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A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis-Infused Topicals

A Beginner’s Guide to Cannabis-Infused Topicals

Marijuana use (recreational and medicinal) is legal in 18 states plus the District of Columbia. These new rules and regulations have transformed how people think about cannabis. It’s no longer an illicit drug; it’s a plant-based antidote for pain that you can consume in multiple ways.

Long gone are the days of raunchy and inappropriately-shaped bongs, psychedelic posters, and sad-looking joints—the kitschy pothead image has been erased and replaced with chic, cannabis-infused products. Today, cannabis is a wellness product that can be inhaled, ingested, and absorbed through the skin via cannabis topicals.

What Are Cannabis Topicals?

Cannabis topicals are marijuana-infused products designed to be absorbed through the skin. Unlike other cannabis products, topicals are non-intoxicating—meaning they do not produce a “high.” Many people choose to use topicals in place of other consumption methods for their therapeutic benefits, healing properties, and accessibility.

How Do Cannabis Topicals Work?

Cannabis-infused balms, lotions, salves, oils, and sprays work by binding to the cannabinoid receptors in our bodies. According to, when the cannabinoids interact with our receptors, they produce anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects on the treatment area (or application site).

Topicals are not meant to breach the bloodstream. This means you can reap the health benefits without getting high. Transdermal products are another story. Transdermal products are designed to deliver cannabinoids through the skin and into the bloodstream—they’re typically in patch or gel form, contain active THC, and will get you high.

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Potential Health Benefits and Uses

Not all topicals are created equal—different topicals produce different effects. Before you make a purchase, be sure to do a bit of research first. Look to see what ingredients are included (all-natural ingredients and essential oils are a good start). If you can, opt to buy from a reputable and ecologically responsible company. A product is only as good as its ingredients, after all.

The benefits a topical offers depends on how it’s processed and what it’s made of. For example, if you were on the hunt for something to ease joint and nerve pain, you might want to look for a product that includes capsaicin in its ingredient list.

In addition to providing pain relief, you can use topicals:

  • Treat acne.
  • Reduce eczema and psoriasis.
  • Moisturize the skin.
  • Alleviate symptoms related to one or more neurological disorders.
  • Enhance sexual pleasure.

Types of Cannabis Topicals

Topicals come in various forms, including creams and balms. You can find a selection of topicals and other cannabis-infused products at your local dispensary. Some dispensaries may allow you to shop online and pick up in-store.

Here’s a list of some of the most effective types of cannabis topicals on the market:

  • Balms and salves. Cannabis-infused balms are usually thick in texture and come with an applicator (so it’s easier to apply). Balms and salves are ideal for soothing skin irritation and reducing inflammation and joint pain.
  • Creams and lotions. Most canna-based body creams are identical to “normal,” non-cannabis body creams or lotions. However, they’re made with all-natural ingredients and contain anti-inflammatory properties.
  • Cannabis-infused body butter. Cannabis body butter is thicker than lotion and contains additional moisturizing ingredients like aloe vera and almond oil. It’s perfect for restoring dry, flaky skin back to health and protecting new skin cells.
  • Lubricants. Topicals can be used in the bedroom, too! Cannabis-infused lubes can reduce pain and anxiety during sex, increase arousal, and intensify orgasms. According to a recent survey conducted by Remedy Review, 9.3% of respondents (5,398 participants total) said they noticed a difference in their sex lives after using CBD in the bedroom.

Whether you’re thinking about using a cannabis-infused topical for anything from pain relief to skin moisturizing, this guide should help you find exactly what you’re looking for!

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