If this time of the year calls for anything, beauty-wise, it has got to be all-purpose balms. Nourishing and silky, they are just the thing for soothing dry skin and weary January spirits. The comfort blanket of your make-up bag, balms are there to be applied liberally and often, whenever the need arises. Slather them on from bed, while lounging on the sofa or even when soaking in the bath.
In terms of balm heroes, we must bow down to Egyptian Magic Cream – the one-pot wonder that, as legend has it, was inspired by Cleopatra and is beloved by Madonna. Also to be hailed is Elizabeth Arden’s signature Eight Hour Cream – world-famous for keeping elbows and cuticles soft, stopping lips from flaking and soothing rough patches of skin from head to toe. But a new year calls for a raft of new do-everything balms to celebrate and fortunately I have a few. So, without further ado, here are the ones to know about:
The overnight one: Cowshed Kahai Multitasking Wonder Balm
Moisturiser, body butter, hand salve – you name it, this balm does it. The star ingredient is Kahai oil, which has been lauded for its high amount of natural retinol (smooths lines), vitamin E (helps repair skin and replenishes moisture levels) and omega-6 (soothes irritation). Also in there is avocado butter and Daikon oil, both of which moisturise and nourish. As you’d expect from that list, the balm is rich and creamy and leaves skin feeling wonderfully soft, if not a little slippy for a few minutes. I’ve been slathering this on to my hands and feet before bed and have the mini pot stashed in my bag for dry skin emergencies.
The made-in-London one: Montamonta x The London Honey Co All Purpose Balm
This solid balm contains beeswax produced by The London Honey Co (which has beehives on the roof of the Tate Modern and Fortnum & Mason), which not only means it smells good enough to eat (like honey – go figure), it’s also uber hydrating and soothing. Shea butter, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil and flax oil contribute to its nourishing and restorative nature. Like all Montamonta products, the all-purpose balm is made in east London.
The one that will help you sleep: Bamford B Silent Night-Time Organic Temple Balm
If you are looking for something to help you drift off, then this is the balm for you. Scented with camomile and lavender, it has a fabulously snore-inducing effect when massaged into your temples pre-hitting the sack. I first encountered this balm during the deep relaxing B Silent treatment at Bamford’s new Haybarn spa in London (if you are ever in town and looking for a treat, then check it out) and have had it on my bedside table ever since. The B Silent range also consists of a pillow mist and body oil; however, the balm does it for me.
The one with the “it” ingredient: Decléor Baume Cica-Botanic
Launched this month, Decléor’s Cica balm is focused on skin-healing and repairing. It contains Centella asiatica (or Cica), a herbal extract that is currently being championed by the beauty industry for its anti-inflammatory, moisture-boosting and healing properties. Thanks to a helping of essential oils (eucalyptus, rosemary, niaouli and geranium), it smells delicious and melts almost instantly when massaged into skin. Slather on to dry knees, elbows, feet and hands.
A quick note on essential oils: though highly popular and widely used in skin and bodycare, some skins are irritated by essential oils, so it’s worth checking before you use products containing them. They are also not advised during pregnancy.