This is yet another rather boring moisturizer formula from theBalm. Although it contains an impressive amount of the antioxidant Pinus taeda bark, it's one more of their formulas they chose to house in a jar. Unfortunately, jar packaging renders ingredients like antioxidants less effective with each use, so from the moment you open this moisturizer those good ingredients begin to break down (we detail this in the More Info section).
The formula also contains other antioxidants, including the namesake grapefruit (which can actually be a skin irritant, as can all forms of citrus), but in small amounts unlikely to be a problem for the skin. We just wish that companies would leave the problematic ingredients completely out of their formulas.
This lightweight cream can moisturize skin and is an OK option for normal to dry skin, but your skin deserves better! All told, theBalm is a fun line to shop for quality makeup products, but most of their skin-care products are lacking. See our list of
Best Moisturizers for superior options.
- Contains some emollient thickeners that can benefit dry skin.
- Pine bark is a good antioxidant.
- Jar packaging won't keep the antioxidants stable once opened.
- An overall boring formula, with most of the antioxidants present only in minor amounts.
- Grapefruit may smell refreshing, but it also poses a risk of irritation.
The fact that this product is packaged in a jar means the beneficial ingredients won't remain stable once it is opened. All plant extracts, vitamins, antioxidants, and most other state-of-the-art ingredients break down in the presence of air, so once a jar is opened and lets the air in, these important ingredients begin to deteriorate. Jars also present a hygiene issue because even if you wash your hands or use a spatula to remove the product, you're introducing bacteria, which cause further breakdown of key ingredients (Sources: Free Radical Biology and Medicine, September 2007, pages 818–829; Ageing Research Reviews, December 2007, pages 271–288; Dermatologic Therapy, September-October 2007, pages 314–321; International Journal of Pharmaceutics, June 12, 2005, pages 197–203; Pharmaceutical Development and Technology, January 2002, pages 1–32; International Society for Horticultural Science, www.actahort.org/members/showpdf?booknrarnr=778_5; and www.beautypackaging.com/articles/2007/03/airless-packaging.php).
A lightweight cream formulated with Pine Bark extract, known for its protective and nourishing properties. Aloe Leaf extract help eliminate signs of stress and irritation, while added antioxidants defend the skin from harmful free radicals.
Water, Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Glyceryl Stearate, Pinus Taeda Bark Extract, Cyclopentasiloxane, Squalane, Isopropyl Palmitate, Glycerin, Propylene Glycol, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Sorbitan Stearate, C12-20 Acid PEG-8 Ester, Cyclohexasiloxane, Ceteareth-20, Potassium Cetyl Phosphate, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, Carbomer, Magnesium Aluminum Silicate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Hexylene Glycol, Allantoin, Panthenol, Retinyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Citrus Grandis (Grapefruit) Fruit Extract, Limonene, Ascorbic Acid, Ascorbyl Palmitate, Citric Acid, PEG-8, Tocopherol, Fragrance (Parfum)
Today, most cosmetics companies seem to be launched for one of three distinct reasons: they come about as the extension of a high-end fashion house's brand (like Burberry, Tom Ford, Dolce & Gabbana, Marc Jacobs, or Armani); they're created by some corporation under the endorsement of a celebrity (Drew Barrymore's Flower Beauty or Kat Von D's line); or, as is the case for theBalm Cosmetics, an entrepreneur saw an "unfilled niche" in the cosmetics market and decided to get to work.
theBalm was founded in San Francisco by Marissa Shipman, who spent years trying to break into the cosmetics industry before forming her own company in 2004. As the story goes, she crafted her own products in her kitchen by consulting makeup books she bought from Amazon.com. (We hoped that one of them was Paula's Don't Go to the Cosmetics Counter Without Me, but given many of the formulations, we don't think so.) Eventually she was able to hire a chemist, get a lab (Bye-bye, kitchen workshop!), and secure distribution through cosmetics retailer Sephora. theBalm's products have (pardon the pun) exploded and are now sold in dozens of countries worldwide.
It's interesting to note that theBalm is quite reminiscent of the Benefit brand; the similarity of the packaging, marketing, colors, product selection, and even the place of origin - San Francisco – is blatant. Featuring recyclable cardboard packaging with retro pinup-style artwork and cutesy names, theBalm line includes both makeup and skin care products, and is reasonably priced, although it's definitely more expensive than what you'll find at the drugstore.
The company's makeup is definitely its stronger suit, with some good options, such as a couple eyeshadow palettes, the mascara, and its pressed-powder blushes. It has one true blockbuster product: Balm Shelter tinted moisturizer. This standout product performs amazingly well and is deserving of its many accolades.
Unfortunately, theBalm also has some problematic makeup, in particular, and ironically, their lip products. The inclusion of irritants in two of its lip products is disappointing, and an otherwise excellent lip gloss (with SPF, no less) is marred by a fragrance that's downright overwhelming initially and potentially irritating if used every day.
As far as skin-care, the company's collection, called TimeBalm, is surprisingly larger than you might think. It includes cleansers, toners, moisturizers, AHA exfoliants, masks, eye-area products, and a handful of ancillary items that are questionable in terms of their benefit—though some of them, like the foundation primer, are indeed worth checking out.
Overall, based on the formulas, there’s little reason to give the majority of these skin-care products a second thought, as most of them are laced with one or more problematic ingredients or, in the case of most of the moisturizers, suffer due to jar packaging, which compromises the product’s stability. The prices are good, but there’s not much value in saving money on average-to-problematic products, especially when spending just a bit more can get you far better formulas.
theBalm boasts that TimeBalm skin-care products are free of parabens, synthetic dyes, and phthalates, and many consumers seem to be seeking such products. However, parabens are not a problem, and phthalates aren’t usually included in skin-care products—they’re more often seen in nail polish and in some fragrances. Not including synthetic dyes is helpful, but it would have been even better for your skin if theBalm had avoided fragrant oils and other plant-based irritants. Lots of theBalm products contain great natural ingredients, but they’re often commingled with potentially irritating natural ingredients, and that doesn’t add up to great skin care—it’s more of a ticking time bomb than anything else.
For more information, call 510-522-3610, or visit www.thebalm.com. And yes, we're aware that "it's thebalm.com" is an expression used to indicate something that's totally cool. Coincidence? We'll let the reviews speak for themselves!