Everything balms purport to do nearly everything well: hydrate chapped lips, soothe cracked cuticles, soften rough heels and act as a barrier against harsh winter winds. It’s surprising they don’t also babysit.
Model-turned-cosmetics-maven Josie Maran, who created her all natural Argan Balm seven years ago, uses it to moisturize her face, particularly during the colder months, but she knows of people who work it into their hair to create an artfully mussed look as well as pregnant women who rub it on their bellies to ward off stretch marks.
“ ’Balm’ is an old term signifying a rich emollient treatment for very dry skin, said Ron Robinson, a cosmetic chemist and founder of online beauty community BeautyStat.com. Back in the day, said Maria Malcom Beck, co-founder and CEO of beauty retailer Bluemercury, European and American pharmacies frequently crafted their own custom balms. “They were for much more than just hydration,” she noted. “If you burned yourself, they helped with that.”
The new range of multitasking balms builds on that idea. Glossier’s Balm Dotcom wittily encourages women to use it “on lips, cuticles, on elbows, on your friends.” The pricey and silky Phormula 3-9 Repair Balm by Erno Lazlo discreetly advises you to apply it to the face and neck as well as “other troubled areas”. New York beauty brand Make suggests that its jellylike Marine Salve can help everything from chafing and burns to flyaway hair.
Dermatologists caution that the concept of the “everything balm” isn’t carte blanch to use any moisturizing product anywhere – unless it’s specifically formulated for that. “I wouldn’t use a lip balm on the face.It may clog pores,” said New York dermatologist Debra Jaliman. “And I wouldn’t use a face balm on the lips. Lip skin is very sensitive and can easily get irritated.”
Dr. Jaliman is also wary of petrolatum – used in Balm Dotcom and Phormula 3-9 – even though it’s approved by the FDA. “It contains polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which some studies link to cancer,” she said. “I like coconut oil, Shea butter, cocoa butter, beeswax, glycerin, vitamin E. They are all extremely moisturizing good ingredients to look for in a balm.”
1 . Sea Worthy
Worried about the safety of nibbling off your lip balm? This all-purpose salve contains edible algae to protect against the elements, so no fears on that front. Unscented and housed in a no-frills, minimalist tube, it also works for everything from chapped lips to unruly brows. Marine Salve, $20. Makebeauty.com
2. One Pot Wonder
Here’s hoping you’ll never need the burn-healing properties this old-school cream provides. Spiked with Tamanu oil, an anti-bacterial that speeds skin repair, it’s also engineered to boost hydration and even calm blemishes. No wonder Marilyn Monroe was a fan. Phormula 3-9 Repair Balm, $255, ernolaszlo.com.
3. Baby Love
This handy push up stick, made with olive oil, shea oil and beeswax, takes up very ittle space in your makeup bag but works for lips as well as cuticles, elbows and split ends. The all natural moisturizer was originally formulated by founder Paola Lamorticella for her son’s sensitive skin. Balm Stick No.1, $28, olioeosso.com
4. Hipster Fixer-Upper
This slim tune can work on rough patches anywhere on the body. Its 20-something fans particularly love to slather it from cheek to chin – both to protect dry skin and to create that borderline smeary, ultra-dewy finish, either under or over makeup. Balm Dotcom Universal Skin Salve, $12, glossier.com
5. Classic Beauty
Unveiled over a dozen years ago, this luxurious petal pink French import, created by beauty virtuoso Terry de Gunzburg, was conceived as a lip balm but quickly migrated south to cracked cuticles, where it’s been soothing ever since. Its light rose scent is pleasing, not cloying. By Terry Baume de Rose, $60, barneys.com
–Dana Wood, Beauty and Wellness Writer
You can purchase all reviewed and mentioned items on BeautyStat.com.
Are you a fan of balms? Which is your favorite?
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