Friday, March 11, 2016

REVIEW: Milk Makeup

Milk Makeup first appeared on Sephora's website last month, apparating like a fun and funky makeup genie from a bottle. The brand caught my eye immediately with its minimalist packaging and promises of unique, easy-to-use products for on-the-go hipsters. Because as much as I enjoy spending a lazy weekend hour applying my makeup, I am always pressed for time when I wake up 20 minutes late on a work day and need to get myself together before I hit the bus stop.

I was interested in a lot of the Milk Makeup range, but I decided to start with products that might fill gaps in my collection (and were available at the time, since they seem to be rolling the line out over the course of the spring season). I grabbed the Coverage Duo in Fair, the Weekend Lash Stain in 8-Ball, and the Gel Brow pencil in Pilsner.

Let's start with the Coverage Duo, because I wasn't actually able to wear it: my skin responded badly during patch testing. Milk promotes this product as a multipurpose base product, with 0.33 ounces of liquid concealer and 0.08 ounces of cream concealer, housed in super-portable packaging. Now, they call it a liquid concealer, but if you watch their tutorial videos, the models who use this product often apply it in a thin layer over most of their face like a foundation. And the idea of a grab-and-go concealer and foundation drew me in.

But when you think about it, this is rather pricey. Most foundations are a full fluid ounce, while you get a third of an ounce in the Milk Makeup Coverage Duo. (Again, they promote it as a concealer, but it behaves as, and is demoed like, a foundation.) The cream concealer is also super tiny, especially compared to my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (0.22 ounces) and my Urban Decay Naked Skin concealer (0.16 ounces). I put a dime on the cream concealer and placed the pod next to a Becca Beach Tint for a visual size comparison.

So yes, it's very portable and small, and it'd easily fit in your purse. But if you break it down to dollars-and-ounces, you're definitely paying for the cutesy packaging and portability.

Here's the Coverage Duo swatched up against the OCC Tinted Moisturizer in Y0, Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint in Light, and Buxom Show Some Skin in Tickle the Ivory. This is too dark for me by about a shade, but it's also very very very pink. I'd peg it at about NW15. So even if I had gotten past the patch testing phase, this product would not have worked on my skin tone.

Despite the fact that I couldn't give these concealers a full test run, I was able to feel the texture and get an idea of the coverage and performance. The liquid concealer is incredibly thin and provides light coverage; it's also easy to blend in to the skin. The cream concealer has an interesting and pleasant texture, kind of like a marshmallow that turns to liquid under your fingers (no, really!). It provides medium coverage. Both feel very emollient, though the liquid stays a little dewy on my skin and the cream dries down to a satin finish.

I also wanted to talk about this liquid concealer applicator for a moment. The Milk Makeup line seems to be quite fond of these rollerball applicators, probably because the idea is that you can just swipe the product where it's needed, smear it out with your fingers, and go. In theory, it's a nice idea, but I have three major problems with it:
  1. It's messy. As soon as you start rolling the liquid concealer, you're going to get product all over the packaging, and it can actually smear in to the cap.
  2. Sometimes the rollerball puts out a ton of product, and other times you have to roll it for almost a minute to get the liquid out.
  3. This isn't very sanitary if you're using it the way it's advertised--the only way you can really clean the rollerball is to rub it on a makeup wipe, and then you're wasting some of the concealer in the process.

Next up is the Weekend Lash Stain in 8-Ball, a jet black mascara that's designed to give you a natural look while lasting for days at a time. This is the product I was the most excited about, because while I don't sleep in my makeup (guys, please don't do that), I do sometimes work for 12+ hours or run around in 95 degree, 85% humidity weather, and a long-wearing, not-makeup-y mascara would be a homerun for me. I'm also a huge fan of mascaras in squeeze tube packaging because it makes it easier to manipulate the product and get every last drop out of there.

Unfortunately, this mascara did not wow me. As soon as you pull the thin, slightly-slanted wand out of the tube, you'll notice it is absolutely dripping with mascara. Wipe it off on the rim of the mascara tube and you'll make a mess; wipe it off on a tissue and you'll be getting rid of half of your mascara.

Even after dabbing off the wand, this product is a nightmare to apply. The formula is so, so liquidy that it clumps your lashes together and smears all over your eyelid. I had to use a lash comb immediately after applying to separate my lashes, scrub my lids with my ELF Makeup Remover Pen, and make sure I applied eyeshadow after mascara so it didn't get ruined. I'm completely baffled by a product range that claims to be low-maintenance, then puts out a mascara that's this much work.

To be fair, you don't have to fuss with this much after it's actually on your eyes. It lengthens a bit and looks very black, but is overall quite natural, which is what a lash stain should be. It doesn't smear or flake throughout the day, and as long as you use an oil-based makeup remover, getting it off of your face isn't that hard. But quite frankly, I don't think the 10 minutes of faffing around is worth it when I can get similar results from a quick coat of Maybelline Full n' Soft. I'm still not sure if I want to keep this product or not, but I'm leaning towards "return."

Natural light on top, flash on the bottom.

The product I expected to feel the most "meh" about, the Gel Brow pencil, actually ended up being my favorite of the bunch. I got the middle shade, Pilsner, which is a dead-on-balls accurate color dupe for the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz in Medium Brown. (The Shu Uemura Hard Formula pencil in Seal Brown applies a bit lighter to my brows than the other two, but it swatches really red/purple on my hand...I need to just give up swatching that pencil, cause it never works.) There's also a taupe blonde shade called Pale Ale and a darker brown called Dark Brew. I love that the shades are named after beer, but I wish they had a good option for redheads.

The spoolie on the end of the pencil is very serviceable, though not the softest of the bunch, and the lids don't snap on quite as tightly as I'd like. Beyond that, I'm loving this pencil. It definitely has a gel-like texture that smooths over the brows easily without looking flaky or chalky. I can get my brows done in a minute with this pencil because it's so pigmented and soft: brush brow, apply pencil in soft strokes, brush again, repeat process on other brow. The one caveat is that the soft formulation makes it impossible to draw on individual brow hairs, so if that super duper natural brow look is your game, I don't think this product will work for you; it's always going to apply like a "smear" of color. A nice smear! ...but still a smear.

In the above photos, I'm wearing the Gel Brow pencil and the Weekend Lash Stain on the left and am bare-eyed (man, that sounds funny to me) on the right side. I think the done-up brow looks faboosh: emphasized, strong, and appropriately ashy-colored without looking very fake or drawn-on. The stained lashes are definitely black and noticeable, but the amount of work I had to do to get them that way was not entirely worth it.

Milk likes to promote their products as "high concept and low maintenance," designed for cool, young urban people on the go. But "high concept" doesn't necessarily mean "smart concept." It's fine to have some gimmicks, like fun video tutorials and a quirky little paper that can blot your t-zone and roll your weed, but you can't rest on those laurels--at the end of the day, products need to work.

Dear Milk Makeup: if you start focusing more on products that really are fast and functional, and less on products that just look neat in pictures, let me know. I'll give them another shot.

RATING -- GEL BROW: 4 out of 5



Milk Makeup is available at and


  1. Thanks for this review--this line struck me as gimmicky and it sounds like a lot of it is. Maybe high gimmick and high maintenance would be more accurate. At least I don't think of things that are fiddly to use as being low maintenance.

    1. I think the intent is good, but the ideas aren't always the best in practice. Like that rollerball--why not just use a little nozzle a la the Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint?

  2. Thank you for the review - it sucks that these didn't work all that great for you, besides the brow pencil, but I'm glad to know that they should probably be avoided :) I'm usually skeptical of gimmicky packaging and claims, those things rarely work out for me.

    1. On the bright side, the brow pencil is pretty great! :)

  3. The brow pencil is certainly a hit. Too bad about that lash stain as i've been trying to find something like that ever since the Jemma Kidd line was DC'd.

    1. I'm guessing a brand like Becca or Glossier will come out with an easy-to-use lash tint some time in the near future.

  4. Great review. These caught my eye at Sephora but I thought I'd hold off until some reviews came in and I'm glad I did. These products sound really annoying to use, aside from the brow pencil. Thanks for taking one for the team!

    1. You know, there's still one or two items that really intrigue me...but this experience kinda put me off for the time being.

  5. Their packaging definitely screams "hipster" to me, like something you'd find at Urban Outfitters. It's a shame that those products didn't perform well. I can see the concealers, particularly the small cream concealer in the pot, having potential as color correctors, since they look a little bit peachy-pink. And an on-the-go foundation would be a dream. Sigh, maybe another brand will take that concept and run with it, creating a better performing alternative. Great review!

    1. Funny story: it's also sold at Urban Outfitters!

      The Coverage Duo may work well for other people, since the textures felt nice to me; I just don't put most things all over my face without patch testing, and this did not like my skin during patch testing. (Fair was also too dark and pink for me, anyway.)