In the last several years, cannabis topicals have taken hold in the cannabis market and have even gained the attention of numerous beauty brands. Cannabis topicals, particularly those containing CBD, are seen in many everyday beauty products. With spring and summer right around the corner, this season we’ll explore if cannabis topicals work for sunburns.  

What Do We Know About Cannabis Topicals?

Cannabis topicals are any cannabis products that are applied directly to the skin. Often this is in the form of balms, creams and lotions; however, we are now seeing body oils, sprays, lip balms, bath balms, and more. 

Cannabis topicals bind to the cannabinoid receptors in the skin to provide localized relief. Because the cannabinoids aren’t absorbed into the bloodstream, even topicals containing THC won’t create an intoxicating effect. 

How Does the Sun Impact Our Skin 

To better understand how cannabis topicals can help mitigate the symptoms of a sunburn, let’s first talk about what is happening to our skin after sun exposure.

When we expose our skin to the sun, it damages our skin. The sun dries out our skin and weakens the bonds between cells, which not only can lead to the development of a sunburn but can lead to signs of aging such as wrinkles. 

What happens when we get sunburnt?

The redness we experience results from red blood cells rushing to the skin to repair the damage. However, the damage occurs even if we don’t see physical symptoms, so sun protection is essential. 

When we experience peeling from a sunburn, that results from the weakening of the bonds between cells. 

cannabis topicals for sunburn
Photo by R+R Medicinals on Unsplash

Cannabis Topicals for Sunburns – Do They Work? 

There isn’t any direct research on the impact of cannabis topicals on sunburns yet; however, there is a lot we do know about how cannabis topicals impact the skin. 

  • Cannabis topicals can help reduce inflammationpain, and itchiness to help soothe damaged skin.
  • Cannabis topicals also help attract and lock in moisture.
  • They have antioxidant properties which promote healthy skin, reduce the signs of aging, in addition to repairing the damage. 
  • There is also some evidence that cannabis topicals have antibacterial effects, which can help reduce the likelihood of damaged skin getting infected. 

How to Use Cannabis Topicals for Sunburns

Apply your favourite cannabis topical directly to the sunburn site to experience soothing effects.

Experts suggest using CBD and THC in combination for the best results. Note that because THC is not absorbed into the bloodstream it doesn’t elicit an intoxicating effect so you can apply liberally and re-apply often.

When it comes to cannabis topicals for sunburns, be cautious of any added ingredients that could cause irritation, particularly if the skin is broken. For example, topicals that have added ingredients for heating or cooling effects to help with muscle soreness after the gym are likely not a good idea for sunburns. You may even want to avoid any products containing essential oils. 

In contrast, some added ingredients can provide additional benefits for soothing sunburns, like aloe vera

More research is necessary to fully understand how cannabis topicals can help soothe sunburns. However, what we know about cannabis topicals, supports their use for managing the pain and itchiness associated with sunburns. 

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