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Dry skin season is well and truly underway and sometimes a standard skincare routine isn't enough to fix dry patches or irritation on your face and body, which is where skin balms come in. Today I'm going to walk you through the formulas I've tried, outline which is best for which skin concern and rank them from least favourite to favourite...
Ameliorate Intensive Skin Therapy* | £15
To be honest; none of the products in this post are bad, but let me talk you though why this is my least-favourite of the bunch. The formula is actually good; it's a thick cream that doesn't take forever to rub in, doesn't feel greasy and really forms that seal to lock in moisture. The ingredients include shea butter (so if you're sensitive to that; this probably isn't for you, at least not on your face) which is a fantastic skin nourisher, moisturising sweet almond oil and a little lactic acid to exfoliate dry patches and hydrate the skin. The lactic acid might not be right for very sensitive skin, as it is an AHA, but my real problem is that this contains a boatload of fragrance. Not just fragrant essential oils, but also parfum, so you don't really know what's in there. I reach for these sorts of products when my skin is dry and irritated and, personally, the last thing I want to do is put something potentially sensitising on it. And, for me, the great thing about a balm is being able to use it both on my face and body. It's totally down to personal preference, but I also just feel that a skin balm is a functional product you use because you need it, not because you want to feel good with some amazing-smelling cream.
Ohana All-in-One Wonder Balm* | £75
I'm going to sound like such a hater of fragrance and I'm really not, it's just a case of 'if my skin is compromised, I don't want to push it by putting something potentially irritating on it'. If your skin is dry but not sensitised, this could be a good option because outside of the fragrant essential oils, this actually contains some really great ingredients. This is a CBD skincare brand and so contains the bona fide cannabidiol, which is why it's on the pricier side. Whilst hemp seed oil can be really nourishing, CBD does have enhanced calming properties even when applied topically, it could help soothe the skin more than moisturising ingredients alone. It can also have potential pain relief properties, so you can try applying it on sore spots as well. I'm sure you probably know based on all the discourse that's been going on in wider society (in relation to the legalisation of medical marijuana) that this is a developing area and there's a lot of research still going on. Anecdotally, it seems to help people but I can understand that if a product is expensive; you might feel there's not enough scientific backing for you to splash out on it. Alongside that, this solid melting balm contains calendula, coconut oil (this can be comedogenic in higher concentrations like this if you use it on your face, though many people are fine with it; it's all about knowing your skin), avocado oil and sunflower oil. These are all great nourishing ingredients, though if you find that shea butter or coconut oil break you out; I'd stick to applying this on your body. I do find it softens and smooths my skin but it's not something I can reach for if I'm experiencing true irritation and inflammation.
Nursem Caring Skin Fix* | £14.99 (10% off with code JASMINETALKS10 (not affiliate))
I get that this seems like a low ranking, but it's actually a great product. The only reason it's not higher on my list is that, although it treats skin irritation, it doesn't feel nourishing on the skin. This makes total sense because this skincare range was designed for healthcare workers (Nursem actually donate supplies of their products to nurses and midwives every time you make a purchase) so it's simply not practical to have that sort of slipperiness. This product has a totally dry-touch feel but is formulated with so many great ingredients! It contains soothing colloidal oat, glycerin and hyaluronic acid to act as humectants and draw water into the skin, panthenol (Vitamin B5) is in there to help retain that water in the skin and there are some great moisturisers in here like shea butter and avocado oil. It's totally fragrance-free and I can use it around my sensitive mouth area even when it's flaring up and super-irritated. I think the texture also makes it easy to use on the body or the hands without things becoming a slippery mess. I just sometimes find that on my face, I want to feel that nourishment when my skin is super dry.
I think this would've been in my top 3 if it didn't contain fragrance! For this reason, I do stick to using it when my skin is dry but not irritated. I love the texture; it's that sort of melting oil-balm that feels so satisfying to smooth over dry patches. It helps things feel soft and moisturised by morning when I use it on dry patches of skin on my face and I do also use it on my knuckles sometimes to soften that skin. It really does create that seal and pack in that nourishment with jojoba esters and lipids derived from olive, almond, borage and linseed. I just feel like it would have been perfection if it didn't contain potential irritants. Therefore, it's hovering around the middle of this list.
Indeed Labs 10 Balm* | £19.99
Seriously, where has this been all my life? Honestly, the only reason I've not put this higher is because, for me, this is more like a very moisturising face cream and for the price (and how I use it) I think 30ml is a bit stingy! For me 'balm' evokes the idea of a nourishing seal on the skin and this is more of a light moisturiser with nourishing ingredients. I tend to use this as a night cream but, if you have more combination skin, you can just apply it to where you have the dry patches. It's formulated with Vitamin E, arnica, soybean oil, honey extract and jojoba. These are all fantastic skin moisturisers and will actually also help to protect the skin, which is another important factor to consider during the winter months. There's no fragrance, but the honey extract means it isn't vegan, just so you're aware.
This is a really multipurpose product that you can buy as a little mini like this or a gigantic tub of for about £15. I like to keep this little tube around as an all-purpose balm for my face, hands and body. It's not greasy in its finish but definitely not as dry-touch as the Nursem formula, and still delivers that intensive nourishment. It's a simple, non-irritating formula with hyaluronic acid to draw water into the skin and ceramides to strengthen the skin's barrier. It moisturises dryness, calms irritation and leaves your skin strong and healthy. I don't think I've met anyone whose skin can't take this product and it even helped clear up some eczema on my boyfriend's elbow, so he's a fan now too! It's one of those products I will always keep around.
This is one of my go-to night creams but, as with the Indeed Labs formula, if you tend to get dry patches rather than having dry skin; it's designed to be spot-applied. As I use it as an all-over face moisturiser, I do have the same complaint as with the Indeed Labs; there's only 30ml of product in here and I'd have liked a bit more! It's nourishing but not greasy; there's not much 'slip' when you apply this to your skin but it still feels like it gives me what I need. It contains those amazing barrier-building ceramides I rave about all the time. In addition to that, there's niacinamide to calm inflammation and again to help maintain a healthy skin barrier. Vitamin E is in the mix to calm and protect the skin and shea butter to really provide that nourishment. I love this stuff. I'll repurchase this stuff. I think it's fantastic!
Disciple Go-To Skin Balm | £20
This is a really underrated product, I think. I haven't heard people talk about it much but it's a generous size, a reasonable price and a good multipurpose balm that you can easily apply to the face or body. This has a really simple formula and often (when it comes to dry, irritated skin), simple is best. It's made with shea butter, sweet almond oil, calendula, sweet almond oil, rosehip oil and mango seed butter. That's all. These are fantastic skin moisturisers and some of these oils can have calming and healing properties. I use this in-between my fingers, on my heels, on my face... it's just a great all-rounder. The only people who might not enjoy this are those who want that 'everything balm' product but don't get on with shea butter when it's applied to the face.
I recently picked this up again and remembered how great it is! This is a balm that's not oil-based so will be suitable for pretty much any skin type. Again, it works well on the body or on the face, and really calms, soothes and deeply moisturises. When my skin is really reacting (which usually happens during the depths of winter), this calms that irritation and redness, drawing water into the skin and rebuilding a compromised barrier. Its ingredients include panthenol, shea butter and glycerin. It's simple, fragrance-free and will suit pretty much anyone, as long as you don't react to shea butter. It's a product I can trust even in my most irritated-skin moments, which is why it's my #1. The only negative I can think of for this product is that La Roche-Posay are actually owned by L'Oreal and are therefore not cruelty-free (Disciple and Skingredients are both high-ranking options that are).
Do you ever use skin balms? Which one is your favourite?