Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Review: theBalm BalmShelter Tinted Moisturizer in Lighter than Light

I like my foundation as thick and opaque as house paint. Ideally, I want it to be like scribbling on my face with a perfectly flesh-toned Sharpie.

My one exception is theBalm's BalmShelter Tinted Moisturizer in Lighter than Light.


Like most of theBalm's packaging, the box is adorned with a sexy white lady acting all sexy-like. The drawings on theBalm's packaging sometimes read as "tacky" to me, but I think this one is pretty cute, even if they did miss an opportunity to have different drawings on the different shades, reflecting the skin tone the product in question matches. (I concluded a while back that theBalm's packaging design team has never gone outside and noticed that not only do non-white people exist, the brand is presumably trying to sell things to them.)


The tube inside is a massive 2.15 fluid ounce squeeze tube with a handy cap that prevents too many microbes from migrating and having little microbe babies in my makeup.


I also have to give theBalm props for keeping their entire color range consistent across products. Their concealer, foundation, and tinted moisturizer all come in the same shades. As a primarily online makeup shopper, I find that so fucking convenient. It's very frustrating when brands decide that they're going to randomly completely change their available shades based on the product. I can't imagine the thought process: "Hm. People who need foundation are all pink-toned and need at least 15 shades to find a good match, but people who need concealer are all yellow-toned and only need four shades. Because of reasons."

Lighter than Light is a fair shade. It's much yellower than I am, but I am essentially the color of a pink oil pastel, so that's not super meaningful for the neutral-toned among you. (I suspect that it does lean warm-toned in general.) Still, when it's all blended out, it hardly makes me look jaundiced at all, so, in this sheer product, the yellow undertone is probably not going to be match-prohibitive for most.

TheBalm Lighter than Light in blended and unblended swatches. 
I find the texture of this product to be really pleasant and blendable. You can even build the coverage ever-so-slightly on particularly rough hunks of your face, which can be difficult with some tinted moisturizers.

The finish is on the dewey side of natural.

To give you a sense of the coverage, here's my face with only sunscreen on my skin:


And here's how I look post-tinted moisturizer (nothing else):


Throw a concealer on top and this works well for casual makeup days. It's the makeup equivalent of flip flops: comfy, easy, and low-maintenance.

I do have one last gripe: the SPF 18 seems like such an afterthought to me. First off, no one's applying enough tinted moisturizer to get even that paltry sun protection. Secondly... SPF EIGHTEEN? That's super low. Given that the active ingredients are chemical sunscreens (Octinoxate, Avobenzone, and Octisalate) which can be irritating for some, it seems that they're excluding those who have to stick to physical sunscreens in favor of what's essentially a marketing gimmick, rather than real protection.

TheBalm's BalmShelter Tinted Moisturizer retails for $25 for 2.15 fl oz, putting it a budget-friendly $11.63 per ounce.

34 comments:

  1. I'm one of those non-white people that loves the balm and I too have always wondered what's up with the lack of yellow, black and brown people on their packaging. I wanna be a sexy objectified pin-up lady too! Lol

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    1. Haha, I spent a solid 15 seconds looking for a "like" or "upvote" button on your comment.

      I'm so sorry you're not objectified! haha :)

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    2. It's such a strange choice, especially since it would be SO EASY to fix.

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  2. Yeah, you'd think at least with the foundations they could add WOC to their packaging. It would even make it harder to accidentally pick the wrong shade of product. I can understand their not having any diversity when they launched the line, but I think consumers have made it pretty clear they want more...

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    1. Even at the launch, I'd call it a significant misstep. At this point, there is no excuse, in my opinion.

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  3. I definitely prefer BB/Tinted Moisturizers with a setting powder over foundation for the daily so this might be something I need to look into! Do you have any recommendations for a high coverage foundation?xx
    glossedonbeauty.blogspot.com

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    1. MUFE HD has been my go-to for the last couple of weeks!

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  4. This looks interesting. A little more coverage than my usual tinted moisturizer, and I can't use physical sunscreens, so works for me! They have some not-completely-white ladies on the packaging for the InStain blushes, but yeah, they need to branch out a little more.

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    1. Yeah, I thought that would be a turning point... but it wasn't.

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  5. I'm wearing this right now! (And, yes, lipstick, conceal as needed, and off I went. Am a little oily, though, so had to dust on a wee bit of Sexy Mama on top as a precaution.) Anyhows. Like you, I prefer house paint for foundation, but I've been trying to go for sheerer finishes because summer's cracking its whip where I am. This is the first tinted moisturizer I've actually liked on my face—its coverage is ridiculously good for what it is, and it lets my face breathe too.

    And I very much agree with your re theBalm packaging. I've steered clear of their products for the longest time, because they always toed the kitschy line for me. (Like their brushes, gahk.) And forget about some diversity. There were no non-white people in the 50s, according to theBalm.

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    1. I'm trying to be more "natural"-looking or whatever by wearing something a little lighter.

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  6. Report from the neutral side of vampire pale: Lighter than Light is a hint warm on me, but definitely good. Not so yellow I can't work with it. It's barely on the warm/yellow side of fair colors, not extreme like NARS or other heavy yellow-leans. I very much enjoy my concealer from the Balm (especially since Bobbi Brown's porcelain is now reading too yellow on me after the reformulation so my foundation stick needs to be changed out for Alabaster =/) so I'll definitely give this one a shot now. Thanks! I usually mix anything too warm out with either illuminating products of my Laura Mercier TM since it's very neutral on me so hopefully the two play well together.

    Man, the packaging would be SO much better if the pinups corresponded to the actual shade! How cute would that be? theBalm, I want to love you more but you have to do something about the lily white packaging. You sell shades for people who come in multiple colors, is it so hard to add some to the kitschy art? The kitsch can be fun if it doesn't exclude your customer base...

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  7. I pay no attention to a makeup/BB cream's supposed SPF. I use a separate sunscreen anyways. Heck, I use CeraVe AM lotion that is supposedly SPF 30 and still use a separate sunscreen. They do that so people will feel good about themselves for buying it.

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    1. Yeah, I'm an advocate of always using a separate sunscreen!

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  8. On a completely unrelated note, YOUR SKIN LOOKS BOSS COMPARED TO THE LAST TIME YOU SHOWED US YOUR BARE FACE. GET IT GURL. YOU WERK DAT CLEAR ASS SKIN.

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  9. I own this and I enjoy it! Sometimes I mix it with my Revlon Colorstay foundation for a fuller coverage. Great review!

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    1. That's a good idea! Compromise is key. :)

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  10. '"Hm. People who need foundation are all pink-toned and need at least 15 shades to find a good match, but people who need concealer are all yellow-toned and only need four shades. Because of reasons."'

    This is way too true. I have this debate with myself basically every time I go in to look at face-coloured products from any brand. It's even worse here because, whatever the full shade range is, someone always decides that NZ only needs one eighth of that. Or less.

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    1. People in NZ are only six colors. It's science.

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  11. I just can't get into tinted moisturizer, it always feels so pointless. But I'm a weirdo who prefers cream foundation.

    I wish theBalm was carried in a physical store near me. I want to try their cream foundation, but I'm only kinda fair, not exceptionally fair, so I honestly don't know if I'd be Light or Lighter than Light in their line. And I don't have a good basis for comparison in more common lines (like MAC), so it's hard to even make a good guess by reading reviews on it.

    But word on the lack of diversity in their packaging. I think the newer line of blushes is a little better with this, so hopefully when the inevitable line revamps come, the older products will be a little better in that regard as well.

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    1. I do have that foundation, so if you know how you are in comparison to me (???) that might give a slight sense. Lighter than Light is a little dark in the foundation for me. (And very yellow.)

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  12. Have you tried the Tarte "BB Tinted Treatment 12-Hour Primer"? (As distinct from the "Amazonian Clay BB Tinted Moisturizer" and the "Clean Slate Poreless 12-Hour Perfecting Primer" and the "Amazonian Clay BB Illuminating Moisturizer." Tarte, I love you, but you need to expand your namespace.) The Fair is both a little cool and a little pale for me, so it might be good for you. I find it has really good basic coverage and feels very lightweight on my skin.

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    1. I have sampled it, but that's it!

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  13. I actually hate this product with a passion.

    Because of the low SPF I wear a physical sunscreen under it. And the two just don't go well together at all. It all ends up looking very white and clumpy.

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    1. That's too bad! I use a physical sunscreen under it without any problems.

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  14. Every time I get a pimple it leaves a dark mark that doesn't fade for months, so coverage is a total must for me. I swear by Dermablend. They also make products for burn victims and tattoo coverups, so coverage is sort of their thing.

    Missha BB creams also have ridiculous coverage and a whopping SPF 62. I had to stop using it on vacation because it was literally keeping my face from tanning while the rest of my body changed shades.

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    1. Dermablend is the brand I keep wanting to buy and not buying. I should seriously get on that.

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  15. I haven't found a makeup with sunscreen yet that doesn't smell like Coppertone suntan lotion. Maybe I just haven't sampled enough of them.

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    1. I think most don't smell too bad!

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  16. This doesn't apply to this post, but I can't find a contact email address for you on this page. I was just over on Facebook, and one of the sponsored ads used some of your photos from this blog, I think. It was listed as sponsored by Beauty Inside and Out, and then under a collage type photo spread with 6 photos, at least one of which I believe was you from your blog (the "after" photo), and underneath it had the label of Kiehls.com -- I didn't click on that label in case it was not actually taking you to Kiehls, given the fishy nature of the whole thing. I took a photo of it with my iPhone, if you'd like it. It says "39 year old Mom looks 20 again."

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    1. Thank you! Sorry for being so belated. Brightestbulbinthebox at gmail is my email, but I am terrible at checking it. Another reader did send me it, though. :(

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