Ointments, Salves, and Balms what’s the difference?
An ointment is an oil-based preparation that is used for topical therapeutic purposes, meaning it will have some type of healing action on the body.
Salves and balms are both types of ointments, and they are both a mixture of plant oils and some type of wax, usually bee’s wax. They are made without water which allows them the ability to be created without preservatives and without the fear of mold, bacteria, or fungus growth. When water is present, microbial growth becomes a strong probability over time- hence the reason preservatives in skincare are not a bad thing but a necessity.
A salve is softer and tends to be a higher ratio of oil to wax, and a balm is more solid with a higher ratio of wax to oil. Herbs and herbal infusions, as well as essential oils, can also be incorporated into either of these preparations. Salves being softer tend to generally be used for massage purposes, muscle aches, or for use on a wound. (Think putting Neosporin on a bandage. A balm is great for skin protection and sealing in moisture. (Think lip balm). Additional emollient (soother or softener) ingredients can be added to balm-such as shea butter or mango butter.
Reasons a balm is a treat for your skin, especially in the fall and winter:
- Support for the lipid barrier on the surface of the skin. Also known as the acid mantle, this invisible film is responsible for a healthy skin microbiome. This layer protects the skin from foreign invadors like pathogenic bacteria. It is our first line of defense on the outside of our skin. If the skin is red, inflamed, or has a rough texture, the acid mantle is probably compromised.
- Seal in moisture. Another important job of the lipid barrier is to seal in moisture. This oil-based film coats the skin and does not let the water evaporate out. If the skin is dehydrated, lacking water, the acid mantle could use a little support in the form of a balm as it rebuilds its self. This is a special treat for parched skin!
- Night repair. As we sleep, our skin is in recovery mode, the deeply moisturizing and softening properties of a balm are perfect for this time! The Apoterra balm is fantastic for age management or graceful aging because it contains ingredients that support a youthful appearance. (See below).
- Protection from cold and windburn. If you are heading up skiing, or even just planning to spend any time outside in the elements during the winter, a balm can be incredibly helpful to protect the delicate skin. It forms a layer of protection over the face like a lip balm would on the lips!
- After sun recovery. The ingredients in the Apoterra balm help to repair the skin after too much sun exposure. Fighting the effects of oxidative stress with its incredibly high anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties!
To use a face balm:
- Remember that this is a preparation of oil, butters, and waxes. If they heat up and cool down, separation may occur. Keep them in a cool or room temperature place. If separation occurs (you may see pieces of the wax ball up in the container), that's okay! It's not ruined. You can still put a small amount in your hands and rub them together and it will emulsify again.
- Add a bit of liquid to your hands to improve spreadability of the balm. The best way to do this is to spritz a bit of a hydrating tonic, or a clarifying tonic into your hands with a pea size amount of the balm. Emulsify or rub together in your hands and then apply to your face. If you do not want to use a tonic, you can apply this when your face is still damp from cleansing.
- Your skin may feel uber moisturized and dewy. This will absorb!
Soon to be Renamed Vitamin C Balm is a fantastic choice. Don't let the name fool you, day or night, this vitamin-c-rich balm provides a potent treatment to target fine lines and hyperpigmentation—all while inciting the ultimate glow. Its thick, creamy blend of organic plant butters & oils sink deeply into skin to help retain much-needed hydration. Working alongside those plumping oils are a team of skin-repairing antioxidants, a phytonutrient infusion and active botanicals like turmeric and calendula to address premature aging. In the summer, we love this balm to repair from increased sun exposure, whereas in winter it provides a great protective barrier against harsh cold, wind and dryness. Many Apoterra fans also love this balm as an eye cream.
KEY INGREDIENTS & WHY THEY WORK
Prickly Pear Seed Oil
Also known as barberry fig oil, this luxurious and nutrient-dense super oil is a powerhouse skincare ingredient. It has a higher Vitamin E content than any other oil on the market, making it a potent source of natural antioxidants. There is also Vitamin K, known to brighten the skin, belatains (a super-antioxidant), and essential fatty acids such as linoleic acid (omega-6). Prickly pear oil easily absorbs into the skin, protects against free radicals, refines uneven texture, helps prevent premature aging, provides nutrients, and brightens a complexion. Our prickly pear seed oil is virgin and certified organic.
A rare butter derived from the seeds of the cupuacu tree fruit. It has the amazing ability to attract 240% more water than other butters, so it is intensely hydrating and moisturizing. It absorbs easily into skin to make it more supple and elastic and is also deeply reparative, especially after sun exposure. Our cupuaçu butter is cold-pressed, unrefined, certified Fair Trade and is from Peru. Our supplier is committed to responsible wild-harvest and fair-trade operations that promote Amazonian conservation, biodiversity and sustainable employment.
There isn’t much that this rich oil can’t do. It’s extremely high in essential fatty acids Omega 3, 6, and 9, which provide regenerative properties for compromised skin. Our rosehip oil is cold-pressed, unrefined, and certified organic.
Sea Buckthorn Berry Oil
Sea buckthorn is one of the most nutrient-rich oils available. It helps repair, reduces the appearance of fine lines, improves skin hydration, and is even beneficial for breakout-prone skin. Some research has shown that sea buckthorn can help reduce sebum production, reduce the occurrence of breakouts, and speed up healing. Our sea buckthorn oil is produced from the berry (not just the seed) through a clean supercritical CO2 extraction process that preserves more nutrients than any other process. Our high-quality oil has a deep amber color because of its rich content of the antioxidant beta-carotene. It is also loaded with skin-loving, free-radical fighting compounds such as vitamins A, C, E, fatty acids like Omega 3, 6, 9, phytosterols, and flavonoids. It also has the highest percentage available of the very rare Omega 7. Our oil is certified organic, Fair Trade, and sourced from the Himalayas. The sea berries are sustainably hand-harvested and the producer is committed to protecting valuable local natural resources and supporting local communities and families.
A naturally occurring antioxidant is present in human cells. When applied topically it works as a barrier to keep free radicals at bay and enhances the skin's ability to regenerate itself.
We use a vegan, oil-soluble and stable version of Vitamin C (versus ascorbic acid) called ascorbyl palmitate. This form is readily absorbed into the skin to immediately deliver the multiple benefits of this vitamin deep within the skin. What you get is a potent antioxidant activity that can also help improve elasticity by promoting collagen production. Other Vitamin C benefits for skin are helping to fade discoloration and reduce inflammation for a clearer, brighter complexion with fewer breakouts.
Immortelle essential oil
Helichrysum, also known as immortelle or everlasting, is a small yellow flower with amazing healing and regenerative properties. It gets its name from the fact that the blooms never wilt! The essential oil is extracted from the bloom and is a powerful healer. Used in synergy with blue chamomile, it creates a powerhouse skin healing combo, great for diminishing redness and speeding the healing of blemishes. Our immortelle essential oil is certified organic.
The vibrant orange root of turmeric is naturally high in curcumin, a potent antioxidant. The root is also well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. Sensitive skin types can particularly benefit from Turmeric as it can help alleviate redness, irritation and breakouts. Our turmeric extract is created from organically grown turmeric in India.
Useful for cell regeneration and improving the skin's ability to retain moisture. Pomegranate oil is high in flavonoids, antioxidants (including ellagic acid) which help prevent UV damage. It also contains the rare fatty acid omega-5 (punicic acid) which is known to soothe the skin and prevent moisture loss. Our pomegranate oil is cold-pressed and unrefined.