Review: theBalm Balm Desert Bronzer/Blush, a summer gem

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theBalm Balm Desert Bronzer/Blush: review, photos, swatches

I think theBalm is one of the brands that has most benefited from the explosion of beauty related social media buzz: just a few years ago they were mostly unknown from the general public and their great products with fun packaging weren't getting enough blog love. Beauty insiders and aficionados used theBalm (who else fought to get their Muppets palette? I stayed up most of the night to grab it!), but your neighbor had no idea what it was. Another example of brand that became mainstream through social media would be Anastasia Beverly Hills - and they're even more successful than theBalm these days.

But can a brand leverage Instagram to multiply their customer base by a million without losing their soul? In the case of theBalm, I'm not sure. Their visual identity has always been retro and fun, with 50's pinups on idyllic backgrounds, baseball girls and quirky product names. Sexy, entertaining, and never too serious. These days, however, their social media feeds are full of "Insta-beauties" featuring the infamous Instagram look: extra full coverage foundation, heavy contouring, razor sharp gradient brows, false lashes, highlighter everywhere including the tip of the nose, liquid matte lipstick, and don't smile please, just do the duck mouth. Where's theBalm's joyous pinup girl? Is conformity to the main trend what it takes to reach 1 million followers? I find it very sad that the brand left behind what made them different and intriguing to jump on the Insta-face bandwagon. But I digress.

theBalm's social media strategy notwithstanding, they still have some great little products at an affordable price, and Balm Desert Bronzer/Blush is one of them. I bought it almost as soon as it was released in 2015, and I really enjoy wearing in the summer. Le'ts take a closer look!

theBalm Balm Desert Bronzer/Blush: retro packaging

The packaging is very typical of theBalm: a sturdy cardboard compact with magnetic closure that comes in an outer sleeve so it won't pop open in your purse. It's very sleek so it's easy to store and transport. And of course it features a cartoon picture of a 50's pinup, this time about to dip in a pool on a desert background. I don't know why but I feel she has to be in Palm Springs.

theBalm Balm Desert Bronzer/Blush: review, photos, swatches

So why is Balm Desert called a Bronzer/Blush? Well, because it does both. It's a bronzy shade that adds warmth to the cheeks and also enough color that you don't need to add a blush (I never do anyway, I wear bronzer OR blush, usually not both, but I know many people do). The shade is a rosy beige brown with warm undertones and super fine micro shimmer. It's not so warm as to look orange on the skin, in fact it's a lot less warm than most bronzers.

theBalm Balm Desert Bronzer/Blush: closeup of the powder in the pan

The texture is very soft and the powder is extremely finely milled. It can feel a bit dry to the touch, but that doesn't affect how it applies or looks. Picking up color with a brush is very easy, and there's no excess powder flying around. It applies and blends seamlessly with very little effort, and it never looks powdery.

theBalm Balm Desert Bronzer/Blush: swatch

The finish on the skin is absolutely beautiful. The micro shimmer is so fine that there are no visible reflective particles, so it doesn't emphasize pores or skin texture, but it creates a very natural soft sheen. Don't get me wrong, this is not a highlighter: it doesn't glow or shine. It's just very luminous and provides this subtle sheen that makes skin look healthy and gorgeous. It's really flattering, and I think it could work on a variety of skin tones: it's blendable enough to be applied very lightly on fair skins, and easily buildable for deeper complexions.

Wearing theBalm Balm Desert Bronzer/Blush: motd fotd full face

On me the wear is pretty good, it lasts through a work day when I have foundation and powder on. If I apply it on bare skin it doesn't last quite as long, but that's to be expected.


If you're looking for a very flattering blush to add a bit of warmth to your face, this is it. It's easy to work with and the luminous finish is really pretty. At $21 this is a great value!

Where to buy?
The product featured in this review was purchased by Lulle. I received no compensation to write this post, which only reflects my personal opinion. This post contains affiliate links.

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