Best CBD Creams (2020)
Topicals Reviewed with Lab Results

We’ll show you what to look for and the 3 biggest mistakes shoppers make when choosing a CBD topical.

Topical CBD (cannabidiol) products are in high-demand as clinical studies continue to uncover the many health and longevity benefits of CBD creams.

In fact, CBD is one of the fastest-growing alternative medicine trends. Physicians and laypeople alike are starting to appreciate CBD cream and CBD topicals as natural solutions for pain relief, healthy skin, anti-aging, and inflammation.

But what’s so special about CBD, to begin with?

In short, CBD is the key to unlocking the full potential of your endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabi-what, you ask? Sounds complicated, right?

Don’t worry, here’s a simple primer to get you up-to-speed on the immense role the endocannabinoid system plays in your health and wellness:

A+

Overall
Grade

Recovery+ Ointment
by Spry

4.8/5

Read Review Shop Now

A-

Overall
Grade

Soothing CBD Topical Cream
by Green Roads

4.6/5

Read Review Shop Now

B+

Overall
Grade

Cold Therapy Hemp Rub
by Populum

4.3/5

Read Review Shop Now

B-

Overall
Grade

CBD Rapid Cooling Cream
by Medterra

4.1/5

Read Review Shop Now

C+

Overall
Grade

Hemp Infused Cream with CBD
by Charlotte's Web

3.9/5

Read Review Shop Now

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Our bodies are exceedingly intricate and adaptive in the face of adversity. In fact, your body has 11 different systems, each comprised of trillions of cells that serve their own unique purpose. However, one unifying goal of these body systems is to keep you alive (and healthy)! Thing is, these body systems need a way to coordinate the myriad of biological pathways they work through so you can stay “balanced”. This process of maintaining equilibrium is called homeostasis, and this is precisely what makes the endocannabinoid system (ECS) so intriguing.
Rather than being an individual component of your body, the ECS serves as the quintessential “command center” of all the other systems in your body. It’s really no surprise that the ECS is thought to have evolved millions of years ago, even in simple lifeforms like nematodes. From a biological standpoint, it only makes sense that the ECS would flourish across the evolutionary spectrum of life since homeostasis – what we like to call “balance” – is integral to surviving (and thriving). Key takeaway: The endocannabinoid system is the basis of balance, and a high-quality CBD cream contains the very substances (cannabinoids) that keep your ECS in tip-top shape.

Is the Universe Working Against You?

Do you ever get the sense that the universe seems to be working against you? It’s not just a hunch. Our modern lifestyles are driven by fast-paced deadlines and a constant apprehension of what lies ahead, not to mention all the other stressors that come into play. Eventually, we get thrown off rhythm and can’t seem to get back on track. This perpetual state of imbalance is what leads to many of the chronic health conditions we face.

While we can’t control everything that goes on in our lives, we can control how we prepare for the inevitable adversity that awaits by taking care of the endocannabinoid system.

Do any of these sound applicable to your lifestyle?

If so, it may be time to consider a high-quality CBD cream. Remember, the endocannabinoid system is what establishes and maintains balance when stress crosses our paths.

If you’re feeling lost in the sea of topical CBD products, we’ve crafted a quickstart guide below that breaks down what to avoid and what to look for in the best CBD creams.

What To Avoid
When Buying CBD Cream

Basing Your Decision Purely on Label Claims

Many consumers presume it doesn’t matter which topical you buy as long as it has hemp extract in it. After all, CBD topicals are basically just lotions/creams with a little CBD thrown into the mix, right? Wrong! Topical CBD products vary significantly in terms of their quality, potency, and active ingredients. Basing your decision purely on the fact that the label states there is a certain amount of CBD or hemp extract in the product means you’re putting a lot of trust in a company’s word; but the company has to earn your trust, not the other way around. The best way to build trust is transparency, so only buy CBD cream that has been verified as potent, pure, and high-quality through a CBD lab report. If the company doesn’t provide this, they can’t be trusted and you should look for better options.

Relying on Amazon Reviews of “Hemp Lotion”

When was the last time you asked someone how a TV series was? Would their opinion compel you one way or the other if you found they have never even watched the show? Frankly, it shouldn’t. Yet, this is what millions of consumers are doing when they rely on Amazon reviews for product feedback. Companies will go to extreme lengths to undermine Amazon’s terms of service and pay “customers” to write inauthentic 5-star reviews for their products, the majority of whom have never actually used the products in question. Also consider that CBD topicals are currently prohibited for sale on Amazon, so relying on Amazon reviews of products misleadingly labeled as “hemp lotion” and “hemp cream” is a major no-no.

Assuming a Lower-Price Means It’s a Better Value

It’s only natural that consumers are initially drawn to the most affordable CBD creams, presuming that translates to a better value. But like with any product niche, you get what you pay for when it comes to topical CBD. Less-costly CBD ointments are simply going to hinder your results in the long run because they are made with cheap, low-quality ingredients. Why spend $40 to $50 on CBD cream with unreliable consistency and subpar quality when you can spend a little extra and know you’re getting premium CBD cream that is verified as being pure and potent?

What to Look for in
High-Quality CBD Cream

Batched Tested by Independent 3rd Party for Purity & Potency

Always verify the potency and purity of topical CBD creams before you pull out your credit card. It’s one thing for a company to “talk the talk” and claim their CBD products are “the purest,” but can they “walk the walk” with a third-party lab report? Is their topical CBD really made with CBD isolate or is it just low-quality “hemp extract”. Remember, label claims are great for catching the eye of unwitting consumers, but words only go so far. Having objective data is the surest way of determining if CBD creams are worth your hard-earned money.

Made in a FDA-Registered & CGMP-Certified Facility

Our experiences in the topical CBD space have made it crystal clear that many companies are more worried about their bottom line than your health. Sure, their topical CBD will be lighter on your wallet, but it won’t do much good for your health and well-being. (Not to mention the risk of side effects and ramifications from using an impure CBD product.) You deserve to know exactly what you’re rubbing on your skin and putting in your body. Therefore, it’s essential to look for CBD cream that is made in an FDA-registered and CGMP-certified facility with high-quality, natural ingredients that undergo rigorous batch testing.

Pharmacist-Formulated & Batch Tested

Topical CBD formulas can be made by just about anyone with a sizable bank account, regardless of their educational and professional background. But formulating an effective CBD lotion or CBD cream is exceedingly complex since the active ingredients need to penetrate the skin. Recall that one of the main roles of the epidermis is to prevent external chemicals, whether natural or synthetic, from entering the body. Hence, CBD creams are much more than just lotions infused with a little hemp extract. There’s a very specific method to creating the best CBD cream. It behooves you to only invest in topical CBD that has been professionally designed by a licensed pharmacist.

Focusing on these qualitative measures will get you off on the right foot, but to find the outright best CBD creams for sale, follow these not-so-obvious insights into CBD topicals:

Secret Insights into the Best CBD Creams

Made with Non-GMO Organic Hemp & Pesticide-Free

Weed farms and cannabis facilities alike are starting to grow hemp that has been genetically modified and/or treated with tons of pesticides in order to enhance crop output. Sadly, this puts us at greater risk of exposure to toxins and noxious substances that only continue to throw off our balance. It’s imperative that you look for topical CBD made from non-GMO, organic hemp that is pesticide-free.

Verified THC-Free CBD Cream

Many companies market their CBD cream as being “low in THC,” which is arbitrary and far from definitive. The truth is these topical CBD products often contain more THC than consumers can tolerate. Not only can this result in adverse psychoactive effects, but it could also cause someone to fail a drug test if they aren’t careful. When in doubt, be sure to verify that CBD cream you’re purchasing is truly THC-Free. If a company doesn’t have a recent third-party lab report that tells you precisely how much THC is in their topical CBD, you can do better.

Contains Skin-Healthy Vitamins & Herbal Extracts

Cosmetics and topical products often come jam-packed with potentially harmful additives, like sodium laureth sulfate and even formaldehyde in some cases. Why? Well, it’s cheaper to make. As a consequence of this, low-quality CBD creams and CBD lotions often contain synthetic ingredients that are likely to do more harm than good. Look for CBD topicals that contain natural skin rejuvenators like vitamins A, D, and E and aloe vera, which serve as ideal complementary ingredients to CBD.

Our Specialized Ranking System

Our comprehensive grading process, known as the CBD Central Ranking System, allows us to determine the overall value of CBD topicals by analyzing ingredient profiles, clinical studies, quality, effectiveness, cost, and customer satisfaction. Using these data points and our own hands-on experiences, we curate a list of the best CBD creams on the market to save you time and money!

Top 5 CBD Cream Products of 2020

9.7/10

Total Ranking

A+

Overall Grade

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    9.8/10

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.0 Avg.

    9.6/10

  • Quality
    8.4 Avg.

    9.7/10

  • Transparency
    8.1 Avg.

    9.8/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    9.7/10

  • Value
    8.8 Avg.

    9.4/10

PROS

  • Provides at least 250mg of CBD
  • Delivered in a soothing menthol base
  • Made in FDA-registered facility
  • Batch tested by independent 3rd party
  • Non-GMO, CBD Isolate made from hemp grown in USA
  • Formulated by a licensed pharmacist
  • THC-Free
  • Pesticide-Free
  • Made with vitamins A, D, E and aloe vera
  • Vegan-friendly

CONS

  • May be on backorder from time to time due to high-demand

The Last Word

Our specialized CBD ranking system and expert review team found that Spry Recovery+ Soothing Ointment earned rights as the unanimous best CBD cream on the market. In addition to it's high concentration of CBD isolate and natural skin-soothing ingredients like menthol, this CBD cream is made with unmatched dedication to quality, transparency, and expertise.

In fact, this is one of the select few CBD topicals we could find that is formulated by a licensed pharmacist and produced in a FDA-registered facility using non-GMO, full-spectrum hemp extract. From the moment we cracked open Spry Recovery+ Soothing Ointment, we knew it was something special. If you want a top-notch CBD cream, you’ll be floored by this product.

*These results are determined by the CBD Central Specialized Ranking System and may not reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please refer to product websites for more information.

9.2/10

Total Ranking

A-

Overall Grade

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    9.3/10

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.0 Avg.

    9.5/10

  • Quality
    8.4 Avg.

    9.1/10

  • Transparency
    8.1 Avg.

    8.6/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    8.7/10

  • Value
    8.8 Avg.

    9.0/10

PROS

  • Contains no less than 10.5 mg of total phytocannabinoids per gram
  • Formulated by a licensed pharmacist
  • Pleasant aroma from natural plant extracts
  • Provides soothing menthol
  • COA provided for each product batch
  • Less than 0.3% THC per serving
  • CONS

    • Somewhat slow delivery time

The Last Word

Green Roads Soothing CBD Topical Cream Relief Cream is our runner-up as the best CBD cream due to its exceptional quality, potency, and pharmacist formulation. This CBD topical comes infused with lavender oil, menthol, and chamomile flower extract to bring you quick relief with a pleasant aroma that you’ll look forward to smelling, all without leaving your skin feeling greasy. You can also rest easy knowing that Green Roads Soothing CBD Topical Cream is made with pure CBD isolate from U.S. grown hemp that is tested for purity prior to, and after, production.

*These results are determined by the CBD Central Specialized Ranking System and may not reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please refer to product websites for more information.

8.7/10

Total Ranking

B+

Overall Grade

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    8.5/10

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.0 Avg.

    9.1/10

  • Quality
    8.4 Avg.

    8.7/10

  • Transparency
    8.1 Avg.

    8.8/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    8.2/10

  • Value
    8.8 Avg.

    8.4/10

PROS

  • Established brand reputation
  • Periodic price discounts offered
  • Made from 100% U.S. grown hemp

CONS

  • Not formulated by a licensed pharmacist
  • Limited cannabinoid profile
  • Limited lab results

The Last Word

Populum is a reputable CBD brand due to their wide range of CBD gift sets, many of which come with CBD oil, CBD cream, and CBD edibles. While their Cold Therapy Hemp Rub holds its own among the best CBD topicals, it also falls a bit short on some key features, notably an underwhelming full-spectrum cannabinoid profile and lack of pharmacist formulation. Nevertheless, Populum provides limited lab results for every product batch on their website and their CBD cream contains hemp sourced exclusively from domestic farms in Colorado.

*These results are determined by the CBD Central Specialized Ranking System and may not reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please refer to product websites for more information.

8.2/10

Total Ranking

B-

Overall Grade

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    7.8/10

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.0 Avg.

    8.8/10

  • Quality
    8.4 Avg.

    8.5/10

  • Transparency
    8.1 Avg.

    8.9/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    8.0/10

  • Value
    8.8 Avg.

    7.3/10

PROS

  • Comes in multiple concentrations
  • No detectable THC
  • U.S. Hemp Authority Certified

CONS

  • Not formulated by a licensed pharmacist
  • Requires larger doses to be maximally effective

The Last Word

Several of our reviewers were underwhelmed by the concentration of CBD in the 250 mg option of this CBD topical, which is a mere 2.5 mg per gram. As such, you’ll need to apply generous amounts of this CBD cream to achieve a desirable effect. On a positive note, this cream comes with CBD isolate made from non-GMO, U.S.-based hemp and an array of organic ingredients that help cool and soothe aching joints and muscles.

*These results are determined by the CBD Central Specialized Ranking System and may not reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please refer to product websites for more information.

7.8/10

Total Ranking

C+

Overall Grade

  • Projected Effectiveness
    8.4 Avg.

    7.9/10

  • Ingredient Safety
    8.0 Avg.

    8.4/10

  • Quality
    8.4 Avg.

    8.2/10

  • Transparency
    8.1 Avg.

    7.5/10

  • Customer Satisfaction
    8.0 Avg.

    7.5/10

  • Value
    8.8 Avg.

    7.7/10

PROS

  • Made from USA-Grown Hemp and Batch Tested
  • Contains additional skin-soothing ingredients
  • Lab reports available for every product batch

CONS

  • Not formulated by a licensed pharmacist
  • Unclear concentration of CBD
  • Underwhelming customer reviews

The Last Word

Charlotte’s Web has been in the CBD game for awhile now. This Boulder, CO-based company is dedicated to quality, sourcing their hemp from local hemp fields that are U.S. Hemp Authority certified and tested regularly for purity. Our CBD Central review team likes that their Hemp Infused Cream with CBD comes with a 30-day open-bottle return policy and some additional skin rejuvenators, like vitamin E, aloe vera, coconut oil, and shea butter.

However, this hemp cream is not formulated by a licensed pharmacist and recent customer reviews on the company’s website suggest that the CBD potency is lacking; it’s unclear how much CBD is in each serving since the product label only states the total amount of “hemp extract” that goes into the bottle, which is somewhat ambiguous. For these reasons, it comes in at number 5 on our list of best CBD creams.*

*These results are determined by the CBD Central Specialized Ranking System and may not reflect typical results from the use of these products. Please refer to product websites for more information.

CITATIONS

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  2. Klumpers, U. M., Veltman, D. J., van Tol, M. J., Kloet, R. W., Boellaard, R., Lammertsma, A. A., & Hoogendijk, W. J. (2015). Neurophysiological effects of sleep deprivation in healthy adults, a pilot study. PloS one, 10(1), e0116906./
  3. Whitman, C. B., Reid, M. W., Arnold, C., Patel, H., Ursos, L., Sa’adon, R., … & Spiegel, B. M. (2015). Balancing opioid-induced gastrointestinal side effects with pain management: Insights from the online community. Journal of opioid management, 11(5), 383-391.
  4. Bajaj, J. S. (2019). Alcohol, liver disease and the gut microbiota. Nature Reviews Gastroenterology & Hepatology, 16(4), 235-246.
  5. Febbraio, M. A. (2017). Exercise metabolism in 2016: health benefits of exercise—more than meets the eye!. Nature Reviews Endocrinology, 13(2), 72.
  6. Fishta, A., & Backe, E. M. (2015). Psychosocial stress at work and cardiovascular diseases: an overview of systematic reviews. International archives of occupational and environmental health, 88(8), 997-1014.
  7. Mishra, S., Bharagava, R. N., More, N., Yadav, A., Zainith, S., Mani, S., & Chowdhary, P. (2019). Heavy metal contamination: an alarming threat to environment and human health. In Environmental biotechnology: For sustainable future (pp. 103-125). Springer, Singapore.
  8. Jiang, H., Livingston, M., Room, R., Chenhall, R., & English, D. R. (2018). Temporal associations of alcohol and tobacco consumption with cancer mortality. JAMA network open, 1(3), e180713-e180713.

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