Confessions of a Former Product Junkie: These Multipurpose Balms Have Changed My Life
Updated Sep 29, 2021 7:49 AM
In my closet, I have two four-drawer clear plastic storage containers that stand just over two feet tall. They are entirely filled with the products—masks, moisturizers, serums, and more—that I’ve amassed over the past few years working in media and occasionally writing about beauty. I’ve kept them out of a psychological impulse to hoard things, lest I need them someday. Lately, I’ve been keeping things simple: Multipurpose beauty balms have downsized my routine, and it’s never been better.
We’ve talked before about the benefits of beauty balms for winter, but these melt-right-into-your-skin products aren’t just for colder months. If you opt for a lightweight product, like Olio e Osso’s No. 1 balm, you can hydrate your skin (think: under-eyes, temples, cheeks, nose, and even lips) with a single swipe, without worrying that you’ll look or feel greasy. After all, founder Paola LaMorticella developed it with her son’s sensitive skin in mind.
Or maybe you just need a little extra love for your cuticles… and your lips and your elbows and, come to think about it, your eyebrows. In that case, a thicker option, like Make Beauty’s Marine Salve, is a hero. There’s a multipurpose balm that can tackle virtually any skincare need, sometimes several at a time. If you make a point of not buying any single-use devices for your kitchen, why would you treat your makeup bag any differently?
These days you won’t find me carrying a hand cream or a lip balm. Why would I, when I can use one thing that does it all? Below, find six products that will seriously streamline your medicine cabinet.
If “parched” doesn’t even begin to cover it
Best for: face, body, hair, and chafing anywhere The lowdown: My hands are dry, no matter what the season, so I’ve taken to keeping a travel-size version of this all-purpose salve with me at all times. The meltable formula (it’s primarily shea butter– and coconut oil–based) melts into skin quickly, leaving a glossy sheen that fades pretty quickly, so if you’re not a fan of shine, never fear. A lightweight scent of peppermint, patchouli, and lavender gives it a therapeutic edge; it’s practically yoga class in a jar.
If redness is your greatest nemesis
Best for: inflamed skin anywhere The lowdown: Roses are red, but your skin doesn’t have to be—no, really: The rose oil found in this balm by Earth Tu Face has anti-inflammatory properties, making it a great combatant of hyperpigmentation. It also fights dryness and locks in moisture with the help of beeswax. You might even consider forgoing your foundation.
If you want to get your vitamins in
Best for: face, lips, hands The lowdown: To be fair, coconut oil–based balms aren’t right for everyone. This balm uses ultra-soothing camellia seed oil and anti-inflammatory rosehip seed oil (among other things) to keep skin hydrated and balanced. Don’t want to invest in extra serums? Get your fix with this multifunctioning hero: Seabuckthorn oil is a great natural source of vitamin C, which combats sun damage and aging. Just don’t forget to wear sunscreen!
If you’re a little windswept
Best for: hands, lips, elbows, and extra-dry spots The lowdown: This simple salve is basically like Vaseline but better. It contains marine algae (which is a common ingredient in some super-luxe beauty products—ahem, La Mer) and is especially rich in vitamin A, which stimulates collagen production to plump skin and fight environmental stressors, like pollution, that can cause premature aging. Who knew a $20 product could be so powerful?
If you’re all about ease
Best for: cheeks, eyebrows, lips, and cuticles The lowdown: Olio e Osso’s balms are packaged in tiny containers not unlike deodorant sticks, which makes them easy to apply on the go. Feeling dry throughout the day? Swipe this stick under your eyes, on your lips, or anywhere where you need a little pick-me-up. The olive oil–based balm is great for touch-ups. Bonus: It gives cheekbones a natural shine, so feel free to leave your highlighter at home.
If you’re seriously invested in downsizing
Best for: your whole face The lowdown: Despite what you might think about that shampoo/conditioner hybrid your dad, without a doubt, swears by, two-in-one products can actually be good. This creamy balm by One Love Organics can be used as both a cleanser and moisturizer. Rub a small amount into your skin to clean, rinse off, and then apply a fresh dab to damp skin to moisturize. Coconut and jojoba oil make skin look glowy and feel super soft.
See more beauty tips: Would You Stop Using All Your Skincare Products If It Meant Perfect Skin? Hear Me Out: Bath Towels Are Completely Unnecessary Shampoo Is Dead—and Its Rival Is Gathering a Cult Following