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A Guide to CBD Topicals: Creams, Balms, Lotions, and Salves

CBD oil and edibles like gummies, mints, and tea garner a lot of attention in the world of cannabidiol. You’ll discover an exciting range of skincare products once you start experimenting with CBD as well, though!

Are you curious to learn more about CBD topicals? Join us for a deep dive into their mechanism of action, and discover which CBD topical is right for you!

Why Choose CBD Topicals?

Cannabidiol (CBD) has gone mainstream in recent years. This cannabinoid, often derived from low-THC industrial hemp, acts on the endocannabinoid system without producing a high. 

The endocannabinoid system is an intricate network of signals and receptors (CBD1 and CB2). It stretches across the body, but the highest concentration of endocannabinoid receptors can be found in the brain and spinal cord, as well as nerve endings.

The endocannabinoid system can be activated by endogenous cannabinoids (which your body makes itself) or exogenous cannabinoids (from sources like CBD products). It plays a role in memory, emotion processing, and pain management, among other essential bodily functions. 

CBD doesn’t directly bind to these receptors but instead blocks the action of the enzyme fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH), potentially enhancing the efficacy of your endogenous cannabinoids.

Even more exciting, it’s now apparent that the endocannabinoid system also plays a role in keeping the skin, your largest organ, healthy. That might have huge implications for your skincare routine!

CBD products may already be a part of your wellness routine, but the way you take CBD impacts how it works. 

For example, the mucosa in your mouth absorbs CBD when you use CBD oil under the tongue. CBD edibles need to pass through your digestive system. 

CBD topicals — like creams, balms, lotions, and salves — are unlikely to wind up in the bloodstream. Instead, they act locally. As well as acting as skincare products, CBD topicals may find their way to the endocannabinoid receptors in the skin.

What’s the Difference Between Creams, Balms, Lotions, and Salves?

If you’re looking around for CBD-infused skincare products, you’ll come across a plethora of exciting options. Most products will fall into one of four basic categories, each with unique benefits. 

Let’s take a look:

  • Creams are lightweight skincare products that rely on a mix of oil and water. Emulsifiers blend the two, ensuring you end up with a uniform cream that moisturises your skin. A cream is often the right choice for your face, hands, and feet.
  • Lotions have even more water, making them lighter than creams. A lotion is a great option if you want your entire body to be moisturised.
  • Balms are thicker skincare products made with oils, butters, and waxes. They often have medicinal ingredients that make them suitable for pain relief. You may use a balm to soothe sore muscles or moisturise extremely dry skin, but you wouldn’t want to use a balm all over your body.
  • Salves are slightly more pliable than balms and often include beeswax and essential oils. They often have medicinal ingredients. Some salves play an important role in wound healing or treating minor skin infections.

While massage oil doesn’t fall into one of these main categories, it still deserves to be mentioned. Often infused with calming herbs or essential oils, a nice massage oil can make a skilled massage therapist’s healing hands even more effective.

How to Choose and Use CBD Topicals: A Practical Guide

Are you ready to take your skincare routine to the next level? Keep these tips in mind before you start shopping for a CBD topical!

1. Decide Which Skincare Product Is Right for You

Creams and lotions are generally used to maintain healthy skin and prevent dryness. They are everyday products suitable for most people. Salves and balms are geared toward consumers with specific concerns, like extremely dry skin, psoriasis, eczema, or post-workout muscle soreness. 

You may like to get a CBD-infused cream for regular use and a CBD-infused muscle rub or salve for dry patches or to soothe sore muscles.

2. Buy CBD Topicals From a Reputable Manufacturer

CBD products seem to be everywhere these days — but not all will meet your high standards. Despite the Food Standards Agency’s efforts to regulate the CBD market, consumers may still come across dubious products. 

You can look for the following quality markers when selecting premium CBD topicals:

  • Third-party lab testing and a certificate of analysis (CoA) that shows a detailed ingredient list. A CoA ensures that the claims a manufacturer makes about a CBD product’s ingredients are accurate.
  • Certifications relevant to your individual needs, like GMO-free, organic, vegan, or cruelty-free certifications.
  • Positive customer reviews. Customer reviews can also tell you more about the texture or scent of a CBD topical and offer insights into a company’s packaging, shipping, or customer service.

Note that CBD products may be full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or CBD isolate products. Full-spectrum CBD contains terpenes, flavonoids, and essential oils, as well as cannabidiol. These products may have a THC content of 0.02 per cent in the UK. Broad-spectrum CBD is similar but only has trace amounts of THC (if any). CBD isolate products are made with pure cannabidiol, without THC, terpenes, flavonoids, or essential oils.

3. Important Things to Watch Out for When You Start Using CBD Topicals

Unlike other CBD products, CBD topicals like creams, lotions, balms, and salves are absorbed locally. The CBD is unlikely to reach your bloodstream, but it may reach the endocannabinoid receptors in your skin.

Consumers are advised to use a new CBD topical once a day to start off with. Watch out for the desired effect, and keep an eye on your skin. 

You should, of course, avoid buying products with ingredients you know you’re allergic to, but you won’t always know how you’ll react to a particular ingredient in advance. Stop using your new product if you notice skin irritation or itchiness.

4. Can You Make Your Own CBD Skincare Products?

You can also make your own CBD skincare products with CBD oil. It’s easy to “make” CBD cosmetics by adding the desired amount of CBD oil to an existing skincare product, like a serum, face cream, massage oil, or body butter.

Of course, you should remember that adding a new ingredient may alter your product’s consistency, scent, and shelf life. So it’s best to take a skincare product for a “test drive” by placing a small amount in a little container, adding a drop or two of CBD oil, and seeing what happens.

Adding CBD Topicals to Your Skincare Routine: A Recap

CBD topicals give your skin some much-needed TLC while also adding cannabidiol to your life. They’re an exciting way to experiment with CBD!

The sheer variety of CBD topicals can make it hard to choose. Start by picking the right kind of skincare product (cream, lotion, balm, or salve), and make sure to buy CBD topicals from a reputable manufacturer that offers a certificate of analysis. 

If you already have CBD oil on hand, you can also make your own CBD skincare products by adding a few drops to creams or balms you already know and love!



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