The Balm cosmetics is relatively new to my makeup collection having only purchased my first product last year. I’ve seen products from this brand featured in many YouTube videos but for some reason, I was never interested in trying any for myself, regardless of the positive reviews. As much as I loved the packaging, I felt as if the product itself wouldn’t be very good. I thought maybe more effort went into the art work than the actual makeup.
Before I get into my thoughts on the products I have, I’ll give a little background on the brand, as I always do in my brand review posts. The Balm is based in San Francisco CA and was founded by Marissa Shipman in 2004 after she realised there were few simple products she needed to help her look and feel glam. She came to the conclusion that if she needed these simple yet important products, every woman would also need them. This realisation led to the birth of The Balm. Marissa started by educating her self in makeup and how to create them by buying books about makeup mixing. She stated that “I went makeup crazy. I incorporated the company, worked out a budget, hired a chemist and designed a website.” – The Balm Official Site.
The Balm is probably best known for its vintage 1940s/50s style packaging, which I love, but the reason for the illustrations on the packaging is unknown. I haven’t been able to find a quote from the founder in regards to the packaging however, I found an article from Makeup Museum who managed to track down the original illustrations which are commonly used on The Balms packaging. In the 1940s and 50s, an illustrator named Al Moore (Birth date unknown – 1991) rose to fame due to his illustrations of pin-up girls which were seen in prestigious publications such as Cosmopolitan and Esquire and McCall’s. In 1949, Moore was commissioned to create a calendar for Esquire magazine and the pin-up girl seen on The Balm’s Bahama Mama Bronzer was the pin-up girl for the month of June.
Peter Driben (1903 – 1968) is another 20th century pin-up illustrator The Balm has taken inspiration from. By 1935, Driben was creating iconic covers for magazines such as Snappy, Pep, New York Nights, French Night Life and Caprice. In 1936 he moved to New York and took his illustrations into advertising with his most famous work being publicity posters for the 1941 film The Maltese Falcon. Driben’s work established him as one of the most recognised pin-up artists in America during the 1940’s, you can see why The Balm would use his art work for their packaging. It’s truly beautiful.
Since buying my first product by The Balm, it’s quickly become one of my top makeup brands. Not only is the packaging just beautiful, especially if you’re a lover of all things vintage, but the quality of the products are even better. 99% of the products I’ve used from this brand, I love. The only thing I haven’t liked was a concealer called Time Balm Full Coverage concealer. I don’t like cream concealers which is why I de-cluttered this, but I’ve loved everything else!
The Balm is also cruelty free, talc free and paraben free however, carmine is used in some of their products. I linked an article in my Zoeva brand review post explaining in-depth what carmine is and why it’s used.
Onto the product reviews. Starting with the first product I brought from the brand. Mary Lou-Manzier highlighter. This is the best highlighter I’ve ever used and one I’ll definitely be re-purchasing. It’s my absolute favourite. If you have lighter skin, you’ll love this. It’s a light gold shade but it not too warm toned making it very versatile. However if you have more of cool undertone this may be to gold for you. This is also a good price considering how good the quality is at £20. Some MAC highlighters I’ve used retail for £24 and don’t even come close to this one. It’s currently on sale at Feelunique with 15% off. Link below.
I hate highlighters that have a ton of glitter and make you look like a disco ball. In a highlighter, I look for a natural glow which this gives. The powder has been really finely milled to give you a natural glow as opposed to looking like a glitter bomb has gone off. I’ve tried a lot of highlighters over the years and this is one I use every time I do my makeup. It’s one I’ll continue to re-purchase and one I recommend everyone tries!
The next two products I purchased were the Meet Matte Nude eyeshadow palettes. Starting off with Meet Matte Nude I brought this looking for some good matte eyeshadows and The Balm didn’t disappoint. These shadows are on the neutral side making it an excellent everyday palette.
The pans are huge, you get an awful lot of product which I really appreciate and makes the £39 price tag more justifiable. These shadows are nicely pigmented but do need a little building. I don’t mind this personally because it gives you margin for error, it’s pretty difficult to make a mistake with these shadows which is ideal for non-professionals, like myself. They’re also not as soft and creamy like ABH’s Modern Renaissance for example, but again, I like that because it’s going to take a lot longer to hit pan. I personally love the Meet Matte Nude Palette and it’s one I really recommend if you’re looking for some good quality neutral mattes. My favourites in this palette are Matt Lombardi, a really unique mustard yellow, Matt Abdul which is a beautiful cool toned grey, ideal for brown eyes and Matt Garcia a lovely mid-toned brown. Ideal for everyday looks. This palette is also on sale on Feelunique with 15% off making it £33.15. Link below
I also have the Meet Matte Trimony palette, Matte Nude’s sister palette. I like this one more than Meet Matte Nude just because there’s a better colour selection. I have tons of neutral palettes which is why I’m not as wowed by Meet Matte Nude. The quality is just as good as Meet Matte Nude, the shadows are nicely pigmented, blend beautifully and have an excellent wear time. Again, the shadows in Meet Matte Trimony aren’t are pigmented as the Modern Renaissance and they aren’t as soft but I like that quality. I’d say these shadows are on the warmer end of the spectrum with an array of warm browns, oranges and berry tones, so if you prefer a cooler toned look, these may not appeal to you. My favourites in this palette are Matt Kumar, a beautiful browny red shade and a nice dupe for ABH red ochre, Matt Moskowitz a lovely mid-toned purple and Matt Lopez a fabulous browny orange. Matte Trimony is definitely better for bolder looks, the back of the packaging even states it’s for special occasions! This usually retails for £39 but again, is on sale at Feelunique at £33.15.
I’ve also got two of the Meet Matte Hughes liquid lipsticks in the shades Adoring and Committed. Meet Matte Hughes liquid lipsticks are available in 18 shades. Adoring is a beautiful deep berry shade with red undertones and Committed is the perfect everyday peachy nude. These are the only two liquid lipsticks I own. I purchased these after seeing such good reviews and I agree for the most part. I’m not a big fan of lipsticks, especially liquid lipsticks. I get really dry lips and any makeup on them irritates me and feels incredibly uncomfortable. Plus I hate having to touch up makeup throughout the day and when you wear lipsticks, you usually have to touch up. I decided to try these so I have the option to wear lipstick if I want too. I do like these, if I prep my lips properly they’re comfortable to wear and the wear time is excellent. You’ll get a solid eight hours out of these.
Because I haven’t used any other liquid lipsticks I can’t compare them to any but I do recommend them because they are nice products. As comfortable as they are, they’re still matte and eventually will start to feel uncomfortable. If you’re someone who loves liquid lipsticks and haven’t tried these already, I really recommend them. They’re reasonably priced at £15 but again, are on sale at Feelunique for just £12.75. Oh, and these smell amazing, like after eight chocolates, or thin mints if you’re American!
And finally, I have a mascara called Mad Lash. I love this mascara, it’s one of my absolute favourites. I tend to favour plastic wands because it applies more product faster which why I purchased this. I have Benefit’s They’re Real which I also love but I prefer this simply because of the curved wand. It coats every single lash which my Benefit They’re Real doesn’t do as well. The formula is lovely, it doesn’t crumble or smudge which I LOVE, and it’s not even waterproof which is really impressive. I was expecting this to smudge. I have not time for mascaras that run throughout the day, it’s my biggest complaint with makeup on a whole. This does pick up a lot of product so if you’re interested in buying this, scrape of some product before applying otherwise you’ll end up with clumpy lashes. Honestly, all plastic mascara wands do this, is one of the down sides. But it really is a good mascara, I highly recommend this. It’s usually £17 but on Feelunique it’s currently selling for £14.20.
Overall, The Balm is a brand well worth checking out if you haven’t already. They create some of my favourite eyeshadows and lip products. Pair that with the beautiful vintage art work on the packaging and the excellent quality products which are not tested on animals, this is really makes The Balm a unique brand fit for anyone’s makeup bag!
Sources – The Balm Official Website and Makeup Museum
Thank you so much for taking the time to read today’s post all about The Balm. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed writing it. I hope to see you back in my next post.