So, if you pay any attention to the little Steam widget in my footer, you’ve probably noticed that I play a lot of Skyrim. I first played the game on Xbox 360 when it first released, but after I split with my then-boyfriend (we split up the kids – I mean, we divided up the consoles and I got the PS3 while he kept the 360) I no longer had the game or console. It’s only this year that I ended up buying the game again, this time for PC, mostly because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about regarding mods.
The result? Well, as you can see, I’m pretty much sold. So now one of my favorite ways to relax and unwind is to spent some quality time with my Bosmer archer-sneakthief and her Thieves Guild posse. Or my Thalmor-member high-elf mage that drags Ondolemar all over Skyrim (including pit-stops at her likewise Thalmor-themed loft in Solitude). Or my official lore-breaking playthrough using a half-Daedra race, complete with a gigantic badass scythe and this fully-voiced and awesome Deadpool follower.
Uhm. Carried away? Carried away.
Anyhow, enough about that. I’ll probably make posts about some of my favorite mods (I already compiled a Thief mod bible on a Skyrim subreddit this month, might as well turn it into a bonafide post eventually) soon and then I can ramble more about the actual game, but back on topic…
I first searched for ‘Skyrim’ on Etsy in the hopes that I would find some of those awesome horn candle-holders, and instead I was pleasantly surprised to see way more items that I had imagined: there were people selling Skyrim-themed teas (this Skooma blend is actually my current favorite tea!), candles (not in the cool holders, sadly, but scents inspired by places like Falkreath), some perfume oils, and… lip balms!
If you remember this post, you know that I can get very srs business about my lip balms. I have big, poofy, easily dried-out lips, and fall weather started creeping in already – it’s been in the 40s when I’m out walking my dog in the late evening. Since my lips tend to be really sensitive to the cold and wind during fall and winter, I’m always looking for excellent lip balms to use during the cold months. And what could be better than lip balms inspired by a game that takes place in a cold, snowy landscape like Skyrim?!
The Alchemyst’s “Troll Fat Lip Balms” (so named because troll fat is an actual lootable, usable alchemical ingredient in the game) comes in two flavors:
Black Briar Mead: Honey, Black Cherry, and Cranberry (Ingredients: Coconut oil, beeswax, organic shea butter, organic cocoa butter, jojoba oil, raw honey, vitamin e, cranberry extract, honey & cherry flavors)
Winterhold Ice: Peppermint and Rosemary (Ingredients: Coconut oil, beeswax, organic shea butter, organic cocoa butter, jojoba oil, vitamin e, rosemary, peppermint essence)
I bought both, of course, because what is impulse control?
Hit the read more to see my full review of these babies!
First of all, these balms seriously used some sort of space-time continuum breach to get to me. I live across the country from the seller, but she mailed them out immediately and they were at my door within three days of purchase. So A+ to the prompt service!
Plus, look how freakin’ awesomely packaged everything was…!
APPEARANCE & PACKAGING
Gorgeously gift-wrapped in thematically appropriate wrapping paper, even!
It’s hard to see, but the fluffy cushioning in the gift box actually looked like moss. The scrolls had the name and product info written out really nicely, I just couldn’t get them to cooperate enough to take a photo of them (they were dead serious about staying curled up) D: But it was very cool, it even had little lore-friendly blurbs about using them in Winterhold’s cold temperatures, not going out adventuring without protecting your lips, etc. I love the care and effort that went into this packaging!
A close-up of the cute map design and logo that’s on the tins, as well as the mossy packing fluff.
The tins are your normal metal slide-style lip balm containers. If you’re as crazy about lip balm as I am, you’ve probably used at least one balm in this kind of packaging before! While tubes are obviously the most hygienic choice, I understand why they went with tins – it fits the aesthetic much better. When it comes to thicker balms in tins, though, I vastly prefer the sliding lids to screw-off lids – I’ve just had so many weird issues with the screw-off lids somehow getting closed too tightly and just… refusing to open. The sliding tins manage to be secure without the risk of an overzealous friend screwing the lid too far and suddenly making your balm off limits!
The balm itself is colorless and totally solid until it comes in contact with your finger’s body heat. It emulsifies pretty easily and isn’t hard to spread on your lips at all. It goes on very smoothly and makes your lips feel really comfortable and hydrated, with a bit of that occlusive/protective feeling that you can get from thicker balms. Since that’s what I want for my winter balm choice, I’m pleased!
SCENT & FLAVOR
Winterhold Ice is named after the far-north city of Winterhold. It’s home to the Mage’s College and it’s the northernmost settlement in the game (on the Skyrim main map, of course) – very cold and snowy.
The balm has a cooling tingle from the peppermint, and the scent is a nice balance between the mint and rosemary. I love the combination, but full disclosure: I am kind of a rosemary addict. I use it in cooking so much that people who live with me pretty much know that, left to my own devices, it will always be present in some amount when I’m coming up with seasonings. I just adore how it smells and tastes. I’ve had rosemary candles. I love it! I have to say, combining it with sweet peppermint was a stroke of genius – you get the fresh herbal scent of rosemary, but the peppermint takes it from being savory and makes it feel more balanced. This could easily be unisex, and I would also totally buy this as a candle or body wash!
Black-Briar Mead is named after Skyrim’s most prolific mead (yes, it’s an item that you can drink in-game, and it even has some sidequests related to it; Maven Black-Briar is also a huge deal in Riften and plays large roles in many quests, particularly the Thieves Guild questline
I’ve never had mead, personally, though I’ve drank a fair share of honey ales. So I have no idea if there’s any similarity to actual mead here, but I can say that the honey flavor is very prominent! It’s not the artificially sweetened honey scent that you’ve probably experienced in some other companies’ products, it’s a very true honey note. The berries are a minor note comparatively, but they’re definitely still present. I’d say it’s 75% honey, 25% cherry and cranberry.
Due to the addition of raw honey, this balm is slightly thicker and feels more moisturizing than the Winterhold Ice balm. If you had to choose one flavor and you had really dry lips, I’d go for Black-Briar Mead.
The balm is rather glossy, not matte, at least at the amount I put it on – but as I said before, I tend to layer it on in the winter, so if you were only using a quick swipe, it wouldn’t be so noticeably shiny. It works decently under lipstick and gloss – rather well, actually. I feel like it helps prolong my lipstick’s wear a little, somehow.
I find my application usually lasts about ~3-4 hours, longer if I’m not eating or drinking anything (however, I’m almost constantly drinking something – water, coffee, tea, etc – so this is not likely for me, haha) and it leaves my lips feeling very hydrated and protected.
It’s not sticky nor does it melt and get runny/migrate around the edges of my lips too much, both of which are big pluses for me.
I’ve been using the balms every day for a few weeks now, and have noticed NO irritation or reactions (I’ve had some really awful allergic reactions to lip balms before, so this is always something that I’m wary of when trying new balms), nor did it break me out or clog my pores around my lipline (another common concern for me – for example, Burt’s Bees does manage to give me clogged pores around my lipline, which isn’t pleasant).
I’m very pleased with both of these balms and feel that they were solid purchases. Admittedly, they’re definitely pricey – 2 for $13 makes them some of the most expensive lip balms that I’ve ever tried – but their texture means that you do get a lot of use from one tin; I’ve only made small dents in my balms and I’ve been applying them pretty liberally. I’m also more forgiving of the price because they are handmade and obviously with tons of care and thought – the attention to detail in the packaging, the fast shipping, the excellent formula, etc, all makes me feel like I got my money’s worth. I wanted a nerdy experience and a good lip balm at the same time, and that’s what I received!
If you want to splurge for a fun Skyrim-themed cosmetic that also delivers quality results, these lip balms are definitely a product to consider. However, I’m not going to say that they’re the be-all end-all of lip balms and that you should drop cash on them if $6.50 per balm is out of your comfort zone. I think that if the price dropped to $4-5 per balm, I’d definitely consider using them as a staple balm, but as it is they’re just barely creeping into the “one time splurge is fine, but too much for frequent purchase” zone for me. However, YMMV, and if you can afford it they’d definitely make a good go-to balm!
WHERE TO BUY
TheAlchemyst’s Etsy Shop – they are currently available only in the two-pack, but you can select either one of each flavor or just get doubles of one scent.
I am not affiliated with TheAlchemyst or Etsy in any way. I purchased these balms of my own accord, with my own money.