What is CBD?
CBD is a phyto (from a plant) cannabinoid found in the hemp (or Cannabis sativa) plant. CBD does not get you high. CBD-rich hemp, or Cannabis sativa with less than 0.3% THC (the thing that does get you high), was made legal federally by the 2018 Farm Bill.
What are the different types of CBD products?
There are three predominant types of CBD on the market: full spectrum, broad spectrum, and isolate.
CBD products marketed as full spectrum include all parts of the hemp plant, including trace amounts of THC.
- These trace levels of THC will not get you high but may show up on your drug test.
Broad spectrum CBD products include all parts of the plant except the THC.
- This includes the hemp plant’s other beneficial plant parts: aroma chemicals called terpenes, flavor chemicals called flavonoids, and other phytocannabinoids like CBG, CBC, and CBN.
Isolate CBD products only have CBD and don’t include any other parts of the hemp plant. As a result, isolate CBD products are often doubly infused with other botanicals and essential oils for the extra benefits.
- If you see terpenes or flavonoids in isolate products, they don’t come from the hemp plant but from these other botanicals and essential oils.
CBD-Infused Topicals: The Pros
CBD-infused topicals are a great option for those who are either new to CBD or hesitant to ingest CBD orally. CBD topicals are usually aromatic and hydrating, making them easy to incorporate into skincare and beauty routines.
- Great for skin health! Most CBD topicals use base butters and oils that hydrate the skin in the long-term, imbuing skin with moisture that truly glows.
- Ideal for skincare routines and beauty rituals! Research supports CBD-infused topicals for anti-aging and serious skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis. To learn more, read our other blog posts here, here, and here.
- Rich in aromatherapy benefits! Even CBD isolate topicals are typically chock full of other botanicals and essential oils with a multitude of aromatherapy benefits. To learn more, read our terpenes blog post here.
- Localized anti-inflammatory pain relief, ideal for fitness recovery and location-specific aches! CBD-infused topicals act locally in the areas where you apply them. That’s great news for backs that are sore from sitting all days, legs that tremble from too much walking, and muscles that ache from post-exercise inflammation.
- Easy to incorporate into daily routines! All of us know how to use lotions, salves, and creams. Using CBD-infused topicals is often intuitive and as such, easy to incorporate for an increase in your wellness and quality of life on the daily.
CBD-Infused Topicals: The Cons
CBD-infused topicals are great for many things, especially skincare and localized anti-inflammatory pain relief. There is only one real area where CBD-infused topicals fall short: speed of CBD relief delivery and CBD absorption.
To feel the whole-body benefits of CBD-infused products, the CBD needs to enter your bloodstream. Unfortunately, most CBD-infused topicals can’t enter the bloodstream because the CBD can’t be absorbed past the tough outer dermal layer (or skin).
There is an exception to this rule: transdermal topicals. Transdermal topicals, by the very nature of their name (transdermal) are specifically engineered to break through that tough outer dermal layer, penetrating the skin and allowing the CBD to enter the bloodstream.
- These kinds of products are great for getting both the CBD relief usually attributed to topicals (localized anti-inflammatory pain relief) AND the wellness benefits of CBD as a cannabinoid supplement for your body’s stress management system, the ECS.
At the end of the day, it’s not that CBD oils (the optimal CBD-infused product with the fastest rate of delivery and the highest absorption rates) are better or worse than CBD-infused topicals. They’re just different!
- CBD-infused topicals are great for localized anti-inflammatory pain relief. We always recommend using BOTH a CBD oil and a CBD topical in your daily selfcare wellness routine.
- The CBD oil acts as a supplement for your ECS while the CBD-infused topical gives you the localized anti-inflammatory pain relief you need for those body-specific aches and soreness!
Finally, the other con of CBD topicals is the rate of delivery. Topical applications of CBD is one of the longest methods of delivery. What does this mean?
This means that it may take you longer to feel the benefits and effects of CBD when using a CBD-infused topical versus, say, a CBD oil or capsule.
- It can take as long as two hours to feel the benefits of CBD-infused topicals, at least when it comes to the CBD part!
- Many CBD-infused topicals are supported by other botanicals whose benefits and effects (like the “icy hot” sensation typical of CBD-infused gels or gel rollers) may be more easily/readily felt, sometimes even immediately after application!
5 Best CBD-Infused Topicals
These are our recommendations! We've vetted these CBD-infused topicals through and through. Our top 5 recommendations are pretty broad in usage. We're sure you'll find one that fits your wellness lifestyle!
Boost fitness recovery and optimize your work-out naturally by adding this CBD salve ($44.99 or $59.99) to your daily routine. Holy Leaf's full-spectrum extract is cold-pressed, ensuring that you get all the whole-plant benefits of hemp with the highest potency and quality! Thanks to the infusion of coconut oil, emu oil, and andreas coriander oil, this salve is hydrating. The addition of tea tree oil, camphor, and wintergreen and pine needle essential oils add a pleasant aroma with a multitude of therapeutic and antibacterial benefits!
Don't let excess inflammation get in the way of recovery! With daily topical use, this CBD Salve for Fitness can help you keep your body functioning at breakneck speeds. Comes in two CBD strengths (250 mg and 500 mg).
Buy Holy Leaf's CBD Salve for Fitness Recovery here!here!
A dose-effective gel pen from Mary’s Nutritionals. With 100 mg of CBD derived from a full spectrum hemp extract, this transdermal CBD topical ($50) is perfect for on-the-go pain relief that's fast-acting, whole-body, and mess-free.
Each pump delivers precisely 2 mg of CBD per serving and each gel pen has 50 servings total. The topical contained with this gel pen comes with a cool citrus basil scent for aromatherapy benefits associated with mental clarity and focus! Mary's transdermal products are award-winning and ideal for those who are looking to get both the localized anti-inflammatory pain relief attributed to CBD-infused topicals AND the whole-body wellness benefits of a CBD supplement that is ingested orally and enters the bloodstream.
Buy's Mary's Transdermal Gel Pen here!
This topical CBD-infused roller from cbdMD comes in two CBD strengths, 300 mg ($29.99) and 750 mg ($69.99). Specifically designed for topical relief from backaches, sore muscles, and joint pains, cbdMD's hemp-derived cannabidiol (CBD), rich in terpenes and other phytocannabinoids, is supported by other botanicals with a multitude of benefits!
Aloe vera soothes the skin while menthol provides a cooling sensation. Methylparaben is antibacterial and helps to prevent fungal growth, making this roller ideal for fitness recovery! Tea tree oil and arnica montana support CBD with their own anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties while tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E) provides ongoing moisture and hydration for tired, dry skin.
Buy cbdMD's Freeze Roller here!
Sensitive skin stressing you out? Stress impacts everything, especially your skin! When we stress, our skin conditions get worse. If you're looking for relief for sensitive skin, dermatitis, or breakouts from stress, this may be it!
Humans have been using this salve's infusion of herbs and essential oils for skin-care since ancient times. The lovely aroma of lavender calms both your skin and soul as the organic herbs boost CBD's skincare benefits. A win-win! This salve comes in two CBD strengths: 250 mg ($35) and 500 mg ($55). Authentic's full spectrum hemp extract is supported by steam-distilled organic essential oils, arnica for anti-inflammatory pain relief, John's wort to soothe irritation, and dandelion flowers and calendula blossoms for skin health. Plus! Authentic's Settle is built off of a foundation of olive oil, hemp seed oil, avocado oil, coconut oil, and shea nut butter for hydrated, moisturized skin.
Buy Authentic's Settle Salve here!
Disclaimer: This blog post and any recommendations made within this blog post have not been approved by the FDA. This blog post should not be regarded as making any medical claims, offering any medical advice, or as offering criteria for diagnosis. CBD research is ongoing and any strong statements made within this blog post should be regarded as the opinion of the writer.