Tokyomilk Dark's lip elixer is not only my favorite lip balm of the moment, it's also one of my favorite products of all time. To say I'm obsessed is an understatement; just look at the picture above--I currently own six out of eight of them. The only ones I don't currently have are Dead Sexy, which I've never tried, and La Vie en Rose, which I gave to my mother. The scents and flavors of these beauties are unusual, delicious, practically made for me. I will try to control the gushing as I review the six presented here.
They come packaged in a gorgeous, metal tin, with raised lettering and design. They can be hard to open, especially after they've clattered aroudn in purse. They are originally sealed with a plastic band around the edge and a paper label across the middle. This label is the only place with the flavor written on it, so I suggest you cut it, as I did, instead of peeling it off. I love pot lip balms, mostly because they tend to be softer than sticks. I know a lot of people worry about hygiene, but I am careful to only stick clean fingers in and not double dip, so I'm not worried.
Just look at that thick, luscious balm! Don't you just want to stick your finger in that?!?
Okay, so it's not the prettiest picture, but nobody's perfect, even though this comes close.
Lip Elixirs are thick, they're a petrolatum and microcystalline wax base. I know a lot of people don't like petroleum jelly, but I have always loved balms based on it: Kiehl's, Rosebud Salve. Waxy lipbalms, like Burt's Bee's have always sat on top of my lips and never spread well. This stuff, however, balances both petrolatum and wax in the formula, so the texture is neither overly petrolatum-y nor waxy. It's like if the Kiehl's lip balm and the Burt's Bee's lip balm had a baby that was raised by Jack Black's lip balm.
The ingredients, as listed on Cherry Bourbon, are: petrolatum, microcrystal wax, flavor, canola ooil and oil barbadensis (aloe vera) leaf extract, tocopherol (vitamin E), tocopheryl (Vitamin E) acetate, stevia rebaudiana (Stevia) leaf extract, organic camellia sinensis (green tea) leaf extract, carthamus tinctorius (safflower) seed oil and jasminum officinale (jasmine) flower extract, monarda didyma (bee balm) leaf extract.
I get a lot of moisture from them, and I do lean towards dry lips. Actually, I ended up with most of them because my wonderful sister took pity on me and gifted me with five of them after my lip split open when I smiled. They are also very protective; you can lip your lips--and you will want to--and they will still be on. Now, on to the important stuff--how do they smell and taste.
No. 22 Smoked Salt
Flavor Notes: Smoked Sea Salt, Burnt Sugar, Molasses, Vanilla Bean (as per their website)
On first sniff, there is overwhelming smoke. It's not a woody smoke, though. After a few minutes, I start to get salt and a background of burnt sugar or molasses. I never smell vanilla bean. I think the smokiness would turn a lot of people away, but I kind of like it.
The flavor isn't really smoky at all. The sweetness from the stevia dominates. I get the burnt sugar and molasses notes and that's it.
This one is the most controversial, but it's unusual and if you like the smell of smoke, I think you will love it. It's not my favorite, though.
No. 84 Absinthe
Flavor Notes: Anise, Mineral Salt, Citrus Peel, Crushed Herbs
How cool is it that there's an absinthe flavor! The scent is the most waxy smelling at first, and I don't really get absinthe (though I keep meaning to smell my sister's bottle when I'm at her house). I get some citrus, maybe a touch of the anise most associated with absinthe. It's familiar, but I can't place it. It's quite lovely, though, and probably one of the coolest scents/flavors in my opinion.
Flavorwise, I definitely get absinthe. That licorice-y anise flavor and the sweetness reminiscent of a glass of absinthe with a sugar cube dominate. It's damn awesome, and would be my favorite if it weren't for the fact that this flavor and this flavor alone makes my lips burn and itch. Sad face.
No. 77 Cherry Bourbon
Flavor Notes: Cherry Brandy, Whiskey, Aged Wood, Clove
I smell cherry, whiskey, and that beautiful background of wood. This one is very true to it's intended flavor notes. Deep and rich and beautifully balanced. I think cherry brandy is a great description of the cherry flavor, it's not candyish, nor overly fruity, and the whole thing if reminscent of a great glass of aged alcohol.
The flavor is really similar to the scent. Rich and sweet with cherry notes and an aged bourbon whiskey.
No. 36 Salted Caramel
Flavor Notes: Sweet Cream, Sea Salt, Caramelized Sugar, Toasted Vanilla Bean
The scent is instantly and recognizably buttery caramel. More reminiscent of caramel popcorn than a fine candy, though. After a few sniffs, the scent becomes deeper, more vanilla and more burnt sugar.
The taste is less buttery, more mellow caramely and salty. It tastes like dessert, and I think it would be great if you want to try one and are scared of Smoked Salt or Clove Cigarette. Delicious!
No. 60 Coco Noir
Flavor Notes: Dark Rum, Maraschino Cherry, Sweet Milk, Cacao Bean
The opening scent note is cocoa--super dark and kind of bitter--which is slightly artificial smelling and maraschino cherry. It's a different scent of cherry than in the Cherry Bourbon, less alcoholic and more candy, which suits the note description of Maraschino cherry.
It's tastes mostly of cherry, too, with the chocolate no longer strong nor artificial. It seems there is less Stevia in the flavor, so it's not as sweet as the Salted Caramel or the absinthe. This is definitely for the lover of chocolate covered cherries.
No. 18 Clove Cigarettes
Flavor Notes: Crushed Clove, Lavender Rose, Saigon Cinnamon, Vanilla Bean
Clove and cinnamon definitely dominate the scent, and I get just a hint of smokiness. It's luscious and spicy.
The balance between the sweetness of the stevia and the flavor of the cloves is perfect. It tastes nothing like sticking your head in the spice cabinet, fortunately. This is undeniably my favorite flavor. It's warm and sweet, but still super cool. It's less your grandmother's cookies and more rebellious seventh grade smoking clove cigarettes in the girls' bathroom. My imaginary junior high is much cooler than my real one was.
Sephora sells three of them: La Vie En Rose, Salted Caramel and Clove Cigarette, and the rest are available from Tokyomilk's website. All are seven dollars for .7 oz.