Pain Relief

A guide to CBD topicals | Use of balms, creams, and lotions for pain relief

CBD topicals are taking the world by storm. Dermatologists, trend-spotters, and skincare enthusiasts all have something to say about them. But what are CBD topicals, really? If you're wondering what a cannabidiol-infused topical can do for you, look no further. At The Extract, we believe in the goodness of CBD, regardless of its form.

In fact, CBD creams, lotions, and balms could help aid a multitude of conditions – from dry skin and acne, to pain and muscle aches. Today, we want to tell you all about CBD topicals, and how they can help you.

What are CBD topicals?

A CBD topical is a lot less complicated than it sounds. It's simply a cream, lotion, balm, or salve that's infused with CBD. Topicals are applied to the skin, and are not meant for human consumption. Generally, these topicals are made with either full-spectrum or broad-spectrum cannabidiol. This is because these topicals are absorbed through the skin. Their bioavailability isn't as high as that of a tincture, or a vape liquid. Therefore, manufacturers use a stronger form of CBD to make the creams more effective.

In addition to this, CBD topicals usually contain a fairly high dose of CBD. Many topicals contain upwards of 100 mg of cannabidiol per bottle or container. This is also to ensure that the effects of CBD can penetrate the skin, to hydrate dry skin or soothe aches and pains.

CBD Topicals – CBD creams, CBD lotions, and CBD balms: A closer look

Stepping into the world of CBD topicals can be intimidating at first. There are new terms to learn, and new products to try out. Thankfully, we're here to make your first cannabidiol-infused topical purchase an easy one. There are three main types of topicals:

  • CBD Creams
  • CBD Lotions
  • CBD Balms

However, this list is non-exhaustive. The CBD market is constantly growing, and so too is the selection of topical products available. Manufacturers have started making CBD-infused skincare products, lip balms, and cosmetics. These can all be considered topicals.

If you're looking for a CBD cream, lotion, or balm to help with your skin, we've got you covered. This is everything you need to know about CBD topicals.

CBD creams – benefits, uses, and directions

Like many other CBD-infused products, CBD creams have a host of benefits. For the most part, this form of CBD-infused topical is well-known for its pain-relieving properties. While more research needs to be done, results are generally positive. This is mostly due to the anti-inflammatory properties found in CBD. Because of these properties, best CBD creams can help with a variety of physical aches and pains.

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CBD cream for pain

CBD cream can help with:

  • Arthritis pain: Due to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD creams can help with arthritis-related pain. It can also help reduce arthritis-related swelling.
  • Nerve pain: Research shows that CBD could potentially help to reduce nerve pain. The jury's still out on whether CBD can actually help you heal. However, its interactions with your endocannabinoid system can provide relief from nerve pain.

Many CBD pain creams are manufactured with high doses of either full-spectrum or broad-spectrum cannabidiol. This helps effects take hold faster. Furthermore, many of them come in warming formulations. While this is unrelated to the therapeutic benefits of CBD, it adds a restorative sensation to problem areas. For the most part, CBD pain relief creams can be used by all skin types — including individuals with sensitive skin.

CBD lotions – benefits, uses, and directions

While they both fall under the same family of CBD topicals, CBD lotions generally have a thinner consistency than CBD creams. This makes CBD lotions easier to spread, over larger expanses of skin. For example, if you're experiencing dry skin all over your legs, consider reaching for a CBD lotion, instead of a cream.

While CBD lotions can be either water-based or oil-based, they're usually water-based, with the slightest bit of oil. Good-quality CBD lotions also contain a high dose of CBD. Again, this is because of the low bioavailability of CBD topicals; high doses of CBD render it much more effective.

CBD lotion for pain

While CBD lotions have the same pain-relieving properties as the other CBD topicals, they are extremely effective at soothing dry and irritated skin. Anecdotal evidence shows that CBD can help with psoriasis. That being said, dermatologists are not entirely convinced of this. However, as scientists and CBD researchers continue to look into the benefits of CBD, there could very well soon be evidence to back up these claims.

CBD balms – Benefits, uses, and directions

CBD balms are one of the most popular types of CBD topicals. They generally come in smaller containers than CBD creams and lotions. Additionally, they're a lot thicker than their CBD topical counterparts. This is because balms aren't made with water. Instead, they're usually made with oil or beeswax. There are a variety of CBD balms on the market — from muscle balms to moisturizing balms for dry skin. We'd advise that CBD balms are used in areas prone to dryness. You can use moisturizing CBD balms on these areas:

  • ankles
  • elbows
  • hands
  • knees
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That's not all. Gym enthusiasts and professional athletes often swear by CBD muscle balms. This is because CBD's anti-inflammatory properties can work wonders on tired, aching muscles. Many gym enthusiasts have said that adding a good-quality CBD balm to their wellness routine has cut their recovery time in half. If you find yourself struggling to get out of bed in the mornings, after an evening at the gym, using a CBD balm could have a host of benefits!

CBD topicals for muscle and joint pain

Given that CBD topicals contain cannabidiol, they can have extremely positive effects on muscle and joint pain. As previously mentioned, more research needs to be done on this, but the anecdotal evidence is undeniable. Whether you're suffering from a pretty bad muscle sprain, arthritis aches and pains, or just need some recovery time from the gym, a CBD topical can help.

When the cannabinoids in the CBD topicals interact with the ECS, you could see a multitude of improvements. Not only could the CBD topical help to reduce the swelling, but it could also help you manage pain better. Many athletes are turning away from opioids to manage pain and looking for alternative treatments — including CBD topicals for pain. This, in itself, is evidence for what CBD can do, and it brings us to our next point.

CBD lotions for recovery

You might not know this, but the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) removed CBD from its list of banned substances in 2018. This means that CBD is now a viable supplement for athletes who experience chronic pain, or who want to improve on their recovery time. While many professional athletes opt for tinctures and supplements, a good number of them choose to use full-spectrum CBD topicals instead. This is because CBD tinctures and supplements can often contain amounts of THC, which is still a banned substance. By using a CBD lotion, these athletes negate the risk of a positive drug test before game day.

Even if you're not a professional athlete, a CBD lotion could potentially help in your recovery. Whether you're trying to step up your gym game, or if you're trying to get back into shape, CBD lotion can help. By speeding up your recovery time, you'll be back at the gym in no time, and seeing better results, within a quicker time frame.

How to use CBD topicals

While using a CBD topical might seem simple enough, at first glance, this isn't the case. This is because CBD topicals come with their own sets of guidelines. For example, a CBD balm should never be used on your face, unless stated otherwise. We've put together a few instructions to read through before you begin your CBD topical journey!

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How do I use a CBD cream?

A CBD cream should be applied in the same way as every other topical. All you have to do is scoop out the amount you require, and apply it to your swollen joints or aching nerves. Take a moment or two to massage it in. Most CBD creams are non-greasy and should absorb fairly quickly. However, because of the low bioavailability of CBD topicals, it might take awhile before you feel the effects.

How do I use a CBD lotion?

If you're using a CBD lotion to help with psoriasis, you'll need to be a little diligent in your application. You'll want the cannabinoids in the CBD to interact with the endocannabinoid receptors in your skin, regularly enough to make a difference. Therefore, we'd recommend applying the CBD lotion to your skin twice a day, or as needed. Sticking to a skincare routine can ease the effects commonly associated with psoriasis. These effects include:

  • Itching
  • Peeling skin
  • Redness
  • Swelling

How do I use a CBD balm?

When using a CBD balm, it's important to remember that a little bit goes a long way. Its thick consistency is what makes it so effective, especially when used on dry, cracked skin. If you're using a moisturizing CBD balm to hydrate dry and cracked skin, simply apply a small amount to the area, and rub it in, until it's completely absorbed. A CBD muscle balm can be used the same way.

That being said, CBD muscle balms can take a little longer to absorb. They can also leave your skin feeling slightly sticky. Unlike other topicals, CBD balms shouldn't be used on your face. This is because beeswax can be comedogenic. When used too often, it can clog your pores and cause acne.

How do I choose a CBD topical?

We've established that CBD topicals are rapidly gaining popularity — even among professional athletes. However, finding a CBD topical that doesn't break the bank can be a little difficult. That being said, an expensive CBD cream or balm doesn't necessarily mean that it's a good-quality topical. There are a number of things you want to look out for, before buying a topical:

  • Third-Party Lab Testing: Reputable manufacturers will provide customers with proof of third-party lab testing. This helps to establish that these products contain as much CBD as they advertise, and don't contain any harmful additives.
  • Hemp source: Where possible, you should buy products made from naturally grown or organic hemp. This will ensure that there are no chemicals or pesticides included in the final product.
  • Customer reviews: Before buying a CBD topical, a quick Google search will tell you how popular the product is. Most websites display their customer reviews. However, if this isn't readily available, you can always turn to TrustPilot or Reddit!

Now that we've established the basics of CBD topicals, we hope that you feel more prepared to venture out and try them. Whether you're looking for a CBD balm, cream, lotion, or even a specific cosmetic product, we hope this guide helps. If you still haven't found a CBD topical to your liking, browse our selection of products here

Stephanie Fernandez

Stephanie Fernandez is a copywriter and content creator with a background in anthropology. When not writing, she can be found trying out new recipes or listening to true crime podcasts. She's enthusiastic about video games, rescue dogs, the American version of The Office, sneakers, and the Oxford comma.

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