Balm: Our Secret Recipe for Glowing Skin in the Winter
It’s my third winter in New York City. I’m starting to feel the effects of this concrete jungle on my skin. I wanted to know what self care tools I could use to give my face a pick-me-up (and I’m not referring to botox). Enter Melanie Herring and her amazing facials at Antidote Apothecary in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, who got me up to speed on four simple steps to keep my skin going through the long dark months.
The facial was like a primal and remedial way to restore not only my hungry winter skin, but my brainspace as well. Our face isn’t just another piece of our skin – takes head-on (literally) every ounce of our day. We rarely cover our face and give it a time out. I walked out of there, drunk on relaxation but also feeling dewy and refreshed – even clear headed. I was inspired to figure out how to keep this glow in my everyday life.
Melanie’s method is also a little unique – she exclusively uses balms. She explains, “Balms are made from oils so you get all the benefits of using an oil, the fatty acids, the antioxidants, the vitamins. And since they are thicker than an oil, you also get the occlusive benefit, which helps to lock in moisture and protect the skin.” She calls balms, “Superstars” especially in the dry months of Vitamin D depleted winter. She encourages year round facials, but adds that winter asks for a specific type of care for our skin. “Bitter winds, freezing temperatures, dry indoor heat are all enemy number 1.” Facials can also lift our spirits as we anticipate longer and warmer days.
The good news is that, while it’s wonderful to go and see an esthetician like Melanie (and I strongly encourage it!) you don’t have to go regularly to maintain skin health. The one thing she encourages every day? Cleansing! (And moisturizing. Okay so two things.) She describes the importance of “washing the day off our face.” She expresses that by doing this, you send a very clear message to your psyche that you matter. Not to mention that our skin does its most reparative work while we sleep. More good news….balms both cleanse and moisturize, so with two simple products I can keep my skin maintained from here on in.
Here’s the 4-step protocol I learned for an at home balm facial:
- CLEANSE Put a dollop of a balm in the palm of your hand, blend quickly to heat up the balm and change the consistency closer to that of an oil and then apply to the skin in circular motions, spending time to fully remove all dirt and make-up.
- Once complete, remove the balm with a warm wash cloth.
- MOISTURIZE Spritz your face with a hydrosol spray (like rosewater) and then apply balm. If you have favorite facial oil, I like to first spritz with the hydrosol, then place a few drops of oil in my palm, a small amount of balm and then a few extra spritzes of hydrosol.
- If the skin feels too oily, I take a warm wash cloth and gently press onto my face with both palms. I then blend well in the palm of my hand and apply. The heat helps to deliver the product deeper into the skin.
“To me, a facial is a spiritual act. I invite my highest self and the highest self of my client into the space in order to facilitate whatever healing wants to take place.” Melanie purports.
I can vouch for it! During my facial, I was able to calm my mind and open more than just my pores. Her touch was sublime and transcendent. “I can’t overstate the absolute importance of the pause, of quiet do-nothing time in our extremely demanding lives. It is truly a holistic approach.”
Check out these Product Recommendations (also available at the Earth + Sky store):
Soapwalla new “The Balm;” Made with Moringa and prickly pear seed oils repair tissue damage, redness and dryness. Arnica reduces swelling, inflammation and bruising. Horse chestnut minimizes varicose veins and leads to improved circulation. Lastly, St. John’s wort, blue tansy and frankincense increase skin elasticity and create an intoxicating scent.
Heritage Store’s “Rosewater hydrosol” Made with vor-mag water and Rosa Damascena hydrosol for extra absorbability and a deep heart opening essence.