Chanel Baume Essentiel: The Luxury Low-Key Glow

chanel baume essentiel review

Award for the most unlikely makeup hero of the year, so far, goes to Chanel’s new Baume Essentiel. The transparent version. (There are two.) This is one of the most low-key radiance balms you’ll ever find; it’s so subtle – Chanel’s word is discreet, which I love – that you’d be hard-pressed, as an observer, to work out what an earth someone had done to their face. Healthy skin, a mirror-like shine but not a trace of obvious highlight to be seen.

With no shimmery bits and absolutely no glitter, I had to wonder at what this balm would actually do – surely a swipe of Vaseline would suffice, if you just wanted shiny cheekbones? But even on first application I could tell that Baume Essentiel was something special; smooth and soft, it felt like daubing my face with a lovely, moisturising skincare product rather than applying makeup. I suppose that in a way Baume Essentiel is a skincare product – albeit a targeted one, to be used sparingly. You wouldn’t want to apply it all over, but if your skin happened to be impossibly dry and you dreaded applying highlighter powders or radiance products, it would be comforting to know that this highlighter stick wasn’t going to add to your problems.

Find Baume Essentiel here*

Chanel Baume Essentiel Review

“Highlighter stick” sounds clumsy and brash, doesn’t it? I much prefer Baume Essentiel, even if I do have to check the spelling every time I write it. And it’s as far from the traditional highlighting stick as you can get – it’s a slick of dew, a swipe of gleam, a sheeny glow that you can actually touch and feel. I find myself writing about “lit from within” radiance a lot – mainly because that’s how I describe a lot of the best foundations I test – but the Baume Essential is almost the opposite idea. It’s shine on the outside. It’s the visible, tactile sort of shine that you’d get from a very rich and intense moisturiser, except that this shine doesn’t melt into the skin and disappear.

And perhaps that’s the most important point here; use Vaseline on your face, use a buttery moisturiser, use a tiny bit of face oil perhaps and yes, you’ll get that same shine for a limited time. But it doesn’t last. The Chanel Baume Essentiel* sticks around (excuse the pun) and doesn’t slide, blotch or absorb; drawn onto cheekbones and then lightly blended with fingertips, it just gives the impression that you’ve got incredible skin and that you’re the sort of person who exercises for fun.

chanel baume essentiel review

I haven’t always been into makeup in stick form – there’s something that feels a bit playgroup Pritt Stick about it all – but in this case, it’s the perfect way to apply. Drawing it on in a rustic way, where the light would naturally catch, is quick and easy and decidedly more sophisticated than I thought it would be. Chanel suggest using a little brush to apply and blend, but I like the way that fingertips keep it all very slightly sweaty and sexy – brushing it on seems far too clinical.

You can use the Baume Essentiel very convincingly on eyelids and lips, too, as well as the usual highlighting points (cupid’s bow, under the brows, on the bridge of the nose – a TINY amount!) giving your entire face the sort of lift that would usually only be possible with a time machine and a destination called “1998”. And the beauty of the balm stick is that you can hardly go overboard with it, unless you have an unhinged moment and scribble it all over your face like a demented clown. It’s less a makeup stick, more a good skin stick – instant gloss.

Chanel Baume Essentiel Review

The part you’ve all been waiting for? Baume Essentiel costs £33. This is low-key highlighting the luxury way, but it’s often the low-key stuff that’s the hardest to get right. Or, more to the point, the easiest to get wrong. Glossing the face is risky – you could look greasy and sweaty in all of the wrong places – but this beautiful balm makes getting glowy a total cinch.

You can find the transparent Baume Essentiel at John Lewis here* and at Chanel online here*.

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  1. Lauren
    July 22, 2020 / 7:52 am

    I love the ‘dewy’ look though I’ve never been a fan of glitter in cheek gloss as it always feels very high school/Spice Girls phase rather than chic and glowing. I bought this recently after reading your post. Could agree more with all the comments! Such an awesome product and does exactly what it’s says – subtle and dewy. A little pricer in Aus. though worth the price and lives up to the hype.

  2. Victoria Clark
    June 25, 2019 / 10:25 am

    Hi Ruth,
    how does this Chanel product compare in finish and wear to the Charlotte Tilbury Flawless Filter?
    Many thanks

    • Victoria
      July 5, 2019 / 7:37 am

      I’ve answered this myself!
      I ordered the Chanel in Transparent.

      Applying alone and looking in the mirror the CT product gave a more natural healthy finished look that I could wear alone, walking the dog for example.
      Alone the Chanel looks very shiny, almost greasy as I look in the mirror. FYI I have very very pale sensitive /dehydrated skin.

      However, in photos or on FaceTime the Chanel looks as Ruth suggested, glowing skin in an u identifiable way.

      Worn with make up its easier to understand for me, it does give glow and highlight although again in the mirror I find an Hourglass lightening powder looks less sparkly and more natural.

      I have seen no result from using on eyelids alone….BUT… it makes a superb primer for eyeshadow extending its wear for hours longer.

      Then I went to Pilates, wearing the Chanel and some tinted moisturiser with a little Hourglass ambient blush and mascara. On arrival the teacher exclaimed, “gosh, you look really pretty today”, I’ve never been called that in my life before, pretty isn’t me! Others have commented how well I look in photos.

      So, I prefer the CT when I look at myself, but the Chanel is clearly looking great and natural to others.

      • sonia
        July 17, 2021 / 11:28 pm

        Thanks for sharing your opinion, very useful!

  3. esme
    June 22, 2019 / 6:45 pm

    You look lovely and I’m tempted to invest … when what I REALLY need is the reverse. Do you have a recommendation for mattifying – particularly noses that shine like a good deed in a naughty world?

    • June 24, 2019 / 2:49 pm

      Yes, the Beauty Pie powder is amazing – as recommended by Nadine Baggott! If you want easy to buy high street, then Max Factor’s Creme Puff in Translucent is always good, and By Terry do a loose powder that’s just an absolute dream… TBH I rarely powder but my face has been shiny with the hot weather so maybe I’ll revisit and do some testing! x

  4. Di
    June 22, 2019 / 2:14 pm

    This feels almost like word porn, in a beautiful way… as I hurry to find this ethereal bringer of the subtle gleam of health… But, I am almost certain that such a search will be useless as it won’t be available in Australia as usual!

  5. Helen
    June 21, 2019 / 6:52 pm

    I use Valentine for the same effect and so much cheaper

    • Helen
      June 24, 2019 / 9:26 pm

      I meant vaseline

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