What Should CBD Topicals Be Used For?

You will notice CBD lotions, balms, and oils stocked in grocery stores, gas stations, and local pharmacies these days. But what are the benefits of using these CBD topicals? And what is the difference between these types of topicals? Which one should you try? Here is some information to get you started.

by: Amy B. | 03/05/21 2:30PM

Of all CBD products, hemp-based topicals were the first stocked in natural grocery stores, gas stations, and corner stores. They are also some of the most approachable CBD products for those who are curious about CBD but have not tried it yet. But what do you use CBD topicals for? And what kind of effects will they have on you? And why is everyone talking about how CBD has improved their health routine?


a healthy young man who is on CBD

Potential Benefits

While the specific benefits of CBD on the human body are still being researched in more detail, there is some information that science supports. CBD is a naturally occurring and non-intoxicating compound found in hemp plants. This compound is formally known as "cannabidiol". It interacts with a body’s endocannabinoid system and sends messages to the receptors found within this system. CBD's specific effects with these receptors are still being studied in more detail, but CBD is considered to help calm anxiety, relieve pain, and increase sleep if taken orally. However, in the case of being applied as a topical, CBD has a different set of effects.


If you are looking to use CBD products as part of your health routine, you should first speak with a medical professional about the potential benefits and unwanted side effects of using CBD. As a naturally occurring compound, CBD can interact with certain pharmaceutical medications and have adverse effects. However, applying CBD as a topical has a different set of effects because it is being introduced to your endocannabinoid system in a different fashion. When applied topically, CBD only permeates the dermal and subdermal layers of your skin and does not enter your bloodstream. Instead, the CBD interacts with the CB1 receptors in your skin, muscle tissues, and nerves. Since CBD has an effect on these receptors, then it is thought that CBD applied topically will provide targeted relief for chronic pain or inflammation.

cbd lotion in a screw off package

Types of CBD Topicals

Many people who consistently use CBD topicals are using them to manage joint pain, muscle pain, arthritis, headaches, menstrual cramps, dermatitis, or eczema. However, some users will pick up a CBD cream to help temporarily manage the pain of an injury to their hands or feet, or a muscle strain that happened while exercising. However, it is important to note that not all CBD topicals are made with the same methods or ingredients. You should always check the label of the product for the ingredients list and see if it has a measurable amount of CBD included. You’ll also want to use a product that can provide a third-party testing lab’s certificate of analysis that shows exactly what is included in the product. If you don’t know what’s included, then you will not know what the potential effects will be.


If you are partial to a certain type of topical in your normal beauty or hygiene routine, then it may be best to use that type of CBD topical as well. If you know that your skin does not react well to certain types of gels or scented lotions, then be sure to avoid that in your CBD topicals too. All CBD topicals will be made with a combination of carrier oil and CBD extract or isolate. The base carrier oils used are usually coconut oil, shea butter, avocado oil, jojoba, or vitamin E, but sometimes manufacturers will use an Aquaphor base instead. This base oil acts as a carrying agent for the CBD extract so that it can be evenly applied to your skin. These bases are also a good way of telling the difference between the types of CBD topicals and what they should be used for.

CBD Balms

CBD balms, creams, or salves are the most common types of CBD topicals available. Because they are made with an oil base, it is thought that they are absorbed more easily into your skin. They are also considered more generally beneficial for dry skin, muscle pain, or joint pain.

CBD lotion being applied to hand

CBD Lotions

Lotions made with CBD are also common and made with a variety of additional ingredients. CBD lotion is similar to a traditional lotion made with an Aquaphor or water base. These lotions will absorb into your skin fast but have a potentially weaker effect than a CBD cream or balm. They are also often mixed with essential oils or scents to make the lotion more pleasant to use.

CBD Oils

Body oils with CBD included are becoming more popular for use during massages. Oil topicals can be applied across the entire body and can be a bit easier to apply than creams. These topicals also typically have fewer ingredients and might have a higher concentration of CBD included.

CBD Patches are happy to be placed anywhere

CBD Patches

CBD transdermal patches are relatively new and typically found in dispensaries instead of grocery stores. These patches apply a dose of CBD to your skin, over the time period you have the patch applied. They are used in a similar fashion as nicotine patches, and transdermal CBD patches can be great for micro-dosing CBD over the course of a day.

No matter which CBD topical you decide to pick up and put on though, be sure to consider what works for your body already. If you have oily skin, then you might want to avoid an oil-based CBD topical. However, if you want to apply the CBD topical over large areas of your body then a CBD oil might work better than a CBD balm. If you prefer your lotions to be made with a coconut oil base over an Aquaphor base then look for a CBD topical with that ingredient. Thankfully there are a wide variety of CBD topicals available for purchase from a variety of retailers. You are bound to eventually find one that fits your preferences. If not though, then just make a CBD topical of your own!

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