link arrow linkedin

A Guide to Topical Cannabis

December 10, 2020

When people hear cannabis, their minds jump straight to flower, but the reality of today’s cannabis market extends far beyond a plant smoked in bongs, pipes, and papers. Cannabis can be mixed into foods and drinks, extracted into concentrates, and infused into oral and topical products that offer the medical benefits of cannabis without necessarily getting you high.

Topical cannabis has broad appeal, even to people who have never explored the world of cannabis before. Topicals serve a different purpose than other cannabis products and they come in several different forms, depending on the consumer’s preferences and needs. The one thing they all have in common? They’re applied on the surface of your skin, not inhaled or ingested.

Here’s what you should know about the various types of topical cannabis to find the product that best suits your needs.

Should I Get a Topical With CBD, THC, or Both?

Cannabis topicals generally contain CBD, THC, or some combination of the two. THC is known as the part of cannabis that gets you high, whereas CBD has a reputation for its calming and anxiety-reducing properties. The thing is, with topicals—transdermal patches excluded—the euphoric effect of THC is eliminated. A lotion infused with THC, for example, won’t get you high and is instead used for its medical benefits.

When the psychoactive properties of cannabis are removed from the equation, CBD and THC are fairly similar. In some cases, consumers may not notice much of a difference at all between topicals containing CBD and THC.

CBD and THC are both pain relievers with anti-viral, anti-bacterial, anti-oxidant, anti-spasmatic, and anti-tumor properties. CBD is promoted a bit more when it comes to migraines, depression, anxiety, and nausea, whereas THC is promoted a bit more for people suffering from insomnia and a reduced appetite. Some people favor a topical that contains both to cover all their bases.

Lotions & Balms

Topical cannabis creams like lotions and balms are intended to be massaged into the afflicted area of your skin just like any other body lotion. They’re used primarily for relieving chronic pain, reducing inflammation, and treating skin conditions like acne, eczema, and itching. Lotions and balms that contain THC will not give you a high.

Our recommendations:

Bath Bombs, Oils & Bath Salts

Bath bombs and bath salts that contain cannabis oils are used in the same way that regular bath products are: Draw a warm bath, put the product into the water, let the oils spread through the tub, and slip in. This method covers all areas of your body in a way that feels more like self-care than a chore.

Topical oils aren’t always used for bathtime. Much like essential oils, they have a variety of uses and can be applied in a number of ways, depending on the product and desired effect.

Our recommendations:


Transdermal patches are a little bit different than other topicals, because the ingredients are slowly absorbed through your skin and into your bloodstream. Cannabis patches are like Band-Aids. Apply one and carry on with your day while your skin slowly absorbs the cannabinoid it contains.

The cannabis reaches your bloodstream with this method, meaning patches that contain THC have potential psychoactive effects. Still, any THC on a patch is absorbed very gradually and won’t affect you in the same way that inhaling or ingesting cannabis will.

Our recommendations: