It’s been a hard day. All you want to do is sink into the tub and relax. A little CBD (cannabidiol) would probably help, but you’re not sure how much you’d absorb while in the water.
Or maybe you just picked up some pretty CBD bath salts at the store. You want to try them, but you’re unsure of how they may affect you.
How Do CBD Bath Bombs and Salts Work?
CBD bath bombs and bath salts are infused with CBD, which is an active cannabinoid in both hemp and cannabis. Unlike THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), however, it has no mind-altering properties. Instead, CBD may help tame inflammation, calm anxiety, and ease the pain.
When you put the bath bomb or bath salts into the bath, the hot water dissolves them, releasing the CBD. A CBD bath bomb is likely to contain other ingredients like essential oils and baking soda so that it fizzes as it breaks down, releasing a pleasant scent.
Then when you get into the bath, the hot water expands the pores in your skin, making it easier for your skin to absorb the CBD and other essential oils. This provides an alternative way of ingesting CBD and can provide all-over benefits to the skin and body.
Does CBD Absorb Into the Skin?
So far, we don’t have any research on the specific effects of CBD bath bombs and salts. We do, however, have research on how CBD oil may penetrate and affect the skin.
Think for a moment about nicotine and birth control patches. These skin patches have medication in them that is absorbed through the skin and transferred to the bloodstream where it can provide the desired effects.
CBD can absorb into the skin in a similar way when provided in a transdermal patch, though perhaps even more effectively because we have natural cannabinoid receptors in the outer layer of the skin. In a 2009 study, researchers noted: “Recent studies have intriguingly suggested the existence of a functional ECS [endocannabinoid system] in the skin…”
It was in the 1990s that the ECS was first discovered, and since then we’ve learned that endocannabinoids in the skin can affect everything from skin homeostasis and wound repair to skin permeability, inflammation, and regeneration.
In other words, the skin contains a large number of natural cannabinoid receptors that are uniquely suited to absorbing topically applied CBD.
Does the CBD in Bath Salts Go Into the Bloodstream?
Several studies have suggested that CBD is absorbed when applied to the skin. The level of absorption, however—how deep it goes—is dependent on many factors, including the makeup of the CBD product.
So-called “topical” application, for instance—which involves creams, lotions, ointments, and other cosmetic products—is likely absorbed only by the topmost layers of the skin. These products usually target skin conditions and may help improve dryness and other skin issues like dermatitis.
Transdermal products, on the other hand, can better deliver CBD that penetrates the upper layers of skin and sinks into the bloodstream. A transdermal gel or patch, for instance, has been shown in studies to get CBD into the blood.
In a 2020 study, for example, scientists examined the ability of various CBD products to penetrate human skin well enough to make it to the bloodstream. They found that both a transdermal CBD gel solution and a transdermal CBD patch worked effectively—mainly because they contained other ingredients that facilitated penetration. Indeed, scientists are currently examining ways to use CBD transdermal patches as alternative delivery methods for CBD benefits.
A bath salt or bath bomb is not going to be as efficient as a skin patch, as it doesn’t contain the specific penetration ingredients. The presence of hot water, however, opens pores and may help improve absorbability.
CBD Bath Salts and Bombs May Be Good for Your Skin
The bottom line is that when you soak in a CBD bath, you just don’t know how much CBD may end up in your bloodstream. It may be a low amount, but that may be just enough to help you relax.
Meanwhile, you might emerge from the bath with better skin. A recent study published in the scientific journal Molecules found that hemp extracts (which contain CBD) improved antioxidant activity in the skin, hydrated the skin, and inhibited the aging process.
Another study found that topically applied CBD has the potential for treating acne, eczema/dermatitis, and skin barrier function. A third study showed that a CBD-enriched ointment applied twice daily for three months helped significantly improve the symptoms of psoriasis and atopic dermatitis.
So go ahead—toss that bomb in the water and sink into your relaxing, skin-soothing CBD bath. It won’t hurt you, and you might just emerge feeling a lot better than you did.