January 26, 2010

the Balm For Keeps WaterColor Lip Stains Review and Swatches

Much to my dismay I’m so not loving the Balm For Keeps WaterColor Lip Stains. I can’t tell you how excited I was about this upon first release. The Muse simply adores lip stains and these looked thrilling. They are a dual compact featuring two shades of powder lip color and a brush. Wet the brush, swirl in the powder, and create a long wearing lip stain! Sounds awesome right?

It’s not.

Trust me.

The product itself and the idea behind it is ingenious really but I just personally didn’t like the finished results. One rave is it’s incredibly long wearing as in you can scrub your lips with acid and they’d still be sporting For Keeps Watercolor Lip Stain. Once it’s on, it’s there to stay. It’s not going anywhere! Eat with it, talk with it, drink water, smoke a fag, do what you will and this is not going anywhere. It’s very long wearing and gets a total rave in that regard.

My problem arose from the fact that the shades are terribly wrong for me sadly. I got both shade selections. One was Plum Berry / Brown Sugar which swatched on site looks like fuchsia and a warm brown peach. In reality it’s black, yes black, and a warm shade of bronze. I haven’t attempted using this shade selection since it’s up for return but I will say the bronze in the pan looks lovely it’s the black shade aka Plum Berry that scares me silly. The second shade selection is Petunia Pink / Rasberry Red which includes a raspberry pink shade that leans towards fuchsia and a poppy red. These colors were fab however both aren’t as natural or as subtle as I’d like and I end up looking a tad clowny with both on my lips.

My second rant stems from the fact that once water is applied to the packed lip stain it begins to crack around the wet area. Not a good sign. I couldn’t get a clear photo of this for you but once my wet brush touched this area it almost instantly started creating a crack the shape of the water mark and began breaking off. At the moment it’s sticking together but just barely. Hello mess waiting to happen!

Overall, the idea of the palette is fantastic so is the long wear formula but for once in my life I will say something is way too pigmented. The finish is just too pigmented for me and makes me look like a clown or a kid playing dress up. Add this to the fact that the powders begin to crack and you end up with a no likey for this Muse. Tone down the colors, improve the formula a little, and perhaps lower the price ($28 for the Balm seemed a tad pricey) and you might have a winner. For now I’m going to lean towards not really loving these sadly. At least I kept my receipt, one is definitely going back to Sephora!

Anyone try yet?

Wanting to?

Do share!

Disclosure: The following item was purchased by me for review purposes (and because I like flinging my money at makeup products of any kind) on Musings of a Muse. For further information please see my FTC Guidelines or my Disclosure/Disclaimer posts.

About the Muse

Isabella MuseIsabella is just an average everyday geeky girl who doesn’t blend her eyeshadow correctly, wears too much blush, and hopes she never finds her holy grail products because she likes the thrill of the chase so much. Her mission is to bring you super honest reviews on makeup, skincare, fragrance and all things beauty. She’s in no way an expert on the topic and she sure as hell isn’t a super model. But she’s passionate about makeup and is seeking like-minded individuals that like pina coladas, getting caught in the rain, and ones that enjoy spending hundreds of dollars at Sephora without feeling buyer’s remorse. If you’re that person feel free to reach out and leave a comment or follow me on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Bloglovin‘.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  • Vonvon

    Oopppss….black lip stain??!! Indeed they looked like watercolor palette LOL. Gonna skip this, I think.

    • the Muse

      hi vonvon! really right? 😀 it’s a cute design just wish it was more functional 🙂 not so sure on the black, sasha commented and said it’s a nice plum but I think I’m gonna return so don’t wanna dip in there to check lol especially since I didn’t like the other shades 😛

    • Janis Cohen

      Hi ,

      I am reponding to the For Keeps lip stain. I am a make up artist and always try products on myself first. This product does need more attractive colors, but I used the berry duo , only had great performance with the normal shade mised with water. You have to apply a lighter lip gloss over this stuff in order for you to make it look good. I used a light bronze color and it is perfect. Any lip stain dries your lips out, some more than others. Unless you use A gloss or lip moisturizer balm you will experience less than perfection.

  • Phyrra

    I wonder if that black is like a very deep blackened plum, like when you get red wine on your lips?

    • the Muse

      i was scared to try dd 😀 maybe?! that would be nice but it looked BLACK!

  • Rochelle

    Have you tried the new Tarte lip stains yet? I wanted to order but they were OOS on the color I wanted. I love their cheek stains so I hope these will impress as well.

    • the Muse

      not yet rochelle but shortly I hope 😀 I think they will as the formula is identical to the cheek version just in a more convenient packaging 😀

    • Mandy

      If you haven’t tried the Tarte “stain” yet….DON’T!! I got one in Lust and it isn’t a stain AT ALL! It barely even TINTS your lips. I do like how hydrating they are, and I wear mine OVER a true stain, but if you want to buy it just for a stain….it won’t work. Just my 2 cents. If you have tried it let me know what you think. Happy shopping! =D

  • Monroe

    Hi Muse! Long time reader, first time commenter. (Oh, the stage fright!)

    Even with your comment about it looking a little clown-ish, I’m intrigued by the staying power. Is it not like a regular water color where you can put more water on the brush to get a sheerer color?

    • the Muse

      hi monroe!

      I’m glad you came out of lurkdom to say hello! ha don’t be shy 😀 *hugs*

      You can definitely blend it out but I found after a little more water it was actually still too pigmented for my lips. drove me nuts how clownish I was looking 😀 Normally I love stains but the effect was a little too much for me, I guess with a little blending and gloss it should appear normal but my other pet peeve was the cracking involved…..in the end I felt like $28 was just a little too much to justify 😛 although I did use the one so I’ll be keeping it, maybe in the long run I’ll love it, right now just not feeling the lurve 😀

      Hope this helps hun!

      Hope you’ll drop by to say hey again 🙂

  • Tammy

    Thanks for this review! This has been sitting in my sephora.com shopping cart since it came out and I couldn’t decide whether to get it or not. Now, I know not to, ha! I’ll stick with my Posietint. 🙂

    • the Muse

      hey tammy if you like a popping shade grab it but posietint is way nicer for staining to a subtle shade of pink these are WAY more pigmented and LOUD!

  • kenzie.

    Musey darling, you can send them to me!!
    Hahaha! Just kidding. 😀
    I am always looking for something more pigmented than my lips that still looks decently natural….I mean, benetint blends in, it looks like nothing….so maybe I should buy one of these…

    • the Muse

      hehe kenzie my castoffs are mass 😀 I’ll zoom them over haha! 😀 mmm if you like pop you’ll like these. LOTS of pigmentation 😀

  • MC

    *scratches head* The Black possibly not black and bronze shades confused me as an eyeshadow duo….

  • Sasha

    Don’t fret- it’s not black! I need to do a swatch, but it is a nice dark plum. Once you apply the water you can see the shade change. I like the brown sugar as well.

    I’m rather liking them myself.

    • the Muse

      really sasha? I was scared to swatch b/c I felt like returning as the other shade selection was a little too popping for me! 😀

      Thanks! I guess I’ll dig in and see what I think 😀

      • Sasha

        Well, I like a strong lip, so they’re great for me… I’m no neutral lip girl! 🙂

        • the Muse

          I LOVE strong lips sasha 😀 but somehow this was a little too much for me! 😀

  • Ally

    Heeeek! I hate clowns!!
    I had high hopes for these since I saw your post last time 🙁 I feel your disappointment.
    I hope they don’t discard the idea and hopefully revamp the formula, color choices, and packaging.. Perhaps they should just make them in powder form and give us a little palette to work ’em, mix colors and thin it out idk 😀
    One use and it’s cracking already? Just as scary as clowns! $28 is super steep for a novelty item! T_T

    • the Muse

      lol ally me too remember killer clowns from outer space? that totally threw me a curve ball in the clown arena when I was really young. Ever after I’ve been scared of clowns haha!

      That would be cool, I’d love a mixing palette. I imagine they will be a win for a lot of people as they redeem themselves with a crazy long wearing formula but for me it was a tad too pigmented 🙁 and the cracking totally made me ranty 🙁

  • pavlina

    mmm, that black sounds right up my alley. This may bring me out of my no-buy.

    • the Muse

      pavlina what is up long time no speaky! 😀 it’s supposed to be plummy I’m tempted to dig into it but I didn’t like my first try with the other shade selection 🙁

  • Lisa Kate

    Okay it SOUNDS awesome, cause I love watercolor but the shades are a no go for me! I was eyeing these, so I’m super glad you posted this! Especially the whole “going to fall apart” thing. I was wondering if that would happen.

    Do they look dry on the lips?

    • the Muse

      hey lisa.

      I normally adore popping shades but this was too much sad sigh! It does crack easily which was weird, could be my palette? As soon as I touched it it started cracking around the water mark 🙁

      Nope not really dry…maybe a little but nothing a little gloss won’t help! 🙂

  • knownever

    That’s a bummer that these aren’t worth it. I was lusting after them so hard, but I guess it’s better to spend $28 less dollars on makeup.

    • the Muse

      hey knownever!

      If I were you I’d head into sephora and play around a little with them! You may love! For me it was a no go sadly 🙁

  • Renata

    I was flirting with this, and now I want it! I don’t like sheer lipstick, I like them very pigmented, and I’m always looking for something long lasting.

    btw, I’d love to know which lip stains you like. I can sometimes buy them, but can’t test them before purchasing. So I must trust somebody’s opinion, and well, I trust yours. 🙂 Any help is appreciated.

    • the Muse

      renata this is for you than hun!

      Bourjois Paris all four of the Bourjois Bons Baisers De Paris Lip Stain Pen.

      beg, borrow and steal to get these. they are HG and WONDERFUL!

  • Renata

    Hi, Muse! Thank you 🙂

    They’re hard to find, hm? Bourjois Paris website has none. Was it discontinued? :O

    • the Muse

      renata seems the UK has it and also netherlands. They were axed here very quickly but are still hanging around. Also E-bay I’ve seen ’em 🙂 they are worth tracking down!

  • MissVee

    Girlie, when I saw this for the first time on thebalm’s website (like, a year ago…it was sold out!!), I just knew I HAD TO HAVE IT!! I just ordered the Petunia Pink/Raspberry Red combo and cannot wait to try it out! I haven’t written i a good long while, but I profess my love for lip/cheek stains whenever I get the chance (I know I did on here, hehe), so of course these babies seem like a miracle,lol. I’m willing to do whatever I can to to make these work because the deal breaker for me is staying power and a natural look; my lips are quite pigmented, so not just any stain will give me that result…and I love the freedom of nonchalantly applying chapstick to my delicately rose-stained mouth *wink*. Also, I tend to use stains every day, so these should be worth the money ’cause it seems like a little goes a long way. I was reading your reviews and looking at your beautiful swatches (thank you a million times for those! you ROCK!), and you seem a bit discouraged, so here’s a review that I found on sephora.com with some tips that might help you (me, and other lovely “stainiacs”) get that coveted, no-budge pucker we all desire 😀

    “I got this in petunia pink/raspberry red. I’m very happy to say that the rasperry red doesn’t clash with my red hair. The cake in the pan looks brown, but it comes out a beautiful true red, with none of the purple or pink undertones that can ruin a red for my complextion. The intensity of the color can be varied based on how much water you use vs. how much pigment you add. I’m an artist, and painting with watercolors is easy to me, so this didn’t seem too challenging. But I can see how it would be a little challenging to someone who has never used anything like this. If the color seems too intense, my advice is just water it down more. Don’t mix your color directly on the cake. Use the plastic area the brush sits in to add some water with your brush, and then dip your wet brush into the color and add it to the pan of water. Add more color if needed. A little bit of this stuff goes a really long way!”

    • the Muse

      hi missvee you saw this last year? It just came out? I def love cheek/lip stains too 😀 No doubt they are a fav item of mine. aw thanks so much glad my swatches/reviews help you’re lovely *hugs*

      thanks for sharing the review, cool! sadly it was a no go for me but I’ve def read some killer raves 🙂

      Good Luck! Hope it works for you!!!!!!

  • michelley

    hey musey. i havent been around in forever, i was hibernating! ive missed your reviews and swatches 🙂 heres to spring thawing!
    so i def want this! im such a sucker for palettes of anything. are these metal cases? those are my favorite kind (like UDs way old face cases). does it have a mirror inside too? i dont even really wear anything on my lips as far as color goes too, im a bonne belle/avon glazewear/random chapstick and gloss kinda gal, but this just looks like fun to play with. plus i never got over being goth in high school, i can never find a berry thats deep/purpley/blackish enough, they always turn bright pinkish on me. cant wait ti treat myself!

  • joey

    Hey there…. I’ve been using this product and having good results… i lick my lips, then I take my finger/brush and very lightly rub it on the pan and then the few microns I get I quickly dab on the lips… (while there’s wetness still on there). Try it, makes it work and the pan shouldn’t crackle as it’ll be dry.

  • Opal

    I just bought the petunia set today after testing all 4 colors at Sephora and I have to say I love it! I have dark hair, pink highlights, fair skin and the rich rosy and red colors go great if you want that kind of lip look, which I do. The colors are very rich and dense and give that matte look. A possible problem would be if you are someone who licks your lips ( I dont) I wonder if the color would come off,,,,or if you sweat would the color melt/drip off? Will see…but so far, I adore this. And the packaging is so adorable.

    • the Muse

      I think even through licking it should stick around opal 🙂 it’s pretty bulletproof!

  • Gabrielle

    I just fell upon your post today. A little late? Maybe!

    I was also very frightened by the “black” shade! I had to read again on the label… Did they make a mistake? Is this actually eyeshadow?

    I did find a solution and possible alternative to using water and making it look too intense (and avoid the possible cracking). I simply rubbed my finger in the shade of my choice and dabbed/scrubbed the product on my lips after having applied lip balm. You have to swipe a couple of times to make sure the powder is completely mixed with the lip balm but it worked! No need for water and my brush is still intact!

    • the Muse

      thanks for the tips gabrielle I don’t actually have it anymore but hopefully anyone that does finds it helpful 🙂