CBD products come in a multitude of forms that tend to leave CBD newbies confused as to which treatment method may be right for them.  These CBD product types can typically be separated into two application categories: Topical and Oral. By knowing the difference between the two applications and the advantages of each, you can better understand which CBD product is best suited for your needs. 

CBD Topicals Products

CBD topicals can help sooth mild physical discomfort.  Topical CBD products are applied externally to the affected area, allowing CBD to be absorbed directly through the skin where cannabinoid receptors can be found. These receptors connect to our peripheral nervous system, which stretches out to many different organs, including the skin.

However, when used on skin, CBD doesn’t penetrate deep enough to reach the bloodstream, unlike other CBD methods. Therefore, topical CBD treatments provide a localized effect directly where the application was applied. So, the effects of CBD topical products are isolated to the area it was introduced, not the entire body.

With topical CBD skin absorption, the CBD molecules affect the skin cells called sebocytes that create the sebaceous gland. And the sebaceous gland itself produces sebum, which is an oily secretion that keeps the skin flexible and resilient.

The CBD from a topical cream or lotion penetrates the sebaceous gland through the hair follicles. Once absorbed, the CBD and the activation of the cannabinoid receptors help boost the soothing abilities of other well-known pain-relieving agents, like the topical analgesic histamine dihydrochloride.

And because CBD absorption from topicals doesn’t permeate much further beyond the sebaceous gland, you typically should use a generous amount of the topical to achieve the desired effect.

CBD topical products include: 

  • Creams  
  • Lotions  
  • Balms  
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This CBD treatment is perfect for those suffering from mild discomfort like delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS, which naturally occurs a few hours after strenuous exercise and fitness routines. As a result, more and more physical therapy facilities are incorporating CBD massages into their daily regimen.

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Oral CBD Products

If your CBD needs are more for internal or cognitive wellness than external or skincare, then taking oral CBD may be a better option.  There are two primary methods of consuming CBD orally: Sublingually, or “Under the Tongue,” and Ingestion. 

The several types of CBD Oral products include: 

Sublingually (Under the Tongue)

This method requires CBD drops to be placed underneath the tongue and held for 30 to 60 seconds before swallowing. The CBD gets absorbed through the blood vessels under the tongue and enters directly into the bloodstream.  This process is usually done through Tincture related CBD products.  With the correct dose, you’ll feel relief within 45 minutes to an hour, maybe sooner.

The benefit of consuming CBD oil sublingually is that the absorption process bypasses the digestive system and liver metabolization, allowing the compounds to reach your bloodstream and interact with the endocannabinoid system more quickly.


Ingesting CBD is to directly swallow CBD either in the form of a pill, softgel, gummy, or other edible means.  

When you ingest CBD oil, it is absorbed through the digestive system and is metabolized by the liver, eventually sending its active compounds to your bloodstream. This form of administration is exactly how vitamins and other daily supplements are most typically taken.

Ingestion, while considered by most to be the easiest administration method, isn’t necessarily the most efficient.  The CBD molecules have to first travel through your digestive system and make it to the liver where they are initially broken down; this process is known as the first-pass metabolism.  After the liver metabolizes the CBD, the remaining compounds are sent to the bloodstream.  Its due to this physiological process, that the result is less CBD being absorbed into the bloodstream.  However, research indicates that the effects of ingested CBD last longer than any other application method. 

To learn more about the benefits of CBD Edibles, check out Ace Drop’s CBD Edible Guide for more!

CBD Topical vs. Oral – Which is Better?

The better question is: “Which one better suits your needs?”

CBD Topicals 

  • Using CBD topically allows the cannabidiol compounds to attach to the skin’s cannabinoid receptors where the topical cream is applied. It works best if you have a targeted area where you need CBD the most. With CBD topicals, the cannabinoid compounds never get absorbed into the bloodstream; however, the effects of topical CBD are more concentrated because it isn’t thinly spread throughout the entire body. It’s a suitable choice for people trying to relieve minor discomfort in joints and muscles or revitalize skin in distressed areas. 

Oral CBD 

  • Between taking CBD sublingually and ingesting it, the sublingual method offers faster effects because of its higher bioavailability, which allows more CBD to enter the bloodstream since it avoids the first-pass metabolism. Even though ingesting CBD may not let as many cannabinoids reach the bloodstream, its effect usually lasts longer than any other application method.