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.


Ethical Beauty Review: Butter London Moisture Matte Lipstick

On a recent visit to Ulta, I looked through the various makeup products that Butter London sells. Like most companies, Butter London uses manufacturers all over the world so you really have to read the label to figure out if the product is made in the US or not. Their Moisture Matte lipsticks are all made in the US so I road tested a couple of colors. Unlike many matte lipsticks, the Moisture Matte formula is really soft and comfortable on the lips. I wouldn’t say that it replaces a lip balm but it is very creamy. However, the trade off is that the lipstick doesn’t really look matte to me. Instead, I would say that it’s a satin finish. Not glossy, but not matte either. The lipsticks retail for $22 which is on the pricy side.

  • Come to Bed Red – This color is a cool-toned classic red. It has a medium pigmentation which means that it’s a really wearable color, great for an everyday red. 
  • Ruby Murray – This is a cool-toned berry color. Again, it’s a great daytime shade, easy to wear and very pretty. 

If these lipsticks were sold at drugstore prices, I would unhesitatingly snap these up by the handful because the formula is really great – very soft and comfortable on the lips, easy to apply even without a mirror, decent staying power (the lipsticks are matte enough that they don’t smear all over the place, which is really nice) however for me the $22 price tag is just too steep. I’d rather spend a couple dollars more and get an Hourglass lippie. Or, you know, buy FOUR ColourPop lipsticks for $20! However, as always, your results may vary. What do you guys think? Are these lipsticks worth the money?

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). Butter London is certified as cruelty free by Logical Harmony.

Ethical Beauty Brand Overview: Hourglass Cosmetics

This week I’m going to be highlighting one of my favorite ethical beauty brands – Hourglass Cosmetics. Hourglass makes great quality products – and charges an arm and a leg for them! Despite the high price tag, I appreciate the company’s commitment to quality, making animal-friendly products and the fact that so many of their products are made in America. I have tried almost all the products the company makes, but I will not be reviewing any of the products that are made outside of the States. They’re particularly well loved by the beauty blogger set, however, so if you’re curious about the other products Hourglass makes, a google search will quickly reveal all the review posts you could possibly want!


Hourglass Cosmetics is the ONLY company I’ve found whose brushes are not only cruelty-free, they’re made in America (NOTE: I have just learned that these brushes are NOT made in America so they are NOT a good ethical option). Every other synthetic brush I’ve found is made in China. Because Hourglass’s brushes are so pricy, I will relax my made in America ban to write a future blog post on the various cruelty-free brushes I’ve found. Even though Hourglass’s brushes are expensive, they are so beautifully made that I’m actually quite happy to spend the money on them. Especially since they’re the only brushes that meet my high standards for ethical beauty products. Unfortunately, their selection of brushes isn’t very broad so I’ve had to fill the gaps in my collection with made in China brushes from other brands. Still, I regard Hourglass as my default brush company.

  • #2 blush brush – The #2 has a classic, domed-shaped brush head. The bristles are densely packed and smooth as silk! Because they’re not animal hair, at first the bristles are stiffer than an animal hair blush brush’s bristles. However, after you’ve washed and used the brush a few times, I’ve found that the bristles relax and now they are perfect for a smooth and even application of blush. In addition, because the bristles are synthetic, they are actually perfect for foundation so this brush does double duty. You can actually use it for your foundation, wipe it clean with a kleenex, and then dip it in your blush! When used with foundation the #2 gives a beautiful, air-brushed finish to the skin.
  • #7 finishing brush – The #7 kabuki brush is great for bronzer or finishing powder. It is super soft and feels absolutely luxurious on the skin. After using the #2 to apply blush to my cheeks, I like to buff the #7 in a circular motion over my cheeks to blur the edges and give an ultra-natural finish to my blush.


Hourglass is justifiably famous for their primers. I usually don’t use primers but I actually love to use both of their primers.

  • Veil Mineral Primer Broad Spectrum SPF 15 – This is the primer that gets the most press. On a day to day basis, I don’t wear primer, however if I was going to an event and wanted to make sure my makeup stayed looking fresh, I would definitely smooth this on as a base. I’ve discovered that this primer works great as a base for concealer. Using my ring finger, I gently dab a tiny dot of this primer under my eyes. It creates a smooth surface for my concealer and makes it last a little longer. Consequently, I really get my money’s worth out of this product! One travel-sized bottle can easily last me a year.
  • No. 28 Primer Serum – This silicone-based primer is very moisturizing and gives a gorgeous radiant glow to the skin. Again, I don’t use it all-over every day but I have found a brilliant daily use for it – as a lip primer. Instead of smoothing on a moisturizing lip balm and then wiping it off before I apply lipstick, I apply a bead of No. 28 to my lips before I start applying my makeup. By the time I get to my lips, they have completely absorbed the primer, leaving a plump, perfectly moisturized surface for my lipstick! Again, I only buy the travel-sized bottle of this and one bottle last me a really long time!

Complexion Makeup

Hourglass’s complexion makeup is where I really get sticker shock. The formulas of the two complexion products I tried were very good – they blended easily and came in a great range of natural-looking colors. No weird pink or overly yellow tones in the lot.

  • Illusion Hyaluronic Skin Tint Broad Spectrum SPF 15 tinted moisturizer – This product is gorgeous. Ivory is a perfect match for my skin and when I blend it in with my Beauty Blender sponge it looks like I’m not wearing any makeup at all. Yet is still manages to smooth over the appearance of my hyper pigmentation. But the $55/1 oz price tag means that I will be trying many other foundations this year in search of a more affordable option!
  • Hidden Concealer – Before I committed to buying ethical beauty products, my concealer of choice was the infamous Cle de Peau concealer – the cadillac of concealers. Compared to Cle de Peau, Hidden concealer, while very blendable (and coming in a wider range of colors than CdP) just doesn’t have that gorgeous buttery texture that just melts into the skin while giving full coverage. However, I absolutely love the range of colors this concealer came in – ten compared to Cle de Peau’s 6 and with some very deep tones represented, something that CdP lacks. The price is also half of CdP. This concealer is very well-pigmented while still being blendable and is great for covering up discoloration or blemishes. I’m less crazy about it as an under-eye concealer. The texture of this concealer is a bit thick, which means it’s challenging to thin it down enough in order to avoid creases. When applying under eyes, I usually apply it to the back of my hand, letting the warmth of my skin soften it before dabbing the tiniest, thinnest layer under my eyes. It’s workable for under the eyes, it’s just not my favorite.

Lip products

Hourglass has a really well-edited collection of beautiful lipstick colors, available in two different textures and one fantastically luxurious lip treatment.

  • No. 28 Lip Treatment Oil has many of the same ingredients as the primer above but in an oil base rather than a silicone base. I use it twice a day as an intensive moisturizing lip treatment replacement for Aquaphor which is neither animal-friendly nor eco-friendly. This product is very rich and can easily be worn as a pigment-free lip gloss since it makes your lips very shiny! The unique applicator has a pump so you can dispense just the right amount of product and a 24-karat gold plated tip which supposedly ensures that the product stays sanitary. So far I’ve had mine for six months and I will buy it again without hesitation when I run out. The lip treatment oil has a faint botanical scent which luckily does not irritate my allergies although I could see it bothering someone else.
  • Opaque Rouge Liquid Lipstick – This lipstick is kind of like a more natural take on the longwear liquid lipsticks that other brands have. Unlike those longwear liquid lipsticks, this formula does not have the same toxic chemical ingredients or drying texture. Unfortunately, that means that it doesn’t last as long, either. This lipstick comes in a tube like a lip gloss and the wand has a proprietary doe foot sponge applicator with a flexible tip so once you get the hang of it, it’s actually fairly easy to get the perfect line with this very pigmented lip product. It definitely took me a few tries before I felt comfortable applying this because the texture is a little different from what I’m used to. And I wouldn’t apply it without a mirror because the intense pigmentation means that an uneven lip line really stands out. Unlike wax-based lipsticks, you can’t smack your lips together while it’s drying because that can lift the pigment off your lips leaving you with an uneven mess of balled up pigment on one lip, and bald patches on the other. But once you get into the habit of NOT rubbing your lips together, two coats gives you pigmented, matte lips that holds up really well to drinking glasses. (It’s not transfer-proof but it is transfer resistant.) If you’re one of those women who can eat without touching food to her lips, then one application of this could last you all day but I prefer to reapply it after a meal. That’s a little bit of a pain because if you apply wet product on top of dry, it balls up. So I usually end up wiping off my lips and reapplying after a meal. Because of this, I’m a little on the fence with this product. When I run out of my favorite colors, I may get them in the more forgiving Femme Rouge formula below. The formula has no discernible taste or scent which is a HUGE plus for me since scents and flavors can irritate my allergies. I tried this in the following colors:
    • Icon – a gorgeous, classic cool-toned red. This is, without a doubt, my holy grail shade of red lipstick. I am *definitely* going to buy it again, I’m just not sure if I’ll buy it in this formula. This is NOT a color for the faint of heart as it is very pigmented.
  • Raven – a warm-toned red that can lean slightly orange, depending on your skin tone.

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Another look at the #FOTD.

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  • Riviera – a sister color to Raven, Riviera is a red leaning orange (rather than an orange leaning red). It’s a bright, fun color to wear.

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Orange lipstick. Yay or nay?

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  • Ballet – a sweet, bright, blue-based pink

  • Empress – a moody burgundy

  • Femme Rouge Velvet Crème Lipstick – at $30 this is one of the most expensive lipsticks I’ve ever purchased HOWEVER it is refillable! I love that! I hate throwing away expensive lipstick tubes, don’t you? This lipstick is richly pigmented and feels very comfortable on the lips. I wouldn’t call it moisturizing, per se, but it definitely is soft and doesn’t dry lips out. Like the Opaque Rouge lipstick, the Femme Rouge doesn’t have a scent. I tried this in two colors:
    • Fever – a cool-toned vibrant fuchsia that brightens my whole face. I *adore* this color and plan to never be without it!
    • Embrace – Hourglass’s website description for this is a “bronzed, plum burgundy”. It’s a really unique color – when I wear it, it makes my lips look like they’re wearing molten metal. It’s a very warm color, which ordinarily I would steer away from, but I love it with bronzer and a smokey eye.


Extreme Sheen High Shine Lip Gloss – this lip gloss is soft, not sticky and the pigmentation varies wildly from color to color. Some of the colors are sheer whereas others are so deeply pigmented you need to wear them with a lip liner to prevent bleeding. I’m not really a lip gloss person so I didn’t end up buying any of these but I have to say the bright metallic red of Siren looked really unique – a gorgeous look to wear for the holidays if your skin is warm-toned. Of course the color I was drawn to most was Icon. If I were going to a big event, I think I would consider layering Icon lip gloss over Icon Opaque Rouge for high impact classic Hollywood glamour.


I got a sample of Hourglass’s Film Noir Full Spectrum Mascara as a gift with purchase and I have to say it’s a fantastic mascara. Even though it’s not waterproof, it holds up really well to my constantly watering eyes and unlike many mascaras does a good job of holding a curl. The brush clings to my lashes, coating each one evenly. And because it’s not waterproof, it’s so easy to wash off at the end of the day. I’m hoping that FLOWER Beauty’s mascara is even better because it bothers me to spend so much money on a product that I have to throw away every three months!

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). Hourglass Cosmetics is certified cruelty-free by Logical Harmony and PETA.