jen keehn

Written by Jen Keehn

Updated September 23, 2021

Dr. El-Hajj

Medically Reviewed by Dr. Sandra El-Hajj

Our team at CBD School is dedicated to provide you, our readers, with the most accurate information so you can make well-informed decisions. We only feature brands we believe in and love. These become our brand partners and offer us a small commission when you make a purchase. Our reviews are real and dedicate to be purely informational and not for marketing purposes. 


CBD topicals are becoming one of the most popular CBD products there is. 

Why use CBD topicals instead of a regular CBD tincture? These CBD-infused lotions, creams, salves, or balms are known to provide localized relief directly where they are applied. In this article, we will explain to you everything you need to know to pick the right product for you.

Why Use CBD Topicals?

Not only are CBD topicals known to support skin health but they can also help with the pain and inflammation caused by arthritis. They are also highly effective in supporting exercising by managing muscle and joint pain associated with your workout. 

The American Academy of Dermatology Association (AAD) approved CBD in 2018 and declared that the topical application of cannabis products show promise for skin diseases1. CBD works in harmony with the skin’s endocannabinoid system. It is a great alternative for most skin conditions ranging from acne and psoriasis to dermatitis and dry, itchy skin among many others. 

CBD topicals are gaining their reputation for their ability to support pain and inflammation caused by arthritis, naturally. In 2016, researchers noted that the “topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects”2.

In 2011, a study published by the Journal of Pain Research found that the topical administration of cannabinoids, such as CBD and THC, is effective for both acute and chronic pain3 . This certainly backs up the fact that the majority of those in the athletic and sports community adopt CBD topicals in their daily habits. These have the capacity to reduce inflammation, as well as the pain associated with swelling after a particularly intense workout. 

Applying a soothing CBD topical cream, lotion, or salve onto sore muscles will provide localized relief as the ingredients act directly on the area of application.

Product Selection Methodology

While there are many CBD topicals and CBD creams, along with an overwhelming amount of CBD-based products available in the market, not all are equal in terms of quality and safety. 

So when you’re choosing a CBD topical or CBD cream or any CBD product in general, it’s very important to keep the following requirements in mind. This is the methodology we use when recommending a product or brand.

Reputable CBD Brands

Always choose products produced by transparent CBD brands that have a guaranteed reputation in the industry and are dedicated to providing high-quality products. We make sure we include only these in our lists.

Natural/Non-GMO

The most reliable products are undoubtedly those that are made using all-natural, non-GMO hemp4 (produced without genetically engineered crops) grown in the US. Using natural ingredients limits the amount of processing required, which makes the extraction of the final product simpler. As a result, the product will be safe with minimal to no side-effects

Third-Party Lab Test Results

To ensure authenticity and reliability, always choose products that have undergone third-party lab tests and made the results available on their websites. These tests ensure that the cannabinoid levels in the product match those claimed on the product label. They guarantee that there are no heavy metals, molds, or pesticides present in the final product.

Active and Inactive Ingredients

Always look at all active (an ingredient that contains CBD) and inactive ingredients on the label to ensure you’re choosing the highest quality CBD product available. When possible, choose an all-natural product made without any artificial ingredients. 

Potency

Look for products with different potencies to meet your specific needs. Certain brands offer a wider selection of potency when it comes to their products, while others offer only one or two potencies. When making our recommendations, we try to mention brands and products that offer multiple potencies.

Variety of Price

We try to include products of various prices to meet the needs of everyone’s budget. When looking at the price of a product, keep in mind that these will vary depending on the strength, serving size, volume, and any additional ingredients that may accentuate the health benefits. 

Our exclusive lists try to give you all the information you need to make an informed decision that suits your specific desires and needs.

Extraction Method

Try choosing products that are made using clean and safe extraction methods5. There are three common extraction methods when it comes to CBD extraction:

Olive oil method of extraction

The olive oil method of extraction was the first method utilized for extracting CBD from hemp. It is a clean and cost-effective method that involves heating the raw plant material to a temperature that activates the plant. However, the main issue with this method is that the olive oil, activated with CBD, must then be strictly kept in a dark and cool place in order to keep it fresh6

Solvent extraction

Solvent extraction uses a solvent like the butane, propane, ethanol, isopropyl, or alcohol to extract the CBD from hemp. It is the cheapest and quickest method but can also be dangerous.

CO2 method

Currently, the most common method of extracting CBD is the CO2 method, which is also the most expensive due to the cost of its necessary equipment. However, it provides a potent, safe, and chlorophyll-free product. 

Keeping all this in mind, the following are CBD School’s picks for the top 10 CBD topicals available on the market.

Top 10 CBD Topicals

cbdmd recover cream


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Read Our cbdMD Brand Review Here

cbdMD:
Premium CBD Recover Cream


POTENCY

300mg, 750mg, 1500mg, 3000mg
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$$$

  • We were first introduced to CBD Recover Cream a couple years ago and have found it superior to any other CBD topical we’ve tried for relieving chronic pain associated with previous injuries.

  • It worked perfectly for relieving the chronic neck and shoulder pain we experience from long hours spent at the computer. 
  • Third party lab test results are located easily on the product page, ensuring the quality and safety of this particular topical product others have described as “magic” and “miraculous.”

Pros

  • Variety of different strengths.

  • Superior pain relief qualities.
  • Made with other ingredients aside from CBD that are known for their pain relieving properties. 

Cons

  • Slightly thick consistency that takes time to absorb into the skin.
  • Formulated specifically to relieve pain and assist with exercise recovery, and advertised for relief from backaches, sore muscles and joint pain. 

  • Made with a blend of broad spectrum CBD, pain-relieving histamine dihydrochloride and natural ingredients known to soothe muscle pain and tension and support skin. Histamine dihydrochloride expands blood vessels and increases circulation to the area in which it’s applied, creating a soothing warming sensation.  
  • Available in a tub or squeeze tube.

cbd-rapid-cooling-cream-750mg


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Medterra:
Rapid Cooling Cream


POTENCY

250mg, 500mg
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$$

  • We personally love the convenience of a roll-on topical CBD product. There’s no mess and the bottle can easily be taken on-the-go.

  • The cooling effect this product provides is almost instant. 
  • We were first introduced to Medterra in early 2019 and couldn’t be more pleased with the transparency of this company and the quality products they provide. 

Pros

  • Various strength options.

  • Excellent, rapid cooling sensation. 
  • Offered in two different sizes (1.7oz and 3.4oz)

Cons

  • 500mg and 1000mg strength options are actually two separate products of 250mg and 500mg respectively, instead of the full 500mg or 1000mg strengths. 
  • Designed for muscle and joint support with a rapid cooling effect.

  • Blended with CBD and other proprietary ingredients known for their pain relieving properties.  
  • Includes camphor which offers the rapid cooling relief in this popular CBD topical. Camphor works so well for pain because it causes a cooling sensation that can make the mind believe body temperature is dropping, which in turn desensitizes nerve endings.
  • Convenient roll-on applicator.

salve


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Joy Organics:
Premium CBD Salve


POTENCY

500mg, 1000mg
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$$$

  • When we feel we need a thicker topical for muscle and joint support, Joy Organics CBD Salve is second to none.

  • While thicker than a typical cream or lotion, Joy Organics CBD Salve rubs on smooth and isn’t crazy greasy like other salves we’ve tried.
  • Not only has it offered the relief we’re looking for every single time we’ve used it for muscle and joint pain relief, we’ve also found it’s amazing for supporting dry, cracked skin.
  • The lavender eucalyptus scent is subtly soothing rather than overpowering, offering an extra added bonus sense of calm as we inhale the organic essential oils with which it’s made.

Pros

  • Joy Organics products are some of the most trusted in the industry.

  • Offers pain relief and supports dry, cracked skin.
  • Made with all-natural ingredients. 

Cons

  • While not as greasy as other salves we’ve tried, the consistency of this salve is thicker than a cream which might not appeal to some users. 
  • Formulated to support healthy muscles and joints.

  • Made with a blend of CBD, organic beeswax and essential oils that is designed to support skin, joints and muscles in a variety of different ways. 

doc patels calm cream

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Doc Patels:
CBD Calm Cream


POTENCY

200mg, 500mg
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$$$

  • We love the light consistency of this CBD cream that glides on easily and leaves no thick or greasy residue on the skin whatsoever. Some CBD topicals can leave you feeling like you need to wash your hands after application to the skin. Not Doc Patels CBD Calm Cream. Just apply and go about your business.

  • Applied to our neck and shoulders, CBD Calm Cream went to work to relieve our chronic muscle tension almost immediately and lasted a solid three hours.
  • Because of its light consistency, we’ve also started to use it as an everyday moisturizer that works wonderful. 
  • With third party lab test results available right on the product page, we’re confident in knowing it’s a quality product superior for everyday use.

Pros

  • Light consistency that is absorbed quickly by the skin.

  • No greasy residue. 
  • Works exactly as it’s intended. 

Cons

  • Only available in 200mg and 500mg options. 
  • An easy-to-apply CBD cream designed to relieve pain while moisturizing the skin.
  • Made with broad spectrum CBD and other natural ingredients that provide beneficial compounds known for supporting the skin. 
  • Available in a convenient, 2oz tub.  

lazarus naturals massage oil


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Lazarus Naturals:
CBD Massage Oil


POTENCY

200mg, 800mg, 1600mg
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$

  • Complements a natural approach to wellness. 

  • Aside from Lazarus Naturals’ commitment to quality, purity and transparency and the simple list of natural ingredients used to create this product, we simply loved how smooth it glided onto our skin.
  • Available in three different strengths and sizes. 

  • Soaks quickly into the skin without feeling greasy.
  • Excellent for use during massage or after a shower or bath.  
  • CBD massage oil designed for promoting comfort and relaxation. 

  • Made with simple, all-natural ingredients (organic jojoba oil, sweet almond oil, fractionated coconut oil and hemp extract), this massage oil is free from dyes, perfumes and preservatives.
  • Contains 50mg CBD per tablespoon.  

MJcream-1000mg


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CBDfx:
Muscle and Joint CBD Hemp Cream


POTENCY

500mg, 1500mg
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$

  • CBDFX is a company committed to providing quality products. 

  • It worked exactly as intended. 

Pros

  • The convenient pump tube ensures easy application without a mess. 

  • The cooling menthol sensation combined with CBD and other ingredients offers rapid relief. 

Cons

  • Only available in 500mg or 1000mg options. 
  • Created to penetrate deep into sore muscles and joints to quickly provide relief to minor aches and pains.

  • Made broad spectrum hemp extract and cooling menthol.
  • Contains white willow bark and caffeine, both of which are excellent for aches and pains. 

CBD-Warming-Cooling-Cream-Combo


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CBDistillery:

Warming and Cooling Cream Mix Pack


POTENCY

200mg
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$

  • Warming creams are excellent for warming up sore muscles and joints pre-workout and cooling creams are great for promoting post-workout recovery. This offers the best of both worlds. 

  • Absorbs fairly quickly into the skin. 

Pros

  • Works quickly to provide almost immediate relief. 

  • The mix pack offers two different topical options containing different effects. 

Cons

  • Unlike most other brands, third party test results aren’t available on their website and must be accessed by scanning the QR code on the product itself.
  • A mix pack of two different 300mg CBD creams. One offers a cooling sensation, while the other offers a warming sensation. 

green-roads-skin-relief-removebg-preview


visit green roads

Green Roads:
Skin Relief CBD Cream


POTENCY

750mg
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$$

  • Comes in a convenient pump application for easy delivery. 

  • Lighter than a salve, Green Roads Skin Relief Cream glides on smooth and leaves zero greasy residue.
  • Third party lab test results are available right on the product page. 

Pros 

  • Lightweight without greasy residue. 

  • Extremely soothing to the skin. 

Cons

  • Only available in 200mg options. 
  • Designed to support skin health and offer relief to dry, itchy skin.

  • Formulated with broad spectrum CBD and avocado oil and vitamin E, both of which are excellent for supporting skin health. 
  • Lavender oil offers a calm, soothing scent. 

RAVE-CBD-Topicals-4-CharlottesWeb


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Charlotte’s Web:
Hemp Infused Cream with CBD


POTENCY

300mg
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$

  • Absorbs smoothly into the skin without leaving any thick, greasy residue. Perfect for everyday use, it’s one we’ve returned to again and again. 

  • Charlotte’s Web is one of the most trusted CBD brands, consistently offering high-quality, trustworthy products. 

Pros

  • All-natural ingredients. 

  • Ideal for sensitive skin. 
  • No greasy residue or staining. 

Cons

  • Only available in 1oz/300mg or 2.5oz/750mg strength options. 
  • Formulated with a blend of full spectrum CBD and other natural ingredients to “revitalize, restore and rejuvenate” the skin.

  • Made without any preservatives or artificial ingredients.
  • Recently re-formulated to contain twice as much CBD per ounce as the original version. 

mission farms rest cbd cream


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Mission Farms:
Rest CBD Cream


POTENCY

300MG, 750MG, 1500MG
HEMP SOURCE

USA GROWN HEMP

ORGANIC

YES

PRICING

$$$

  • The goat milk base makes it different than any other CBD topical we’ve tried. 

  • We found it perfect to use before bed and worked exactly as it’s intended to. 
  • Soft and soothing, with quick absorption. 

Pros

  • Absorbs quickly. 

  • The proprietary ingredients used are all known for their skin supporting properties. 

Cons

  • Cannot access the Mission Farms website outside the US. 
  • Designed to hydrate the skin, calm the muscles and mind and stimulate collagen and elastin.

  • Made with goat’s milk, full spectrum CBD, skin supporting shea butter, coconut oil and meadowfoam oil, organic lavender and chamomile essential oils and other natural ingredients.
  • Created to “prepare your body for bedtime and treat your skin all night long.”

References

1Public, researchers demonstrate growing interest in cannabis treatment. (2018, February 16). Retrieved December 23, 2020, from https://www.aad.org/news/topical-cannabis 

2Hammell, D. C., Zhang, L. P., Ma, F., Abshire, S. M., McIlwrath, S. L., Stinchcomb, A. L., & Westlund, K. N. (2016). Transdermal cannabidiol reduces inflammation and pain-related behaviours in a rat model of arthritis. European journal of pain (London, England)20(6), 936–948. https://doi.org/10.1002/ejp.818

3Jorge, L. L., Feres, C. C., & Teles, V. E. (2010). Topical preparations for pain relief: efficacy and patient adherence. Journal of pain research4, 11–24. https://doi.org/10.2147/JPR.S9492

4Hilderbrand R. L. (2018). Hemp & Cannabidiol: What is a Medicine?. Missouri medicine115(4), 306–309.

5Nuapia, Y., Tutu, H., Chimuka, L., & Cukrowska, E. (2020). Selective Extraction of Cannabinoid Compounds from Cannabis Seed Using Pressurized Hot Water Extraction. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland)25(6), 1335. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules25061335

6Casiraghi, A., Roda, G., Casagni, E., Cristina, C., Musazzi, U. M., Franzè, S., Rocco, P., Giuliani, C., Fico, G., Minghetti, P., & Gambaro, V. (2018). Extraction Method and Analysis of Cannabinoids in Cannabis Olive Oil Preparations. Planta medica84(4), 242–249. https://doi.org/10.1055/s-0043-123074
 

Article first appeared on cbdschool.com

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