Increasingly championed for its soothing, anti-inflammatory powers, balms based around CBD are becoming a go-to bathroom staple.
Although few detailed scientific studies are available as yet, CBD – short for cannabidiol - is popping up in a wealth of beauty and wellbeing products, from face cream for acne to ingestible drops to calm the mind. But where it seems most likely to prove beneficial is used as a body balm, helping with aches and pains - be it cramps, a sore back or a pulled muscle.
What is CBD?
CBD is found in the cannabis sativa hemp plant, but unlike its psychoactive marijuana counterpart THC, won’t get you high. A variety of different cannabinoids can be taken from the leaves, flowers and seeds of the plant then blended together to get to that final CBD ingredient and it’s thought that the more varieties used, the better. So products labelled full spectrum or broad spectrum are prized over those with just isolates.
How does it work?
Our bodies are made up of an endocannabinoid system with receptors everywhere, including the skin, helping to regulate how we respond to things such as pain and stress. "We all have cannabis receptors within our body,” explains Dr Daniela Tonucci, a clinical consultant in pain medicine and pain expert for British CBD company, Cannaray. “Some lie within the central nervous systems and some peripherally. The peripheral ones are involved in the inflammatory response, and cannabinoids are believed to be anti-inflammatory." Meaning when applied to the skin, CBD is thought to trigger these receptors, tricking the body into the apt response it needs to fight back and rebalance.
What are the benefits?
Studies and anecdotal evidence indicate that CBD balms can help ease pain by telling the body to stop feeling it, as well as causing an anti-inflammatory response in the skin, making it good for irritations such as mild rashes and reactions. It’s also incredibly nourishing, making CBD balm ideal for soothing dry patches too.
Whether it’s post-workout muscle ache or aircon-induced dry patches, keep one of these luxurious balms on hand…
Ila CBD Concentrate Balm
With it’s instantly pliable texture and richly nourishing feel as you work it over the body, you won’t use up this balm quickly. It’s carefully blended with other ingredients that work in synergy with the CBD to calm irritated skin, inflamed joints and pained muscles. It may also help to treat bruising too thanks to arnica, while St John’s Wort can ease minor burns and calm nerve pain.
Blended by hand in the Cotwolds, it’s organic, not tested on animals and the soft, woody scent comes from essential oils. The balm might swing quite a price tag, but we found that because it’s so concentrated that targeted aches feel eased a top speed with the smallest amount of product.
Buy now £46.00, lookfantastic
Kloris Luxury CBD Balm
The high amount of cannabidiol blended into this balm makes it a favourite with athletes as well as at the luxury London Bulgari hotel spa where they use it in their signature CBD massage. The product is rich and stays on to help with a good level of slip if you’re trying to undo stubborn knots, but as it sinks in, leaves a satin soft finish behind.
The hemp used in the formula is grown organically in Europe and it also includes terpenes – another compound found in high concentrations in hemp – that gives it the earthy, herbal scent. Each batch produced is tested in accredited laboratories to guarantee high quality before they are shipped out.
Buy now £35.00, lookfantastic
Puresport CBD Muscle & Joint Balm
Founded by a professional athlete, Puresport offer its CBD balm in two strengths: infused with either 500mg or 1000mg of cannabidiol so you can tailor your choice to best suit your needs.
Another balm rich in a blend of medicinal-smelling natural ingredients (this time lemongrass, wintergreen and peppermint), use the heat from your fingertips to quickly melt the seal on the surface and it will glide easily over tender areas.
Recommended to help with recovery from sports injuries as well with pain relief, they suggest using a flat gua sha stone – regularly used for lymphatic drainage in facials - to work the balm in and feel the effects even more intensely.
Buy now £30.00, Puresport
CBII CBD balm
A fantastic double whammy for stiff muscles and angry skin, the CBII CBD balm contains a carefully curated selection of extra natural ingredients. There’s a heavy-hitting amount of CBD (300mg), which when paired with ginger extract, is good for calming down redness as well being antiseptic. They also combine to create an anti-inflammatory to ease muscle pain. Menthol and eucalyptus have been added to cool and calm stiffness, making it ideal post-workout. The scent from lavender essential oil gives the balm a relaxing and calming aroma too. Finally, a boost of hemp seed oil, Shea butter, plus vitamins A and E create a smooth texture that packs a punch when it comes to hydrating the skin.
Buy now £29.00, CBII
Oana Organic CBD Body Balm
The nifty stick format makes this CBD balm perfect if you need something that’s portable and doesn’t require fingers to scoop out. Said to contain around 31 per cent of organic hemp paste, it’s been produced without the use of pesticides or herbicides at sustainable farms in Europe.
That high CBD content (700mg), blended with Shea butter, coconut oil and beeswax make it exceptionally nourishing to dry patches from elbows to heels, while the muscle-easing benefits should hit the spot too when you target specific, tense areas.
A great choice if you want to try out a CBD balm for the first time without too much investment.
Buy now £9.95, The CBD Shop
Cannuka Healing Skin Balm
Infusing skin with moisture and calming down irritation was the goal when creating Cannuka, where the marriage of CBD and manuka honey is used across the entire range.
This balm is a hard, waxy formula that still melts easily but won’t leave skin feeling sticky or tacky. Try it for tackling flaky elbows, hardened heels and chapped lips, drawing in moisture to keep them feeling supple long-term.
There’s a delicate citrus scent coming from skin-brightening orange peel, it’s PETA-certified to be cruelty free and the ingredients are sustainably sourced too.
Buy now £45.88, Amazon
Holland & Barrett CBD Muscle Balm Extra
A lightly medicinal smell as you open the jar lets you know that this all-natural balm is aimed at aching muscles and tired limbs. Alongside CBD to help reduce any pain, it includes wintergreen, peppermint and capsicum which help create the warming-meets-cooling benefits you’ll feel. Although the texture feels light, a little goes a long way and gets to work quickly. Plus the base of skin-friendly waxes mean that as you rub it in, there’s still plenty of time to let a little massage boost the benefits before the balm is absorbed.
Buy now £19.99, Holland & Barrett
Green Stem CBD Muscle Balm
Using sustainably-sourced hemp from Colorado – considered the best environment for farming it for strength and purity – this muscle balm contains both broad spectrum and CBD isolates to better boost its benefits.
Perfect for stashing in your gym bag, it specifically targets aching muscles, so the super-light texture is easy to work well into tired spots. The mix of sandalwood, lavender and jasmine give a hint of aroma that isn’t overpowering, while the old-fashion apothecary style tin adds an air of stylish cool.
Buy now £14.73, Amazon
Cannaray Muscle Balm
For tired muscles that need calming and cooling, this CBD balm brings eucalyptus into play to create a refreshing, tingling sensation that jolts the knots out of tight muscles fast, while the cannabidiol works longer and deeper on reducing stress.
The balm can take a little work to soften (they recommend scooping a tiny amount out with a spoon) but feels silky smooth once heated up by the skin or your fingertips.
Shea butter gives a hydration boost that lasts long after you’ve massaged it in, while arnica helps with taking down inflammation in the joints and on the skin. Vegetarian-friendly, the pot and lid are fully recyclable, and you can even trace your balm from farm to shelf thanks to a smart batch code.
Buy now £20.00, Cannaray CBD
La Rue Verte Soothing Body Balm
Backed up by accreditation from a world-leading beauty therapy association, La Rue Verte brings together high levels of CBD and a luxury skincare approach, including professional spa treatments.
Rather than focusing on pain points, this CBD balm has been created to use from top to toe. It softens to the touch into a rich, oil-like texture and smoothes over skin for a deeply nourishing and softening effect once it’s been massaged in.
Menthol has been added to work alongside cannabidiol easing the muscles and relieving tension, while geranium adds an extra anti-inflammatory element for the skin as well as soft floral fragrance.
Buy now £39.95, La Rue Verte
While more detailed studies are being done to discover the depths of CBD’s capabilities, a cannabidiol-rich balm can soothe needy skin and bring calm to aching muscles. Boosted by the silky soft finish it leaves too, Ila CBD Concentrate Balm it a definite multi-tasker for keeping in your bathroom or on the bedside table.