“Balms are the most versatile cosmetic product around. If I could only take one product to a desert island, it would most definitely be my Angel Balm,” says Alexandra Soveral, London’s go-to celebrity facialist who has been creating balms for the last 15 years. “Those formulated in the true and pure way a balm should be, are super salves that may be used in a multitude of ways, as cleansers, skin nourishing masks, a treatment of extra dry skin, cuticle softener, hair conditioning treatment, for softening split ends, to calm irritated skin…the list goes on.”
Pommade Divine has been around far longer than Soveral’s Angel Balm, first mentioned, it is believed, in a letter dated 4 February 1720, from the Bavarian Princess Elisabeth Charlotte (known as Liselotte, aka great grandmother of Marie Antoinette) to a friend: “You won’t believe, dear Louise, what a good thing this pommade [is]; for this reason, am I sending you a box, so that you can carry it with you in your bag at all times. I don’t know how one could not like the smell of this pommade divine.”
The origins of this healing herbal cure- all can even be traced back to the Vikings in 900AD, via the medieval monasteries of France, where, prior to the emergence of the modern physician, the monks deployed their knowledge of herbs and plants to brew a therapeutic ointment for the local people. By the Edwardian era, this handy balm became known as ‘Nanny’s Magic Ointment’, and every upper class nursery had their stock. While various apothecaries tweaked the original formula claiming it as their own, to this day, the essential ingredients remain unchanged: shea butter, cinnamon, benzoin (a healing essential oil native to Asia), clove and nutmeg.
It seems that whatever function modern balms are designed to address, they do it extremely effectively. Beauty experts universally rate cleansing as the most important stage in every worthy skincare routine and most will add that an effective balm gives the very best cleanse possible, while also polishing the skin like no other. While some on the market look and feel like a hardish wax when first touched, they dissolve very quickly once the heat of the fingers gently warms them.