Week Wrap-up: Bare Escentuals’ Buxoms

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Week Wrap-up: Bare Escentuals’ Buxoms

At $18 for .15 oz of lip polish or .03 oz of lip pencil, these are some of the pricier lip colors out there. (By contrast, Nars lip glosses are $24 for .28 oz of product, Nars lip pencils are $24 or .086 ounces of product.) They claim to increase lip plumpness, as well as protect and soften your lips. The entire line is made without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates (but unlike BE's 100% natural lip pencils and glosses, the Buxom lip products do have preservatives.)

I own over half of the Buxom lip products released to date, and I'll probably at least think about buying any newly-released colors if I don't buy them right away. I love these products - they work great for me. I'm probably not the single biggest buxom-aholic out there - I don't have backups of these, and I prefer getting the rather than the fullsize wherever possible - but I'm willing to bet I count as a “diehard enthusiast”.

The buxom products are all named according to themes: the lip polishes are women's names (with the sheer colors' boxes illustrated with women in bathing suits / lingerie, and the full-color colors' boxes illustrated with fully-clothed women), the cream shadows are all dog breeds, the liner pencils are all jewels or precious metals, the lip pencils are all cities...et cetera. The lip products are all "illustrated" by Australian artist Neryl Walker - for whatever reason, the newer Buxom articles didn't get illustrations, possibly because it's not easy to illustrate cities, jewels, or precious metals. At any rate... The buxom line is built around wink-and-a-nod flirtatiousness, probably because the original buxoms were sold for their lip-plumping qualities. The overall buxom line, including the lip products, differs from the core Bare Escentuals products in that while they don't contain parabens, sulfates, or phthalates, they do contain other preservatives and are not "mineral makeup". I've had a few buxom lip polishes for three years, and they have not separated or started to change. Others have had some buxoms even longer and they haven't stopped working or gone off.


The color range is decent - both in the lip polishes and the lip pencils. The polishes have both sheer and full-coverage colors (though fewer of the full-coverage shades) so you can choose the level of pigmentation; and the sheer colors have straight color, shimmer, or high-sparkle (the diamond buxoms). The lip pencils don't have as wide a color range as I might like, but they cover reds, pinks, plums, and peaches. So hopefully as the line continues to expand they'll add more shades of the hues they currently have.

Effects / Effectiveness

The lip pencil colors go on smoothly, and last fairly well even when worn without a top coat or gloss of any kind. The darker colors left a bit of color behind after one quick pass with the makeup remover, but it came off with a second brush. The lip pencil is thicker than the average lip stick, so I didn't notice a whole lot of "lipstick-on-the-coffeecup" marks. There's a slight cooling tingle after I apply the lip pencil, but I don't notice any increase in lip fullness. Others have said that this formula dries their lips, but I personally haven't had that experience. The color is smooth without being greasy, heavier without being chunky or crumbly, and smudges and smears well but doesn't bleed. I haven't noticed any scent from the lip pencils. If you're looking for a good lip pencil, these are definitely good...but whether or not they provide the plumping is up for some debate. (I certainly haven't seen anything like that in all the time I've been using Buxoms. Doesn't mean it doesn't happen to some. Just that it doesn't happen to me.)

The lip polishes (similar to lip glosses...but slightly different) have a doe-foot applicator, and while I hate doe-foots for applying eye products, they work very well for applying lip products. BE switched to brush applicators for a brief time with the Buxoms, and use brush applicators in all their natural lip glosses; but after a great hue and cry from the customer base, they switched back. The application is good, and the polish does not feel at all greasy. They do feel ever-so-slightly tacky (not quite sticky, but not quite smooth either) - I tend to blot mine, which I know is not normally done with lip polishes or glosses; but I don't love the super-glossy lip look, so that works for me. The colors are sheerer, even the "full coverage" ones. You won't get the same color-results with these as you would with most lip colors, nor even with some more pigmented lip glosses. They do provide a marvelous tint or glaze of color, though. The diamond buxoms provide a bit of sparkle without making you look like you just kissed a jar of glitter - and the glitter is definitely finer, though not quite "microglitter". These have a very very faint scent of coconut that I only notice when I actually sniff the open tube. I do have to reapply this throughout the day, because while it doesn't just slide off, it doesn't stand up to eating and drinking as well as the Buxom lip pencils' colors.


These started out being regular Bare Escentuals items, but made with preservatives (as none of their other products are.) In late 2008, the Buxom line became its own sub-line, with new items to be carried exclusively at Sephora. Any color that had previously been released, including the full-color Buxoms, was and is still available at BE boutiques and channel partners. Most BE kits no longer include a buxom, though - they include one of BE's 100% natural lip glosses (which I personally loathe...but to each their own.) One can buy the newer Buxom items, like the eyeliner pencils, the lip pencils, the cream shadows, and so forth, only at Sephora (either in stores or online.) It does kind of suck that folks outside the United States and Canada effectively can't get the lip pencils at all, which - despite the cost - are some of my favorite products from this line. (I've tried the eyeliners, the cream shadows, and the mascara and am not all that thrilled.) Bare Escentuals boutiques will occasionally release new buxom lip polishes, like the Buxom Sailor Girls or the Buxom Rock Stars - and presumably those are also available internationally, though possibly several months after they're released in the US. I've never ever seen them carry the buxom lip pencils, though.


As I've said, these are some of the pricier lip colors on the market. They cost more per ounce than comparable items from Nars or Shiseido. Part of why some people may try them is the initial lower price-point (when looking at $18 versus $24, suddenly $18 doesn't seem all that bad), the claims of lip plumping, and the immense name brand recognition. If I did not already use Bare Escentuals, I don't know if I would try this out (or if I had tried using only BE's foundation and had that less-than-wonderful experience, I wouldn't touch the stuff with a ten-foot pole.) The lip polishes cost $120 per ounce (yep...really: 18 divided by .15 equals 120)...which is kind of terrifying when you think about it. The lip pencil colors are even more shocking at $600 per ounce.

Size Matters

Like Bare Escentuals' eyeshadows, these items are often half-sized when they're sold in kits (like the Buxom City Slickers and Babes About Town.) I prefer the fullsize eyeshadows, but prefer the mini buxoms. The cost is about the same (or better, when you total up the amount of product in an eight-item buxom kit versus in two fullsize buxom items.) They travel a little easier, fitting into a smaller purse pocket or makeup pouch. With the kits and minis, I get to try more colors and don't need to worry about them going bad before I use up at least half of the product - and that's even without wearing the stuff every day. Different people will have different opinions; but I feel like I get more variety and value with these holiday-release buxom lip kits (and the four-pack of mini buxom lip polishes that are released throughout the year.)

In conclusion...

Despite the high price, I would recommend these to anyone. They don't necessarily increase lip fullness (at least, not for me); but as lip colors and quasi-glosses they're great. Your best bet is to get one of the larger kits like the Buxom City Slickers, which includes four mini lip polishes and four mini lip pencils, all in a range of colors - and all for just about the same amount you'd pay for just two fullsized items.

My recommendations:

  • Buxom City Slickers (available at Sephora online only, will probably still be around until end of January. After that, you may be lucky to still find it there.)
  • Buxom San Francisco (my absolute favorite Buxom lip pencil color)
  • Buxom Betty (available fullsize; but it is also available in mini-size in a kit which is currently on supersale at Sephora)
  • Buxom Betsy (it's essentially the full-color version of Buxom Trixie)

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