Best CBD Topicals: Lotions, Balms, and More [With Lab Results]

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We’ve compared lab results, prices, and customer service from the top brands to find the best CBD topicals around.

There are so many ways to take CBD, but if you’re looking for quick, targeted relief it’s hard to beat a topical CBD product. It’s a fast treatment because it doesn’t need to be digested, and you can put it right where you need it.

Creams, balms, roll-ons, gels — the options are almost endless. In fact, the abundance of choice can feel a bit overwhelming.

To help you narrow things down a bit, we’ve looked at (and smelled and felt) a ton of topical CBD products, highlighting the ones that stood out to us. We’ve done background research on companies, blind tested the products, and even sent them to an independent lab to test each product for potency.

So if you want to try a CBD cream or salve but aren’t sure where to begin, we’ve got you covered. Check out our quick links if you want to jump around, or just keep reading to get started!


Editor’s Choice Awards

Before we get into the full reviews, here are a few highlights from the CBD Hacker team.

Check out these overachieving brands! (Or just skip to the full ranking to get in-depth info on 20 different products.)


Best CBD Lotion: All-Around Highest Score

Bluebird Botanicals

As industry leaders, Bluebird Botanicals always sets the bar high. Their company culture fosters transparency and consistency, and their full spectrum CBD lotions are made with top-quality ingredients.

Shop Now


Best CBD Salve

Joy Organics

Joy Organics’ Premium Hemp Salve is pretty much everything you’re looking for in a CBD topical. It’s potent, absorbs well, and smells wonderful.

Save 15% when you use this code: CBDHACKER

Shop Now


Featured New Brand

Kanibi

Kanibi hasn’t been around for long, but they sure seem to know what they’re doing. Their CBD Sport Cream absorbs quickly and leaves no residue. And the website includes two third-party tests to verify CBD potency.

Save 10% when you use this code: hacker10

Shop Now

This product is sold by CBD Hacker’s partner entity.


Highest Potency CBD Topical

Spruce

Looking for a high potency topical? Search no more.

Spruce has created a simply formulated CBD Salve that packs in over 1000mg of CBD per ounce.

Shop Now


Table of Contents

In order to find the best CBD topicals, we do a lot of research and we want to share as much of that data as possible. And of course, we’ll tell you our top picks for CBD topicals (you can go straight to that info using the links below).

But to make sure you have some necessary context, we’ve also provided some background information about CBD. You can find information on its legal status, an overview of how it works, and its safety profile.

Topicals are a very broad category of CBD products, and shopping can be pretty overwhelming. To help you get started, we also included a section which covers some of the factors involved in finding the right topical for you.

And don’t forget to check out the lab test results and our value comparison. This gives you a good idea of what you’re really getting.

So jump on in on to whichever section interests you most – or scroll through the whole behemoth of a ranking! Here are some links to help you out:

Best CBD Lotions, Creams, & Gels

There are a lot of different types of CBD topicals out there. To avoid comparing apples to oranges to bananas, we decided to group products in three broad categories — starting with creams, gels, and lotions. These are lighter, water-based topicals that will absorb quickly into your skin, leaving little residue.

Best CBD Lotions, Creams, and Gels

Bluebird Botanicals: Essential Lotion

Ingredients: Aqua (Deionized Water), Emulsifying Wax, Hemp Blend (Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Seed Oil and Cannabis Sativa (Hemp) Extract), Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Oil, Daucus Carota Sativa (Carrot) Extract, Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, Polysorbate-20, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate.

Testing Notes: Opaque ivory lotion which absorbs quickly into skin, leaving little residue. Very light hemp scent.


Bluebird Botanicals is one of the pioneering brands in the CBD industry. They’ve taken the lead in everything from third-party testing to ensuring their products are grown organically and certified as Glyphosate free.

The company offers three lotions, but our favorite was their Essential Lotion. It has a light hemp smell that doesn’t linger for long, and it contains about 200 mg of cannabinoids per ounce. You can choose between their travel size or their 6 ounce, full size bottle. It’s also completely free from artificial colors and fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and sulfates. So no nasty stuff.

Advantages:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Extensive third party testing
  • Solid return policy

Shop Bluebird Botanicals
Regular Price: $39.99 – $59.99


Hemplucid: CBDA Cream

Ingredients: Distilled Water, Aloe Vera, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Optiphen Plus, Cannabidiol, Chamomile, Vitamin E, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Cinnamon, Blood Orange Essential Oil.

Testing Notes: Opaque ivory cream that absorbs within a few seconds. Light, refreshing citrus scent.


Hemplucid is a newer company that is working hard to create a reputation built on transparency. They are careful not to make unwarranted claims for their products and provide batch numbered third-party lab tests for each of their products.

With both full spectrum and THC-free options for customers, Hemplucid provides something for everyone. What makes this topical special is that it puts CBDa (or cannabidiolic acid) in the starring role, along with CBD and trace amounts of other cannabinoids. It is a pretty potent cream, with 500mg of cannabinoids per ounce.

Advantages:

  • Full spectrum formulation
  • High potency
  • Solid third party testing

Shop Hemplucid
Regular Price: $129.95


Populum: Cold Therapy Hemp Rub

Ingredients: Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Carbomer, Chamomile Extract, Arnica Extract, Emu Oil, Isopropyl Alcohol, L-menthol, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Triethanolamine, Full Spectrum Hemp Extract.

Testing Notes:Fast absorbing, translucent gel. Has a strong menthol scent and leaves a cool, tingly sensation on skin.


Populum made a bit of a stir in the industry when they came onto the scene in 2016, introducing their 30-day, risk-free trial for first-time purchasers. Having a solid return policy is now pretty much de rigueur in the industry, and Populum has definitely done its part to raise the bar for customer service.

All of Populum’s products utilize high-quality ingredients and are thoroughly tested. And if you like a bit of cooling action in your topicals, this one might be a good choice. Though the CBD potency is very low, this gel absorbs really well into skin, leaving zero greasy residue.

Advantages:

  • Accurate labeling
  • Solid customer service
  • Cooling action

Shop Populum
Save 15% with code: hacker15

Best CBD Balms and Salves

The products we tested in this category are all oil or beeswax-based balms and salves. Unlike lotions, these are solids that take a bit longer to absorb into skin. These are great for sore joints as well as skin conditions, but due to their density may not be optimal for use on your face.

Best CBD Balms and Salves

Joy Organics: Premium Hemp Salve

Ingredients: Organic MCT Oil, Organic Beeswax, Phytocannabinoid-Rich Hemp Extract, Organic Lavender Essential Oil and Organic Eucalyptus Essential Oil.

Testing Notes: Smooth, ivory salve that absorbs into skin with a bit of a waxy residue. Lavender scented, but not overpowering.


Joy Organics has been around for a little over a year, but you wouldn’t know that they’re a newer company by the level of quality the company exudes. Their products all utilize THC-free broad spectrum CBD extracted from organically grown hemp. And their customer service is hard to beat.

Joy Organics’ CBD salve features a combination of phytocannabinoid-rich hemp oil, beeswax and aromatic essential oils that help soothe muscles and support skin health. The amount of lavender oil is just right, and it absorbs fairly quickly, leaving only a light residue.

Advantages:

  • Great customer service
  • Higher potency
  • Generous return policy

Shop Joy Organics
Save 15% with code: cbdhacker


Charlotte’s Web: Hemp Infused Balm

Ingredients: Sunflower Seed Oil, Melaleuca Leucadendron (Cajeput) Oil, Camphor Bark Oil, Chinese Cinnamon Oil, Clove Flower Oil, Horse Mint Leaf Oil, Menthol, Beeswax, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Jojoba Seed Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Hemp Oil CO2 Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E).

Testing Notes: Light olive green solid. Spicy aroma of menthol and cinnamon. Absorbs well with some oily residue.


Charlotte’s Web is one of the most trusted brands in the industry for good reason. They take their position as industry leaders seriously, using quality ingredients and performing third-party lab tests for all products.

Their Hemp Infused Balm is one of our favorites. With a robust, spicy aroma and a cooling sensation, this balm both feels and smells wonderful. It has a moderate potency of CBD (300mg per oz.) but you might not want to use this one on your face since it does leave some oily residue.

Advantages:

  • Trusted brand
  • Quality ingredients
  • Invigorating scent

Disadvantages:

  • Some oily residue
  • One potency

Shop Charlotte’s Web
Save 15% with code: cbdhacker


4 Corners: CBD Salve

Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Antioxidants, CBD Dominant Hemp Extract.

Testing Notes: Olive green salve which absorbs into skin, leaving a noticeable oily residue. Light coconut and hemp scent.


4 Corners Cannabis is one of the pioneering CBD companies that started paving the way for the industry before the green rush really hit. They create high-quality, full spectrum CBD products in small batches, using their prized high-CBD Ma’at strain of hemp which they grow themselves.

When you open a tub of 4 Corners’ CBD Salve, you’ll notice the scent of coconut, which blends well with the scent of their full spectrum hemp. This salve takes some massaging for full absorption but does leave some oily residue (so may not be the optimal option for your face). At 250 mg CBD per ounce, its potency is in the mid-range.

Advantages:

  • Trusted company
  • Solid customer service
  • Free shipping

Shop 4 Corners Cannabis
Save 20% with code: hacker20

Best Roll-on CBD Topicals

Sometimes you need a convenient, hands-free topical that you can apply on the go. These roll-ons combine quality ingredients with effortless application.

Best Roll-on CBD Topicals

RE Botanicals: Mandarin Turmeric Relief Body Oil (Extra Strength)

Ingredients: Organic MCT Coconut Oil made from organic young coconuts, Organic Hemp Oil Extract, Organic Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Oil, Organic Citrus Nobilis (Mandarin Orange) Peel Oil.

Testing Notes: Clear, light yellow liquid in amber roll-on bottle. The oil absorbs well into skin (leaving a light residue) and has the scent of a freshly peeled mandarin orange.


RE Botanicals is one of only a few CBD companies to carry the USDA Organic Seal. This is due to the company’s deep commitment to regenerative agriculture and it results in ingredients which are consistently top quality.

RE Botanicals’ roll-on body oils come in two potencies, and all their scents are pretty great. Our favorite, though, was the mandarin turmeric, which really does smell specifically like a mandarin orange, and has the added bonus of being one of their extra strength formulations. It is (per its label) a body oil, so it does leave some residue, but its potency means you won’t need much of it to feel the effects.

Advantages:

  • USDA certified organic ingredients
  • High potency
  • Solid third party testing

Shop RE Botanicals
Save 10% with code: cbdhacker


PlusCBD: CBD Oil Gold Formula Roll-on

Ingredients: Water, Aucklandia Lappa Root extract, Achuranthes Bidentata Root extract, Cinnamomum Cassia Bark extract, Poria Cocos extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root extract, Isopropyl Alcohol, Camphor, Menthol, Hemp Oil, Glycerin, Hydrolyzed Jojoba Esters, Cetyl Hydroxyethylcellucellulose, Xanthan Gum.

Testing Notes: Creamy beige liquid that absorbs very quickly into skin, leaving no residue. Pronounced menthol scent and lingering cooling sensation.


PlusCBD Oil is one of the major players in the CBD industry, and their combination of quality ingredients and thorough testing practices makes them hard to ignore. They continue to import their hemp from Europe and make no promises that it was grown organically. However, their third party tests are thorough enough that it’s clear their products don’t include anything dodgy.

PlusCBD’s Gold Formula roll-on combines warming camphor with cooling menthol (though in our experience, the cooling sensation was definitely the most noticeable). This is a pretty potent product at 500 mg CBD per ounce, and we really liked how easily it absorbed into skin.

Advantages:

  • Reasonably priced
  • Fast absorbing
  • High potency

Shop PlusCBD Oil
Save 10% with code: cbdhacker

Best CBD Topicals: More Great Choices

We reviewed a whole schwack of products for this ranking, and several met our standards for quality. In alphabetical order, these are some of our favorite topicals that are well worth checking out.


Ambary Gardens: Full Spectrum Deep Rub

Ingredients: Shea Butter, Almond Oil, Coconut Oil, CBD Hemp Extract (250mg CBD per jar), Argan Oil, Jojoba Oil, Calendula, Arnica, Essential Oils of Lavender, Camphor, Rosemary, and Eucalyptus.

Tasting Notes: Ivory salve that leaves a bit of a waxy residue along with a cooling sensation. Light lavender scent.

Ambary Gardens was established way back in 2014, which makes them one of the old-timers in the industry. The company grows their own hemp in Golden, Colorado, and they place a premium on organic and sustainable practices, resulting in the least waste possible. In their words: “We do not cut corners. We do not make compromises.”

Ambary Gardens’ Deep Rub is a full spectrum CBD salve with a nice, light lavender scent.  Arnica, Calendula, and Jojoba oil boost the healing properties of CBD in this topical. You can choose between two sizes, with 250mg CBD per ounce.

Advantages

  • Established company
  • Positive customer reviews
  • Cooling sensation
Disadvantages

  • Strict return policy
  • Expensive

Shop Ambary Gardens
Regular Price: $65.00 – $115.00


cbdMD: Recover

Ingredients: Organic Aloe Leaf Juice, Organic Coconut Oil, Cannabidiol (CBD), Organic Arnica Flower Extract, Vitamin B6, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Histamine Dihydrochloride, Emulsifying Wax, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Glycerin, Sweet Basil Leaf Oil, Black Pepper Oil, Roman Chamomile Flower Oil, German Chamomile Flower Oil, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Citronella Oil, Eucalyptus Leaf Oil, Helichrysum Flower Oil, Ginger Root Oil, Pink Grapefruit Peel Oil, Juniper Berry Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Peppermint Oil, Pine Needle Oil, Ravensara Oil, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Spearmint Oil, Wild Oregano Oil, Organic Cypress Oil, Sweet Fennel Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Lavender Flower Oil, Organic Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, and Sorbic Acid.

Testing Notes: Opaque white lotion that absorbs very quickly and leaves little residue. Invigorating spicy scent.

cbdMD came onto the CBD scene in 2018 and quickly showed the industry that it is possible to offer high-quality products that don’t rob the bank. The company sources organic hemp from Colorado and Kentucky and offers all manner of THC-free products which come in a range of potencies.

cbdMD’s Recover inflammation cream combines a respectable dose of CBD combined with ingredients like Arnica (for white-cell stimulation) and Vitamin B6 (to repair inflammatory and arthritic damage). Plus, you can choose your potency of CBD, up to 375 mg per ounce. We just wish cbdMD would start offering customers post-formulation third-party lab reports!

Advantages:

  • Three potency options
  • Free shipping
  • Good customer service

Disadvantages:

  • No post-formulation COAs
  • Scent won’t’ be for everyone

Shop cbdMD
Save 15% with code: 15CBDH


Endoca: CBD Salve

Ingredients: CBD Hemp Oil (Cannabidiol 750mg), Coconut Oil, Beeswax, Cannabis Sativa Seed Oil, Citrus Medica Limonum (Lemon) Peel Oil, Citral, Vanilla, Vitamin E.

Testing Notes: Olive green salve, which absorbs after a few seconds and leaves a bit of a waxy residue. Hempy citrus scent.

Endoca is a Denmark-based CBD company which has recently opened a US branch of their CBD business. They grow their own organic hemp in Northern Europe, and create high-quality, full spectrum products at reasonable prices.

Endoca’s CBD salve includes only food-grade ingredients ( “so pure you can eat it” ) and no synthetic fragrances. Their salve is cruelty-free, contains no preservatives or artificial colors, and it’s both vegan and non-GMO. Also, it smells good. This is a high potency product, so a little will go a long way!

Advantages:

  • Reasonable pricing
  • High potency
  • Accurate labeling

Disadvantages:

  • Strict return policy
  • Had to email customer service for COA

Shop Endoca
Regular Price: $64.00


Fab: Topical CBD Cream

Ingredients: Full Spectrum Hemp Oil Extract (CBD), Distilled Water, Aloe Vera, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Optiphen Plus, Chamomile, Vitamin E, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Cinnamon, Blood Orange Essential Oil.

Testing Notes: Opaque ivory cream which absorbs easily and leaves a light residue. Light citrus scent.

Fab CBD is a Florida-based company that puts a premium on customer satisfaction. With products made with CO2-extacted CBD from organic, Colorado hemp, their products are consistently high quality.

Fab’s topical CBD cream has a luxurious, non-greasy feel and a really nice, light, citrusy (specifically, blood orange) scent. At 300mg per ounce, this cream has a respectable potency and includes ingredients like aloe vera and vitamin E.

Advantages:

  • Solid return policy
  • Great customer service
  • Reasonable pricing

Shop Fab CBD
Regular Price: $64.00


Hempure: CBD Balm

Ingredients: Water Soluble phytocannabinoid rich Hemp Oil, Beeswax, MCT Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Lavender Oil.

Testing Notes: Ivory salve that absorbs fairly quickly, leaving a light waxy residue. Lavender scent.

Colorado-based Hempure opened its doors for business in 2018, with a mission to set the bar high for CBD quality. Their broad spectrum products are derived from non-GMO, organic hemp and extracted via CO2 technology. The company also takes care to provide an ample amount of educational content on its website.

Hempure’s CBD balm is one of the most potent that we tested. With 750 mg CBD per ounce, this topical packs a pretty good CBD punch. Also, their balm utilizes water soluble hemp oil, which may result in better absorption. One thing to note, if you’re not a fan of lavender oil, this may not be the topical for you.

Advantages:

  • High potency
  • Affordable pricing
  • Free shipping over $25

Disadvantages:

  • Strict return policy
  • Leaves a bit of residue

Shop Hempure
Regular Price: $66.99


Kanibi: CBD Enhanced Sports Cream

Ingredients: Aqua, Methyl Salicylate, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Cetearyl Glucoside, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate Citrate, Eucalyptus Globulus Leaf Oil, Menthol, CBD Hemp Extract, Organic Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Organic Tapioca Starch, Glycerin, Caprylic Capric Triglyceride, Xanthan Gum, Organic Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Lef Extract, Cinnamomum Camphora (Camphor) Bark Oil, Organic Arnica Extract, Glyceryl Caprylate, Caprylhydroxamic Acid, Citric Acid.

Testing Notes: Opaque white cream which absorbs very quickly and leaves no residue. Invigorating menthol scent.

Kanibi is a brand new, Oregon-based CBD company that wants to redefine CBD manufacturing. They use organic hemp, clean extraction methods, and create their products in a cGMP compliant manufacturing facility. Precision dosing is one of their promises, and they provide two COAs for every product, so you can be sure they mean it.

We liked that Kanibi’s Sport Cream absorbed quickly, leaving a tingly cool sensation with zero greasy residue. It comes in a cool dispenser pump, which makes application easy and helps you monitor how much you’re using (each pump contains around 6-8mg CBD). In terms of potency, our lab test showed a CBD content that closely matched the label – a good sign that a company is paying close attention to accurate dosing.

Advantages:

  • Accurate dosing
  • Solid customer service
  • Light cooling sensation

Disadvantages:

  • New company
  • One potency option

Shop Kanibi
Save 10% with code: hacker10


Mission Farms: Joint and Muscle Gel

Ingredients: Organic Aloe Leaf Juice, Meadowfoam Seed Oil, Menthol Crystals, Capsicum Fruit Oleoresin, Whole Hemp Extract, White Camphor Bark Oil, Sweet Basil Leaf Oil, Black Pepper Oil, Roman Chamomile Flower Oil, German Chamomile Flower Oil, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Citronella Oil, Eucalyptus Leaf Oil, Helichrysum Flower Oil, Ginger Root Oil, Pink Grapefruit Peel Oil, Juniper Berry Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Peppermint Oil, Pine Needle Oil, Ravensara Oil, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Spearmint Oil, Wild Oregano Oil, Glycerin, Witch Hazel Water, Organic Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate.

Testing Notes: Translucent, orange gel which absorbs quickly into skin, leaving no residue. Fresh, menthol scent with a hint of citrus.

Mission Farms is an Oregon-based CBD company that was founded in 2018. The company grows its own organic hemp in Oregon’s nutrient-rich volcanic soil, and they control their production line from seed to shelf.

What sets Mission Farms’ products apart from many other CBD products is their use of essential oils to complement the effects of CBD. Their topical includes a long list of oils, chosen for their pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. They also give this gel its invigorating, spicy scent. You can choose between a pump or a jar, but both options offer 75 mg of CBD per ounce.

Advantages:

  • Responsive customer service
  • Solid return policy
  • Reasonably priced

Disadvantages:

  • Low potency
  • No free shipping

Shop Mission Farms
Save 20% with code: cbdhacker


Myaderm Sport Cream

Ingredients: Ingredients Purified Water, Isopropyl Palmitate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, CBD, Propylene Glycol, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, PEG-100 Stearate, Dimethicone, Octyldodecanol, Hydroxyethyl Acrylate/Sodium Acryloyldimethyl Taurate Copolymer, Squalane, Polysorbate 60, Lecithin, Phenoxyethanol, Menthol, Camphor, Eucalyptus Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Triethanolamine.

Testing Notes: Opaque, faintly pinkish lotion with a light menthol scent. Absorbs quickly, leaving no residue.

Myaderm is a Colorado-based business that specializes in high-potency CBD topicals. They source domestically grown hemp and their CBD is extracted using CO2 and ethanol. For their formulations, the company utilizes CBD isolate (so, no THC) carried in a transdermal lotion.

Myaderm’s Sport Cream is both absorbent and non-greasy, and we liked that it is only lightly scented and leaves a bit of a cooling effect. Unfortunately, when we contacted customer service, we were given unclear answers to our questions about whether they use organic hemp. However, their third party lab tests include testing for contaminants like pesticides, heavy metals, and microbiology.

Advantages:

  • High potency
  • Absorbent formula
  • Free shipping

Disadvantages:

  • CBD isolate contains no minor cannabinoids
  • Website lacks information

Shop Myaderm
Regular Price: $49.99


Onyx+Rose: Bliss Balm

Ingredients: Phytocannabinoid-Rich Hemp Oil, Beeswax, Medium Chain Triglycerides (MCT), Lavender Oil and Eucalyptus Oil.

Testing Notes: Solid ivory balm that has a waxy texture and leaves a bit of residue. Lavender scent.

Onxy+Rose is a Kentucky-based CBD business with pretty great products and a really pretty website. They use American-grown hemp for their CO2-extracted CBD. All their products utilize broad spectrum CBD, so you can skip the THC altogether.

Onxy+Rose’s balm is a waxy solid that does leave a bit of residue. The ingredients include both lavender and eucalyptus oil, but it’s the lavender you’ll notice when you apply it (though the scent fades as the balm is absorbed). At 250mg per ounce, this product is in the mid-range for potency.

Advantages:

  • Reasonably priced
  • 90-day returns for first purchase
  • Responsive customer service

Disadvantages:

  • One potency option
  • Batch number needed to view COAs

Shop Onyx+Rose
Regular Price: $48.60 – $54.00


Relive Everyday: Re-flex Pain Relieving Spray

Ingredients: Coconut Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Glycerine, Grapefruit Oil, Hemp Extract, Isopropyl Alcohol, Purified Water.

Testing Notes: Translucent liquid that absorbs quickly, leaving no residue. Strong menthol scent.

Relive Everyday is a CBD company based in Pennsylvania. While CBD gummies are their signature products, they also offer tinctures and a topical spray. All Relive Everyday products use CO2-extracted CBD, derived from organic, non-GMO Colorado-grown hemp.

Relive Everyday’s Pain Relieving Spray is one of the lower potency products on our list, but it could be a good option if convenience is important to you. The spray bottle makes application easy and keeps oils off of your hands. It also offers some light cooling action due to the presence of menthol.

Advantages:

  • Free shipping
  • Responsive customer service

Disadvantages:

  • Expensive
  • Lower potency
  • No post-formulation COA

Shop Relive Everyday
Save 10% with code: hacker10


Spruce: CBD Salve

Ingredients: Full spectrum CBD oil, olive oil, shea butter, beeswax, MCT Oil.

Testing Notes: Soft, olive green salve that leaves some oily residue. Light, earthy hemp scent.

Spruce is another newcomer to the CBD scene, but this company wants to make its mark by offering high potency CBD products for those who need them. Spruce uses full spectrum CBD, and our lab testing did show traces of minor cannabinoids in addition to the CBD.

According to Spruce’s website, their salve is 100% natural, organic, and made from simple ingredients (five in total, to be exact). We did find it a bit oilier than other salves we tried, but given some massaging action it does absorb into the skin. This salve isn’t scented, so it carries a light hemp smell.

Advantages:

  • High potency
  • Solid return policy
  • Good price

Disadvantages:

  • No post formulation COAs
  • No free shipping

Shop Spruce CBD
Regular Price: $89.00 – $169.00


Steve’s Goods: Wowzer on a Stick

Ingredients: Avocado Oil, Shea Butter, Beeswax, Hemp Seed Oil, Organic Full Spectrum Hemp Flower Extract, Vitamin E, Cajeput Oil, Camphor Oil, Lavender Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Cornmint Essential Oils.

Testing Notes: Light olive green, salve. More solid than most and leaves a bit of a waxy residue. Minty lavender scent.

Steve’s Goods is a Colorado-based CBD company which has been perfecting its wares since 2016. The company offers a wide range of full spectrum CBD products, sourced from organic, Colorado hemp.

Steve’s Goods’ whimsically named Wowzer on a Stick may or may not have you saying “wowzer” but it definitely checks the boxes of product quality. Containing ingredients like shea butter and beeswax, you know this is going to be good for your skin. The CBD potency isn’t super high, though, so don’t be shy when you’re applying this stuff.

Advantages:

  • Reasonable pricing
  • Responsive customer service
  • Established company

Disadvantages:

  • Only one potency
  • Only 10-day returns

Shop Steve’s Goods
Regular Price: $34.99


Methodology

To find the best CBD topicals, we don’t cut corners. We started with a list of some of the biggest names in the CBD industry, added some up-and-comers that we’ve been hearing some buzz about and started digging.

Our research is pretty comprehensive, covering everything from key quality indicators to customer service and the all important potency testing. Here’s a breakdown of what we look at:

Third Party Lab Testing

If you’re spending a significant wad of cash on CBD topicals, you want to make sure you’re getting what you’re paying for. Accurate dosing is one of the most important steps in creating a good CBD product, and we check to make sure that companies are doing it right.

So we send samples of each product to an independent lab for potency testing. You can view those lab results here.

Product Quality and Value Evaluation

There are many types of CBD topicals out there and in some ways, ranking them can be like comparing apples to oranges. But there are common denominators when it comes to quality.

For this category, we prioritize companies that source domestically grown, organic hemp for their products. And the closer their relationship to the hemp farmers the better.

Our team also conducted blind product testing. Samples of each product were placed in identical containers, and we marked each one on its smell as well as its consistency. Mostly we were looking for things that would make you want to either really avoid the product or which made it especially attractive.

And finally, we looked at the price of the product. There are, of course, lots of factors that determine the price of a product. But this a ranking for CBD topicals, so our value comparison is based on the price per milligram of CBD. You can find that chart below.

User Experience

While it’s becoming easier to find CBD topicals in stores, most CBD shopping is still conducted online. So we evaluated all company websites for usability.

Specifically, we spent a lot of time assessing how easy it was to find helpful information about the company, their processes, and products. We also tested the speed of the site and even went through the purchasing process, checking for glitches.

Customer Service

The CBD industry can be a confusing space to navigate, and good customer service is essential to running a good CBD business.

To evaluate how well a company treats its customers, we pretended to be customers with all manner of questions. We asked questions about products (or company policies) and then rated the responses on the speed of reply, as well as the quality of answers. We also checked out shipping prices and return policies to come up with a final score.

Value Comparison

It can be tricky to figure out how to compare the pricing for various CBD topicals. A tiny amount of balm might come with a high price tag if it contains a high concentration of CBD, so the size of the container shouldn’t be the determining factor of good value.

(Then again, if you need something that you can spread around a large area, that tiny tube of highly potent balm might not be the best value for you.)

Below, you’ll find the price per milligram of CBD for each product as well as the total milligrams of CBD in the product (at the highest potency offered). This should help you gain an idea of relative price points as well as the potency range of different products.

Brand Price CBD Potency price per mg CBD
Myaderm $49.95 1200 mg $0.04
Bluebird Botanicals $59.99 1250 mg (total cannabinoids) $0.05
cbdMD $99.99 1500 mg $0.07
Spruce $169.00 2000 mg $0.08
RE Botanicals $39.00 500 mg $0.08
Charlotte’s Web $39.99 450 mg (total cannabinoids) $0.09
Endoca $64.00 750 mg $0.09
Hempure $66.99 750 mg $0.09
Joy Organics $99.95 1000 mg $0.10
Fab $64.00 600 mg $0.11
Onyx & Rose $54.00 500 mg $0.11
Mission Farms $69.00 600 mg $0.12
PlusCBD Oil $59.95 500 mg $0.12
Hemplucid $129.95 1000 mg $0.13
Steve’s Goods $45.00 300 mg $0.15
4 Corners Cannabis $99.99 500 mg $0.20
Kanibi $49.00 250 mg $0.20
Ambary Gardens $115.00 500 mg $0.23
Relive Everyday $59.99 200 mg $0.30
Populum $45.00 100 mg $0.45

Cannabinoid Potency

A good CBD product should contain close to the amount of CBD that is labeled on the package — and the closer the better. We sent all products to an independent lab to see how accurately each CBD topical was labeled.

Below you’ll find the amount of CBD, THC, and any other cannabinoids that were present in the company’s topical product.

Company % CBD % Δ9-THC Other Cannabinoids
RE Botanicals 5.5 0.2 THCA, CBDV, CBG
Spruce 4.9 0.2 Δ8-THC, CBDV, CBN, CBG
Hempure 2.8 THCA
Endoca 2.6 0.1 Δ8-THC, CBDA, CBDV, CBN, CBC, CBG
Myaderm 2.5
PlusCBD Oil 1.5 0 CBDV, CBC, CBG
Joy Organics 1.3 CBDV
Fab 1.0 0 CBC
4 Corners Cannabis 0.8 0 CBDA, CBC, CBG
Ambary Gardens 0.8 0 CBC, CBG
Bluebird Botanicals 0.8 CBC
Onyx+Rose 0.8
cbdMD 0.6
Charlotte’s Web 0.5 CBC
Hemplucid 0.5 0 CBDA, CBC
Kanibi 0.5
Steve’s Goods 0.5 CBC, CBG
Mission Farms 0.3
Relive Everyday 0.3
Populum 0.1

What is CBD?

In short, CBD, or cannabidiol, is a cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are chemicals produced by cannabis plants, and the two most prolific and well-known are CBD and THC (also known as the one that gets you high).

CBD works by interacting with your endocannabinoid system, which is composed of interrelated receptors and chemicals spread throughout the brain and body. Most animals have an endocannabinoid system (or ECS), and its job is to help maintain homeostasis, or balance, within our bodies.

So what does CBD do?

The scientific research on CBD is really still in the early stages, but the evidence is beginning to pile up. While most scientists aren’t ready to make conclusive statements, there are plenty of studies that point to CBD’s effectiveness for pain, inflammation, anxiety, seizures, and even neuroprotection (protecting brain cells from damage).

When you use CBD topicals, the CBD that penetrates your skin interacts with ECS receptors lying just below the surface. Unless you’re using a transdermal formula, the CBD won’t actually penetrate into your bloodstream, which is why this is a localized treatment.

Using CBD topicals on your skin won’t help with anxiety or seizures. But if you have pain and inflammation in a specific area that you want to target, a good CBD topical can do wonders.

Safety Concerns and Side Effects

So CBD can be helpful with a lot of conditions, but is it safe?

According to the World Health Organization, CBD has a good safety profile. This means that side effects are minimal (like dry mouth, lightheadedness or sleepiness) and no one has been known to overdose on it. Also, unlike THC,  it won’t make you high.

It’s still important, though, to keep your doctor in the loop if you’re taking other medications. CBD is safe on its own, but it can interact with other drugs in unpredictable ways. This is certainly less of an issue with topicals, which do not enter the bloodstream and are not metabolized by the liver (but it’s always a good idea to run a new treatment by your doctor anyway).

The trace amounts of THC in full-spectrum CBD products can also be an issue for those who have to take drug tests for work. Even small amounts of THC that enter the bloodstream can be stored up in fatty tissue and detected by a test.

With CBD topicals though, the cannabinoids only penetrate the skin barrier and don’t enter the bloodstream at all, so there’s really no chance of failing a drug test due to a full spectrum CBD topical.

Hemp-derived CBD is federally legal and is no longer on the Drug Enforcement Administration’s list of controlled substances.

Because all cannabis plants produce some amount of CBD, it’s important to note the difference between CBD extracted from marijuana and CBD extracted from hemp. Though molecularly they are identical, the federal government has only legalized CBD that comes from hemp. By law, hemp cannot include more than 0.3% THC.

Things are a bit more complicated, though, at the state level. CBD is legal in most states, but there are some holdouts that haven’t quite made up their minds about the substance. So it’s a good idea to check into your local laws to find out if having CBD in your glove compartment could prove to be a problem.

For more info, check out our interactive map:  Is CBD Legal in Your State?

Why Choose CBD Topicals?

With so many ways to use CBD, why bother with a topical?

To cut to the chase, the main advantage that a CBD topical offers over other methods of delivery is targeted relief. Taking CBD in a capsule or under your tongue provides the benefit of systemic support for a number of conditions. Using a topical gets the CBD to the specific place you need it.

This means that if you have widespread inflammation or pain, using a topical may not be the most beneficial way to take CBD — but if there are localized areas you want to treat, a topical is probably what you’re looking for.

Secondly, CBD topicals work fast. Those endocannabinoid receptors are right under your skin, and as soon as the CBD is absorbed it starts to work. There’s no lengthy digestion or metabolism process to wait through, so it can be surprising just how quickly you’ll feel relief.

On the downside, the speed of delivery means it won’t last as long as CBD that you’ve ingested. That’s something to consider if you suffer from chronic pain. Still, if pain is keeping you awake at night, a topical might be what you need to get yourself to sleep.

Topicals can also be a good choice for people that are on medications that could interact with CBD in the liver. With the exception of transdermal formulas, topicals do not penetrate to the bloodstream (this is why their effects are limited to the area that is treated) so it won’t affect the metabolism of other drugs.

How to Choose CBD Topicals

The kind of topical you choose depends a lot on what you want to use it for. Here are a few considerations:

  • Potency: Pay close attention to cannabinoid potency. Some CBD topicals contain a high concentration of CBD — from 500 to more than 1000mg of CBD per ounce. Others contain very little, so keep that in mind when you’re calculating the value of the product and when determining how much to use.
  • Type of Product: If you’re looking for super targeted relief, then a high concentration balm might be a good choice. If you’re looking for something to spread over a larger area you might want to try a lotion (or massage oil).
  • Additional Ingredients: If you have a muscle injury and want to add heat or cooling to the effects of the CBD, there’s no need to apply two products. There are plenty of topicals that combine the two in one formula.
  • Application Location: If you’re looking for something to apply to your face, you’ll probably want to avoid topicals that contain ingredients like capsaicin or menthol — especially if it’s going anywhere near your eyes.

And, as with any CBD product, only buy from companies that are transparent about their company practices and policies. Look for companies that source organic, domestically grown hemp. And they should make third-party lab reports readily available so you can check the potency of your product.

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