BATTLE OF THE BALMS: Lipstick Queen Medieval vs. Balmyard Beauty Baby Love Balm
I am not a frequent user of heavy duty lip products. The main reason is I'm not very good at applying them or navigating life when they are on -- the other day I got deep red lipstick all over a new cashmere sweater because I accidentally brushed it on the lip of a mug of coffee I was drinking. Due to this lipstick-ineptitude, I am always drawn to (and use more often) lighter and sheerer lip products like balms and glosses.
Because these types of products are for lightweights, I also don't tend to see that many reviews of them online -- at least, it is difficult to find the same amount and depth of reviews on comparisons between Kiehl's and Glossier's tube balms as there are on Too Faced vs. Tarte's matte liquid lipsticks. Consequently, each week I'll be discussing and comparing two light or sheer lip products (sometimes products more 'makeup-y' and sometimes products more 'skincare-y') until I run out of the ones I have on hand.
Today I'm comparing Lipstick Queen's Medieval and Balmyard Beauty's Baby Love Balm. I decided to focus on these two due to a recent push in marketing on Instagram by goop (cringe! cringe!) for the Baby Love Balm and positive press on Into the Gloss for Medieval.
First I'll review the different categories in my mind for what makes a good lightweight lip product.*
- Deployment Mechanism: the main question here is 'do I have to get my finger dirty'? Preference is put on tubes that deploy product directly to your lips (no appendages involved).
- Goo Effect: 'will my hair stick to this'? Points off for an overly sticky or tacky texture.
- Hydration: 'will this chap my lips'? (Looking at you, Dior Glow!) Preference given to formulas that either actively seem to moisturize lips or leave them in the same state as pre-application.
- Shade: 'is this a pleasant color'? A good tinted balm is one that gives you more life, not one that makes you look hypothermic. I also look for consistent deposits of color. Longevity isn't a concern, because I don't think it's fair to hold a product whose entire purpose is to to be sheer to the same standards as a regular lipstick in terms of staying-power. It's a balm, you'll have to re-apply!
- Extra Benefits: 'does it have SPF? Can I use this as a lipstick primer? Can this layer over other lip products nicely'? Just the other little things that can make a lightweight lip product extra special.
Let's start with Lipstick Queen's Medieval. In this vaguely intense video, which I definitely thought was a Monty Python-esque parody or spoof of some kind, they position Medieval as a 'universal' red that 'looks good on everyone!'.
Lipstick Queen's write up tells you about the lore influencing the formula's name and color:
During medieval times, when lipstick was considered a sin, women used the natural acidity of lemons to bring forth a natural blood-red stain on their lips. This flattering look has been recreated by Poppy in this best-selling tint. Medieval is purely Vitamin E and pigment, making it silky to wear and divinely transparent. And best of all it makes your skin look flawless. (Lipstick Queen)
(As I've said before, I'm a sucker for a story, so I definitely appreciated this description and was definitely influenced by it, even though the thought of being a woman during Medieval times is DEFINITELY not romantic.) 😊
Deployment Mechanism 5/5
It's in a tube! It's tapered! I just have to un-cap it!
Fundamentally. I really appreciate balms 'formatted' like a regular lipstick. It's much less of a hassle to apply when you are on the go, and the taper makes it easier to fill out your cupid's bow and 'line' things more accurately (though I'm never any good at this anyway). The packaging has a nice heft to it and feels durable -- the bullet does not feel like it's going to snap or come disconnected from the base (ahem, looking at you Glossier Generation G). It also has a nice overlap ratio of top cap to bullet, making it feel like it's unlikely this will uncap in your purse, giving a new meaning to 'universal' red.
Goo Effect 5/5
This has a lovely texture. It's definitely glossy and has a shine to it, but it's a very smooth almost oily feel (in a good way). Your hair won't stick to this.
This is one of the most moisturizing tinted balms I've tried. It feels very hydrating and rich (see texture note above) and my lips feel better after wearing it. Ingredient-wise, there are a lot of oils, some more moisturizing than others (i.e. castor oil vs. shea butter) but for me it works out.
Here is where this product disappoints me. It's supposed to give a nice 'natural blood-red stain', but on me the color seems more... florescent. I achieve optimal color when I apply it and let it sit for a little bit and then blot it off, which isn't the most convenient way to apply a lip product.
As to Lipstick Queen's claim this will 'make your skin look flawless'? I think no matter how this color this goes on, that's BS. I mean, maybe your teeth? If this has a blue undertone? I also think the pigment doesn't go on that evenly. I read a review on Makeup Alley that you should 'dot' it on your lips instead of smearing (like you would classical lipstick) so I'll give that a try. But again, if you have to do a special technique, that makes it more difficult to apply on the go which negates the benefits of the tube applicator.
Extra Benefits 1/5
No SPF. I can't see how this would 'layer' well over other things, and it's too pigmented to be an overnight treatment. It's a little too slick to serve as a base layer. It is moisturizing, however, so that gets a point.
Consensus: Despite the shade issues, I like this product. I'm still learning how to apply a little (which gives me the color I like) without a mirror (which gives me the convenience I like) but the fact that I don't have to get my finger dirty to put this on is a definitely advantage. I wear this about once a week -- it's a solid part of my makeup roster, but not an HG or can't-live-without.
Let's move to Balmyard Beauty's Baby Love Balm. I really dislike Goop and Gwyneth Paltrow, so I really hate myself for buying this after seeing a Goop ad on Instagram. But I did buy it off the Balmyard website, so there is that. Also, the Balmyard brand seems a little appropriative (it's one of those 'we went to an exotic place and took their magical secrets and refined them!') but they do say on their website that proceeds from the brand go back to Jamaican community organizations. They don't specify how much, however...
I was lured to this balm by its description as the "ultimate lip stain" that gives a "just-bitten" or "just-in-from-the-cold-pink". Gah oh my god how could I resist? Some people might like the fact that it has a coconut oil base and 'natural' coloring, but that wasn't a decider for me -- I am definitely into 'un-clean' beauty. (Everything is chemicals! Organic means nothing! I don't care! Give me all the GMOs! The more toxic the better!🖕🏼🖕🏼🖕🏼)
Deployment Mechanism 1/5
Nooooooo why does this have to be in a jar???? I understand the consistency might not work for a stick (especially bc it has a lot of coconut oil it in, maybe it would melt) but what about a squeeze-tube like the Jack Black balms? Would the coconut oil be too solid for this? The jar forces you to use your finger (or a brush I guess if you are an amazing magical makeup expert) which is annoying but an added extra negative is that this is VERY pigmented so once you've put it on your lips it's difficult to get rid of the rest. You can't massage it into your cuticles like a Glossier or Kiehl's, and you really wouldn't want to wipe it on a pair of jeans, even if you hate those jeans. It'll definitely stain! It even stains your finger, even after washing! So this is a major bummer.
Goo Effect 5/5
Goes on super light and smooth. It's very slick, but not sticky at all. Much more of a stain than a balm. I also like how it looks like on cheeks! I think the formula gives it a great texture, but watch out if you are (like me) sensitive or break out from coconut oil. It is also very buildable and easy to layer.
For all of its supposedly moisturizing ingredients, I think this is actually on the drying side. Nothing a layer of a more moisturizing or occlusive balm can't fix, however, so it's not a deal breaker.
GAAAAH! I LOVE THIS COLORRRR!!! 😍😍😍 It's like Clinique Black Honey but more natural. It's a really nice berry color, but the most mellow berry color you could think of -- very natural and mellow.
The shade is enough to override the inconvenience of the jar format and the sub-par hydration power. I love how the color is just enough to be interesting, but not too much that it overpowers you (especially if you aren't wearing eye makeup, as in photo 2). I really like the color when I build it up too (i.e. more than 3 swipes and re-dips in the jar). The staying power is not THAT great, which is annoying due to its packaging (you definitely need a mirror and you definitely will need a sink to wash off your fingers afterwards) but I do think it leaves a slight wash of color after wearing. I just really love the color, it's a great no-lipstick-low-makeup-natural-everyday-color for me. ❤️
Extra Benefits 0/5
None! No SPF, no real hydration, no overnight mask potential. I will say this is easy to layer over other things, like an SPF clear balm or a nice gooey base layer of Vaseline (I'm working on reconstructing my moisture barrier recently so Vaseline has taken up quite a bit of my routine). In and of itself though, get this for the color -- you won't get anything else out of it.
Consensus: Baby Love Balm is officially my favorite lip stain. I just can't get over the color, I love it! Yes, it is a pain in the a$$ to apply and doesn't offer any other benefits but ... I don't care! I'm a hibiscus convert! 🌸 I also really like how I can layer it over SPF balms -- best of both worlds! I've put in an order for Glossier's Gen G in Jam to compare (Baby Love Balm has awakened an interest in berry shades) so maybe that will be a nice alternative that gets rid of the application issues... but for now, I'm okay with the jar.
🌹NEXT WEEK: Rose lip balm battle royale! Glossier vs. Aerin vs. Vaseline 🌹
* I completely recognize this might be different for other people -- this is just my set of preferences, so you know where I'm coming from in talking about these products.