In short, any cannabis product intended to be applied to the skin is called a cannabis topical.
Cannabis topicals include lotions, oils, salves, lip balm, lubricants, transdermal patches and suppositories.
To have a psychoactive cannabis experience, cannabinoids have to reach our brain; which requires that the cannabinoids reach our bloodstream. Topical lotions, salves or rubs applied to the skin are not psychoactive because they reach only the endogenous cannabinoid receptors in your skin, sometimes extending to your nerves and muscles (not making it to your bloodstream). Transdermal patches can be psychoactive, depending on the cannabinoid ratios due to technology that is designed to carry the cannabinoids to the blood via the skin. Suppositories and lubricant (if used inside a cavity of your body) can cause intoxication, depending on the ratio of the cannabinoids in the product. These products are designed to reach the blood via a mucosal lining of a body cavity.
CBD and THC interact differently with the receptors in the endogenous cannabinoid system. Often times have both cannabinoids present can make the topical more effective. Varying different ratios of THC and CBD can be found in different topicals. Each person’s body is unique and each person’s endogenous cannabinoid system will respond differently to different ratios of cannabinoids.