May is a time to remember that I do, in fact, have skin under all those layers of winter clothing. That feet will not always be shod in socks, and that short-sleeve shirts will allow elbows to once again move freely. In short, it's a time to dig up some thick salves and body butters, if only as a way to remember that during all those months when it was 99% covered for 99% of the day I did, still, have a body.
Sometimes I make my own balms and butters, but more often lately I've been buying some from companies who package theirs in compostable or recyclable containers, like tins or cardboard tubes. Below, some notes on both ends of the make/buy spectrum:
-My favorite homemade body butter is still this one, which is a concoction of a few different solid ingredients whipped together into a light-as-air cream. It leaves a bit of a greasy feeling on your skin for a while, so it's best to use a very small amount or to have a set of pajamas to put on afterwards that you don't mind getting slightly, ah, ruined. It's also good for feet under a pair of thick socks.
-I've also been known to love an oil-and-beeswax based homemade salve, which is something I usually just wing, combining half olive oil and half beeswax in a double boiler with a few drops of essential oils until I like the consistency. If you've never made one before, this famed recipe from Mountain Rose Herbs is easy to adapt and a good place to start.
-Either of the above can be poured into whatever clean, empty container you'd like to reuse: perhaps a saved lip balm tin, a glass jar, or something bought especially for the purpose. They're satisfying recipes for refilling an empty balm container bought elsewhere after the original runs out. I poured a recent small batch of mine into the tiny unlabeled glass jar pictured second from right, which was one I saved from something-or-other that ran out earlier this year.
-S.W. Basics: I've been a fan of S.W. Basics since learning about founder Adina Grigore's approach to natural beauty when I first read her book a few years ago. Their products all have a super-short, super-clean ingredients list and come in glass or metal containers; their reputation for being the cleanest beauty brand out there is well-deserved. They make a three-ingredient unscented cream that I really love (you can test out the $10 mini version to make sure you love it, too). It comes in a glass jar, which I'll re-use or donate once I run out.
-Mes Amies Soaps: The one-woman powerhouse behind Mes Amies Soaps sent me a tin of her flora body balm, handmade in small batches in her traveling studio van (truly!). I would say that I haven't been able to stop smelling it if that didn't sound like such a cliche - it smells deeply botanical and spring-like. (Plus, it clocks in at an affordable $7).
-Dulse and Rugosa: The mother-daughter duo behind Dulse & Rugosa turns botanical ingredients into bath and beauty products made by hand at their studio in Maine. I wrote about their vegan body butter in this post last month, but as a quick recap: it's flower-strewn and luscious. I love it.
-Fillaree: Fillaree products are handmade in North Carolina with zero waste in mind While their main offering is a line of refillable home cleaning products, they also make a few beauty products, like their body butter. I haven't tried it myself, but when the owner Alyssa told me that she takes the jars back by mail for reuse (though you'll need to supply your own mailer), I was sold.
-Meow Meow Tweet: These guys make all-natural, cheerfully printed bath and beauty products in the United States (I was excited to learn recently that the cardboard tubes that some of their products come in are made right here in Chicago). Their repair balm comes in a compostable tube, uses candelilla wax in lieu of beeswax so is a great choice for strict vegan folks, and smells just the right level of medicinal.
Favorite balms? Favorite containers for balms? Favorite recipes? Thoughts on any of the above? I'd love to hear.
Make or Buy is a series that acknowledges that sometimes we want to make things ourselves, and sometimes we want to buy them in compostable or recyclable containers. More in the series, here. A few of the balms shown here were sent to me to review for this post.