External factors like weather have an immediate impact on our skin. Wind, cold, atmospheric pollution and of course the sun can exacerbate skin issues to an uncomfortable situation. Overtime extrinsic factors accelerate the natural decline of skin structure. Especially if you’re dry, more mature or already have damage.
Maintaining the functional and anatomical integrity of the skin is essential. Oxidative stress and transdermal water loss (TWL) threaten the essential functions of the skin’s natural defensive and repair capabilities.
One of the best uses of herbal balms and salves for facial care is to not only provide a protective sealant to lock in moisture and protect the skin, but also stimulate the skin to repair and build itself naturally.
Create a barrier
In skincare, you often hear the term Transdermal Water Loss (TWL), this is the rate in which moisture is evaporated from the skin. Our ability to hold water is a sign of our skin's ability to protect itself.
When moisturizing, it’s the occlusive (sealing) compounds that create the protective layer and how water loss is prevented.
Moisture locking in the conventional realm is often represented with a petroleum-base ingredient and considered the gold standard. Akin to Saran Wrap like protection. For some that’s the ideal solution due to the benign reaction most skin has to it and it’s one of the most researched ingredients in skin care. However, I prefer not to support the petrol industry and want additional functionality in skin care. No judgement if this ingredient works well for you.
Where I tend to land is the innovative and emerging perspective that examines topical solutions using a holistic view of the skin; a dynamic, self regulating organ.
Starting with the view that the “dead” cells at the very top are actually very alive. These “dead” cells: corneocytes have an advanced signaling system that reaches the lower level cells to help protect itself. Balanced with their enzymatic nature and complex (still discovering) biome there are some intriguing reasons to work with a breathable and bio-available approach.
Though not as researched as other lab-based ingredients there are significant studies that illustrate a wide variety of constituents in plant oils, butters, waxes like: triglycerides, phospholipids, FFAs, phenolic compounds and antioxidants which act synergistically to: promote skin barrier homeostasis, antioxidative activities, anti-inflammatory properties, direct and indirect (upregulation of antimicrobial peptides) anti-microbial properties, promoting wound healing and anti-carcinogenic properties.*
Adding a lipid only moisturizer (purely occlusive) like balms, salves and unguents, etc. can be one of the most protective and healing tools in your routine.
How to use a balm
When using a balm or highly occlusive layer, it’s important to introduce a water/hydrating element to actually moisturize the skin. Putting a balm on dry skin, especially when it’s damaged does not perform well and often can cause dry skin to get worse.
Adding a water element can be as simple as applying the balm to your skin fresh out of the shower while the skin is damp. Another option is using a hydrosol to moisten the face before applying the balm or oil. Our favorite is micro emulsions. Taking your hydrosol, water based serum or water based elixir in your palm with the oil or balm. Mix together and apply this quick lotion on your skin (while damp) and then another layer of the balm or oil.
All these methods work and can be adjusted based on how much protection and hydration you need. The flexibility of microemulsions allows you to work with your skin more intuitively, adjusting with the seasons without the need of too many different products.
Whole herbal extracts used in balms consist of an array of potent ingredients to stimulate the skin to repair and build itself naturally. Numerous compounds that together provide antioxidant, anti-inﬂammatory, emollient, dark spot-inhibiting, antimutagenic properties on the skin.
Which balm is right for you?
Our love for balms/salves runs deep, hence you’ll find we have so many in the Live Botanical line. It feels like creating beautiful botanical art - that in turn is completely functional for the skin & spirit.
Each one with a unique texture and perspectives to cover a wide variety of preferences and needs.
We don't find our balms or any of our oils are likely to cause breakouts or pore congestion due to the fatty acid balance and anti-inflammatory herbal infusions. From a corneobiology standpoint, having the skin able to breathe is important for the health of the biome to ensure the right amount of good bacteria can sustain and not feed unhelpful bacteria which leads to breakouts and inflammation.
Use any of the below as the last layer of your skin routine or as a night mask.
Sanctuary Barrier Balm
Formulated for dry/sensitive skin types.
What sets this balm apart from others is the inclusion of unrefined oil-based phospholipids (lecithin). On a cellular level, the molecules attract and hold onto water while also organizing themselves into a structure similar to natural skin. So when layered on damp skin, it creates an effective skin-identical layer. This is also our essential oil free option.
The Sanctuary Barrier Balm is richer as compared to all of our other balms from a fatty acid composition perspective, replenishing loss of oil for true dry skin conditions.
If you find you're more dehydrated than dry, you may find the following balms suit your needs.
Designed for the dry and maturing skin types.
One or our more active balms with collagen boosters like lupin and dates extracts along with a robust percentage of rose-hip oil. Ceramides plus pomegranate sterols create a unique complex that mirrors our natural skin to help improve the lipid barrier matrix for enhanced protection from water loss and in turn encourages long term vitality.
Skin Repair Balm
This is suitable for oily and combination skin.
A classic herbal salve that goes from decadent skin care to first aid. Serves to maintain proper skin balance and to protect the lipid barrier. The anti-inflammatory properties help reduce sensitivity; in particular, it will help soothe and reduce the redness, dryness, and inflammation caused by common skin reactions.
Rooted Balancing Balm
This is designed for skin that is prone to breakouts and has combination skin that leans forwards dry.
Clarifying botanicals creates a pathway for your complexion to adapt to stress. It manages moisture needs for dry skin while limiting congestion.
There are a myriad of options when it comes to herbal balms and salves. We hope with this unique range to choose from you’ll find something for your skin type as well as your preferences. If you need help in selecting the right balm please be sure to scroll below and click the contact link.
~Carolyn, owner & maker
*Journal ref: Int. J. Mol. Sci. 2018, 19(1), 70; Anti-Inflammatory and Skin Barrier Repair Effects of Topical Application of Some Plant Oils by Tzu-Kai Lin, Lily Zhong, and Juan Luis Santiag