* Prices may differ from that shown
...Skin deep illumination though obviously, not mental enlightenment of a spiritual kind ;)
This was another of my rainy day discoveries - and typically it was a rainy Bank Holiday. To escape the downpour I ducked into a local department store and as per the usual layout I was confronted with cosmetic makeup and perfume desks. I usually walk past those to the inner sanctums but on this occasion something caught my eye; the vintage inspired packaging of a brand I hadn't seen before called theBalm. Their packaging displays pinup imagery (painted not photographed) and I'm not really a fan of pinup culture but I can and do appreciate the appeal of the less risqué and non-glamourization of war items. From what I saw there was a mix of the demure yet flirty look and the femme fatale, all in bright colours and cute sizes.
I usually avoid most commercially sold brands because I can't use them but since I was playing the waiting game with the weather, combined with the unique packaging it was enough to get my undivided attention. I picked up the one that appealed to me most i.e. the Mary-Lou Manizer and read the ingredients. 'Ok' I thought, 'not exactly healthy but it's vegan friendly at least' and was doubly pleased that it was a compact Gold powder. Having used loose powder for quite a while by then I was ready to try a compact again plus this one was lustrous - another plus point for me as I like a little glow instead of purely matte finish.
I was and am no makeup expert when it comes to application and the many types of product used to attain certain looks; I'm totally a powder and lipstick/gloss give or take some eyeliner and a little eye shadow kinda woman only wearing more than that for particular occasions. Combinations of primers, foundation, concealer, powder, blush, highlighters, definers, eye pencils plus liquid liners, shadows, lippy plus liner, mascara etc is just beyond me. My skin would morph into an acne-fied teenage replica in no time if I explored that territory, however whilst reading the labelling on the display stand I learned that this product is known as a 'highlighter' ('a befitting name then' I thought).
Speaking of the name, did you get the pun? I didn't until I read up more about it online but:
Mary-Lou Manizer = Mary Luminizer.
So it's a play on words that works both for the nature of its packaging i.e. an attractive and tempting woman, and the content i.e. a highlighter/illuminator.
INITIAL THOUGHTS AND PRICING
I tried a little of the sample especially as I was looking a little soggy and found that the texture was soft and very light. A gentle stroke leaves enough residue on the fingertip or powder puff/sponge to spread over more skin than expected and later on I will tell you why less is more for this product in terms of application. In regards to pricing though a little going a long way is helpful because it's quite pricey, or at least not in the ranges of really well known brands. If I remember correctly the price was between £16 and £17 at the time (2010) but a quick online search has shown me that the price is now roughly £14 at places like Amazon.
The colour is light Gold and it looks very much like an eyeshadow - and being a highlighter means that it is designed for raised places on the face such as directly underneath the eyebrows, middle of the forehead, tip of the nose (I wouldn't recommend using it there for people with active T-Zones as it will increase the shine), cheekbones and chin. Unfortunately for me at the time being under the commonly dim and 'intimate' lighting of cosmetic areas in department stores (in contrast to their brightly and often garishly lit counterparts in places like large pharmacies) meant that I couldn't really see the effect and coverage of the product but it did make me look less like a rag doll and that was enough for me.
LATER THOUGHTS AND PURCHASING
Being vegan means that I'm very careful about what cosmetics I use and try to source or make ones which are fair trade, as natural as possible, from companies with environmentally sustainable practices and as healthy as possible but makeup is quite tricky. For example, it can be difficult enough for most people trying to replace a beloved lipstick or foundation that has been discontinued let alone solely from animal free products so sometimes concessions on the natural and health factors have to be made favouring synthetic over no makeup in stores at all or not knowing how/being able to make your own. Most of the ethical brands and their current complete ranges are available online but lack of internet access and pricing can pose problems for buyers, particularly if you can't try before you buy or get a sample size appropriate for a few days worth of testing to see if your skin likes it or to test how it blends/sits texturally with other products. Therefore if out and about I find it worth noting brands I haven't seen before just in case any of them are 'accidentally vegan' (when something conforms to the criteria without having been constructed with that intention) or indeed intentionally vegan such as this product. So all in all it was nice to see this sold near the highstreet and I say 'near' since it isn't a mainstream brand; it's department store niche but close enough to the shopping centre (mall)/highstreet fare to be noticed.
I was impressed enough with this product to look into it further, well I was facing the double threat of cold, wet weather and not having much to do in the B&B I was staying in so being online was the activity of the evening. I was a tad unsure about the shade since it was light Gold and my skin tone is more medium Gold with a tendency to tan very easily to Bronze but from what I could see earlier in the department store the colour seemed to suit my skin without looking too light. I was doubly pleased to find that the brand was founded by an animal and health enthusiast and at the time the Mary-Lou Manizer seemed to be one of two vegan friendly items in their range so I had picked well (the rest being 'cruelty free'/vegetarian). That almost cinched it for me but the price was offputting.
I left it for some time until one of my go-to brands closed down (RIP) and left me in the lurch for a decent dusting/light coverage powder. I remembered this product, did a search and low and behold found a job lot on eBay - 4 for £4 each, bargain! Of course I didn't need that much but at least I wouldn't run out any time soon and a couple made pretty gifts.
FURTHER INFO ON THE PACKAGING
The compact is a circle shape containing 8.5g and made of a solid/thick and sturdy Grey plastic, with a mirror on the inside and no powder puff/sponge. The hinge is strong and unlikely to become loose or break with time leaving the lid to constantly close on your fingers whilst using or the mirror to fall out. I haven't tried taking the powder out to use the compact separately or put a different product in but it's held in place pretty firmly and you'd have to dig out the palette to use the space.
Stuck on the top is a picture of 'Mary-Lou', a pouty Blonde with classic hair rolls standing against a height chart wearing a list of 'offences' and 'charges' (written in English and French) with the title of the product stamped over her image as if it were a photo in an arrest file. Said crimes are comic:
Offence: highlighter, shimmer, eyeshadow
Charge: too pretty, too popular
The compact comes in a fairly thick cardboard box, the front being the same as the compact sticker, the sides being Hot Pink and back continuing the arrest theme displaying 'declassified' file information such as fingerprints.
Note - I've written what is on the packaging of the ones I bought which matched the ones I saw in store that day but I vaguely remember the wording and her height being different on packaging I saw later on; though the current packaging from theBalm's website is the same as above so perhaps it was different for a time period or for other countries.
According to theBalm website:
'Highlighter, Shadow & Shimmer
Meet Mary-Lou Manizer, a seemingly innocent honey-hued luminizer that catches everybody's eye. This highlighter, shadow and shimmer diffuses light so your skin looks softer and younger while adding a subtle glow.
Ingredients: Mica, Isoeicosane, Polyethylene, Boron Nitride, Polyisobutene, Ptfe, Silica, Synthetic Wax, Dimethicone, Titanium Dioxide (Ci 77891), Iron Oxides (Ci 77491).'
USING AND MISUSING
As aforementioned a little of this product goes a long way and initially I used it as a light facial powder to simply buff my skin. For that purpose it was fine and not very noticeable; it might be more noticeable on lighter skin tones. However I have to be careful when applying it in artificial lighting and/or night time because in those conditions it can easily become less of a finishing highlighter and more of a metallic powder.
There was one occasion where I didn't have any powder left at all to use as a foundation (loose and compact powders designed for better coverage negating the need for liquid foundation) and based on my previous and naive experience decided to use this instead. It was on a special occasion at work and so I guess I got away with looking a bit more shiny/shimmery than usual plus the daylight helped dull the sparkle a bit, but when the evening came and I renewed/topped it up I didn't realize that I shouldn't have bothered. Put it this way - we went to an ancient Egyptian themed restaurant and the only thing more Golden in the room was the showpiece sarcophagus.
Thankfully people consider me a bit different from the norm so it wasn't an issue, thankfully... Also the flash on the camera made everyone look a bit weird.
I said before that I was originally unsure whether the colour would compliment my skin tone, well earlier this year I discovered the sister product to this called 'Betty-Lou Manizer AKA The Bronzing Bandit' which is designed for darker skin tones. From my experience and by reading other people's reviews I would say that Mary-Lou Manizer is fine for the following skin tones (given in foodie terms); from fair skin i.e. peaches and cream to medium skin i.e. olive, caramel and light Brown sugar. Milk and dark chocolate would be better suited to Betty-Lou.
Moving away from the face for a moment I have tried this powder as a body duster and it makes a very nice shimmer especially if showing a bit of shoulder/shoulder blade. If you're worried about overdoing it and looking like an Oscar statue then it can be mixed with a plain moisturizer (haven't tried it with oil) for a more subtle and evenly spread shimmer. Though if you're going somewhere dimly lit like clubbing or dinner by candlelight it probably won't matter as much; hey you could use as much as you want and at least any companions you have won't lose you.
EXTRA INFO FROM THE WEBSITE:
'theBalm cosmetics boasts a complete line of makeup, skin care, hair care and nail polish. With a "beauty in five minutes" philosophy, theBalm's multi-use, mega fabulous products have become its calling card, offering quick fixes and wondrous solutions for a wide range of beauty wants and needs. The company's wearable colors and fantastic formulas allow women to release their inner artist so they can look and feel fabulous. In 2004, Marissa Shipman, founder of theBalm, realized there were a few simple products she needed to help her look and feel glam all the time-and if she needed them, other women did too... Marissa decided to indulge her cosmetic curiosities and went to Amazon where she bought 11 books on how to make makeup and started mixing in her kitchen. "I went makeup crazy. I incorporated the company, worked out a budget, hired a chemist and designed a website." She began integrating anti-aging ingredients, triple-milled pigments, fabulous scents...and theBalm was born. Fast forward ten years, you can now find theBalm's Paraben and Cruelty-Free products worldwide.
(This review will also be posted on my blog fashionthatpays.wordpress.com)
theBalm / Facial highlighter / illuminator