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Top 10 CBD Topicals: Lotions, Creams, and Salves

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • source
  • quality
  • dosage

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

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

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

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

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

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

Pricing

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

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

  • serving sizes
  • amounts
  • strengths
  • other ingredients

CBD GLOSSARY

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

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

CBD topical brands selected:

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

Best for pain

Joy Organics CBD Salve

Use code “healthcbd” for 15% off.

Price point: $$-$$$

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

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

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

The COA is available on each product page.

CBDistillery CBDol Topical — CBD Balm

Use code “healthline” for 15% off sitewide.

Price point: $$

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

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

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

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

Lazarus Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Balm, Soothing Mint

Price point: $

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

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

The COA is available on each product page.

Vertly Hemp CBD-Infused Relief Lotion

Price point: $

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

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

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

The COA is available on each product page.

Best for facial skin

Vertly Soothing Florals Hydrating Face Mist

Price point: $

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

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

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

The COA is available on each product page.

Envy CBD Face Mask

Price point: $$$

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

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

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

The COA is available on each product page.

Imbue Botanicals em.body premium CBD Lip Balm

Price point: $

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

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

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

COA test results by batch are available online.

Saint Jane Luxury Beauty Serum

Price point: $$$

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

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

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

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

The COA is available on each product page.

Best all-purpose

Lord Jones High CBD Formula Body Oil

Price point: $$

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

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

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

COA test results by batch are available online.

GoGreen Hemp CBD Relief Stick

Price point: $$

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

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

The COA is available on each product page.

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

Potency

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

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

CBD source

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

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

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

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

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

Has it been third-party tested?

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

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

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

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

Ingredients

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

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

Price

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

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

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

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

CBD vs. THC: What’s the Difference?

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

As the legal use of hemp and other cannabis products grows, consumers are becoming more curious about their options. This includes cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), two natural compounds found in plants of the Cannabis genus.

CBD can be extracted from hemp or cannabis.

Hemp and cannabis come from the Cannabis sativa plant. Legal hemp must contain 0.3 percent THC or less. CBD is sold in the form of gels, gummies, oils, supplements, extracts, and more.

THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the high sensation. It can be consumed by smoking cannabis. It’s also available in oils, edibles, tinctures, capsules, and more.

Both compounds interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, but they have very different effects.

Read on to learn more about these compounds. While they may have a lot in common, they have some key differences that determine how they’re used.

Both CBD and THC have the exact same molecular structure: 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. A slight difference in how the atoms are arranged accounts for the differing effects on your body.

Both CBD and THC are chemically similar to your body’s endocannabinoids. This allows them to interact with your cannabinoid receptors.

The interaction affects the release of neurotransmitters in your brain. Neurotransmitters are chemicals responsible for relaying messages between cells and have roles in pain, immune function, stress, and sleep, to name a few.

Despite their similar chemical structures, CBD and THC don’t have the same psychoactive effects. CBD is psychoactive, just not in the same manner as THC. It doesn’t produce the high associated with THC. CBD is shown to help with anxiety, depression, and seizures.

THC binds with the cannabinoid 1 (CB1) receptors in the brain. It produces a high or sense of euphoria.

CBD binds very weakly, if at all, to CB1 receptors. CBD needs THC to bind to the CB1 receptor and, in turn, can help reduce some of the unwanted psychoactive effects of THC, such as euphoria or sedation.

In the United States, cannabis-related laws are evolving regularly. Technically, CBD is still considered a Schedule I drug under federal law.

Hemp has been removed from the Controlled Substances Act, but the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and Food and Drug Administration (FDA) still classify CBD as a Schedule I drug.

However, 33 states plus Washington, D.C., have passed cannabis-related laws, making medical cannabis with high levels of THC legal. The cannabis may need to be prescribed by a licensed physician.

In addition, several states have made recreational use of cannabis and THC legal.

In states where cannabis is legal for recreational or medical purposes, you should be able to buy CBD.

Before you try to buy products with CBD or THC, it’s important to research your state’s laws.

If you possess cannabis-related products in a state where they’re illegal or don’t have a medical prescription in states where the products are legal for medical treatment, you could face legal penalties.

CBD and THC have many of the same medical benefits. They can provide relief from several of the same conditions. However, CBD doesn’t cause the euphoric effects that occur with THC. Some people may prefer to use CBD because of the lack of this side effect.

In June 2018, the FDA approved Epidiolex, the first prescription medication to contain CBD. It’s used to treat rare, difficult-to-control forms of epilepsy. (Epidiolex is not currently approved for any of the other conditions listed below.)

CBD is used to help with other various conditions, such as:

  • seizures
  • inflammation
  • pain
  • psychosis or mental disorders
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • nausea
  • migraine
  • depression
  • anxiety

THC is used to help with the following:

  • pain
  • muscle spasticity
  • glaucoma
  • insomnia
  • low appetite
  • nausea
  • anxiety

CBD is well tolerated, even in large doses. Research suggests any side effects that occur with CBD use are likely the result of drug-to-drug interactions between CBD and other medications you may be taking.

THC causes temporary side effects, such as:

  • increased heart rate
  • coordination problems
  • dry mouth
  • red eyes
  • slower reaction times
  • memory loss
  • anxiety

CBD’s side effects may include:

  • appetite changes
  • fatigue
  • weight loss
  • dizziness
  • diarrhea

These side effects are part of the compound’s psychoactive properties.

Neither compound is fatal.

However, high THC use may be connected to long-term negative psychiatric effects. This is especially true for adolescents who consume large amounts of THC, though there’s no conclusive evidence that using cannabis causes psychiatric disorders like schizophrenia.

Cannabinoids like THC and CBD are stored in the body’s fat. They can show up on drug tests for several days or weeks after you use them.

Not every drug test will be able to detect CBD, but CBD-sensitive tests are available. Most standard drug tests will look for chemicals related to THC, so THC or marijuana use might show up on a screening.

Likewise, hemp can produce some THC in addition to CBD, so a test could be positive for THC even if you haven’t used it.

It’s important to note that products that claim to be THC-free may not be free of THC, so if you’re drug tested, you shouldn’t use any CBD or THC products.

CBD and THC are two of the most prominent cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. Both cannabis and hemp produce CBD and THC.

However, cannabis has a higher concentration of THC. Hemp has a higher concentration of CBD.

The average cannabis strain today contains about 12 percent THC. CBD oil may contain small amounts of THC because it’s present at low levels in the hemp plant. CBD can have no more than 0.3 percent THC to be legal at the federal level.

CBD and THC both have medical benefits. They’re also both considered safe, but consider the possibility of side effects and interactions with other drugs you’re taking. Talk with your doctor or a qualified cannabis or CBD clinician before use and if you have any questions.

Want to learn more about CBD? Click here for more product reviews, recipes, and research-based articles about CBD from Healthline.

CBD THC
Is illegal No (See below) Yes (See below)
Produces a high No Yes
Interacts with endocannabinoid system Yes Yes
Has side effects Some Psychoactive side effects
Shows on drug test Possibly Yes
Relieves pain Yes Yes
Reduces nausea Yes Yes
Eases migraine Yes Yes
Reduces anxiety Yes Yes
Eases depression Yes No
Decreases seizures Yes No
Is anti-inflammatory Yes Yes
Helps with insomnia Yes Yes
Helps with psychosis Yes No
Increases appetite No Yes
Is used for various other conditions Yes Yes

Is CBD Legal? Hemp-derived CBD products (with less than 0.3 percent THC) are legal on the federal level, but are still illegal under some state laws. Marijuana-derived CBD products are illegal on the federal level, but are legal under some state laws. Check your state’s laws and those of anywhere you travel. Keep in mind that nonprescription CBD products are not FDA-approved, and may be inaccurately labeled.

There’s a lot of confusion about the difference between the different components of the cannabis plant, especially with current laws. We’ll take a look at two compounds, CBD vs. THC, and compare them on a number of different levels. Both may have benefits, but they differ despite having many similarities.