Sunday, November 26, 2017

REVIEW: Besame Delicate Rouge and Cream Rouge

When Besame offered to send me some of their blushes, I was expecting just one of the powders and maybe a pot of their Cream Rouge. Imagine my utter shock when they sent me both Cream Rouge shades and two of their Delicate Rouge powders. Actually, if you follow me on Instagram, you probably don't have to imagine my reaction; it was pretty obvious on my story:

Despite the excitement of "ERMAGAHD BESAME NOTICED ME" and legitimately gorgeous new products, I really wanted to take my time testing these out. I rarely use powder blushes, so I'm a wee bit out of the loop, and I have such an obsession with cream blushes and Besame that I was worried I wouldn't give this stuff a fair trial. Having fiddled with these for several weeks now, I think I'm ready to give my review.

Let's start with the Cream Rouges, which come in two permanent shades: Crimson, a cool-toned red, and Apricot, a bright orange. (At the time of this post, there's also a limited edition shade from the Snow White collection called With a Smile and a Song, which appears to be a rose shade.) These are packaged in small tins that are relatively easy to open, which is a definite improvement over their previous packaging that featured a lid like a bomb shelter door. The permanent shades retail for $18 and contain 3.5 grams of product.

People often complain that these are "really tiny," but that's a little misguided. For starters, you really can't compare cream and liquid blushes to powder blushes. Creams and liquids tend to have more concentrated color--you need less product to get the same effect. They're also more commonly applied with fingers, or put on the back of the hand to warm them up before using a brush, whereas powder blushes need to be a bit bigger so your brush can dip right in. For this reason, cream blushes will always seem tiny compared to a powder blush. Most importantly, it's the actual amount of product in the container that needs to be considered. In that case, the Besame Cream Rouges still seem quite small, but a cost per gram analysis reveals that they're actually relatively affordable:

 Besame Cream Rouge, $18 for 3.5g = $5.14 per gram
Stila Convertible Color, $25 for 4.25g = $5.88 per gram
RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek, $36 for 4.82g = $7.46 per gram
Makeup Forever HD Blush, $26 for 2.8g = $9.28 per gram

Wearing Besame Cream Rouge in Crimson on my lips and cheeks.

The texture of these blushes actually sort of shocked me at first. While they look very solid in the pan, they warm up quickly under your fingers and take on an almost liquid texture. They have the lightweight texture and natural tint of a stain. You get a lot of color, believe me, but you can still see your skin, which gives it a very natural appearance. I absolutely adore it.

Speaking of the stain-like quality: the Besame Cream Rouges are actually advertised as a lip and cheek product, which made me side eye them at first. I've always said that these dual use products are usually only good for one or the other: if they work for the cheeks, they're too dry for the lips, and if they work for the lips, they're too hard to blend on the cheeks. That's not the case with these; I had no problem using them on my lips and getting a very natural, beautifully flushed color. They're a hair drying on the lips, but it's easily remedied by some balm.

Because the formula is very lightweight but pigmented, you can layer it up. In other words, you can use a little to look naturally rosy, or you can pack the product on and look truly flushed and borderline feverish. If you wanna call back to the days when tuberculosis was considered super sexy, this is the product to do it.

I can only think of two downsides for these blushes. The entirely personal one is that they contain one of my acne triggers, so I can only use them once or twice a week if I want to avoid clogs. Everyone's triggers are different and the ingredients list is actually pretty solid, so I'm not knocking the formula overall. The more general complaint I have is the smell, which reminds me of cherry Chapstick. I just think it cheapens an otherwise luxurious product.

Now for the Delicate Rouge blushes, which are their powders. I have to admit that I tilted my head a little when I saw the shades they sent me: I'm very fair and lean toward the warm side, but they sent me Raspberry (a violet pink) and Sunkissed (a soft, peachy brown). I actually expected them to send me one of the other two shades, Rose or Sweet Pink.

Each of the Delicate Rouges retails for $25. They come in these absolutely beautiful metal tins with screw top lids. (It took me a second to realize they had screw tops, and I kept trying to open them like they were hinged...which is especially embarrassing when you realize the note inside the cardboard box says "please twist to open.") The powder is embossed with a really beautiful flower logo. I actually held off on trying these out because we had so many gloomy days that it was hard to get decent lighting for photographs, and I definitely wanted to photograph that logo.

With 4.5 grams of blush in each pan, these are in the middle of the pack as far as high end blush cost per gram goes:

Urban Decay Afterglow Blush, $26 for 6.8g = $3.82 per gram
Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush, $29 for 5.6g = $5.17 per gram
Besame Delicate Rouge, $25 for 4.5g = $5.55 per gram
Laura Mercier Second Skin Cheek Color, $26 for 3.7g = $7.02 per gram
Surratt Beauty Artistique Blush, $32 for 4g = $8 per gram
Bobbi Brown Blush, $30 for 3.7g = $8.10 per gram

Besame also sent me their Rouge Brush, and I'm damn glad, because I don't actually own a traditional blush brush anymore. The brush is decently fluffy, made from synthetic hairs, and retails for $30. That's a bit steep for me for a blush brush, but it definitely blends products smoothly and feels nice on the skin.

Now, some people like to tap their brush in to powder blushes, and other people prefer to swirl. I definitely recommend that you stick with tapping. For starters, these are decently pigmented and a lot ends up on the brush. I actually had to tap Sunkissed off on my wrist to avoid overbronzing myself. Furthermore, these kick up a lot of powder. The photo above shows what Raspberry looked like after a gentle tap. Don't get me wrong: a lot ends up on the brush. But you'll definitely have a little bit left loose in the pan.

Wearing Raspberry along my cheekbones and Sunkissed...kind of sort of in the hollows of my cheeks. I TRIED, OKAY?

Because Sunkissed is more of a bronze shade, I attempted to do a wee bit of contour with it, which...didn't work. I don't really contour because it heightens my resemblance to a horse, and I definitely didn't do the best job here. It's too warm for me to contour with, anyway, and it's too brown to work as a blush on my skintone. It's a lovely shade, but it's not right for me. Trust and believe that I have several friends not-so-subtly asking if I'm going to hand them this pot of Sunkissed.

I had better luck with Raspberry. While it reads violet in the pan and in my swatch below, it blends out to a muted pink color. (You might get more of the purple tones if you wear a fuller coverage foundation.) I really love that it's matte without looking dry or flat.

With both shades, I blended by tapping the color on to my cheek, then buffing in small circles. This formula blends easily and smoothly over liquid foundation and over powder, though it was a little easier and quicker to get an even finish on powdered skin. 

So they're not the single greatest powder blushes in the world--I might give that distinction to Surratt--but they're definitely nice. I'd have no problem recommending them to most people. The shade range, however, is a disappointment for me.

The above photos are stills from Lisa Eldridge's vintage makeup series. In all three pictures, you can see vintage blushes in bright, saturated colors. I'm wondering why Besame didn't draw inspiration from products like these. I admit that my frustration stems from my love of bright, clean blush colors, but I'm also thinking about deeper skinned people. The existing Delicate Rouge shades have a pastel quality (with the possible exception of Rose), and none of them seems strong enough to show up on dark skin. Something like that bold pink on the bottom, however, would probably look beautiful on dark skin, and that would make the range more accessible.

Lastly, I want to add a quick note on staying power. Both of these formulas lasted for more than 6 hours on my cheeks with very little fading. I have very dry skin, though, so blushes tend to stick to my face regardless of the formulation. I'm not sure how long these would last on very oily skin.

As a whole, I was pleased with the Delicate Rouge and wowed by the Cream Rouge. They're beautifully packaged, well formulated, and a joy to use.

Cream Rouge: 5 out of 5
Delicate Rouge: 4 out of 5

These blushes were sent to me by Besame. As I made clear to the company, I only write honest reviews. I do not accept financial compensation for my posts.
You can purchase these products on the Besame website.


  1. The packaging of the Cream Rouges is, like...disgustingly beautiful. Is the chrysanthemum metal or plastic? I agree, it's odd that the brand doesn't offer brighter/darker blushes when so many vintage blushes were bold. (I love that Lisa Eldridge Biba [?] look, btw.)

    And it's so cool that B├ęsame sent products to a smaller beauty blogger who's known for her honesty. I can't stand the YouTube ~influencer~ reviews that are more like infomercials.

  2. Helpful review as always, thanks! I actually think those powder blushes would really work for me! My skin's more normal-combo and they look pretty smooth. Sunkissed is SUPER up my alley as someone with yellow tones in their skin :D

    1. The formula is certainly solid. Sunkissed sounds right up your alley!

  3. The packaging is absolutely stunning! This brand really needs to expand its target audience though. Even though the lipsticks can work for people of colour, the packaging and the blushes make it look like this brand is solely for white people and they're not even thinking about people of colour.

    1. Packaging-wise, do you mean adding models who aren't white on some of the outer boxes? Because I honestly think that would be great.

    2. Yeah, definitely! I'm reading "Hope in a Jar: The Making of America's Beauty Culture" by Kathy Peiss at the moment and it dedicates significant time to black women that were pioneers in the evolution of the beauty industry in the US. So often vintage/pinup fashion and beauty companies seem to forget that women of colour existed in their specific time period and participated in those fashions. It's the same with theBalm - they have this image of vintage beauty that is almost entirely white, as if they've forgotten that women back then weren't all white. Angelique Noire (her IG handle is theblackpinup) is a stunning example of a modern day woman of colour wearing vintage fashion and makeup.

      By improving their representation on their packaging and making more products that work for darker skintones (and a wide range of darker skintones, not just one light brown tone) they will really show that they're a brand that is committed to making vintage makeup for everyone!

    3. Also, I've noticed that a lot of vintage makeup and fashion companies are very Orientalist - when they acknowledge Asian cultures at all! Besame hasn't done this from what I've seen, but including Asian women and indigenous women in their packaging and marketing is important as well. They're a US-based company and the US has a history of being a melting pot of cultures, not just white folk. Of course they're a small brand with a limited range at the moment, but I think it's something they should think about as they move forward.

  4. Oh, that packaging! So beautiful. I have yet to try a Besame product but I feel like it's inevitable since I'm such a lipstick lover. If I get a Sephora gift card for Christmas that's probably what I'll do.

    By the way, your lipstick in the picture with the powder blushes is beautiful - it really suits you.

    1. Thank you very much! It's MAC Faux with the Kevyn Aucoin Minimal lipliner.

  5. I agree with your assessment of the color when compared to true vintage products of the era. However in Besame's defense, rouge gets darker as it ages if it's been in a closed tin for most of it's life (as opposed to a regularly used product, in which case it would be darker and more muted) so the color Lisa Eldridge shows isn't true to the time either. I do have their rouge in Rose and that is a lot closer to the color you have in mind though. Might want to check it out.

    1. I totally get that, but I also know that there are many blush advertisements that show much brighter pots of rouge. Even if the colors in Lisa's videos aren't what they were when the products were first produced, creating colors like that would make the line for viable for a range of skin tones.