It's winter here in Southern California, believe it or not. A few mornings this week, when we awoke to temperatures in the low 40s, there were the requisite bowls of steamy spiced oatmeal and mugs of herbal tea passed around the breakfast table. And as the temperatures dipped again as the sun went down, a pot of soup was usually simmering on the stove for dinner. 

I believe our skin deserves just as much attention during these cold spells. And this here balm is the perfect antidote to dry lips, hands, elbows, knees, wherever. Even my moisturizing-averse children ask for it after their baths when they realize how much better it feels not to have dry, itchy skin all the time. 

What I also love about it is it's simplicity and how well it does what it's supposed to. There are just a handful of ingredients and a handful of steps.


There's cocoa butter





coconut butter


a hot stove




a jar (or tin)


a few drops of essential oil



And that's it. I made this one with vanilla oil, which with the cocoa and coconut butters is as lucious and delicious smelling as it sounds. 

Winter Balm (makes about 1 cup)

1/2 cup sweet almond oil

1/4 cup coconut oil

2 Tbsp. cocoa butter

2 Tbsp. coconut butter

2 Tbsp. shea butter

2 Tbsp. beeswax

20 drops essential oil of your choice. Sweet orange, bergamot or lavendar are also nice.

Place all the ingredients into a heat-proof glass measuring cup or use a bowl set into a pot of water. Heat the water to a simmer (not boiling) and stir oil and butter mixture until it dissolves. Remove cup or bowl from the stove and immediately pour into your jar or tin. Drop in your essential oils, and stir again to incorporate. Cover with a clean dishtowel and let cool at room temperature. You can also place the jar in a shallow ice bath to speed up the process. 

For body care ingredients, I usually turn to Mountain Rose Herbs. But most health food stores have similar products. Just take care to use organic and raw if possible.