Vegan CBD Products That Are Actually Worth It
Personal recommendations from this CBD cynic-turned-true-believer
A few years ago, when I was more of a verified stoner, I rolled my eyes at CBD products. But they don’t even get you high! But now I’ve come to appreciate the real effect of CBD — which is certainly noticeable to me now both in topicals and when ingested. With all the body and relaxation effects of marijuana, CBD gets you blissed out without the mental fog. Turns out you can get very relaxed without being technically “high.”
Since CBD is newly deregulated in many states where marijuana still isn’t, the market for CBD products has exploded. CBD must have less than .3% THC to be legal, since it’s not psychoactive under this amount. But don’t think that means it doesn’t do anything! CBD acts as an inhibitor to certain cannabinoid receptors, which studies show seems to help the body regulate pain, stress, anxiety, and even sleep.
That said, not all products claiming to have CBD are created equal, and you’re going to want to read the label to ensure you’re getting your money’s worth.
“CBD listed as cannabinol, full-spectrum hemp, hemp oil, or PCR extracts (polycannabinoid rich) are what you are looking for,” Dr. Kristine Blanche, CEO of Integrative Healing Center, tells Tenderly. The market isn’t properly regulated, she cautions, so if a product lists “hemp seed oil (cannabis sativa oil),” you’re not actually getting any of the benefits of CBD, just the price bump. For this reason, I haven’t included any of those products on this list of vegan CBD products; all contain actual CBD, not just hemp seed oil.
To further verify that you’re not getting ripped off, Dr. Blanche says you’ll want to look for how many milligrams of CBD are in the product. If you’re purchasing CBD oil outside of a dispensary, she suggests you make sure the product lists where the cannabis was grown. (It should be more specific than just “Asia” or “Europe,” she notes.) Otherwise, since there are currently few growing standards, “products can be contaminated with pesticides, heavy metals like arsenic, lead, and even bacteria and fungus.” You should also be sure the manufacturer has a “COA” (certificate of analysis).
So, with that in mind, here are some excellent vegan CBD products you can try — all of which I’ve happily sampled myself.
According to Dr. Blanche, THC is actually what makes you munchy — not CBD. There’s even evidence that for some people, CBD intake might suppress appetite (though that’s inconclusive, since for some it also seems to increase it or have no effect).
When it comes to animal-free CBD edibles, there are certainly no shortage of options. These brands know their target demo, and many CBD snacks are vegan. Beam’s CBD Powered Protein Bar made me feel effects from just a few bites, as did these delicious Weller Coconut Bites, which are like not-too-sweet coconut granola snacks, each split into 5mg for easy dosing.
Sparkling CBD beverages are also popular, and Recess makes Spindrift-like bubbly seltzers that are refreshing without being overly sweet, adding unique ingredients like Ginseng, Schisandra, and L-theanine — all of which are supposed to support your mood.
If a hot beverage is more your thing, you can have an upper with your downer with Sträva Craft Coffee, which is ethically-sourced and will both wake you and (non-THC) bake you.
If you’d rather make your own CBD cocktail or latte, a water-soluble barista blend powder is the fanciest way to go, or a water-soluble tincture like this one by The Rooted Co. will work equally well.
Put Some CBD On It
While ingested CBD is certainly noticeable in its effects, to me, topical applications are even more impressive. It’s like Windex in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, I swear. Just put some CBD on it, and you’ll notice you immediately soothe skin and heal faster. Unfortunately, many of the pain balms out there needlessly use beeswax, which I prefer to avoid for ethical reasons — but there are certainly many, many vegan topicals out there happy to help.
One of my absolute favorites is Vital Body Therapeutics’ CBD Pain Relief Cream, which I’ve used on everything from bug bites to sunburns to cramps to back pain to minor scrapes to pimples to post-wax bumps. I know it helps all of the above feel calmed and recover more quickly, and I appreciate the tingling peppermint, as well as the fact that there are no ingredients in this product you won’t recognize. CBD Essentials Extra-strength Pain Cream also does the trick with easy-to-pronounce ingredients (and doubled for me as a soothing lip balm as well).
Another deeply impressive product is Sagely CBD headache relief, a roll-on with tingly essential oils that help distract and soothe as CBD works its magic. Each time I use it, I don’t expect it to work, or think I’ll end up needing Advil anyway. I don’t know why I keep thinking that, because it always significantly helps — the majority of the time to the point that I don’t need to take a pill.
Medterra’s topical cooling cream also deserves an honorable mention for creating a thoroughly distracting sensation while it works on pain or itchy mosquito bites, while Koi CBD Lavender lotion is relaxing enough to put you and your muscles right to sleep.
Gelatin-free and otherwise vegan CBD supplements are certainly not hard to come by, but you need to always read that label for surprise animal ingredients.
I like Plant People’s Calm Capsules, which also include a proprietary herbal blend with other relaxing extracts. Hath CBD’s Better Nights capsules combine 25 mg CBD and melatonin, and definitely worked for me — and that’s coming from someone who has, for a brief unfortunate moment, formed a tolerance for Ambien. I felt a little hungover the morning after from these capsules, for about 30 minutes, but felt normal the rest of the day, even oddly more productive than usual.
Finally, BonaVibe deserves some love for being a proudly all-vegan brand that sells bundles of both premium CBD capsules and vegan Omega 3 supplements. Taken together, they both interact with the endocannabinoid system. Co-Founder Tanner Louen tells me that there’s evidence that both “Omega 3’s and other essential fatty acids are critical for cell membrane health and may help improve your body’s production of endocannabinoids…Though we can’t necessarily prove that omega 3 is essential for CBD effectiveness, increasing your dietary intake of the two together is certainly better for your health than not.” As with CBD in general, can’t hurt.
Keep It Sexy
While Foria was the first to really market CBD lube (and suppositories for period pain!), plenty of other CBD brands have since entered the field. How much of a difference CBD makes in your orgasmic potential is debatable, but the psychological component of believing you have an extra aid on your side also definitely doesn’t hurt. High on Love’s Stimulating o-Gel For Women is appropriately fragrance-free, vegan, and leaves a nice tingly sensation as it relaxes you and works to increase blood flow and aid muscle relaxation. (Be sure to look for their CBD rather than hemp seed oil version.) Kush Queen’s Ignite CBD Lube is also a great vegan lube to experiment with topicals in this way.
One of the first CBD brands I tested was Cannabliss, and their products remain some of my favorites. Their Body Oil is probably the best deal for the amount you get, and works nicely as everything from a sensual massage oil, hair serum, aftershave, or body moisturizer.
The makeup and beauty market is newly-obsessed with CBD, but these products are also some of the biggest offenders when it comes to claiming that “hemp seed oil” is the same as CBD or full spectrum hemp oil — so be sure to read labels carefully.
In the hair realm, I appreciated the effect of Eco Natural Cannabis Sativa Co-Wash. Like all co-washes, it won’t strip your hair of natural oils it needs the way shampoo does, but unlike most, it is also vegan and filled with CBD.
In the mascara realm, two vegan makeup brands deserve props. Milk Makeup’s Kush Mascara is already becoming a cult favorite, and for good reason — it gives you very dramatic lashes, plus cannabis sativa oil to help those little hairs thrive. Beloved vegan makeup brand Vegamour is also coming out with a CBD mascara and lash serum shortly. I got to test an advance copy and can say that it was a better vegan mascara than most, so you’ll want to keep an eye out for that as well.
CBD is real and a humane way to help anxious or aging companion animals without risking them getting nonconsensually high off THC. You’ll be safest vegan-wise with a tincture like this one by Bluebird Botanicals (rather than an animal edible or gelatin capsules). The market is saturated, but CBD Distillery also distinguishes itself with a CBD tincture bundle that comes complete with a “CBD and Chill” doggie bandana, so everyone can know you’re not a regular dog mom — you’re a cool dog mom.
Update: An earlier version of this story included a non-vegan beverage due to some ingredient labeling confusion — it has been removed.