CBD Oils VS CBD Topicals

cbd oil comparison

When a multitude of options is available in CBD, a new user would wonder which option to choose to start their CBD course. A person who has adequate understanding about CBD will make a product choice only after a thorough analysis of the medical condition they are treating, potency of the product, its discreetness and several other factors.

CBD oils and CBD topicals are two products that are quite popular in the CBD category and in this session, we make a comparison between the two.

Parameter CBD oil CBD topical
Time taken for the effect Less More
Intake method Sublingual External application
Spectrum options Full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate Full spectrum, broad spectrum and isolate
Dosage Has high relevance Less relevant


The minimalistic ingredient profile of CBD oils contributes to its potency because additional ingredients can have an adverse impact on its CBD concentration. CBD oils are made by dissolving CBD extract in carrier oils like MCT oil, hempseed oil, coconut oil etc. An oil base is used by taking the oil-soluble nature of CBD into account.

CBD topicals are made by infusing common topicals like creams, lotions, balms etc with CBD. As the topicals are applied externally on the skin surface, they contain skin-friendly ingredients that soothe the skin and keep it hydrated.

Method Of Administering

While CBD oils are meant for internal use, CBD topicals are exclusively designed for external use. CBD oils are usually taken by sublingual method in which the oil is kept under the tongue for about 60 seconds before swallowing it. It enables the direct introduction of CBD into the bloodstream via the mucus membranes. CBD oil can be added to edibles to prepare CBD edibles.

CBD topical, on the other hand are applied onto the skin surface and its common applications include targeted pain relief as well as skincare.

Time Taken For The Effect

The potency of a CBD product and the bioavailability of its intake method influences the time taken for CBD to kick in. As CBD oils are taken sublingually, the CBD reaches faster into the bloodstream, decreasing the time taken for the effects of CBD to be felt.

CBD in topicals does not reach the bloodstream due to their external application, and instead, penetrates the skin layers to interact with the endocannabinoid receptors. The response offers well-targeted pain relief and skin soothing effects. As CBD doesn’t reach the bloodstream in topical application, CBD topicals take more time to produce the effects in the body when compared with CBD oils.


You have to be extremely cautious about the dosage of ingestible CBD products although there is hardly any chance of overdosing on CBD. CBD oils have to be carefully dosed prior to its intake and it is advisable to start the use with small dosages. You may gradually increase the dosage to get the optimum benefits out of the use.

As topicals are applied externally, its dosing does not have as much importance as that of CBD oils. However, it is advisable to use CBD topicals in same dosages as that of a non-CBD topical. Some CBD topicals come in a pump dispenser with the packaging mentioning the CBD content in each pump. This will help you in figuring out the dosage with accuracy.

Spectrum Options

CBD is available in three spectrum options and the potency and effects produced by CBD products vary according to the spectrum option each belongs to. Full spectrum, broad spectrum and CBD isolate are the CBD spectrum options and both CBD oils and CBD topicals are available in any of these options.

Full spectrum CBD contains all the essential compounds of the hemp plant including cannabinoids and terpenes. Less than 0.3% THC content is characteristic of full spectrum CBD, whereas broad spectrum CBD lacks THC, all the while containing all other compounds in full spectrum CBD. CBD isolate is the purest form of CBD as its exclusive content is CBD.


Apart from the three spectrum options, there are no subtypes in CBD oils, whereas there are multiple options in CBD topicals. Some of the popular ones are:

  • CBD salves

          The ingredients of CBD salves include natural wax (preferably beeswax), fatty oil base, hemp extract, as well as optional ingredients added to enhance the aroma of the salves.

  • CBD Creams

CBD cream is a combination of oil and water with a suitable emulsifying agent added to them. The ratio of oil to water in CBD creams is 1.

  • CBD Lotions

CBD lotions are similar to CBD creams but the water to oil ratio(70:30) is higher in their case when compared to CBD creams.


CBD oils are used to treat a wide variety of disease conditions including pain symptoms, psychological disorders etc, whereas CBD topicals are effective in targeted pain relief and skincare. Topicals cannot be used to treat psychological and neural disorders.

The above comparison will help you in choosing between CBD oils and CBD topicals according to the benefits you expect.