Should I Use CBD Products on My Skin?
If you’ve walked down the drugstore aisle recently, you might have noticed a new acronym popping up on the labels of many skincare products: CBD.
CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is a chemical compound derived from the cannabis plant. Compared to THC, the active ingredient in marijuana, CBD is not psychoactive, which means that ingesting it or putting it on your skin will not cause you to feel “high.”
“More studies are needed to see if CBD or other chemical agents found in the cannabis plant directly improve skin quality and have other health benefits.”
CBD oils, lotions, and creams are readily available in many states as over-the-counter beauty products and the market for CBD is growing fast.
How CBD affects your skin
Dr. Nima Gharavi, dermatologist and skin cancer surgeon at the Cedars-Sinai Cosmetic Dermatology Program, says CBD may play a role in hydrating the skin and have anti-inflammatory effects, so using a product that contains CBD might help with treating dry skin or certain inflammatory skin disorders.
“However, more studies are needed to see if CBD or other chemical agents found in the cannabis plant directly improve skin quality and have other health benefits,” Dr. Gharavi says.
The potential health benefits of CBD
While the effect of CBD on your skin is unclear, there’s a lot of interest in CBD research, Dr. Gharavi says.
“Right now, the way we treat eczema, psoriasis, and most inflammatory conditions of the skin is through the use of anti-inflammatory agents, the most common being topical corticosteroids,” Dr. Gharavi says.
“Topical steroids, however, have potential side effects, particularly on thin skin found around the eyes, in the armpit area, or the groin.”
If CBD can produce the same anti-inflammatory effect as a steroid without the potentially negative side effects, then the use of CBD could be an encouraging new method to treat these skin conditions.
“I’d like to see more data on how CBD, in the form of a topical agent, could have promising or comparable anti-inflammatory effects as a steroid,” Dr. Gharavi says.
Are CBD products safe for your skin?
Dr. Gharavi says there’s likely little harm that can come from applying a CBD beauty product to your skin.
If you experience a skin irritation, a rash, or an allergic reaction from using any type of skincare product, consult a dermatologist.
Can CBD Oil Be Used Topically?
Lately we’ve been hearing a lot about the “best CBD oil for…” any number of issues. Sometimes, that’s exactly what they’re looking for—the best CBD oil for sleep or certain skin conditions.
But, in many cases, people are really looking for CBD creams and other topicals. For example, if you’re looking for the best CBD oil for acne, the best CBD oil for rosacea or eczema? You’re really looking for a CBD cream or similar CBD topical.
Most CBD oil is actually formulated to be taken orally. So what is the difference between topicals and CBD oil? That’s exactly what we’ll focus on here.
CBD Topicals vs CBD Oil
Although it is already massive, CBD and skin care are two growing markets that have merged to create a ton of new products. This means that while companies are still developing many new ways to use CBD, the basic CBD oil that is taken orally is still the most common way of administering the cannabinoid.
When you use a CBD tincture, you just place several drops or whatever your serving size is under your tongue. Hold it there for at least a minute, if you can, to hasten the benefits, which you can feel in minutes.
Still, especially for those with skin issues or joint and muscle pain, CBD topicals are often more effective and quicker. Topical CBD formulations typically include additional ingredients to enhance an analgesic, anti-inflammatory effect. So although there are many ways to try CBD, a topical may be your best bet if you need to treat skin issues or relieve aches and pains.
A CBD topical is any CBD-infused lotion, cream, or salve that can be applied directly to the skin. They don’t have enough tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, of course, to get you high.
However, many have other cannabinoids and terpenes and are therefore capable of producing the entourage effect–the effect that happens when all of the plant’s cannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce benefits.
Science on CBD topicals (and the cannabis plant as a whole) is in its infancy, but we do know some promising things:
We already know that cannabis sativa has anti-inflammatory properties. CBD topicals may help manage inflammation and pain associated with arthritis more effectively by avoiding the GI system, resulting in more constant plasma levels.
Experts from the American Academy of Dermatology have also suggested that topical CBD products might be used to treat eczema, acne, and psoriasis. As a bonus, these products don’t have the typical side effects of oral medications, and they provide additional skincare benefits.
Just like other forms of CBD, however, the effectiveness of topical CBD varies depending on things like dosage or serving size, quality, and source.
Unlike edibles, topicals serve a different and unique purpose. They are used mostly to target surface areas to treat muscle pain, spasms, and tension because topical CBD does not reach the bloodstream. Instead of treating your entire body or system, you’re just spot treating a place where you’re having chronic pain.
Can You Use Oral CBD Oil Topically?
What type of product will work best for you? There are pros and cons for both oral and topical CBD products—so if you apply a tincture or oil to your skin, do you get the same benefits of CBD you’re used to?
A lot of this is related to the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a biological system all mammals share. The ECS is mostly composed of enzymes, endocannabinoids, and CB1 and CB2 receptors for the endocannabinoids. The ECS regulates many functions in humans, including memory, appetite, pain sensation, mood, reproduction, and sleep.
The ECS helps achieve and maintain homeostasis in the human body—or in some cases re-establish it. Homeostasis is the balanced, healthy zone within the bounds of which biological systems stay well-regulated. Imagine a human body with ideal blood pressure, blood sugar levels, etc.
What are cannabinoid receptors and why do we have them? Much like a thermostat, cannabinoid receptors collect data on conditions just outside the cell upon whose surface they sit, allowing them to then respond to changing conditions by “kick-starting” the correct cellular response.
For example, when bacteria attacks the body and causes infection, the immune system triggers inflammation to help battle the infection. This also triggers the ECS to release endocannabinoids which assist in signaling other immune cells and help limit the inflammatory response so it isn’t excessive. The receptors in turn help the body fight infection, and return to normal without damaging itself.
The skin also has its own endocannabinoid system, which helps keep the skin healthy and balanced. Just like for the rest of the endocannabinoid system throughout the human body, the goal is stasis. In fact, CBD topicals are useful and can also produce healthy skin because the root cause of most skin problems is usually some kind of an imbalance in the skin.
Either way, depending on the type of issue you’re trying to treat and pain management you’re seeking, it is possible to get the effects of CBD topically or orally—if what you’re taking is made for that kind of use. But you wouldn’t eat hand cream, right? So would you put CBD oil on your skin?
The best method will depend on all of the details.
Taking CBD by mouth. You absorb CBD that you swallow in capsules, gummies, food, or liquid, through the digestive tract. This makes absorption slow and dosing a bit challenging due to several factors, including recent meals, unknown effects of stomach acids, the delayed onset of effect which is one to two hours, and other factors.
You can also take CBD using a tincture, oil, or spray by holding it under your tongue (sublingual) and allowing it to absorb directly into the bloodstream for 60 to 120 seconds. You can feel effects within 15 to 45 minutes, although you will also taste the preparation. Full-spectrum CBD oils in particular have a strong plant taste.
Taking CBD topically. Apply topical products such as balms, creams, lotions, and salves directly to the skin over a painful area. Simple! But do not apply CBD oils that are designed for taking orally to the skin; they have nothing to suspend them on the skin or make them work there, and they are intended to be in the bloodstream.
If you’re not sure if it would be better to use CBD orally or topically, you may need to refocus your question to decide which type best suits your needs. Using CBD topically works best if you have a targeted area where you need CBD the most because it allows the cannabidiol compounds to work with the cannabinoid receptors right where you apply the topical cream.
With CBD topicals, the effects are more concentrated because the cannabinoid compounds never get absorbed into the bloodstream and they aren’t spread thin throughout the entire body. This makes it a great choice for treating minor, local discomfort in muscles and joints, or soothing skin.
What CBD Products Can You Use On Your Skin?
CBD topicals are any CBD products you can use on your skin: lotions, creams, balms, roll-ons, and salves that have CBD in their formulations. CBD lotions, creams, and balms are typically not edible and are intended to be applied directly to specific affected areas of the skin.
CBD topicals generally can be used to provide localized relief by delivering CBD to the outer layer of the skin. They often have particular formulations, such as CBD creams for skin-related issues like eczema, acne, rosacea, and psoriasis, and for injuries and problems like insect bites and stings and burns.
Some of the most common types of CBD topicals that you might find on the market include these, and here are some of their applications:
Creams, lotions, and salves: These are typically used for inflammation and pain relief.
Oils, ointments, and serums: These are typically used to treat skin-related conditions such as burn ointments or ointments for eczema, acne, dry skin, and psoriasis; and in beauty applications, including anti-aging serums, beard creams, anti-aging products, tattoo ointments and other hair and skin products.
There are other miscellaneous CBD topicals, too, like CBD soap and CBD lip balm—all have specific uses.
In a CBD topical, the base, whether it is oil, cream, wax, or something similar, works as a carrier agent. If you recall our other discussions of how cannabinoids work, you remember that THC, CBD, and other cannabinoids bind with fatty acids. This is why carrier oils are so common.
The carrier agent works, usually alongside essential oils and other natural ingredients, to smoothly apply the CBD to skin conditions and other affected areas and help it cling there long enough to work.
What will happen if you use a CBD oil that isn’t a topical on your skin? For one thing, it won’t have the right carrier to hold it on your skin well enough to interact with the ECS locally. To be effective, CBD must interact with the endocannabinoid system in some way, either by entering the bloodstream or the skin’s layers. Simply placing oils on the skin won’t necessarily make that happen.
Can I Rub CBD Oil on My Skin for Pain?
Topical lotions and salves are becoming one of the most convenient CBD administration methods for users with an active lifestyle. Generally, topical lotions infused with CBD provide weekend warriors, athletes, and anyone with a quick means to target muscle pains and aches. Additionally, apart from physical pain relief for the muscle, CBD lotions might also help usher psychological relaxation as well.
More people who suffer from acute or chronic pain are learning that CBD might work as a safe and natural alternative. So far, evidence suggests some advantages over prescription painkillers, which could be addictive and dangerous. Not only that, but unlike CBD edibles, capsules, or oils, topical salves and lotions work as soon as they touch the skin.
Thus, lotions and salves are rapidly becoming the preferred choice for people wanting quick pain relief. Those afflicted with nerve pain, fibromyalgia, arthritis pain, painful muscle strains, and other disorders may want to try this topical. In this article, you’ll learn the answer to the burning question – ‘can I rub CBD oil on my skin for pain?’. Let’s dive right in.
How Do CBD Lotions Work?
The top reason why topical lotions and salves are effective is that, upon rubbing them in your skin, the CBD goes directly to your endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is an extremely complex cell-signaling system that regulates a number of important functions in our bodies.
Research is still ongoing to understand the ECS fully. However, so far, they are certain it has a significant role in regulating key bodily processes. Those include:
- Pain response and regulation.
- Liver function.
- Bone growth.
- Skin and nerve functioning.
- Inflammation and immune responses.
- Motor control.
- Pain reduction and regulation.
Going deeper regarding the ECS, the system consists of a network of receptors. It has two different kinds of cannabinoid receptors:
- CB1 receptors – found in the central nervous system.
- CB2 receptors – located in the peripheral nervous system.
In general, each of these functions helps maintain the body in a homeostatic state. Injury, pain, or chronic health conditions are able to throw off these functions. That’s when the ECS comes into action and helps your body return to a balanced state of normal functioning.
So, Can I Rub CBD Oil on My Skin for Pain?
If you use a full-spectrum CBD topical salve or lotion, the amounts of CBD and traces of THC in the cream will interact with your ECS. Researchers discovered that THC helps stimulate appetite and relieve pain by interacting with the CB1 receptors.
On the other hand, CBD inhibits the breakdown of endocannabinoids, the cannabinoids your body produces on its own. Thus, allowing them to linger and deliver their pain-relieving effects for longer than usual. Furthermore, researchers believe that CBD may help relieve nausea, pain, and other undesirable symptoms caused by some health conditions.
Once you rub a CBD topical lotion into a place of discomfort, it will enter into your skin and sebaceous glands. From there, it will work with your body synergistically, potentially alleviating inflammation and pain. Thus, topical CBD lotions can directly help to relieve pain in the specific body areas you apply it to.
Can I Rub CBD Oil on My Skin for Pain? – Targeting Different Conditions & Injuries
Yes! You can apply a CBD topical lotion onto your body to experience pain relief. But you can also incorporate other modalities to further enhance the effects and, thus, the greater relief you’ll get. For example, why don’t you try adding ice to further reduce the inflammation or swelling after applying the CBD topical?
Ice or heat on top of topical cream might also be an ideal method of calming arthritis pain. It can also help with other chronic pain from knee injuries, gout, Crohn’s Disease, bursitis, fibromyalgia, etc.
CBD topical lotion might help with burns, rashes, skin infections, psoriasis, sore muscles, sore joints, eczema, acute and chronic pain.
How to Use CBD Lotions
Once you start using CBD lotions, you’ll first have to apply the lotion around the painful region to treat it locally.
You would also need to identify how many milligrams of CBD the topical has to ensure that you’re getting the right dosage. That way, you’ll know whether there’s enough CBD in the lotion to offer you therapeutic relief. In most cases, topical creams containing relatively lower milligrams of CBD are going to be less useful than those with higher content.
Generally speaking, you should apply topical CBD lotions as you would take CBD oil: begin low and move up slowly. Start with a low dose and then slowly increase until you find the amount that offers you optimal therapeutic relief.
In terms of deciding on a lotion, there are many varieties to choose from. Certain topicals are creams that help to moisturize your skin. Others are ointments, liniments, salves, or balms with CBD that create cold or hot sensations for additional pain relief.
Typically, topical lotions can consist of a host of natural ingredients like
- Methyl salicylate
- Triethanolamine salicylate
The topical type you choose will purely depend on both need and preference. It doesn’t matter the variety; the topical will have the same function.
Typically, when you’re applying lotion to an area that hurts, you apply it precisely where the pain comes from. If you’re uncertain as to where the pain is coming from, just apply it to the surrounding area.
Applying CBD Lotions
Applying lotion to different trigger points will also help reduce pain in the general area. You could apply your lotion to the soles of the feet, wrists, knees, shoulders, temples, neck, and any joint and muscles surrounding the larger pain area that discomforts you.
Another important thing when using lotion is to always ensure that the area you’re rubbing it onto is clean. Make sure to cleanse it from dirt, sweat, and even dead skin cells before applying. If your skin is clean, then the CBD molecules will be more likely to reach the particular affected area.
If you apply the lotion said that area, make sure you’re using a good-sized dollop. Instead of simply rubbing the lotion onto the area, thoroughly and softly massage it into your skin. Deeply massaging the topical into your skin helps to boost the blood flow to that area. Consequently, the lotion will penetrate deeper into your tissue and better spread throughout the body area.
Of course, always remember to clean your hands after using a topical lotion. Certain brands have either heating or cooling ingredients added to them. Thus, it wouldn’t feel nice if you, for example, touched your mouth or rubbed your eyes after an application. You might also want to avoid applying lotions with methanol, camphor, pepper, or mint to the backs of your knees or the insides of your elbows as the skin might easily irritate.
Can I Rub CBD Oil on My Skin for Pain? – How Long Would It Take to Work?
You could feel relief from general pains and aches such as sore, sunburns, minor skin irritations, or strained muscles almost instantly. However, chronic pain problems caused by bursitis, arthritis, or other disorders will take longer to control.
The primary goal is to be patient and know that some conditions require more time than others to manage. In case your pain still continues, you should talk to your main care physician to better guide you to treat the condition.
Can I Rub CBD Oil on My Skin for Pain Relief? – What Are the Benefits?
CBD, a compound of the cannabis and hemp plants, is associated with numerous potential therapeutic effects:
- Nerve pain reduction
- Alleviation from chronic pain
- Improvement in sleep & relaxation
- Reduced inflammation
- Decreased anxiety and depression
- Relief of muscle tension and muscle spasms
- Nausea relief
Apart from helping alleviate these conditions, CBD topical lotions/oils/salves may help improve your skin’s overall health. CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties can also help the skin moisturize, relieve pain and itching, and minimize oil production. What’s more, topical CBD lotion may help people with psoriasis, eczema, and other inflammatory skin issues.
Some people worry about buying full-spectrum products because they’re afraid that it will get them “high”. By law, each full-spectrum CBD product contains no more than 0.3% THC, which is so little that it is not enough to get you remotely high. What’s more, when using full-spectrum topical lotions, the extra compound included works in tandem with CBD to give a more powerful effect.
Can I Rub CBD Oil on My Skin for Pain? – The Takeaway
Are you suffering from muscle sprains or strains, sports injuries? Is it acute or chronic pain from health conditions like back pain, bursitis, Fibromyalgia, Crohn’s Disease, or arthritis? Well, a topical CBD oil may be the best choice to help you treat specific, localized pain in your body.
It provides you with fast, targeted relief in a way that edible options cannot. You can use topical CBD oil alone or add other modalities like ice or heat to get more out of it. Muscle tension problems, sports injuries, and tough muscle pain are all things CBD topical can help you with.