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How to Use CBD to Make Your Own Topicals

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CBD topicals are quickly becoming one of the most popular ways to use CBD.

Not only do CBD topicals act quickly and provide targeted relief from conditions like chronic pain and inflammation, but they’re also excellent for a variety of different skin conditions.

People that suffer from skin disorders like acne and eczema are discovering that CBD works just as well (if not better) than traditional skin creams created for the same conditions.

We regularly receive a variety of different questions about CBD. And we’re finding that a lot of people want to know how they can make their own CBD topicals.

They’re interested in how to use their own CBD tinctures and isolates into their own creams and lotions. Some even want to know how to create their very own custom creams, salves, and lotions.

Before we discuss how to make your own CBD topicals (which is really easy and a lot of fun), let’s talk about why you’d even want to do this in the first place. We will cover the benefits of CBD topicals and why they are used. 

Why Make Your Own CBD Topicals?

CBD topicals are known to work quickly and effectively, offering almost immediate relief from a variety of different conditions ranging from muscles aches and pains to inflammation and joint pain associated with conditions like arthritis.

Acne: CBD topicals can provide relief from troubling skin conditions like acne and eczema. If you’ve got troubled skin and haven’t tried a CBD topical, it’s definitely an option to consider. There is both anecdotal and peer reviewed research that shows that  CBD has an excellent effect on acne and can significantly reduce the appearance of blemishes and red, inflamed skin.

Beauty Aid: Some even say that CBD has an anti-aging effect, due to the powerful antioxidant properties it contains. Antioxidants have shown to help slow down the aging process by reducing free radical damage to skin cells and increasing oil production that slows down with age.

Reduce Stress and Tension: CBD topicals make for an amazing massage oil, offering relief to sore, overworked, or tense muscles. A CBD-infused massage lotion can offer an added sense of relaxation to an already fantastic way to de-stress.  

Relieve Joint and Muscle Pain: Applied topically, CBD can work wonders to relieve joint and muscle pain. Whether associated with arthritis or something else, rubbing a CBD topical onto troubled areas may offer quick, localized relief wherever and whenever you need it most.

How Do CBD Topicals Work?  

It all comes down to the body’s endocannabinoid system and how CBD works in natural harmony with it. Located in various cells throughout the body (most notably in the brain and nervous system) the endocannabinoid system is an important modulatory system that research shows is responsible for brain, endocrine, and immune tissue function. It’s known to play a significant role in the secretion of hormones related to our stress response and various reproductive functions.

Aside from being found throughout the brain and nervous system, studies also indicate evidence of a functional endocannabinoid system in the skin that is associated with several biological processes, including the reproduction, growth, differentiation, and death of various skin cell types and appendages (like the hair follicle and sebaceous gland).

The main physiological function of the skin’s endocannabinoid system is believed to control the proper and well-balanced reproduction, variation, survival, and immune competence of the skin cells. Disruption of the natural balance of skin cells is believed to lead to the development of several different skin conditions, such as acne, eczema, allergic dermatitis, itchiness, pain, psoriasis, seborrhea (excessive discharge of sebum from the sebaceous glands), and more.

When you apply a CBD topically directly to the skin, it goes to work in harmony with the endocannabinoid system in the skin. Ultimately, this brings balance back to any disruption within the skin’s endocannabinoid system, working to clear up stubborn skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema to name a few.

CBD topicals also provide localized relief that can do wonders for managing pain. While applying CBD topically keeps it from reaching the bloodstream, it is a known TRPV-1 receptor agonist, which is how it helps modulate feelings of pain. CBD’s affinity for the TRPV-1 receptor is also why applying CBD topically helps control itchy skin and heat.

Making Your Own Topicals: CBD Tincture or CBD Isolate

When making using CBD to make your own topicals, CBD tincture or CBD isolate work best. Here’s a bit about each so you understand why.

CBD Tincture

CBD tincture is one of the most popular ways to administer CBD.

CBD tincture is made by extracting CBD oil from the hemp plant, where it is then mixed with a base oil (also known as carrier oil) like MCT (medium-chain triglyceride) oil, coconut, or hemp seed oil. The result is a CBD tincture that is typically taken sublingually or added to food or drinks.

CBD tinctures are also a great option when you’re looking to make your own CBD topicals. All you need to do is measure out how many milligrams you desire in the dropper and add to the rest of your ingredients.  

CBD Isolate

CBD isolate is a pure, crystalline powder that contains 99% pure CBD. CBD isolate is made with a more detailed extraction process than a CBD tincture. Once the concentrated CBD extract is removed from the hemp plant, it goes through an additional multi-step process to remove all traces of plant material, waxes, and all components left behind during the initial purification process. The result is a fine, white powder that’s 99% CBD.

CBD isolate contains no odor and can be taken in a variety of different ways. It’s a popular way to add CBD to things like smoothies, coffee, and tea as it mixes well and contains zero odor or flavor. It’s also great for making your own CBD topicals because it can be measured precisely and mixes excellently with whatever carrier oils you choose to use.

Different Types of CBD Topicals: Salves, Lotions, Balms, and Creams

When it comes to making your own CBD topicals, you’ve got a few options to choose from. And the good news is, they’re all pretty simple to make at home. Here we’ll look at a few different topical options, and what makes each unique.

3 Common CBD Topicals

1. Salves: Salves are one of the easiest topicals to make at home. CBD salves are simply a combination of oil (usually coconut or olive), beeswax, and CBD oil or isolate. They are thicker than lotions and creams and typically tend to be a bit “greasy” when applied to the skin.

2. Lotions: Lotions take salves a step further by adding water into the mix. CBD lotions are a combination of oil (almond, jojoba, or other liquid oil), water, and an emulsifying agent (usually beeswax or an alternative like soy wax or candelilla wax), and CBD oil or isolate. The main ingredient of lotion is water (70-80 percent) the type of oil you use will largely determine the texture of your lotion. Lighter oils like sweet almond, apricot, or sunflower will give you a lighter lotion, while using shea butter or cocoa butter will produce a much thicker consistency.

3. Creams: Creams are thicker than lotion, but not as thick as salves. Creams are thicker than lotions because they contain more oil than they do water. CBD creams are a combination of oil, water, an emulsifying agent, and CBD oil or isolate. The percentage of oil to water is much higher (roughly 75 percent oil/25 percent water), which offers a thicker consistency best used for very dry skin. Creams are great in the winter months as they provide serious moisture where you need it most.  

So you see, the really big difference in various CBD topicals is the oil/water ratio that’s used to make them. CBD salves have the thickest consistency of all topicals because they don’t contain any water, while a CBD lotion will have the smoothest consistency because of the high water content it contains.

Making Your Own CBD Topicals

Now that you know what CBD topicals are made of, it’s time to learn how to make your own.

Making CBD topicals is a fun and relatively simple process. Not only do they give you a way to customize your own blend of an extremely beneficial way to get your CBD on, but CBD topicals also make great gifts! Keep that in mind during the holidays, on birthdays, or any other occasion that calls for an awesome DIY gift for someone special.

Note: Most recipes call for beexwax but you can use soy wax, candelilla wax, or any other alternative. Just keep in mind you may need to adjust the level of wax in the recipes below if you use an alternative. Also keep in mind that if you use a CBD tincture (as opposed to an isolate), you will be adding the carrier oil of the tincture along with the CBD contained within. Just be aware of that as it may change the consistency of your final product. When possible, use a CBD tincture which has a carrier oil that matches an ingredient you are already adding in your recipe. This will ensure a consistent mixture.

How to Make CBD Salve

Ingredients:

  • 1 Cup Oil (coconut, olive, sweet almond, apricot, sunflower seed, grapefruit seed, etc.)
  • 1 oz. Beeswax (or soy wax or candelilla wax if you prefer)
  • 3000mg CBD oil/3 grams CBD isolate
  • Essential Oils of Your Choice (optional)

Directions:

  • Heat oil and beeswax in a double boiler (or pot filled with ¼ water brought to a boil, then simmered with a glass pot fitted on top of pot containing oil and beeswax) until the wax melts, stirring well.
  • Add the CBD oil or isolate and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally until combined. Make sure not to overheat.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  • If you plan on adding any of your own essential oils, allow your salve to cool but not become solid. Once cooled, add the essential oils of your choice.
  • Once all ingredients are incorporated, pour your salve into your storage container (glass jars with a tight-fitting lid work best) and allow to cool completely before use.

How to Make CBD Lotion

Ingredients:

  • ¾ Cup Distilled Water
  • ¼ Cup Oil of Your Choice
  • 0.5-1 oz. Beeswax (or soy wax or candelilla wax if you prefer)
  • 3000mg CBD Oil or 3 grams CBD Isolate
  • Essential Oils of Your Choice (optional)

Directions:

  • Heat oil and beeswax in a double boiler (or alternative) until wax melts, stirring well.
  • Add CBD oil or isolate and simmer over low heat until fully incorporated, ensuring not to overheat.
  • Allow to cool slightly and add essential oils of your choice.
  • Before mixture cools completely, slowly add water until your lotion is of desired consistency.
  • Pour into storage container. Again, a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid is best. Keep in mind that this lotion won’t “pump” well out of a dispenser.

How to Make CBD Cream

(Remember, cream is very similar to lotion. The big difference is the amount of water that’s used.)

Ingredients:

  • ¾ Cup Oil of Your Choice
  • ¼ Cup Distilled Water
  • 0.5-1 oz. Beeswax (or soy wax or candelilla wax if you prefer)
  • 3000mg CBD Oil or 3 grams CBD Isolate
  • Essential Oils of Your Choice (optional)

Directions:

  • Heat oil and beeswax together in a double boiler (or alternative) until wax melts, stirring well.
  • Add CBD oil or isolate and stir well over low heat until fully incorporated.
  • Remove from heat and allow to cool slightly before adding essential oils of your choice.
  • Slowly add water until your cream is of desired consistency. The less water you use, the thicker it will turn out (more like a salve). The more water you use, the more it will be like lotion. Go slow until you reach the consistency you want.

As you can see, using CBD to make your own topicals is easy. If it seems a bit intimidating, remember everything gets easier with time. Before long, you’ll be whipping up CBD topicals into your own custom-made creations.

Essential Oils for CBD Topicals

We talked about adding your own essential oils. While this is completely optional, essential oils can offer added benefits of their own, that when combined with the healing benefits of CBD can make for a serious blend of wellness. Some popular essential oils (and their benefits) you might want to consider adding to your own CBD topicals include:

  • Lavender: Lavender not only smells amazing but is one of the most beneficial essential oils that exists. Lavender is great for reducing stress and anxiety, healing wounds, clearing up acne, relieving pain, alleviating headaches, and more. 
  • Eucalyptus: Eucalyptus is a known anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal. It’s also beneficial for alleviate itchy scalp, relieve joint pain, reducing muscle pain, and clearing up acne and skin inflammation. 
  • Tea Tree: Tea tree oil is one of the most popular essential oils used in the treatment of acne. When combined with CBD (which research shows is extremely beneficial for acne-prone skin), you’ve got a powerful natural remedy that can help reduce acne and clear up any complexion issues you might have. 
  • Ylang-Ylang: If you’re looking for an amazing floral scent in your homemade CBD topicals, ylang-ylang is your go-to. Aside from smelling amazing, this essential oil can help control oil production in the skin and help reduce breakouts. Ylang-ylang also helps to regenerate skin cells, improve skin elasticity, and smooth out fine lines and wrinkles, making it an awesome ingredient for anyone concerned with aging skin. 
  • Peppermint: A great choice when making CBD topicals for holiday gifts because of its scent, peppermint essential oil is also known to be excellent for relieving pain and inflammation associated with arthritis pain. CBD is also known to alleviate arthritis pain, making a peppermint CBD topical an excellent gift for yourself or anyone you know that suffers from this painful condition. 
  • Frankincense: Frankincense has been used for thousands of years and is a known anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial. It also helps to relieve stress, enhance immune function, improve memory, and reduce the signs of aging. It could also reduce the appearance of stretch marks. It also has a somewhat sweet and slightly earthy, woody scent that many find extremely pleasant to the senses.

Final Thoughts on How to Use CBD to Make Your Own Topicals

CBD topicals are a huge benefit for several different skin conditions, as well as providing quick, localized relief to troubled areas of the body (sore back, stiff joints, muscle aches, etc.). Making your own CBD topicals isn’t just easy, but a fun process that allows you to customize your very own topical creation.

The recipes we provided are a general guideline to making your own CBD-infused topicals. You can use as little or as much CBD tincture or isolate you desire to make your own lotions, salves, and creams…our recipes are just a guideline to give you a starting point of reference.

Adding a few drops of vitamin E will extend the shelf-life of your topicals. And while totally optional, it’s definitely something to keep in mind if you won’t be using the entire jar within a couple weeks.

One of the best things about making your own CBD topicals is experimenting until you find the perfect blend. Let us know about your experiments and creations in the comments below!

48 comments

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  • How much CBD isolate should i put into a massage oil. One for moderate pain relief? Into one cup of coconut oil for example.

    • Hi Shawna. Thanks for your question. You can decide on how much CBD to add based on the strength and concentration you want it to have. There is no standardized best amount to add known at this time.

      You can experiment to see what will work best for your purposes. Another great approach you can use is to base your proportions off an existing product you already use.

      Let’s say you had a product you liked which had 500 mg CBD for every ounce of the product (Joy Organics CBD Topical is the example I was looking at). You can base your own home made version off of the same proportions = 500 mg CBD for every ounce of the product. A cup of coconut oil is 8 ounces total.

      That’s one approach 🙂

      Let us know what you decide to do and how it works out!

  • Hi
    I only have a 0.5 gm if cbd isolate and your recipe is with 30 gm

    Please help with a recipe with this small amount

    Thank you

    • Hi Gladys. Thanks for your question. That was an error on our part. The recipe should say 3 grams CBD isolate (error has been fixed in the article).

      To make it with your amount of isolate (0.5 gram), all you need to do is divide the proportions of all the ingredients by 6. This is because you are using 1/6 the amount of CBD isolate the recipe calls for.

      Let us know if you have more questions and we will be glad to help! 🙂

  • Can I add CBD isolate to fragrance oil? I use it to scent bath salts (FO directly onto salt) and wasn’t sure if adding it to the fragrance oil itself would damage the CBD in some way.

    • Hey Aaron. That’s a great question which we haven’t ever encountered before. To get the best answer, we recommend reaching out to a few product manufacturing experts in the CBD and hemp space. They should be able to give you a clear yes or no. Thanks! 🙂

  • So if I’m using an oil with 1450mg of cbd per 1oz.. Are you suggesting I double it to 2 oz to get almost 3000mg total of cbd with this recipe? Because that seems like a VERY pricey lotion mix

    • Hi Tyler. Thanks for your question. That recipe is just a suggestion and by no means a prescription or exact script.

      You can add as little or as much CBD as will fit your budget and needs 🙂

  • Have made my own oil before, but how many oz of cream does this recipe produce? So I know how to adjust the amount of cbd

  • Beeswax does not bind oil with water. I learned this the hard way before I asked questions. Emulsifying Wax does bind oil with water.
    As oil and water do not naturally mix together, in order to make a cream or lotion an emulsifier is needed. … This means they are attracted to both oil and water, which allows them to bind the two together to form a stable mixture. Note that beeswax is not an emulsifier; it will not create stable emulsions.

    • Hi Laura. Best to keep topicals in a cool and dry place, away from temperature extremes and extreme light. You can keep it in the fridge or freezer for the best option but defrosting gets pretty annoying every time! Should last up to 2 years is the general standard accepted shelf life estimation. Hope that helps 🙂

  • My mom can not take her cbd oil orally so I am having her mix with a lotion for the pain in her joints. Her bottle of oil is 1500mg of cbd in a 30ml bottle . What amount of premade lotion do we need to mix the whole bottle into. Her pain level is high, so it needs to be strong. Thank you.

    • Hi Brenda. You can mix it into whatever amount you find is most suitable for your needs and mixes well. The less amount you use, the more concentrated it will be. Please let us know if you have additional questions! Thank you 🙂

  • Hi, was wondering, I have seen plenty of creams/salves/rubs etc that have ratios of cbd to thc. Does that mean I could use a cbd tucture that contains thc in it to add to the recipe above? I am using care by designs CBD to THC 4:1 ratio. Thanks.

  • I have a family member who is dying. Her left scapula hurts constantly. I know it has to do with her heart, which is not working correctly. I want to use CBD isolate in a salve base that I already use: mango butter and unrefined hemp oil. Would this be doable?

    • Hi Roger. It would be just over 1% CBD under that recipe. But as I normally tell people, I would not pay too much attention to that. You can change the % CBD by simply using less of a carrier/base oil.

      Does that make sense? 🙂

  • Can I just mix the CBD Isolate directly into my existing skin lotion as is, without having to make a lotion/salve from scratch? If yes, I reckon I could follow the same proportion in your recipe of 3-oz of lotion to 1 gr. of added CBD Isolate?

    For knee pain or any pain- does a lotion with a higher level of CBD isolate mean that the lotion is more Effective as a ‘pain killer’ for knee pain or any pain?

    Lastly, how long would my skin lotion with the CBD isolate add-on last, if kept in room temperature, or with air con in the summer? Many thanks 😉

    • Hi V thanks for your great questions. Yep, you can mix the isolate into any of your lotions if you don’t want to make it from scratch.

      Not sure I understood your second question, can you clarify what you mean?

      For storage purposes, cannabinoids are best kept cold (or in cool conditions) and away from extreme light and heat.

  • Great article! You say to add the CBD after melting the oils, etc, to ensure not overheating. Can you tell me what temperature is considered ‘overheating’ CBD? Many thanks!

  • Hello
    I’m wondering can I add CBD Isolate to any already manufactured tolical Or do I have to build the topical from scratch

  • Hello,
    I would like to use Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream, I have an 8.8 ounce container, to create a CBD topical. I have also purchased 1 gram of RSO Full spectrum Cannabis Oil (100% CBD). Should I mix the entire gram into the cream? Less Cream? Both products new and unopened ready for advice! Thank you!

    • Hi Maggi. That sounds like it will make a great product for you. You can add as much or as little of the CBD to the cream as you want. It’s entirely up to you and how concentrated you want it to be. You can always trying adding in half of the CBD gram. See how it works. Then add more only if needed.

      What kind of RSO CBD did you get?

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