In the beauty industry and topical pain relief market, cannabis and CBD have been big buzzwords over the past several years. This is no surprise since the known benefits of cannabis fit in with many of our current wants and obsessions—natural beauty, stress relief, and pain relief, to name a few. But are these just buzzwords used to sell cannabis-infused topical products or can cannabinoids make a difference when it comes to beauty and pain relief?

Although there’s still much research needed in this area, cannabidiol, also known as CBD, has shown to be an anti-inflammatory that can reduce irritation and redness and may even be able to combat breakouts. Products with CBD in them may also work to fight acne, soothe psoriasis, and slow down signs of aging. Research shows that cannabis-infused topicals, meaning those with THC, also have anti-inflammatory properties that may lead to improved appearances and pain relief.

Interested in trying cannabis or CBD-infused topicals for beauty or pain relief? We provide some guidelines for getting started.

Will Using a THC-Infused Topical Get Me High?

This is often one of the first questions people ask when considering a THC-infused topical. The answer is no. Topical applications do not get a user high. A study in 2017 expressed that topical applications of these kinds of cannabis products did not cause positive markers in blood or urine tests. This is because they don’t penetrate the skin deeply enough to reach the bloodstream, which is a necessary element in the pharmacological process that results in intoxication from THC.

Ailments cannabis-infused and CBD products may help with

Pain relief
Skin treatments infused with cannabis are said to soothe aches and sore muscles, reduce inflammation, and heal skin conditions. You can only find topicals made from cannabis in dispensaries. If you live in a state where cannabis is not available to you, you may want to consider finding CBD products in your area or online, as these types of products can be shipped all over the country.
Acne solution
Research suggests CBD may reduce excess oil in the skin, helping to relieve acne problems on the face and body. CBD also contains antiseptic properties, making it a cannabinoid of interest in skin care.
Skin infections
CBD and THC show potential for killing bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA)—a superbug resistant to antibiotics. This is because cannabinoids hold antimicrobial qualities to protect the cannabis plant from harmful pathogens. Research your products carefully. Some will advertise if you can use them for minor cuts or infections.
Cannabinoids are potent antioxidants, which are vital for preventing cell and DNA damage caused by free radicals, many of which come from external sources, including pollution and UV radiation. These external factors contribute to the fine lines and wrinkles on the face.
Combating cancer
While there is a lack of human trials, a case study published in January 2017 suggests that topical cannabis applications may help manage pain and perhaps even heal malignant wounds.
votive candle

Types of cannabis-infused and CBD topicals

Skin Serums
Skin Serums
A serum is a general term for a skincare product designed to deliver high concentrations of a particular active ingredient to the skin. Serums generally target a specific concern, such as dehydration, dullness, or wrinkles. They are recommended for those with inflamed, compromised, and sensitive and dry skin types. Add CBD or cannabis to the mix and the serums may also help treat inflammatory acne, regulate oil production, reduce breakouts, soothe Eczema, and more.
Infused lotions rich in cannabis properties are a simple way to find topical relief for irritated skin. They’re also often used for pain relief. Unlike serums, lotions can cover a larger area more easily, simultaneously hydrating the skin.
Balms are a thicker consistency than lotion. When applied, a balm with CBD or THC sinks deep into the skin to provide localized relief.
Cannabis or CBD-infused oils can be an ideal companion for a massage because the body is already in a relaxed state and the muscles are looser. Along with the pain relief and anti-inflammatory properties we’ve looked at, some studies show that CBD can quicken the recovery time of injured connective tissues.
There are a few things to remember when selecting an infused lube. First, you may want to ask yourself: Am I looking for something to help with arousal, or am I looking to combat pelvic floor pain and/or muscle tension? CBD and THC will not get your private parts “high,” per se, but they can provide pain relief and tingling sensations. Infused sex lubicrants can also be used for vaginismus or those recovering from vaginal birth. THC is also known to assist with blood flow and arousal to increase genital sensations.

How to use a cannabis-infused or CBD topical

Before applying any kind of topical, you should take a moment to clean the area by washing or drying it. Dirt, grease, and oil commonly sit on top of the skin and can make it harder for topicals to absorb, potentially reducing effectiveness.
  1. Once the area is cleaned, apply the topical of choice in the recommended amount to the concerned area.
  2. Wait an hour for the topical to have a chance to work before applying more. If desired effect is not reached after application, apply more cream to the troubled areas.
  3. If the topical works, reapply every 3-4 hours or whenever needed. You can never use too much of a topical.

Sweet Jane Topical Favorites

Want to give a topical a try? Here are some of our favorites you can purchase online. Or, you can always visit your local dispensary when looking for topicals rich in THC.

Age Adapting Facial Serum from FLORA + BAST ($77) 

Containing more than 750mg of CBD, this facial serum works to combat redness, blemishes, and imbalances in the skin. The serum is rich in terpenes and is said to bring out the best glow from your skin.

Bee Wild (Tantric Honey) from oOYes ($50)

A blend of honey, the plant muira puama, and the herb catuaba (both of which are known to increase sexual interest and arousal), Bee Wild is used to crank things up a notch in the bedroom. This product contains 75mg of CBD and 50mg of CBG.

CBD Bath Bombs from Vital You from Extract Labs ($16)

A woman-owned company, Vital You makes 100mg CBD bath bombs with herbs, oils, gemstones, and a CBD isolate. Currently available in Bliss, Breathe, Deep CBD, or Sleep for an evening of relaxation for those muscles.

CBD Pain Relief Sport Recovery Stick from +PlusCBD ($30)

This 750mg CBD sport recovery stick is meant for tired or achy muscles and can be applied after workouts. Active ingredients include camphor and menthol, which cool then warm the area, as well as other natural emollients for skin-smoothing benefits.

CBD Sensual Massage Oil from HighOnLove ($60)

This massage oil contains 500 mg of CBD to help increase energy flow while hydrating and soothing. The Sugar scent leaves skin smelling refreshed and sweet. This product is ideal for an intimacy activity after a long week.

Radiance CBD Calming Body Lotion from Winged Women’s Wellness ($25)

Nourishes skin for deep hydration while calming physical tension for total body comfort. Delicate in texture, this all-natural lotion contains 300mg CBD and 100mg of CBG from organically grown hemp extract for powerful tension relief.

Cycle Support Balm from ENUF ($75)

This product is made for that time of the month when you need extra support. Apply liberally to areas of discomfort, such as abdominal cramps, sore breasts, and lower back pain. This product contains over 13,200mg of full-spectrum CBD.

SWEET JANE takes the intimidation out of consuming cannabis. See our other How To guides here. 

Hannah Vysoky

Hannah Vysoky has been a writer in the cannabis space since 2021. She enjoys writing on all subjects around the green plant. Her most notable work has been interviewing strong figures in the cannabis space, creating infused recipes, and reporting on state-by-state news. You can find more of her work on High There and Thrillist. She enjoys bad movies and days in with her husband and cat.