7 Salves I Would Probably Die Without

I'm not exaggerating. Much.
Publish date:
July 30, 2015
local brands, lanolin, sunscreen, salves, balms, fig + yarrow, Lansinoh, rosebud salve, in fiore

I use salves a lot. They’ve saved my face and they’re even easy to make. It’s not surprising so many salves have reached cult classic status, like Rosebud Salve or Bag Balm.

While I’ve never come around to balming my bags, here are my seven super salves that will save your life. Or your skin. Certainly not your marriage.

Surfer's Salve

A few years ago, I burned the ever-loving sheesh out of my face. The only product I used on it was Surfer’s Salve, and I hardly have scars. It’s olive-oil based with comfrey and plantain to speed healing, while rosemary, lavender and tea tree oils provide antibacterial action.


I was given a tube of this to heal cracked nipples due to breastfeeding, and as horrific as that sounds, this stuff WORKS.

Lansinoh is 100% lanolin, a byproduct from the wool industry, so not vegan. Lanolin is essentially sheep sebum, which is surprisingly similar to human sebum, so it heals and protects dry or injured skin. It's perfect for cracked, dry heels and elbows.

Fig + Yarrow Foot Butter

This shea and coconut butter balm is supposedly for feet, but it is my go-to Holy Grail for tired, wretched hands.

The Foot Butter tin fits perfectly in my tool belt, and it's threaded, so it doesn't pop open. The butter has rosemary, fir and lavender essential oils that soothe dry skin, knicks and cuts. It soaks in fast so my hands aren’t all buttery when I’m wielding a Skillsaw.

The Naked Bee SPF 30 SunStick

I love a stick of salve; less chance of it being contaminated by dastardly sand, and you don’t have to use your fingers to apply it.

The Naked Bee SPF 30 SunStick has been in my rotation since I started using sunscreen, and I always have a stick in my pack if I’m traveling. The packaging is a bit dated, but this sweet-smelling sunblock is great for kids or people with sensitive skin (but it does have dimethicone, if you’re sensitive to silicones).

Smith’s Rose & Mandarin Lip Balm

You say lip balm, I say salve.

Made by the iconic Rosebud Perfume Co., Smith’s Rose & Mandarin Lip Balm is a spicy take on the original. Petrolatum and cottonseed based, it’s non-reactive and is my absolute favourite lip balm. It smells almost exactly like orange spice tea, doesn’t have any funky aftertaste, and isn’t drying at all.

In Fiore Fleur Vibrante

Victoria, being the absolute sweetie she is, sent me this salve, and after trying it just once, I ordered a full-size pot of it.

In Fiore Fleur Vibrante is a hydrating salve that contains grapeseed, rosehip and sea buckthorn oils that penetrate your skin quickly and soothe any irritation. I used it after I had a bad reaction to retinol (never again! NEVER!), and it calmed right down. It has a very intense jasmine and muguet scent, so I love patting it on after I’ve washed my face.

Stink n’ Heal

Stink n’ Heal is a locally made salve that uses a traditional wild medicinal plant, stinkweed (Artemisia tilesii). It’s been used by Alaska Natives for thousands of years as a treatment for minor scrapes, burns and cuts. This salve was made by a local artist, Glenna Gannon (her prints are BEYOND), and she only makes small batches to sell locally.

Why do I mention it at all? Because no matter where you are, there is a witch living in a bog somewhere, making medicinal salves out of traditional herbs and plants, and you should seek her out. Farmers’ markets are probably the best place to hunt down these small-batch salves, and it is completely worth it.

  • What’s your favourite salve?
  • Are you a sucker for good packaging? I will spend extra on a tin that screws closed, instead of having to pry at them.
  • Do you have an indie salve I need to try? SHARE.