Learn how we evaluate CBD products. Gain valuable insight into the CBD industry and find out how to spot the best products on the market.
CBD is an excellent health supplement, but it’s important to remember that not all products are created equal. There’s a staggering amount of low-quality CBD supplements sold as premium health products.
When it comes to using CBD, quality is the most important factor to consider. Poorly made products can harm your health.
Using the following evaluation process, we shed some light on the CBD industry as a whole — exposing low-quality manufacturers and giving credit where it’s due.
Before we cover our review criteria, it’s important to remember that everything needs to be taken in context — this industry is diverse, and there are a million different variations of these products. Our reviews are designed to take all aspects of a company or product into context when generating a rating in a given metric.
The first step to finding CBD products worth your money is to look at the company that makes them.
CBD is just starting to become mainstream, and the industry is already worth billions of dollars. So it’s no surprise that there’s an influx of new companies stepping into the market. Some of these companies have excellent integrity — others are simply here to make a quick buck in a trending new industry.
We’ve outlined six key areas of focus to assess the quality of CBD companies.
We value companies with a strong mission statement, corporate transparency, and those who contribute to the community through charities or discount programs for those who need it.
Generic mission statements like “we’re dedicated to getting CBD into the hands of everyone who needs it” aren’t going to cut it. All companies strive for profits — we’re looking for companies who go above and beyond by offering a real reason for doing the things they do.
Additionally, companies without any information on the executive or product team score poorly in this category. We don’t like seeing faceless companies because it’s harder to hold them accountable.
Companies that score highest in this metric have a mission statement that’s genuine and believable, donate to charities related to their cause, and provide a clear description of the executive team behind the company.
CBD companies need to source the raw hemp they use to make their products from somewhere. The source and quality of the hemp a company uses have a big impact on the overall quality of the final product.
Hemp is a highly resilient plant — it’s naturally resistant to many common pests and chemicals. As a result, it can be grown in areas contaminated with heavy metals, pesticides, or other toxic materials.
These potentially harmful materials can end up in the final products — and ultimately in our bodies.
Companies that source organic, or high-quality hemp and provide public third-party testing to prove the quality of this hemp will score the highest in this metric.
If no mention of hemp source is listed, and customer service representatives fail to provide proof of hemp source, the company will score poorly.
This metric is designed to assess the array of products in a company’s lineup.
Companies with diverse product options will score highly in this metric — even if the company specializes in a particular niche of the CBD industry.
Again, it’s all about context. A company that specializes in CBD topicals, and has a broad range of unique products, may score similarly to a one-stop-shop with every CBD product type under the sun.
Companies that score poorly in this category have a limited range of products that serve the same function.
Companies that innovate are the drivers of the industry. Innovation is an excellent indication of a company’s longevity and drive to produce top-notch products — as opposed to fly-by-night companies scavenging on the innovation of others to make money.
We’re looking for new and exciting CBD products, advanced extraction methods, and thorough third-party testing.
Innovation means doing things that no one else is trying, and staying up-to-date with modern techniques and manufacturing practices.
Although CBD is a safe compound, we look for companies that are transparent about potential side-effects and list accurate and reasonable dosing recommendations. We also look at whether or not each product is regularly tested by a third-party lab to confirm the absence of harmful contaminants like heavy metals and mycotoxins.
We feel it’s unethical for companies to hide or ignore this important information.
Companies that don’t abide by the advertising guidelines put in place by the FDA and FTC will receive a poor score in this category.
We evaluate the customer service reps of each CBD company on our site through email, phone, or the company’s chatbox. We ask questions regarding their products, manufacturing processes, return policy, and more to learn about the customer service experience.
Companies that fail to respond to our emails or phone calls after multiple attempts receive the lowest score.
Companies that score highly in this metric respond quickly, answer our questions thoroughly, and have a rock-solid return policy of at least 30-days or more.
As with our company review process, we’ve developed a system for assessing CBD products of all different types — a process we’ve sharpened and re-evaluated many times throughout our research.
A lot of the products we’ve tried and tested were excellent — but there are quite a few that failed to live up to their expectations.
Our product review system is based on six key sets of criteria;
We compare the cost of the product with other metrics such as the quality of the hemp, third-party testing, the price per mg of CBD, and the ingredients included in the formula.
A high-value oil usually has a low price per mg CBD within its category and uses high-grade ingredients. But this isn’t always the case.
Products that may be considered expensive, can still come at a high value and rank higher than cheaper products in its category. This is because our metrics assess value — not just price. This takes into account other ingredients included in the formula and quality of ingredients used.
With that said, there are some generalizations that can be made on price — which we take into consideration to help us determine the true value of a product.
$0.05 – $0.09
$0.10 – $0.16
$0.17 or more
$0.06 – $0.11
$0.12 – $0.20
$0.20 or more
$0.06 – $0.11
$0.12 – $0.20
$0.21 or more
Disposable Vape Pens
$0.03 – $0.40
$0.40 – $0.50
$0.60 or more
$0.04 – $0.11
$0.12 – $0.33
$0.33 or more
$0.10 – $0.22
$0.23 – $0.40
$0.40 or more
$0.10 – $0.22
$0.23 – $0.50
$0.41 or more
$0.09 – $0.25
$0.26 – $0.36
$0.37 or more
We prefer high-potency products in general — but look for products with a potency that matches its intended uses. Not all CBD products need to be ultra-high potency.
Products that have a higher potency may still rank below products of lower potency — depending on the context of the product — like how it’s meant to be used, what form it comes in, and what else is included in the formula.
The addition of ingredients with synergistic effects to CBD will also affect a product’s potency score. When a formula uses clever synergy through other herbs or nutritional supplements, it can be argued that the formula will have a stronger effect than an equal or slightly higher potency to pure CBD.
|Product Category||Low Potency||Average Potency||High Potency|
|CBD Oils||Less than 15 mg/mL||15 – 50 mg/mL||50 mg/mL or more|
|CBD Capsules||Less than 15 mg per capsule||15-30 mg per capsule||30 mg per capsule or more|
|CBD Gummies||Less than 15 mg per gummy||15-30 mg per gummy||30 mg per gummy or more|
|Vape Oils||Less than 15 mg/mL||15 – 50 mg/mL||50 mg/mL or more|
|CBD Shots||Less than 10 mg per shot||15 – 50 mg per shot||50 mg per shot or more|
|CBD Suppositories||Less than 10 mg per piece||10 – 30 mg per piece||30 mg per piece or more|
|CBD Topicals||Less than 3 mg/mL||3–8 mg/mL||More than 8 mg/mL|
The best hemp is locally sourced, grown with organic farming practices, and undergoes rigorous third-party testing to prove the quality and purity advertised on the bottle.
The hemp source metric is a crucial component of our review process because of the potential for contamination in the hemp plant.
Hemp is a bioaccumulator — which means it has the ability to absorb and accumulate compounds from the air and soil around it. This is true for both the good stuff (nitrogen, calcium, phosphorous, etc) and the bad stuff (cadmium, lead, mercury, arsenic, etc). The only way to be sure none of these compounds are present in the final CBD extract is to use hemp that was clean, to begin with.
We reserve full-points in this metric to companies that source organic hemp certified by the USDA — or equivalent certification and have all final extracts tested by independent labs.
There’s only a small handful of companies currently operating in this space that have earned 5 stars in this category.
This rating takes the product type into account — we ask the question; “does this form of CBD match the intended uses of the product?”
We consider whether the product has a clearly defined purpose and if the formula, potency, and delivery method chosen effectively matches that purpose.
Products that score highly in this metric include other beneficial herbs or supplements, and most often include a higher potency of CBD than average.
Here, we assess the variations of each product — giving consumers a choice of flavors, potencies, or other alternative forms of the product designed to help customize the user experience.
Not all products need a multitude of options to be useful — so this is also taken into account depending on the type of product.
As an example, a product with a clearly defined niche and purpose may still score highly in this category — even though it may only have two or three variations.
We also take into account the company’s other products to see if any overlap. Many companies selling topicals, for example, will only offer one size and potency of a particular product — but also makes similar formulas intended for different uses. These products will score higher on this metric than a company with just one topical, in one potency and size option.
With this metric, we look at the ingredients list of the product in question. If the product is poorly formulated or contains low-quality ingredients, it will receive a low score. This includes using ingredients that are either unsafe or don’t add any benefit to the overall effects of the product.
Some products are designed to be simple CBD-only supplements, so this is taken into account as well.
Products that score the highest in this category usually contain 4–8 other ingredients designed to complement the intended effects of CBD.
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