Rachel Marie Walsh tries out the latest skin balms on the market.
Magic Organic Apothecary The Green Balm, €18
All four here are also formulated by female skincare entrepreneurs. MOA founder Charlie Fowler began developing skincare so she could soothe her newborn’s eczema naturally. The Green Balm has a rich coconut, soya bean, and almond oil base. Beeswax, sunflower oil, and wound-healing yarrow root work to protect and restore chapped hands. This product is so comforting that the brand recommends mixing it with water and honey and gargling to sooth a sore throat.
The Organic Pharmacy Organic Rose Balm, €35
TOP is a spa partner of the Muckross Park Hotel, Killarney, and reportedly used by time-defying Teuton Claudia Schiffer. This is one of its cult products, a tin of pink balm that smells of roses. The texture is quite thin, not at all the comforting, protective kind I want when it’s frosty, but these things are subjective. The base has sunflower, rosehip and Argan oils. Note that this balm is also high in St John’s Wort, which is a great antioxidant but can have a sensitising effect on skin when exposed to sunlight. It is therefore extra-important to combine this product with UV protection in daylight.
Balm Balm Organic Fragrance Free Face Balm , €10.76 at balmbalm.com
Balms are great for comprehensive makeup removal but slathering your face with them seems like spoiling for a spot. I approached this product cautiously, double-cleansing and toning in advance. The formula is mostly shea, sunflower seed-oil, and beeswax, so it feels more like easy-spread butter than balm. Calendula and jojoba are all that’s left on the ingredients list, making the whole mix baby-safe.
White Witch Connemara Regenerating Skin Balm, €27.50
The White Witch Connemara is organic, vegan, ethically sourced and produced, plastics-free… all that good stuff for which your ‘wellness’ fanatic friends trawl the internet. More importantly, perhaps, this skin balm feels good — rich and comforting — is only very mildly fragranced. Starflower, rosehip, and calendula are key ingredients. This one also contain’s St John’s Wort, so UV protection is especially important.
Pixi by Petra Nourishing Cleansing Balm, €23.50
If a full face of makeup is your usual, this cleanser is for you. Rich and lemony, this balm looks like it should be spread on crumpets. It is fragrance free and has a simple ingredients list, not so different from that of any of the multi-purpose balms above. This is not ideal for combination types but perfect for the dry or sensitive.
Alpha-H Essential Cleansing Balm, €38, at marksandspencer.ie
I don’t cleanse with balms in the morning because I don’t sleep in makeup but testing any new cleanser in natural light is a good idea. Unlike serums or toners, which can take weeks to make a difference, you should be able tell whether a cleanser is working for you right away. Do you see residue? Surface dryness? Increased redness? The formula is fragrance-free and safe around the eyes. It’s described by Alpha-H as a cleanser, makeup remover, tone and soothing balm. Given the lack of residue I’d dispute the last two, though it left my skin completely calm and comfortable.
Rodial Bee Venom Cleansing Balm, €78
Rodial puts a bee-sting allergy warning on this cleanser’s bottle. In truth, bee venom makes up so little of the formula that it is impossible for the allergy-free to determine the ingredient’s effects. The rest of it makes up a balm-to-milk, mildly exfoliating face wash. It makes short work of makeup but is perfumed enough to merit an eye irritation warning. It is definitely overpriced, especially as you need an additional eye cleanser to take the day off.
Evolve Organic Beauty Gentle Cleansing Melt, €26 at arnotts.ie
This is another light balm-to-milk. Based on organic sunflower, baobab. and almond oils, it feels and smells wonderful. The brand also recommends it as a hydrating hair mask.
Olio e Osso No.2 Lip and Cheek Balm, €28 at niche-beauty.com
I don’t use cheek colour-balms much (I have low resistance to NARS Powder Blush in ’Sex Appeal,’ €32, it’s better than ‘Orgasm’), but these sticks are the best buys if you are frequently busy or dehydrated. They need no tools and barely any time. They moisturise and leave you looking and even feeling more refreshed. Olio e Osso’s shade range favours warmer complexions but this one is rosy enough to look natural on the fairest of them all.
Nip + Fab Fix Stix Blush, €13.95
Fix Stix are made to colour, highlight, contour, etc, in a pick-n-mix way. They are very similar to Fenty Beauty’s Match Stix, €24, but cheaper and limited shade-wise. The blush tones are quite deep but a colour-pop on the cheeks and lips can be a good look.
Pixi by Petra Multibalm Blusher, €14
This balm-to-powder formula is moisturising without being slick, so should stay put all day. Infused with aloe vera, shea butter, and rosehip oil, it also protects two parts of the face that are most vulnerable to wind. The colour range is very pretty. ‘Baby Petal’ gives cheeks a natural, radiant glow.
Lipstick Queen Black Lace Rabbit Blush, €25.50
Lipstick Queen does some colour-change products that work with the pH of your skin to create a bespoke shade. ‘Frog Prince’ Blush, €25.50, for example, becomes your very own perfect pink. This one is a black balm that turns sheer berry cheek with gold shimmer. Enriched with Vitamin E and shea butter, it also gives skin a dewy glow.