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Super-Dry Winter Skin Got You Itching? You Need a Healing Salve or Balm

When the lower temperatures of winter hit, humidity levels drop. You may already be reaching for a humidifier to keep your home comfy — and your sinuses happy — but if you’re heading out into the season’s cold, arid climate, your skin may need a little extra help.

Sure, you should still be using a basic moisturizer, but for a more intense treatment, turn to thicker, creamier balms, salves, and ointments. They’re particularly helpful for extra-dry patches, plus cracked, itchy, and chaffed skin that oftentimes comes with colder weather. The best balms for dry skin offer a more intense level of moisturizing and healing action to restore the skin’s natural barrier to keep the skin healthy.

You might still be a little confused as to what a salve actually is and what makes it different from your typical body moisturizer. Well, a salve is anything you can apply to your skin that is wax- or oil-based to help the skin heal — salves are also used interchangeably with ointments, balms, and sometimes creams, depending on the ingredients. Unlike moisturizers, salves, and ointments, balms contain little to no water and are typically thick in consistency. Salves can be applied to wherever your skin needs a little bit of healing and moisture, such as your lips, elbows, or heels.

Best Balms and Salves to Save Your Dry Skin

Skinfix Barrier+ Lipid-Boost Body Cream

cream to restore skin's natural barrier.
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This deeply nourishing, non-comedogenic cream offers you a rich, buttery consistency that locks in the moisture to keep your skin hydrated. The Lipid-Peptide Cream is clinically proven to activate the skin’s environmental defense mechanisms and minimize water loss to help restore your skin’s natural barrier. This formula is ideal for dry skin and great for those with sensitive skin or who are prone to irritation.

L’Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream

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Made with 25% shea butter, L’Occitane’s formula can aid with moisturizing for up to 72 hours. It’s thick and rich, maintaining the skin’s natural hydrolipidic film, a protective layer that defends the skin against bacteria while maintaining suppleness and moisture. The cream applies effortlessly without any greasy film. 

FAB Pharma Oat & Hemp Multi-Fix Salve

all purpose salve infused with hemp seed oil.
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This balm was inspired by traditional drugstore salves and boasts that it’s a head-to-toe fix-balm with 101 uses. The cruelty-free and vegan salve is free from alcohol, mineral oil, lanolin, fragrances, and other harsh chemicals that can irritate the skin. This balm is great for chapped lips, rough elbows, dry patches, and wind burns. This balm is an overall great must-have for the cooler months.

Kiehl’s Ultimate Strength Hand Salve

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Men, do not neglect your hands. Your hands need care and protection from the elements just as much as the rest of your body. This Salve from Kiehl’s is a maximum-strength moisturizer for active hands that allow the skin to draw and absorb water from the air, forming a protective barrier to reduce moisture loss. Keep this gem in your car, and you’re guaranteed to always have healthy skin on your hands.

Burt’s Bees Hand Salve

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What happens when you mix beeswax, olive oil, and herbs? You get this super hydrating hand salve from Burt’s Bees. Since 1984 Burt (yes, there is actually a bearded guy named Burt Shavitz) and his friend Roxanne have been making products from the leftover wax from, you guessed it, Burt’s bees. This salve is compact enough to fit in your everyday carry, and you can ensure that your hands are smooth and ready to tackle any manual job.

Manuka Relief Ultra Soothing Cream

antibacterial manuka honey for skin.
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Manuka Honey is the star ingredient in this cream because of its antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties to help dry, itchy skin at the source. Honey also acts as a humectant (attracting moisture from the air), so you can expect long-lasting hydration. In addition to treating dry, itchy skin, this cream utilizes other plant-based ingredients to relieve eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, and other common skin ailments.

Rosebud Salve

slave for lips.
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Just like you don’t want to ignore your hands, your lips also need protection and moisture. In addition to your lips, this multi-purpose salve is versatile and can be used on elbows and knees (and even diaper rash for the fathers out there), as well.

Dr. Bronner’s Arnica Menthol Magic Balm

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Moving into balms that go way beyond moisturizing, Dr. Bronner’s Magic Balm helps cool and soothe sore muscles and achy joints with a potent blend of arnica, camphor, and menthol oils. Breathe deep after applying: It’s pungent enough to clear your sinuses. The organic beeswax base incorporates avocado, coconut, olive, jojoba, and hemp oils, nourishing and moisturizing skin with no synthetic ingredients.

Tiger Balm Ultra Strength

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A little glass jar of pain relief, Tiger Balm is not only great for rubbing into sore joints with a little massage technique, but it even alleviates headaches. Originally developed in China in the 1870s, the product has become a go-to for athletes around the world. It gets its heady smell from healthy doses of camphor and menthol in a base of cajuput cassia, clove, and de-mentholised mint oils.  

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

healing ointment for cracked skin.
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The O.G. of ointments, the Aquaphor Healing ointment restores dry skin and other common skin irritations. This ointment is uniquely formulated to create a protective barrier that allows the flow of excess fluid and oxygen, which helps the skin to heal itself.

The Honest Company Organic All-Purpose Balm

all purpose ointment and salve.
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Although this salve is made specifically for the soft, delicate skin of babies, we’re sure they won’t mind if you borrow it. This all-purpose salve includes naturally derived natural ingredients such as olive and coconut oils enriched with fatty shea butter to soothe dry skin and balance skin moisture. Because this is gentle enough for a baby’s skin, rest assured that you can use this every day.

CeraVe Healing Ointment

drugstore ointment with ceramides.
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Developed with dermatologists, the CeraVe Healing Ointment provides intense relief for dry, chapped, and chafed skin — all common ailments associated with colder weather. This formula is packed with essential ceramides that keep the skin hydrated to help restore your skin’s protective barrier to help it heal faster. Best of all, this ointment won’t leave your skin feeling greasy.

Calendula Herbal Salve

herbal infused salve.
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Calendula and licorice root have been used for thousands of years for effectively reducing redness and irritation and improving the overall condition of the skin. This salve is slow-infused with soothing herbs and only contains six ingredients! Not only are all the herbs used in this salve organic, but this ointment is also all scent-free.

Not so dried out you need a soothing salve to save your skin? Just a little lotion, maybe? Check out all the best body lotions for men here.

John Jones
John Jones is a Jersey City, New Jersey-based writer who enjoys covering design in all its forms, from fashion to…
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