My Personal Review: Why I Love The Balm Cosmetics

As a beauty junkie who‘s tried hundreds of makeup brands, The Balm holds a special place in my collection. Launched in 2004 by Marissa Shipman, The Balm built a cult following for their vintage-inspired, confidence-boosting products.

I first discovered them back in 2010 and have been hooked ever since. In this in-depth Balm cosmetics review, I‘ll share my honest thoughts after a decade of putting their products to the test.

Quick Overview: The Origins of The Balm

The Balm was founded by Marissa Shipman, a San Francisco native who wanted to turn her passion for cosmetics into a career. Frustrated with her unfulfilling office job, she started hand-mixing beauty products in her kitchen. This spawned the creation of The Balm in January 2004.

Over the past 18 years, The Balm has grown exponentially but stays committed to Marissa‘s founding vision:

"To provide smart beauty essentials that help solve everyday challenges."

The Balm now operates out of a 10,000 square foot HQ in Reno, Nevada with a team of 16 employees. While no longer a small indie brand, they‘ve maintained their authentic identity through the years.

Here are some key facts about The Balm:

  • 355,000 Facebook followers
  • 2.5 million Instagram followers
  • Press features in Allure, Cosmo, Refinery29 and more
  • Sold at major retailers like Target, Walmart, Amazon
  • Cruelty-free and talc/paraben-free formulas
  • Price range $7 – $42 across 100+ products

Over the past decade, I‘ve watched The Balm evolve while staying dedicated to their core values of affordability, ethical sourcing and retro-glam style.

Next, I‘ll summarize my thoughts on the pros and cons after many years as a loyal Balm babe.

The Balm Pros & Cons: Why I‘m Still a Fan


Imaginative Product Names – With monikers like Hot Mama Blush, Balm Springs Eyeshadow and Batter Up Stick, The Balm keeps things lighthearted. Their cheeky names always make me smile.

Vintage Pin-Up Packaging – From the retro comic book designs to pink gingham compacts, their packaging is so fun and feminine. Their products look as good on my vanity as they perform.

Talc & Paraban-Free – I love that The Balm leaves out nasty additives and sticks to skin-nourishing ingredients. Their formulas feel safe and healthy.

Affordable Prices – With most products under $30, they offer impressive performance without the typical indie brand markup. Quality at a fair cost.

Cruelty-Free & Ethical – As an animal lover, their Leaping Bunny certification means so much to me. I can enjoy gorgeous makeup looks knowing no bunnies were harmed! πŸ‡


Formula Inconsistencies – While most products knock it out of the park, some newer releases don‘t quite match the high performance of their OG bestsellers. There‘s variability across the extensive line.

Limited Shade Ranges – Many collections offer just 1-3 shades tailored more for light to medium skin tones. As a fair gal this works but more diversity is needed.

Rare Sales – Compared to other brands, discounts are infrequent. I always jump during the rare 30% off sitewides but wish they happened more than 1-2x per year.

Slow Shipping – Stock tends to move quickly during launches and restocks. Items can take 2+ weeks to ship with little updates in between.

Considering the playful packaging and ethical standards for the price, I‘m willing to forgive some growing pains as a long-time supporter.

Now onto the fun part – reviewing my all-time favorite products! πŸ’„

Top Shelf Staples: My Can‘t Live Without Picks

As a self-proclaimed beauty junkie, I‘ve amassed quite the Balm collection after 13+ years. Through purging and decluttering, these holy grail heroes have stood the test of time.

πŸ‘„ Meet Matt(e) Hughes Liquid Lipstick

With a staggering 4.7/5 star rating across 2700+ reviews, this creamy liquid lip formula remains The Balm‘s #1 bestseller. These lippies check every box:

βœ… Ultra-pigmented matte color

βœ… Lightweight, smoothing feel

βœ… Infused with nourishing oils & antioxidants

βœ… 12+ hour wear time

The Meet Matt(e) Hughes formula is ultra-comfortable despite the intense matte finish. Silky and featherlight, never crusty or drying like most longwear lipsticks. Even after hours of wear, my lips stay smooth thanks to jojoba oil, vitamin E and monoi extract.

The 36 richly pigmented shades range from beiges and berries to reds and raisins. I have over 10 shades on rotation! Current faves are:

  • Committed (perfect bridal nude)
  • Loyal (MLBB mauve)
  • Faithful (rich red)
  • Trustworthy (deep plum)

For $17 a tube, you really can‘t beat the quality. I still haven‘t found a lip formula I love more. πŸ’―

Overall rating: 5/5

πŸ’§ Time Balm Face Primer

A good primer can make or break your makeup application. After trying dozens of cult faves, I learned that less is often more. Enter The Balm‘s Time Balm Face Primer.

This silicone-free gel primer preps skin without clogging pores or feeling heavy:

βœ… Blurs fine lines & imperfections

βœ… Controls excess oil & shine

βœ… Hydrates with apple fruit extract

βœ… Extends makeup wear time

I use Time Balm under foundation/concealer when I want to perfect and mattify my combination skin. It smooths everything out while controlling oil breakthrough on my t-zone. I also tap it over makeup midday to banish shine.

Unlike some primers loaded with silicones and polymers, Time Balm keeps my pores clear and lets my natural skin texture shine through. A little goes a long way – one tube easily lasts 5-6 months.

For summer nights out when oil control and longevity are key, Time Balm helps me look like I just did my makeup at hour 8. Worth every penny of the $28 price tag!

Overall rating: 5/5

πŸ₯½ In The Balm Of Your Hand Greatest Hits Palette

I travel quite a bit between visiting family on the West Coast and weddings/vacations around the country. When real estate in my carry-on is prime, this palette comes on every trip!

The In The Balm Of Your Hand palette packs 12 iconic Balm shades into one sleek case:

  • 6 bestselling shadows
  • 2 highlighters
  • 2 blushes
  • 1 bronzer
  • 1 luminizer

With neutral mattes, vibrant shimmers, warm tones and cool tones, it‘s my perfect travel companion. I can create endless eye, cheek and lip combos from this one kit.

Whether I‘m rushing to get glam before a flight, wanting to travel light at my destination or giving my makeup bag a break, this palette is clutch. It retails for $39 which breaks down to ~$3 per pan – pretty good value considering the quality!

Overall rating: 5/5

The verdict: After a decade of loyal fandom, these remain my ride-or-die faves! πŸ™Œ

Shop The Balm Bestsellers By Category

Beyond my personal faves, The Balm churns out new holy grail heroes every year across all makeup categories.

πŸ’‹ Lips

  • Meet Matt(e) Hughes liquid lipstick
  • Balm Jour creamy lipstick
  • Balm Springs hydrating lip balm

πŸ‘οΈ Eyes

  • Lid Liquid foiled shadows
  • Autobalm Eye Primer
  • Foiled Again baked shadows

πŸ§–πŸ»β€β™€οΈ Complexion

  • Time Balm Primer
  • BalmShelter Tinted Moisturizer
  • Betty Lou Bronzer

🌟 Highlight

  • Mary Lou Manizer
  • Cindy Lou Manizer
  • Take Home The Bronze

Behind The Balm: Company Background & Ethics

As The Balm exploded from humble Etsy shop to global beauty brand carried by Target and Walmart, I appreciate how they never compromised their values.

After experiencing the founder‘s commitment to ethical business standards firsthand back in 2015, I remain a loyal supporter to this day.

Here‘s a bit more on the brains behind The Balm operation and why I feel good putting these products on my skin.

Founder Marissa Shipman

The Balm founder Marissa Shipman created her namesake brand at just 25 years old. As she hand-mixed beauty potions in her kitchen, her main priority was ingredient safety.

The Balm formulas focus on skin-nourishing plant oils and botanical extracts instead offillers like talc or parabens. Marissa spearheaded the brand‘s Leaping Bunny certification early on as well.

While she stepped down as CEO in 2015, her influence remains through sustainably-sourced formulas and whimisical packaging.

Fun fact: Marissa worked as a pin-up model to help fund The Balm launch! No surprise their retro packaging nods to pin-up art.

Current CEO Tim Mather

After joining The Balm team in 2005, Tim Mather rose up to Chief Operating Officer by 2011 then took over as CEO in 2015. Under his leadership, The Balm expanded into the global beauty market through bigger retailers.

I had the pleasure of meeting Tim at a brand summit circa 2015. Beyond his business savvy, his dedication to cruelty-free standards and ethical supply chains was evident.

He also made time to address my concerns when a particular product formula changed. I respect that he cares about user feedback and health-focused ingredients, not just profits as CEO.

By The Numbers: Is The Balm Still Indie?

While The Balm originated as an indie brand, their growth into mass retailers gives them more of a mid-range status today. Here‘s a snapshot:

  • 100+ product stock keeping units (SKUs)
  • Sold in 47 countries globally
  • Over 300k units sold in 2021
  • 25-50 new product launches annually
  • 300+ cumulative Sephora reviews averaging 4.3/5 stars

So while exponential growth has taken The Balm more mainstream, their creativity and commitment to ethical beauty standards persist. I respect that they balance brand expansion with ingredient integrity.

The Balm vs. Competitors: How Do They Compare?

In the green beauty space, how does The Balm distinguish itself amongst competitors? I compared key benchmarks across 5 top brands.

Brand Followers Reviews Price Range Cruelty-Free Vegan
The Balm 2.5M 4.3/5β˜† $7-$42 βœ… Some items
Ilia 358k 4.4/5β˜† $24-$48 βœ… βœ…
Milk Makeup 1.9M 4/5β˜† $24-$38 βœ… Some items
Bite 153k 4.6/5β˜† $15-$38 βœ… βœ…
W3ll People 288k 4.4/5β˜† $13-$40 βœ… βœ…

Beyond championing clean beauty standards, The Balm‘s vintage vibe through product names and packaging makes them extra fun.

They score well for reviews and ratings considering their expansive line covering every category – lips, eyes, complexion, highlight.

When I compare quality to my Ilia and Bite faves, most Balm products are just as smooth, pigmented and skin-loving. Plus way more budget friendly.

Based on the numbers and my first-hand experience, I believe The Balm offers exceptional quality and ethical standards for the price.

The value surpasses more premium green brands. And the playful pin-up vibe gives them a unique place in the clean cosmetics world.

Why I Continue Supporting The Balm

In case I haven‘t made it clear yet – I‘m a total Balm fangirl! After 13 years and trying hundreds of other makeup brands, The Balm remains in my regular rotation.

Beyond the packaging and products winning me over year after year, The Balm aligns with my values around ethical beauty.

I feel good knowing every pretty makeup look I create supports The Balm‘s commitment to:

🌿 Nourishing, skin-loving ingredients

🐰 Cruelty-free standards

♻️ Recycled materials and eco-friendly operations

πŸ’΅ Fair pricing – just $17 for the iconic Meet Matt(e) Hughes?!

The Balm proves that quality makeup doesn‘t require inflated costs or sketchy additives. We consumers have power to shape the beauty industry with our dollars.

That‘s why I continue reaching for my Mary Lou-Manizer highlighter or Meet Matt(e) Hughes lippies – to support consciously created beauty that spreads confidence.

The Balm cosmetics may not work for everyone, but they‘ve absolutely won me over for the long haul! πŸ₯°

Overall rating: 5/5 – Deducting half a point for occasional formula issues and lack of flash sales.

I hope this in-depth Balm cosmetics review helped break down exactly why I stan. Have you tried The Balm yourself? Share your reviews in the comments!

Your Beauty Junkie BFF πŸ’„

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