The Earthwise Beauty skincare line is often about getting a sense of a faraway land: Ethiopia, Brazil, the Bulgarian countryside. With Imhotep's Balsam, we want to transport you to Ancient Egypt. Our mask is named after Imhotep, a prominent historical figure who served as Pharaoh Djoser's chancellor. Imhotep's legend grew for centuries after his death and transformed over time, and eventually he was mysteriously elevated to the position of god of medicine and healing by the Ancient Egyptians.
Our restorative face mask was designed to feel like a reparative balm, a Nile Delta mud medicine, a fragrant compress made of roots, barks, and freshly crushed elemi resin tears.
Imhotep's Balsam is a finely milled powder mask that turns into a pleasantly sticky, easy-to-spread, comforting roots-and-herbs paste once you add water. The powder is a blend of laboriously ground Hawaiian alaea salt, nourishing chickweed, and redness-calming chamomile flowers, plus soothing and hydrating mucilage-rich roots of marshmallow and comfrey, brightening licorice, and more. This is a moisture-replenishing, barrier repairing, deeply conditioning mask for all skin types, especially dry, imbalanced, stressed, or with a compromised skin barrier.
Here are highlights about a few key ingredients:
Birch bark: The bark of white birch, also known as peeling birch, has been known in Poland since pagan days as the herb to use if one wants beautiful, bright, healthy skin and strong, abundant hair. The sustainably obtained, dried, and milled bark has a characteristically invigorating scent reminiscent of wintergreen. Birch bark contains a high concentration of betulinic acid, which has been studied for its stimulating effect on collagen synthesis and for its elastase-inhibiting properties, making it an outstanding ingredient for the care of mature skin concerns such as wrinkles and skin sagging.‡ For more on birch bark, see The Science Behind Our Ingredients.
Astragalus root: This spleen qi tonic and immune-supporting herb in Traditional Chinese Medicine has a special affinity for the skin. People who consume astragalus as part of their herbal regimen often notice an improvement to the clarity, texture, and moisture level of their skin.
Marshmallow root: Mature roots are rich in mucilage with soothing, softening, hydrating properties. American herbalist Matthew Wood recommends marshmallow root for breaking up hardened tissue.
Licorice root: This root is an ingredient in most classic herbal formulas in Traditional Chinese Medicine. One of its properties is that it makes other herbs work better. In cosmetic science, licorice has come to be known as a skin lightening ingredient for addressing brown spots and sun spots.§ For more on licorice root's medicinal effects, see The Science Behind Our Ingredients.
Chickweed: This ubiquitous herb is considered a nutritional powerhouse (it is a favorite of the American folk herbalist Susun Weed, who recommends eating it daily in salads). Chickweed improves skin moisture levels, reduces surface redness, and alleviates itching.
Comfrey root: The comfrey plant, especially the roots, is rich in allantoin, which is a well-established, reliable cosmetic ingredient with moisture-retention, protective, and soothing properties. In Western herbal tradition, comfrey is thought to be particularly regenerative and useful when working on scars. Comfrey is an excellent ingredient to alleviate dry skin and has balancing properties for eczema and psoriasis.
Plai: This plant from the Zingerberaceae plant family (the same family as ginger and turmeric) grows in abundance in Thailand, Cambodia, and Malaysia, among other countries. It has been studied for its analgesic (pain-reducing), antibacterial, and antioxidant properties. Unlike ginger and turmeric, which are warming, plai is cooling. Its scent is spicy, cool, uniquely rich—unforgettable! We are using wild plai essential oil in Imhotep's Balsam in part because it is a very sustainable ingredient (plai is an invasive plant in many countries), and because it can be helpful for painful conditions including facial neuralgia and some types of acne blemishes.
Elemi: This resin comes from the tree Canarium luzonicum, which belongs to the same family as frankincense, and is thought to have wound-mending properties. Filipino women have traditionally used elemi to ensure youthful-looking, supple skin.
It was love at first sniff for me. I really love the scent; I find it sweet and a little bit spicy at the same time. It smells earthy and kind of warm but also luxurious and exotic. Something about Imhotep makes me feel like I'm [taking] part in a solemn ritual; [it's] energizing and relaxing at the same time. I can't help touching my skin constantly the rest of the day, because it's very plumped.
The Scent and Energetic Impact
Imhotep's Balsam smells of many things: ginger-like plai, smokey and lemony elemi, sweet marshmallow roots, honey-like chamomile flowers, and Moroccan cedars. It is a surprising scent that is grounding and easy to wear on the face during a mask session—it doesn't shout or tire out the senses.
If you are wondering which face mask is the right choice for you: Imhotep's Balsam is a hydrating and nourishing mask with a scent that is evocative of mystical temples and a cedar forest. It doesn't contain clay. We particularly recommend this mask for dry or sensitive skin.
Catharsis has a cooling, energizing, refreshing pick-me-up effect on the senses, also doesn't contain clay, and is particularly beneficial for acne-prone, scarred, pigmented, or inflamed skin.
Sungod is a rejuvenative mask based on wildflower pollen and several reparative herbs such as calendula and sunflower petals. We particularly recommend it for signs of premature aging and for dull or mature skin.
All skin types, especially dry, sensitive, compromised, or with eczema, psoriasis, facial neuralgia, and perioral dermatitis.
Aloe barbadensis leaf powder*, Sodium chloride (red alaea salt)†, Matricaria recutita (chamomile) buds (organic or *), Althaea officinalis (marshmallow) root (organic or *), Stellaria media (chickweed) leaf and stem (organic or *), Astragalus membranaceus root (certified organic whenever available), Betula lenta (paper birch) bark (* or †), Glycyrrhiza glabra (licorice) root*, Symphytum officinale (comfrey) root (organic or *), Cedrus atlantica (Atlas cedar) extract†, Canarium luzonicum (elemi) resin essential oil†, Zingiber cassumunar Roxb. (plai) essential oil†.
*Certified organic. †Responsibly wildcrafted.
Certified cruelty free, vegan, handcrafted, small batch. Gluten free.
Measure out 1 teaspoon of the powder and mix with just enough water to achieve a workable, moist paste. Apply onto freshly washed, towel-dried skin and leave on for 30 minutes. Mist with a hydrosol or face toner while wearing the mask. Remove with cotton rounds or a wetted face towel.
For an even more nurturing mask, add 1 to 4 drops of a facial oil or oil-based serum to the paste, such as Magical Babassu Face Oil or Ruby Face Oil. Replace the water with Cistus and Moonlight Face Mist for yet another variation and an interesting scent twist.
Full size 32 g/50 ml jar (1.1 oz); travel/sample size 4.2 g/5 ml jar (0.15 oz). Assuming you use 1 teaspoon of the mask per session, you may expect to get 10 lush mask sessions from the full-size jar. Expect to use up your entire travel/sample size for one mask session. Avoid inhaling the powder.
Due to the very high cost of our ingredients and the labor-intensive (highly time consuming) small-batch production process, we are unable to accept returns of opened or unopened products at this time. But most products have a sample size option for purchase, so we encourage you to buy a sample first to ensure that the product suits your skin's needs and that you enjoy the texture, fragrance, and healing properties.
‡Drag-Zalesinska, M., et al, "A New Betulin Derivative Stimulates the Synthesis of Collagen in Human Fibroblasts Stronger than its Precursor." InVivo, vol. 33 no. 4. July-Aug. 2019. http://iv.iiarjournals.org/content/33/4/1087.short.
§ Simmler, C., G. Pauli, and S. Chen, "Phytochemistry and Biological Properties of Glabridin." Fitoterapia vol. 90. Elsevier, October 2013. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fitote.2013.07.003.