There were 9 colors available, but a couple of months ago when I bought these, color 04 Savonly Lily was discontinued. Sure I can still find it on E(vil)bay, but it's a nude beige color and I have enough of those so I happily skipped ^.^ And just within this past month, Canmake discontinued 2 more colors, 01 Rosier Rose and 07 Dancing Camellia, which is really too bad because both are gorgeous colors!
From left to right: 01 Rosier Rose, 02 Smily Gerbera, 03 Tiny Sweetpea, 05 Flowing Cherry Petal, 06 Sweet Clematis, 07 Dancing Camellia, 08 Juicy Peony, and 09 Masquerade Bud just released in early October! All pictures taken in natural light without flash.
These are in a chubby twist-up tube packaging, taking after the chubby lip pencil trend that provides both color and moisture. These Canmake ones has an added SPF11, but this is so negligible I honestly wouldn't buy these for their sun protection. That would be completely silly because unless you pile on a super thick layer, this SPF won't do anything at all. So it's just best to pretend nothing's there ^.^
Also, starting from the color 03 Tiny Sweetpea, the applicator is slightly slanted, versus the flat top for 01 Rosier Rose and 02 Smily Gerbera. You would think the modification is insignificant but I think it actually makes the balm stick much easier to apply.
My take for these Balm Rouge? LOVE. OMG, seriously, I love these! They're unscented, that's a given, so first let's talk about the formula. Wow. These feel like a balmier version of my favorite Lavshuca Dramatic Memory Rouge. And by balmy I don't mean waxy, not at all! The texture is thick and smooth, and they glide on like butter with a satisfying tug, leaving a glossy finish. Yes, glossy, not just a wimpy sheen. And they're moisturizing to boot! This moisture lasts a good 3-4 hours on my lips, with water sipping and lots of chatting and laughing in between (I wore these over the holidays with families and friends) - amazing for a drugstore product that retails for a mere few bucks (if you were to buy them in Japan, see discussion below)!
Unlike most other Japanese lipsticks that ran colors so similar you can't tell which from which in the tube or by the swatch, in contrast each of these Balm Rouge is distinct, a definite plus in my book! This is not to say the colors aren't wearable, quite the opposite. Interestingly enough, all 8 colors I have are super wearable. I've worn every single one of them on different occasions, depending on my mood, and to my surprise I like them all! Sure, I like some colors more so than others, but there isn't a color I'm on edge about in this batch. Of course I'd left out 04 Savonly Lily that's a nude beige, but given how wearable these 8 are I now think 04 might not have been so bad after all.
Oh yes, did I mention these are all shimmer-free? Yes, they are ^.^ If you were to scrutinize them under a direct source of light, you might be able to detect a speck or two of micro-shimmers, but otherwise you don't see any shimmer at all. That said, not all the colors are translucent and few do have some opacity to them (05 Flowing Cherry Petal, 06 Sweet Clematis, and 08 Juicy Peony, I'm guessing 04 Savonly Lily also). But what amazes me the most is that even the semi opaque colors will adapt themselves to my lips. This means colors that apply evenly without shifting around in patches, and absolutely no milkiness that emphasizes the dry cracks and flakes, no matter how many layers I apply. As you can see from the swatches, these Balm Rouges are decently pigmented for a "balmy" product. The semi opaque colors will yield at least moderate coverage with 2 layers! The lasting power is the same as the moisture, about 3-4 hours, after which the colors fade evenly. Count me super impressed!
- 01 Rosier Rose: don't let the color in the tube fool you, this is actually a lovely medium neutral rose pink that's somewhat translucent. So very pretty!
- 02 Smily Gerbera: a translucent reddish orange that turns slightly coral on my lips. Love this!
- 03 Tiny Sweetpea: a yellow based translucent red that turns slightly coral on my lips also. Love this too!
- 05 Flowing Cherry Petal: a semi opaque warm petal pink. When I first applied this color, I thought, doh, it's semi opaque. Then thirty seconds later I was amazed with how the color just melted right into my lips! I ended up with pretty pink lips. Wow!
- 06 Sweet Clematis: despite appearing coral in the tube, this is a semi opaque peach nude. Again I had that, oh darn, thought when I first applied it, only to be pleasantly surprised when it blended into my lips for a lovely and very natural peach nude color. Quite pretty! This and 05 Flowing Cherry Petal are the two colors I wear on my errand runs, precisely because they're so low key.
- 07 Dancing Camellia: a translucent blue based red that's more pigmented than all the other colors, including 09 Masquerade Bud! With this one I apply only one layer and that would be more than potent enough for me. Likey!
- 08 Juicy Peony: a semi opaque cool carnation pink that turns leans fuchsia on my lips ^.^
- 09 Masquerade Bud: a translucent deep velvety red that turns warm on my lips. I thought this color would clash but turns out it's quite wearable and lovely!
From left to right: 06 Sweet Clematis, 07 Dancing Camellia, 08 Juicy Peony, and 09 Masquerade Bud.
Anyway, if you do decide to pick up some Japanese items (and I'm assuming you're in the US), this would be a good time with the exchange rate in the dollar's favor ^.^ So make sure to pay in yen and not dollars. Sure, it will still be a little expensive. You won't be able to get Japanese retail, but at least the exchange rate will lessen the blow to your wallet a little bit. For example, Ichibankao (not affiliated!) lists these Balm Rouges for 1,250yen a piece (~$10.38, inclusive of shipping), which is already absurd given they retail for a mere 580yen in Japan (~$4.80) - that's a 215% markup we're talking about here! However, the cheapest I could find on E(vil)bay is $12.95 with shipping!