What Is Face Balm?

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  • Written By: J. Finnegan
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 14 September 2019
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Face balm is a type of thick salve that is used to moisturize, heal, or protect facial skin. There are many different face balm preparations that are used to address different skin types and skin ailments. Face balms are generally unisex, but those that are have fragrance cater to general male and female scent preferences. The most important factor in choosing a face balm is selecting one that is appropriate for the individual's skin type and condition.

Its weight and thickness differentiates face balm from other types of moisturizers. Typically a balm is the thickest type of moisturizer and is made with oil and some type of wax and generally doesn't contain any water. Lotions are the lightest type of moisturizer and are water or aloe vera based, with little to no oil or wax. Facial creams fall between balms and lotions in regard to weight and thickness. These can be moderate to heavy and have a higher oil content than lotions but less oil than balms.


Basic face creams, moisturizers, and balms are used to add moisture and oil to dry or chapped skin. Medicated lotions and face balms are used to heal skin ailments like blemishes, abrasions, and skin damage due to things like age and sun or weather exposure. A face balm is a better choice than a lotion in harsh weather conditions as it forms a stronger barrier between delicate skin and the elements. Balms work best for people with dry skin and are not recommended for people with oily or acne-prone skin due to the high oil content.

Some facial balms are considerably more expensive than others, but price isn't necessarily indicative of better quality. The more rare the balm's ingredients or the harder they are to extract or prepare, the higher the price of the product. Some balms are made with plant oils or extracts, plant fats like shea butter or cocoa butter, or animal derived oils like lanolin, emu oil, or squalene, which is extracted from shark livers. Others are made with petroleum-derived ingredients like mineral oil or petrolatum.

Liniments are sometimes referred to as balms although they more closely resemble lotions in consistency. Men's aftershave lotions are also commonly called balms due to their medicinal value. Liniments and balms are used to soothe sore skin, muscles, and joints and aftershave lotions are used to treat and prevent broken skin.


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