Best CBD Balms

Updated October 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for best cbd balms

CBD (cannabidiol) has become a popular treatment for chronic pain and other health issues. However, while it doesn’t contain any tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary cannabinoid in marijuana that causes a psychoactive effect, some people still aren’t comfortable ingesting CBD because they’re worried about getting high. A CBD balm is a good alternative.

You apply a CBD balm topically, so it’s less likely to enter the bloodstream. A balm also allows you to target the area of the body where you’re experiencing pain and inflammation for faster, more effective results. CBD balms can also have skincare benefits, such as treating acne or improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. They can even treat burns, bites, and other skin injuries. A CBD balm has a thick, cream-like texture, too, which means it’s less likely to make a mess than CBD oils and serums.

If you’re new to CBD topicals, though, finding the right CBD balm can be a challenge. We’ve gathered all the tips you need to choose the best CBD balm for your pain or skincare issues. We’ve also included several recommendations for completely hassle-free shopping.

CBD balm is an excellent moisturizer for dry, cracked skin.

Key considerations

Potency

As with oral forms of CBD, the concentration of a CBD balm is key to its effectiveness. Low-end multipurpose balms generally contain 250 to 300 milligrams (mg) of CBD, while formulas with higher concentrations can have 1,500 to 3,000 milligrams.

When you take CBD orally, your body weight and tolerance are critical factors in choosing the right potency. With a CBD balm, they don’t matter quite as much. Instead, you should consider the amount of pain you’re experiencing. A highly concentrated CBD balm is generally more effective for soothing pain than a lower concentration, so you’ll want a formula with at least 200 milligrams of CBD.

If you’re using a CBD balm as part of a skincare routine, the concentration isn’t as important. Formulas with anywhere from 25 to 200 milligrams can work well.

CBD source and type

The effectiveness of a CBD balm is also determined by the type and source of the CBD. You’re usually better off choosing a formula that uses CBD from hemp grown in the United States where soil conditions are typically better for hemp growth. This means you’re more likely to get a high-quality product.

It’s also important to consider the type of CBD used in the balm.

Isolate: A formula that features CBD isolate contains nothing but CBD, so all the other cannabinoids have been removed. That means there isn’t even a trace amount of THC in the balm, so you don’t have to be concerned about it showing up in a drug test.

Broad-spectrum: A formula with broad-spectrum CBD contains all other cannabinoids, but the THC has been removed.

Full-spectrum: These CBD balms contain the full range of cannabinoids, including trace amounts of THC. They can be incredibly effective formulas, but they may trigger false positives on drug tests.

Third-party testing

For the highest-quality CBD balm, you want to verify that the formula meets standards beyond those set by the manufacturer. A brand that’s undergone third-party testing usually offers a more potent, pure balm that provides real results for your pain or skin concerns. Any CBD balm you’re considering should provide recent third-party lab testing results to prove that the formula is safe and effective.

Did you know?
In addition to joint and muscle pain, CBD balm is often used to treat bug bites, burns, cuts, and scrapes. It may also help treat acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin issues.
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Features

Use

Most CBD balms are multipurpose products, which means they’re suitable for use all over the body and face. You can use a balm on your knees or elbows to help with joint pain and inflammation or apply it to your face to treat rosacea or other skin issues. A balm can even be used as a basic moisturizer or anti-aging treatment.

However, some CBD balms target specific areas of the body. You can find lip balms that specifically help moisturize the lips, as well as under-eye balms that hydrate delicate skin and help smooth fine lines and wrinkles without irritating the eyes. Choose a targeted CBD balm if you have a specific area of concern but opt for an all-over formula if you want to use the balm for both pain relief and skincare benefits.

Other ingredients

While CBD is the most essential ingredient, you want to select a balm that contains other high-quality ingredients that can hydrate, soothe, and help the CBD penetrate the skin. Some common ingredients used alongside CBD in a balm include the following:

  • Beeswax: Beeswax is often used as part of a CBD balm’s base. It has anti-inflammatory properties and helps form a protective barrier over the skin. It’s also rich in vitamin A, which works as an antioxidant to fight free radical damage.
  • Vegetable wax: Vegetable waxes like candelilla are often used in place of beeswax in vegan CBD balms. They serve as an emollient and create a barrier that keeps moisture in the skin.
  • Plant butter: Natural shea butter, cocoa butter, avocado butter, and almond butter not only serve as an emollient in a CBD balm and help hydrate the skin, but some like shea also have anti-inflammatory properties. They’re usually also high in antioxidants and form a protective barrier to keep the skin moisturized.
  • Coconut oil: Coconut oil can have an anti-inflammatory effect and help heal wounds. It also has antimicrobial properties to treat acne and other skin conditions caused by bacteria.
  • Essential oils: Essential oils like lavender and eucalyptus are often used to give CBD balms a pleasant scent for an aromatherapy effect. They can also offer antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Aloe vera: Aloe vera is full of antioxidants and has an anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. It can help soothe burns.

Organic

For the purest CBD balm, choose a formula that uses only organic ingredients. That means no pesticides or other chemicals are used to grow the ingredients, so you don’t have to worry about toxins winding up in the balm.

Cruelty-free

Many people don’t want to use products that are tested on animals, so it may be important to you to look for a cruelty-free CBD balm. That indicates the brand doesn’t test the balm on animals or sell in countries where animal testing is required.

Scent

Many CBD balms have a fragrance to make applying them a more pleasant experience. Most formulas use natural fragrances from the ingredients or added essential oils, but some may use chemical fragrances.

If you have sensitive skin, avoid any balms that contain a chemical fragrance because it may irritate the skin. You can also find completely unscented balms if you’re sensitive to scents in general.

Did you know?
A CBD balm can be used to help with exercise recovery after a tough workout.
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CBD balm prices

CBD balms vary in price based on potency, CBD source and type, and quantity. Most balms cost between $6 and $75.

Inexpensive: The most affordable CBD balms are usually targeted or multipurpose formulas that contain 50 milligrams or less of CBD. You’ll usually find lip balm, under-eye balms, and skincare products in this price range, but some lower potency pain-relieving treatments also fit. You’ll generally pay between $6 and $30 for these balms.

Mid-range: These CBD balms are usually multipurpose balms that offer between 200 and 500 milligrams of CBD. They’re mainly used for pain relief, but they may also have skincare benefits. You’ll typically spend between $25 and $50 for these balms.

Expensive: The most expensive CBD balms are usually multipurpose balms that offer 500 or more milligrams of CBD. They’re most effective for pain relief, but you can also use them for skincare concerns. You’ll generally pay between $50 and $75 for these balms.

Did you know?
CBD’s anti-inflammatory properties help make a balm an effective treatment for arthritis.
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Tips

  • Check with your doctor before using CBD. Even though you’re not ingesting the CBD, you should still talk to your doctor before using a CBD balm to avoid any possible drug interactions.
  • Do a patch test first. CBD itself usually doesn’t cause allergic reactions, but other ingredients in a balm might. Do a patch test with the balm on a small, inconspicuous area of the body, such as inside the elbow. If you don’t have a reaction, you can use it all over.
  • Don’t apply CBD balm to wounds. Unless the label specifically states that you can, do not use the balm on broken skin.
  • Make sure the balm is safe for use on the face. Some CBD balms are meant for use solely on the body. Applying them to the face may cause clogged pores, breakouts, or other irritations.
CBD balm is usually more convenient than an oral CBD product because you can take it with you and apply it directly to the affected area.

FAQ

Q. How do I use a CBD balm?
A.
Clean and dry the area where you plan to apply it. Start with just a small amount of the balm, and gently massage it into the skin using a circular motion. As you get comfortable with the dosage, you can apply more of the balm or upgrade to a higher-potency formula. 
 

Q. What’s the difference between a CBD balm and a CBD salve?
A.
The terms are often used interchangeably, but a balm is usually firmer and thicker in texture. You’ll typically have to use your fingers to dig some of the balm out of the container because of its consistency. Oil-based salves have a consistency that’s somewhere between a cream and a balm.
 

Q. How long does it usually take to see results from a CBD balm if you’re using it for pain relief?
A.
Depending on the dosage and the severity of your pain, it can take several hours to feel relief from a CBD balm. However, some people experience relief in less than an hour.

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