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How Do CBD Topicals Work?

August 17, 2022 5 min read

How Do CBD Topicals Work?

How Do CBD Topicals Work?

CBD topicals work differently depending on the active ingredients and the type of CBD. There are three types of CBD topicals, full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate. The quality of CBD topicals and how you use them determine whether they work.

CBD is a dominant chemical compound in hemp, marijuana, or cannabis sativa. CBD is infused in various products, including gummies, tinctures, topicals, and vapes. CBD topicals have become one of the best skin solutions since they comprise various elements from the hemp plant. They not only work to improve your skin's texture and address skin issues but also improve general health and wellness. CBD topicals have different elements of hemp, including terpenes, flavonoids, and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum are the two main types of entourage effect since they have multiple elements. Isolate is also another type of CBD that has a single element. It is important to understand how CBD works to help you select the most appropriate type.

Types of CBD

There are three types of CBD; isolate, broad-spectrum, and full spectrum. Either of the types has its potential benefits and risks. Therefore, it is important to get insight and understand each potential.

Full Spectrum CBD Topicals

Full-spectrum CBD topicals are manufactured using all hemp plant extracts, including flavonoids, terpenes, cannabidiol (CBD), and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Due to various elements of the full spectrum, topicals deliver an entourage effect, providing more health benefits beyond the skin. The entourage effect is the ability of multiple elements to work together to provide more health benefits than a single chemical compound. However, the effectiveness of THC has been questioned by several researchers due to THC. Sarris et al. (2020) explained that THC has psychoactive side effects, resulting in anxiety, poor memory, and dizziness, especially at high potency levels. Marijuana products remain restricted in most states because their THC levels are over 2.5%. THC is an essential element of the hemp plant contributing highly to the entourage effect. Also, it has anti-inflammatory and suitable properties for regulating skin conditions such as dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. These skin diseases are commonly caused by inflammation which THC can work against, but the claims are yet to be approved.

Broad Spectrum

Broad-spectrum CBD topicals are manufactured with all chemical compounds of the hemp except THC. Broad-spectrum can be a suitable alternative if you are worried about getting "high" from THC. It provides an entourage effect like a full spectrum, although with minimum risks due to the absence of THC. The absence of THC shouldn't be a reason for using highly concentrated CBD topicals.Moltke & Hindocha (2021) explained that CBD could cause anxiety, dizziness, and diarrhea in high amounts, but it is a good option for skin and other body benefits. Terpenes and flavonoids have antibacterial and antifungal properties suitable for keeping off your body from infections.


Isolate topicals are unique from other types. They cant deliver an entourage effect since they have no single element of the hemp plant (CBD). However, they are suitable for CBD-related health benefits. Therefore, isolating CBD can minimize the impact of UV light and free radicals. Individuals should also use it considerably to avoid potential side effects.

How CBD Topicals Work

If you have tried CBD topicals before, you might have witnessed its health benefits unless it was of poor quality or you did not use it properly. The skin is the largest and most exposed body part. It is likely to be damaged by UV light and free radicals. CBD topicals offer a better solution for skin protection in the following manner.

Regulating Inflammation

Inflammation is one of the threats to having bad skin. It causes various skin conditions, including regulating and preventing skin diseases such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and seborrheic caused by inflammation. Baswan Sudhir et al. (2020) state that CBD has anti-inflammatory properties that keep your skin safe. The research also shows that inflammation is one of the causes of early aging. Wang Zhizhen et al. (2022) suggested that CBD works best by reducing wrinkles. CBD minimizes the depth of the lines on your face and wrinkles but does not treat them.

Acts as Antioxidant

With more companies coming into play, global safety is now at risk. Emitting harmful chemicals into the environment damages our skin and general health. UV light has also been a key concern for our health. Free radicals and UV light penetrate the keratinocytes, a deep layer of the skin protecting it. The rays and free radicals are harsh and damage the cells protecting the skin. CBD has antioxidant properties protecting you from UV light and free radicals. It hinders you from skin cancer, among other diseases, but the claims are anecdotal.

Entourage Effect

CBD topicals are not only for skin benefits. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD are avenues for more health benefits since they deliver an entourage effect. Maayah et al. (2020) explained that full-spectrum is a suitable solution for reducing anxiety. Besides, full-spectrum and broad-spectrum bind with various receptors in the body, including B1 and B2, to address conditions such as stress, anxiety, and pain if taken considerably. However, more research needs to be done to approve these benefits. CBD topicals penetrate the roots of the skin and get to the bloodstream for other health benefits. CBD creams are suitable for minimizing moisture loss, giving your skin a pulpy look.


CBD topicals work best for your skin and other topical benefits. However, it depends on the quality of the topicals and how you apply them. Most dermatologists recommend applying beauty products before bedtime for the skin to maximize the active ingredients overnight. Also, since the skin accumulates a lot of oil, sweat, and dead cells, the pores are likely to be blocked, hindering penetration of active ingredients from the hemp plant. Therefore, consider exfoliating twice or thrice a week for maximum benefit. To avoid harmful CBD topicals that might cause burns and skin irritation, buy CBD topicals with lab results from an IOS-certified lab. Also, assess a brand's reputation to confirm its clean reputation with the FDA. Some companies have been receiving warnings constantly from the FDA regarding the safety of their products.


Baswan, S. M., Klosner, A. E., Glynn, K., Rajgopal, A., Malik, K., Yim, S., & Stern, N. (2020). Therapeutic potential of cannabidiol (CBD) for skin health and disorders. Clinical, cosmetic and investigational dermatology13, 927.

Maayah, Z. H., Takahara, S., Ferdaoussi, M., & Dyck, J. R. (2020). The molecular mechanisms underpin the biological benefits of full-spectrum cannabis extract in treating neuropathic pain and inflammation. Biochimica et Biophysica Acta (BBA)-Molecular Basis of Disease1866(7), 165771.

Moltke, J., & Hindocha, C. (2021). Reasons for cannabidiol use: a cross-sectional study of CBD users, focusing on self-perceived stress, anxiety, and sleep problems. Journal of cannabis research3(1), 1-12.

Sarris, J., Sinclair, J., Karamacoska, D., Davidson, M., & Firth, J. (2020). Medicinal cannabis for psychiatric disorders: a clinically-focused systematic review. BMC psychiatry20(1), 1-14.

Wang, Z., Zheng, P., Chen, X., Xie, Y., Weston-Green, K., Solowij, N., ... & Huang, X. F. (2022). Cannabidiol induces autophagy and improves neuronal health associated with SIRT1-mediated longevity. GeroScience, 1-20.