Lipstick Chronology #23: Milani Flamingo Pose and Sweet Nectar

Names: Milani Color Statement Lipstick in Flamingo Pose and Sweet Nectar

Date Purchased: Spring 2013

Grade: B

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.

I fell in love with the color of Flamingo Pose the moment I put it on. It was the first flattering coral lipstick I’d ever found, and it remains one of my favorite coral shades ever. It’s just warm enough to avoid fuchsia territory, yet cool enough that it never threatens to pull orange on me. Some have compared it to MAC Impassioned or Party Parrot, but I think it looks almost identical to the Revlon Matte Balm in Unapologetic (reviewed here by the lovely Sylirael).

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.

13 thoughts on “Lipstick Chronology #23: Milani Flamingo Pose and Sweet Nectar

  1. ;D I am sorry, but you look utterly adorable in the last two pictures! I guess headbands are your friends until your next cut. You look cute wearing them (I think your are in the FOTD pics, right?) anyway.Milani is a big hit-or-miss brand for me, too. To think about it, I only liked their pressed powder blush before they brought out the baked versions. Even their eyeshadow formulas are all very inconsistent. Plus it used to be dirt cheap like other two brands you mentioned and they nearly doubled up the price after their Luminoso (formerly Luminous) blush brought them a drugstore fame. I heard the base makeup line is pretty good quality but the colors are way off for me, but this is understandable since they started as a brand for women of color.Did I say I liked your first look with orange lips with light purple eyes? I do very much. 🙂


  2. I didn't know Milani started as a brand for women of color! That's really interesting. I believe Sleek did, as well. And yes, I'm wearing a headband in the FOTD pictures. It feels weird to reveal my forehead after years of side bangs, but right now I have no choice! I wish it were cold enough to wear hats, but alas.I kind of regret not just keeping my hair from this morning. It looked like I'd been hit by lightning…


  3. Can I just take a moment to say how much I love both you and your hair for those last two photos? Also, you will think I am insane (quite possibly the case *hatter giggle*), but I WISH my hair did anything even an eighth as interesting. Ever. Its signature statement is being long. Or maybe having ever so slightly dry ends. None of that 'hit by lightning' awesomeness (that many people spend a lot of time and money on gel trying to achieve, I suspect). WHY AM I SO BORING?!Anyway, much obliged for the link (*tips hat*) – I like that you used the power of cheap lipstick to try some zany shades, and that the quality is there too. It's a shame about the drying thing (also mildly amusing that the matte is less drying than the cream), but you have to take the wins with the losses, I suppose.This post has also made me want to go and swatch Orange Flip. I believe a post of yours has made me want to do this before, but I forgot. I will probably still look atrocious in it, but I actually like orange as a colour (I wear a lot of navy), and orange lipstick is a frontier that I have yet to explore. As a lipstick fanatic, this disturbs me (although not enough to explore the equally untrod ground of beige nudes *shudder*).Finally, can I just mention how awkward it is trying to type up an overly long comment when your brain is jumping up and down, rattling the bars and screaming about how the lipstick needs to be called Flamingo *Rose*!!!11!1 ? I have no idea why it bothers me so, since Flamingo Pose is – by lipstick name standards – totes legit (as they say on the intertubes).Perhaps I should lay off the mercury? *hatter giggle*


  4. Ugh, right now I want nothing more than boring hair! I'm going to have to update this bad-hair series in my next post, because my bedhead was even closer to totally vertical this morning. My hair was a lot more manageable when it was long, but that was…seven years ago. Orange Flip is a great lipstick, and yes, I wrote a post on it aeons ago! I'm not crazy about how it looks on me, and the scent is pretty pungent, but it's worth a swatch at least. I wear a lot of navy, too, and I always reach for a coral or red-orange lip color with a navy top. Such a pretty combination.I've noticed that multiple bloggers have misread \”Flamingo Pose\” as \”Flamingo Rose\” and reviewed it under that name! It's like the lipstick actively *wants* a name change. Though I do like \”Flamingo Pose,\” if only because I have the habit of standing on one leg like a flamingo. You can take the girl out of the ballet studio, but not the passé out of the girl. Or something.


  5. Those hair pics are the greatest. Everyone's so preoccupied with presenting their bestestestest angles all the time that it's nice to see a little levity about self-appearance for a change.I'm starting to think there's no lipstick colour that you can't wear! I looked into Milani recently after a mad preoccupation with their blushes, but I agree with you — ultimately their packaging turned me off to the point that I had to write them off entirely. Those plastic end caps fall off all the time as well, judging from the testers at the store.


  6. Hah, you know I actually managed to split the soles of a pair of extremely high quality boots (that had survived nearly 8 years of almost daily wear) because of all the time I spend, just casually, in relevé? The cobbler looked at the perfect split along the ball of the foot and was like: 'how did you manage this?' 😀


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