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Ontario Cannabis Fieldnotes: How topicals are made

Infused with cannabinoids such as THC and CBD, topicals are the number one focus for Lupos Biotechnology. Learn more about how the company creates its popular Proofly products. 

hand holding a jar of infused cannabis cream

Topicals are unique, and the only cannabis consumption method where the benefit of cannabinoids, such as pain relief and anti-inflammation, is localized without impacting cognitive abilities,” says Dr. Nan Li, chair of Lupos Biotechnology in Scarborough, Ont. It’s this quality that drove the Lupos team to focus on creating cannabis-infused topicals. Topicals have been the focus of our company since day one,” says Li. You may recognize some of the brands Lupos makes, including Proofly, freshDAYLY and C Minor.

Scarborough map

Scarborough, Ont., is a former municipality, now incorporated into Toronto on the east end. Lake Ontario is located to the south, Victoria Park Avenue to the west, Steeles Avenue East to the north and the City of Pickering to the east.


Proofly is well known for its flagship product, Extra Strength CBD Relief Cooling Gel. We looked across the topicals market and did not see a single gel texture product,” explains Li. Gel absorbs into the skin more efficiently than lotion. Upon application, the gel produces a cooling sensation and is quickly absorbed into the skin — in about 30 seconds — without leaving a sticky residue. The product provides a high dose of both hydration and CBD (a whopping 2,000 mg is in each 100 g container).

As Li mentions, topicals do not typically produce a psychoactive effect, making them an accessible format for new and experienced consumers alike. As topicals can have localized effects on the body, Li says the most commonly reported uses for Extra Strength CBD Relief Cooling Gel are for conditions like muscle soreness, joint pain, arthritis and sports-related injuries.

The topicals-making process

Creating a topical, Li says, starts with sourcing quality biomass and ingredient suppliers. Then the extraction, distillation and isolate production is done in-house. Li explains further that Lupos uses “classic food-grade ethanol to produce the cannabinoids” in a “non-chemical purification process by adjusting heating and pressure parameters.” 

cannabis infused topical production

Biomass is renewable organic material that comes from plants and animals

Each cream, lotion and gel has its own tailored formula, technique, cannabinoids and active ingredients. To achieve the consistent and smooth texture the Extra Strength CBD Relief Cooling Gel is known for, a combination of custom equipment and optimized physical parameters are used. After mixing, the topicals are sent off to be packaged and stored for distribution.

Lupos oversees every step of its quality control process — from sourcing the ingredients and isolating the cannabinoids to selecting the packaging suppliers. “These processes take a passionate team of diverse expertise, from plant physiology to chemical engineering,” Li says. “And, most importantly, the continuous improvement based on our customer feedback.”

Learn more about how topicals are made.

assembly line of cannabis topicals

How topicals work in the body

The cannabinoids in topicals are processed by the body differently than they are with other forms of consumption, such as inhalation and ingestion. When cannabis extracts are applied to the skin, hair or nails, the product is absorbed and cannabinoids such as THC and CBD bind to a network of receptors in the immune system called CB2, which is part of the endocannabinoid system. Effects will generally be felt on the area the product is applied to rather than throughout the entire body. As a result, there is a low risk of intoxication.

Learn more about how topicals work in the body.

For Proofly Extra Strength CBD Relief Cooling Gel, Li explains that the combination of effects from the CBD, along with its top ingredients, menthol and camphor, create a soothing, warming sensation once the initial cooling effect has passed.

Because of this low intoxication risk, applying a topical product doesn’t require the same “start low and go slow” approach other methods do. When shopping for a topical, be sure to ask your budtender any questions you may have, and see if they can suggest products that may suit your needs best.

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