I find winter to be rather romantic. Maybe it’s the Nordic heritage in me, but the snow, fluffy winter jackets, fireplaces roaring, and steaming hot cocktails is glamorous to me. But what doesn’t fit in that ‘chic winter’ list is dry, itchy, flaky, red skin. But it’s bound to happen between temperature extremes outside and piping heat inside, less moisture in the air, paired with holiday parties and dehydration. All in all, it’s a recipe for dry winter skin woes. But the solution could possibly be found all in one single jar: a dense, healing balm. Dry, rough lips? A balm. Dehydrated cuticles? Yep, a balm. Dry, cracked spots on the face or body? Balm it, baby. It’s possible you could cure every dry winter skin this season with a single jar of a rich, healing balm. Let’s us dive in, and talk about our favorites.
Firstly, what in the heck is a balm and why do you need come cold temps? “Balms are the richest type of skin moisture as they are oil based creams and waxes,” says Dr. Lily Talakoub, Chief Dermatologist and owner of McLean Dermatology and Skincare Center. She says the best way to cure your dry skin is to “hydrate hydrate hydrate” and balms are especially great for this because they can be applied all over the skin at night and in the morning, even around delicate areas such as your eyes, nose, and décolletage.
A few of my favorites that you’ll be seeing me apply literally head to toe this winter:
Chock full of densely concentrated, deeply healing resins, this balm will save you come colder months. Every single ingredient has a very specific purpose: tuberose increases blood circulation (thus healing), while jasmine calms skin’s surface, and rose leaves provide a substantial anti-bacterial and anti-fungal purpose. And thanks to the addition of astringent dry oils from rose hips and hazelnut, this balm is actually great for even acneic and irritated skin. It does have a more face-oil-esque constancy to it, so feel free to sub it in for your face oil when skin is really thirsty. Just take a tablespoon on balm, warm it up between fingers and gently massage onto skin from lips to eyelids to sore, irritated nostrils.
This balm is actually the inspiration for this entire story you’re reading right now. One of our editors came to me with a sore, irritated dry patch under her eyes, which looked like she had rubbed her eyes into irritation. Looking through the beauty closet, the only product I felt comfortable enough passing along to soothe her irritated skin was this balm. Days later, she came up to me—dry, irritated skin begone—stunned, this balm in hours had done with others couldn’t in days. While the initial purpose of this balm is for around the eyes, it’s great for chapped lips, rough cuticles, and really any other dry patch of skin anywhere on your body—the ultimate multi-tasking product. The reason it’s so (naturally) powerful? Calendula. “It’s an antioxidant-rich plant that has been used over time in medicines and skincare to treat inflammation, wounds, bruises, cuts, mild burns and dermatitis,” says Indie Lee, founder & CEO of her namesake brand. “This makes it a great ingredient for products used on the delicate skin, especially around the eye area.”
Even Dr. Lily is a fan, saying it’s great to apply around the eyes, particularly if the skin around your eyes is thin and loose.
Billed as the “skin salvation for any situation,” this balm is enriched with potent bee propolis, super hydrating moringa, and anti-inflammatory cinnamon bark extract. Not only can it promote healing, it leaves behind a pretty, subtle pink shine, which I like to apply on my lips, eyelids, and cheekbones before heading out in the cold. Think of it as a healing super cream that protects you from winter elements. And Dr. Lily agrees: “I love the Girl Undiscovered Pink Skies balm, which has coconut-oiled honey, on dry areas along the tops of my hands/knuckles, and as a rich balm for my chapped lips.” (Editor tested, doctor approved!)
Don’t let the price scare you off, because this little jar is magic. So magical that it has some pretty powerful anti-inflammatory and -fungal properties to it, entirely thanks to its hero ingredient—blue tansy. Blue tansy calms and relieves irritation on an unparalleled level. It’s no wonder this is by far and away the company’s best-selling product. “This fabulous balm is an obvious shining star in my own personal facial care ritual, but it’s been a lifesaver for some other unexpected situations with clients over the years—helping to calm and heal everything from bug bites to post-surgery scars, hemorrhoids to razor burn, cradle cap to shingles to nail infections,” says May Lindstrom. “And when you have a cold—right up the nose it goes for instantaneous relief.” While the balm does leave behind the most beautiful glow, it’s undaunted by the less-than-glamorous tasks life sometimes demands. “I consider it my miracle potion!” says Lindstrom.
It also makes for the greatest eye cream, too, by hydrating better than any eye product you own, and helping with puffiness, irritation, and dark circles. But no matter where you put it, apply it in the same manner: Take a teeny tiny amount, ideally a pea size to begin, and warm up between fingers. The solid balm will instantly melt into the most fragrant oil, and then glide on skin and massage in.
When in doubt, Aquaphor it out. I love Aquaphor on the heels of my feet come winter time. I utilize it as a nightly treatment, where I slather on a healthy amount, then pull on my favorite socks for a nightly foot treatment. It’s also great for elbows, cuticles, and any errand dry spots.