FINALLY, right? I feel like I've been raving on this blog for a year about these new lip colors from Revlon, but I wanted to be completely sure of my love affair before I started gushing to you. So now that I'm absolutely certain that these are my New Favorite Drugstore Lip Colors, let's start the lovefest (those who don't like rave reviews need not proceed!):
Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains
(retail: $8.99 each at Rite Aid, 0.095 oz)
A few weeks ago, I purchased the above Balm Stains at Rite Aid. If you're reading this review before June 2nd, please note that Revlon lip and eye products are on sale for 40% off this week at Rite Aid (through June 2nd). If you've been wanting to try one, hopefully you can find the counter display (these are permanent and will eventually make their way to the core wall display).
As many of you know, these lip colors have been compared to Tarte LipSurgence Natural Lip Tints. They both come in jumbo pencil form and they both have twist-up sticks (no sharpening!). Since I actually own a Tarte LipSurgence, I'll do a compare/contrast at the end of this review, but for now let's concentrate on the Revlon product:
As someone who has been a lover of lipstains for many, many years (I'm embarrassed by the amount of them that I own), I've seen a lot of "hybrids" in recent years. Gloss-stains, balm-stains, you name it, but the thing is, whenever I try a product that claims to be a stain "and something else", it never seems to live up to its claims. Hybrid products always seem to be much more of one thing, and far less of the other. UNTIL NOW.
The Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains have the gel-like quality of a balm AND the vibrancy and staying power of a stain. Where the Tarte product sort of fails for me (it doesn't really stain my lips like a true lipstain), the Revlon Balm Stains succeed. I don't know how they did it, but Revlon managed to make the only true balm-stain hybrid I've ever encountered, with equal parts balm and stain.
These pencils don't have the same "glide" and smoothness of application as the Tarte product. In fact, they tug at the lips during application, but it's a minor tug. Some may find that a drawback, but I don't mind one bit because the drier feeling during application (note: they're not dry once on the lips) indicates that this is not a product that's going to fade quickly. We all know that the slicker the product, the more fleeting it will be, which is why I don't mind a minor tug here and there in exchange for excellent staying power.
Some of the following photos have been color-corrected to more accurately represent the color I see when these shades are on my lips.
Rendezvous is a cheery orange with no pink or coral undertones. It is not shockingly bright on the lips, and it is much more wearable than I thought it would be. This shade has the least staying power of the four I'm showing you today. After application, it vanishes completely from my lips in about four hours.
Smitten is a deep magenta (a bit darker than what you see above). I don't usually go for magenta lip colors, but I really love this one because, again, it's not shocking. It's totally wearable and I love how it looks once it becomes more of a true stain (once the sheen is gone). After the sheen disappears, it fades to a nice even stain that maintains its color integrity. I can get almost 10 hours of wear from Smitten (even after three meals, I can still see a soft stain on my lips).
Sweetheart is a true hot pink that doesn't veer too warm or too cool. This one probably has the best staying power of the bunch (I put it on the other day at around 7AM and I could still see a faint stain at 7PM) and just like with the others, it maintains its color integrity while in the stain phase.
Romantic was very difficult for me to capture in a photo. I would consider this a cross between a brick red and a tomato red, and it's slightly less orange than what you see above. If you like warm brick reds, this is a must-have. It's probably my favorite of the bunch just because I personally love red lipstains. Again, it's just so wearable--it's not one of those in-your-face reds that so many of us have a hard time pulling off. I can get about seven hours of wear from Romantic before it fades completely.
TEXTURE, CONSISTENCY AND FINISH: Once on the lips, this product feels like a thin lip balm. It's smooth but not greasy, and I find it moisturizing without being heavy. This product doesn't "sit" on the lips, but rather conforms to the lips. I would consider the finish of these colors to be sheer creme, with the exception of Rendezvous, which has a bit of a subtle satin finish.
FRAGRANCE AND FLAVOR: As with the Tarte product, Revlon Balm Stains are flavored with peppermint oil. The peppermint fragrance and flavor are not strong or obnoxious--they're quite subtle and I only get a very slight tingle when this product is on my lips.
STAYING POWER: As mentioned above, each shade has its own level of staying power but, on the whole, I'm always able to get at least four solid hours of wear from these, which includes the time that the sheen has worn away and only the stain remains. In many cases my average wear-time has been 7-8 hours and sometimes even 10-12 hours when I'm wearing one of the pink shades. I find the stain that this product leaves behind to be very even (no ring-around-the-lips) and I love the look of the stain even several hours after application. I love it so much that sometimes I actually look forward to the "stain phase" more than the "just applied" phase.
And now for a brief comparison to Tarte LipSurgence:
The Tarte product retails for $24 (Revlon Balm Stains retail for $8.99 at Rite Aid). As you can see, the Revlon stick is a tiny bit more narrow and a tiny bit longer than the Tarte stick. However, you actually get a little bit more product in the Tarte pencil (Tarte LipSurgence is 0.10 oz and Revlon Balm Stain is 0.095 oz).
I thought that one of the Revlon shades that I purchased might be a dupe for Tarte Enchanted, but as you can see below, Enchanted is actually more of a cross between Revlon Smitten and Revlon Romantic:
The biggest difference for me when it comes to these two products is the staying power. Both feel light and moisturizing on the lips but Revlon lasts much, much longer on my lips, which I'm sure is in part due to the fact that the Tarte product is more glossy and not as dry on initial application as the Revlon product. Tarte LipSurgence is a very nice product, don't get me wrong, but I was hoping it might have slightly better color payoff (it's sheer) and longer staying power. For me, Revlon really delivers on both color payoff and staying power. Also, I should reiterate that the Tarte product glides effortlessly on the lips (again, it's glossier and slicker than the Revlon product) and the peppermint flavor of Tarte LipSurgence is a tad sweeter as well.
FINAL VERDICT: I really didn't think that Revlon could top their Lip Butters. But ever since the Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains entered my life, my Lip Butters have done nothing but sit on my vanity and collect dust. I honestly haven't reached for another lip color since I purchased my Balm Stains, and I don't see that changing any time soon. If you're a traditional lipstain lover and you long for a bit more hydration and more of a balm-like feel, these are for YOU. On the other side of the coin, if you're not a traditional lipstain lover and have always felt that true lipstains were too drying, YOU may also fall in love with these. Allow me to sum up my feelings with an age-old cliché: Revlon Just Kissable Balm Stains are truly the best of both worlds. The only people I can't see these working for are those who love high shine and/or lots of shimmer or sparkle. If you can live without those things, I think (or hope!) you'll fall as hard for these as I have. I've been using traditional lipstains for about 15 years now and I really do think these are the best "twist" on a traditional lipstain that I've ever encountered.
PS: I almost forgot! I mentioned earlier that these are twist-up sticks (no sharpening required). But I also want to mention that unlike a few other retractable lip pencils I've owned over the years, these easily swivel up AND back down. The Tarte sticks swivel up and down as well, but I just wanted to make sure I mentioned it in case anyone was curious.
Do you already own a Revlon Balm Stain? If so, how do YOU like them? If not, do you think these might be a good match for your needs?