Everyone needs one (or more) of these one-pot wonders in their life. These are your actual ‘desert island beauty must-haves’: products which pull off tricks from nourishing cuticles to removing make-up via getting rid of scaly elbows, at a push. (We like to experiment and see just how many actions we can get out of a single product.) And they’re also good when you’re completely skint and can only stretch to one great beauty buy. (It happens.) Our panels of 10 testers love, loved, loved these – scores were really impressively high.
GOLD AWARD Guerlain Abeille Royale Black Bee Honey Balm
For us, a multi-purpose balm is something that you use on any dry or sore or thirsty spots, from cuticles to lips. You’d have to be on a somewhat generous budget to do that with this, which is definitely luxe-priced. It harnesses Ouessant black bee honey, from a project on the island off the Atlantic coast of France which provides Guerlain with bee ingredients of all descriptions. The rich balm is designed for ‘dry, undernourished skin weakened by extreme conditions, such as excessive cold or heat, sunlight, hard water and humidity, as well as cosmetic procedures carried out by a dermatologist.’ Testers adored this elegant Little Black Tube of skin goodness, with its nectarous scent (created by Guerlain Perfumer Thierry Wasser, no less!), awarding an impressive 9.2/10 score.
'Lovely to use, with a definite hint of honey. It worked really well on random flaky dry patches and I think it will be a real treat to use on my elbows and other dry bits in the winter. The smell is great and the tube is a perfect size. I found that it absorbed well and didn't leave greasiness behind. I will definitely use it in the future’ • ‘Loved this product, which smelt good enough to eat, with a soft, easily spreadable texture. A little went a long way (great size for travel). I used it on my face at night and in the morning my skin was softer and more dewy and looked fresh. It’s particularly good on my lips. On elbows, knees and heels, it cleared dryness and scaling’ • ‘I’ve used this on my face and body and especially on my knees and elbows and it works instantly, making skin look soft smooth and moisturised without leaving your skin looking or feeling greasy. Very versatile and can be used on body and face, nails, cuticles, lips etc. Its also absolutely brilliant as a moisturiser and for under make-up, too. I’m converted – and some of my friends are now, too! Highly recommend’ • ‘My favourite thing is that it doesn't leave a sticky residue.; all other balms I've tried do. It's a brilliant product! It's highly moisturising, portable, smells lovely and is THE most effective product to eliminate dry elbows, knees, heels, lips etc. And with staying power! A desert island must! I love it!’ • ‘Liked the smell, which is very similar to my perfume so I would use it as a very special hand balm’ • ‘Moisturises your nails and cuticles very well and you're left with well cared-for looking nails. All dry areas look better, feel better and I'm left with a sense of having nourished skin.’
£39.60 for 30ml - click to buy
SILVER and BEAUTY STEAL AWARDS La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Soothing Face and Body Balm B5
From the French pharmacy brand which has made great in-roads in the UK via the Boots of this world etc., a functional and clinical-looking flip-top tube of hypoallergenic, fragrance-free balm for body, face and lips that is even suitable for babies, they tell us. Soothing and protective ingredients include anti-bacterial vitamin B5 (at a hefty 5% concentration), shea butter, glycerine and their signature La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water. Apply twice daily as and where required (but avoid eye zone). Another great score – 9/10 across the tester team.
‘Fabulous all round cream and for such a great price. It really is a wonder cream, which works instantly on anywhere that needs a moisture boost, dry patches, cuticles, elbows, knees, heels and lips. I will be taking a tube of this with me everywhere from now on! I have already ordered two more’ • ‘I adore this product: my skin is smooth, hydrated and soothed. I have already bought more! Being a mum I found it very useful to carry round in my handbag. It’s amazing, so multi purpose. Great to use as a hand cream and I now don't have a single patch of dry skin on my body – which is fantastic’ • ‘This is a real miracle product along with a lot of the La Roche Posay products. It is one of the only things to help with my eczema on my hands and face. I like that it has no scent and that it is widely available. It sinks in well so I can use it at work and has an antibacterial action that is great for broken skin. Different things help for different people in regard to eczema but this does work for me and has done for years’ • ‘I did find this balm had lots of uses apart from using it on my lips where there was such an improvement as I used it every night. I think it is a great all-purpose balm. It was great on the skin though, definitely improving dry patches. It’s very good on elbows, knees, heels and cuticles. It didn't feel sticky at all to use’ • ‘I had very dry patches on my hands, which have completely gone over a month of using this regularly, twice daily. It's a great multi purpose balm, which I have used on all dry areas to great effect.’
£6.50 for 40ml - click to buy
BRONZE (JOINT) and BEST NATURAL AWARD (JOINT) Trilogy Everything Balm
Yet another high-scorer: a NATRUE-certified all-natural healing beauty classic which – as New Zealand-based Trilogy point out – ‘isn’t called “Everything Balm” for nothing.’ It’s rich in Omega 3 and 6, with skin-fixing botanicals that include coconut, marula, olive, jojoba, evening primrose, wheatgerm, vitamin E and their signature rosehip oils, alongside honey and beeswax (so it’s not quite vegan), with a fragrance comprised of a 100% essential oil blend. (Testers loved the aroma.)
'I love, love, love this balm. I really did try it for a lot of things. I had an odd small lump on my elbow (possibly a bit like a hard blocked pore) and I'm sure it helped get rid of it. I even tried it on a tiny bit of athlete's foot (with clean hands! I would never contaminate my Everything Balm!) and I swear it helped get rid of it! Trying this product has made me really excited about trying other Trilogy products, because this stuff is brilliant. And I love their transparency and ethics too. But most of all, a completely natural product that is effective! Fanfare please!’ • ‘Brilliant! I have been religiously applying this to my cuticles most evenings. I get regular hangnails and dry cuticles, and this worked wonders. Any hangnails I did get healed within a day or two, and my cuticles are soft. Any sore peeling skin also healed rapidly. I would rub this into my elbows and knees, and it left them very soft and supple. It makes a difference so rapidly! Those are pretty much the driest areas of my body and they feel much, much softer’ • ‘A fantastic little product that has so many uses! Great to keep in your handbag for little emergencies…it saves the need for carrying around moisturisers and hand creams. A little goes a long way and I feel the tub will last a long time. I don't go anywhere without it now. I love it!’ • ‘I work in a kitchen and this balm is a saviour for my hands. I have contact with loads of chemicals so my hands are really dry and itchy, and my skin even started to peel off. This balm has worked magic and stopped the process of peeling off. Now my hands are so soft, and moisturised like a baby’s skin.’
£13.50 for 45ml - click to buy
BRONZE (JOINT) and BEST NATURAL AWARD (JOINT) Pure Potions Intensive Moisturising Ointment
On a budget? No need to make any product compromises with this balm – again, all-natural – which targets all kinds of sore, dry, itchy skin woes, creating a protective barrier against irritants and encouraging skin to heal itself. Rich in beeswax, it’s a fusion of hemp seed, olive, safflower, calendula, nettle, chamomile and chickweed, making it a great choice for tackling annoying skin niggles. Maybe not as glam as some of the other winners, but a multi-tasking workhorse.
‘This is a brilliant product that is incredibly versatile. It works on every area and it is a miracle cream. My teenager loved it! It’s amazing on dry skin. It really made a difference incredibly quickly. Brilliant for dry feet, elbows and odd areas of dry skin, although it was hard to spread over a large area. It comes in a tub and is set quite hard but easy to scoop out what you need. It is a great price - I would pay three times what it costs. It lasts for a long time too’ • ‘This definitely moisturised and eased dry patches and smoothed the skin; my heels especially felt nourished and smooth after the winter. I would use it for sunburn in the summer. I am now trying it for eczema and so far it is calming the itching and reducing the redness’ • ‘Excellent for moisturising everywhere; used regularly my dry patches are definitely improved and even brown patches appear lessened. I have one very dry elbow so I tested it mostly on that. I’ve used many types of cream over the years to try to sort the dryness but this one actually worked’ • ‘I would recommend this product to anyone who suffers from skin conditions and or extremely dry or itchy patches and wants to try a more natural way to treat and improve their condition. My skin is soothed, healed and looks nourished’ • ‘This did help the texture of the crepe-y skin on my upper arms, and left dry patches on my body hydrated and smooth.’
£18.99 for 120ml - click to buy