Trendy Instagram makeup has never really done it for me. On top of being a general beauty novice (maybe I’ll grant myself “intermediate”), the thick, matte skintone of Instagram makeup just doesn’t match up with my aesthetic. But what was once a source of makeup inspiration and new-age modeling is now an incubator for up-and-coming makeup brands like Milk Makeup.
You can tell instantly by looking at Milk Makeup’s packaging that they are a brand for millennials. From the minimalist, Helvetica-esque font to the hyper-holographic package, Milk Makeup screams digital generation. Being proudly a part of this generation (albeit as one of the village elders at 32), I was stoked to try out Milk’s newest release, the full-coverage Blur Liquid Matte Foundation (Sephora, $40).
I have never in my life paid $40 for a foundation. Had I been forced to, sight unseen, I probably would have gravitated towards something more well-known like Too Faced Born This Way or Armani Luminous Silk. Those are the popular luxury foundations that I hear about costing an arm and a leg, and being worth it. An “Instagram brand,” on the other hand, wouldn’t be where I’d want to splurge. Luckily, I was sent two shades of the new Milk Makeup Blur Liquid Matte Foundation through Influenster. (A service that sends regular people products in exchange for social media reviews, I’ll be putting mine on Instagram this week!)
They also sent along a Dab + Blend Applicator – aka a silicone sponge. I love trends as much as the next beauty addict, but the whole silicone sponge thing seems like a racket, to me. I gave it a fair chance, though, because I had never used one before. Also, their silicone sponge has glitter in it, and that definitely helped.
Here’s the scoop:
Milk Makeup Liquid Blur Foundation Review
This release was very eagerly awaited by the beauty community, and for good reason. It’s Milk Makeup’s first liquid foundation release, and they went straight for that Instagram demographic. Milk Makeup Blur Liquid Matte Foundation is touted as “an ultra-weightless, full-coverage foundation with an oil-free, silicone-free formula that lets skin breathe.”
Here are the ethical beauty stats:
This foundation comes in 16 shades – an impressive display! I was sent the shades Fair and Light, which are the second and third from the left in the top row above.
Fair is definitely lighter than Light. These two shades are listed as having pink-undertones, but Light seems to be a bit more golden, warm tone than Fair. I ended up using Fair exclusively, as Light was too dark for me.
Milk Makeup touts their line as perfect for the “girl on the go,” hence the easy-to-apply tube and stick products. The goal is to minimize necessary tools, which is why this foundation came alongside Milk’s new Dab + Blend Makeup Applicator ($14). It’s a thin slice of glitter-infused silicone that comes in a transparent, holographic, plastic case with a slide zipper. Milk intends for these two products to be used together, but I’m not sure it coincides with their quick’n’easy target.
Here are the main claims of the Milk Makeup Liquid Blur Foundation:
- Full coverage
- Matte finish
- Serum-like water-based formula
- Blurring microspheres minimize pores & fine lines
The Blur Liquid Matte Foundation is loaded with ingredients you commonly see in skincare items, contributing to the “serum-like” formula. The serum comparison definitely doesn’t apply to the texture of the actual product. It’s thick and creamy, not at all runny, and becomes very thin when applied. The serum-y part comes from how it feels sitting on top of your skin. Depending on how it’s applied, it can truly feel as light as a serum.
Performance & Results: Blurry, Smooth & Perfected
Full coverage foundation isn’t my go-to because I’m not good enough with makeup to do it justice. Instagram models and makeup artists can rock full coverage daily and do it justice by adding all of those contours and shades back into their face with precision. I, on the other hand, come out of it looking like a ghost with emphasized wrinkles and crunchy nose-creases.
The Blur Liquid Matte Foundation came out of the tube in a thinner consistency than I expected. It wasn’t toothpaste or anything, it kind of half dripped, half dropped out of the tube. It didn’t look dry at all, which really excited me. Full coverage foundation usually has a thicker formula, and this one does, too, but it’s soft and highly opaque. You’d be hard pressed to get this formula to skip on your skin.
I squeezed out a blob that was about 1cm across and it covered nearly my entire face each time I used it. Application methods varied greatly, however, so I tried all of the foundation application techniques I could.
With makeup brushes: For this method, I applied the foundation directly to the face with fingers, then blended out with a synthetic buffing brush. It covered pretty well, but I needed to reapply a little bit more on the apples of my cheeks. While the brushes dispersed the product pretty well, I didn’t feel like the resulting texture was the best it could be. Brush strokes were an occasional issue, and the formula never fully set. I was left with a tacky skin feeling for the next several hours which is maybe my least favorite feeling. On the upside, it looked awesome and didn’t break down throughout the day. The finish was pretty dewy, I wouldn’t call it matte.
With a makeup sponge: I used EcoTools Perfecting Sponge Duo (the smaller one) and dotted the foundation on my face before blending out. I found it easiest to “smear” on the product and then start blending. Using the sponge resulted in less coverage, but it eliminated the tacky feeling that the brush application left behind. This was the most sheer application method and therefore the one that most closely resembles “matte.”
With my fingers: Obviously, this method requires either applying the foundation directly to your face from the tube, or with your fingers. Then, it’s a smush-fest. Pushing the product all over your face with your fingers until it’s even, smooth, and pretty. It’s hard to mess up this application process because it’s kind of foolproof. This resulted in exactly what I was looking for, a smooth, even, natural finish. My pores were minimized and my skin tone looked bright and even. The finish, however, was a nice satin as opposed to the “matte” as the product claims. I prefer the actual finish to a true matte finish because it looks like real skin, more natural and fresh.
With the Milk Makeup Dab + Blend: To be completely honest, I’m not sold on this silicone sponge thing. I’m glad Milk Makeup’s Dab + Blend isn’t trying to compare itself to a beauty sponge – it’s an “applicator” – but I’m skeptical. It was the first tool I used to apply the foundation, and I found it to be extremely difficult to blend out. As it’s called the Dab + Blend applicator, I first dabbed the foundation on my skin with the pointed end. Then flipped it, using the broad end to swipe the product across my face and attempt to blend it out. The finish on this application method is >:(.
What resulted was streaky, patchy, and a complete mess all over my hands. Due to the fact that silicone doesn’t absorb any product (the “benefit” of this tool, ironically), it slowly accumulated on every side of the product. Eventually, it was all over my hands. Aside from that, getting around my nose and eyes was a confusing, unpleasant, and anticlimactic experience. The second time I tried using this applicator, I gave up halfway through and blended out with my fingers.
Each time I tried an application method, I could tell that this foundation was really, really nice. The coverage I got with my fingers was so beautiful and satin-y, applying with your fingers is definitely the way to go.
Despite its medium-high coverage abilities, foundation isn’t concealer, so I had to go back and spot-conceal some redness and blemishes. This isn’t outside of the norm for me, so it didn’t affect my opinion of the foundation.
One of my favorite parts about the formula is how much it didn’t gather and cake around my nose. I always worry about this because my nose is my driest area, but this foundation is so hydrating that it didn’t cake on me. The flexibility of this formula is largely due to the Vitamin E and Bilberry extract included.
I noticed that, when I applied with a sponge, brush, and fingers that product blended around the eyes can crease if left too long. Setting powder will help you out in that department, but if you don’t usually use it, keep an eye on that area. About 10 minutes after applying foundation, I was able to just blend out the creased-up, partially dried foundation and it didn’t give me any more problems.
This formula does transfer a little bit depending on how you apply it. The only way I got a “dried down” feel was when sheered out with a makeup sponge. Otherwise, you might try setting your whole face if you use a brush or your fingers.
Lastly, I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention the awesomely unique scent. No, this foundation isn’t fragrance-free, but the scent they included is bright, citrusy and delicious. If I had to guess, I’d say it was orange blossom-esque. There isn’t a single trace of frosting, vanilla, cakes, or cocoa – just fresh, citrusy goodness.
The Packaging: Minimalist & Yummy
It’s arguable that the packaging is the best part of Milk Makeup. So shiny! It’s pretty! And so incredibly difficult to throw away for some reason! Milk’s packaging is glossy and futuristic without being cheesy.
The Blur Liquid Matte Foundation came packaged in a clear, rectangular, plastic box and was held in (perfect) place with that sticky gum stuff that holds gift cards to their cardboard backing. The tube is specially designed to prevent air from getting inside and oxidizing and drying out the foundation. The foundation is packaged in a squeeze tube with a precise, fine tip and screw cap.
Overall, I dig the packaging. Their branding is so easy to digest as a consumer. The outer packaging looks cute in every lifestyle, and the product inside is usually clever, like a solid stick of toner (no cotton pads required) or cream eyeshadow that dries down to a waterproof finish. Overall, the appeal of their products is huge, and with enough wanting, even $40 foundation seems like a splurge worth taking.
The Brand: Where TF Did Milk Makeup Come From?!
When I first started looking into who was behind Milk Makeup, the brand’s marketing had me conjuring up a millennial indie makeup fantasy. You know, a handful of nerdy, 20-something outcasts sitting around a sticker-covered Macbook Air in a NYC loft looking at images of their closest friends decked out in their newly-born dream makeup line. Basically the Judd Apatow version of the indie makeup industry.
Instead I found a legendary fashion & beauty entrepreneur and his wife, a fashion editor at Marie Claire. Alongside the power-couple are a veteran beauty product formulator as well as the creative direction of the couple’s other gig, a production company and Milk Studios. Yes, the same Milk Studios that houses trendy and up-and-coming fashion designers during New York Fashion Week – they’re that Milk.
So, in short, Milk Makeup isn’t indie at all. They’re just really good at marketing. In fact, they’re partially backed by an investor that also invests in another brilliant marketer: Too Faced Cosmetics. Not only that, but they pitched the brand to Sephora before they even had any products.
Ballsy, but when you have that much industry superpower behind your brand, stores are going to see dollar signs. Well, Sephora and Urban Outfitters are seeing dollar signs, as those are pretty much the only two places you can buy the brand.
Idealistic disappointment aside, beauty superpowers come with the ability to make waves. With that many brains behind the wheel of an already successful brand, they’re positioned to color outside of the lines as much as they want, and Milk Makeup definitely knows that. Their brand is aggressively inclusive, which results in awesome ad campaigns and a diverse and talented creative team.
And that brings us to…
The Price: Why Are You Doing This To Us?
I jumped head-first into this $40 foundation review thinking that Milk Makeup was an indie brand just trying to create some badass makeup. That’s not to say that Milk isn’t trying to create badass makeup – obviously Blur Liquid Matte Foundation has amazing potential for a lot of skin types! But two Jacksons is a lot for a tube of foundation, especially when drugstore makeup and indie makeup are having such a high quality moment.
The idea of marketing luxury makeup to the younger set makes me feel kind of weird, but Milk Makeup’s target demographic has changed as their visibility grew. Georgie Grenville, aforementioned creative director and Milk Makeup co-founder, notes “it’s also moms and women in their 50s and 60s and a lot of boys. It’s been amazing to see the breadth of how it’s resonating.” (Racked)
The price is the worst part of this really nice foundation, and it may actually be the thing that prevents the people who need high coverage foundations from trying it. Picking a foundation is no easy task, especially for us broke girls. Even $15 is a lot to invest in something that might break you out, worsen your acne, or oxidize to an unnatural skin tone. Asking for $40 for a shred of hope in a holographic package is asking a lot.
Milk Makeup will expand into 150 Sephora stores this year, and next year it’s set to arrive in Canadian Sephora stores. In the meantime, you can find Milk Makeup Blur Liquid Matte Foundation in Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and on the Milk Makeup website.
Conclusion: Is Milk Makeup Blur Liquid Foundation Worth It?
The short answer is: yeah, I think it actually might be worth $40 – depending on your skin. While the “full coverage” claim might draw in people with skin issues like acne, eczema or rosacea, the application might leave those who have 3D redness disappointed. The foundation did not adequately cover the hormonal pimples along my jawline, and when applied with a sponge, I had to layer up over the redness on my cheeks.
If your skin is good to go with a couple of dry patches or some discoloration, you will probably want to pick this up. This foundation will make good skin texture look glorious, and it will hydrate and smooth your dry bits.
All-in-all, I feel really lucky to have had the opportunity to try a foundation I never would have purchased for myself. Hopefully, this review helps you decide whether or not you should take the plunge!