CBD’s anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and antioxidant properties are gaining more fame with every passing day. So, it makes sense that applying it to the skin can be a great way to get targeted relief from a variety of complaints. But which CBD topical products are right for you?

There are a lot of different types of CBD products designed for topical application, and they’re so different that it can be hard to compare them in a meaningful way.

This ranking is for everyone out there who wants to try a CBD cream or balm, but doesn’t know where to start. We did the research and crunched the numbers. Now we’re ready to share what we discovered so that you can choose the best product for your needs.

So, read on to learn more about our methodology, or hit the button just below to skip right to the ranking.

Take me to the ranking!

Do CBD Topicals Work?

With the explosion of attention directed towards CBD oil in the last few years, most people probably know that there are several ways of using CBD. You can vape it, pop a CBD capsule, or even use a suppository.

When you apply CBD externally, though, it has specific benefits. That’s because when it’s absorbed through the skin, CBD doesn’t circulate throughout the bloodstream the way it does with other ingestion methods. Its anti-inflammatory oomph is directed right to where you need it most.

So, people use topical CBD to get targeted relief for aches and pains from conditions like arthritis or neuralgia. Or athletes may use CBD creams and gels to soothe soreness after a workout. Still other people say that topical CBD products help with skin conditions like eczema or psoriasis.

And with its antioxidant properties, CBD could also play a role in repairing acne, sun-damaged skin, and fighting the signs of aging.

CBD Cream for Arthritis Pain

Arthritis is a general term for pain in the joints and in the connective tissue surrounding the joints. It causes swelling and stiffness in the joints and can decrease one’s range of motion.

It can occur at any time, but is most common in women and is more likely to develop as you age. Arthritis is often mild at first, but it can increase in severity over time depending on the type of arthritis and lifestyle. In severe cases, arthritis can render someone unable to walk or climb stairs.

There are many different types of arthritis. The most common form is osteoarthritis (OA), which affects more than three million people in the United States every year.

There are prescription medications for OA, but these often come with a plethora of negative side effects. These can include headaches, fatigue, nausea, weight gain, and high blood pressure. And they can even cause permanent damage to your internal organs.

Because of these potentially severe side effects, doctors recommend using some medications, such as steroids, only for short-term use.

But in a 2015 study, researchers at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Department of Physiology at the University of Kentucky tested CBD on 54 rats. Their conclusion: “topical CBD application has therapeutic potential for relief of arthritis pain-related behaviors and inflammation without evident side-effects.”

CBD Cream for Inflammation

CBD—and cannabis in general—is a potent anti-inflammatory agent. But its anti-inflammatory properties don’t stop with treating arthritis pain.

Inflammation is “a localized physical condition in which part of the body becomes reddened, swollen, hot, and often painful, especially as a reaction to injury or infection” and can occur all over the body, both internally and externally.

Externally, a CBD topical can provide fast relief when you apply it to the point of inflammation. This could mean applying a CBD ointment to a sore muscle after a hard workout. It could mean applying a CBD cream to a fresh tattoo as part of your aftercare routine. Or it could mean applying CBD oil to the site of an inflammatory skin condition such as psoriasis.

In all of these cases, CBD kickstarts homeostasis to help you heal naturally.

CBD is also beginning to show up in beauty and anti-aging products for its natural healing and anti-inflammatory features.

How Did We Select the Top 15 CBD Topical Products?

The first step for CBD oil reviews is selecting the products to evaluate. We decided to focus on creams, balms, and salves. These types of products are typically used to treat pain or to ease skin conditions.

This category did not include creams or lotions that are marketed primarily as beauty products, because we would need to use different criteria to evaluate them.

Some of the brands we included are well known and long established. Others are newer ones that have recently launched. We also looked at forums and review sites to see what products CBD consumers were asking about or recommending.

Testing Methodology

After we selected the products, we evaluated them using blind product testing. This means that we tested samples that had been packaged in identical containers and labeled by number. That way, when we recorded our subjective observations, we did not know which product was which.

We also sent samples to a third-party lab for cannabinoid potency analysis. Because these results are given in percentage by weight and milligrams per gram, it was a bit challenging to effectively compare the results to the labeled quantities.

That’s because most of these products are classified as liquids, so they’re labeled by volume instead of weight. And without knowing the density of the products, comparing the labeled quantities (in milligrams per milliliter) to the lab results (in milligrams per gram) just gave us a rough idea of whether the labels were accurate.

Ultimately, we decided that since people don’t typically measure creams and balms precisely, the potency percentage is probably the most useful number for comparison in this case. With a high-potency tincture, a consumer might need to precisely measure their dose in drops. But when we apply topicals, we usually judge the appropriate quantity visually.

You can see the reported quantities in a chart below. Just click on “Lab Results” below to see the results.

We also conducted research into each of the companies whose products we tested. Finally, we organized all of the data and scored each product in the following categories:


For this category, we looked at the quality of the product and the subjective experience of using it.

  • Where does the hemp come from? Are the ingredients organic, pesticide-free, or non-GMO?
  • How does the product look, feel, and smell?
  • Is the product easy to open and dispense?
  • How many scent and potency options are there to choose from?
User Experience

This category addresses the process of making a purchase through the brand’s website.

  • Does the website load quickly? Is it intuitive?
  • Does the purchasing process go smoothly?
  • Are there high shipping fees or strict return policies?
Customer Service

Customer service can make or break a brand. So we contacted each one, secret shopper style.

  • How long does it take to get in touch with someone?
  • Are the company’s representatives pleasant to deal with?
  • Did they provide clear, useful information?
Trust & Reputation

In a largely self-regulating environment like the CBD industry, reputation is key.

  • How long has the company been in business?
  • What are their reviews like?
  • Do the company’s leaders stand behind their products, or is it a mystery who is putting this brand out into the world?
Lab Results

  • Does the company post complete, recent third-party lab results on their website?
  • If not, will they provide them upon request?
  • Are their lab results consistent with our lab’s analysis?

Here are the results from our lab’s analysis of each product. We also included the price per ounce of each product so that you can see how it relates to cannabinoid content.

Want to focus on one specific company listed below? Just enter the brand name in the search box to filter the table.

CompanyPrice per oz.CBD %CBD mg/gΔ9-THC %Δ9-THC mg/gCBDa %CBDa mg/gTrace amounts
Palmetto Harmony$20.000.20%1.8--0.00%0.2
Hemplucid$74.980.50%5.10.00%0.41.30%13.0THCa, CBC
CBDistillery$60.001.90%18.50.10%0.80.00%0.1CBC, CBG
Receptra$31.961.10%10.90.00%0.3--CBC, CBG
Pure Spectrum$24.440.40%3.9----
Plus CBD Oil$39.960.20%2.5----
Green Roads$69.990.90%9.1----
Panther Wellness$12.500.20%2.0----
Charlotte's Web$26.660.50%5.3----CBC
CBD MD$22.490.90%9.3----

Ready to check out our top CBD topical products? Read on to see the full ranking!

The Best CBD Creams And Balms

  1. Charlotte's Web

    Hemp Infused Balm
    Product- 85%
    Experience- 89%
    Customer Service- 96%
    Trust & Reputation- 100%
    Lab Result- 80%

    Ingredients: Sunflower Seed Oil, Melaleuca Leucadendron (Cajeput) Oil, Camphor Bark Oil, Chinese Cinnamon Oil, Clove Flower Oil, Horse Mint Leaf Oil, Menthol, Beeswax, Organic Coconut Oil, Organic Jojoba Seed Oil, Organic Shea Butter, Hemp Oil CO2 Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E).

    Testing Notes: Citrusy yellow, solid. Massages into skin to absorb.

    Charlotte’s Web is one of the most trusted and well-known CBD brands out there. So it’s not surprising that their Hemp Infused Balm made the cut for this ranking.

    So, what’s it like? It has an invigorating, spicy aroma with a hint of mint, along with a waxy and pliable texture.

    It does leave an oily residue, which makes it more appropriate for some applications than others. For example, you might not want to use it on your hands, especially if you spend time typing. But it could be a great choice for massaging a sore muscle, or an area that you plan to wrap.

    • Well-established brand
    • Quality ingredients
    • Uplifting aroma
    • Metal tin was a bit challenging to open
    • Oily residue
    • CBD quantity isn’t labeled
    Regular Price: $14.99 - $39.99
  2. Green Roads

    Muscle and Joint Relief Cream
    Product- 74%
    Experience- 83%
    Customer Service- 96%
    Trust & Reputation- 96%
    Lab Result- 100%

    Ingredients: Purified Water, Glycerin, Anhydrous Hemp-Derived CBD 300 MG, Lavender Oil, Chamomile Extract, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Stearic Acid, Sodium Cocoyl Glucamate, Carbomer, Hydroxyethyl Cellulose, Propylene Glycol, Vitamin E (Tocopherol Acetate), Cucumber Extract, Triethanolamine, Xanthan gum, acrylamide, Sodium Acrylate Copolymer, Paraffinum Liquidum, Trideceth 6, Polyquaternium-10, Tetrasodium, Menthol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.

    Testing Notes: Ivory, opaque lotion. Creamy texture, absorbs quickly.

    The Muscle and Joint Relief Cream from Green Roads has a pleasant, smooth texture that leaves skin feeling soft, not oily. And it incorporates soothing extracts of lavender and chamomile to support CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties.

    This formulation contains a bit of menthol, but it doesn’t hit you over the head with it. The menthol just lends a barely noticeable tingling sensation after application.

    We also appreciated the ease of finding third-party lab results on the Green Roads website. A complete, recent analysis is right on each product page, and you can also use the QR code on your product to find the results for that specific batch.

    • Great absorption
    • Smells like fancy soap
    • Solid CBD potency
    • High prices
    Save 10% with code: cbdhacker10
  3. Populum

    Cold Therapy Hemp Rub
    Product- 91%
    Experience- 93%
    Customer Service- 100%
    Trust & Reputation- 85%
    Lab Result- 80%

    Ingredients: Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Carbomer, Chamomile Extract, Arnica Extract, Emu Oil, Isopropyl Alcohol, L-menthol, Propylene Glycol, Diazolidinyl Urea, Methylparaben, Triethanolamine, Full Spectrum Hemp Extract.

    Testing Notes: Frosty translucent gel. Absorbs quickly, leaving no sticky or oily residue.

    US-grown hemp with aloe, arnica, chamomile, and emu oil combine in this water-based gel from Populum.

    Cold Therapy Hemp Rub absorbs into the skin almost immediately, leaving only a cool, tingling sensation in its wake. It smells most prominently of rubbing alcohol and menthol, but the scent dissipates quickly after applying.

    At $15/oz. of product, this is one of the most affordable topical CBD products we evaluated for this ranking. And Populum’s 30-day, risk-free guarantee sweetens the deal even more.

    • Absorbs immediately with no residue
    • Affordable price point
    • Quality ingredients
    • Smells like rubbing alcohol
    • No lab results on website (only provided on request)
    Regular Price: $45.00
  4. Receptra

    Targeted Topical
    Product- 85%
    Experience- 87%
    Customer Service- 84%
    Trust & Reputation- 88%
    Lab Result- 100%

    Ingredients: Shea Butter, Shorea Butter, Coconut Oil, Mango Butter, Beeswax, Emulsifying Wax, Jojoba Oil Infused with Hemp Extract, Camphor, Vitamin E Oil, Arnica Oil, Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang

    Testing Notes: Olive green, solid balm. Takes a few moments to massage into skin.

    Receptra’s products are made with hemp grown on family farms in Colorado. And they use only the cannabinoid-rich flower, not the stalks, stems or seeds, for their extracts.

    The result? A broader cannabinoid profile than many other products. We found that this balm contains trace amounts of Δ9-THC, CBC, and CBG in addition to a hefty dose of CBD.

    This is a serious therapeutic product, not something most people will want to, say, casually slather on their hands all day. It has a pungent, herbal aroma, and its texture is waxy with a bit of grittiness that dissolves during application. And yes, there is a noticeable oily residue which lingers for a while.

    • Nice cannabinoid profile
    • High-quality ingredients
    • 30-day return policy
    • It doesn’t not smell like weed
    • Oily residue
    Regular Price: $39.95 - $68.95
  5. Palmetto Harmony

    Holy Cannacense
    Product- 94%
    Experience- 91%
    Customer Service- 88%
    Trust & Reputation- 96%
    Lab Result- 73%

    Ingredients: High CBD Hemp Oil, Organic East African Shea Butter, Beeswax, Holy Basil, Frankincense, Sweet Orange.

    Testing Notes: Pale with a green tinge, solid and waxy. Absorbs quickly, leaves a waxy residue.

    Both frankincense and basil are thought to restore damaged skin and reduce inflammation, and in Palmetto Harmony’s Holy Cannacense balm, they work alongside CBD to deliver localized relief.

    Beeswax lends this product a slightly gritty texture, which vanishes on application. It absorbs quickly, but there is a lingering residue.

    Woodsy frankincense and sweet basil dominate the scent, which is pretty potent. If smelling like basil isn’t your jam, you might prefer Palmetto Harmony’s “Cannacense,” which is a similar formula without the holy basil.

    They did take a hit in the Lab Report category, because while they have lab reports available upon request for many of their products, the did not have a certificate of analysis for the finished topical products.

    • Unique formula
    • Reasonable pricing
    • Helpful customer service
    • Waxy residue
    • Potent aromatics won’t be right for everyone
    • Strict return policy
    Regular Price: $39.99
  6. CBDistillery

    Product- 77%
    Experience- 82%
    Customer Service- 100%
    Trust & Reputation- 85%
    Lab Result- 93%

    Ingredients: Hemp Seed Oil, Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Lavender, Peppermint, Wintergreen, Marjoram, Eucalyptus, Arnica, Basil, Camphor, Frankincense, Tea Tree, Green Tea, Lecithin, Cinnamon, Grapefruit Seed, Aloe, USD Kosher Glycerin, Magnesium, CBD, Beeswax

    Testing Notes: Deep brown, solid balm. Absorbs in a few seconds, leaving light tackiness.

    With its deep brown color and pungent, medicinal aroma, CBDol doesn’t seem like a luxurious skincare item on first impression.

    But CBDistillery’s high-CBD formula and unusual blend of therapeutic herbs makes this a potent treatment for aches, pains, and skin issues.

    In fact, in terms of CBD this product was one of the most potent that we tested. And our lab also detected small amounts of Δ9-THC, CBDa, CBC, CBG, so it packs a big “entourage effect” punch.

    • Broad cannabinoid spectrum
    • High CBD potency
    • Quality ingredients
    • High price (mitigated by high potency)
    • Strong smell
    • Lasting residue
    Regular Price $60.00
  7. Hemplucid

    CBDA Lotion
    Product- 82%
    Experience- 93%
    Customer Service- 100%
    Trust & Reputation- 81%
    Lab Result- 80%

    Ingredients: Distilled Water, Aloe Vera, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Optiphen Plus, Cannabidiol, Chamomile, Vitamin E, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Cinnamon, Blood Orange Essential Oil.

    Testing Notes: Opaque, ivory cream. Absorbs within a few seconds, leaving a very light residue

    During our blind testing process, we noticed that two of the products were pretty much identical. The subjective experience of using them was so similar that there was some concern that there had been a mistake in preparing the samples.

    These two products were Hemplucid’s CBDA Lotion and Fab’s topical (which just happened to land next to each other in the ranking, at the number 11 and number 12 spots). They look the same, feel the same, and have the same creamy, citrusy scent that reminds us of chocolate covered orange peels.

    Oh, and when you compare the ingredient list, they are identical.

    So, why include both products? Well, when we looked at the lab results, there was a huge difference in the cannabinoid potency and profile between the two products. Clearly, the companies are using the same lotion base, but blending it with different hemp extracts to create very different products.

    Hemplucid’s claim to fame is that they’ve chosen to emphasize cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) in this product. While CBD is also present (along with trace amounts of Δ9-THC, THCa, and CBC), the quantity of the lesser-known CBDa is much greater.

    • Unusual, high-CBDa hemp extract
    • Free shipping
    • 30-day return policy
    • High price
    • If you’re looking for CBD, not CBDa, this probably isn’t the right product for you
    Regular Price: $149.95
  8. Fab

    Product- 85%
    Experience- 85%
    Customer Service- 92%
    Trust & Reputation- 77%
    Lab Result- 93%

    Ingredients: Distilled Water, Aloe Vera, Cocoa Butter, Coconut Oil, Olive Oil, Cetearyl Alcohol, Polysorbate 60, Optiphen Plus, Cannabidiol, Chamomile, Vitamin E, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Cinnamon, Blood Orange Essential Oil.

    Testing Notes: Opaque, ivory cream. Absorbs within a few seconds, leaving a very light residue.

    Like Hemplucid’s CBDa Lotion, above, Fab boasts a lovely, creamy citrus aroma and luxurious texture. But as we discussed above, while the lists of ingredients look identical for both products, the hemp extracts blended into the product are what really set them apart

    Fab’s Topical distinguishes itself by containing about twice the CBD (measured in percentage by weight) of Hemplucid’s product. And while our lab detected traces of Δ9-THC and CBC, CBDa is not a player in Fab’s cannabinoid profile.

    It is also distinguished by its much more moderate price. And with Fab’s 30-day return policy, you have plenty of time to try it out and see how well it works for you.

    • High CBD (but no CBDa)
    • Reasonable price
    • 30-day return policy
    • No detectable CBDa means that if you’re looking for a product with that particular cannabinoid, this one isn’t for you.
    • Newer company
    Regular Price: $64.00
  9. Plus CBD Oil

    Extra Strength Hemp Balm
    Product- 71%
    Experience- 85%
    Customer Service- 88%
    Trust & Reputation- 96%
    Lab Result- 80%

    Ingredients: Sweet Almond Oil, Beeswax, Candelilla/Jojoba/Rice Bran Polyglyceryl-3 Esters, Glyceryl Stearate, Cetearyl Alcohol, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Hemp Oil (Aerial Plant Parts), Peppermint Oil, Tocopherol, Willow Bark Extract, Equisetum Hiemale Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Safflower Seed Oil, Ascorbyl Palmitate

    Testing Notes: Beige, solid balm. Absorbs quickly, leaving an oily residue.

    Plus CBD Oil is one of the largest players in the industry, and one of the most established. While the company advocates for the expansion of hemp agriculture in the US, they use European hemp to make their CBD. That’s because in the US, they say, hemp isn’t yet grown at large enough scale to provide a consistent source.

    The extra-strength balm incorporates the company’s Gold Formula CBD, which is distilled after extraction to remove excess plant matter. It has a woodsy aroma and a creamy-crystalline texture.

    After application, the balm leaves an oily residue that lasts a long time. This might make it inappropriate for some uses. It would make a soothing massage for sore muscles or a treatment for rough, chapped skin.

    • Quality ingredients
    • Knowledgeable customer service
    • Trusted, established company
    • Lingering residue
    • Lower CBD potency for the price
    • Strict return policy
    Save 15% with code: CBDHACKER
  10. CBDMD

    Product- 100%
    Experience- 83%
    Customer Service- 92%
    Trust & Reputation- 85%
    Lab Result- 53%

    Ingredients: Organic Aloe Leaf Juice, Organic Coconut Oil, Cannabidiol (CBD), Organic Arnica Flower Extract, Vitamin B6, Methylsulfonylmethane (MSM), Histamine Dihydrochloride, Emulsifying Wax, Stearic Acid, Cetyl Alcohol, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Glycerin, Sweet Basil Leaf Oil, Black Pepper Oil, Roman Chamomile Flower Oil, German Chamomile Flower Oil, Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Citronella Oil, Eucalyptus Leaf Oil, Helichrysum Flower Oil, Ginger Root Oil, Pink Grapefruit Peel Oil, Juniper Berry Oil, Lemongrass Oil, Peppermint Oil, Pine Needle Oil, Ravensara Oil, Rosemary Leaf Oil, Spearmint Oil, Wild Oregano Oil, Organic Cypress Oil, Sweet Fennel Oil, Lemon Peel Oil, Lavender Flower Oil, Organic Alcohol, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Sorbic Acid.

    Testing Notes: Thick, opaque white cream. Absorbs after a few moments, leaving skin moisturized but not greasy.

    With its mild herbal fragrance and smooth texture, cbdMD’s Recover cream is ready to take its place as your everyday secret for happy skin. It goes on easily and leaves skin moisturized without feeling sticky or greasy.

    We loved its high-quality, organic ingredients and reasonable pricing. And cbdMD’s 30-day return policy and free shipping take the risk out of giving it a try.

    But cbdMD took a big hit on their overall score because of a lack of transparency around lab results.

    While they do post the complete analyses for the CBD isolate and extract that they use to formulate their products, they do not provide a third-party analysis of any of their finished products. When we requested lab results for the finished products, a company representative sent a link to the results for the isolate and extract. When we clarified that we were looking for the results for the finished product, they sent us a pdf of the results for the isolate.

    So, it’s unclear whether they test their finished products. Fortunately, you can review our lab’s results in the article above!

    • High quality, organic ingredients
    • Good price
    • Solid CBD potency
    • No lab results for finished products
    Save 15% with code: 15CBDH
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The Author

Meg Kramer

Meg Kramer

Meg Kramer is the Managing Editor of CBD Hacker. She's a writer and editor who has covered topics in science, health, and education.

When she's not writing about CBD, you can find her playing with her dogs or perfecting her bagel recipe.