Ethical Beauty Brand Overview: ColourPop

This week I’m reviewing one of my favorite cruelty free brands – ColourPop. Considering this brand has only been around for just over a year, it’s really impressive how quickly it has achieved dominance both in my personal collection and in the larger beauty blogger/vlogger community. A lot of that has to do with the affordability of the products (so far, everything is under $10), the unique formulas and the temptingly vast array of colors the products come in, including off-beat colors like green lipstick. They should just call it ColourCrack because once you Pop, you can’t stop.

Super Shock Shadow

ColourPop’s eye shadow formula is really one of a kind. Not quite a cream, not quite a powder, it has a mousse-y texture but looks like a powder on the lids. I think it’s my favorite of all of ColourPop’s products because the staying power, even without primer, is phenomenal. It does take some getting used to the texture of the product as it is slightly sticky meaning it can be a bit of a challenge to blend, but since the pay off is the wear, it’s worth it! I mean, the shadow has held up to a sweaty summer workout and a shower. The only finish I’m not crazy about is the metallic, which can be prone to fall out. It’s not a deal maker as for the most part I can work with it, but for this reason I tend to gravitate to the pearlized when I want a color with shimmer.

  • Where the Light Is eye shadow set. Where the Light Is is a set created in conjunction with vlogger Kathleen Lights and it creates a gorgeous bronzey gold smokey eye that is beautiful for summer or daytime wear but can be amped up for a sexy evening look. I created a look with this set and the Brink lip liner that is easily my favorite of the looks I made with ColourPop products. The only thing I don’t love about the eye shadows in this set is the glitter fall out from Blaze. Apply that color with caution – using a dabbing motion rather than a swiping motion so that you apply the color precisely where you want it. I also apply the color a little at a time and build it up because if I put on too much it ends up in my eyes (which can really be a pain with my contact lenses) or on my face. The colors in the set are:  Glow (creamy vanilla/matte finish), Kathleenlights (bright golden copper/pearlized finish), Blaze (cocoa-bronze with multidimensional glitter/metallic finish), Cornelious (mid-tone warm caramel/matte finish). 
  • Shaaanxo x ColourPop. Seriously, ColourPop’s collabs are my favorites of ALL their products. Part of it is that the person who helps create the set usually does great tutorial videos that help you figure out how to use the colors together. I wish ALL eye shadow sets came with tutorial videos on YouTube! I honestly can’t pick a favorite of the sets – both Shaaanxo by ColourPop and Where The Light Is are soooo gorgeous. Shaaanxo by ColourPop comes with four colors: XO (light champagne/pearlized finish), Selfie (mid tone peachy brown/matte finish), Rebel (mid tone khaki green/matte finish), Deluxe (warm red bronze/pearlized finish). I’m obsessed with Rebel – even though it’s definitely green, it comes off as a neutral and really makes my hazel eyes pop. This is a really flattering color combination that is much easier to work with than Where the Light Is because it doesn’t have a glitter shadow in it. 
  • Hanky Panky (matte finish) – Hanky Panky is described as a soft, cool-toned taupe. I have visible blood vessels on my eyelids and Hanky Panky gives a great, even base of color on them. You can just barely see it – it looks very natural. So on days when I want to do a no make up look, I use this to even out my skin tone on my lid.
  • Truth (satin finish) – Truth is described as a neutral light beige. It doesn’t so much shimmer as glow, which makes it a great natural-looking color. It’s another option for a no makeup look as a lid color. Or if you want to do a more subtle light color around your tear ducts or on your brow bone.
  • On The Rocks (metallic finish) – On The Rocks is described as a vibrant true bronze with gold and violet glitter. I found that this metallic shadow did not have as much of a fall out problem as Blaze. I used this as a crease color in the look below.
  • Downtown (matte finish) – Downtown is described as a deep, cool-toned taupe. It’s one of those classic colors that is very versatile. You can use it on the outer v for a softer smokey eye, or in the crease. I find that the color is a touch green, which really brings out the green tones in my hazel eyes. 

Lippie Stix

ColourPop’s Lippie Stix seem to be by far their most popular products and I can understand why that is so. Although they only cost $5, the pigmentation and wear of the lipsticks easily rival the that of lipsticks that cost $20 or more. The Lippie Stix come in an impressively wide selection of colors from black (they actually have a couple of black lipsticks) to green to the more traditional reds, pinks and nudes. They also come in a variety of finishes (matte, satin, cream, glossy, sheer, glossy, hyper-glossy, pearlized). The most exciting thing about these lipsticks is that mattes are truly matte yet don’t dry lips out at all! And they wear really well – overall, I’d say ColourPop excels in creating products that are long-lasting. Unfortunately, the lipsticks are all formulated with ethyl vanillin, a synthetic vanilla flavor that is three times more potent than natural vanillin. Although I don’t normally care for flavors or fragrances in lipsticks, usually vanilla doesn’t bother me. However, to my palate the strength of ethyl vanillin in these products is intolerably unpleasant – it actually tastes a bit rancid or off to me. I can not bear to wear the lipsticks for this reason. Even though the scent wears away quickly, every time a bit of the lipstick gets in my mouth I taste it again. It actually makes me gag sometimes. HOWEVER, if scents or flavors never bother you, it’s definitely worth risking the $5 for these lippies because they are so fantastic. My favorite was probably Fighter, an absolutely perfect movie star matte red. (Jessica Chastain premiered it on the red carpet and it looked divine on her.)

Lip Pencils

Almost every ColourPop Lippie Stix has a matching lip pencil to go with it. Thankfully, their lip pencil formula does not contain ethyl vanillin so if you’re in love with a color but hate the flavor/scent of ethyl vanillin, this is a good alternative

Super Shock Cheek (Blushes)

I love ColourPop’s blushes, but there is a caveat. As with the eye shadows, they have that sticky, mousse-y texture that can be a bit of a challenge to blend. I find it best to apply the blushes with a stippling brush or a damp blending sponge (one of the rounded ones based on the Beauty Blender). However, once you make that adjustment in technique, this blush is fantastic! It has great wear and comes in a wide selection of colors and finishes.

  • Sticky Sweet (pearlized finish) – Sticky Sweet is described as a deep violet with a pink duo chrome finish. Although I would categorize Sticky Sweet as a blush, it is actually the highlighter formula and is gorgeous as a highlighter on darker complexioned ladies. The highlighter formula is more forgiving and blendable than the regular blush formula but the trade off is that it is slightly sheerer. I say slightly because this color is still very pigmented! A little goes a loooong way. I actually love how using just a little bit of this gives me such a rich, just worked out glow. And the duo chrome is sooo pretty – it definitely catches the light. I am wearing Sticky Sweet in the picture of Fern above.
  • Jelly Fish (pearlized finish) –  Jelly Fish is described as a red-toned coral and it really does work beautifully with corals and warm-toned red lip colors. I am wearing Jelly Fish in the picture of Chi Chi above.
  • More, Please (pearlized finish) – vivid fuchsia with violet-blue duo chrome. I love my bright deeper-toned pink lipsticks and this pairs beautifully with them. The color is long-lasting and the duo chrome gives it a flash of dimensionality. 

Super Shock Cheek (Highlighters)

After the eye shadows, the highlighters are probably my favorite ColourPop products – I just can’t get over the variety of colors and finishes. I want them all!

Super Shock Cheek (Bronzer)

ColourPop has a really nice selection of bronzer colors in two finishes – satin and matte.

  • Skinny Dip (matte finish) – Although normally I prefer matte bronzers, I failed to take into account ColourPop’s signature mousse texture. The stickiness of the texture is more pronounced in the matte products so this one was a little challenging to blend. I recommend the satin finish bronzer, which I will review in a future post.

And there it is! My ColourPop brand overview. Because this brand is only available on the website and does not accept returns, I recommend being conservative with your first order. Luckily, there are LOADS of videos on YouTube with ColourPop products so you can see them in action. I found watching the videos really helpful in selecting products. It’s also a good idea to do a Google image search for the colors you’re interested in so you can see them on different skin tones and lighting scenarios. However, if you want to gamble and not bother with all that legwork, the good news is these products are so affordable that you can afford to gamble a bit.

Note: In order for a personal care brand or product to be written up in my #EthicalBeauty posts it has to be independently verified as cruelty-free and made in North America (where I live). ColourPop has been certified cruelty free by Logical Harmony.


Ethical Beauty Brand Overview: Milani Cosmetics

Although Milani Cosmetics advertise their products as influenced by Italian style, and many of their products are actually made in Italy, they do have a handful of products made in the US. I picked up a couple of their products in a recent sale.

  • Bella Gel Eye Shadow in Chiffon and Espresso – I’m not sure why Milani calls these products gel eye shadows because they look, feel and perform like powder eye shadows. I found these eye shadows to be very average. Not bad products – they were very soft and smooth, making them easy to apply. However, they were not very pigmented and didn’t build up much. These eye shadows retail for $4.49 and I found myself comparing them unfavorably to ColourPop’s $5 shadows. However, there are crucial differences – Milani products can be purchased at brick and mortar stores such as K-Mart or Fred Meyer and, depending on the store’s policy, can be returnable. They also are a little bit cheaper and go on sale. So these factors might ultimately make Milani’s shadows a more attractive prospect than ColourPop.
  • Color Statement Lipstick in Sweet Nectar and Hot Pink Rage. Milani’s lipstick line has a great range of colors and comes in two finishes – satin and matte. (Sadly, the matte lipsticks were sold out so I wasn’t able to try them this time.) The lipsticks are pigmented and wear really well. For one of the less expensive drugstore brands, I found the quality of Milani’s lipsticks really impressive. (Though, again, their $5.99 price tag makes them more expensive than ColourPop’s product offerings.) The lipsticks have a light fruit flavor/scent which luckily did not irritate my allergies. The flavor/scent is the one drawback of this product, since I do not prefer flavored/scented products. Sweet Nectar is a cool-toned orange. If you’re curious about the orange lipstick trend, this is a great one to try because it’s affordable and the color is not super bright. In the picture below, I am also wearing the two Bella Gel eye shadows on my eyes. 

    Hot Pink Rage was a really beautiful pink that managed to qualify as hot pink without being obnoxiously bright. Again, a great lipstick to try if you want to dip your toe into the hot pink lip trend I’ve seen everywhere this spring. I really love colors like this because they just brighten your whole face. I’m wearing it with very minimal makeup in the picture below and it makes me look done without being too made up for yoga class. 

Milani also has an eye primer that is made in the US but unfortunately, it was backordered when I made my purchase. I’ve looked at some other reviews online and it seems like it’s worth checking out, if you’re looking for a drugstore eye primer.

Even though Milani only had a handful of product offerings that were made in the US, I think they are definitely worth checking out if you are an ethical beauty on a budget! Hopefully at some point in the future I’ll get my hands on the matte lipstick and eye primer and will be able to review those for you guys as well!

Note: In order for a personal care brand or product to be written up in my #EthicalBeauty posts it has to be independently verified as cruelty-free and made in North America (where I live). Milani Cosmetics is certified cruelty free by Leaping Bunny, Logical Harmony AND Peta. I really love it when a company does the extra work to get certified by everyone, it shows a genuine commitment to offering animal friendly products. Please note also that Milani’s parent company also owns Jordana. I will be reviewing Jordana products in a future post.