The Balm Brand Review, Part One: Getting Lippy, But It’s All Just Cheeky Fun

Published on June 16, 2017 by   ·   No Comments

Balm 01I’ve been wanting to do a brand review of The Balm cosmetics for ages, but I just never seemed to get inspired to do it, or other big releases got in the way.  In the meantime, my collection of products representing the brand just kept growing!  So it’s finally here, and because there’s so much to cover, I decided to break it into two separate pieces: in this part we’re going to take a look at some of the lip and face products (and a little eyeshadow, since it’s a mixed palette – you’ll see what we mean!), and part two will be dedicated to three of their eye palettes.

What I love most about the brand is their consistent packaging and brand identity – they are all about puns!  Everything they sell has a pun using a play on the word Balm or something to do with the product itself.  Plus, it’s all combined with retro-inspired pinup style art.  They are easily recognizable and everything is super coherent and absolutely consistent.  They mix in a little innocent pinup with some sexy Bond Girl action and stuff like that, but you can always recognize a Balm product as belonging to the brand.

The first product is the Manizer Sister face palette; I mentioned this one in my “See The Light” highlighter post around the holidays.  This one comes with a highlight, blush, and bronzer, but all three shades have a shiny, metallic finish so you could use them all as highlighters if they work with your skintone and the look you’re trying to create.  If you don’t like blushes and bronzers with sparkle, then this may not be the palette for you.

Balm Manizer

I liked all three shades; they had a buttery texture that applied well on the skin and I’m never afraid of sparkle and shine so the colors were perfect for me.  They aren’t super unique, though, so if you’ve got a ton of highlighters you may already have some that are like this.  Perhaps the most unique is the blush shade, Cindy-Lou Manizer.  It’s a nice blushing petal pink, but has a lot more color than most of the pink highlighters I’ve seen.  Mary-Lou Manizer is a pretty standard champagne highlight and Betty-Lou Manizer is a medium bronzer with a ton of metallic shine.  This would look heavenly on darker skintones!  It looks a lot like Jeffree Star’s Dark Horse, so if you aren’t a fan of that brand this would be a good dupe for that.  Again, if you like matte blushes and bronzers, you should steer clear of these because, as they swatches show, these three really shine!

Balm Face Swatch

Below, the two smaller swatches are individual bronzers that I received as samples in Ipsy bags.  On the left is Balm Desert; on the right is Bahama Mama.  Balm Desert seems to have a little bit of shimmer or shine to it as well, but not nearly as intense as the Manizer Sisters.  If you are looking for true matte, stick to Bahama Mama.  Both of these are pigmented enough that you could use them for eyeshadows, which is a good thing because these little sample sizes are way too small to use with a bronzing brush!  Balm Desert, especially, would be a really great transition shade on light to medium skintones that are doing a warmer-toned look.

Balm Bronze

Now on to some of my favorite things: the lipsticks!

I’m a liquid lipstick maniac, so I can’t believe I don’t have any of the Balm’s liquids but I just haven’t managed to add any to my collection yet.  What I have picked up, however, are three of their Balm Girl lipsticks.  I am obsessed with Bond Girls, so I love this packaging so much!  And those adorable names!  I always said that if I could be a Bond Girl, I’d want my name to be Pussy N’More.  Not sure it’s going to happen, but I’m here and ready to fuck Daniel Craig at the drop of a mothafuckin’ hat, y’all!

Balm Girls

Foxxy Pout looks like it’s going to be a red but it’s actually more of a copper shade with lots of sparkle and shine.  Mai Billsbepaid (Gawd, can I just say again how much I’m GAGGING over these names!  Fierce!) is a peachy nude that looks more terracotta in the stick but, as you’ll see below, doesn’t apply that way.  Anita Boytoy, my favorite of the group, is a bright bubblegum pink with glittery sparkle.  All three are fantastic shades, but they are definitely for people who like some shine to their lipstick.  Mai looks like she might be a matte, but don’t let her fool you!

Balm Girls 02

Foxxy has a reddish base, but the copper definitely comes through especially when in direct light.  At an angle you get a little more of the red coming through, but I wouldn’t plan on this for a red lipstick look!  Mai had a different kind of application: creamier, a little thicker, and almost semi-sheer.  It looks much deeper in the tube, but applies like more of a peachy nude with shine.  Anita is the closest to how she looks in the tube with that gorgeous Barbie pink.

Finally, I’m going to talk about a combination palette; I’m saving most of the eyeshadows for part 2 of this brand review, but since this one also have lip and cheek products, I decided it could come to this party!  It helps balance the two posts anyway.  The palette I’m talking about is the Balm Voyage, and this is one that I found at the Nordstrom Rack – so not only was it gorgeous, but I got a great deal on the price!

Balm Voyage

This palette is perfect for traveling (hence the Bon Voyage theme!) because it’s got a little bit of everything: 9 shadows, a highlight and bronzer, 2 blushes, and 2 cream-based products that can be used for lip or cheek application (you can see the “perspiration” on Vitajte – it’s getting tropical in the World of Champagne offices!).  Of the products I’ve reviewed so far, this is the one I was least impressed with.  The shadows were ok, but the glitter had a little bit of fallout and tended to blend away, and all of the shadows to one degree or another tended to stick to the Kat Von D eye primer that I put down before I did the swatches.  I wasn’t using a brush, so it’s possible that you’ll be able to blend some of that away, but I just didn’t find these to be as buttery and blendable as I was hoping.

Balm Voyage Swatch 01

Having said that, they weren’t terrible and you can definitely get some good looks out of these; especially if you find these at a discount (like at the Rack) then they are worth at least thinking about.  It’s probably not the kind of thing I’m going to make an absolute “must have” in my kit, but it wasn’t too bad.  The very bottom right shadow was the only one that had a significant performance issue, as you can see in the closeup below:

Balm Voyage Swatch 02

The shadow settled into the texture on the back of my hand and never went away, even with some pretty vigorous blending.  If you have any crepeiness or other texture on your eyes, this might be a problem.

The cheek products were ok – the colors were nice and pigmented, but because it was trying to be a basic, go-to travel palette there was nothing really daring or unique about them.  The cream shades were much more pigmented than I would have expected and they laid down nicely over the Kat Von D eye primer that I had down for the shadows, so my guess is that if you use any other cream-based face products or a liquid foundation, these will play well with those – just make sure you apply them before you do any layers of powder.

There’s nothing super daring about any of the color selections so far, so it looks like The Balm is trying to create a line of basic products that will work as your everyday makeup routine, with some pops of color here and there to spice things up.  They don’t seem to be chasing any big trends, and I never really hear about them putting out a bunch of limited collections or products, so most of their items are available permanently (except for products that occasionally get discontinued, as happens with all brands).  Overall the quality is pretty high, though the prices on some of the products, especially the palettes, are maybe a little high for what you’re getting.  I for one wouldn’t have paid full price for the Bon Voyage palette; $20 at the Rack was a much more attractive option for this.

Come back soon for part two, where I go more in depth with their shadows – will the other palettes behave like the shadows in the Balm Voyage?  You’ll just have to take a layover and find out when we launch the second half of this review!

Now Go Forth & Get Painted!

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