Best CBD Topicals in 2020 – Best Topicals for Pain, Inflammation and Skin Relief Including Creams, Balms and Salves, Lotions, Serums, Massage Oils and More

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Although CBD oil remains king, topical CBD products are growing in popularity. There’s a good reason why: topicals can not only benefit the skin’s health and appearance but also may provide localized relief for muscle and joint discomfort. In that sense, topical CBD combines aesthetic and therapeutic benefits into one product.

Topicals also differ from CBD oil in their formulas: they typically contain numerous skincare ingredients, such as essential oils, herbal extracts, and vitamins.

Topical CBD is easy to use and can be applied directly to the problem area, whether it’s dry skin, acne, swelling, knee pain, aching muscles, or something else.

CBD topicals include a wide variety of products, including lotions and creams, balms and salves, massage oils, serums, and more. They can also be designed for a specific use, such as lip balms, face products, and pain-relieving formulations.

As a result, more so than CBD oil and other CBD products, it’s important to choose the right topical for your specific needs. For example, someone looking to relieve joint discomfort would have the best results with a high-strength product that contains additional pain-relieving ingredients such as menthol.

So, which CBD topicals are best for your specific goal? We researched dozens of topical CBD products, comparing their price, formula, hemp source, third-party testing, and other criteria. Here are our recommendations for the best CBD topicals.

Best All-Purpose CBD Topicals

All-purpose CBD topicals are versatile products that can be used for skincare, beauty, and therapeutic effects such as relief of joint pain.


CBDistillery is one of the best choices for all-purpose CBD topicals. Unlike many companies, CBDistillery offers several types of topical products, including a salve, cream, lip balm, and roll-on stick, which are versatile enough to meet different needs.

One of the most recognized names in the CBD space, this company was founded in 2016. CBDistillery offers CBD oils, capsules, gummies, topicals, isolates, pet formulations, and vape products. The company’s popularity is a direct result of its exceptional product quality and affordable prices.

CBDistillery is headquartered in Colorado: the unofficial capital of the U.S. hemp industry. It sources all of its hemp from within the state, taking care to only use organic, non-GMO plants. This hemp is extracted with carbon dioxide (CO2) and ethanol, the two most safe, efficient ways to extract CBD and other beneficial hemp compounds.

CBDistillery utilizes third-party lab testing and provides detailed test reports on its website. As part of its commitment to quality and transparency, the company is also certified by the U.S. Hemp Authority.

In terms of CBD topicals, CBDistillery has one of the best all-purpose product lineups on the market. These products provide both the aesthetic and therapeutic benefits of CBD, so you’ll find something to meet your specific needs.

Here’s the lowdown on CBDistillery’s topicals (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us):

  • CBDol topical salve: formulated to relieve soreness and other kinds of physical discomfort. Contains 500 mg of full-spectrum CBD in a 1 oz (30 ml) container.
  • CBDol relief stick: roll-on designed to provide targeted relief. Contains 500 mg of broad-spectrum CBD alongside methol, a popular pain-relieving topical ingredient.
  • CBDefine skin care cream: an all-purpose topical with 500 mg of full-spectrum CBD in a 1 oz (30 ml) container.
  • CBD lip balm: formulated for dry and chapped lips. Contains 25 mg of CBD.

These products range in price from $6 to $50. This translates to about $0.09 per mg of CBD — a reasonable price for CBD topicals.


  • Good value ($0.09 per mg CBD)
  • Multiple topical products with many uses
  • High-quality hemp and extraction process
  • Third-party testing and easily accessible test results
  • U.S. Hemp Authority-certified


  • No USDA organic certification
  • No third-party tests for heavy metals
  • Lacks some less common topicals such as massage oil

Best Value CBD Topicals

CBD is a fairly expensive supplement, and this is even more true for topicals. Consequently, many people look for high-value topicals with low prices, high CBD strength, and good quality.

Lazarus Naturals

If value is your top concern with CBD topicals, you can’t go wrong with Lazarus Naturals. Its balm and massage oil come at incredibly low prices while maintaining high product standards Lazarus is known for.

Lazarus Naturals was founded in 2014, quickly growing into one of the most respected CBD brands. It offers a wide range of full-spectrum and isolate CBD oils, capsules, topicals, edibles, and other products with multiple potencies and flavors.

Lazarus also has an ethical commitment to making high-quality CBD products available to everyone, which explains why its prices are among the lowest on the market. It even has a 60% discount for veterans, people with disabilities, and low-income families.

Unlike the vast majority of CBD companies, Lazarus Naturals is owned by its employees, giving them a vested interest in the company’s success. Another way Lazarus differs from the competition is that the majority (70%) of its hemp comes from its own farm in Central Oregon. This organic, non-GMO hemp and the resulting CBD extracts undergo comprehensive third-party testing to ensure potency and safety.

Lazarus Naturals’ topical lineup includes two products: a full spectrum CBD balm and massage oil. The value you get with these products is nothing short of amazing. The balm costs $15–$50 and the massage oil $12–$70, which works out to the incredibly low cost of $0.04–$0.05 per mg of CBD.

Here’s the lowdown on these two topical products (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us):

  • Full spectrum CBD balm: potency of 20 mg CBD per ml. This high CBD concentration is enough to both support skin health and help with muscle and joint discomfort. The balm comes in a 0.5 oz (300 mg CBD) or 2 oz (1200 mg CBD) container and is available in five scents — unscented, Portland rose, lavender, cedar citrus, and soothing mint.
  • CBD massage oil: potency of 50 mg CBD per tbsp. This product is formulated for massaging to support skin health, promote relaxation, and soothe physical discomfort. Available in 2 oz (200 mg CBD), 8 oz (800 mg CBD), and 16 oz sizes (1200 mg CBD).


  • Exceptionally low prices ($0.04–$0.05 per mg CBD)
  • Detailed third-party test results available online
  • Employee-owned company with 70% of hemp sourced from its own farm
  • Ethical, reputable, transparent company with excellent customer service
  • Free 3-day shipping on U.S. orders


  • No USDA organic certification
  • Limited variety of topical products

Best Potency CBD Topicals

One of the biggest problems with topical CBD products is that many don’t contain enough CBD to provide a significant enough effect. This is especially true for people looking to relieve significant muscle or joint pain since this requires higher dosages.


Potency won’t be a problem with the topicals from cbdMD, which offer some of the highest CBD strengths on the market.

Founded in 2015, cbdMD is a leading company known for its THC-free broad-spectrum CBD products. It sells CBD oils, capsules, edibles, topicals, bath bombs, and pet products with multiple potency options.

CbdMD has all the hallmarks of a great brand, including an organic, non-GMO, American hemp source, third-party testing, and affordable prices.

If you’re looking for high-potency topicals, cbdMD is an excellent option. The company has three CBD products — a pain-relieving gel, anti-inflammatory cream, and moisturizing lotion — which come in low, medium, and high CBD strengths.

Here’s a detailed breakdown of cbdMD’s topical products (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us):

  • CBD freeze pain relief gel: formulated to relieve pain and soreness. Contains menthol, a common topical pain-relieving ingredient. The gel is available in roll-on and squeeze versions with a potency of 3, 8, or 17 mg CBD per ml. The 17 mg potency is quite high for a topical product, making it an excellent option for relieving physical discomfort. The gel comes in a 3 oz container with 300, 750, or 1500 mg CBD.
  • CBD recover inflammation cream: designed for improving recovery and reducing inflammation. Contains arnica and MSM, two anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving compounds that may be particularly helpful for joint health. This cream is available in a tub or squeeze with a potency of 5, 6.3, or 12.5 mg CBD per ml. Comes in 2 oz (300 mg CBD) or 4 oz containers (750 or 1500 mg CBD).
  • CBD revive moisturizing lotion: formulated to moisturize and support skin health. This lotion has a CBD potency of 5, 6.3, or 12.5 mg CBD per ml. Contains multiple moisturizing skincare ingredients, such as acai berry, passionfruit oil, and shea butter. Comes in 2 oz (300 mg CBD) or 4 oz containers (750 or 1500 mg CBD).

These topicals are priced between $29.99 and $99.99. This averages out to about $0.08 per mg of CBD: a fairly reasonable price.


  • High potency
  • Affordable price ($0.08 per mg CBD)
  • Third-party tested with easily accessible test reports
  • Free shipping on all American orders


  • Lack of detailed information about the manufacturing process
  • No third-party tests for heavy metals and some other contaminants
  • No full-spectrum products

Best CBD Lotion and Cream

CBD-infused creams and lotions are some of the most versatile ways to apply CBD topically. One the one hand, they can be used to care for the skin, reducing dryness, fighting signs of aging, and helping with inflammation.

On the other hand, their water-heavy formulas also allow for deeper penetration into the skin, which is ideal for relieving muscle and joint pain and soreness. Let’s take a look at the best CBD creams.

Green Roads Creams

Green Roads is an excellent choice for CBD creams thanks to offering separate products for skin health and pain relief, as well as multiple potency options.

Since being founded in 2012, Florida-based Green Roads has grown into one of the biggest American CBD brands. It offers CBD oils, gummies, capsules, syrups, pet formulations, and other products in a wide variety of potencies.

Given Green Roads’ focus on transparency and quality, it’s not hard to see why the company has thousands of positive reviews. Green Roads provides clear information about its hemp source and provides detailed highlights about ingredients, usage, and other useful facts on every product page.

It also helps customers put a face to the name by sharing the story of its two founders — a licensed pharmacist and a businessman who improved his health by using CBD.

Green Roads uses organic, non-GMO hemp grown in Colorado, the state with the most advanced hemp industry, and provides extensive third-party lab test results of its products.

Green Roads’ CBD offers separate cream for supporting healthy skin and relieving pain (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us):

  • Muscle & joint pain cream: this broad-spectrum CBD cream is formulated specifically for relief of muscle and joint pain and comes with a potency of 5 or 10 mg CBD per ml. Comes in a 1 oz container and also contains menthol, a popular topical pain-relieving compound.
  • Skin relief cream: this cream is designed to support skin health and appearance. It contains 200 mg of broad-spectrum CBD in a 1 oz container (potency of 7 mg per ml). Also includes multiple skin-supportive ingredients, such as avocado oil and vitamin E.

Green Roads’ creams cost $34.95 to $62.5. This is equivalent to about $0.21 per mg of CBD, which is more expensive than the average cost for CBD creams.


  • Separate, specialized creams for skin care and pain relief
  • High-quality hemp source
  • Third-party tested


  • Somewhat expensive ($0.21 per mg CBD)
  • Lack of detailed information about manufacturing and extraction
  • Not full-spectrum products

Fab CBD Cream

With a medium CBD potency, full-spectrum hemp formula, quality ingredients, pleasant scent, and affordable price, this cream is a great addition to your daily health regimen.

Fab CBD was founded in 2017 with the mission of helping people improve their health naturally. The company offers CBD oils, topicals, dog treats, and gummies. Although this lineup is not as extensive as some other companies, the company makes up for it in quality.

Its products are made from organic, non-GMO hemp cultivated in Colorado, the best hemp source in the United States. The hemp plants are extracted with carbon dioxide, a safe, advanced extraction method preferred by most leading CBD companies. Fab CBD also utilizes third-party testing and posts the lab results on its website.

Fab CBD claims their topical CBD cream is an effective topical suitable for both skincare and pain relief. It has a concentration of 10 mg CBD per ml, a medium-level potency that’s great for most purposes, for a total of 600 mg of full-spectrum CBD in a 2 oz container.

The cream also contains other natural ingredients beneficial to the skin, such as aloe vera, cocoa butter, and chamomile. It comes with a subtle, pleasant blood orange scent. The cream is priced at $49, or $0.08 per mg of CBD, which is cheaper than average for CBD creams.


  • Affordable price ($0.08 per mg CBD)
  • Quality hemp source and extraction process
  • Third-party tested
  • Contains other ingredients beneficial to skin health
  • Pleasant blood orange scent


  • Only one potency option
  • No USDA organic certification
  • No unscented version

CBDfx CBD Cream

CBDfx’s CBD cream is another top-notch choice. The company claim their broad-spectrum topical works great to soothe and moisturize the skin and also contains willow bark and menthol — two natural pain relievers.

Founded in 2012, CBDfx is a leading American CBD company known for its diverse product lineup which includes CBD oils, edibles, vape products, topicals, drinks, and pet products. CBDfx is a popular choice largely due to the distinct style, feel, and flavor of its products.

The company uses hemp grown in Holland and extracted with supercritical CO2, the gold standard extraction method. Its products are third-party tested, the results of which can be found on CBDfx’s website.

CBDfx’s CBD cream is an all-around topical made with broad-spectrum CBD extract. It has a potency of 3 mg CBD per ml and comes in a 30 ml (100 mg CBD) or 50 ml (150 mg CBD) container. The cream is priced at $39.99, or $0.26 per mg of CBD, which is a bit pricey for CBD creams.

On the one hand, according to CBDfx you can use this cream to support skin health and reduce inflammation and irritation, especially with the addition of ingredients such as caffeine. On the other hand, according to CBDfx it can also help ease soreness and discomfort, largely due to containing white willow bark and menthol, two natural pain-relieving ingredients.


  • Contains additional anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving ingredients
  • Versatile topical product that’s great for beginners
  • Third-party tested


  • Lack of detailed information about hemp source
  • Third-party tests are somewhat outdated
  • Lacks high potency option
  • Somewhat expensive ($0.26 per mg CBD)

Best CBD Balms and Salves

CBD salves and balms are another popular topical CBD product category. They’re similar to creams and lotions, but with one key difference: consistency. Salves and balms don’t contain water and have a waxy feel, which makes them ideal for treating the surface of the skin but not that great at penetrating deeper.

As such, CBD balms and salves are better for topical concerns, such as skin inflammation, cuts, and dryness, rather than muscle or joint discomfort. Here’s the breakdown of the best CBD salves on the market.

Lazarus Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Balm

There are many things to like about the CBD balm from Lazarus Naturals. To begin with, it’s made with full-spectrum CBD extract, which includes all of the naturally-occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial compounds in hemp.

Additionally, Lazarus Naturals’ balm has a fairly high potency of 20 mg CBD per ml. This ensures that it’s strong enough to potentially provide both pain relief and skin-related benefits.

Furthermore, the balm is available in two sizes (0.5 oz and 2 oz) and five scents: unscented, Portland rose, lavender, cedar citrus, and soothing mint. We also like the fact that it contains standard balm ingredients such as mango butter and beeswax instead of trying to overcomplicate things.

To top it all off, this balm is one of the cheapest high-quality topicals on the market. It costs only 4 to 5 cents per mg of CBD. In sum, this balm is a superb choice thanks to its simple, effective formula, high potency, pleasant scents, and amazing price.

  • Exceptionally low price ($0.04–$0.05 per mg CBD)
  • High potency
  • Third-party tested
  • Multiple scent options
  • Full-spectrum formula


  • No USDA organic certification
  • Only one potency option

Endoca Hemp Salve

The CBD-infused hemp salve from Endoca is another excellent CBD balm. According to the Endoca website This high-potency topical is great for supporting the skin and helping with joint and muscle discomfort.

Endoca is a prominent European CBD company founded by Danish biochemist Henry Vincenty in 2008. It sells full-spectrum CBD oils, topicals, capsules, concentrates, pet formulations, edibles, and more.

Endoca differentiates itself from the competition by a meticulous, scientific approach to formulating high-quality CBD preparations.

The company maintains rigorous testing of its hemp from seed to final extract. It grows all of its non-GMO, organic hemp in Scandinavia and uses only supercritical CO2 extraction, the most advanced method of isolating CBD and other beneficial phytochemicals from the plant.

Its finished CBD products are tested by a third-party lab for potency, safety, and even terpene profile, an additional quality control measure. These test results are readily accessible on Endoca’s website.

In addition, Endoca offers “raw” hemp products, which maintain hemp extract in a form as close to nature as possible. These products undergo minimal processing and contain high concentrations of CBDA, the precursor molecule to CBD with similar health benefits.

Endoca’s products are among the best in Europe, and its hemp salve is no different. This topical contains 750 mg of full-spectrum CBD in a 1 oz (30 ml) container, giving it a high potency of 25 mg CBD per ml. This is one of the highest CBD strengths for a topical product we’ve come across.

According to Endoca this salve also works great for supporting skin health and helping with dryness and inflammation, especially with the addition of vitamin E.

Endoca’s hemp salve costs $57, which comes out to a very reasonable $0.08 per mg of CBD which make it very affordable product.


  • Affordable cost ($0.08 per mg CBD)
  • High CBD potency
  • Full-spectrum formula
  • Extensive third-party testing
  • High-quality hemp and extraction process


  • Lacks organic certification
  • Only one potency option

Joy Organics CBD Salve

The CBD salve from Joy Organics is another solid choice, thanks to its high potency (17 mg per ml), its formula, and multiple size options.

Joy Organics was founded by Joy Smith and her family in 2018. The company’s lineup includes CBD oils, softgels, topicals, pet products, and energy drinks.

Joy Organics claim to use only American-grown hemp which is extracted with supercritical carbon dioxide (CO2), an advanced, safe, and efficient way to isolate CBD and other beneficial compounds from the plant.

The company also takes an extra step to completely remove THC, creating the broad-spectrum CBD extracts used to formulate its products. Finally, every product batch is tested by an independent third-party laboratory for potency and safety, with the test results posted on the company’s website.

Joy Organics’ CBD salve is one of the best better topicals on the market. It has a relatively high potency of 17 mg CBD per ml, which is refreshing because many competitor topicals have too little CBD to have a significant effect. The salve comes in two sizes: 1 oz (500 mg CBD) or 2 oz (1000 mg).

It’s made with broad-spectrum hemp extract, which means it contains a wide range of beneficial cannabinoids (but zero THC), terpenes, and other phytochemicals.

The salve costs $54.95 for the 500 mg version and $74.95 for 1000 mg. This translates to about $0.09 per mg of CBD.


  • Affordable price ($0.09 per mg CBD)
  • High potency
  • Third-party tested
  • Two size options
  • Free shipping


  • Only one potency option
  • Lack of detailed information about manufacturing and extraction
  • Not a full-spectrum product

Best CBD Face Serum

CBD’s anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties make it an excellent ingredient for face serums. Like regular serums, these products are designed to reduce the signs of aging and improve the overall health and appearance of the face, making it look more youthful and vibrant.

CBDfx CBD Face Oil Serum

One of the only products of its kind, CBDfx’s Rejuvediol CBD face oil serum is designed to help with dryness, inflammation, acne, and signs of aging such as wrinkles and fine lines (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us).

This topical contains 250 mg of full-spectrum CBD extract in a 30 ml container, which gives it a potency of 8 mg per ml. The serum costs $59.99 for 250 mg of CBD. This translates to about $0.24 per mg of CBD.

It also has many other ingredients with skin benefits, such as rose and chamomile extract, jojoba and vetiver oil, and vitamin E. Essentially, this product combines full-spectrum CBD oil with compounds commonly used in regular serums, allowing you to benefit from both.


  • Contains multiple ingredients with skin benefits
  • Full-spectrum product
  • Third-party tested
  • Non-greasy


  • Not the most transparent company
  • Lack of detailed information about hemp source
  • Somewhat expensive ($0.26 per mg CBD)

Best CBD Massage Oil

There’s a good reason CBD massage oil is becoming popular. A massage is meant to promote relaxation and reduce pain and discomfort: benefits for which CBD’s anti-inflammatory, calming, and pain-relieving properties make an excellent match.

The best part about CBD massage oil is that you don’t need to go to a spa and can use it on your own to help relieve physical and mental stress and discomfort.

Lazarus Naturals CBD Massage Oil

Lazarus Naturals is known for superb products with affordable prices, and their CBD massage oil is no different. This full-spectrum massage oil contains the complete range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other beneficial phytochemicals, ensuring that you make the most of the synergistic effects of hemp.

It also contains other massage oil ingredients such as jojoba, sweet almond, and coconut oil that support skin health and leave a pleasant scent.

This massage oil has a potency of 50 mg CBD per tbsp (~15 ml), which is strong enough to both benefit your skin and help relieve pain and soreness. It comes in three sizes: 2 oz (200 mg CBD), 8 oz (800 mg CBD), and 16 oz sizes (1600 mg CBD). Better yet, it provides great value with a cost of only $0.05 per mg of CBD (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us).


  • Exceptionally low price ($0.05 per mg CBD)
  • Third-party tested
  • Multiple size options
  • Effective, full-spectrum formula


  • No USDA organic certification
  • Only one potency option

Best CBD Roll-On

Topical CBD roll-ons are incredibly convenient, allowing for hands-free application and consistent dosing. They’re great option for both pain relief and skin-related benefits. Check out our reviews of the best CBD roll-ons below.

CbdMD CBD Freeze Pain Relief Gel

The CBD freeze roll-on from cbdMD is an excellent option for dealing with pain and soreness. The company recommends this topical for muscle, arthritis, back, and joint-related pain (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us).

This roll-on comes in three potency levels: 3, 8, and 17 mg of broad-spectrum CBD per ml. You can adjust the CBD strength to match your level of discomfort, with the highest potency being ideal for significant pain.

This roll-on also contains menthol, one of the most popular topical pain-relievers. It comes in a 3 oz container with 300, 750, or 1500 mg CBD and has a reasonable cost of $0.08 per mg of CBD.


  • Affordable price ($0.08 per mg CBD)
  • Three potency options
  • Third-party tested
  • Contains menthol for additional pain relief


  • Lack of detailed information about the manufacturing process
  • No third-party tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants
  • Not a full-spectrum product

Joy Organics CBD Salve Stick

Joy Organics’ salve stick is a great choice for a skincare CBD roll-on. This broad-spectrum topical contains rosemary leaf extract, an anti-inflammatory that is known to reduce skin puffiness and swelling, and several other ingredients that moisturize and support healthy skin, such as shea butter, hemp seed oil, and jojoba oil (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us).

Meanwhile, its relatively high CBD potency of 17 mg per ml helps maximize the anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects of hemp extract. The roll-on comes in a 0.5 oz (15 ml) stick with 250 mg CBD and costs $0.13 per mg.


  • High potency
  • Effective formula for skin care
  • Third-party tested
  • Free shipping


  • Only one potency option
  • Not as cheap as some other roll-ons ( $0.13 per mg CBD)
  • Lack of detailed information about manufacturing and extraction
  • Not a full-spectrum product

CBDistillery CBDol Relief Stick

A handy all-around topical, CBDistillery’s CBDol relief stick can be used to address both skin health and pain. It has a potency of 8 mg per ml for a total of 500 mg CBD in a 2.2 oz stick.

On the one hand, this topical contains menthol, making it effective at dealing with muscle and joint pain. On the other hand, it also has multiple ingredients that can moisturize, protect, and otherwise support the skin, including vitamin E and multiple oils: sweet almond, sunflower, avocado, safflower, and more (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us).

The CBDol relief stick costs $0.08 per mg CBD.


  • Affordable price ($0.08 per mg CBD)
  • Versatile product that works for both pain and skincare
  • High-quality hemp and extraction process
  • Third-party tested


  • No USDA organic certification
  • No third-party tests for heavy metals
  • Only one potency
  • Not a full-spectrum product

Nanocraft CBD Extra Strength CBD Muscle & Joint Stick

Thanks to its specialized herbal formula, Nanocraft CBD’s muscle & joint stick is an excellent CBD roll-on for athletes and other active individuals experiencing muscle or joint pain.

Founded in 2016, Nanocraft CBD is a California-based brand unique for using nanotechnology. More specifically, some of the company’s products, such as CBD tinctures, undergo an additional process where CBD hemp oil is broken down into nano-sized particles, which may increase its absorption.

Nanocraft offers CBD oils, capsules, topicals, and even CBD-infused water. All of its products are made with broad-spectrum hemp extract, which means they’re free of THC.

Nanocraft sources non-GMO, organic hemp from Colorado, extracts it with the industry-leading carbon dioxide method and provides third-party test reports for all its products.

Nanocraft CBD’s roll-on is one of the best topicals for relieving joint and muscle pain. What makes this CBD topical unique is the inclusion of not one but multiple ingredients that can reduce pain and inflammation (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us).

Whereas most pain-oriented CBD topicals only contain menthol, Nanocraft’s stick also has:

Combined with 10 mg of CBD per ml, this highly specialized formula works great for joint and muscle discomfort. Nanocraft’s extra strength stick contains a total of 500 mg of broad-spectrum CBD and costs $0.12 per mg.


  • Specialized pain and inflammation-relieving formula
  • High-quality hemp and extraction process
  • Third-party tested


  • Slightly more expensive than some other brands ($0.12 per mg CBD)
  • No third-party tests for heavy metals
  • Not a full-spectrum product

Best CBD Topical for Pain and Inflammation

Pain and inflammation are arguably the main reasons people turn to topical CBD products. The best part about applying CBD externally is that it offers localized relief. Whether it’s your knees, shoulder, back, or another painful, inflamed, or sore area, topical CBD products are a great alternative to CBD oil when you have muscle or joint pain in a specific part of the body.

CbdMD Pain Relief Gel and Inflammation Cream

CbdMD offers two targeted products for pain and inflammation: the CBD freeze pain relief gel and the CBD recover inflammation cream. Both products come in low, medium, and high CBD potencies so you can choose the right level to match the severity of your symptoms (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us).

The gel is formulated for pain relief and contains menthol alongside 300, 750, or 1500 mg of CBD in a 3 oz container.

Meanwhile, the cream is designed to ease inflammation and promote recovery, which is why it contains arnica and MSM, two compounds that can reduce inflammation and support joint health. It contains 300 mg of CBD in a 2 oz container or 750/1500 mg in a 4 oz jar.


  • Affordable price ($0.08 per mg CBD)
  • Two specialized formulas, one for pain and another for inflammation
  • Three potency options
  • Third-party tested for potency


  • Lack of detailed information about the manufacturing process
  • No third-party tests for pesticides, heavy metals, and other contaminants
  • Not full-spectrum

Green Roads Muscle & Joint Relief Roll-On and Cream

Similar to cbdMD, Green Roads has two specialized products for pain: the soothing CBD topical cream and the muscle & joint heat relief roll-on.

The 30 ml cream has a potency of 5 or 10 mg CBD per ml and contains menthol for added pain relief. Meanwhile, the roll-on has a similar formula but also contains capsaicin, another pain-relieving ingredient. It has a smaller potency of 2.8 or 5.6 mg CBD per ml in a 3 oz (90 ml) container (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us).

Both of these topicals are made with broad-spectrum hemp extract and cost about $0.18 per mg CBD.


  • Additional pain-relieving ingredients
  • Two product options with two potencies each
  • High-quality hemp source
  • Third-party tested


  • Somewhat expensive ($0.18 per mg CBD)
  • Lack of detailed information about manufacturing and extraction process
  • Not full-spectrum products
  • No high potency option

Best CBD Topical for Skin Relief

Dryness, irritation, inflammation, and cuts are all common problems that can affect the skin. Although any topical CBD product can help with these concerns, a formula designed specifically to protect, relieve, and support the skin will do a better job.

Receptra Naturals Targeted Topical and Body Butter

Receptra Naturals’ body butter and targeted topical are both great options for supporting the skin’s health and appearance.

This Colorado-based CBD brand was founded in 2016. Its product lineup includes CBD oils, topicals, pet products, and THC-free formulas. Receptra is especially focused on athletes, which explains why many of its CBD products include additional herbal ingredients designed to relieve pain and inflammation.

The company uses only Colorado-grown, non-GMO, organic hemp that is extensively tested by a third-party laboratory. Its products come in a variety of potencies.

Receptra Naturals provides two excellent full-spectrum topicals designed to nourish and protect the skin: an all-purpose body butter and a higher-potency targeted topical (Medicals claims or any other health benefits use suggestions are according to the company’s website and haven’t been verified by us).

With a potency of 4 mg CBD per ml, the body butter works best for minor and moderate skin issues. This 1.4 oz (175 mg CBD) balm also contains other ingredients that help with dry, irritated, and inflamed skin, such as vitamin E, aloe vera, mango butter, and jasmine oil.

Meanwhile, for more severe skin issues, Receptra’s targeted topical is the better option. It contains 11 mg of CBD per ml and comes in 1.25 (400 mg CBD) and 2.5 oz (800 mg CBD) sizes. Like the body butter, this balm has a multi-ingredient formula with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients such as arnica, jojoba oil, and jasmine oil.

These products cost $0.11 per mg of CBD, which is just around the market average.


  • Reasonable price ($0.11 per mg CBD)
  • Additional ingredients that can protect and support the skin
  • Two potency options
  • Extensive third-party test results
  • Full-spectrum products


  • Lack of detailed information about the company
  • Poorly designed product labels

Table of Contents


CBD has become popularised in the form of capsules and tinctures, but more recently the use of topical CBD has come to the forefront. This article will cover how CBD topicals work, what they can be used for, their benefits, evidence for their efficacy, how and where to find good quality topicals, and pricing.

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of many plant compounds known as cannabinoids that are found exclusively in hemp and cannabis plants. CBD has become popular for a wide range of ailments across a wide demographic of users, due to its ability to trigger the function of the human endocannabinoid system.

Endocannabinoid System

Every mammal has an endocannabinoid system which is at the heart of ensuring that the nervous, immune and organ systems are working in perfect harmony. CBD communicates with the endocannabinoid system via specific cannabinoid and non-cannabinoid receptors, in much the same way a key fits into a lock. When CBD interacts with these receptors, it can help control many biological processes which beneficially impact health.

THC is a similar cannabinoid to CBD, but is responsible for producing the ‘high’ that is associated with smoking cannabis. Unlike THC, CBD is largely non-psychoactive, and does not produce a high. This is because CBD does not interact with cannabinoid receptors in the same way that THC does. In this way, CBD can offer relief from a wide array of ailments without producing unwanted side effects in the form of a high sensation.

It’s worth briefly noting that clinical research into the effects of CBD is in its infancy and many anecdotal claims have yet to be clarified by randomised controlled trials. Nonetheless, many people still provide testimonials to its efficacy, and its use is becoming increasingly popular.

CBD can be found in many different forms:

  • Tinctures
  • Capsules
  • Balms / Salves
  • Oils
  • Creams/ Lotions
  • Serums
  • Lubricants
  • Gummies
  • Chocolates
  • E-liquids
  • Vaping concentrates
  • Soft drinks
  • Coffee

CBD Topicals

Whilst a lot of CBD is ingested orally, smoked or vaporised, topical formulations can be applied directly to the skin. The skin is the primary barrier protecting the bodies internal world against the external environment. Only certain molecules may pass through the skin, depending on their structure and properties. CBD is a fat friendly compound, which means it can penetrate through the epidermis, the outermost layer of the three layers of skin .Once the epidermis has been penetrated, CBD can access living tissues within the dermis.Here CBD can interact with the endocannabinoid system.

Both cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2 are found in the skin. CB1 signals to the nervous system, enabling it to regulate pain. A portion of the immune system is also found in the skin. Here, CBD may interact with CB2 receptors. CB2 regulates levels of inflammation, a process which underlies a host of skin conditions, and also inflammatory pain.

Unlike ingesting or smoking CBD, applying it to the skin does not allow it to enter the bloodstream; it simply works on the outermost endocannabinoid system contained in the living layer of the skin.

Topicals Include infused:

  • Lotions/Creams
  • Salves/Balms
  • Oils, such as for massage
  • Serums
  • Lubricants
  • Roll ons

Benefits of using CBD Topicals

The reason most people use a CBD topical is to manage pain localized to a specific area, or to treat a patch of skin that is damaged or inflamed. Inflammation is a process that drives both pain and visible skin conditions, and it can be reduced by many natural substances. CBD happens to be one of them, and it has been found to be a powerful anti-inflammatory.

So far, clinical trials using CBD have only been performed on a few inflammatory conditions. Researchers have studied the response of a few well characterized inflammatory disease processes to topical CBD. The studies were performed using both animals and cells and the evidence is gathered is encouraging:

  • Arthritis – CBD gel was given to rats with arthritis, which reduced joint swelling, signs of inflammation and pain related behaviours.
  • Oedema (swelling) – topical CBD reduced inflammation and swelling in mice with rheumatoid arthritis.
  • Acne – CBD reduced inflammation in skin cells and showed antibacterial activity, which may help with acne.
  • Psoriasis – CBD inhibited the spread of keratinocytes, which are cells that multiply in the epidermis of the skin to produce the visible effects of psoriasis.
  • Dermatitis – CBD may help reduce the signs of dermatitis by reducing underlying inflammation.

CBD has also been found to act as a potent antioxidant, which may help with the general maintenance of healthy, vibrant skin in particular.

Although studies in animals and cells provide clues as to the potential effects of topical CBD, no conclusions can be drawn for the effects in humans until clinical trials have been undertaken. However, two studies have been conducted in humans, using topical CBD:

Osteoarthritis – after 12 weeks of CBD gel treatment, there was no difference in pain scores between those receiving the CBD and those receiving a placebo. However, the gel was a synthetic CBD isolate formulation, and the study has not yet been reviewed and found to be watertight.

Epidermolysis bullosa (skin blistering) – 3 people were observed using topical CBD. The patients reported faster wound healing, less blistering, and reduction of pain when they applied CBD.

Although there is little data to support peoples reports concerning topical CBD’s effects, some users claim that CBD may also help with:

Muscle Pain – muscular pain is also caused by inflammation. Using CBD after exercise could help reduce muscular soreness, although there are no studies to back this up. The studies offer only anecdotal evidence.

Bruising – no evidence or mechanism known yet. CBD may exert an effect by positively impacting the rate of capillary repair

Bites – could help by reducing inflammation

Mild skin irritation – also may help by reducing inflammation and through antioxidant and antimicrobial activity

It’s worth mentioning that there’s very little clinical data to support the effects of CBD when applied to the skin. However, there is some clinical evidence for the efficacy of CBD for some medical conditions when it is given orally.

Medical conditions which improve after administration of CBD

Most studies in humans have used oral CBD. The material it enters the bloodstream and has systemic effects on the endocannabinoid system. CBD has shown to hold promise for:

Epilepsy – CBD has gained notoriety through its ability to reduce the occurrence of seizures in select patients with various forms of epilepsy. This has been shown in clinical trials using CBD.

Pain – CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which is a regulator of other systems, including the nervous and immune systems. Pain can have nervous and inflammatory origins, and CBD can help support endocannabinoid functions in a manner which reduces pain. A large meta-analysis of clinical studies provides a strong case for the use of CBD in managing pain.

Insomnia – CBD has relaxing and mild sedating qualities at higher doses. This makes it particularly effective at helping those affected by insomnia get a good night’s sleep. Often the bodies endocannabinoid system is either over or under ac, which may lead to sleep disturbances. CBD, as well as other cannabinoids act as adaptogens to help balance out endocannabinoid system function. CBD has proven to be efficacious in anxiety related and anxiety independent insomnia. Sleep disorders may be caused by endocannabinoid system dysfunction, and CBD has shown promise in alleviating their occurrence.

Anxiety – CBD, although non-psychoactive, is able to modulate certain aspects of mood and emotion. The endocannabinoid system, HPA axis and nervous system all play a role in depression and anxiety. CBD can help put the brakes on anxiety by reducing HPA axis activation and increasing release of the bodies natural endocannabinoid, anandamide. CBD also helps support a more positive mood through activating the 5-HT1A serotonin receptor. Clinical evidence supports a role for CBD in the management of anxiety.

Psychosis – The endocannabinoid system controls many aspects of mood, emotion and consciousness. In cases of psychosis, the endocannabinoid system can be overactive. CBD helps modify the function of the endocannabinoid system, reducing psychosis, This has been shown clinically.

When You Mustn’t use CBD Cream

While the use of cannabis is becoming more popular all over the world, some people have found that they can be allergic to the plant. It’s worth remembering this when you use topical formulations, just in case.

Although topical CBD may help with wound healing, there is a risk of infection if it is applied to open wounds. Avoid applying CBD until the wound has undergone some healing first.

Benefits of Using CBD Topicals Over Normal CBD

More targeted Relief

Compared to oral use of CBD, topical may provide more targeted relief for certain conditions.

A study of regular CBD users recently reported that CBD was most commonly used to manage chronic pain and arthritis. Pain is usually localised to a specific area, which may allow a topical to alleviate pain to a greater degree. This difference in effect between oral and topical CBD merits further study. The same can be said for treating a specific patch of damaged and inflamed skin.


Using a topical also has the advantage of avoiding first pass metabolism in the liver; a process that can typically alter the bioavailability of CBD, and thus diminish its magnitude of effect. When you buy a topical, you may get more bang for your buck, as a larger quantityof CBD is available to work for you.

Familiarity & Taste

For new users, using topical formulations could be a more familiar and approachable way to experience the benefits of CBD when compared to ingesting it. Some people don’t enjoy the taste of CBD. The use of a topical CBD preparation may allow them to experience some localised benefits without having to take it orally. However, the effects will be mostly limited to a certain area.


CBD tinctures and capsules usually carry a very specific dose (in mg). The effect of each dose will depend upon an individual’s body weight. Dosing with topicals is less accurate, as it really depends on how much is used in one application. However, it can be easier to gauge how much to use based on the level of pain in the area to which it is being applied. In this way, topicals can be used based on a subjective experience of relief.

Local Vs Global Effects & Drug Tests

Topical CBD does not enter the bloodstream to a great degree, and is therefore limited to interacting with the endocannabinoid system in the skin. This has its advantages for treating localised issues like skin irritation, pain and swelling. However, conditions such as anxiety and insomnia are unlikely to be helped by topical CBD.

A lot of CBD products use full spectrum extracts, which means there are trace amounts of THC in them (< 0.02 – 0.03%). It’s not uncommon for athletes and employees to show positive results on drug tests from using CBD products, despite their being legal. Topicals may reduce the risk of positive drug test results, as they do not allow much of the cannabinoids to enter the bloodstream and travel through the body.


A lot of topicals come in a range of prices and doses, so you may find one that is both effective and economical for you. Like most CBD products, prices may vary based on the brand you choose, the quality of their CBD and the other ingredients used in the formulations. Expect to pay anywhere between £0.043 – 0.099 ($0.054 – 0.12) per mg of CBD in creams and balms. Serums and oils may be a little pricer, exceeding £0.099 ($0.12) per mg of CBD. Tinctures and capsules typically run in the range of £0.053 – 0.133 ($0.066 – 0.17) per mg of CBD.

If a substance is psychoactive and/or addictive, then it is typically scheduled as illicit. CBD is largely non-psychoactive and non-addictive.

Many CBD products contain extracts from hemp, which naturally contains very low levels of the psychoactive and (depending on the individual) addictive cannabinoid, THC. All CBD products are required to have < 0.2% THC in Europe and < 0.3% in the USA.

Some products will be formulated using CBD extracted from cannabis (Marijana) instead of hemp. The legality of CBD from cannabis is a grey area. If it contains over 0.3% THC it is technically illegal. However, some companies will use cannabis derived CBD and filter out the THC to provide a broad spectrum extract.

Side Effects

CBD is not a panacea, despite what many people have come to recently believe. There are side effects associated with its use, although they are considered to be mild.

Some studies have indicated that the side effect profile of CBD is preferable to that of some conventional drugs. However, this doesn’t mean you should switch your medication for CBD. Always ask your doctor first before making any changes to your medications.

Studies have reported that CBD can produce:

  1. Diarrhea
  2. Reduced appetite
  3. Fatigue / sedation
  4. Lower Blood Pressure
  5. Drug interactions – CBD may inhibit enzymes in the liver which alters the metabolism rate of other drugs. This alteration could increase or decrease their effects and side effects.

If you are taking prescription medication and would like to know about how the drug interacts with CBD, consult with your doctor before using CBD.

It’s worth noting that topical CBD may not produce the same side effects experienced by those who take it orally. Topical CBD doesn’t not enter the bloodstream to a significant extent nor does it pass through the liver. However, there is no clinical data to confirm this yet.

Does CBD get you high

Although CBD is widely referred to as being non-psychoactive, it clearly has some ability to influence mood due to its effects on anxiety. However, CBD’s mechanism of action is largely via increasing the bodies natural feel good chemical, anandamide, and through activating the serotonin receptor. This is different from the mechanism by which THC acts. THC activates the CB1 receptor to produce the characteristic cannabis high.

CBD products are required by law to contain <0.2 – 0.3% THC, which is significantly below the threshold required to produce any psychoactive effects. Typically, modern strains of cannabis contain anywhere from 10 – 30% THC, just to give you an idea of what is required to produce a high.

Although topicals penetrate through the epidermis of the skin, they do not enter the bloodstream or interact with the central endocannabinoid system. The central endocannabinoid system controls the nervous system and sends messages to the brain to control mood and consciousness. So, even though topicals may contain trace amounts of THC, there is very little risk of them producing any psychoactivity or high.

How To Use CBD Topicals

It depends on what kind of product you are using, and the intended effects that product has.

Products suited for skin care and maintenance can be used in a similar manner to cosmetics which nourish skin. For example, face creams and lip balms are pretty self explanatory. There is little information on what dose is needed for skin care, as little research has been conducted in this area. Its best to follow the manufacturers guidelines on each application, and pay attention to how your skin might feel or appear in response to application of the CBD product for a week. You can always modify how you use it depending on what results you are getting.

In the case of more novel products like sex lubricants, there is no research on this mode of use of CBD. You could apply this type of product based on how long you would like it to last, and the level of effect you get from each use.

For ailments such as pain, pinpointing an exact area can facilitate the effective use of a topical like a balm or oil. You may find that pain in your leg has its origins in your lower back, so see what area(s) work best for you.

It’s worth also cleaning the area before you apply the product as well as washing your hands. It’s easy to pick up unwanted bacteria and pathogens in day to day contact with the world. It’s worth maximising the potential effect a topical has by washing your hands.

Sometimes topicals contain other ingredients such as essential oils and spices like capsaicin. These can be irritating if you were to rub your eye, so it’s best to wash your hands after applying the CBD topical as well.


CBD and the ingredients you’d find in topicals are typically sensitive to light, heat and oxygen exposure. The antioxidant potential of CBD and other essential oils can be lost when exposed to open air, bright light and too much heat.

When you store your topical, make sure the lid is tightly sealed, and it is kept in a cool, dry and dark space so you can ensure you get the most value from your product. Typically, stability tests indicate that CBD topicals last between 12-24 months, although individual products may vary.

Where can you buy CBD topicals

There are several ways to purchase topical CBD products. Here are a few:

Manufacturers – Brands that make their own products often offer them for sale on their own websites. Below are a few places from the USA and UK.

Online retailers – This is one of the easiest and most convenient ways of getting your CBD. Besides topicals, retailers often offer a broad array of other CBD products, and provide reviews to help you make the best choices. Like most other e-commerce stores, you can get your CBD shipped straight to your door.

Stores – Most commonly, CBD can be found in apothecaries, supplement stores and health food shops. Some stores may offer more specialist advice and guidance. Head shops sometimes stock stock CBD, but may not provide the same level of service as an apothecary.

Dispensaries – These are limited to the USA, in states where marijuana is legal. One might expect the best guidance and advice on the best brands and prices for CBD topicals when visiting a dispensary. However, this may come at a slightly higher cost.

Prices may vary for CBD topicals, depending on the brand, CBD source, type of topical and concentration of CBD. Typically one would expect to find 200 – 1000mg in CBD topicals, depending on the type. A cream or lip balm may run at 200mg, whereas a product designed for application to muscles run may be 1000mg, which is reflected in a higher price. When buying topicals, the prices typically run anywhere from $0.05 – $0.17 per mg.

How to find a high quality CBD topical

How the plant is grown

Always ensure the CBD is from an organic source of hemp. Hemp is a bioaccumulator, which means it takes on environmental toxins. It is important that your product specifies where the hemp is grown, and if it is organic.

Extraction method

Supercritical CO2 extraction is the industry standard for obtaining CBD from hemp and cannabis plants. This process produces a pure, clean, high quality oil that is free from residual solvents, which could be toxic.

Extra steps may be taken in the purification of CBD products, such as winterisation. This process involves soaking the CO2 extract in alcohol and then freezing it. Winterisation can be used to filter out waxes, chlorophyll and lipids to provide an exceptionally pure CBD oil.

Most CBD topicals will contain full spectrum CO2 extracts, offering a range of cannabinoids and terpenes other than just CBD.

Some topicals may contain CBD isolate, whilst it may not provide the same degree of relief as full spectrum extracts, as many of the plant compounds from hemp and cannabis work as a team.

Lab Tests

When purchasing a topical, make sure your product comes with lab results that confirm the CBD content of the product. This is the bare minimum of what be provided by the manufacturer

Some companies will have their products tested for heavy metals, pesticides and moulds. This is not yet industry standard, but some manufacturers do undertake these tests. If they don’t, then ensuring that the hemp is organic may mean that the product was not significantly exposed to heavy metals and pesticides during the growing process.


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About The Authors
Rory Batt
Rory Batt
Nutritional Therapist
Rory is a nutritional therapist, providing personalised nutrition, lifestyle and exercise solutions to individuals. He graduated from the University of Exeter with a BSc in Exercise &amp; Sports Sciences, and recently from CNELM with an MSc in Personalised Nutrition. His expertise lies in tailoring cannabis based medicines to individuals, using nutritional genomics and biochemistry. Rory has worked with CBD start-ups since 2015, advising on product formulations, quality control and education on the effects of cannabis on health and well-being.
Gleb Oleinik
Gleb Oleinik
CBD Journalist
Gleb Oleinik is a CBD and health journalist from Vancouver, Canada. He’s read thousands of research studies about various supplement ingredients, enabling him to translate complex health information into simple language. Gleb specializes in CBD and has personally tried and reviewed dozens of CBD products. He’s knowledgeable about the ins and outs of the CBD industry as well as the science and research behind this popular natural remedy.
Leonard Haberman
Leonard Haberman
Physician & Chemist
Dr. Leonard Haberman is a physician and chemist who has been involved in solving chemical and medical problems for 43 years. He graduated from New York University as a dual major in chemistry and biology and went on to obtain a PhD in chemistry from the University of Minnesota where his focus was synthetic methods. He returned to the university in 2005, graduating with an MD degree in 2009. He has published in the open literature. He holds two patents and currently works as a consultant, assisting clients with projects within the disciplines of medicine and chemistry that have potential business applications.
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