A soft day

IT feels like spring is on the way — at last. But my skin is a long way off from feeling the effects of the marginally warmer weather. It has never been as dry. And this is no surprise.

Despite the fact that this winter was surprisingly mild, it’s still winter, and skin that has been exposed to the dehydrating effects of central heating and cold winds for the last six months starts to really show it. My hands are rough — they look old. And the skin on my face? Well, don’t even get me started. The solution for now is a balm.

You only have to say the word balm and your skin feels soothed. And it feels just as good when you put it on. Balms have come a long way recently. They used to be oily, greasy and not terribly pleasant to use. Delivering little benefit to the skin, their main function was to act as a barrier. These days, a lot of so-called balms feel more like a really rich moisturiser, so you don’t get that oily afterglow. And the hydrating benefits have been dialled up to 10.

The great thing about balms is that you can go from super-cheap to super-luxurious, and from super-natural to super, eh, chemical and back again.

I’ve got something of a soft spot for Neutrogena Norwegian Formula Deep Comfort Moisture Balm, €6.57. It feels absolutely gorgeous on the skin, and while it’s definitely more down the creamy scale of things, it is fast-acting and high performance. Balm Balm lives up to its name with a range of top class products. The Rose Geranium Face Balm,

€6.99, is one of its bestsellers. Certified by the Soil Association and 100% organic, it feels really soothing and nourishing and has a lovely delicate scent that we swear might even be mood-altering. And the great thing about Balm Balm products is that they’re multipurpose, so you can use it on the elbows, knees, lips and body, too.

There’s a good reason why Neal’s Yard Wild Rose Beauty Balm has been around for so long — it’s really lovely to use. Soft and comforting, it can be worked as a cleanser, a gentle exfoliant or a deeply nourishing moisturiser. If you love roses and you have skin in need of some attention, you can’t go wrong with this.

Equally natural and soft, but a little bit more pricey, is the Ren Mayday Mayday Rescue Balm, €24. This baby is a heavy-hitter in terms of moisture and is another all rounder, so you can use it anywhere you darn well please. Fragrance-wise, it’s a delicate mix of Moroccan rose otto oil and pink violet.

The beauty balm, or BB cream as it’s fast becoming known, is a quick-fix — along the lines of the original Clarins’ Beauty Flash Balm, €35. These days it’s gone high tech: so you can prep the skin with Mac’s Prep + Prime BB Cream, €22, fight wrinkles with Clinique Age Defense BB Cream, €40, or aim for perfection with Garnier Miracle Skin Perfector All in One BB Cream, €14.99.


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