How long does CBD cream take to work? And how does it make you feel?

When shopping for CBD products like creams, gels, and balms, you’ll often find they claim to offer “fast relief.” But how fast can they really work? Is their effect as instant as it claims to be? And how does CBD make you feel when you apply it to your skin? Here’s a little guide to what you can expect to feel when using CBD cream, and the factors that could affect it. 

CBD products that contain trace amounts of THC (less than 0.3%) are now legal on a federal level in the United States. However, they are not FDA-approved, and may still be illegal in certain states. Check your local laws before making a purchase. 

How fast does CBD cream take to work?

In general, CBD cream takes between 10 to 20 minutes to work. Some lucky people feel its effects after just two or three minutes, while for others, it takes a bit longer. But overall, taking in CBD through the skin is one of the fastest methods of delivery.

Compared to eating CBD or even placing CBD oil drops under your tongue, topical methods of application are a clear winner. 

What factors affect the time that CBD takes to act?

To determine how long exactly CBD cream will take to work on you, there are a couple of factors to take into consideration. 

How strong it is

Weak CBD acts just as fast as strong CBD. But whereas you can usually feel the effects of strong CBD almost immediately, it may take longer to really feel the effects of weak CBD because they are much more subtle.

In other words, if you want to feel the effects of CBD fast, it may be worth increasing the dose. 

Your gender and body type

Studies have found that women are more receptive to topical products than men. When they apply CBD to their skin, they could experience faster relief from pain, inflammation and itching. This may have to do with their body type. As a general rule, women carry more fat than men. And since CBD binds with fat in order to be absorbed into our system, this might make women more receptive to it.

As a general rule, CBD might work better on you if you have a higher percentage of body fat. 

How long you take to massage it in

In order for CBD to take effect, it has to reach your endocannabinoid system first. This means that CBD molecules must bind with endocannabinoid receptors, which are found under the first layer of skin. As a result, the time you take to massage in the CBD cream could make a big difference.

If you just slab on some CBD cream without massaging it in at all, it could take a lot longer to take effect. On the other hand, if you really take the time to make sure it penetrates and doesn’t stay on the surface of your skin, you can save yourself a few minutes of waiting. 

The kind of topical product you use

Different forms of CBD cream have different acting times. For example, thin, gel-like products tend to penetrate your skin much faster. On the other hand, balms that are formulated with thickeners like beeswax can take a lot longer to be absorbed because they’re so dense. 

If fast relief is your number one priority, we would recommend going for a thinner texture. But if you want slower, more steady relief over the course of a few hours, a thicker balm will work best for you. 

How does CBD make you feel when you apply it to your skin?

We’ve established that CBD cream takes less than 20 minutes to take effect, and can be particularly fast-acting if a couple of important factors are there. But how does CBD make you feel when you put it on your skin?

A lot of this will depend on the state of your skin. If your skin is dry, itchy, irritated, flaking, or in pain—expect to feel a lot better straight away! It’s always a lot easier to feel the positive effects of CBD when you’re trying to relieve pain or inflammation.

Some of its other effects are more subtle. But in general, you can expect to feel your muscles relax deeply. The physical relaxation also combines with mental relaxation because CBD can relieve your stress and anxiety. This is not something you’ll necessarily notice straight away. But a few hours after applying CBD cream, you may catch yourself thinking “I’m very relaxed today” or “I’m not nearly as worried about this thing as I was yesterday.”

Finally, in the long term, you’ll notice your skin getting a lot softer and more supple. As time goes on, CBD changes the inner structure of your skin to make it more elastic and better hydrated. For some, this will just be a side effect of CBD, but it’s appreciable nonetheless!


To cut a long story short, CBD can take from five to 20 minutes to work, and generally somewhere around 10 or 15. Topical CBD is one of the fastest ways for your body to absorb the molecule, and it’s definitely a good option for those who need near-instant relief, especially in targeted areas of the body.

Leave a Comment

Get the Latest News