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I Got a CBD Massage—Now I’m a New, Chill Woman

The benefits are incredible.

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Let me just start by saying that there’s nothing I hate more than when people tell me to “relax.” As a highly emotional person, this is possibly the worst thing you can say to me when I’m feeling stressed or high-strung, and I guarantee that I will do the exact opposite the second I hear those words (my ex-boyfriends can attest!). Therefore, I felt like I had come to a place that understood me when I walked into NYC’s Chillhouse and saw that all the staff were wearing shirts that said, “Don’t tell me to relax.” Finally, a place full of kindred spirits who understood me. If more people realized that relaxing is not just something you can tell yourself to do, the world might be a more understanding place.

For me, the concept of relaxing often feels like a nice but unrealistic fairytale. Yes, of course, I’d like to Zen out and release tension from my body and mind. Now, would someone explain to me how I’m supposed to do that? Clearing your thoughts and allowing yourself to slip into deep relaxation is something that feels quite unattainable in a world where information is exchanged at lightning speed and there’s always, always something on your mind—from work stress to realizing you really underestimated Jessica Biel after watching season one of The Sinner (just me?). Anyway, all of this goes to say that I walked into Chillhouse feeling hopeful but slightly dubious about the de-stressing benefits promised by its CBD massage, an add-on you can choose to boost any of its normal massages for just $15.

Keep reading to find out what happened when I got a CBD massage.

What Is a CBD Massage?

First of all, let’s talk about CBD—full name cannabidiol—which is non-psychoactive and is found in high concentrations in cannabis and hemp (not to be confused with THC, which is the psychoactive part of the cannabis plant that people associate with the “high” feeling). When incorporated into a massage, the only difference is the product used not the massage technique itself. So, while it sounds like something much different than a traditional rub-down, a CBD massage is just that: a massage performed with CBD-infused oils and creams.

Benefits of a CBD Massage

  • Calms inflammation
  • Soothes anxiety
  • Reduces chronic pain
  • Melts tension

Health-wise, incorporating CBD into your routine via tinctures, oils, and lotions has been shown to have amazing anti-inflammatory, antidepressant, and antibacterial properties, and lately, there’s been a boom of CBD products and treatments in the wellness space.

In terms of the benefits of CBD massage specifically, “CBD oil has natural anti-inflammatory effects that can more effectively soothe sore muscles and joints, which makes it great for massages,” explains Cyndi Ramirez-Fulton, Chillhouse founder. “It encourages the body to speed up the healing process and is beneficial in relieving anxiety as well as gastric distress. Our CBD cream also has arnica and lidocaine, which allows for additional anti-inflammatory benefits.” (As a note, arnica is a common natural ingredient that people swear helps reduce bruising and muscle fatigue more quickly, and lidocaine gives a soothing, cooling feeling). Ramirez-Fulton is clearly a CBD believer and told me that if she ever can’t make it in for a massage, she’ll turn to her inventory of CBD oils and creams. The second she puts them on her shoulders or anywhere tense, she feels temporary relief. “For creams, I love Lord Jones ($60) and Cannuka ($28). For ingestibles, I love Soul Addict’s hemp butter ($35) and Cap Beauty’s The Daily Hit,” she says. “Hard to say what’s working for me long-term, but I’m overall less stressed these days, so something’s gotta be working!”

CBD Massage vs. Regular Massage

As mentioned, the biggest difference between a CBD massage and a regular massage is the CBD. When it comes to Chillhouse (and most massage studios for that matter), the kneading technique doesn’t change. That way clients are able to really tell the difference of the CBD inclusion alone, as opposed to trying to figure out what’s a result of the CBD and what’s due to the rubbing motions.

How to Prepare for a CBD Massage

Just chill. No, but really, when it comes to getting a CBD massage, the whole point is to reach peak relaxation, so don’t stress out over how to prepare for the rubdown. Simply arrive as you would to any other massage and get excited for a calming CBD experience.

What to Expect During a CBD Massage

As someone who also wants to feel less stressed overall, I immediately took her up on her offer to experience the CBD massage. I told the masseuse that I’d like her to focus the CBD part of the massage on my shoulders, which always holds a million knots from sitting hunched in front of a computer all day. As I laid facedown on the massage bed, I felt the familiar hurricane of thoughts begin to swirl in my mind. Deadlines, upcoming projects, what I’d be eating for dinner (one of my favorite things to think about)… I tried to quiet my mind and focus on my breathing using a meditation technique I had learned last year that involved counting up to eight while picturing the shape of the number eight. It worked. I felt my shoulders unclench (though that may have been because of my skilled massage therapist). The last thing I remember was feeling a slight cooling, chilly feeling on my shoulder blades. Then, the next thing I knew, my masseuse was gently shaking me awake and telling me she was done. A full hour had passed. It felt like minutes. Slightly surprised at just how quickly it had gone by and how the tension in my shoulders seemed to have all but melted away, I floated out of the room in a hazy cloud. I felt inexplicably calm and, yes, relaxed. If someone told me at that moment to relax, I probably would have smiled serenely and said, “I am. Isn’t it lovely?”

Side Effects

While many people swear by topical CBD, it’s worth noting that the National Institutes of Health regularly point out that more research needs to be done. Currently, the majority of the studies on CBD pertain to oral dosages, which, in some cases, have been associated with diarrhea, nausea, fatigue, drowsiness, and more. None of these results, however, have been tied to topical use. As such, when considering a CBD massage, remember that, while it seems like everyone on social media is singing CBD’s praises, the science isn’t all there (yet).

Aftercare

Bliss out. That’s it. Simple as that. Following a CBD massage, there’s no need to immediately hop in the shower—in fact, it’s advised against. By going about the rest of your day with the CBD cream still intact, you’ll be able to benefit from the calming ingredient for hours to come.

The Final Takeaway

If you have the opportunity to incorporate CBD oil into a massage or facial treatment, I highly recommend it. It adds another level of relaxation, and you’ll emerge a chiller, less anxious person. As a very un-chill, anxious person, I can attest.

Our editorial director investigated the benefits of a CBD massage. Check out her experience and insights from the founder of Chillhouse here.

9 of the Best CBD Massage Oils to Really Help You Unwind

We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

The benefits of massage range from promoting circulation and relieving pain to reducing stress and anxiety, boosting immunity, and aiding sleep. But if you’ve ever had a great massage, we probably don’t have to tell you any of that.

So, what, you ask, could possibly make a massage even better? CBD.

On its own, CBD is has shown promising early evidence that it helps ease pain and relax the emotional responses to pain. And now that CBD is absolutely everywhere — from coffee to face creams to bike shorts (seriously!) — CBD-enhanced massage is definitely a thing.

So far, most of the evidence about CBD’s added benefits for massage is anecdotal, but fans report feeling more relaxation along with less pain and inflammation.

Because CBD is not intoxicating — meaning it won’t get you high and might just add a little more oomph to your deep relaxation — CBD-enhanced massage could turn out to be a match made in heaven.

  • CBD (cannabidiol). One of over 100 different cannabinoids found in cannabis plants. This one is nonpsychoactive (i.e. it won’t get you high) and is being studied for its possible role in reducing pain, soothing anxiety, and promoting restful sleep.
  • THC (tetrahydrocannabinol). The main psychoactive component of cannabis that, in the right quantities, will get you high. THC doesn’t easily enter the bloodstream through the skin, however, so it’s unlikely that a massage oil — even if it contains a small amount of THC — will have any psychoactive effect.
  • Hempseed oil. Or called hemp oil, it’s made from cannabis seeds rich in nutrients like Omega-3s, but usually contains little to no CBD or THC.
  • Full-spectrum CBD. A CBD extract that features a wide array of plant compounds, including small amounts of THC and other stuff like terpenes and flavonoids. Some cannabis scientists believe that CBD works better in full-spectrum form — but if it’s hemp-derived CBD, it’ll still contain less than .3 percent THC.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD. CBD extract with a wide array of plant compounds, minus the THC.
  • CBD isolate. An “a la carte” product that’s stripped of THC and all other non-CBD plant compounds.

There’s a dizzying array of CBD products out there and wading through them all can be tricky. Here, we’ve chosen products that meet high standards and are:

  • made with clean, quality (organic, whenever possible) ingredients and U.S. grown hemp
  • made from full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD
  • backed by results from a third-party lab that checks for CBD and THC content as well as purity from contaminants like pesticides, solvents, heavy metals, or molds

$ = under $30
$$ = $31–$50
$$$ = over $51

Best overall: The Healing Rose Lavender Massage and Body Oil

Healing Rose makes a variety of CBD/herbal blended products and follows strict testing and purity standards.

The Lavender Massage and Body Oil features a clean ingredient list that includes a variety of certified-organic carrier oils and high-quality CBD. Bottom line: It’s an affordable, high-quality choice.

Price: $$

Best on a budget: Lazarus Naturals CBD Massage Oil

If you’re searching for an affordable CBD massage oil with simple, clean ingredients, look no further than this option by Lazarus Naturals. Made from Oregon-grown, full-spectrum hemp, this oil features 50 milligrams of CBD per tablespoon and is blended with jojoba, coconut, and almond oils.

Bonus points for Lazarus Natural’s dedication to making wellness accessible. They offer a 60 percent discount to veterans, people with low incomes, and folks with disabilities.

Price: $

Best on the go: Papa & Barkley Releaf Body Oil

Papa & Barkley is a solid brand with a feel-good origin story. The company was born after founder Adam Grossman helped his father regain quality of life with the use of homemade cannabis topicals.

Fast forward a few years, Papa & Barkley makes a variety of cannabis-based products, including the perennially-popular Releaf Body Oil. Blended with eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, and lavender essential oils, this roll-on product is made with Colorado-grown plants. It’s a little bit spendy, but chock-full of CBD.

Price: $$

Best small-batch: Moon Mother Hemp Company Massage Oil

Made from locally-sourced, organic ingredients, this lavender-infused CBD massage oil is also Leaping Bunny certified (aka it’s cruelty-free). It smells incredible for a double-dose of relaxation. The only less-than-chill caveat? In keeping with the craft vibe, this oil will cost you a couple extra bucks.

Price: $$$

Best for sore muscles: Peak Extracts Rescue Rub Hawaiian Hemp/CBDa Formula

Okay, this handmade product is actually more of a muscle rub than a massage oil, but it’s well worth it for your most sore and inflamed areas (like, say, your neck and shoulders?).

CBDa is the raw form of CBD getting a lot of attention for its theoretical ability to soothe pain and inflammation — possibly better than CBD itself! A lot of research is being done to verify if it’s legit, but until then, this a great product to consider for at-home experimentation.

Rescue Rub, made in Portland from Hawaiian-grown hemp, is blended with 12 herbs also meant to promote healing and reduce inflammation. More reason to add it to your massage routine for those particularly sore and stubborn spots.

Price: $$

Best smelling: White Fox Nectars Illuminating Massage Oil

This massage oil combines high-quality CBD and craft herbs for a synergistic take on deep relaxation and pain relief.

Muscle-soothing arnica and other plant-based ingredients complement the fragrances of sandalwood and peppermint oils. White Fox uses organic ingredients whenever possible and sources their full-spectrum CBD from Oregon farms.

Price: $$–$$$

Best CBD concentration: Bloom Farms CBD Balm Stick

Bloom Farms, a classic California brand, makes the most concentrated product on our list at a whopping 600 milligrams of CBD per container.

In this balm stick, full-spectrum CBD combines with herbs that promote circulation and tension relief — a nice addition to a pre- or post-workout massage.

Bloom Farms also follows a pay-it-forward model. For every product purchased, the company donates a healthy meal to a family in need.

Price: $$

Best for CBD newbies: Sagely Naturals Drift & Dream Body Oil

If a pre-bedtime massage is in your future, this massage oil — formulated specifically with tension-taming essential oils like geranium, clary sage, and, of course, lavender — might be the perfect segue to a night of rejuvenating sleep.

Sagely Naturals makes a clean and affordable CBD massage oil. It doesn’t pack much of a CBD punch, which makes it ideal for first-timers looking to ease into the CBD experience.

Price: $

Best for sensitive skin: Make & Mary Turmeric Ginger CBD Oil Roll-On

This roll-on brings the tiniest amount of THC to work alongside the CBD — which could boost its power thanks to what’s known as the entourage effect (a theory that says cannabinoids like CBD work a little better when paired with at least some THC).

Formulated with sensitive skin in mind, Make & Mary’s roll-on oil is slippery enough to fuel your at-home massage groove — but won’t leave a lot of oily residue on your skin.

You can definitely smell the spicy-earthy notes from the ginger and turmeric in this antioxidant and anti-inflammatory formula that’s meant to ease aching muscles.

Added bonus: you can also use this product on your face as an on-the-go moisturizer.

Because CBD is not intoxicating — meaning it won’t get you high and might just add a little more oomph to your deep relaxation — CBD-enhanced massage could turn out to be a match made in heaven. Check out our 9 top picks.