Balm: Organic Beauty’s Comfort Food or Guilty Pleasure?

 Last week I had dinner in New York with an old friend who is a Global MD for a well-known ad agency. When I asked her how she was doing, she gave a relieved grin and said she was fine: her clients sold mostly  comfort food, and that was continuing to do well in these troubled times. People are seeking solace in mac- n-cheese. 

Another friend hosted a wonderful party and I gave her the rich and luxurious  Saaf Super Hydrating Organic Body Balm as a hostess gift. She rang me the next day to say how of all the wonderful packages she’d received,  ours was the only one she’d opened that night. Slathering it on before bedtime, she said, had become her new  guilty pleasure. She especially loved the home-for the-holidays scent of clove, patchouli  and mandarin orange.

Saaf Organic Super Hydrating Body Balm

Saaf Organic Super Hydrating Body Balm

 That got me thinking- Is balm beauty’s equivalent of comfort food? Do we apply a thick layer of balm as we would spread cream cheese on our toasted bagel, or pile our plates high with mac n cheese?

There is definitelysomething rich and comforting about balm. Even the word sounds soothing. And the formula is totally traditional. According to the etymology from Merriam- Webster’s Dictionary, below, balm’s been with us since the 13th century:



Middle English basme, baume, from Anglo-French, from Latin balsamum balsam
13th century
1: a balsamic resin ; especially : one from small tropical evergreen trees (genus Commiphoraof the family Burseraceae)2: an aromatic preparation (as a healing ointment)3: any of several aromatic plants of the mint family ; especially :lemon blam 4: a spicy aromatic odor 5: a soothing restorative agency


The history of balm is almost as rich as the substance itself. Greek philosophers extolled its  wonderful healing properties. Chinese emperors commissioned bespoke versions and safeguarded the ingredients. Elizabethan England’s well-heeled establishment kept balm in the cupboard as a reliable cure for colds and fevers. 


Today, as we seek comfort and warmth from the dark days of winter and the darker days of the economy, slathering on balm after a nice, hot bath (or shower) is a great way to indulge and restore the senses as well as to soften, nourish  and protect dry skin. 

 Comfort food or guilty pleasure? You decide!


One Comment

  1. Posted November 25, 2008 at 12:04 am | Permalink

    Definitely “comfort food”! There is no part of my balm usage that I feel guilty about 😉 I absolutely can’t live without balm in the winter. This one from Saaf sounds wonderful!

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