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

CBD topicals offer localized relief, and they also benefit the overall appearance and health of the skin. In this sense, topical CBD products give you multiple benefits and effects in one.

While all CBD topicals are designed to be applied and absorbed through the skin, they can differ in their formulation and specific use. 

As more research is being conducted on the use of hemp for personal wellness needs, topicals have emerged as an incredibly effective way to reap the soothing and stress calming benefits of this versatile plant.

Let’s take a closer look at the different types of topicals and how they vary!

What is CBD Topical, and How do they Work?

First of all, what exactly is a CBD topical?

A CBD topical is any balm, cream, or ointment infused with CBD and can be applied directly to the skin. 

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

So how do they work?

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) governs many functions in the human body, including the ability to process pain, sleep, inflammation, mood, and more. 

CBD is one of many cannabinoids (compounds) in the cannabis plant that interact with the receptors of the ECS.

Activating these receptors allows for many health benefits that people associate with the compound.

Research suggests that CBD has various therapeutic properties, but what about the skin? 

The skin also has its own endocannabinoid system, which keeps the skin balanced and healthy. The goal is stasis, just like it is for the endocannabinoid system throughout the human body: ECS keeps everything balanced, including the skin.

CBD is beneficial to healthy skin because some imbalance is usually the root cause of most skin problems.

Why Use CBD Topicals?

The emergence of CBD research suggests that CBD can provide many health benefits thanks to the cannabinoid receptors accessible beneath the skin’s pores. 

Let’s look at some of the ways topical CBD can help you. 


Acne is a skin condition when hair follicles are plugged with excess sebum oil and dead skin cells. This blockage causes whiteheads, blackheads, or pimples. 

CBD has been shown to reduce the visibility of breakouts, especially acne-related redness. By reducing inflammation and redness, CBD may improve the look and feel of acne-prone skin. 

In addition, CBD acts as a hormonal balancer; this suggests that CBD can potentially decrease excess sebum oil production, helping reduce the likelihood of future breakouts. 


CBD is well known for its antioxidant properties

Like other powerful antioxidants, CBD can help reduce visible signs of aging. 

CBD topicals can soothe inflammation and counteract damage from free radicals, improving signs of aging such as wrinkles, ruddy skin tone, and skin dullness and making them less noticeable.

Sensitive Skin

Sensitive skin can be described as easily irritable or reactive. 

CBD is known for its soothing properties. In addition, CBD topicals can help reduce redness, inflammation, and reactivity related to skin sensitivity or environmental stressors. 


Psoriasis is a chronic autoimmune disease where the life cycle of skin cells is accelerated. It is considered very similar to eczema in its physical appearance, while it appears red or pink with a silver lining. 

By leveraging the endocannabinoid system, we can help the human body find balance again; CBD, also known as cannabidiol, can interact with this system to regulate skin pathogenesis. 

Although there is no cure for Psoriasis, CBD is becoming a popular natural anti-inflammatory that can help reduce the effects of this disease while providing relief from itchiness/irritation. 


Similarly, Eczema can be characterized by painful, itchy, and inflamed rashes. 

Research suggests that these responses are modulated by the endocannabinoid system, insinuating that CBD can potentially provide relief. 

According to Mary’s Nutritionals’ Chief Scientist, Jeremy Riggle, Ph.D., CBD “CBD interacts with this system and may help the skin re-establish or maintain homeostasis, the result, in this case, being a reduction in symptoms associated with eczema.” 

When CBD is applied topically to the affected area, it avoids dilution and targets the dermal cellular level of the skin, allowing this method to be most effective. 

Localized Pain

Research into CBD’s pain-relieving abilities is still in the early stages. However, so far, there’s some evidence that CBD topicals for pain may help with a variety of afflictions, including:

  • Arthritis-related pain: A 2016 animal study found that topical CBD may help with arthritis-related pain and swelling.
  • Nerve pain: A 2020 study looked at the effects of topical CBD on pain. Many people in the study, all with nerve damage, reported having reduced pain levels. However, they described a dip in sharp, intense, cold, and itchy pain sensations.

CBD Transdermal Patches 

Transdermal patches may be ideal for those who prefer the health and wellness potential of an ingestible product but have difficulty using a tincture or capsule because of stomach pain, nausea, or difficulty swallowing. 

When you wear a transdermal CBD patch, your skin regulates a continuous release of CBD into your bloodstream. 

Transdermal patches are also favored by CBD users looking for continuous CBD absorption in a specific area of their body.

To use a transdermal patch, you stick it on your skin, like a sticker, and let it go to work. Transdermal CBD patches can last anywhere from 24 to 48 hours. 

Just keep in mind that if you’re new to CBD, a transdermal patch may be too strong to start with.

CBD Balms, Creams, and Ointments

There are several things to consider when choosing an effective CBD topical, and we know the world of CBD can be rough waters to navigate. 

So we’ve made it easy by narrowing it down to three of the most popular types used for managing pain and inflammation.

CBD Balm

CBD Balms are typically plant-oil and wax-based formulas to heal or soothe the skin. They are thicker than lotions and creams and don’t contain water. 

Balms can have a consistency somewhere between a heavy liquid to a solid.

Balms provide superior protection and deeply nourish the skin using plant oils, butter from nuts and fruit, and waxes such as beeswax. 

While CBD balms may feel greasier than lotion, those oils are doing their job at nourishing your skin.

CBD Cream

Moisturizing creams and lotions commonly contain a combination of oil and water. They are formulated to hydrate skin while protecting from moisture loss. 

Many CBD creams and lotions are formulated with additional ingredients to enhance their rejuvenating potential and skin-soothing benefits.

You may want to research any unfamiliar oils or plant extracts listed in your CBD topical cream to ensure you select the best product option for your skin type.

For everyday, all-over use, a CBD lotion or cream serves as an excellent moisturizer with the added benefits of pain relief and inflammation reduction. 

CBD Ointment

Topical CBD ointment is commonly formulated with oils and waxes to create a semi-solid substance.

Since salve is not absorbed into the skin as quickly as CBD cream or lotion, ointments sit longer on the surface of your skin, so the effects are typically longer lasting.

Ointments are usually the product of choice for CBD users looking for extended relief. However, many CBD ointments contain other essential oils known for their pain-relieving potential.

A CBD ointment could do the trick for long-term, super-targeted pain relief. To use a CBD ointment, apply a small amount to the area, making sure to rub it into the skin as best you can. 


“CBD skin cream: How to use and best options” by Medical News TodayCBD skin cream: How to use and best options. Published Mar 2021.

“Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis” by Eur J Pain. Published Oct 2015.

“The Effectiveness of Topical CBD Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities” by Curr Pharm Biotechnol. Published 2020.

“CBD Patches: Do They Work for Pain?” by Healthline. Published Nov 2021.

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