REVIEW: theBalm Instain Blushes in Argyle and Houndstooth

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

I've been a women's magazine junkie since I was a pre-teen. Teen People, Seventeen, YM--these were my Bibles. I'd read them at the grocery store check-out line, in the car on the way home (as much as I could before getting motion sickness. BARF.) and during homeroom and recess. Since a lot of stuff in those magazines didn't apply to me at 12 (flirting? dating? studying for your SATs? WHAT?), I mostly spent my time reading and rereading the beauty sections, admiring the latest makeup trends on my favorite celebrities, and wishing I owned entire beauty product editorial spreads.

Nowadays, because of my job, I've been fortunate enough to get to see magazines from a different point-of-view--as a content creator. I've been able to get a taste of the whole research process for putting together an issue, and to experience that satisfying and relieved feeling once the issue ships and I see the finished product in my hands--and, of course, starting the cycle all over again the following day.

So it was only natural for me to be attracted to these magazine-inspired blushes from theBalm, a brand I'm becoming more and more interested in. These Instain blushes came out several years ago, and they clearly borrow from InStyle covers (one of my favorite magazines in high school). I purchased two shades--Argyle and Houndstooth ($22 at I will be reviewing in this post. Read on to see how my latest blush purchases went.


Instain blushes are described as "long-wearing, staining blushes."


The blushes in the Instain line come in lightweight, matte cardboard containers. The blush container flips open to reveal the pan and a mirror. To prevent the container from flipping open unexpectedly, the blush comes with a sleeve. 

Color and Pigmentation

Keeping up with the fashion-inspired theme, the shades in the line are named after popular clothing patterns and fabrics. For me, this was kind of confusing since I typically don't associate fabrics or patterns with colors. While writing this post, I kept forgetting which color was Argyle and which color was Houndstooth!

On theBalm website, "Argyle" is described as a petal pink. It's a very pigmented matte bubblegum pink.

"Houndstooth" is described as a mauve. It's a highly-pigmented matte reddish plum.

The swatches: 

From left to right: Argyle and Houndstooth

Formula and Wearability

Since these blushes are stains, I found them expectedly less blendable than regular, powdery blushes. To use these highly-pigmented blushes, I had to tap off excess product from my brush before applying. If you put too much on your brush, the blush color will likely concentrate on one part of your face, making it harder to sweep the color to other parts of your face. Therefore, I  had to use a very light hand to blend the blush on my skin. When I felt like I had used too much blush, I blended out the color with a clean kabuki brush to help diffuse the color. 

Here are shots of me trying out the blushes.

Wearing Argyle

Wearing Houndstooth

I wore them on different days. They lasted quite long--up to 8 hours on each day.



I liked both of these blushes. They're well-pigmented and long-lasting. But I'm not crazy about them since they're tricky to use at first. However, I do think this line of blushes would look great on deeper skin tones since the blushes will show up more on tan skin or dark skin.