A Comprehensive Guide to CBD Topicals vs. Oral Products

There are many potential therapeutic advantages to CBD and various ways to enjoy those benefits through the array of CBD products you can find at Hemp XR. There’s a CBD version of almost everything today, from snacks and drinks to lotions and balms. 

However, not every one of these products is best suited for delivering the therapeutic benefits you’re looking for, or at least not as well suited as other options. For instance, depending on the conditions you’re hoping to treat, a CBD topical may be a far better option than any CBD product you take orally, and vice versa. 

But what are the differences between a topical cannabinoid and an oral one, and when is it best to choose one over the other? Learn the answers to those questions and much more in this comprehensive CBD topical vs. oral guide.

What are CBD Topicals?

A CBD topical is any CBD-infused product applied directly to the skin. The CBD and other topical components are absorbed into the skin, interacting with local endocannabinoid receptors to provide targeted relief to the area. 

Like with Bengay and other anti-inflammatory ointments, CBD or THC ointment can potentially help address various issues, including aches, soreness, stiffness, and more. If the discomfort you’re experiencing comes from a centralized part of the body, the most effective option is typically to use a topical directly on that area.

Some cannabinoid enthusiasts learn how to make CBD cream for pain and craft their topicals at home. However, this can be a lot of work, and the finished product is often less effective than those you can find from an established and reputable company. 

Types of Topicals

There are many ways to enjoy the benefits of topical CBD absorption. Each CBD topical offers unique advantages and potential disadvantages, depending on what you hope to experience. Take a look at some of the most common options available. 

Lotions and Creams

Thanks to their versatility and convenience, CBD-infused lotions and creams may be the most popular form of CBD topical. These products work just like any other skin care lotion or cream, only they’ve got CBD in them to provide the user with all of the therapeutic benefits the cannabinoid has to offer. 

As for the difference between the two, lotions are thinner in consistency than creams because they’re created with water, but other than that, these types of topicals are very similar. 

Balms and Salves

Balms and salves can be infused with CBD to create some potent therapeutic products not dissimilar to lotions or creams. Consistency is the most significant difference between balms/salves and lotions/creams. Balms and salves are generally thicker than lotions and creams and have a higher CBD concentration. 

The higher concentration of CBD found in these products makes them advantageous to anyone looking to treat severe issues. You should typically opt for these lotions and creams when your discomfort is chronic and significant.


Tinctures are essentially CBD in a liquid form. They contain concentrated CBD and, often, other cannabinoids, along with some form of oil. While this option can be taken orally, you can also apply the tincture topically, which makes it a versatile product. 

Patches and Roll-Ons

For some added convenience with your CBD topicals, you may want to look at patches and roll-ons. Patches are placed on the skin for consistent, slow-release CBD relief that can last you a long time. 

Roll-ons are a bit like a deodorant stick, only with a CBD topical. You pop the cap and roll the topical onto the problem area for quick, easy, mess-free relief. 

What is Oral CBD?

Oral CBD is any CBD-infused product that is taken orally. Depending on the product, oral CBD can be absorbed through the digestive system (eaten), taken sublingually (placed under the tongue), or both. While topical products absorb into the skin to provide targeted relief, oral products absorb into the bloodstream to offer body-wide relief. 

Ingesting your CBD can provide long-lasting effects, but it will take a bit to kick in. Taking your CBD sublingually can provide similar benefits but more quickly and with higher bioavailability, as the CBD will bypass the digestive system and enter your bloodstream directly, meaning the liver won’t break down the compounds before they can reach your bloodstream.

Oral CBD can be used for many potential purposes, including discomfort relief, relaxation, mood boost, appetite stimulation, help with sleep issues, and more. 

These products are often the better option when the problems you want to address are not centralized to one specific body part. For instance, you’d probably prefer CBD cream for sprained ankles and oral CBD to manage widespread aches and soreness. 

Types of Oral CBD

Ingesting your CBD can be done in a variety of ways, some of which can be both fun and delicious. To get a better idea of which option may be the best for your particular needs, take a look at some of the most popular.


Gummies are one of the most popular ways to eat CBD, as they add some fun flavors to an already convenient consumption method. You can get CBD relief through a vegan, gluten-free gummy that can sometimes be designed to taste just like some of your childhood favorites, such as peach or watermelon rings.


You can also get some flavorful CBD relief from an infused drink. There are CBD sodas, teas, seltzers, and more. Bring one along with you when you head out of the house, and you can enjoy it along with your next meal or whenever you’d like to be refreshed and relieved at the same time.


If you’re a big tea drinker, one of the best ways to incorporate CBD into your life is to add it to tea time with the help of some CBD honey. Full-spectrum CBD-infused honey is all-natural, easy to use, absolutely delicious, and can bring you the relief you’re looking for over a relaxing cup of tea.


For some no-frills relief through oral CBD, you may want to try softgels. These products are simply CBD in a carrier oil contained in a dissolvable gel casing. You can easily add them to your morning routine and any other vitamins and supplements you may use. 

There are a few other types of CBD in pill form, such as capsules and tablets. The differences between these options and softgels are minimal. Capsules can be a bit smaller, while tablets can have a higher concentration of CBD. Otherwise, they all tend to offer the same advantages.


While tinctures can be used topically, they’re more commonly used orally. These products are concentrated CBD contained in a carrier oil and stored in a dropper bottle. You can use the dropper to easily measure your CBD as you drop it under your tongue, into a drink, or into a favorite recipe. 

These products’ versatility and easy measuring make them an excellent option for various purposes.

One of the fun things about tinctures is they can come in a range of flavors. Hemp XR offers our full-spectrum CBD tincture in creamsicle, vanilla, peppermint, citrus, and fruit blast. 

Pet Products

Yes, even your pets can benefit from the power of CBD. If you have a cat or dog who has been having trouble getting around due to the effects of an injury or old age, CBD may be able to bring them the all-natural relief they need. For pets, oral consumption is usually the best method. Hemp XR offers a pet tincture and a pet peanut butter to cater to their specific needs.  

CBD Topicals vs. Oral Products

Now that you’re well-acquainted with CBD topicals and oral CBD, as well as all of the various products available in either category, it’s time to look at why and when you might choose one over the other. 

Keep in mind that there’s no definitive winner of the CBD topical vs. oral debate but rather a particular set of purposes you’ll want topicals for and other circumstances where you want oral CBD. To get a better idea of when to use what, take a look at this CBD topical vs. oral comparison. 


CBD topicals are designed to be applied directly to the problem areas you want to treat, while oral CBD provides more widespread relief via the bloodstream. You can hypothetically use oral CBD to treat all kinds of physical discomfort. Still, you may not get the same level of relief as a topical can provide by directly targeting the source of the pain.

Oral CBD is the better option if you’re looking for relief from mental discomfort. It can potentially help you feel more relaxed and more mentally clear, and it can also boost your mood. 


Both oral and topical CBD can be effective when used properly, but there are some essential things to note about both. 

First, the bioavailability of oral CBD is significantly lower when eaten rather than taken sublingually. That means you’ll need less CBD to get the relief you’re looking for when you use it sublingually, as the tincture will find its way directly into your bloodstream without losing much CBD. 

Second, while some topical CBD will enter the bloodstream, it provides more concentrated relief for the immediate area it was applied to. This means any other effects will be limited. 

Activation Time and Duration

So how fast does CBD salve work compared to CBD gummies, and how long can you expect either of them to last?

CBD topicals will absorb right into the skin and start working relatively quickly. You can anticipate feeling the effects within about 10 or 20 minutes after application. 

Oral CBD, on the other hand, can take much longer, at least when absorbed through the digestive system. Gummies and similar products can take an hour or more to kick in, while sublingual CBD can take about 15-20 minutes.

You’re probably wondering, “Do THC topicals really work that much faster than eating your CBD?” The answer is yes, but it’s important to note that you’ll likely get a longer-lasting experience from your oral CBD. It typically lasts six to eight hours, while topicals only last for three or four.

Discover the Power of CBD Products with Hemp XR

If you want to learn more about our CBD products, explore our online menu today. You can find just the oral or topical CBD products for your specific needs. Our dedicated team ensures that each product meets the highest standards. 

Additionally, for those interested in a more enhanced experience, take a look at our range of THC gummies in various flavors and dosages. These gummies promise quality, consistency, and a delectable way to enjoy the benefits of both CBD and THC seamlessly. Stay tuned for these exciting additions!