Saturday, May 4, 2013

Review: Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Tinted Balm

Does this really need an introduction? We all know I'm willing to try just about anything from the Kevyn Aucoin brand, partly because Kevyn was my all-time favorite makeup artist (RIP), but also because it's one of the few brands that seems to create super-light foundations in formulations I can work with. So when I saw that they were re-promoting this tinted moisturizer-type product, and when I heard from the...oh, two existing blog reviews that it ran quite light, I was sold.

I technically swapped for this product: the other gal bought it from a website during a big sale and sent it to me in exchange for a few of my purged items. But if you should buy it full price, the Sensual Skin Tinted Balm will cost you $48 for 1 oz. I got Sb01, the lightest shade. The listing on Nordstrom says that this product will "treat" the skin and improve all sorts of cell functions with a variety of random buzzwordy stuff, blah blah blah, I don't believe any of that. I was more interested in the idea that it "conceals imperfections with lightweight pigments versus dense compounds," "protects against UVA and UVB rays with a theoretic SPF20" (note that it's theoretic, and that you won't see "SPF20" anywhere on the box or tube), and is oil and paraben free.

Straight off the bat: LOVE the packaging for this product. It has a pull-off cap that doesn't yoink off easily, so it's purse-safe, and the top of the bottle is clear and kind of...squishy. You squeeze that part to dispense the foundation from a very tiny, thin nozzle. You'll see just how much product you have left and you'll never dispense too much, which is a vast improvement over other Kevyn Aucoin foundation packaging.

For a foundation that's supposed to be lightweight, this product is surprisingly thick and creamy, almost like a concealer. When I blended it in to my face, I got the impression that I was rubbing on a rich sunscreen or moisturizer. I was expecting something much more silicone-y feeling, given the high amount of dimethicone in the formulation (scroll down for the ingredients list). There wasn't any moisturization (or if there should be, my skin is too dry for it to really make a difference), but it definitely felt like the product had some density and weight to it. It blended out easily, though, and was weightless after it had been applied.

Now, I figured that this product would be too dark for me when I tested it out the back of my hand and it turned dark orange. Once applied to my face, it's definitely too dark, but it's not as shockingly orange as it was on my hand. I'd guesstimate that Sb01 is about NW15 in MAC terms, since my neck and chest (which I match to) are about N5 and this was two shades too dark.

Although this is supposedly a "tinted balm," it doesn't moisturize much and it provides a decent bit of coverage, so I'm more apt to call it a "sheer foundation." As you can see in these pictures, it evened out my discoloration and lightened up (but did not completely conceal) my taking-forever-to-fade chin blemish. It didn't make much of a dent on my undereye circles, but few products do, so that's no big deal to me. The finish is a very natural matte/satin finish; it makes my skin look polished, but not made-up.

The Sensual Skin Tinted Balm applied beautifully to my oily nose, normal forehead, and somewhat dry cheeks, but in the mouth/chin area--where I tend to get super-dry--it was a bit of a struggle. I was stunned to see that my mouth and chin were covered in teeny tiny flakes that I hadn't noticed or felt prior to applying the foundation. I don't know WHY this foundation brought those flakes to the surface, because it didn't feel particularly drying and it sat comfortably on my skin otherwise, but I was very disappointed to see that yet another Kevyn Aucoin foundation wouldn't work wonders on my combination-dry face. I would point fingers at the alcohol listed in the ingredients if the flakes didn't pop up so immediately and if the product was harsher on my face after hours of wear, but for now, it's a mystery.

In all fairness, the product softened up on my skin after about 15 minutes, which is what most foundations do. I sort the flakes away (I know, I know, it's gross), and then it looked just fine all over my face. But again, it's a bit frustrating that it made my skin look even dryer than it was, and I know that it wouldn't work on me in the winter when my face turns to the Sahara.

On my normal, oily, and slightly dry areas, though, this foundation was a thing of pure beauty. I know for a fact that if it wasn't so hilariously dark on my uber-pale skin, I'd make it my go-to spring/summer foundation because of how weightless and natural it looks.

Here's how my face looked after 2 hours of walking, swinging, and running around on a warm day. I was absolutely stunned to see that such a creamy-textured product had not only stayed put on my dry and normal areas, but had only gotten a smidge shiny on my mega-oily nose. It looked beautiful even in bright, bright daylight, and again, if it hadn't been too dark for me, it would've looked like my own skin, only better. (Bear in mind that the extra coverage on my chin, undereyes, and around my nose is from my concealer--the Tinted Balm didn't magically become higher coverage!)

So would I recommend this product? If you have normal to slightly oily/dry skin and you're looking for something lightweight and natural, then yes, definitely. It gave me beautiful, sheer coverage and played well with a variety of brushes, powders, and cream products, and it lasted through extreme temperatures better than I ever would have expected. The shade range is incredibly limited, though, and the texture is a tad wonky, especially on dryer skin, but if can find a color that'll work for you, I say give it a go! I'm going to cling to my tube for a bit longer in the hopes that I'll "tan" up a bit and be able to rock it throughout the summer.

Rating: 4 out of 5

From left to right: Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Tinted Balm in Sb01, Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx02, Burberry Sheer Luminous foundation in Trench 01, Tarte Tinted BB Treatment in Fair, Kevyn Aucoin Sensual Skin Enhancer in Sx01


  1. I realize this is an old post, but I could not find a listing for the other makeup products you were particular the gorgeous lipstick. Could you maybe recall what brand and shade it was?

    1. I can't really remember, but my educated guess would be MAC Girl About Town.