Whether they contain full-spectrum CBD or THC, cannabis lotions promise to reduce inflammation, relieve pain, and soothe the symptoms of many common skin conditions. Because of these potential effects, cannabis topicals are rapidly making their way into medicine cabinets, gym bags and desk drawers.
And, thanks to their rise in popularity, there is now an unprecedented number of choices among weed lotions and CBD topicals. We dive into the science of these cannabinoid creams, then settle on the best weed lotions for pain and more.
What are cannabis lotions?
Cannabis lotions, whether they contain THC, CBD, or a blend of other plant-derived compounds, are skincare products containing a cannabinoid extract. The most common formulations contain a full spectrum or isolate CBD extraction, but it’s also possible to find lotions and creams with minor cannabinoids like CBG or a dash of THC.
Weed lotions like these are designed specifically for therapeutic applications. In line with this medicinal goal, they often contain several other natural plant extracts, like lavender, menthol, and green tea, for added benefit.
Cannabis-infused lotions fall within a broader category of cannabis topicals. You’ll likely run into other preparations, including roll-on sticks, balms, salves, and a dozen or more options, all designed for application skin’s surface, and each with unique qualities that may work better for one type of skin condition than another.
How do cannabis and CBD topicals work?
Just like cannabinoids interact with the endocannabinoid system when inhaled or ingested, there are similar therapeutic effects when cannabinoids interact with receptors on and near the surface of the skin.
This is because the endocannabinoid system plays an important role in regulating skin health. Like the central nervous system and organs, the epidermis also contains a network of endocannabinoid receptors and transmitters. So when we rub in a CBD lotion or other cannabinoid infusion, the cannabinoids penetrate the surface to work with these skin-based receptors.
But, interestingly, because of the larger molecular weight (aka molecule size) of most cannabinoids, they do not penetrate through the skin into the bloodstream. This means even if you’ve applied THC-infused weed lotion, it won’t cause an associated high. It also means that the effects of cannabis-infused creams and lotions stay localized to benefit where they are first applied. Of course, there are some products that are formulated to pass through the skin and be absorbed, but those products are actually transdermal, not topical, and usually come in the form of cannabis patches.
What are the uses for cannabis lotions?
Like many areas of cannabis research, studies exploring topical CBD and THC are limited in scope and only in the preliminary stages of development. Yet, this early evidence suggests that CBD lotion, in particular, could be helpful for a wide variety of skin conditions, including eczema, psoriasis, pruritus (itching), acne, and inflammatory conditions.
There is also a growing demand for weed lotions for pain. Whether thrown into a gym bag for workout recovery or rubbed into sore muscles and joints before bed, cannabis-infused creams developed to treat pain are popping up everywhere.
These formulas usually contain full-spectrum CBD with a careful blend of other plant extracts chosen for their anti-inflammatory or pain-relieving qualities. Menthol, camphor, and arnica are frequent additions to cannabis lotions for their cooling or heating effects, which can further increase their therapeutic value.
5 top picks for cannabis and CBD lotions 2023
- Price: $49.00 to $99.00
- Cannabinoids: Broad spectrum CBD with added CBG
- Strength: Available in 1000 mg or 3000 mg strengths
- Price: $19.00 to $39.99
- Cannabinoids: CBD
- Strength: Available in 1 oz (300 mg) or 2.5 oz (750 mg) sizes
- Price: $24.99 to $64.99
- Cannabinoids: CBD isolate
- Strength: Available in several strengths including 250mg, 500mg and 750mg
- Price: $35.99
- Cannabinoids: Broad spectrum CBD extract
- Strength: 200mg CBD
- Price: $89.99
- Cannabinoids: Full spectrum CBD extract
- Strength: 2,000 mg CBD and 100 mg THC
CBDFX CBG + CBD Lotion for Muscle & Joint
Price: $49.00 to $99.00
Ingredients: USP water, broad-spectrum hemp extract, hydroxylated lecithin, organic hemp oil, menthol, caffeine anhydrous, sodium bicarbonate, carbomer, white willow bark extract, camphor, vanillin, eucalyptus oil, tea tree oil, tocopheryl acetate, sodium benzoate, and potassium sorbate.
Cannabinoids: Broad spectrum CBD with added CBG. Available in 1000 mg or 3000 mg strengths
CBDFX has created this lotion with a 1:1 ratio of CBD and CBG to provide deeply penetrative relief of muscle and joint pain. Thanks to ingredients like white willow, eucalyptus, and camphor, this is a heating formula with added botanical extracts for faster, stronger results.
Importantly, it’s a broad-spectrum extract, meaning it’s also THC free. CBDFX’s lotion is made from all organic, vegan, and cruelty-free ingredients. Finally, as a water-based cream it is designed to boost the absorption of both CBD and CBG deeper into the surface of the skin.
Charlotte’s Web Hemp Infused Cream with CBD
Price: $19.00 to $39.99
Ingredients: Water, aloe vera leaf juice, cetearyl alcohol, glycerin, caprylic/capric triglyceride, full spectrum hemp extract, coconut alkanes, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan, coconut oil, jojoba seed oil, squalene, cocoa seed butter, ectoin, tetrasodium glutamate diacetate, oat bran extract, orange peel extract, xanthan gum, rice bran extract, sunflower extract, rosemary leaf extract, tocopherol, cetyl palmitate, sorbitan palmitate, sorbitan oleate, vanilla fruit extract, sunflower seed oil, sea buckthorn fruit oil, ginger root oil, green tea leaf extract, benzyl Alcohol, Dehydroacetic acid, sodium hydroxide
Cannabinoids: CBD, available in 1 oz (300 mg) or 2.5 oz (750 mg) sizes
Charlotte’s Web Hemp Infused Cream with CBD is ideal for sensitive skin, and the new formula now has up to 750 mg of CBD per tube. This is an excellent ‘clean’ option for those looking for a CBD lotion free from parabens, synthetic fragrances, GMO ingredients, and sulfates.
Charlotte’s Web remains one of the most trusted names in CBD. All of the hemp used, including this hemp-infused cream, is organic, non-GMO and grown in America.
MedTerra Rapid Recovery Cream
Price: $24.99 to $64.99
Ingredients: CBD, arnica montana flower extract, cetyl alcohol (coconut alcohol/usp), oryza sativa (rice) bran extract phenoxyethanol, helianthus annuus (sunflower) extract, stearic acid (vegetable derived), sodium hydroxide (mineral salt/usp), vitis vinifera (grape seed) extract, aloe barbadensis (inner fillet) leaf juice, ascorbic acid (vitamin C)
Cannabinoids: CBD Isolate in several strengths including 250mg, 500mg and 750mg
MedTerra’s Rapid Recovery Cream contains both menthol and arnica, which naturally cool down sore muscles and joints. It comes in three strengths, ranging from 5 to 10 mg of CBD per serving, and all of them are THC-free. So whether you use it for post-workout recovery or daily inflammation relief, MedTerra’s CBD lotion delivers.
Calm by Wellness CBD Lavender Lotion
Ingredients: Organic aloe leaf juice, organic coconut oil, glycerin, emulsifying wax (cetyl alcohol, stearyl alcohol, polysorbate 60), stearic acid, organic jojoba seed oil, witch hazel water, vitamin e, sunflower seed oil, phenoxyethanol, rose flower water, organic lavender flower water, lavender flower oil, organic white willow bark extract, organic alcohol, xantham gum, tetrasodium glutamate diacetate, broad spectrum help extract blend [cannabidiol (CBD) 200 mg], activaloe™
Cannabinoids: 200 mg of Broad Spectrum CBD Extract
Calm by Wellness is a lavender-scented lotion specifically formulated to relieve dry, itchy skin as well as to soothe sore joints and inflamed muscles. This topical contains 200 mg of broad-spectrum CBD oil and is a 100 percent THC-free weed lotion.
Thanks to the addition of lavender essential oils, Medical News Today called this formula the best CBD lotion for nighttime relaxation. In addition, you’ll find aloe leaf juice extract, jojoba oil and coconut oil in the ingredient list, making this lotion as nourishing as it is calming.
Extract Labs Muscle Cream
Ingredients: Shea, jojoba, menthol, beeswax, full spectrum hemp oil, arnica, rosemary, lavender
Cannabinoids: Full spectrum CBD extract (2000 mg CBD and 100 mg THC)
Extract Labs Muscle Cream is an all-organic, all-American product packed with a long list of other beneficial natural ingredients. From the anti-inflammatory effects of full-spectrum CBD extract to the cooling nature of arnica and menthol, this is one of the most potent weed lotions for pain available today.
Bottom line on CBD lotions and THC topicals
A skincare revolution is happening right now, and it’s all thanks to an infusion of THC, CBD, and other beneficial cannabinoids. These tiny cannabis-derived molecules are making their way into lotions and creams to provide all-natural therapeutic relief for a range of conditions.
We may not yet know precisely how cannabis lotions and CBD topicals interact with the skin’s endocannabinoid elements, but research is well underway to better understand the mechanism of action and which conditions may benefit most. Until then, rest assured the cannabis-infused skincare is just as safe as other natural botanicals. And yes, that means therapeutic skincare without a high.
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