this same method of action. That’s why it’s so important to buy a high-quality product with excellent safety and side effects profile. If your product contains contaminants, you’ll absorb those, too. Check the third-party CoA results to ensure that it contains only safe ingredients.
Keep in mind that since CBD doesn’t penetrate much deeper than the subdermal layer, the effects will be 100% localized. You may also need to apply generous amounts of topical agents to achieve optimal effects.
CBD topicals contain the same beneficial hemp-derived ingredients as other CBD products like oil, tinctures, edibles, vape juices, and smokable hemp flowers. The cannabidiol in topicals also modulates the same receptors. The difference is, topicals have fast-acting localized effects. They’re the best option if you’re dealing with skin problems such as acne or excessive dryness.
Some types of CBD topicals are also ideal for managing localized pain. Keep in mind that they’ll only work if your aches and soreness are occurring near the surface. Topicals are a great option for problems like delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) or arthritis of the fingers. They’ll be far less effective for problems such as hip or knee pain.
The good news is, there’s no reason you can’t use both topicals and other forms of CBD. As long as you buy your topicals, CBD oil, and other goods from reputable vendors, there’s nothing to worry about. Just make sure you buy hemp-derived CBD products that are either THC-free or meet the FDA standards for user safety. The FDA requires all CBD oil and extracts to contain less than 0.3% THC.
There’s no one CBD topical that can be objectively called the best for everything. That said, there are a few things you should look for in any hemp-derived CBD products. That includes third-party lab testing with an official certificate of analysis (COA). There are few side effects associated with any CBD product, but contaminants can raise your risk of experiencing adverse health effects.
You should also look for a product manufactured using high-quality ingredients. Popular manufacturers include Joy Organics and CBDtlc. If you choose to use topicals made by other manufacturers, make sure they follow industry best practices such as quality assurance testing.
You should also look for a product that contains sufficient amounts of CBD. Check the label to see how many MG of CBD are present in the package or in each dose of the product. If your topical is THC-free, it should have even more CBD to make up for the fact that it won’t have the benefit of the entourage effect.
The price point for CBD topicals varies significantly depending on factors like product type, other components, and even brand recognition. You can expect to pay more for 100% organic hemp products, full-spectrum CBD creams, and highly concentrated topicals with 500 mg of CBD or more.
Luxury topicals may also cost more. They feature high-quality ingredients and proprietary blends that can’t be found in cheaper alternatives. The average CBD topical costs more than its CBD-free alternatives because it costs more to create high-quality extracts. Just keep in mind that it’s worth the money if you really care about your skin.
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