Many of us learn as children that epidermis is a fancy word for skin - the largest organ in the body. The skin is an all-important and multifunctional workhorse, protecting us from the environment, sensing light, moisture, pain (and pleasure), playing a crucial role in immunity, hormone function, Vitamin D synthesis, and much more.
What may come as a surprise to many is that our skin is rich in CB1 and CB2 endocannabinoid receptors - which is why CBD topicals can be such a saving grace.  Before we talk about the different types of CBD topicals we offer, let's have a crash course on the anatomy of the skin as it pertains to cannabinoids.
The skin consists of a few primary parts:
Epidermis: The outermost layer, formed by keratinocytes (waterproofing/antimicrobial), melanocytes (responsible for skin color), Merkel/Langerhans cells (for sensing touch, pressure, temperature, pain, itch), and Langerhans cells (antigen-presenting immune cells).
Dermis: Largely composed of collagen, nerve fibers, and blood/lymphatic vessels, the dermis is also the residence of the skin's appendages - hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands.
Appendages: Dubbed 'mini-organs,' the skin's hair follicles, sebaceous glands, and sweat glands play many essential roles. Sebaceous glands supply oil to the skin's surface, creating a waterproof barrier, enabling thermoregulation and microbial protection. These appendages also produce steroids and hormones (such as Vitamin D) and are crucial to immune system function.
Endocannabinoid Receptors: CB1 and CB2 receptors are both present in virtually every type of skin cell. The omnipresence of cannabinoid receptors in the skin hints at the importance of maintaining good 'cannabinoid tone' - or the balance of cannabinoid levels in the skin.  While several types of skin cells secrete endocannabinoids (such as anandamide and 2-AG) on an as-needed basis, they are susceptible to the same problems that affect the rest of the mind and body - the issues at the root of Clinical Endocannabinoid Deficiency.
Comprised mainly of hair follicles and sebaceous glands, the 'pilosebaceous unit' (or 'brain of the skin') controls an enormous variety of biological functions (including stem-cell supply, immunomodulation, and synthesis of inflammatory-regulating molecules).
New studies suggest that the endocannabinoid system may play a crucial role in regulating the all-important pilosebaceous unit - meaning CBD topicals likely have a significant effect on every aspect of skin health. 
Hair follicles experience a lifelong cycle of phases, known as growth, regression, and resting. When the CB1 receptors in hair follicles are overactive, the cell division stops, and many cells die; this results in impaired hair growth and an extended regression phase, also known as catagen.
Impaired endocannabinoid production could be a primary culprit behind hair loss. 
When cannabinoid imbalance strikes the sebaceous glands, they cannot secrete sufficient amounts of sebum, weakening the waterproof skin barrier and increasing susceptibility to infection. 
While the research is currently insufficient to determine the exact role endocannabinoids and their receptors play in sweat glands, what science has shown is that CB1 and CB2 receptors regulate their life cycles.
The three types of cell function (proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis) are all moderated by cannabinoids. The maintenance of these crucial cellular functions is what enables life-long skin regeneration and wound healing. 
CBD salves are usually applied to the body to relieve sores, itchiness, and other bothersome skin conditions. A salve is loosely defined as any ointment used to promote healing of the skin or as protection.
Topical cannabis and hemp have been used for millennia, with records of use dating back to ancient Egypt. Dr. Tamas Biro, director of immunology at the University of Debrecen in Hungary, states:
"...the main physiological function of the skin's endocannabinoid system is to constitutively control the proper and well-balanced proliferation, differentiation and survival – as well as immune competence and tolerance – of skin cells."
He says that the dermal layers of the skin produce cannabinoids, and most skin functions are moderated to some extent by the local skin endocannabinoid system.
The bottom line - the skin is loaded with cannabinoid receptors that are implicated in nearly all the skin’s biological functions, and they need a little extra support sometimes - just like the rest of our body.
How to Use CBD Topicals
Although CBD topicals are not eaten or ingested, and thus do not go directly into the bloodstream, parts of our skin absorb and retain the cannabinoids in CBD topicals, allowing for immediate and localized benefits.
Depending on the product, you may feel tingling, warming, or cooling sensations - meaning you should make sure to carefully read the ingredients before applying a CBD topical to a sensitive part of your body (you know what we're talking about). We also advise not applying any CBD topicals to broken skin or other open wounds.
Sebocytes (the cells which make up the sebaceous gland, responsible for secreting the oil/sebum that keeps skin smooth and supple) absorb cannabinoids via hair follicles.
This effect means that CBD can help moderate oil production, increasing or decreasing it as needed - useful for a wide variety of skin ailments. Depending on the condition you are using a CBD topical for, you could see results immediately, or it could take up to several applications to experience the desired effect.
CBD Salve vs. Roll-On
What we love about CBD salves is how convenient they are - apply a little to the area needing some extra love, massage it in, and that's that! Generally, less is more - you'll only need a minimal amount, and then a few minutes to let it soak in. With some trial and error, it's relatively easy to dial in your ideal CBD salve dosage.
Our CBD Salve is oriented for all-over total body support (except for the face) and offers additional aromatherapeutic benefits thanks to the presence of high-quality essential oils.
The CBD Roll-On is geared more for focused, on-demand relief of aches and physical discomfort - and also has a convenient applicator ball.
How to Choose the Best CBD Topical
Like any other type of CBD product, it's essential to do your research before purchasing any CBD topicals:
1.) Choose Full Spectrum CBD:
To benefit from the healthful synergy of the 'entourage effect,' it is paramount to use real full spectrum CBD products. At Ananda, our proprietary ethanol extraction process allows us to extract hundreds of phytonutrients from our Kentucky-grown hemp. Our technique enables us to keep the same ratio of cannabinoids as they occur naturally in the hemp - something few other CBD companies can claim.
2.) Demand Certificates of Analysis:
Certificates of Analysis for third-party laboratory testing are a must-have. These documents show levels of cannabinoids and terpenes and verify the absence of common contaminants like heavy metals, pesticides, residual solvents, microbials, and mycotoxins. At Ananda Professional, we offer up-to-date CoA's for every product we sell. Type the batch number located on the back of the product packaging, type it into our handy CoA lookup tool, and see the CoA for the product which you hold in your hands.
3.) Examine the Ingredients:
Our skin is highly capable of absorbing a variety of substances, whether good or not-so-good. Make sure you do a careful read-through of any CBD topical to ensure there are no hard-to-pronounce chemicals or other scary substances.
How to Use Topical CBD
It is wise to take notice of the carrier oils in your product, as certain oils (like coconut) melt at relatively low temperatures, and are best kept in a cool, dark place to maintain the ideal consistency.
Less is more - a little goes a long way with both of these products. Locate the area in question, apply a small amount, and rub it to help the skin soak it in (besides, we could all use a little more self-massage). Some popular areas to apply our products include:
Joints (knees, wrists, elbows, ankles, hips)
Before applying the salve or roll-on, give the targeted area a quick wash and dry. Since our skin is continuously exposed to dirt, dust, and various microbes, it's good to get them out of the way to maximize the topicals' effectiveness. You don't need a full shower - a wipe with a wet cloth will most often do the trick.
CBD Salve vs. CBD Tincture - Which is Best?
Comparing CBD Topicals to CBD Oils/Tinctures is like comparing apples and oranges - many people like to use both for full-body support, both inside and out.
CBD Salves/Topicals are ideal for quick and targeted relief of various challenging skin conditions. CBD Oils/Tinctures are better for overall health and wellbeing, as well as mood, energy, and nervous system support.
However, you can undoubtedly apply CBD Oils or Tinctures to your skin; they just won't have the added benefits of moisturizers and essential oils that can make topicals a joy to use. Never ingest a topical CBD product, though. These products are designed specifically for use outside the body and could be irritating to the mouth, throat, and digestive tract.
May your skin live a long, happy, fruitful life as your ultimate protector from the outside world.
To your health and happiness, always!
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