When winter weather ravages your skin and the humidity levels are all messed up between the outdoor windchills and overheated indoors, you'll likely notice your skin suffering. That tight dryness and itching, accompanied by redness, irritation and maybe even cracks in the skin. This is when you want to switch to balms and salves.
They're thicker, longer lasting and often packed with a higher concentration of active ingredients designed to soothe and heal skin. They're particularly helpful if you're outdoors for extended periods of time—on long commutes, enjoying winter sports or if your job requires you to be in the cold. These balms are engineered to protect you from such outside forces as frigid, dry winds while retaining your skin's natural moisture.
According to New York City dermatologist Doris Day, M.D., you want balms and salves that contain oil since it's so effective at trapping moisture in the skin better than water (which is often found in lighter-weight lotions). She also suggests looking for oil to be one of the first five ingredients to make sure it's a major part of the product's formula. So don't neglect your skin. Find a formula that works for your needs and keep reapplying to ward off the ravages of winter or to reverse the damage that's already been done.
One of the most important balms, especially during the winter, is an aftershave balm. It not only disinfects the skin that's just been dragged with a razor blade, but it also helps build up a defensive layer to aid your skin in recovery and moisture retention. This cooling balm is quick absorbing and also prevents any irritation while reducing razor burn and redness.
After shave balm,
$22 by Anthony
This creamy salve is made of 25 percent pure shea butter, which means it can protect skin from dryness and keep it hydrated for up to 72 hours. The thick and nourishing cream helps maintain your skin's natural hydrolipidic film— the protective layer that retains moisture while fending off the elements and bacteria. And surprisingly, this isn't very greasy at all.
Shea Butter ultra rich cream,
$24 by L'Occitane
For sensitive skin
If your skin breaks out when met with heavy duty products, this all-natural, petroleum-free balm is for you. An all-purpose ointment that alleviates a variety of skin issues, it mixes glycerin (known to promote healing and reduce irritation) with castor oil (a proven emollient that not only hydrates but decreases inflammation).
Restore healing balm,
$30 by Doctor Rogers
For dry, cracked hands
Rough hands are bad for people you greet. Cracked hands are bad for you. Keep both at bay with this luxurious and highly-effective salve, made in England using natural ingredients. It contains antimicrobial clary sage to fight infection and speed up healing, along with geranium to boost cell repair.
Seaweed and geranium hand balm,
$21 by Haeckels
For all winter afflictions
Made from organic beeswax that has been blended with the oil of avocado, coconut, olive and hemp, this potent balm is packed with cooling peppermint and menthol crystals. It also boasts camphor and pain-relieving arnica, which means it not only relieves and moisturizes skin, but has also been used to reduce pain and swelling in joints, stop headaches and open up sinuses.
Organic magic balm,
$10.99 by Dr. Bronner's
Use this anywhere
This cult-favorite ointment contains an edible marine algae that helps "shield against environmental aggressors." This means it not only hydrates and heals skin, but also serves as a protector against the elements and pollution. A little of this balm, which melts on contact with skin, goes a long way. Use it on lips, hands and cuticles, as well as your face or anywhere that needs a little extra hydration.
$20 by Make
For red, chapped skin
This concentrated ointment (containing absolutely no water, fragrance or paraben) is dermatologist tested and recommended for eczema-prone skin. Formulated with colloidal oatmeal, it's endorsed by the National Eczema Association as an alternative to hydrocortisone creams and steroids, and will safely relieve the symptoms of dermatitis, itchy rashes and extremely dry skin all over the body.
$22 by SkinFix
The Best Time to Apply
Make sure to slather on your balm or salve before bed to let it seep into your skin while the active ingredients get down to business.