How to Choose a CBD Topical Solution

If you haven’t yet tried CBD topicals, you don’t know what you’re missing. This unique delivery method offers a totally different way to experience the properties of hemp. Plus, it allows us to target a particular area of the body with cannabidiol that absorbs easily and quickly through the skin.

CBD topicals are becoming so popular that the hemp industry offers hundreds upon hundreds of different formulas, all promising to give you the results that you’re looking for. But the reality is that not all topicals are created equally.  

We’re going to take a closer examination into the topical submarket, breaking down the different formulas that you can select from while also viewing what each one has to offer.  

What is a CBD Topical Product?

CBD topicals are simply products that contain cannabidiol as their active ingredient which are intended to be applied to the skin for transdermal absorption, rather than taken internally. They are applied to a particular affected area, where they are massaged into the skin in order to reach the tissue below.What is CBD Topical Products?

The reason why topicals work is because science tells us that there are cannabinoid receptors in the skin, muscles, and joints of the body.  Cannabinoid receptors are responsible for the effects of cannabinoids like CBD, as cannabinoids bind with these receptors to trigger regulatory effects that impact processes like inflammation and pain. When we apply topicals to the skin, the CBD and other cannabinoids make their way to these receptors within minutes.

How are Topicals Different from Other Delivery Methods?

Topicals are quite different from other delivery methods due to the nature of transdermal application. Internal methods like vapes and tinctures allow us to consume cannabidiol internally, where it is then dispersed widely throughout the body via the endocannabinoid system. Topicals allow us to focus on one particular area of the body, supplying that area with a higher concentration of hemp as the cannabinoids remain localized to the area of application. Because topicals are not taken internally, they aren’t believed to impact other areas of the body, or, say, influence one’s mood.  

Most Common Types of CBD Topicals

Let’s now go over the most common types of CBD topical formulas.

  • Lotions: Creamy formulas that have a relatively thin consistency, containing a fairly high-water content. Because they are fairly thin, they absorb quickly and are easy to apply to a large area of the body.  
  • Salves: A waxy formula that melts into the skin and absorbs through the skin tissue relatively quickly. It has a decently soft consistency that spreads easily, especially when loosened up by one’s natural body warmth.  
  • Creams: Thicker than lotions and are notably rich formulas that moisturize deeply while absorbing through the skin easily.Types of CBD Topicals  
  • Balms: Like salves, have a waxy consistency that melts on contact. Balms tend to be more geared toward skin issues as they don’t absorb as easily through the skin tissue.
  • Sprays: Have the advantage of covering a larger surface area per application. Also, being highly water-based, they absorb more efficiently through the skin, which may mean that they are faster-acting.
  • Massage Oils: Oil-based products that are usually made from plant oils.  They can over a large surface area, and they spread very easily.
  • Adhesive Patches: Also known as transdermal patches, are infused with cannabidiol, and adhere to the skin, where they are usually left for 24 to 48 hours. During this time, a controlled amount of CBD is released and absorbed through the skin.
  • Bath Bombs: Are not applied to the skin, but they, like the topicals listed above, allow cannabidiol to absorb through the skin tissue and reach the muscles. They are placed into a bath, and the heat of the water helps the pores of the skin open up to absorb the cannabidiol that is infused into the tub water.  Therefore, they are great for widespread aches and pains.
  • Lip Balms: Infused with CBD are made for adding moisture to the lips, as the skin of the lips is prone to getting chapped and dry.
  • Moisturizers: These are skincare products geared more toward beauty and skin health than pain-related issues. Cannabinoid receptors in the facial skin influence skin-related processes that relate to overall skin wellness.
  • Muscle Rubs: “Muscle rub” is a term used to describe a product intended for providing relief to aching muscles. Typically, a muscle rub has a salve-like formula.
  • Muscle Gels: Are, again, intended for sore and aching muscles. They have a gel-like consistency that glides along the skin easily for easy absorption.
  • Tinctures/CBD Oils: Yes, some tinctures and CBD oils can be applied to the skin for topical relief, as long as they have ingredients that are non-irritating to the skin.                                                                                                                    
  • Different Factors to Consider When Choosing a CBD Topical

    When selecting a topical formula, it’s important to take certain factors into consideration.Choosing CBD Topicals


    The milligram strength represents how many milligrams of pure hemp extract are in the formula, which therefore determines the potency of each application.


    It’s important to look at the other ingredients in the formula, for a few reasons.  

    1. To make sure that none of them are irritating,
    2. Capable of causing other types of allergic reactions based on your unique sensitivities.
    3. May also want a topical formula that has other active ingredients, such as menthol or essential oils known for soothing inflammation.


    The quality is especially important, so make sure that you select a topical from a company that has a good reputation and employs third-party testing to maintain exceptional quality overall.

    Hemp Compounds

    A CBD topical can contain CBD isolate, broad spectrum, or full spectrum hemp.  

    • Full Spectrum: Means that the hemp extract used contains every compound occurring in the hemp flower.  
    • Broad Spectrum: Contains every compound except for THC.
    • CBD isolate: Just pure cannabidiol

    Each type has its unique advantages, so choose which one you prefer based on your preferences.


    Make sure that the product has a consistency that absorbs easily into the skin and doesn’t leave behind a greasy or sticky residue.


    You might want to select a topical that has an appealing fragrance, as many topicals on the market are scented, either with natural ingredients or artificial fragrances.

    Your Needs

    Consider why you’re using a topical and choose a formula accordingly. For instance, if you are dealing with muscle pain, a CBD moisturizer may not be as useful as a muscle rub, and vice versa. Look at the full variety that is available to find the formula most suited.

    Final Thoughts

    CBD topicals clearly aren’t going anywhere, as they offer a unique purpose quite different from other methods, and quite simply, are capable of producing the desired results. The key to having success with this type of delivery method is knowing how to select the right formula based on the factors that matter.