Best CBD Topicals for 2021 – Products for Pain, Inflammation, Skin Relief and More

Written by 
Sian Ferguson, CBD and Cannabis Writer.
|Check IconMedically reviewed by 
Eloise Theisen, RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC.
|Last Updated:
* Leafreport may receive compensation. Here’s how we make money.
* Our review is consumer-focused only and we do not check or take a stand regarding medical effects.
* Statements regarding CBD products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.
* Please advise your physician prior to each use of CBD.

One of the most spoken-about botanicals in beauty right now is cannabidiol (CBD). CBD is extracted from hemp and cannabis plants, and can be added to topical treatments like creams, lotions, serums, body oils, and more. Because CBD seems to soothe pain and inflammation, many people use CBD topicals to treat acne, swelling, and pain.

CBD is a non-intoxicating substance, meaning that it won’t make you high. Although CBD isn’t likely to get into your bloodstream from a topical, we still suggest that you talk to your doctor before using CBD. This is especially important if you’re trying to treat a specific condition.

There are so many kinds of CBD topicals out there, from face serums to salves and lip balms. This variety can make it difficult to choose between different products. To help you make an informed decision, we’ve put together a list of the best CBD topicals.

How we chose

To compile the following list, we looked at factors like price, brand reputation, hemp quality, lab results, transparency, and more. We chose the following products from a list of thousands of different products spanning over 150 CBD brands.

In order to give you an accurate and fair recommendation, we use a unique unbiased ranking system to rate brands and CBD products out of 100 points. If you’d like to know more about how we select these products, take a look at this page.

Our CBD articles are written and reviewed by a team of cannabis journalists and healthcare professionals.

#1 Bests

Leafreport’s picks of the Best CBD topicals

Extra Strength Relief Body Oil – Mandarin Turmeric
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 500 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 10 ml
Potency Score IconPotency50 mg/ml
97
$34.99 $0.07 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Unscented Full Spectrum CBD Lotion 300mg
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 300 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 30 ml
Potency Score IconPotency10 mg/ml
95
$12 $0.04 mg/CBD
Visit Site
CBD Lip Balm
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 5 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 4.3 ml
Potency Score IconPotency1.16 mg/ml
91
$7.99 $1.6 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Comfort Cream
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 500 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 50 ml
Potency Score IconPotency10 mg/ml
89
$49 $0.1 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Seriously Relax + Arnica Body Oil-200mg (4oz)
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 200 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size120 ml - 240 ml
Potency Score IconPotency1.67 mg/ml
93
$29.99 $0.15 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Full Spectrum CBD Salve 400 mg
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 400 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 57 ml
Potency Score IconPotency7.02 mg/ml
93
$39.99 $0.1 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Revive Face Serum
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 300 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 30 ml
Potency Score IconPotency10 mg/ml
91
$69.99 $0.23 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Plus CBD Balm 150mg Hemp Stick
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 150 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 28 ml
Potency Score IconPotency5.36 mg/ml
93
$22.99 $0.15 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Serious Relief + Arnica Targeted Topical 0% Thc
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 400 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 35 ml
Potency Score IconPotency11.43 mg/ml
93
$44.99 $0.11 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Plus CBD Skin Serum 50mg
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 50 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 28.6 ml
Potency Score IconPotency1.75 mg/ml
89
$19.99 $0.4 mg/CBD
Visit Site

Our picks

Best Overall — RE Botanicals Extra Strength Relief Body Oil

RE Botanicals Extra Strength Relief Body Oil – Mandarin Turmeric

Overall Score
Product Review
97out of 100
$34.99 $0.07 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
17/20
Extract Type
20/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
10/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 500 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 10 ml
Potency Score IconPotency50 mg/ml

Enriched with mandarin and turmeric oils, this body oil fits all the criteria for an excellent CBD product. This small bottle contains 500mg CBD, making it quite potent and ideal for targeted relief. It’s easily portable and has a metal ball roller applicator which makes it easier to apply the oil. RE Botanicals also donates part of their profit to regenerative agriculture programs.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. The lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
17/20

Their hemp is certified as organic by the US Department of Agriculture.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
20/20

This body oil contains full-spectrum hemp.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

This product is fairly simple – it contains CBD, coconut oil, turmeric oil, and mandarin oil. All ingredients are organic.

 

PriceIcon
Price
10/10

The price works out to around $0.07 per milligram of CBD, which is great value-for-money. They also have a discount program for senior citizens and military personnel, whether active or retired.

Pros: Cons:
  • Certified organic by the USDA
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Discount program
  • Good value for money
  • Added beneficial ingredients
  • Only one strength and size available

Best Value For Money — Lazarus Naturals Unscented CBD Lotion

Lazarus Naturals Unscented Full Spectrum CBD Lotion 300mg

Overall Score
Product Review
95out of 100
$12 $0.04 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
15/20
Extract Type
20/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
10/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 300 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 30 ml
Potency Score IconPotency10 mg/ml

Lazarus Naturals is a reputable company known for creating high-quality but affordable CBD products. Their CBD lotion includes 50mg CBD per teaspoon, which is relatively potent, as well as a range of hydrating organic ingredients. This lotion is unscented, but there are two scented options, too: Portland Rose and Pacific Pine.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. The lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
15/20

Lazarus Naturals uses hemp grown on farms in Oregon that follow organic practices. Part of their farmland was certified organic by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 2020. They’ve said that they hope to have all products certified organic in 2021.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
20/20

This lotion uses full-spectrum CBD.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

In addition to full-spectrum CBD, this product includes hydrating ingredients like mango seed butter, aloe extract, sweet almond oil, and jojoba seed oil, to name a few. The fragranced versions contain natural fragrances.

Price

The price works out to just over $0.03 per milligram of CBD, which is excellent value for money, especially for a topical. Lazarus Naturals also has a generous assistance program, offering a 60 percent discount to veterans, people on long-term disability, and low-income families.

Pros: Cons:
  • Partly certified organic by the USDA
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Assistance program
  • Good value for money
  • Added beneficial ingredients
  • Three scent options
  • Lazarus Naturals has no broad-spectrum or CBD isolate topicals

Best Lip Balm — Elixinol CBD Lip Balm

Elixinol CBD Lip Balm

Overall Score
Product Review
91out of 100
$7.99 $1.6 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
17/20
Extract Type
20/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
4/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 5 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 4.3 ml
Potency Score IconPotency1.16 mg/ml

Elixinol is a reputable CBD brand – all Elixinol products are registered with Iowa’s Consumable Hemp Regulatory Program and certified by the US Hemp Authority. Their lip balm contains a range of hydrating ingredients as well as 5mg of CBD. It has a neutral taste.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. The lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
17/20

Elixinol uses US-grown hemp from a farm that uses organic practices. Their products are certified by the US Hemp Authority and registered with Iowa’s Consumable Hemp Regulatory Program.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
20/20

This product contains full-spectrum CBD.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

This CBD lip balm contains a range of hydrating ingredients, including olive oil, coconut butter, shea butter, palm oil, and rosehip oil. It’s enriched with vitamin E extract. This product is vegan.

 

PriceIcon
Price
4/10

It works out to $1.60 per milligram of CBD. Per-milligram, that’s the most expensive product on this list, but compared to other lip balms, it’s actually well-priced.

Pros: Cons:
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Certified by the US Hemp Authority
  • Registered with Iowa’s Consumable Hemp Regulatory Program
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Only one strength and variety available

Best CBD Lotion — SabaiDee Comfort Cream

Sabaidee Comfort Cream

Overall Score
Product Review
89out of 100
$49 $0.1 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
15/20
Extract Type
16/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
8/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 500 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 50 ml
Potency Score IconPotency10 mg/ml

SabaiDee’s Comfort Cream contains 500mg of CBD as well as hydrating ingredients. It has a sweet mint scent, and is easy to apply. This product is ideal if you’d like an everyday lotion with a boost of CBD. SabaiDee also plants a tree for every product you buy.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested both in-house and by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. Batch-specific lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
15/20

SabaiDee uses Colorado-grown hemp to make their CBD products.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
16/20

This product includes broad-spectrum, THC-free CBD.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

In addition to 500mg CBD, this product contains bergamot oil, camphor oil, and peppermint oil, all of which can soothe skin.

 

PriceIcon
Price
8/10

The price works out to nearly $0.14 per milligram of CBD, which is average. SabaiDee offers a discount program to active or retired military personnel and first responders. They also have a subscribe-and-save option which works out to a 25 percent discount.

Pros: Cons:
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Discount program
  • Subscription program
  • Added beneficial ingredients
  • One tree planted for every sale
  • Only one variety available

Best CBD Body Oil — Receptra Naturals Seriously Relax + Arnica Body Oil

Receptra Naturals Seriously Relax + Arnica Body Oil-200mg (4oz)

Overall Score
Product Review
93out of 100
$29.99 $0.15 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
15/20
Extract Type
20/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
8/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 200 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size120 ml - 240 ml
Potency Score IconPotency1.67 mg/ml

CBD-infused body oils are perfect for massages or post-shower hydration. This lavender-fragranced oil contains 200mg CBD as well as arnica, and the reviews are extremely positive. Receptra Naturals is a reputable company that gives back to worthy projects.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. The lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
15/20

Receptra uses organically grown Colorado hemp.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
20/20

This product contains full-spectrum CBD.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

This body oil contains jojoba oil, vitamin E, and camphor, which are hydrating for the skin. It’s enhanced with arnica oil, which is often used to relieve pain and muscle tension. They use vanilla and lavender extract to give it a pleasant fragrance.

 

PriceIcon
Price
8/10

This product works out to between $0.10 and $0.15 per milligram of CBD, which is an average price. Receptra Naturals offers a generous 50 percent discount to veterans and military personnel. They have a rewards program where you collect points and redeem them to get discounts on their products

Pros: Cons:
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Veterans program
  • Rewards program
  • Added beneficial ingredients
  • Only one variety available

Best CBD Salve — Veritas Farms Full-Spectrum CBD Salve

Veritas Farms Full Spectrum CBD Salve 400 mg

Overall Score
Product Review
93out of 100
$39.99 $0.1 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
15/20
Extract Type
20/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
8/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 400 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 57 ml
Potency Score IconPotency7.02 mg/ml

Veritas Farms offers their full-spectrum salve in three varieties: Unscented, Cooling Menthol, and Lavender Eucalyptus. Their salves have a simple formula, combining CBD and beeswax with coconut oil, making it ideal for skin that is dry or healing. It’s also great for a massage.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. The lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
15/20

Veritas Farms grows their own non-GMO hemp in Colorado. They use sustainable farming practices.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
20/20

This salve contains full-spectrum CBD.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

This product contains organic beeswax and extra virgin coconut oil. The Lavender Eucalyptus variety contains lavender and eucalyptus essential oils, and the Cooling Menthol variety is ideal for aches and pains. The unscented version is ideal for sensitive skin.

 

PriceIcon
Price
8/10

This product works out to around $0.10 per milligram of CBD, which is an average price. Veritas Farms offers a discount and rewards programs.

Pros: Cons:
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Military discount program
  • Rewards programs
  • Added beneficial ingredients
  • Simple formula
  • Three varieties, including an unscented version
  • Not vegan (contains beeswax)

Best CBD Facial Serum — Plant People Revive Face Serum

Plant People Revive Face Serum

Overall Score
Product Review
91out of 100
$69.99 $0.23 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
17/20
Extract Type
20/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
4/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 300 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 30 ml
Potency Score IconPotency10 mg/ml

If you’re looking to incorporate CBD into your skincare routine, quality face serum is a good place to start. This facial serum from Plant People contains a range of hydrating ingredients and botanicals that are rich in anti-oxidants. Like all Plant People products, this serum is vegan and cruelty-free. Plant People is a certified B-Corporation and plants one tree for every product sold.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. The lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
17/20

Plant People uses Colorado-grown hemp that is farmed using organic and sustainable practices.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
20/20

This product contains full-spectrum CBD.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

This product includes hydrating ingredients like squalane oil, Kalahari melod seed oil, hemp seed oil, and argan oil. It also includes extracts of blue tansy, yarrow, and blue chamomile.

 

PriceIcon
Price
4/10

This product works out to around $0.16 per milligram of CBD. This might seem a bit expensive, but considering the added ingredients, it’s actually a fair price. They have a discount program for veterans, a referral program, and a rewards program.

Pros: Cons:
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Veteran’s discount program
  • Rewards and referral programs
  • Added beneficial ingredients
  • One tree planted for every sale
  • Vegan and cruelty-free
  • Only one variety of serum available

Best CBD Balm — Plus CBD Hemp Balm Stick

PlusCBD Oil Plus CBD Balm 150mg Hemp Stick

Overall Score
Product Review
93out of 100
$22.99 $0.15 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
15/20
Extract Type
20/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
8/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 150 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 28 ml
Potency Score IconPotency5.36 mg/ml

CBD balms are generally applied to painful or swollen parts of the body. Because they’re “sticky” they stay on the skin for a long period of time. This CBD balm comes in a handy stick form, making it easier to apply, and it contains a range of fragrant essential oils and healing botanicals.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. The lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
15/20

Plus CBD uses hemp grown in Europe from EU-certified hemp seeds.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
20/20

This balm contains full-spectrum CBD.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

In addition to CBD, this product contains coconut oil, sunflower oil, beeswax, and jojoba oil to moisturize the skin. It also contains extracts of turmeric, arnica, lavender, and peppermint. Turmeric and arnica, in particular, are used to reduce inflammation and pain.

 

PriceIcon
Price
8/10

This product works out to around $0.15 per milligram of CBD. Although this might be expensive in relation to other CBD products, it’s not bad when you consider the added ingredients; it’s more-or-less in line with other CBD balms. They have a subscription option, which saves you money.

Pros: Cons:
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Subscription program
  • Added beneficial ingredients
  • Grown from EU-certified hemp seeds
  • Not vegan (contains beeswax)

Best CBD Topical for Pain — Receptra Naturals Serious Relief + Arnica Targeted Topical

Receptra Naturals Serious Relief + Arnica Targeted Topical 0% Thc

Overall Score
Product Review
93out of 100
$44.99 $0.11 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
15/20
Extract Type
20/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
8/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 400 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 35 ml
Potency Score IconPotency11.43 mg/ml

CBD topicals are often used to soothe pain, whether it be from an injury, chronic pain, or post-workout soreness. This Receptra Naturals Serious Relief + Arnica Targeted Topical includes arnica, which is often also used to soothe pain, swelling, and bruising. This product ranked #1 on CBD Insider’s list of top CBD topicals and has glowing reviews.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. The lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
15/20

Receptra uses organically grown Colorado hemp.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
20/20

This product contains THC-free broad-spectrum CBD. However, they also have a full-spectrum version of this product.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

In addition to CBD, this topical includes jojoba oil and mango oil, which are hydrating. It also contains arnica, which is commonly used for pain and swelling. It’s fragranced with jasmine and ylang-ylang essential oils.

 

PriceIcon
Price
8/10

This product works out to around $0.11 per milligram of CBD, which is about average for a CBD topical of this kind. Receptra Naturals has a discount program for veterans and active military personnel, offering them a 50 percent discount. In addition, they have a rewards program for regular customers.

Pros: Cons:
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Veterans program
  • Rewards program
  • Added beneficial ingredients
  • Full-spectrum version available
  • Only one strength and size available

Best CBD Topical for Acne — Plus CBD Extra Strength Gold Skin Serum

PlusCBD Oil Plus CBD Skin Serum 50mg

Overall Score
Product Review
89out of 100
$19.99 $0.4 mg/CBD
Visit Site
Score Breakdown
Quality Assurance
40/40
Hemp Quality
15/20
Extract Type
20/20
Additional ingredients
10/10
Price
4/10
CBD Amount Score IconTotal CBD 50 mg
Available Bottle Sizes Score IconBottle Size 28.6 ml
Potency Score IconPotency1.75 mg/ml

Some promising research suggests that CBD might be able to help with acne by regulating the amount of oil your skin naturally produces. CBD-infused face products, such as this skin serum, are ideal for those with acne. This product is fairly potent and contains a range of beneficial ingredients, including hydrating jojoba and anti-inflammatory turmeric.

 

Quality AssuranceIcon
Quality Assurance
40/40

This product has been tested by a third-party lab. The test results confirm that it contains the stated amount of CBD. The report found no traces of contaminants like heavy metals, herbicides, and pesticides. The lab reports are available on the website.

 

Hemp QualityIcon
Hemp Quality
15/20

Plus CBD uses hemp grown in Europe from EU-certified hemp seeds.

 

Extract TypeIcon
Extract Type
20/20

This product contains full-spectrum CBD.

 

Additional ingredientsIcon
Additional ingredients
10/10

This serum contains numerous hydrating ingredients, including jojoba oil, rice oil, avocado oil, and squalane. It also includes turmeric extract, lavender oil, and bergamot peel oil.

 

PriceIcon
Price
4/10

This product works out to around $0.15 per milligram of CBD. If you consider that it’s a complete face serum combined with CBD, it’s quite a fair price. Plus CBD offers a subscription service, where you save money by autoshipping.

Pros: Cons:
  • Comprehensive third-party testing
  • Subscription program
  • Added beneficial ingredients
  • Grown from EU-certified hemp seeds
  • No animal-derived ingredients
  • Only one strength and size available

How to choose the best CBD topical

Before you purchase a CBD topical, you should consider the following:

  • Third-party testing: Third-party testing should be seen as the bare minimum requirement for CBD: never purchase CBD products that haven’t been tested by an independent lab (also known as a third-party lab). Look out for the lab report, also known as a certificate of analysis (COA), which should be available on their website. The lab reports should confirm how much CBD the product contains.
  • Type of CBD: There are essentially three kinds of CBD: isolate, broad-spectrum, and full-spectrum CBD. Full-spectrum CBD contains a small amount of THC. In general, topical CBD and THC shouldn’t enter your bloodstream from your skin, but it’s possible. Although you wont get intoxicated from full-spectrum CBD topicals, you might want to stick with broad-spectrum CBD or CBD isolate if you’re going to be tested for drugs, because THC can show up on blood tests.
  • Type of topical: This is quite obvious, but it’s something you need to consider. Purchase topicals that you’d usually use in your daily life. If you don’t like the feeling of lotion, it’s unlikely that you’ll enjoy the feeling of CBD lotion. If you seldom use bath bombs, that CBD bath bomb will probably not get used. Don’t get overwhelmed by the novelty of CBD: purchase products you’ll actually use.
  • Added ingredients: Topicals contain added ingredients, usually to hydrate the skin, soothe pain, or address a skin condition. If you have allergies or sensitive skin, read the labels carefully and avoid products that will irritate your skin.
  • Plant-based: CBD itself is plant-based and vegan-friendly, but many topicals contain non-vegan ingredients. For example, salves and balms often contain beeswax, and some cleansers and soaps contain honey or goat’s milk. If you’re vegan, pay careful attention to the ingredients list.
  • Price: We recommend calculating the cost per milligram of CBD and comparing product prices from there, but you should also take the added ingredients into account. Bear in mind that most CBD topicals are a little pricier than non-CBD products in the same category.

Of course, the best way to figure out if a topical CBD product is right for you is to try it out. Some companies offer samples or mini versions of their products so that you can try it out before you purchase a full-sized product.

Need more information on choosing a CBD product? We’ve compiled a detailed guide which explains how to find a high-quality product that works for you.

Safety and side effects

The research on CBD has shown that it’s safe for human consumption. However, if you use CBD orally you might experience certain side effects, including:

  • Fatigue
  • Changes in appetite or weight
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea

If you use a CBD topical, the CBD typically won’t absorb into your bloodstream from the top of your skin. This means that you’re unlikely to experience the above side effects. However, it’s still possible, so be aware of that. If you have any worrying symptoms after using CBD, talk with your medical provider.

Whenever you use a new topical of any kind (whether it contains CBD or not) it’s a good idea to do a patch test, particularly if you have sensitive skin. Before applying the product to the rest of your body, rub it into a small area on your inner forearm and watch for a reaction. If you have redness, swelling, or itchiness, don’t use the product on the rest of your body.

We suggest talking to a CBD-friendly clinican before using CBD. Although the risks associated with CBD topicals are much lower than the risks associated with oral CBD or inhaled CBD, it’s a good idea to talk with your doctor to figure out how CBD could benefit you.

Legality

For the most part, CBD products are legal in the United States. The 2018 Farm Bill legalized the cultivation of hemp and the sale and use of hemp-derived CBD products throughout the United States. However, in order for a CBD product to be federally legal, it must contain 0.3 percent THC or less. The products we recommended in this article contain 0.3 percent THC or less, making them legal to use in every state.

Because CBD topicals tend not to be absorbed into the bloodstream, there’s a very low chance that THC from your topical will enter your bloodstream. So, it’s unlikely that you’d test positive for CBD after using a topical. But if you know you’ll be tested, it’s best to be on the safe side and opt for a THC-free product.

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About The Authors
Sian Ferguson
Sian Ferguson
CBD and Cannabis Writer
Sian Ferguson is a freelance health writer based in Cape Town, South Africa. She has been reporting on CBD and cannabis for over five years. In addition to CBD and cannabis, her work also covers mental health, reproductive health, and social justice. She’s a regular writer for Healthline and PsychCentral, and has been published in The Washington Post, Complex, Greatist, HealthyWay, and more. She’s passionate about making empathetic, science-based health information accessible to more people.
Eloise Theisen
Eloise Theisen
RN, MSN, AGPCNP-BC
Eloise Theisen is a board certified Adult Geriatric Nurse Practitioner who specializes in cannabis therapy. For over 20 years, Eloise has worked primarily with cancer, dementia and chronic pain patients. In the last 6 years, Eloise has focused her efforts on cannabinoid therapies. Eloise has worked with over 6500 patients to help them effectively treat age-related and chronic illness with cannabis.
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