The winter is a harsh time for our skin. Hands and feet often take the worst of the damage. During these dry frigid months I rely on balms and body butters to give my skin the intensive moisture it needs. Balms are easy to make, and can be constructed out of the most common skincare ingredients. A basic balm can be created by combining the following items:
- 1 part Vegetable Butter – My favorites to use are Cocoa Butter, Shea Butter, and Mango Butter. For my most intensive blends I turn to pure Nilotica Shea Butter. This organic butter is highly nutritive, 100% organic, and has a naturally soft, creamy texture.
- 2 parts Vegetable Oil – Common oils such as high grade Olive Oil, Sweet Almond Oil, or Sunflower Oil will work nicely in a balm. Specialty oils such as Papaya Oil or Manketti Oil are wonderful for use in balms, since the oils will be in direct contact with the skin. Solid oils such as Organic Virgin Coconut Oil or Babassu can also be used in balms. The will however, produce a harder balm if the recipe is not adjusted to accommodate them.
- 1 part Beeswax or Vegetable Wax – Beeswax is a common ingredient that works splendidly in balms. Organic, yellow, or white beeswax are all great choices. If you prefer using vegetable wax, Candelilla Wax is also a good choice. Please keep in mind though, that Candelilla Wax is considerably harder than beeswax and may affect the finished balm's texture.
Your balm can be further enhanced by a variety of additives.
- Essential Oils – Certain essential oils are perfect for scenting balms. Lavender is a popular choice for this kind of recipe, but as with all essential oils, be careful to choose an oil that is safe for the application and the user. Other oils such as Mandarin, Geranium, Basil, or Chamomile may also make nice choices, but be sure to research any warnings or restrictions that these oils may have. Essential Oils can be added at between 1% and 5% of your total formula.
- Fragrance Oils – Cosmetic grade synthetic Fragrance Oils can also be used to scent your balm. Using synthetic fragrances gives you a much larger variety of scents to choose from, including many designer type oils. They can also be added at between 1% and 5% of your total formula.
- Lecithin or Lanolin – These additives give balms a creamy texture when added at 1% to 4%.
To create the balm, melt your wax in a double boiler over medium to high heat. When it has fully melted, add your butters and solid oils. After these have melted, remove the mixture from the heat and add your liquid oils. If you are adding lecithin, add it to your mixture while it is still very hot. Give the mixture a few moments to cool, then add your fragrance or essential oil. The mixture may take several hours to fully cool and set up. If you find that your balm is too hard, simply remelt it and add a small amount of liquid oil. Alternatively, if you find the balm to bee too soft, remelt the mixture and add a little beeswax.
You will only need a small amount of balm per application. The balm may feel greasy at first, but it will soon soak into your skin, providing moisture and relief.
This is one of my latest balms. I used Organic Nilotica Shea Butter, Organic Apricot Oil, and Organic Beeswax to create the balm's base. The yellow tinge in this balm comes from a dash of Organic Calendula CO2 Extract. This herbal extracts helps to soothe the dry and cracked skin. Recently, I made a second batch of this balm for a friend's baby. It makes a wonderful, all natural, baby bottom balm.
This is a lighter balm. Made from Shea Butter, Watermelon Seed Oil, and White Beeswax. Lecithin was added to this balm to give it a creamier texture. It was also generously scented with Bergamot and Ylang Ylang essential oils. This fragrant balm often served as a quick pick-me up through the sometimes stressful holiday season.