These are the best CBD lotions, creams, and topicals you can depend on for safety and quality — whether you’re looking for CBD isolate, broad-spectrum, or full-spectrum formulations.
Healthline has sole editorial control over this article. Potential uses for the products listed here are not health claims made by the manufacturers. The information in this article is intended to be general in nature. It’s not intended to be a substitute for medical advice from a healthcare professional. Healthline encourages you to make any treatment decisions with your healthcare professional.
We chose these products based on criteria we think are good indicators of safety, quality, and transparency. Every product and brand featured has been vetted by our team for medical and business standards. Each product in this article:
is made by a company that provides proof of third-party testing by an ISO 17025-compliant lab
is made by a company that discloses the source of their hemp
While research on CBD is still in its early stages, the little we do know about CBD topicals is promising.
Pain and inflammation
In 2020, researchers sent a questionnaire to people living with arthritis to understand how effective CBD is for managing pain associated with the condition.
Out of the 428 survey responders, 83% reported an improvement in their pain and 66% reported improvements in physical function and sleep quality.
However, a smaller 2022 study involving 136 people with osteoarthritis or psoriatic arthritis found no significant reduction in pain intensity with daily CBD use. That said, the study specifically involved doses of 20–30 mg of synthetic CBD. Higher doses may be needed to produce noticeable effects. Additionally, synthetic CBD may produce different effects than natural CBD at varying doses.
Some preliminary research suggests that CBD may help with certain skin conditions.
A 2020 research review indicates the application of topical CBD products could be therapeutic for acne and eczema. A 2021 review of human clinical studies also supports this. However, the review notes that topical CBD can sometimes cause mild side effects like stinging and burning.
Additionally, a small 2021 study of 20 people with eczema found that topical CBD gel decreased itchiness in 67% of participants.
A 2022 review notes that CBD may be an option for treating inflammatory skin conditions. However, the authors note that more research is needed to confirm CBD’s effect on skin conditions.
It’s important to keep in mind that not all CBD products are created equally, which is why it’s so important to shop carefully. CBD’s effectiveness varies depending on a variety of factors, like the:
As evidenced by the products above, there are many different types of CBD topicals. Here’s what to consider when choosing the right one for your needs.
Think about your motivation for buying. Are you hoping to benefit from a hydrating boost of CBD for your face or body in general? Are you treating tenderness somewhere specific? Being clear about the result you want can help you zero in on a product that will best suit your needs.
Pay attention to the name of the product as well. Lotions will generally be lighter in texture, while ointments, salves, and creams tend to be thicker. Oils will be, well, oilier, and best suited to use all over your body.
Also, consider the ease of application. Some products are available in stick form, while others are packaged in tubes and tins.
Finally, check out the ingredients list. If you have allergies or sensitivities to botanical ingredients, you’ll want to avoid those. Plus, even though they’re not edible products, not all topical CBD products are suitable for vegans.
There’s a lot of information to keep in mind when shopping for a CBD topical. Let’s go over the basics.
The first thing to look for is potency. CBD doesn’t pass through skin easily, so it’s important to use a potent product for best results.
When it comes to CBD topicals like lotions and creams, average potency products contain between 3 and 8 mg per recommended application. High potency products contain at least 8 mg per recommended application.
While isolates are great for consumers who want to be sure there’s no THC in their products, this extraction method strips away other cannabinoids and compounds like terpenes. This can reduce the overall therapeutic benefits of CBD.
Broad-spectrum products contain most cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, but they don’t contain THC.
Full-spectrum products preserve all cannabinoids and terpenes in the final product, including THC. This is important because CBD and THC may work better together than they do alone, thanks to the entourage effect.
Note that any full-spectrum products made from hemp will still only contain 0.3% THC or less, so it’s still a relatively small amount.
Has it been third-party tested?
Currently, the FDA doesn’t guarantee the safety, effectiveness, or quality of over-the-counter CBD products. However, in order to protect public health, the FDA can take action against CBD companies that make unfounded health claims.
Since the FDA doesn’t regulate CBD products in the same way it regulates drugs or dietary supplements, companies sometimes mislabel or misrepresent their products.
That means it’s especially important to do your own research and find a quality product. The product’s COA should confirm that it passes tests for contaminants and that it contains the amount of CBD and THC it claims.
If a product doesn’t work for you, consider trying another with different ingredients or a different amount of CBD.
Opt for all-natural, organic, U.S.-grown ingredients whenever available — you’ll get all the benefits of the ingredients without the chemicals and pesticides.
When looking at facial products, look out for ingredients that could irritate sensitive skin.
Most CBD topicals fall in the $30–$60 range.
Pay close attention to products priced at over $100. You might decide they’re worth it, but do a little digging to be sure before you shell out the extra cash.
Topicals are meant to be massaged into the skin, so you’ll apply them directly to the affected area. However, always read the package directions before applying. Stay away from broken skin and sensitive areas.
Depending on other ingredients in the product, you might feel tingling, warming, or cooling sensations.
If you’re using the product for pain, you’ll likely feel the effects quickly. If you’re using it for a skin condition, like acne or eczema, you might have to apply it a few times to see results. Before you use CBD for a skin condition, speak with a qualified healthcare professional.
Always refer to the packaging for specific directions and recommendations from the manufacturer.
Most topicals are safe to reapply as needed. Pay special attention to the type of carrier oil your product is made with, as products based on coconut oil may melt when exposed to heat and they’re not suitable for people with a coconut allergy. These products should be kept in a cool, dark place.
Be sure to read the packaging. Most topicals are only meant for external use, and many are not meant to be used on broken skin.
Possible side effects
changes in appetite
changes in weight
CBD is nonintoxicating, meaning it won’t get you “high.” It’s generally recognized as safe, and there are few side effects, though they do occur occasionally.
If you have any concerns about a skin condition, talk with a doctor or healthcare professional. They can provide specific recommendations and guidance for your condition or issue.
It’s also a good idea to talk with a doctor or healthcare professional before using CBD products, in general, including full-spectrum products that are applied topically. CBD can interact with certain supplements and medications. A doctor can make sure CBD is safe for you to use.
Yes. Topical use is one of several methods of consuming CBD. But it works a little differently than, say, taking it sublingually, or under the tongue. Instead of entering the bloodstream, topical CBD reaches endocannabinoid receptors through the skin. That’s why you experience localized effects.
Does CBD cream show up in a drug test?
Since they don’t enter the bloodstream, even full-spectrum topical CBD products shouldn’t show up on a drug test.
Does CBD cream work for pain?
It might. Some 2022 research shows that topical CBD has a positive effect on pain. However, more research — including human studies — is needed to confirm the effects of topical CBD.
Do CBD lotions do anything?
CBD lotions may help reduce pain and inflammation and have a positive effect on various skin conditions, like acne and eczema. However, more research is needed.
Are CBD lotions legal?
CBD lotions made from hemp with less than 0.3% THC are federally legal in the United States. However, they’re still illegal under some state laws.
Though there’s little information currently available about CBD’s effectiveness as a topical, many consumers report successfully using topicals to relieve a wide variety of ailments.
CBD topicals have the potential to help manage pain and skin conditions like eczema and acne. If you’re seeking the greatest therapeutic benefit, opt for potent, full-spectrum, organic ingredients whenever possible.
Is CBD legal? The 2018 Farm Bill removed hemp from the legal definition of marijuana in the Controlled Substances Act. This made some hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC legal at the federal level. However, CBD products containing more than 0.3% THC still fall under the legal definition of marijuana, making them illegal at the federal level. Some states have legalized CBD, so be sure to check state laws, especially when traveling. Also, keep in mind that the FDA has not approved nonprescription CBD products, and some products may be inaccurately labeled.
Last medically reviewed on September 16, 2023
How we reviewed this article:
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