Date Purchased: Spring 2013
Notes: I wish I liked Milani more than I do. It's one of the only cruelty-free American drugstore brands left, and I mean entirely cruelty-free: it hasn't expanded into China or sold out to a larger company that tests on animals (looking at you, NYX). It has an impressive range of products, colors, and finishes. It occupies a nice mid-to-low price point for a drugstore brand: lower than big international brands like Revlon and Maybelline, but higher than Wet n Wild and e.l.f., whose implausible dirt-cheapness always makes me suspect their quality. In other words, Milani looks great on paper.
(Literally on paper.)
In practice, though, the brand is annoyingly hit-and-miss, and nowhere is this clearer than in the Color Statement lipstick line. Milani reformulated the lipsticks last year, added dozens of new shades in six different finishes, and sent a full complement of colors to every beauty blogger in the universe. The lipsticks received overwhelmingly positive reviews, so I decided to try out a couple of "risky" colors that I didn't want to spend much money on. I chose two lipsticks in the cream finish: Flamingo Pose, a bright coral-pink, and Sweet Nectar, a true orange. (Remember how hard it used to be to find orange lipstick at the drugstore? Those days are long gone.)
So, the good: these lipsticks do make one hell of a color statement. They're opaque, richly pigmented, and long-lasting, with a satin finish. They feel a bit heavy on my lips; I prefer a lighter, more emollient formula like the Maybelline Vivids, but you might not care one way or the other.
If you're a stickler for pretty packaging, these lipsticks aren't for you. The plastic tube feels light and flimsy, and the gold paint will eventually start to wear off. Frankly, this doesn't much bother me, as I just want a lipstick to work. If it comes in a mirrored compact or is shaped like a heart, so much the better, but I don't demand immaculate design. Especially not from a $5.49 lipstick.
Sweet Nectar is orange. Not red-orange, not blood orange, not coral, but straight-up orange-soda orange.
Sweet Nectar is, to put it mildly, not my best color. I keep it around mainly for the purpose of comparison swatches, as it's the most yellow-based of my handful of oranges. Left to right: Revlon Orange Flip (redder), Sweet Nectar, Maybelline Vibrant Mandarin (sheerer, pinker, glossier), and Revlon Lip Butter in Candy Apple (sheerer, redder, darker).
Although Flamingo Pose is more flattering to my complexion than Sweet Nectar, I have fewer near-dupes for it; in fact, it's my only coral-pink. How have I amassed so many oranges? What self-defeating urge compels me to collect the worst mainstream lipstick shade for my skintone? Not the death drive, but maybe the ugliness drive. I don't know, man.
Left to right: Revlon Persian Melon, Maybelline Vivid Rose, Flamingo Pose, Urban Decay Streak.
As I hinted above, these lipsticks have their flaws. The most immediately noticeable is the scent, a strong synthetic watermelon. I don't mind it as much as, say, the old-lady floral of L'Oreal, but it's impossible to ignore, and it doesn't really fade. Robyn of Brightest Bulb in the Box describes the scent as "the breath of a seven-year-old at a birthday party," and I can't improve on that phrase at all. That's exactly it. You've been warned.
I also find the lipsticks very drying. "Yeah, yeah," I hear you say; "you find every lipstick 'very drying.'" No, these are really drying. I think I might be allergic to one of the ingredients, because my lips start peeling within an hour if I haven't applied the lipstick over lip balm (though lip balm does usually take care of the problem--I'm wearing it in these photos, by the way). Oddly, the drying effect doesn't seem consistent across all six finishes. I have another Color Statement lipstick in the matte formula (Sangria, a purplish berry), and it's quite comfortable to wear. In fact, it was one of my most-worn lipsticks last fall and winter.
Finally, two full-face looks. I wouldn't ordinarily pair lavender eyeshadow (Kiko Infinity eyeshadow in 251) with such bright lip colors, but I happened to be wearing it when I took these photos, and I decided to keep it on. I actually don't mind the end result; I feel like a tropical bird. Here's Sweet Nectar, which, for obvious reasons, I've worn in public only once:
And Flamingo Pose:
One more thing. Can we talk about how growing out a pixie cut when you have curly hair is utterly ego-destroying? On the left, what my hair usually looks like when I wake up; on the right, my hair yesterday after an attempt at brushing and styling. I had to stick my head into the shower to get rid of the devil horns.
My hair is at three and a half months of growth, almost long enough that I can get it cut and shaped into a very short bob. I plan to go for a haircut in two weeks, and the wait is agonizing. I've never been so grateful for headbands.