Sunday, May 4, 2014

Product Review: TokyoMilk Lip Elixir and Bon Bon Lip Balm

As I have recently learned, I am a total sucker for pretty cosmetics packaging. This is both a blessing and a curse; my wallet doesn't always appreciate it, but occasionally it leads me to a little gem of a product I might not have picked up otherwise. Case in point: TokyoMilk lip products.

TokyoMilk Dark Lip Elixirs in No. 42 La Vie En Rose and No. 36 Salted Caramel, Bon Bon Lip Balm in Candied Violette.
These lip balms are impeccably presented, and what's inside is generally just as appealing as what's on the outside... hit or miss on the scents/flavors for me, but there's sure to be something for everyone. I initially purchased the TokyoMilk Dark Lip Elixirs in the two flavors that caught my attention the most, Salted Caramel and La Vie En Rose. TokyoMilk offers an interesting array of bold flavors, including Clove Cigarette and Smoked Salt, but I wasn't feeling particularly brave when I placed my order. After receiving and loving my first two, however, I decided to expand my collection and scooped up two more: Coco Noir and Dead Sexy.

Apparently I'm a closet Goth.
These puppies are huge for lip balms! 0.7 oz. of product, and I think it's going to take me a long time to hit pan. The tins are lovely, with the logo embossed into the top and sealed with colored sticker bands that identify the flavor; one small tinge of disappointment is that once the bands are broken and removed, a bit of the flair of the packaging is also removed, plus there's no way to tell the flavors apart at a glance. You've got to check the label on the bottom of the tin. (I know, I know, first-world problems.) I suppose I could have left the sticker bands in place, but I know the torn edges would have gotten raggedy and dirty and tweaked the hell out of my closet OCD. Another issue with these tins is that they can be difficult to pry open if they've gotten knocked around in your purse and/or pushed a little more firmly closed than necessary. As someone who's actively trying to grow stubby fingernails out, I have to be careful to close mine only as much as necessary so I don't have to risk a nail break while trying to yoink my balm tin open. One last tin issue: while the tin that was bopping around loose in the bottom of my purse has stayed immaculate, the tin that has been living in my crowded makeup bag has gotten a little scuffed up around the edges. Of course this doesn't affect its performance, but because I appreciate the aesthetic of the packaging so much, it's a little disappointing. That's what Sharpies are for, though, amirite?
Here be balm.
Inside is a clear petroleum-based balm, which I find to be much more moisturizing and less greasy-feeling than others of its kind. Some people may find lip balm tins unsanitary, but I have absolutely zero problem with sticking my fingers all up in there. (In my opinion, if my generation and I survived a childhood in the old-school McDonald's playgrounds, we can survive anything.) It lasts a reasonably long time, and my lips feel great, but let's get to the important part: the flavors!
  • No. 36 Salted Caramel is, quite simply, heaven in a tin. Upon opening it, the initial scent is syrupy, like an epic stack of fresh waffles. On the lips, it turns into a beautiful, subtle burnt-sugar flavor... while I don't necessarily detect the "salt" in the name, it's not sickly-sweet like lip balms can be, so I attribute that balance to the "salt." True story: one day I put some on at work, forgot to wipe my finger off, then sat down to braid my colleague's hair (slow shift), and she immediately noticed the scent of it transferred from my finger into her hair. I kept catching her surreptitiously sniffing her hair for the rest of the night... and then she asked me where I'd ordered it, and placed her own order on the spot. It's that good. (TokyoMilk's flavor notes: "Sweet Cream, Sea Salt, Caramelized Sugar, Toasted Vanilla Bean.")
  • No. 42 La Vie En Rose is a lovely and surprising little flavor. To me the scent is definitely rose, but a modern, fresh rose scent, not your grandma's stuffy rose perfume. I wasn't sure what to expect from the flavor after smelling such a pure floral aroma, but the flavor is lightly floral with a hint of fruitiness. Not as stellar as Salted Caramel, but still pretty nice. (TokyoMilk's flavor notes: "Rosewater, Sweet Orange, Peach, Tahitian Vanilla.")
  • No. 60 Coco Noir is about to get damned with faint praise: it smells and tastes just like what you'd expect from a chocolate lip balm. By that, I mean that it's a somewhat artificial "cocoa" aroma and flavor... not bad, but not the complex and intriguing experiences of the previous two. I also detect a strong note of cherry in the flavor, but in keeping with the artificiality of the chocolate, it's a maraschino flavor rather than a true cherry taste. I'll use it, but won't re-purchase this one. (TokyoMilk's flavor notes: "Dark Rum, Maraschino Cherry, Sweet Milk, Cacao Bean.")
  • No. 72 Dead Sexy is one that I chose because I wanted to try one of the more unique offerings... and it was definitely a bad choice for me. The scent is overwhelmingly pungent; I could smell it before I even got the mailing envelope open, and I could honestly see it being a migraine trigger. I can't pick out any scent notes, because I can't stand to smell it for any length of time... it triggers some unpleasant olfactory memory for me, although I can't place exactly what it is. I almost want to say that it reminds me of a funeral home, but that's not quite right. In any case, it went right back into the envelope without even trying it on my lips. Sorry for the lack of details on this one, but I just can't with it. (TokyoMilk's flavor notes: "Ebony Wood, Warm Vanilla, Citrus Peel, Rosewater.")
Lest I forget, let's also talk about the last of my TokyoMilk goodies: the Bon Bon Lip Balm in Candied Violette, another unique winner in my book.

Pretty lid, so so pretty.
Here be more balm.

Again, the packaging is really appealing, this time with a silver lid with the embossed logo, and a nice substantial glass container. As seen in the first photo in this post, the box it came in is also BEAUTIFUL, and it's a damn shame it had to be thrown out, but I'm just not dedicated enough to keep my cosmetics in their original boxes. The balm itself is similar to the Dark Lip Elixirs, but doesn't seem to last quite as long. Scent and flavor: I'm not sure I've ever noticed that violets have a distinct aroma, but this smells pretty and has a unique, light and sweet floral sort of taste. I can't explain it, but I REALLY like it. (TokyoMilk's flavor notes: "Sugared Violette Leaves, Crushed Nectarines, and Honeycrisp Apples.")

In summary: GET YOU SOME SALTED CARAMEL NOW. And if you want more, Candied Violette. And if you still want more, La Vie En Rose. And then maybe you should question whether you really need that many lip balms... but I could be projecting. In any case, the TokyoMilk Dark Lip Elixirs retail for $7 apiece, and $10 for the Bon Bon Lip Balm.

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