A hemp leaf in a jar of skin cream

What to Look for When Buying CBD Topicals

Topical CBD products like creams and salves are fast growing in popularity with consumers who wish to address tough muscles and joints, as well as smooth over rough, dry skin. While CBD oils will always be one of the most popular products in the industry, creams and salves are on their way to becoming a standard staple in the CBD realm. But how do CBD topicals work, and how can you choose the best one for your needs?

How Do CBD Topicals Work?

While everyone knows that CBD topicals are massaged into the skin, they may not know exactly how they function once the cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytonutrients get into the skin and the layers beyond. The way in which topicals work all boils down to how those cannabinoids influence the body’s endocannabinoid system, or ECS. In order to have a better understanding of why topicals work as they do, you should have some knowledge of the endocannabinoid system in general. Then once you have a basic understanding of the workings of the body’s ECS, you’ll have a strong perspective of why it could make sense to use CBD-based topical products in the first place. 

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

The ECS was first discovered in the late 1990s, and is a complex system that is still being studied by scientists and researchers. The ECS runs throughout the entire body and is connected to the immune system, nervous system, digestive system, reproductive system, as well as other systems in the body. It functions to help bring the body back into, and keep it in, a state of balance, or homeostasis. As with many other body systems, the ECS also contains key components that allow it to function as it does. Some of these parts are: 

  • Endocannabinoids: These are the body’s natural compounds that are a sort of counterpart to the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids. Just as the cannabis plant has CBD and THC as cannabinoids, the body has anandamide, or AEA, and 2-arachidonoylglycerol, or 2-AG.  
  • Cannabinoid Receptors: The two main receptors in the ECS are the CB1 and CB2 receptors that are found throughout the body. The main functions of these receptors are to regulate the effects of the body’s endocannabinoids and to regulate the effects of the cannabis plant’s cannabinoids. CB1 receptors are highly concentrated throughout the brain, with lesser amounts located in other areas of the body. These receptors help to positively impact bodily functions as well as offset the psychoactive effects of cannabis. CB2 receptors, on the other hand, are found mainly in immune cells, with lesser concentrations found in various parts of the brain. They are tied into immune functions and also help modulate dopamine activity in the brain. In the ECS, the endocannabinoids AEA and 2-AG bind to the CB1 and CB2 receptors, depending on where the cannabinoid receptor is located and what endocannabinoid latches on to it. 
  • Enzymes: The ECS has enzymes that help it function. These are fatty acid amide hydrolase, or FAAH, and monoacylglycerol, or MAGL. These two enzymes are pivotally important in the metabolization of endocannabinoids. To that end, they essentially are a signaling system within the ECS that helps with the synthesis, transport, and breaking down of the body’s own endocannabinoids. AEA is responsible for metabolizing FAAH, and 2-AG is responsible for metabolizing FAAH and MAGL. 

What Role Does the ECS Play When it Comes to the Skin?

A woman holds a jar of CBD cream and applies some to her own arm

Interestingly, along with having an influence on the entire body, scientists also believe that the skin contains its own specialized ECS. In fact, one study found that the skin’s endocannabinoid system is responsible for controlling the skin’s cells growth, maturation, survival, and immune function. Within the skin, which is the largest organ in the body, the CB1 receptors are found in hair follicle cells, immune cells, sebaceous gland, and sensory neurons, while the CB2 receptors are located in keratinocytes, immune cells, sebaceous glands, and sensory neurons. Interestingly, the skin also makes the endocannabinoids AEA and 2-AG, which are released in exact amounts according to what the skin needs. 

Scientists believe that when skin is clear and healthy, then it has a properly functioning ECS. However, when the skin’s ECS is dysfunctional, then certain issues arise. This is where the use of topical CBD comes in. When the cream or salve is massaged into the skin, then the cannabinoids can get to work boosting the skin’s ECS to help it bring the skin back into a state of balance. In other words, topical CBD products can offer support and stimulation to the skin’s endocannabinoid system. Therefore, applying CBD cream to particular muscles and joints can help support the endocannabinoid system in those tissues.

How Can You Use CBD Topicals?

While CBD products like gummies, oils, softgels, and others can affect the entire body because they are taken internally, CBD cream can be locally applied to more specific external areas for uses related to: 

  • Skin
  • Muscle and joint areas
  • Massage

Topicals are easy to use, simple to apply, and are a fast way to target certain areas. And more good news is that you can use topicals as often as you need to. But, just as with CBD oils, gummies, and other products, patience, consistency, and time are also key with topicals. In order to get the most out of your CBD cream or salve, you need to apply it as often as you can around the same time(s) every day. In this way, you’ll be able to take advantage of all the stuff that the hemp plant has to offer. 

What Do You Need to Look for When Buying a CBD Topical?

Somebody holds up a small jar of CBD cream in front of hemp plants

The market is flooded with a wealth of different brands and products. But while it may feel exciting to have so many options to choose from, the reality of it is that not all brands and products are created with high standards. Sadly, lots of lesser-known brands like to cut corners in the creation process of their products. This results in cheaply-made CBD topicals that are laden with harmful solvents, pesticides, fungicides, heavy metals, and other dangerous chemicals. When looking for a top-quality CBD topical, like the Topical CBD Cream and Full Spectrum Body Salve that’s carefully crafted at FAB CBD, there are quite a few things that you should be looking into. 

Some of the main things that need to be researched in verifying the quality of products are: 

  • Hemp Source: Top-notch hemp yields top-quality CBD topicals. Therefore, look for brands that get their hemp from organic farms within the United States. Organic hemp is free from pesticides, herbicides, fungicides, is grown in nutrient-rich soil and organic manure, and is held to stringent standards. All of FAB CBD’s clean and potent hemp hails directly from Colorado
    • Extraction Method: While there are many ways to obtain extracts from hemp, currently, the best method is the industry preferred CO2 extraction process. This method is natural, and preserves the integrity of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytonutrients of the hemp plant. Furthermore, most reputable brands use this method. 
    • Third-Party Lab Reports: When a brand has an independent lab routinely test all of its products for purity and potency, then customers know that it deeply cares about the quality and reputation of its products. Reputable brands also make those lab reports easily accessible for customers to see. In fact, most reputable brands, like FAB CBD, post their lab reports directly on their website. 
    • CBD Variety: Learn the three main varieties of CBD and how they can help you with your goals and needs. In the world of CBD, there’s full-spectrum products, broad spectrum products, and CBD isolate products. Full-spectrum and broad spectrum products have all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and phytonutrients of the hemp plant, except that the THC has been completely removed from broad spectrum varieties. Lastly, CBD isolate products contain only 99% pure CBD, as the rest of the plant parts have been filtered out. Even though all varieties interact with the body’s ECS, only full-spectrum and broad spectrum products evoke the entourage effect. In this phenomenon, the cannabinoids in these two varieties work in a synergistic way to boost each other’s positive aspects while dampening their negative ones. 
    • Your Own Needs and Goals: Different brands create different types of creams and salves that are geared towards specific issues. Before buying a CBD topical from a reputable brand, you should take your own needs and goals into consideration. For example, if you’re looking to help smooth out rough, dry skin while targeting cranky muscles and joints, then a topical CBD cream is the way to go. However, if you have tougher areas of muscle and joint activity and are looking for something like an extra cooling and warming sensation, then you would choose a stronger CBD salve. 
    • Brand Transparency and Quality: All reputable brands care about being transparent with their customers, as well as creating high-quality products. If you’re investigating a brand that’s making wild claims about its products that seem too good to be true, then you’ll want to steer clear. Reputable brands make all of their information available for customers to read. This includes third-party lab reports, product ingredients, brand origin story, and verified customer reviews, among other things. It’s important to know as much as you can about the brand and its products before you put anything in or on your body. 

    Closing Thoughts on Buying CBD Topicals

    A woman in a red tank top applies CBD salve to her outer shoulder

    CBD topical creams and salves are crafted with the intention of targeting skin, muscles, and joints. Researching a company before you buy their products is a good idea so you can be sure you’re getting a high quality product. In selecting a top-quality CBD cream, it’s almost imperative that you choose a product from a reputable brand, that can help you meet your needs and achieve your goals.