Exposed: Balmain x L’Oreal Lipstick Collab

The long-awaited Balmain LOreal lipstick collaboration has finally launched and I’m spilling the tea!

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review and Swatches I

When it comes to makeup from the drugstore, I’m a big fan of L’Oreal. Their pro matte foundation is legendary, their infallible eyeshadows are flawless and their lipsticks are powerfully pigmented and smooth. Not to mention, their mascaras are so good they rival favorites from YSL and even Too Faced. (Catch this post on a L’Oreal mascara that’s an exact dupe for the cult fav Better than Sex mascara.)

And so, when news broke of a collaboration with Balmain I was pretty stocked. Balmain front-man Olivier Rousteing is no stranger to flawless makeup and it seemed destined to be a slam dank collaboration. Stepping outside the drugstore, Loreal and Balmain partnered with Barney’s NY to exclusively carry the collection of lipsticks only adding to the luxe vibes. I mean, Barney’s wouldn’t stoop to drugstore levels unless the lipsticks were worthy – right?

Exposed: The Balmain x Loreal Lipstick Collection

Well dreamers, today I want to walk you through my entire experience in ordering these highly publicized lipsticks.

From pre-ordering from Barney’s, to receiving in the mail, to my experiences with Barney’s customer service and of course – my thoughts on the Balmain x Loreal lipsticks themselves! Buckle up, because this is going to be another one of my overly chatty posts. (What can I say? I guess I’m a chatty gal!)

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review I

Balmain x Loreal Lipstick Shades from Left to Right:
Fever, Urban Safari, Instinct, Glamazone, Legend, Power, Rebellion, Freedom, Liberation, Domination, Confession, Confidence

Starting Off: Pre-Ordering the Lipsticks

The Balmain Loreal lipstick collection features 12 vivid shades in total, with three faux-marble color variations.

Since the black packaged lipsticks featured traditional shade selections most of us already have in our collections, I stuck with the blue and the green color selections as those shades felt more signature to the collection.

After perusing all of the shades, I decided on 5 lipstick I most wanted and raced over to the Barney’s website to pre-order my lippies before their October 1st release date.

Upon placing my order, I was successfully able to order 4 lipsticks: Urban Safari, Power, Freedom and Glamazone.

The shade I most wanted, FEVER, wasn’t available for pre-order but given the hype surrounding the launch of this lipstick collection I figured no biggie and was happy to have four coming my way. I mean, getting 4 out of 5 is pretty darn good for something so sought after right?

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review and Swatches I

What Arrived in the Mail?

While I ordered four shades from the Balmain Loreal lipstick collection and was charged for four shades – my package from Barney’s arrived with only Urban Safari and Freedom inside.

Obviously, it’s very common for online orders to arrive in separate packages since things can come from different warehouses – etc. So not getting all four lipsticks at once didn’t throw me off in the least and I just set the package aside for the other two to arrive in a day or so to go ahead photograph/swatch them all for you guys at once.

A couple more days went by without another package or any email updates on my outstanding lipsticks so I quickly hopped on Barney’s website to check for any updates on my order. When the website wasn’t much help, I went ahead and called Barney’s since their customer service is top notch (seriously, as good as Nordstrom). Basically, I just wanted to inquire if it made more sense to review the two lipstick I had…or, hold off since the other were were shortly coming along.

Where were the other two lipsticks?

The super friendly sales girl at Barney’s was surprised the others hadn’t shipped as they were showing as in-stock in the warehouse. She knew I was hoping to review them on my website as timely as possible – so kindly offered to cancel the outstanding lippies and have them directly shipped to me from a store since that’s more controllable I guess. But since that was going to cost an extra $15 shipping/handling and I wasn’t in a huge rush – I said no biggie. An extra couple of days wouldn’t hurt anything.

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review and Swatches I

Long Story Short – Those Other Lipsticks Never Came.

So, Onto the Review!!

Two days later the lipsticks still hadn’t arrived or shipped – so I went ahead and started to pull together a review for you guys on the two Balmain Loreal lipsticks that I DID receive.

After all, if they’re so highly sought after – I want to jump on it and share my review while they’re still available at in Barney’s stores and online.

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review and Swatches I

Not to be overly picky, but note the torn/randomly puncture packaging at the top of these lipsticks. This simply isn’t even possible with the traditional L’Oreal lipsticks. The faux-marble printed overlay is pretty cheaply made, clearly.

Let’s Talk about the Packaging

It seems Balmain was going for a more ‘luxe’ look to the packaging what with this faux-marble design – but sadly, I’m here to report the packaging is actually far WORSE than your typical colour riche lipsticks from L’Oreal.

While it does photograph nicely, once you get these lipsticks in your hands you’ll find that they are made with a very much flimsier plastic than your average lipstick with absolutely no metal hardware at all. Luxe? I think not.

If you’re a packaging snob, I think you’ll be pretty disappointed. There’s no way around it: they’re simply cheaply packaged and don’t live up to L’Oreal’s standards. (Or Barney’s for that matter.)

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review and Swatches I

Do The Balmain Lipsticks Have the Same L’Oreal Smell?

All of us lipstick mavens know one thing about L’Oreal lipsticks – they have a very distinct, powdery scent. A scent that for many is such a turnoff they don’t even bother with the brand’s lippies. But for me, I think I have a weak sense of smell because it doesn’t bother me much and I usually just carry on because the pigmentation and smoothness of L’Oreal lipsticks are great.

But yes – the Balmain Loreal lipstick collection does have that same classic L’Oreal scent. Take with that what you will. If you’re bothered by the scent, you won’t like these lipsticks. If it doesn’t bug you? Keep reading.

Onto Some Swatches!

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review and Swatches I

Okay, Let’s Talk Consistency

You know when you buy a bold nail polish and are SUPER excited thinking it’s going to be so creamy and lush? Then you apply it only to find the polish is super streaky and needs about a thousand layers to smooth out – which is honestly so annoying because who has time to wait for seven layers of nail polish to dry?

Well, I vote the Balmain Loreal lipstick experience is like that – only worse.

Urban Safari: Swatched like a pretty pastel nail polish shade that works out as imagined. 

Freedom? Streaky. Gunky. GLUEY even. (Is that even a word?? Gummy?) Even when layering, upon layering – I couldn’t manage to smooth things out.

This is where my excitement for the Balmain x L’Oreal lipsticks came completely flooding down. For a collection that champions BOLD lipstick shades – for the shades to be a streaky, gunky mess was a big flop. 

Not to mention at $14 a pop, you may as well spend a couple extra bucks more and get a MAC or Urban Decay lipstick that will be PHENOMENAL! OR, even save some money and head to the drugstore for a $4 Essence lipstick that will literally blow your mind. (Seriously, highly recommend these Essence Lipsticks!! )

Freedom, a bold purple, has such poor consistency that simply – it isn’t worth your time or money.

Balmain Loreal Lipstick v Urban Decay Vice Lipstick I Swath Comparison

Speaking of Urban Decay…

In swatching Freedom, I realized how similar it is to another Vice lipstick I have from Urban Decay.

Generally, I would say that the Urban Decay Vice lipstick collection has a similar vibe to the Balmain x L’Oreal lipsticks. Similar to Balmain, the Vice lippies feature vibrant, bold shades that aren’t always your typical color. Below is Urban Deay’s purple Jawbreaker swatched beside Balmain’s purple Freedom.

Hopefully, this side-by-side comparison will help you get a better idea of the consistency you’re getting from Balmain.

Balmain Loreal Lipstick v Urban Decay Vice Lipstick I Swath Comparison

Needless to Say, Urban Decay Wins on Quality

Across the board, I vote the Urban Decay Vice lipsticks are a better bet for your dollar. For just a couple dollars more, you’ll get:

  • Smooth, strong pigmentation
  • Long-lasting lipstick with 6-8 hours of wear time.
  • Better packaging (the UD lipsticks are packaged in metal with no plastic)
  • Also of note – Urban Decay is committed to being cruelty free, which L’Oreal is not.

Of course, this post is not about my longstanding love for Urban Decay and their brilliant Vice lipsticks (which I honestly can’t recommend enough.) 

Back to the Balmain Loreal lipstick collection we go!

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review and Swatches I

How Long do the Balmain Lipsticks Last?

Two hours. Less if you’re sipping on mass coffee and water (as I tend to do) because they transfer like crazy. Pretty disappointing!

Are the Lipsticks Matte as They Claim to Be?

Urban Safari I’d classify as a full-coverage satin, lipstick. Freedom? Sheer satin. Neither are matte to be honest.

Are the Balmain Lipsticks Available Anywhere BUT Barney’s?

The Balmain lipsticks are available for purchase in two places: L’Oreal’s website and in stores and online at Barney’s.

If you live in NYC or Chicago, I’d recommend going into a Barney’s so you can see and handle the lipsticks before taking the plunge and making a purchase. If ordering online, I’d also recommend using Barney’s as they offer free shipping and L’Oreal does not.

Thoughts on the Pigmentation?

Pretty weak. I was wondering why the ads for the collection and website didn’t include any swatches or close ups of the models wearing the lipsticks – but upon testing these, found the answer why. They’re just not that pigmented. 

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review and Swatches I

Overall Thoughts On the Balmain Lipsticks

I did follow up with Barney’s and will let you know about that below – but this pretty much wraps up my thoughts on the Balmain Loreal lipstick collection. Generally? I’d say this collection is one big gimmick. Not worth your time or money. Skip it and move on!

Pros of the Collection:

  • The color selection includes shades for a large variety of skintones. Bravo for that!
  • Barney’s costumer service is top notch so the decision to partner with them is a big pro.

Cons of the Collection:

  • Very poor consistency
  • Weak pigmentation
  • Sheer coverage, while presented in advertising as opaque
  • Not matte as described
  • Very cheap packaging
  • Not consistent with the quality of standard L’Oreal lipsticks – that are HALF the price!
  • Unpleasant smell
  • Overpriced for the quality. I know they’re just $14, but you can get much better lipsticks for much less. (Including L’Oreal’s basic lipsticks.)
  • Not readily available. Would be nice if available at more retailers to give customers the opportunity to see the product before purchasing.
  • Not certified cruelty-free.

Generally, this Balmain Loreal lipstick collection is a big flop and frankly, a bit of a scam. You’re paying for the Balmain name, on cheaply packaged lipsticks that are poorly made. 

I did want to say a few more things on my experience with Barney’s…so read below for that!

Balmain Loreal Lipstick Collection Review and Swatches I

While I have negative thoughts on the lipsticks – I don’t want that to reflect on Barney’s at ALL. Here are some final thoughts on my experience shopping with them.

Both the ladies I spoke with at Barney’s, when calling to inquire on the rest of my order and then later to cancel the rest of my order, were extremely pleasant and apologetic. While this collaboration is a complete flop in my eyes, I don’t think it’s a reflection on Barney’s as they truly are committed to keeping their customers happy and providing products that everyone can be happy with.

When I called to cancel my outstanding lipsticks, the sales rep even offered to take back the two lipsticks I had used I wasn’t happy with. This isn’t a required part of their policy but a reflection of how thorough they really are. I thought that was silly and didn’t return the lipsticks (as they met my purposes of creating a review), but it was a very nice gesture on her part. She also made sure I immediately received notification of the order cancellation and how quickly I would receive a refund (within 24 hours).

Overall, the Barney’s staff were very friendly and super informative. Upon cancelling, they took extra time that they didn’t have to to take down my thoughts on the lipsticks and where they missed the mark to pass on to buyers. 

On L’Oreal….

Barney’s has my comments and apparently disappointed comments from many other consumers as well. I’m hopeful they get back to L’Oreal to prevent any future disappointing collections from coming out.

Obviously I still love L’Oreal and trust the products I already know and love from them – but it is disappointing that they bought into the hype of Balmain to release a subpar collection that does not meet their typical standards. 

Some people may like these lipsticks just as collector’s items – but for me? I’m merely a fan of great makeup products. I don’t care about fancy names or designer collaborations like one with Balmain. If a lipstick is bad, I’m going to say it’s bad. No matter whose name is on it.


Thanks so much for reading!! I know this post was a LONG one – but when Googling, I just couldn’t find much out there on these lipsticks and wanted you to get as thorough a review as possible. Stay tuned though – because my next makeup post is a GREAT one on a Christmas palette you’re going to want in your life.

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Balmain x Loreal Lipsticks ($14 Each)

Stay stylish and keep chasing your dreams!