The 6 Best CBD Balms To Soothe Skin & Joints With Targeted Relief
Even if you've already found the best CBD gummies or oils to add to your wellness routine, there are still other ways to reap the benefits of hemp CBD. The best CBD balms allow you to target specific areas of the body with a topical application of the botanical.
Made with high-quality hemp, these easy-to-apply ointments pack a healthy dose of cannabidiol (CBD), along with other botanicals and skin-nourishing ingredients. The result is a functional skin and body product that goes beyond moisturizing benefits. Below, uncover the best hemp CBD balms—and how to find the right one for you.
A peek at the best CBD balms of 2023:
A peek at the best CBD balms of 2023:
What is CBD balm?
A balm is an oil-based mixture or ointment that's used to soothe and nourish the skin. It's thicker than a cream or a lotion and is more occlusive, meaning it sits on the skin and can protect from external elements.
Hemp CBD balms contain cannabidiol, one of the major cannabinoids in the hemp plant, usually combined with other supportive botanicals, like arnica or lavender, as well as skin-soothing ingredients, such as shea butter and coconut oil.
While the purpose of CBD balms can vary, it's often used as a way to promote relaxation or help with rest and recovery.
What are the benefits of CBD balm?
Just like the rest of your body, your skin contains the endocannabinoid system (ECS)1, a biological system that reacts to cannabinoids like CBD from the hemp plant. When you apply a CBD balm topically, the CBD is thought to interact with the receptors in your ECS, which can help regulate the function of the skin and the areas beneath it.
Research surrounding hemp CBD topicals is still emerging, but some studies show promising results. Topical CBD cream has been shown to reduce joint swelling and discomfort in studies2 on arthritic mice, but more research still needs to be done to validate its effect on humans. However, topicals don't go deep enough into the body to enter the systemic bloodstream, so they offer fewer benefits on mood.
Luckily, CBD balms often boast other bioactive ingredients, such as botanicals like lavender, to boost the benefits of the products. For example, a balm containing lavender may promote relaxation, while one containing arnica may be better suited for joint relief3.
Who should use a CBD balm?
CBD balms are safe and well tolerated4 by most people, although it's not recommended for pregnancy. If you're dealing with skin concerns (note: we're not referring to compromised skin integrity or wounds) or joint discomfort—or you just want a soothing ointment to add to your self-care routine—a hemp-derived CBD balm may help.
How we picked:
Quality is always important but especially when it comes to hemp CBD. All companies on this list either grow their own hemp or are closely connected with their sources to ensure crop quality.
Many companies make claims about their products, but we like brands that can back them up. All of the products on our list come with easily accessible lab tests and certificates of analysis (COAs).
In addition to quality hemp CBD, we chose balms that have supporting ingredients, like lavender or arnica, that are backed by science.
Customer experience is an important part of our selection process. We chose only brands and products that have mostly happy customers with no major problems or complaints.
Your cheat sheet to CBD dosage.
Everybody processes CBD differently, so what may be a strong dose for you could be a gentle to moderate dose for others. That being said, we standardize strength based on these guidelines:
- Gentle: Under 20 mg
- Moderate: 20 to 40 mg
- Strong: 40+ mg
Our picks for the best CBD balms of 2023:
Best organic: Cornbread Hemp Full-Spectrum CBD Balm
- All organic ingredients
- Made from whole-flower hemp
- USDA-certified organic
- Only one strength available
- Some users say it feels greasy
This Full-Spectrum CBD Balm from Cornbread Hemp is one of the only fully organic CBD balms available. Not only does the company use certified organic ingredients in all products—including its Kentucky-grown organic hemp CBD—it actually has a USDA organic certification for all products (which is not an easy feat). The balm combines hemp with organic arnica, peppermint, eucalyptus, shea butter, and coconut oil. It's all packaged in a convenient stick form for a cooling effect that's easy to apply where you want it.
Sustainability & Packaging: Cornbread Hemp uses USDA-certified organic hemp that's sourced from local farmers in Kentucky, where the company is based. All products are packaged in dark glass (i.e., tinctures and gummies) or plastic to maintain integrity of the ingredients.
Transparency: Cornbread Hemp tests all products for potency, pesticides, heavy metals, fungals, mycotoxins, and other microbes via third-party labs. All COAs are available on the site.
Best balm for athletes: CBDistillery CBD Relief Stick
- High hemp CBD concentration
- Convenient stick form
- Not organic
- No entourage effect
The CBDistillery CBD Relief Stick is formulated for relief and recovery. It contains a high percentage of cannabidiol—a total of 1,000 mg of hemp CBD total—plus soothing ingredients, like menthol and arnica, which give it a slight cooling effect. A shea butter and coconut oil base helps nourish and calm the skin, without feeling behind an uncomfortable greasy feeling. And it's available in a convenient stick form, so you can throw it in your gym bag and easily apply it whenever (and wherever) you're feeling sore.
Sustainability & Packaging: Based in Colorado, CBDistillery sources its hemp from farmers all over the U.S. Products are packaged in light-blocking bottles to protect the integrity of the ingredients.
Transparency: CBDistillery sends all products for third-party testing to check for purity and potency. COAs are available on each product page, or you can enter a specific batch number to access the testing.
Best for muscles: Charlotte's Web Hemp-Infused Balm Stick
- Made with organic hemp
- Contains many functional ingredients
- Small stick
- Not all ingredients are organic
Charlotte's Web helped pave the way for CBD products. The brand was one of the first to offer high-quality CBD to the public and has expanded into a full line of topicals. This Hemp-Infused Balm Stick has 525 mg of CBD from full-spectrum organic hemp that comes straight from the brand's own farms. The CBD is combined with a handful of functional ingredients, including menthol, peppermint oil, turmeric oil, and ginger oil, which all work together to help alleviate areas of discomfort and support a healthy inflammatory response.
The formulation is gluten-free and vegan and made without the eight major allergens, parabens, or synthetic fragrances. It comes in a roll-on stick form for easy application.
Sustainability & Packaging: Charlotte's Web is based in Colorado and grows its hemp on its own certified organic farms. The company oversees everything from growth to extraction, manufacturing, and packaging.
Transparency: All of Charlotte's Web's products, which follow good manufacturing practices (GMP) with intention and rigor, are third-party tested in independent labs. COAs are available directly on the website.
Best for inflammatory balance: Medterra Manuka Honey Healing Cream
- Formulated with a medical advisory board
- Contains several skin-supporting ingredients
- Not organic
- Less potent than others
When it comes to moisturizing and healing power, Manuka honey is quite the sweet surprise. Made from bees that pollinate the tea tree, manuka honey has anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties that can help modulate the immune system in your skin.
Made with CBD isolate, New Zealand Manuka honey, and a handful of other botanicals, (including arnica, aloe, and palm fruit oil), this Medterra Manuka Honey Healing Cream is the best hemp CBD balm for promoting skin hydration and inflammatory balance. It comes in two strengths—125 mg and 250 mg—and can be applied as often as needed, according to Medterra.
Sustainability & Packaging: Medterra sources its hemp from Kentucky and uses a whole-plant CO2 extraction process to process the oil. The company works with an in-house medical advisory board as well as Baylor College of Medicine to develop its products to ensure efficacy. All products are packaged in dark or light-blocking packaging.
Transparency: All of Medterra's COAs, including purity testing results, are linked on each product page for easy accessibility and reference.
Best for sleep: Lazarus Naturals Relax + Unwind CBD Balm
- Combines several functional botanicals
- Comes in two sizes
- Not available in stick form (messier application)
Lavender and chamomile are often hailed as all-natural nervous system relaxers that may help improve sleep quality. The Lazarus Naturals Relax + Unwind CBD Balm takes full advantage of these plant extracts, combining them with full-spectrum hemp CBD to create a soothing topical that's likely to become a regular part of your self-care routine. In addition to these main ingredients, this balm contains organic jojoba seed oil and organic beeswax to nourish your skin. It's available in two tin sizes and potency levels: 1,000 mg or 3,000 mg.
Sustainability & Packaging: Lazarus Naturals uses organic hemp that's grown in central Oregon and then extracted and packaged in facilities following good manufacturing policies (GMPs). The company oversees the entire production process, including growing, harvesting, and packaging.
Transparency: Every single batch of product is third-party tested in independent labs for purity and potency. A full list of test results for all products is available on the site.
Best lip balm: Lord Jones Whole Plant Formula CBD Lip Balm
- Made with full-spectrum hemp CBD
- Not organic
Lord Jones isn't just a hemp CBD company that makes topical creams; the brand also works directly with skin care experts to craft fully functional skin care products that are loaded with soothing ingredients. Plus, it was one of the first CBD companies to have its CBD products widely available at Sephora.
The Whole Plant Formula CBD Balm combines extra-virgin olive oil, shea butter, mimosa wax, grapefruit oil, rosemary oil, and beeswax with whole-plant, full-spectrum CBD. It's completely free of formaldehyde, parabens, phthalates, sulfates, and synthetic dyes, so it's both nourishing and nontoxic. It goes on completely clear yet has a light grapefruit scent that's appealing to many.
Sustainability & Packaging: Lord Jones features full-spectrum in this product to take advantage of the entourage effect of the full native array of cannabinoids and terpenes. All hemp is sourced from U.S.-based farms, but the company doesn't provide much information beyond that.
Transparency: All of Lord Jones' products are third-party tested for heavy metals, microbes, solvents, and pesticides. You can access the lab results directly from the website by entering the batch code found on your product label.
How to use CBD balm.
You can apply hemp CBD balm anywhere you want to soothe and nourish your skin and joints. It works locally, meaning it's best to apply right where you need targeted relief from dryness and discomfort. There's no hard rule about how often you should apply; some brands say as much as needed, while others recommend waiting three to four hours between applications.
When using a hemp CBD balm, make sure to follow the manufacturer's instructions in case there are certain guidelines to follow because of the supporting ingredients. It's important to note that personal care topicals, including CBD balms, are not designed to be used on open (i.e., broken) skin or wounds. If you have a skin or joint condition, you'll want to consult your health care provider before adding any new product to your regimen.
Does CBD joint balm work?
There's not a ton of research on hemp topicals, including CBD balms, but according to research published in Molecules, topical application of cannabinoids like CBD may help with localized discomfort and inflammatory pathways. Many CBD balms also contain supporting ingredients, like arnica and camphor, that have more research supporting their efficacy. Thus, it's likely the combination of ingredients that helps with joint comfort.
How long does it take for CBD balm to provide relief?
Most sources agree that you should feel hemp CBD balm working within 30 minutes. However, everybody processes botanical bioactives, including phytocannabinoids like CBD, differently, so it may take longer or shorter.
What is full-spectrum CBD balm?
Full-spectrum CBD balm is an oil-based topical preparation that contains full-spectrum hemp oil. This array of compounds includes CBD (cannabidiol), as well as other cannabinoids and terpenes that are naturally found in the hemp plant. This includes trace levels of THC, but it's at a concentration of 0.3% or less by dry weight, per U.S. federal regulations for industrial hemp.
What is a CBD balm stick for?
CBD balm sticks are typically used for targeted relief from discomfort. Unlike hemp CBD oils and tinctures that are taken by mouth and work systemically via the bloodstream, CBD balms allow you to apply active ingredients onto a specific, external area of your body. Most CBD balms contain skin-nourishing ingredients that can soothe and soften the skin, too.
The best CBD balms combine cannabidiol from high-quality hemp with other supportive botanical ingredients that serve a variety of functions. Depending on the mixture of ingredients, the hemp CBD balm can have varying focus areas, from relief and recovery to skin hydration, relaxation, and even sleep support. CBD balms only work locally, but CBD gummies, capsules, and oils can help bring balance to your whole body.