10 best CBD oil lotions, creams, and other topicals to try
Oils are hot in the beauty world. As a beauty editor, I’ve slathered everything short of butter onto my face: argan, coconut, rosehip, sandalwood, chia, neroli, calendula, mandarin, macadamia, rice bran, seabuckthorn, patchouli, grapefruit seed, sesame seed, soybean, sweet almond, pomegranate seed, lemon myrtle, sunflower seed—even extra virgin olive oil from my pantry when I was desperate. I’ve washed my face with oil-based cleansers, and dabbed expensive mixtures being sold as “face oils” onto my skin in hopes of achieving that Instagram-ready glow.
Contrary to popular belief, the right oil is actually good for your face and won’t clog your pores. Your skin needs a reasonable amount of oil to do its business; as a matter of fact, if you scrub away all your natural face oil (as I was prone to do with rubbing alcohol as a frustrated and misguided pizza-faced teen), you may actually be prone to more breakouts as your skin tries to make up for the imbalance.
As cannabis meets up with the mainstream beauty world, cannabidiol (CBD) oil may be the next big thing.
CBD oil’s benefits for your skin
Two dermatologists I consulted with, New York-based Whitney Bowe, MD and New Jersey-based Jeanette Jacknin, MD, both agreed that CBD’s anti-aging and anti-inflammatory benefits are clinically proven. “Studies have shown that the cannabinoids like CBD in marijuana are anti-inflammatory and anti-aging and topical CBD has proven helpful for acne, eczema, and psoriasis,” Jacknin told me. “Hemp seed oil is reputed to be the most unsaturated oil derived from the plant kingdom, so it is less pore clogging but a great moisturizer for dry, cracked skin.”
Previously, I had reviewed hemp-based beauty topicals and THC beauty products pioneering the way for cannabis in the skincare industry. This time, I tested the diverse range of CBD oil-based beauty products, which are both potent and legally available for shipping to most states. This is the new frontier in skincare—and these companies are paving the way. Go support them before Sephora hears about this.
There are two preventative procedures you should be taking if you want to keep your skin as youthful for as long as possible: wear sunscreen and wear anti-aging cream at night. Unfortunately, I couldn’t source a reputable sunscreen with CBD, so you’ll have to trust me on the face cream, instead. This organic hemp CBD—sourced from Colorado—and vitamin E oil-enriched formula is too rich for daytime use (unless you have very dry skin and you don’t live in a humid climate), but it’s the perfect luxe treatment to massage into your face and neck before bed every night. After a week of wearing this cream every night, I, a very cystic acne-prone person, did not have any breakouts and had noticeably softer skin in the morning.
The cream smells faintly of the rosemary and mint essential oils and arnica flower infusions—not unpleasant at all (and probably very soothing for bedtime), but beware if you have sensitive skin or are prone to redness: fragrances and essential oils can irritate, and they don’t really add any benefits when topically applied to skin.
I’ve been hoarding Girl Scouts Thin Mints lately (they’re especially good if you freeze them)—the chocolate is fine, but the peppermint oil is what makes them addicting enough to go through a whole sleeve without getting sick of them. I’m also trying to cut down on sugar, though, and while it would be a huge stretch to say that this peppermint oil-infused clear lip balm is a direct replacement for Girl Scout cookies, it really does have a very satisfying full-mouth taste of peppermint. The CBD oil, which soothes and facilitates healing at the same time, makes this formula an ideal balm for outdoor enthusiasts and or just those who are prone to painfully chapped lips. For those of us with long-hair-don’t-care, it’s not sticky—as a matter of fact, the formula is on the stiff side and won’t cause your hair to stick to your face, a welcome departure from many balms.
This non-greasy formula is a lightweight counterpart to all those heavy hemp salves and balms that you tend to see on the market, so much so that you could use this every day on your entire body without worries about staining your clothes. Along with the Colorado-grown CBD oil, it has a lotion base made with aloe vera leaf juice powder (good for antioxidants), lactic acid (good for exfoliation), and other reputable skincare ingredients. Keep this by your shower and use it while your skin is still moist, warm, and soft for the best results.
Oh, was I just talking about Girl Scout cookies? I prefer showers over baths—we all have an allegiance to one or the other—but we can’t ignore how many memes have come out of #bathbombs. It’s satisfying to watch them fizzle, they turn your bath into fun colors, and they claim to provide aromatherapy benefits, too. They’re also much tidier than traditional bath salt products; just chuck one in and wait!
This mint-green bath bomb, made by Los Angeles-based De La Beuh, combines the invigorating aromatherapy of peppermint oil with the pain relief benefits of CBD. I sat in the bath with this bath bomb soak for an hour—until the water ran cold—when I had both cramps and lower back aches, and while it doesn’t beat ingesting a painkiller, it did help soothe my pains so that I fell asleep as soon as I hit the pillow. De La Beuh sells bath bombs in many varieties—including a glittery Kaleidoscope version that will turn your bath into “unicorn” colors—so your preference just depends on your preferred aroma.
Many people say that you should scrub your body with leftover coffee grounds because the caffeine helps get rid of cellulite. (It is actually well documented in medical literature.) But if you feel weird about dipping into the coffee machine at the office, try this CBD-infused coffee scrub, made with coconut oil and shea butter for extra moisturizing benefits, instead. I like using it when I need a little bit of medication with my exfoliation (which the coffee grounds are for)—plus, the strong scent of coffee will wake you up if you use it in the morning. If you live with anyone else, just make sure to clean the shower afterwards—coffee scrubs can be messy and staining.
Endoca Hemp Salve ($64)
Out of all the CBD products I’ve tested and used in the past few weeks, this thick green lemon-vanilla scented salve is my favorite. I massage it onto my sore red knuckles after boxing practice, and if it weren’t so expensive, I would encase my entire body in it. The cannabis sativa seed oil in this salve has antioxidant properties so that your skin can repair itself from the inside out, while the thick balm-like formula protects your skin from environmental aggressors. I would not recommend rubbing this onto your face because it’s so thick, but do whatever you want on the rest of your body—and if your feet are in need of some serious TLC in time for summer sandals weather, consider rubbing this onto your cracked heels and putting on a pair of soft socks before bed. The next morning, you’ll have baby’s feet again.
Before I even checked the ingredients list and saw that cocoa seed butter was involved, my first impression was that this body butter smelled like chocolate, so much so that my stomach rumbled with hunger because it was 4pm and I hadn’t eaten lunch yet. Don’t the “whipped” descriptor fool you—unlike most body butters you’ve used, this formula is solid to the touch, a balm rather than a cream. But that might be exactly what you want if you’re looking for a CBD-infused treatment anyway—something that feels extra-nourishing and almost medicinal. Luckily, it smells incredible in a subtle, natural way, not like other body butters with artificial tropical fruit scents.
This pocket-sized salve is perfect for travel or for sports, when you need a quick fix for your sore joints and muscles. It is also infused with arnica, meadowsweet, elderflower, calendula, ginger, vitamin E, turmeric, and other nourishing skincare ingredients that provide anti-inflammatory benefits. It’s good to know ahead of time that this salve is extremely hard to apply—there’s a lot of beeswax in there, which makes it difficult to melt enough to rub into your skin. (There is also a handy Topical Roll-On version so that you don’t have to even use your fingers—the problem is, the roll-on formula is also made with beeswax. It’s been 65 degrees in New York City all week and I still can’t get the formula to melt in the roll-on. Nothing that placing the container in a bowl of hot water won’t solve, but it’s not up to general skincare standards.)
Everyone needs a lip balm in a tube for on-the-go situations, and Colorado-based Ambary Gardens made a clear version with a faint lemon scent and only seven ingredients including CBD extract. It doesn’t leave your lips glossy or shiny or sticky—it just adds a layer of hydrated protection on the surface of your lips. While I’ve yet to try this on chapped lips, I imagine it’s a quick fix for quick relief, no glossy residue left behind.
This peach-hued sea salt soak is the perfect Sunday afternoon bath ritual—and unlike a trendy bath bomb, it won’t turn your tub water a different color. With ingredients like magnesium flakes (stronger than Epsom salts), pink Himalayan salt, arnica, and of course, CBD extract, these crystals provide proactive therapeutic relief while also relaxing your senses with lavender and clary sage essential oils. You can also use them to soak your feet after a long run, just as you would with Epsom salts.