Wednesday, 21 October 2015

The Tinted Balm Life

Despite the fact that I worked very hard to get over my fear of lipstick (I bought my first lipstick in 2012: MAC Patisserie, which is exactly the same colour as my bare lips. Live on the edge, Alison) in the last few years, the fact remains that I don't really wear lipstick. I like tinted balms. I have full lips and pale skin, and any lipstick that's worth the name is going to be dramatic on my face. It's a bit much for everyday, and not really in my desired aesthetic. So while I do have a handful lipsticks, the bulk of my lip products are tinted balms. I can't get enough.

The summer (and fall, and probably winter) of 2015 was the time of tinted balms. I bought many. I destashed a bunch. I tried different colours and price brackets. Different opacities - because even in the tinted balm world, there's still a need to differentiate. There are some that fall on the side of sheer lipsticks, and some that are true tinted balms. I've noticed in the indie world in particular, there's not much of a differentiation between tinted balms and lipsticks. Which can be annoying to me - I buy tinted balms because I want a wash of colour, not something that looks like a lipstick. I've gotten better at more carefully reading colour descriptions, but this is still something that needs to be dealt with. Or at least the weird category of not-a-lipstick-but-not-a-tinted-balm needs to be defined. 

I thought I was looking for the perfect tinted balm for a while, until I realized that I wouldn't really be happy with only one tinted balm. Some people need a variety of lipsticks, I need a variety of tinted balms. I then switched to thinking I needed to find the perfect formula: not too oily, on the waxier side, plush, moisturizing, doesn't sit in my lip lines, easy to reapply, not too pigmented but also not too sheer, no taste, and no weird scents. Essentially, I'm very exacting about what I want in a tinted balm. I have needs. Answer them, balms.

The hoard.

Anyway, this is a roundup of all of the tinted balms from the latter part of the summer that found their way into my grubby hands. Most I bought, some were GWP, one was a gift. A good number of these fall between tinted balms and lipsticks - indies strike again. Some of these are actually sheer lipsticks (the Lancome and the Givenchy) and others are true tinted balms (the Fresh and the Kae Q Sheer Besos). The rest...they're confused. As am I. 

Bare lips for reference. I feel like I always wear the same shirt while swatching. I swear I have more than one shirt.

Starting off with the Lancome and Givenchy: these were bought during a particularly weak moment over the summer. My summer job was incredibly stressful for me, and the government firewall didn't allow me to surf the fun part of the Internet in moments of stress-relieving. It did, however, let me access two websites where I spent a lot of time: CBC, to catch up on my news, and Sephora, so I could stress shop. 

L-R: Givenchy Le Rouge-A-Porter in Beige Floral, Lancome Shine Lover in Twisted Beige

Givenchy Le Rouge-A-Porter in Beige Floral

Lancome Shine Lover in Twisted Beige

It was actually fortunate that I purchased these when I did, because a few days later Sephora transitioned to its Canadian warehouse and the Givenchy Le Rouge-A-Porter was no longer available. However, the glaringly obvious things about these two is that they are the same colour, one just slightly more pigmented than the other. The exact same. I don't know what I was thinking. (Probably something like "Oh God why are they letting me run a library by myself the ink isn't even dry on my diploma.") Both the Givenchy Le Rouge-A-Porter in Beige Floral and the Lancome Shine Lover in Twisted Beige are described as pinky nudes. The Lancome has a faint fruity scent, while the Givenchy smells like all Givenchy lipsticks. I ended up getting rid of my one Givenchy Le Rouge, because while the pigmentation was fantastic, the colour was beautiful, and it was comfortable to wear, the smell of roses or old ladies or whatever it is supposed to be translates to an awful taste on my lips and I do NOT like my lip products to taste like anything. Sadly, the Rouge-A-Porter has the very same taste. I like it but that waxy, awful taste. Since the Lancome doesn't taste like anything, it's the clear winner. And yet I can't quite let go of the Givenchy yet. 

We'll see how I feel after I have to pack everything.

Moving on: Kae Q. Kae Q released a lot of stuff this summer and fall that appealed to me. I ended up getting a mix of the regular Besos which are really more akin to lipsticks, and with the new formulation, are definitely lipstick-like and no longer tinted balms. The sheer Besos, on the other hand, are tinted balms and my preference.

L-R: Kae Q Herbology, Kae Q Caimito, Kae Q Sea Grape, Kae Q Bloodberry, Kae Q Fig

Kae Q Caimito (Sheer lipstick in a vivid purple shade.)

Kae Q Herbology (Satin lipstick in a creamy rose-brown.)

Kae Q Sea Grape (Satin lipstick in a berry-rose pink.)

Kae Q Bloodberry (Sheer lipstick in a warm red.)

Kae Q Fig (Sheer lipstick in a reddish brown.)

However, there seems to be some inconsistencies between the level of sheerness: Bloodberry and Caimito are  pigmented than Fig. I personally don't mind the sheerness of Fig - it reminds me of a richer, more comfortable to wear version of Shiro With Eyes Unclouded, which I loved, but is a pretty sheer red, and isn't as popular as the others.

I also did some comparisons with some other lip colours in my collection. Caimito is similar to HelloWaffle's lip gloss in Audrey 2, and I actually layered those two for a wedding a month ago.

L-R; HelloWaffle Audrey 2, Kae Q Caimito

I compared Kae Q Sea Grape with another Kae Q colour from the spring, Snapdragon. Sea Grape is brighter and punchier, while Snapdragon leans more brown. 

L-R: Kae Q Sea Grape, Kae Q Snapdragon

I still can't believe I actually bought a Fresh balm. A $26CAD balm. I did buy it with a gift card, and I love the colour, but it's still a lip balm. Never again, Fresh, no matter how much I liked Petal. Such a great neutral pink. I've had a mini tube of Rose before, from the Sephora birthday gift a few years ago. I feel like the formula is better suited to a full sized tube, though. It's too soft and bendy for a skinny bit of product like that.

L-R: Fresh Petal, Fresh Rose

Fresh Petal (sheer petal pink)

Fresh Rose (sheer berry rose)

HelloWaffle has gone through a few iterations of lip balm formulas, but I really like this latest one. All of the colours wear really well, are opaque and glide smoothly. The downside is that darker colours require a bit of finesse, and if I don't exfoliate my lips beforehand, it's really obvious. 

L-R: HelloWaffle It's Pronounced Zed, HelloWaffle An Immortal Soul, HelloWaffle Chignon

HelloWaffle An Immortal Soul (Sheer peach)

HelloWaffle Chignon (Sheer nude mlbb)

HelloWaffle It's Pronounced Zed (cool pink-toned red)

Chignon is a really great MLBB, and An Immortal Soul is a terrific peach. It's Pronounced Zed is a great colour, but because of its higher pigmentation, can be tricky to apply and my laziness is well documented.

Chignon is, surprise surprise, similar to the Givenchy and Lancome. Swatching all of my similar colours, I think it's safe to say that I do not need anymore pinky nudes for the rest of my life.

L-R: Givenchy Beige Floral, Lancome Twisted Beige, Mac Patisserie, HelloWaffle Chignon, Fresh Petal

Of all of these, I prefer the Kae Q sheer formula the most, followed up by HelloWaffle's formula, preferably in the lighter colours. I still don't have the perfect balm. I don't know that I ever will, and even if I find it, I think my acquisitive nature will keep me looking. Just like I keep looking for the ultimate root beer-flavoured candy. 


  1. This was a really interesting post for me, since I've never been a huge fan of sheer lipsticks or tinted balms, and I used to wonder why anyone would drop more than $10 on a product with barely visible color. You've assembled some beautiful specimens, though! Have you ever tried NARS sheer lipsticks? A few of them are quite pigmented, but there are some nice neutrals and semi-neutrals without a lot of pigment (I'm thinking of Fast Ride, Damage, and Dolce Vita in particular).

    1. I haven't tried the NARS - NARS has never really been on my beauty radar for some reason, even though I use several NARS products and the eye primer and concealer stick are both staples in my makeup routine.

      I may swatch them next time I get to a Sephora, which will be at Christmas, probably, since I now live in the middle of nowhere.


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