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  • by Nicola Boulton December 13, 2023 4 min read

    Does Topical CBD Work?

    CBD topical contains anti-oxidant and anti-inflammation properties useful for localized skin conditions. This article highlights how topicals work and gives tips on how to buy them.

    Cannabis-infused topicals range from creams, lotions, balms, roll-ons, and cooling gels; they contain Cannabidiol which dispenses multiple health and therapeutic effects to its users. CBD is the second-most active component of cannabis. Its purported health benefits make it ideal for infusion in skin care products, foods, and drinks. CBD-infused products contain about 0.2% THC, while others do not contain THC at all.

    Whether CBD Topicals Work

    According to Xu et al. (2020), Cannabidiol infused topicals address conditions like inflammation, pain, and skin disorders. The topicals do not enter the bloodstream; they bind with the peripheral receptors to dispense their therapeutic effects to the user. Topical CBD products are not designed for systemic problems. Instead, they bind directly to the skin.

    Good quality topical products relieve localized skin conditions with minimal side effects. However, poor-quality products may irritate the skin or lead to rashes and other skin conditions. 

    The cannabis-infused topicals do not mask pains and inflammations like over-the-counter creams; they offer irritation-free pain relief. The endocannabinoid system helps CBD topicals work well. The system consists of cannabinoid receptors, enzymes, and endocannabinoids, which regulate sleep, immune response, memory, and fertility. Baswan et al. (2020) observed that CBD topical products interact with the cannabinoid receptors that send signals to the endocannabinoid system to alleviate pain in the affected area.

    How CBD Topicals Help the Skin

    Experts recommend the following approaches for proper skin care practice:

    • Preservative treatment
    • Reactionary treatment

    One of the widely used preservative treatments is topicals; for instance, they are applied on the skin before going outside to preserve it. Reactionary topicals stimulate skin repair; topicals can be used as reactionary treatments, especially for repairing skin conditions like acne. They are effective in maintaining your skin and restoring it. The topicals also hydrate the skin and suppress inflammation through their anti-inflammation effects. According to Casares et al. (2020), topical CBD can treat dry skin and inflammatory disorders. 

    Tips for Buying CBD Topicals

    CBD products are still unregulated in most countries. Therefore, if you are looking for topical products, focus on the following tips to find reliable and quality products.

    Ask for a Certificate of Analysis

    One of the most effective ways to determine the quality of a CBD topical product is by looking for its certificate of analysis (COA) on a company's website. The COA provides the third-party test results and breaks down the list of ingredients contained in the product and its potency. If a company does not have this document, avoid buying their product; such products may contain harmful ingredients for your skin.

    Decide on What You Want to Buy in Advance

    If you make a quick decision on CBD topical products, you may not get what you hoped. Research before buying a CBD topical; some may not contain Cannabidiol in the right quality and quantity.

    Consult Your Doctor

    Make sure your doctor knows about your intention to buy a cannabis-based topical, especially if you have an underlying condition that requires you to take medicine daily. Although this is a major concern for ingestible CBD, involving your doctor when making such decisions could be helpful. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, you should not buy cannabis-infused products; they may harm the fetus. 

    Read the Product's Label Carefully

    You need to ensure that you are not allergic to any ingredient used in the production of CBD topical. You should understand the instructions for using the product. The label can tell you how often you should use the product.

    Side Effects of CBD Topicals

    CBD topicals have fewer side effects when compared to other prescription drugs used to treat the same conditions. Patel &Lio (2021) states that contact dermatitis may be a possible side effect of using creams, but this side effect is also common with other types of topical lotions. You may experience irritation depending on the ingredients in the product or get allergic reactions if you use products with allergic reactions on your skin. For this reason, check the ingredients used to make the topical if you have previously experienced allergic reactions. Some people have concerns about THC in CBD topical creams. Most CBD topicals do not contain THC, while others contain small traces that cannot cause high.


    CBD topicals can be helpful to people with various health conditions or those who want to maintain healthy skin. The product will give you the intended benefits if you buy quality CBD topical. Cannabis-infused topicals contain low or no THC. It is important to be careful when buying CBD products because some do not contain the number of ingredients advertised, while others may fail to meet the required standards. It is risky to use poor-quality topical products. If you notice irritation after applying the topical, stop using it and consult your doctor for assistance.


    Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020). Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for skin health and disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology, 13, 927.

    Casares, L., García, V., Garrido-Rodríguez, M., Millán, E., Collado, J. A., García-Martín, A., ... & Muñoz, E. (2020). Cannabidiol induces antioxidant pathways in keratinocytes by targeting BACH1. Redox biology, 28, 101321.

    Patel, P. M., &Lio, P. A. (2021). Safety and Sourcing of Topical Cannabinoids: Many Questions, Few Answers. The Journal of Clinical and Aesthetic Dermatology, 14(8), 49.

    Xu, D. H., Cullen, B. D., Tang, M., & Fang, Y. (2020). The effectiveness of topical cannabidiol oil in symptomatic relief of peripheral neuropathy of the lower extremities. Current pharmaceutical biotechnology, 21(5), 390-402.


    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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