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Top 10 CBD Topicals: Lotions, Creams, and Salves

There are lots of ways to use cannabidiol (CBD), but if you’re looking for relief from aches and pains or help with skin conditions, a topical might be your best bet.

A CBD topical is any cream, lotion, or salve that’s infused with CBD and can be applied directly to the skin.

While research on CBD is still in its early stages, the little we do know about CBD topicals is promising.

A 2016 study done on rats discovered that topical applications of CBD could help manage pain and inflammation associated with arthritis.

The American Academy of Dermatology even suggested using topical CBD products as an adjunct measure for acne, eczema, and psoriasis at their annual meeting in 2018.

CBD’s effectiveness, however, varies depending on a variety of factors, like the:

  • source
  • quality
  • dosage

So, how can you discern the CBD products that are the real deal from the fakes? We’ve gone ahead and done all the heavy lifting for you, listing 10 great options below.

We chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Each product in this article:

  • is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
  • is made with U.S.-grown hemp
  • contains no more than 0.3 percent THC, according to the certificate of analysis (COA)
  • passes tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and molds, according to the COA

As a part of our selection process, we also considered:

  • the company’s certifications and manufacturing processes
  • product potency
  • overall ingredients
  • indicators of user trust and brand reputation, such as:
    • customer reviews
    • whether the company has been subject to a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warning letter
    • whether the company makes any unsupported health claims

Where available, we’ve included special discount codes for our readers.

Pricing

  • $ = under $50
  • $$ = $50–$75
  • $$$ = over $75

To get a full picture of the price of a product, it’s important to read labels for:

  • serving sizes
  • amounts
  • strengths
  • other ingredients

You’ll see the following terms mentioned in the products below. Here’s what they mean:

  • CBD isolate: pure CBD, with no other cannabinoids or THC
  • Broad-spectrum CBD: contains most cannabinoids, but it generally doesn’t include THC
  • Full-spectrum CBD: contains all of the plant’s cannabinoids, including THC

CBD topical brands selected:

  • Joy Organics
  • CBDistillery
  • Lazarus Naturals
  • Vertly
  • Envy
  • Imbue Botanicals
  • Saint Jane
  • GoGreen
  • Lord Jones

Best for pain

Joy Organics CBD Salve

Use code “healthcbd” for 15% off.

Price point: $$-$$$

This broad-spectrum CBD salve is formulated specifically to address muscle and joint pain without THC. It’s made without water so it’s a thicker consistency than a lotion or cream.

It contains organic MCT oil, beeswax, and lavender and eucalyptus essential oils for added skin-soothing and relaxation benefits.

This salve comes in 1-ounce (500 mg of CBD) or 2-ounce (1,000 mg of CBD) packages depending on how much you want on hand.

The COA is available on each product page.

CBDistillery CBDol CBD Balm

Use code “healthline” for 15% off sitewide.

Price point: $$

Full-spectrum and full of calming and moisturizing ingredients like coconut oil, almond oil, and aloe, this balm can help aid your aches.

You’ll get 500 mg of CBD in each 1-ounce jar. Their products are made using U.S. Hemp Authority-certified non-GMO hemp grown in the USA.

To find the COA, Scan the QR code on their website or contact them.

Use code “BESTFORPAIN” for 20% off (one time use per user)

Lazarus Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Balm, Soothing Mint

Price point: $

This full-spectrum balm contains 400 mg of CBD in 0.67 ounces or 1,200 mg of CBD in 2 ounces of product.

Other ingredients like organic mango butter and organic beeswax add to the soothe factor. It comes in mint, cedar citrus, lavender, Portland rose, and unscented varieties.

The COA is available on each product page.

Vertly Hemp CBD-Infused Relief Lotion

Price point: $

Vertly’s CBD lotion contains 150 mg of full-spectrum CBD in each 2.9-ounce jar.

Other ingredients include anti-inflammatory lavender oil, magnesium for muscle recovery, and arnica flower for muscle tightness. The end result is a nongreasy lotion that keeps skin nourished all day long.

Because of the potent ingredients, this is another product that shouldn’t be used on broken skin.

The COA is available on each product page.

Best for facial skin

Vertly Soothing Florals Hydrating Face Mist

Price point: $

This facial mist is a refreshing way to snag CBD along with calendula flower, aloe, lavender, and jasmine oil.

Each 2-ounce package contains 100 mg of full-spectrum CBD.

Be aware that it also contains witch hazel and rose water which could be drying or irritating for sensitive skin.

The COA is available on each product page.

Envy CBD Face Mask

Price point: $$$

If you love the self-care of a face mask, this may be your preferred way to get the effects of CBD.

Each mask contains 10 mg of full-spectrum CBD per sheet along with licorice root extract, rosemary flower extract, and green tea leaf extract for their antioxidant and hydrating properties.

Apply it to a clean face for about 30 minutes for maximum benefit. Note that since you only get three sheets per container, it may be slightly pricier than other topicals.

The COA is available on each product page.

Imbue Botanicals em.body premium CBD Lip Balm

Price point: $

If you’re already slathering on lip balm, this will make applying CBD super easy.

With 25 mg of full-spectrum CBD and grape seed oil, beeswax, and natural flavorings, this lip balm is the most portable way to go.

im-bue lip balms come in peppermint and strawberry flavors.

COA test results by batch are available online.

Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum

Price point: $$$

Another Sephora favorite, this serum contains 500 mg of full-spectrum CBD in each 1-ounce bottle, making it one of the most potent on this list.

Designed to treat dull, uneven skin, it contains a mixture of 20 different botanicals to reduce redness and even skin tone.

It’s also made with cold-pressed grapeseed oil, a powerful antioxidant that’s rich in healthy omega fats and vitamin E.

It’s cruelty-free, and fans rave about its light, nongreasy feel and ability to combat blemishes.

The COA is available on each product page.

Best all-purpose

Lord Jones High CBD Formula Body Oil

Price point: $$

Sleek, stylish, and available online or at Sephora stores nationwide, each 1-ounce bottle contains 100 mg of broad-spectrum CBD.

Skin-friendly ingredients include organic safflower oil, avocado oil, and jojoba oil.

The roller ball applicator is designed to help target pressure points and allows easy application on the go. Store at room temperature for best results.

COA test results by batch are available online.

GoGreen Hemp CBD Relief Stick

Price point: $$

GoGreen limits their ingredient lists to just the essentials to avoid any allergens or skin interactions. It’s just beeswax, MCT oil, and a broad-spectrum CBD oil.

It has 1,000 mg of CBD in each 2.2-ounce stick. The stick design allows for easy application to specific areas that need relief.

The COA is available on each product page.

There’s a whole lot of information to keep in mind when shopping for a CBD topical. Let’s go over the basics.

Potency

The No. 1 thing to look for is potency. CBD doesn’t pass through skin easily, so it’s important to use a potent product for best results.

When it comes to CBD topicals like lotions and creams, average potency products contain between 3 and 8 mg per recommended application. High potency products contain at least 8 mg per recommended application.

CBD source

Chances are, you may have seen the terms isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum before. These terms refer to the ways in which CBD is extracted.

While isolates are ideal for consumers who want to be sure there’s no THC in their product, this extraction method strips away other cannabinoids and volatile organic compounds like terpenes, reducing the overall therapeutic benefits of the CBD.

Broad-spectrum products contain most cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but they don’t contain THC.

Full-spectrum products preserve all cannabinoids and terpenes in the final product, including THC. This is important because CBD and THC may work better together than they do alone, thanks to the entourage effect.

Note that any full-spectrum products made from hemp will still only contain 0.3 percent THC or less, so it’s still a relatively small amount.

Has it been third-party tested?

Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) doesn’t guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or quality of over-the-counter (OTC) CBD products. However, in order to protect public health, they can take action against CBD companies that make unfounded health claims.

Since the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products in the same way they regulate drugs or dietary supplements, companies sometimes mislabel or misrepresent their products.

That means it’s especially important to do your own research and find a quality product. The product’s COA should confirm that it’s free of contaminants and that the product contains the amount of CBD and THC it claims.

If a product doesn’t work for you, you may consider trying another with different ingredients or a different amount of CBD.

Ingredients

Opt for all-natural, organic, U.S.-grown ingredients whenever available — you’ll get all the benefits of the ingredients without the chemicals and pesticides.

When looking at facial products, look out for ingredients that could irritate sensitive skin.

Price

Most CBD topicals fall in the $30–$60 range.

Pay close attention to products priced at over $100. You may decide they’re worth it, but do a little digging to be sure before you shell out the extra cash.

  • Do they contain full-spectrum CBD?
  • How potent are they?
  • Do they contain other healing herbs or oils?

Looking for the best CBD creams, lotions, and topicals? Whether you want a product for pain, facial skin, or something all-purpose, here are 10 great recommendations.

The Best CBD Salves for Pain

There are now hundreds of cannabis products that can help to relieve pain. But for many, there is only one to swear by: CBD salve, or CBD cream.

But how can marijuana products like these have such pain-relieving properties? And which salve is the best for which pain?

CBD cream for pain

When it comes to CBD and pain relief, research is just beginning. While there is lots of evidence for the efficacy of cannabis in relieving pain, there is much less when it comes to CBD. Most of the ‘proof’ of CBD’s pain relieving effects come from preclinical studies, animal studies, and user reports.

There are two main categories of chronic pain: inflammatory nociceptive and neuropathic. Nociceptive pain occurs when tissue is damaged and becomes inflamed, such as when you twist your ankle, get stung by a bee, or suffer from inflammatory conditions such as arthritis and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Neuropathic pain comes from damage to nerves, such as pain from sciatica, multiple sclerosis, or hitting your funny bone.

It is generally simple to tell which type of pain you are suffering from – if you experience a sharp, shooting, and sometimes even burning type of feeling, it is neuropathic pain. If your pain is more throbbing or tied to certain movements or positions, that is inflammatory. There are other pain conditions, such as fibromyalgia, that do not fully fit into one category or the other.

Studies suggest that CBD may be most beneficial for inflammatory pain, although there is research that have found promise for neuropathic and fibromyalgia pain.

How do CBD salves help reduce pain?

There are numerous pathways through which CBD salves can help to relieve pain. One of the major theories has to do with how this cannabinoid interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS).

The ECS is made up of cannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and enzymes that work to break down and synthesize cannabinoids. This system, discovered in the 1990s, is involved in pain sensation, along with many other conditions and processes, such as our immune systems and mood.

Endocannabinoids are those that our bodies produce, while phytocannabinoids are those that are produced by plants. Phytocannabinoids, like CBD, exert many of their effects through their interaction with the ECS.

A clinical endocannabinoid deficiency theory exists for multiple treatment-resistant conditions, with support from studies examining people with migraines, fibromyalgia, and intestinal pain such as IBS. This theory postulates that many of those suffering from these conditions do not produce enough endocannabinoids. The theory holds that it may be possible to treat these conditions with external cannabinoids, such as the phytocannabinoid CBD, helping these individuals find some relief.

Studies have found that CBD exhibits immunomodulatory effects that can positively impact pain and inflammation, similarly to how the endocannabinoids in our bodies do so. One of the mechanisms by which CBD works is through increasing the quantity of the endocannabinoid anandamide (AEA) through inhibition of an enzyme that breaks down AEA and by inhibiting AEA reuptake. This classifies CBD as an endocannabinoid modulator, which is unique among both natural remedies and medications for pain.

Other studies have found that CBD exhibits strong anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. CBD has been shown to inhibit tumor necrosis factor-alpha in mice with rheumatoid arthritis. This study found that CBD administered orally was able to slow the damage and pain associated with arthritis through anti-inflammatory and immunosuppressive abilities.

Additionally, CBD has been found to potentiate glycine receptors, which are believed to play a role in the perception of pain. In this study, researchers concluded that cannabinoid potentiation of glycine receptors led to a reduction of both inflammatory and neuropathic pain in mice and rats.

These are only some of the main theories as to how CBD works in the body. Researchers continue to find new mechanisms of action when it comes to cannabinoids.

Do CBD salves work?

CBD salves are a new product on the market, one which continues to climb in popularity. Rather than taking CBD and allowing it to travel throughout the body, lotions, creams, and gels allow the drug to be delivered directly to where pain is occurring.

Due to its relatively recent development, there have been very few studies on CBD salves. However, the findings thus far are promising. In one study on rats with a murine model of rheumatoid arthritis (RA), it was found that CBD salves led to a reduction in pain and the associated inflammation and damage caused by the pathology of RA.

Reading through online articles, one will find countless examples of self-reported benefits of CBD salve products. In one New York Times article, the reporter overviews those who use it for things such as relieving pain caused by wearing high heels all night.

The best way to determine if CBD cream will work for you is to give it a try yourself. Thanks to its safety profile and lack of psychoactive effects, CBD products are a great option if you would like to try something that is safe and easy to access.

The best CBD salves for pain

Topical CBD products include lotions, creams, gels, and salves that are formulated to allow CBD to pass through the protective layer of skin to provide targeted pain relief.

Because CBD is classified as a supplement rather than a drug, there are not many regulations protecting you, the consumer, from products that do not actually contain the CBD they claim to. Fortunately, there are companies that work with independent, third-party labs that test their products and confirm their chemical composition.

Below is a list of some of the CBD salves that you can purchase whose CBD content has been verified by outside laboratories:

How often should salves and creams be used?

Due to differing concentrations of products, different health conditions, and a lack of human research, there is no one single answer to this question. Most users will apply CBD salves to their problem areas one-to-three times per day, however some will use them as often as every hour to find relief.

It is best to start with about three applications per day and adjust according to how your body and pain respond.

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The Best CBD Salves for Pain There are now hundreds of cannabis products that can help to relieve pain. But for many, there is only one to swear by: CBD salve, or CBD cream. But how can