Does Topical CBD Work?

For many, topical CBD is a go-to for addressing physical discomfort and tension in the body. In recent years, this type of CBD has garnished a significant amount of attention for being touted as a promising option for daily aches, discomfort and boasting a wide array of skincare benefits. While many of our members love our full-spectrum topical CBD as an essential part of their daily routine, you may be left wondering if it lives up to its hype if you’ve never tried it yourself. Here’s what you should know.


Does topical CBD work? Here’ what you need to know


What the research says

Does Topical CBD Work?Although CBD is not intended to treat any specific conditions, but rather works to amplify your body’s own healing and balancing mechanisms, current research has contributed to the growing interest in topical CBD as a routine companion for generalized tension or physical discomfort. While many of the current studies exploring the effects of topical CBD are still in the early stages of investigation, a 2020 study examining topical CBD and its ability to provide support for regular physical discomfort and tension in the body, illuminated the following:


  • Topical CBD was reported as providing support for easing a variety of physical discomfort symptoms for participants of the study, including symptoms of sharp, intense discomfort, bodily tension and itchiness.
  • It was also well-tolerated by the participants of the study with no adverse reactions.


Current research has also contributed to the increasing interest in topical CBD for easing irritation and enhancing hydration. Whether you’re flaky from the dry winter days, covered in mosquito bites from outdoor activities, or you’re just in need of some extra nourishment, topical CBD may be a great option! A 2019 study examining topical CBD and its ability to provide support for skin irritation and hydration, highlighted the following:


  • Topical CBD was reported as providing support for easing irritation, itchiness, and promoting hydration.
  • Topical CBD was well-tolerated by the participants of the study with no irritant reactions.


How topicals work on the skin

Does Topical CBD Work?Although topical CBD has shown some promise around skin quality and easing physical discomfort, how exactly does topical CBD work within the body to bring about these effects? This question has been at the forefront for many of our members who are interested in exploring CBD in topical form. Interestingly, while many of us may have an established skincare routine that includes the daily use of products such as cleanser, toner, moisturizer, body lotion, etc., we often don’t give much thought to the mechanisms behind how these topical products work, or the fact that the skin is actually the largest organ in the human body! 


Your skin is comprised of three main layers: the epidermis, dermis, and hypodermis, but for the purpose of exploring how topical CBD is absorbed, we will focus on the epidermis and dermis. The epidermis is the layer that you’re able to see and touch, and it has many functions including acting as a protective barrier to keep bacteria and germs at bay, generating new skin cells, and even providing skin color as melanin is contained within this layer. The dermis, on the other hand, contains collagen and elastin, and is responsible for hair growth and the sensation of touch. Skincare products that are more water-based in nature don’t tend to “sink in” much beyond the epidermis since it is designed to repel water. As a result, topical CBD formulations often forego purely water-based ingredients, choosing instead to focus on ingredients that are more lipophilic in nature, or containing fats, to help penetrate the epidermis layer. 


Topicals & your ECS

YDoes Topical CBD Work?ou may already be familiar with the Endocannabinoid system (ECS) and how ingestible CBD products work alongside the ECS — which brings about homeostasis, or balance, within the body— by activating the CB1 and CB2 receptor sites in the central nervous system and peripheral nervous system, respectively. However, you may not be aware of the discovery of a wide distribution of cannabinoid receptors located in our skin cells, which are also able to interact with the ECS! In fact, when CBD is applied topically it can bind to these receptor sites in the skin as part of the ECS, helping to promote balance from the outside in. Additionally, topical CBD doesn’t enter your bloodstream in the same way as your ingestible products, so you can use it as frequently as you’d like and it doesn’t count towards your daily dose! 


Many of our members have chosen to include topical CBD in their daily routine to enhance their skincare regimen and address tension, aches, and relief. Members who are looking to ease physical discomfort have found our Relief Balm to be an amazing option for certain health goals, especially those that center around providing support for discomfort, tension, soreness, and swelling in the body. Some of our members have also found the Relief Balm to be a great preventative measure when applied to trigger points such as the temples, forehead, and nape of the neck. Additionally, members who are looking to ease irritation, discomfort in the skin, or increase hydration, have found our Daily Treatment Oil and Nourishing body Oil to be wonderful options.

Editor’s Note: Daily Treatment Oil is discontinued. For tips and tricks on how to use our other Equilibria products for skin concerns, reach out to your Dosage Specialist or check out this article.


Overall, research points to topical CBD as a promising option for relief and skincare support!  However, as with ingestible CBD products, it is always recommended to first check with your healthcare professional before deciding if topical CBD is right for you.




Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for skin health and disorders.

The Effectiveness of Topical Cannabidiol Oil in Symptomatic Relief of Peripheral Neuropathy of the Lower Extremities.

A therapeutic effect of cbd-enriched ointment in inflammatory skin diseases and subcutaneous scars.

CBD for muscle pain: Does it work and what’s the best

Where does all the skin care go?

Skin: Layers, structure and function