Table of Contents
- What Is CBD?
- Why Do People Use Topical CBD?
- How We Reviewed Best CBD Creams & Topicals
- Official Reviews of CBD Topical Products
While CBD tinctures are still the first CBD product many people encounter, CBD topicals, including CBD creams for pain, are increasingly commonplace. A variety of CBD-infused creams, balms, and salves are widely available today, even in some everyday drug stores.
Topical CBD is a great choice whether you’re dealing with chronic pain, inflammation or just the aches and stiffness of everyday life. CBD creams and balms are often a convenient and fast-acting way to bring relief to sore muscles or other parts of your body that hurt.
This review of the best CBD topicals is the latest in Ministry of Hemp’s product review series. Periodically, we review the best products in a category and put them together in a guide like this. You’ll find more of our Best CBD reviews in the “CBD Reviews” menu at the top of our site.
This category grew a lot since we first wrote this article. These reviews focus on the best topical CBD creams for pain, soreness, inflammation, and other body ailments. Other, separate articles focus on CBD skin care and beauty products.
Keep reading to learn more about CBD and why people use CBD topicals. Or, scroll down to read our reviews of the best CBD creams, salves and balms.
What is CBD?
CBD is an extract of industrial hemp. Many consumers report CBD offers significant relief from pain and inflammation. CBD is seeing tremendous popularity today. CBD has few side effects and seems to work especially well in topical form. While most commonly found in a tincture or capsule, many brands offer CBD in a salve or cream for application to the skin. You can even find CBD topicals in drug stores and other brick and mortar stores.
Quality matters. CBD is unregulated and there are too many fake products out there. Always research your products, and avoid buying from a vendor like a gas station, where you wouldn’t normally buy wellness products.
At Ministry of Hemp, we maintain the highest standards when it comes to CBD and hemp products. You can trust that we’ve carefully reviewed each of these products, and sampled them ourselves before including them here.
Why Do People Use CBD Creams for Pain?
The main advantage of CBD creams & Topicals form is you apply it directly wherever your body needs help. While we still don’t fully understand how CBD creams work, most users report rapid, even instantaneous effects.
There’s a growing body of scientific evidence to support the use of topical CBD products to ease pain, inflammation, and the symptoms of arthritis. One study using rats found that topical CBD has “therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side-effects.” More scientific research on humans is needed to confirm all of CBD’s benefits, but the initial research into topical use in humans is also promising.
Hemp and CBD oil are also increasingly popular skin care ingredients. Thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, CBD can reduce rashes and irritation in the skin just like it eases muscle aches and stiffness.
Quality matters: How we picked the Best CBD Creams and Topicals
For our review of the best CBD Creams for pain available online, we focused only on companies which make third-party, independent lab results available to consumers. Lab results are available online, included in the order, or on request. It’s vitally important that consumers know exactly what products they’re consuming: how strong it is, and whether it has any impurities.
We focused on brands that are transparent about the source of their hemp, and make it easy to find out what other ingredients were included. All of these CBD brands also have fast, friendly customer service and easy to use websites. We rated each brand on their price, strength, and the cost of shipping.
Our reviews also include the ingredients and a description of the scent and texture of each CBD topical. We tried to remain neutral in our descriptions of each product, since each consumer’s experience is subjective.
These are all high-quality CBD creams, balms and salves, but you may find you prefer one scent over another. While many of the products below contain added ingredients that ease sore muscles, others focus on CBD alone. Experiment to find out what you like. You might love or hate menthol. Some people prefer a light texture, while other buyers are looking for heavier CBD topicals to use in a massage.
Top Picks of the Best CBD Creams For Pain Relief [Official Reviews]
After careful review, we believe these are the best CBD topicals for sale online.
- Lazarus Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Balm
- Populum Cold Therapy Hemp Rub
- Charlotte’s Web Unscented Hemp Infused Cream
- Medterra CBD Rapid Cooling Cream
- Plus CBD Oil Gold Extra Strength Hemp Balm
- Ananda Hemp Spectrum Salve 125
- Hemp Luxe Hemp Extract Balm
- Catskills Comfrey with CBD & Arnica
- DaCrema Botanicals CBD Healing Salve
Click above or continue reading for our complete review of each brand.
Ministry of Hemp received free products from in return for writing this review. We may receive a percentage of sales if you buy products from some of the brands below. We only selected the best CBD topicals for inclusion in this top product roundup, and we always promise to give you our honest opinion.
Lazarus Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Balm
- Highlights: Lazarus Naturals Full Spectrum CBD Hemp Balm is one of our all time favorite CBD creams featuring just full-spectrum CBD. This topical is available in a variety of incredible scents or a simple, unscented form.
- Price: $15.00 – $50.00
- Special: Use coupon MOH10 for 10% off this topical
- Strength: 300 mg of full spectrum hemp/CBD extract per 0.5 oz tin, also available in a 2 oz, 1200mg tin
- Customer Service & Shipping: Fast, friendly customer service. Free 3-day shipping on all orders.
- Independent Test Results: Online.
- Texture & Smell: This topical feels luxuriously smooth on the skin. A little greasy at first it absorbs quickly. The scents are natural and delightful.
- Ingredients: (for Lavender variety) CBD oil / Full-spectrum Hemp Extract in Organic Mango Butter, Organic Beeswax, Fractionated Coconut Oil, Lavender Oil, Oleic Acid, Isopropyl Myristate
Populum Cold Therapy Hemp Rub
- Highlights: Populum Cold Therapy Hemp Rub goes to work fast cooling sore muscles thanks to the added menthol. Very light, non-greasy texture.
- Price: $45.00 (20% off with subscription)
- Strength: 100 mg of full spectrum hemp/CBD extract per 3 oz. tube
- Customer Service & Shipping: Fast, friendly customer service. Free standard shipping is available, with faster options available for an additional fee.
- Independent Test Results: Included with every order.
- Texture & Smell: This rub has a noticeable smell of menthol. Our review team appreciated the light, non-greasy texture of this Cold Therapy Rub.
- Ingredients: CBD oil / Full-spectrum Hemp Extract in Water, Aloe Barbadensis leaf extract, Carbomer, Chamomile extract, Arnica extract, Emu oil, Isopropyl Alcohol, L-menthol, Propylene glycol, Diazolidinyl urea, Methlyparaben, Triethanolamine
Charlotte’s Web Unscented Hemp Infused Cream
- Highlights: Charlotte’s Web Unscented Hemp Infused Cream can be used anywhere & has a pleasant, lotiony feel. Perfect for anyone who prefers unscented products.
- Price: $49.99
- Strength: 750 mg of full spectrum hemp/CBD extract per 2.5 oz tube
- Customer Service & Shipping: Fast, friendly customer service. Standard shipping starts at $8.99.
- Independent Test Results: Contact CW Hemp directly.
- Texture & Smell: This CBD topical has a soft, creamy texture that easily absorbs into the skin. There is a very faint, lotiony smell.
- Ingredients: CBD oil / Full-spectrum Hemp Extract in Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Purified Water, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Oleosomes, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shae) Butter, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Vegetable Glycerin, Cetearyl Olivate, Sorbitan Olivate, Mangifera Indica (Mango) Seed Butter, Lactobacillus Ferment (from Cabbage), Lactobacillus, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Fruit Extract, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Leaf Extract, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Cimicifuga Racemosa (Black Cohash) Root Extract, Prunus Armeniaca (Apricot) Kernel Oil, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Seed Oil, Glyceryl Stearate (Palm Oil Derived), Xanthan Gum, Panthenol (Vitamin B5), Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Cyamopsis Tetragonolobus (Guar) Gum, Sodium Benzoate, and Potassium Sorbate.
Medterra CBD Rapid Cooling Cream
- Highlights: Medterra CBD Rapid Cooling Cream cools down inflamed muscles while offering fast, effective CBD relief.
- Strength: 300mg per 100ml bottle (also available in 750mg strength)
- Price: $49.99 – $77.99
- Customer Service & Shipping: Fast, friendly customer service. Free shipping available on orders over $99.
- Independent Test Results: Online.
- Scent & Texture: This topical instantly cools the skin, and can cause a mild tingling sensation with heavy use. This topical has a pleasant but medicinal scent.
- Ingredients: CBD isolate in Helianthus annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil, Stearic Acid (Vegetable Derived), Cetyl Alcohol (Coconut Alcohol/USP), Sodium Hydroxide (Mineral Salt/USP), Vitis Vinifera (Grape Seed) Extract, Aloe Barbadensis (Inner Fillet) Leaf Juice, Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), Glycerin (Vegetable Derived), Potassium Sorbate (Mineral Salt/USP), Xanthan Gum (Vegetable Derived), Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Menthol (Mentha Arvensis)(USP), Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil, Ocimum basilicum (Basil) Leaf Oil, Citrus Aurantium Bergamia (Bergamot) Fruit Oil, Arnica Montana Flower Extract, Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil, Zingiber Officinale (Ginger) Root Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantifolia (Lime) Peel Oil, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Salvia Sclarea (Clary) Oil, Phenoxyethanol.
- Other: Medterra offers a generous 30-day return policy for unsatisfied customers.
PlusCBD Oil Gold Extra Strength Hemp Balm
- Highlights: Plus CBD Oil Extra Strength Hemp Balm offers powerful topical relief with a peppermint twist, from one of the most well-known CBD brands on the market.
- Strength: 100mg per 1.3 oz jar
- Price: $39.95
- Customer Service & Shipping: Fast, friendly customer service. Free shipping available.
- Independent Test Results: Online.
- Scent & Texture: This is a thick balm but not overwhelmingly greasy, with a strong, refreshing peppermint scent.
- Ingredients: CBD oil / Full Spectrum Hemp Extract in Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond Oil), Cera Alba (Beeswax), Candelilla/Jojoba/Rice Bran Polyglyceryl-3 Esters, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Mentha Piperita (Peppermint) Oil, Tocopherol, Salix Alba (Willow) Bark Extract, Equisetum Hiemale Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Seed Oil, Ascorbyl Palmitate
Ananda Hemp Spectrum Salve 125
- Highlights: Ananda Hemp Spectrum Salve 125 has cooling menthol and a smooth, slightly oily texture. Great for targeting sore muscles.
- Price: $23.95
- Strength: 125 mg of full spectrum hemp/CBD extract per 1 oz jar
- Customer Service & Shipping: Fast, friendly customer service. Free standard shipping is available, or faster options for an additional fee.
- Independent Test Results: Online.
- Texture & Smell: This salve has a smooth, slightly oily texture from the coconut oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter. It smells of minty essential oils and the other botanical ingredients.
- Ingredients: CBD oil / Full Spectrum Hemp Extract in Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Cocoa Butter, Beeswax, Organic Menthol Crystals, Boswellia Extract Powder, White Willow Bark Extract, Organic Cayenne, Organic Calendula Flowers, Organic Ginger, Arnica Oil, Capsicum Oil, Sunflower Oil, Essential Oils: Wintergreen, Organic Eucalyptus, Peppermint, Lavender, and Ginger
Hemp Luxe Full-Spectrum Hemp Extract Balm
- Highlights: Hemp Luxe Full Spectrum Hemp Extract Balm quickly became one of our favorite CBD topicals with a great scent and offering powerful pain relief.
- Strength: 700mg per 60ml tin (also available in 225mg and 935mg strengths)
- Price: $29.99 – $89.99
- Customer Service & Shipping: Fast, friendly customer service. Free shipping available on orders over $75.
- Independent Test Results: Available on request.
- Scent & Texture: This topical is a little bit greasy but quickly absorbs into the skin. The balm has a wonderful smell, heavy on the rosemary and other herbal notes.
- Ingredients: CBD oil / Full Spectrum Hemp extract in Organic Beeswax, Organic Olive Oil, Organic Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Arnica, Organic Rosemary, German Chamomile, Organic Peppermint, Organic Pine, Organic Clove, Frankincense, Organic Lavender, Sweet Marjoram.
Catskills Comfrey with CBD & Arnica
- Highlights: Catskills Comfrey with CBD & Arnica offers seed-to-shelf quality at a low cost, with the added anti-inflammatory powers of comfrey and arnica.
- Price: $28.00 – $44.00
- Strength: 200 mg of full spectrum hemp/CBD extract per 1 oz jar, also available in a 2 oz, 400mg jar
- Customer Service & Shipping: Fast, friendly customer service. Standard shipping starts at $5.
- Independent Test Results: Online.
- Texture & Smell: This is definitely a thicker ointment, with a sweet, pleasant unique herbal smell. It’d be great for giving light, soothing massage.
- Ingredients: CBD oil / Full Spectrum Hemp Extract in Coconut Oil, Greek Olive Oil, Comfrey, Arnica, Beeswax
DaCrema Botanicals CBD Healing Salve
- Highlights: Da Crema Botanicals CBD Healing Salve is very light, with a non-greasy texture that makes this salve easy to apply anytime you need relief of sore muscles or irritation. It consists of a proprietary blend of essential oils including lavender, rosemary, eucalyptus & other botanical ingredients that give it a unique herbal scent.
- Price: $35.00 – $45.00
- Special: Use coupon code MOH for 10% off!
- Strength: 240mg or 360mg (Extra Strength) full spectrum hemp/CBD extract per 1.3 ounce tin
- Customer Service & Shipping: Fast, friendly customer service. Free shipping available on orders over $100.
- Independent Test Results: Online.
- Texture & Smell: Beeswax, shea butter and natural oils combine to create a smooth, very light texture that is not greasy. Herbal ingredients create a pleasing botanical scent.
- Ingredients: CBD oil / Full-spectrum Hemp Extract in Beeswax, Olive Oil, Shea Butter, Grapeseed Oil, Essential Oils of Lavender, Rosemary, Eucalyptus, Spearmint, Marjoram, Basil, and Vetiver
Types of CBD topicals
There are two reasons why people use CBD topicals: skincare, and deep tissue relief. These two types of concerns are ideal for CBD topicals for these three reasons:
CBD topicals for skincare are perfect for people fighting skin conditions or inflammation.
- CBD topicals attack the problem at its source;
- Most of the cannabinoids from a topical preparation do not enter the bloodstream;
- Topicals start working immediately.
CBD topicals for skincare are perfect for people fighting skin conditions or inflammation, or for people whose hands are raw and chapped from excessive hand washing. For these types of issues, a water-based lotion is far superior than a salve. That’s because a salve’s oily residue can stay caked on a person’s problem skin, while a lotion absorbs easily.
For those looking for relief from aching muscles and joints, CBD topicals are also a popular option. Formulations for these topicals are different, and often contain a secondary ingredient like menthol to help the CBD penetrate deeper into the tissue.
A buying guide for CBD topicals Creams
When shopping for any CBD product, consumers should be skeptical. The CBD industry does not deserve consumers’ trust yet. But there are some things to look for to give you confidence that a CBD brand is looking out for its customers.
What to look for to know you’re buying a quality CBD topical product:
- QR codes on the packaging that link to lab reports are a must;
- The lab report should test for potency to ensure the same level of CBD as the packaging claims, as well as a full panel of safety tests to ensure the sample is free from pesticides, heavy metals, solvents, and etc.
- The fewer ingredients the better, but with lotions, this isn’t always possible. Look for lotions that are free of parabens. That’s a good indicator the lotion is a premium product.
Why topical CBD cream Is a promising option for Arthritis, Inflammation & Joint Pains
You can vape it, take an extract, or swallow a pill … there are so many different ways to take CBD, but some people find CBD is best applied directly to the skin.
We were curious to learn more about why some CBD consumers are choosing topical applications, such as lotions or massage oils, over other forms of this supplement and found a surprising number of ailments it may help.
While CBD oil, a non-psychedelic extract of industrial hemp, seems to offer healing benefits when ingested almost any way, for some types of chronic pain, skin conditions, and other localized problems, topical applications allow users to go right to the source. Topical CBD can also work faster since it doesn’t have to travel through the digestive system first.
Just as with our investigations into whether CBD can help chronic pain and anxiety, we’ve looked at the scientific literature on the topic but also looked at reports from everyday people who’ve benefitted from hemp extract.
‘Therapeutic Potential For Relief Of Arthritis’: Science Examines Topical CBD
There’s a lot of research into the overall benefits of CBD in humans, but when it comes to topical applications most of the studies we found used animals.
In July 2016, a team of 7 researchers from the University of Kentucky published the results of their successful study of CBD for relieving arthritis symptoms in rats in the European Journal of Pain. Scientists artificially induced arthritis in the rats’ knee joints, then studied whether CBD improved their mobility and reduced their pain.
“Transdermal CBD gel significantly reduced joint swelling,” the researchers wrote, noting other indicators of pain, including how the rats positioned the affected joints, which also seemed improved.
“Exploratory behavior was not altered by CBD indicating a limited effect on higher brain function,” they added, further evidence that CBD has few side effects.
“These data indicate that topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviours and inflammation without evident side-effects,” the scientists concluded.
Although perhaps less applicable to everyday applications, other animal studies suggest CBD could reduce many different kinds of inflammation. It’s also worth noting that there are already at least two patents on specific formulations of topical CBD. (Reference here and here.)
‘It’s Reasonable To Think Cbd Might Have Benefits’ But More Research Needed
An April 2016 investigation into topical CBD and cannabis by Medical Marijuana, Inc. summed up some other promising research. “The topical application of cannabinoids allows them to be absorbed directly into the affected area for faster and more focused relief.”
“The topical application of cannabinoids allows them to be absorbed directly into the affected area for faster and more focused relief.”
One benefit, the site noted, was that even topical formulations based on psychoactive cannabis are not mind-altering, because they “bind to CB2 receptors near the skin, activating the endocannabinoid system, and are never absorbed into the bloodstream.”
Beyond simple chronic pain issues, “the topical use of a combination of THC and CBD has been reported as effective against the ‘central pain of multiple sclerosis.'” It may also help with skin conditions, including “burns, rashes, eczema, psoriasis, and skin infections.”
But Medical Marijuana, Inc. also admitted “little research has been done into the application of … cannabinoids transdermally.”
Rachael Schultz, a freelance fitness writer, took a more cautious approach to topical CBD in a January 2017 report for Shape magazine. “There’s practically no scientific data to support the idea that a CBD-infused topical cream is any more effective than other topical pain relievers, like Tiger Balm, BenGay, or Icy Hot,” she warned.
Schultz also speculated that other herbal ingredients found in topical CBD creams could be just as, or more effective than the CBD itself. But the experts she consulted admitted CBD is promising, just largely unproven in human-based laboratory testing.
“The pain and stiffness that comes post-workout or from overexertion certainly has a pro-inflammatory component to it, so it’s reasonable to think CBD or other cannabinoids might have benefits, but we have no research to support this yet,” Gregory Gerdeman, a neurophysiologist and cannabinoid expert at Eckerd College in Saint Petersburg, FL., told Schultz.
‘CBD Has Been The Only Thing That Helped’: CBD users tell us why they go topical
When we asked the Redditors of /r/CBD/ about the topical use of CBD, many were quick to praise its benefits.
Dr. Ranga Krishna, a neurologist from Brooklyn, told us he both prescribes and holds a patent in topical CBD because of its incredible promise.
“Topicals are a fantastic option as they’re easily measured in terms of ingredient compositions, and are higher in bioavailability than orally ingested compounds; this being because they are able to skip liver metabolization,” he wrote.
While he hopes “CBD can really shine” through topical application, he added “we are still doing studies in regards to that.” Eventually, he said he hopes to combine it with other topical pain relievers.
Of course, since everybody is different, topical CBD hasn’t worked for everyone.
“I tried for a stubborn chronic pain problem,” wrote pursehook. “It helped a little, but really not enough for that spot and my pain level.”
Instead, pursehook wrote that they returned to other methods of ingesting CBD that seem to help more. And though topical creams didn’t help with chronic pain, they discovered another, unexpected benefit instead. “I was completely skeptical, but it works like a miracle on [menstrual] cramps. Who knew? Amazing.”
But other Redditors were enthusiastic about the benefits of topical CBD products. “CBD has been the only thing that has helped,” wrote onwardtomanagua, who suffers from postherpetic neuralgia, a lingering form of chronic pain that can be caused by shingles.
“I use topical salves because I stopped ingesting cannabis, but they still help my muscles and joints when tense or knotted,” wrote kaizoku.
In a separate discussion posted in February, a Redditor named ValiumKilmer suggested topical CBD can even help with hemorrhoids.
Topical CBD Needs More Research, But Don’t Wait To Try It Yourself
Many people have already experienced the benefits of CBD, but science is clearly still catching up. Unfortunately, that’s not unusual: the medical establishment is also still arguing about whether CBD can benefit epilepsy sufferers despite decades of positive research.
That shouldn’t stop you from giving topical CBD a try if you think it might benefit you.
Even Rachael Schultz, Shape’s skeptical CBD investigator, admitted “Science hasn’t confirmed creams with CBD will have any greater benefit than those without, but there’s little-to-no risk in trying it out.”
As with all CBD products, it’s important to investigate your source and make sure they have a proven track record of offering reliable supplements. Whether you have chronic pain, post-workout soreness, or just want better skin, we hope you’ll give hemp and CBD a try.