Among the travel friendly things I brought with me to Taipei are the much gushed about Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain. After reading all the reviews hyperventilating over how fantastic they are, thought I'd better not miss this bandwagon. They fit my Taipei criteria just right, although I didn't expect how long it would take to review them properly (making excuses for the post's delay here...). It rained, and rained, and rained throughout my last 3 weeks in Taipei and sunny days were hard to come by. After racing against daylight for weeks (my classes didn't end until 1:30PM, and by 3PM it started to get dark!), I gave up and put the project on hold until I'm back in the sunny stateside visiting my folks. So please excuse the gloomy product pictures below and enjoy the brighter and clearer swatch pictures!
From left to right: 001 Honey, 005 Crush, 010 Darling, 015 Cherish, 020 Lovesick, 025 Sweetheart, 030 Smitten, 035 Charm, 040 Rendezvous, 045 Romantic, 050 Precious, and 055 Adore. All pictures taken in natural light without flash.
Like the Clinique Chubby Sticks and Victoria's Secret Beauty Rush Glossy Tint Lip Sheens, these are sharpening-free chubby lip pencils in twist up form. There are 12 colors available and I have all the shades. As you can see from the pretty lip pencil rainbow above, 001 Honey and 005 Crush (2 total) are neutrals, from 010 Darling through 030 Smitten (5 total) are cools, and from 035 Charm through 055 Adore (5 total) are warms. A pretty clever color distribution I'd say since there's something in it for everyone.
001 Honey and 005 Crush
Here's the inevitable comparison - these Revlon Balm Stains are way more pigmented than the Clinique Chubby Sticks and VS Beauty Rush Lip Sheens. With the exception of 010 Darling, 015 Cherish, 035 Charm, and 050 Precious, the rest provide moderate coverage with just one layer and full coverage with two! For a more subtle stain effect, I apply these like I would a lipstick - one layer on the lower lip and then press to spread. For daily wear, these are way, way, way too pigmented, but to my own surprise I wore them out to class everyday anyway, all in the name of product testing ^.^
010 Darling, 015 Cherish, 020 Lovesick, 025 Sweetheart, and 030 Smitten.
In short, totally see why some people are head over heels for these balm stains. In terms of price versus color pay off, they blow Clinique out of the water being about half the price, $8.99 for 0.09oz., versus Clinique's $16 for 0.10oz., and triple the pigmentation, and then some. Perhaps this is the reason Clinique is upping its game with the new Chubby Stick Intense, hmm? As for VS, Revlon wins with staying power and staining but loses miserably when it comes to moisturizing factor - these Balm Stains are even balmier and waxier than the Chubby Sticks! So instead of feathering off like a lipstick the way the Chubbies do, they simply just dry up, leaving my lips thirsty for some moisture. I didn't tag these as "lip balms" for this very reason - they may feel balmy going on, but they're all color and no balm!
035 Charm, 040 Rendezvous, 045 Romantic, 050 Precious, and 055 Adore.
I should note that the finish of these Balm Stains do change after several minutes of application. Initially, they all have a slight sheen, still nowhere as glossy as Stila Lip Glaze Sticks or even the shine of the VS Lip Sheens but still better than the Clinique Chubbies, though I wouldn't say Clinique's satiny finish is a bad thing either. After about half an hour or so, they turn more opaque, losing this slight sheen and becoming more satiny like Clinique. This is the reason two layers are enough to provide full coverage for me, because they turn completely opaque! While not all are staining, the ones that do are extremely so, with the stain being a slightly different color than the balm to boot!
001 Honey and 005 Crush, both neutrals. Can you tell these pictures were taken in Taipei?
I like that these Balm Stains go on with a peppermint fragrance and a mild minty sensation. It's just a shame that neither lasts very long, disappearing in about, oh, 5 minutes -.-' I really wish they both would last for at least as long as an average lip balm, precisely because they are labeled as such. Then again, an average tinted lip balm would never have colors that go on (and on, and on) as if they were the Duracell bunnies, staying on my lips for so long they actually annoyed me LOL! For example, I applied them as the very last step of my makeup routine before darting out of the house every morning around 9:15-ish AM. By lunch time, 1:30-2:00 PM (classes didn't end until 1:15-ish), the color would still be going strong on my (then dried out) lips until I finally wipe them off. So you see, before the stubborn stain even enters the equation the color of the [dried out] balm itself already lasts a good 4+ hours!
I have to say, not to toot any horns but American drugstore products are becoming more and more impressive these days ^.^ And this is coming from me, who's super critical of the appalling and repulsive American bigger-and-cheaper-are-better mentality! Have you seen the size of that Maybelline mascara?!? What is it now, a family-sized tube? Really? I know packaging can get expensive, but I can almost club someone with that thing! O.o
015 Cherish and 020 Lovesick
025 Sweetheart and 030 Smitten, all 5 are cools.
Now the darn stains, they're ninja stains, crazy stubborn and difficult to remove, even from the back of my hand after swatching! They were another
Anyway, to get the stains on the back of my hand, I applied the pencils, leave them on for at least 30 minutes before blotting the balm off completely with tissue. And keep in mind both the swatches and the stains are on the back of my hand and not my lips, on which the Balm Stains may turn a different color. Even if I were to do a lip swatch and stain, they may turn a different color on your lips!
040 Rendezvous and 045 Romantic
050 Precious (taken at home) and 055 Adore (taken in Taipei)
- 001 Honey: a dusty rose with hints of mauve that's very natural and flattering on me! It looks a lot more mauvey in the tube but goes on me with way more pink. And don't let it deceive you, it's actually *not* a my-lips-but-better color and will show up pretty well with 2 layers. The stain it leaves behind, however, is definitely my-lips-but-better, which kind of defeats the purpose of a stain to begin with LOL! Still, this is one of my favorite pencils. I used to carry it with me in my school bag and brought it with me to SF.
- 005 Crush: a gorgeous and vampy wine that turns much cooler on my lips. It leaves a pretty and slightly warmer reddish stain.
001 Honey and 005 Crush, swatches (left) and stains (right).
- 010 Darling: a translucent lilac with a touch of pink. Unfortunately, I can't really wear this color by itself as it turns my lips really pale. It leaves behind a weak pink lilac stain, but even with my true lip color showing through, I still end up just looking really pale with the stain. So in the end, this color doesn't quite work out too well for me at all :( That said, it's not totally useless as I experimented and found an interesting use for it ^.^
This shade is a cooling agent for neutral (001 Honey and 005 Crush) and warmer colors (040 Rendezvous, 045 Romantic, 055 Adore). What do you think? Base on my experimental swatches, unless I really love bright hot pink and fuchsia, picking the below 6 pencils and skipping the rest would still get me a pretty good range of warm and cool colors. 010 Darling turned 001 Honey into a pretty lotus pink, 005 Crush a violet-berry, 040 Rendezvous a dusty petal pink that still retains a tad of its warmth, 045 Romantic a dusty rose, and 055 Adore a berry-mauve!
- 015 Cherish: a semi translucent lotus pink with lilac undertone. Like 010 Darling above, I can't wear this one by itself either. I tried, but I just looked like a tweeny bopper. Thankfully, the stain it leaves behind is much better, a pale pink that allows some of my true lip color to show through, so it's not completely hopeless. I can still apply it, wait for half an hour then wipe it off and just wear the stain. I experimented with this color too and found that it's a lightening agent for the cools (020 Lovesick, 025 Sweetheart, or 030 Smitten), as in I mix this with those colors to lighten them up by at least 1 shade. No experimental swatches though, sorry!
- 020 Lovesick: a very vivid fuchsia that turns even cooler after it sets and turns opaque! The first time I wore this to school, a classmate teased me, "Woh D., you look, umm, different today." Nah, really? Get outta here! ^.^' So yeah, this is definitely not something I'd wear regularly. Also, this and 025 Sweetheart were the very pencils that led hubby to think I had worn lipstick to bed. You've been warned. It leaves a bright bubblegum pink stain very similar to 025 Sweetheart and 030 Smitten.
- 025 Sweetheart: a very bright hot pink on the back of my hand that turns into a fuchsia on my lips after it sets and turns opaque. It's so similar to 020 Lovesick on me I couldn't tell them apart doing a half and half comparison, as in applying this shade on one half, top and bottom lips, and 020 Lovesick on the other. To confirm it wasn't my imagination, I asked another classmate if she could tell the difference. Her reply? "差不多了!" (It's about the same!) Like 020 Lovesick, it leaves a crazy stubborn bright bubblegum pink stain.
- 030 Smitten: a very vibrant but surprisingly translucent magenta that's also unexpectedly flattering on me! It brings out the pink of my skin, and I didn't think it would become another one of my favorites but it did! However, it didn't leave a magenta stain but instead a bright bubblegum pink very similar to the stains from 020 Lovesick and 025 Sweetheart, only nowhere as stubborn and much easier to remove. Honestly, had I known this I would have skipped both 020 Lovesick and 025 Sweetheart and went with just 030 Smitten.
- 035 Charm: a pale nude peach. I was expecting this to be milky and opaque but was very pleased to find it translucent totally wearable! It leaves only a faint peachy stain, which is too bad because I really like the stain color.
I experimented with this one too, curious to see how it would alter the neutrals (001 Honey and 005 Crush) and the cools (020 Lovesick, 025 Sweetheart, and 030 Smitten). Well, it definitely dulled them down at least a shade, turning 025 Sweetheart tad warmer even, but that was about it. It just doesn't have enough yellow in it, or even the opacity, to fight strong blue in the cools.
- 040 Rendezvous: a bright navel orange that turns slightly coral on the back of my hand but stays more orange on my lips. It definitely leaves a coral stain though!
- 045 Romantic: a yellow based red. Like 030 Smitten above, it's also surprisingly translucent and flattering on me! Definitely another favorite. It leaves a reddish stain that's just perfect, not too faint but not too bright like 020 Lovesick, 025 Sweetheart, or 030 Smitten above.
- 050 Precious: appears sandy beige in the tube but goes on more of a pinky nude. This one turns out to be milky and semi opaque, which turns my lips somewhat pale. Good thing the pinky coral stain it leaves is much more wearable for me.
Again, I experimented mixing this with the neutrals (001 Honey and 005 Crush) and the cools (020 Lovesick, 025 Sweetheart, and 030 Smitten) to see what happens. It's much weaker than 035 Charm, that's for sure! Much so even with its semi opaqueness, it still didn't to do a thing to the cools other than toning them down by, like, a mere notch. Ha.
- 055 Adore: a deeper red that looks brownish in the tube but goes on blood-like on the back of my hand and turns a deep brick red on my lips. Yeah, a tad too hardcore for my taste and I much prefer the berry-mauve that's the result of mixing this with 010 Darling ^.^ The stain it leaves is only slightly redder than the stain from 045 Romantic.
035 Charm, 040 Rendezvous, 045 Romantic, and 055 Adore swatches (left) and stains (right).