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How CBD Topicals Work

Posted by Camille Chacra on

For thousands of years, CBD topicals were used to ease discomfort and treat skin conditions in ancient China, India, and Latin America. These folks had the right idea, but evidently, modern society disregarded it. Only in recent years have we finally seen scientific research pointing to the medicinal benefits of CBD! 

When exploring topicals, you might be wondering, how do they work?! It’s actually quite fascinating. In this post, we’re explaining how CBD is absorbed by the skin, interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) to activate its effects, and how to find the right product to achieve your goals. 

CBD and your skin

Relief is skin deep. To fully understand how CBD is absorbed, let’s see how it interacts with our largest organ the skin to address issues, such as muscle soreness and eczema, among others. 

The stratum corneum is the outer epidermal layer of the skin. It serves as a protective barrier for the body, and is composed of lipids (a.k.a. fats). These include oils and waxes we all produce; and just like CBD, lipids are unable to dissolve. So when applied topically, CBD will enter through the pores in the epidermis, and penetrate “sebocytes”, which are cells that produce sebum, the oily substance that keeps skin hydrated and resilient. At this point, CBD will start to act locally on the cannabinoid receptors in the skin to deliver its effects. When looking at the scalp, (our speciality!) Safo serum penetrates those sebaceous glands through the hair follicles, which can help relieve dryness, inflammation, and infection. 

Now, this is where the magic really happens… all the benefits we’ve mentioned truly come from the endocannabinoid system at work. 

Photo: Lumen

How topicals interact with the endocannabinoid system

One could say that the human body was made to accept CBD with open arms! We have cannabinoid receptors located in the brain, organs, connective tissues, glands, and immune cells; these make up the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex signaling system that keeps us balanced by regulating processes like appetite, sleep, and memory. 

There's quite a high concentration of cannabinoid receptors in the skin; so if you feel an itch, the receptors located in your skin cells will fire off signals to the ECS to alleviate irritation. The great thing about topicals is that they allow you to focus on a particular area to localize the cannabinoids. Once a CBD serum or cream is applied, it’ll bind to the receptors in the epidermis, providing you with relief.

We always say, think of it as a “lock and key solution”, where CBD and the receptors complement each other. By working in tandem, you may find the symptoms you’ve been dealing with have subsided.  

Choosing products with intention (and caution!)

According to the World Health Organization, CBD has been deemed safe and non-intoxicating. However, this doesn’t mean that all CBD products are actually good for you. In fact, we recently published a post on what to look for when researching different formulas, which you can read here

Now that you know how topicals work, you’ll want to kick off your research by investigating certificates of authenticity, reviews, and of course, ingredients! Many cosmetic products contain harmful chemicals, like parabens, which permeate the skin. They’re typically used as artificial preservatives, and are known to cause skin sensitivities and allergic reactions. All dermatologist-tested Safo products are free of parabens and silicone. We’ve combined the benefits of sustainably farmed CBD with other therapeutic natural ingredients: rosemary, eucalyptus, sunflower, safflower, olive, and avocado oils. 

The outcome: your scalp will absorb all that goodness, and trigger those essential cannabinoid receptors to help hydrate, reduce pain, and swelling. 

To summarize, topicals have the ability to target specific areas that require TLC. If you’re experiencing scalp issues or muscular pain you can’t seem to shake off, massage your favorite topical into the affected area, and let relief set in. Your body deserves all the love it can get, so nurture it the way nature intended. 

To learn more about our topical scalp serum click here. If you’d like to fully round out your routine, you’ll definitely want to check out our hydration ritual! We also invite you to follow us on the ‘Gram for enlightening content showcasing the benefits of CBD topicals, and more. 

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