La Vita è Bella, Take 2: New Milani Eyeshadows in Bella Charcoal and Bella Navy (Updated with a Tragic Footnote)

Greetings from Londinium! I’ve been trying for the last few days to write a post about the makeup I brought to England this time, but I’m never at home during prime picture-taking hours, and I’m very picky about color accuracy. Today, though, I remembered that I wrote most of a review of Milani Bella Charcoal and Bella Navy a week ago, but put it aside because I hadn’t yet worn Bella Navy. Now, though, I have! So here you go:

I made an interesting discovery recently.

Here are the four Milani Bella Eyes eyeshadows I’ve purchased in the past month:

And here are four of the five Maybelline Color Tattoo eyeshadows I’ve purchased in the past year:


And the sad thing is, I don’t have many more eyeshadows than the eight pictured above. Am I really that devoted to silver-grays, taupes, navy blues, and reddish plums? I swear I thought I was branching out!

Yet here we are, with a quick review of two more eyeshadow singles from the Milani Bella Eyes range: Bella Navy, a navy with electric-blue shimmer, and Bella Charcoal, a dark gray with multicolored sparkle. Milani classifies Bella Navy as a “satin matte” (false) and Bella Charcoal as a “shimmer” (true).

You may be wondering why, after giving Bella Taupe and Bella Rouge a largely unenthusiastic review, I picked up two more from the line. Let’s just say that the flesh is weak and the wallet is weaker, especially under the influence of payday, a BOGO sale, and $5 in CVS coupons. Plus I wanted to replace my Maybelline Color Tattoos in Audacious Asphalt and Electric Blue, which were stiff, dry, and unblendable even when new. And these are fine replacements; in fact, I’m more impressed with them than I was with the first two.

I’m especially enamored of Bella Charcoal. In my last Milani post, I despaired of finding complex eyeshadow shades at the drugstore, but Bella Charcoal has just about proven me wrong.

Swatches, in indirect natural light (Bella Charcoal on left, Bella Navy on right):

In direct sunlight for SPARKLE:

Despite its name, Bella Charcoal isn’t a conventional charcoal gray. It has a taupey warmth to it, as well as that intriguing multicolored pastel shimmer–pink, green, and yellow seem to be the dominant colors. If you look closely, you can see that Bella Navy has a similar shimmery overlay, with flecks of pink and green in addition to blue. This complexity is much less evident on the lids, but, sparkle geek that I am, I like ogling eyeshadows in the pan almost as much as I like wearing them.

Here’s a FOTD with Bella Charcoal, from two weeks ago. I applied Milani Bella Taupe all over my upper lid, added Charcoal to the outer corners and the lower lashlines, and finished with Maybelline One by One mascara. NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla under eyes; Illamasqua Zygomatic on cheeks; Wet n Wild Purty Persimmon, a blood-orange matte lipstick I don’t wear as often as I should, on lips.

And the prettier of my two cocktails from that night (a blackberry bramble: gin, blackberry liqueur, muddled blackberries, and lemon).

Yesterday I wore Bella Navy for the first time, in a standard placement: NARS Lhasa on the inner two-thirds of the mobile lid; Bella Navy blended into the outer third of the upper lid and the outer third of the lower lashline. It’s less pigmented on the lid than it is in an arm swatch, but I don’t actually mind. I don’t set much store in zomgperfectlyopaque eyeshadows, especially in dark bold colors; I’d rather have a slightly sheer formula that I can layer to opacity. So long as it builds up smoothly without turning coarse and powdery, I’m happy.

Full face, with NARS Mata Hari blush and NYX Round Lipstick in Perfect, a rosy mauve that I neglected unfairly for a year:

My hair has reached yet another infuriating stage of growth, in which the ends of the longest layers flip up and out, creating a Farrah Fawcett feathered effect up and down my head. It’s now been five and a half months since my last pixie cut, and four months of bad hair days. Remind me never to cut my hair that short again. D:

In better news, some photos from London! The cat we’re looking after has taken a fancy to sleeping on my suitcase:

My favorite architectural bit so far: a monument from 1835, commemorating the abolition of slavery. What a disembodied neo-Gothic spire inlaid with pastel tiles has to do with slavery, I’m not entirely sure, but I love the gingerbread bizarreness of it.

We’re staying near the Beefeater Gin distillery, so we took a tour yesterday. Here’s an ad from “Asia, 1972,” though something tells me it appeared in Japan, specifically…

The catchphrase, “the gin for people in the know,” contains a cute play on words: jin (人), or “person,” is homonymous with jin (ジ ン), or “gin.”

Later today: the Victoria & Albert Museum, devoted to decorative art and design. I can’t wait. And if you have any London recommendations, please leave them below…

Updated, 9/14: This morning I opened my Milani Bella Charcoal eyeshadow and discovered that the domed portion had detached from the rest of the pan. Scandal!

I bought Bella Charcoal just two weeks ago and never dropped it or mistreated it, so I’m pretty annoyed. Maybe I can look up depotting methods and press the detached part into another pot? I like the shade enough to try and salvage it, but my experience with Milani Bella Eyes hasn’t done much to cure my general distrust of drugstore eyeshadows. Feh.

9 thoughts on “La Vita è Bella, Take 2: New Milani Eyeshadows in Bella Charcoal and Bella Navy (Updated with a Tragic Footnote)

  1. Aww, thanks! I'm sure my brain is just magnifying the flaws, but I almost want to cry when I look at photos of myself with a chin-length cut and estimate how long it will take to reach that point again. My pixie looked good for about two weeks before my hair's natural texture took over, and waiting for it to grow out is excruciating…


  2. Bella Charcoal is pretty! I rarely shop Milani, because Target is really the only drugstore I go to, and they don't stock Milani. I also order from, but then, for some reason, I just never think to look at Milani.


  3. Honestly, I doubt I'd go out of my way to find Milani if it weren't so widely available in the US (though I do love that it's cruelty-free). Bella Charcoal is a lovely shade, but I wouldn't say that any of the Bella shadows are absolute must-haves. I've never bought a truly awful product from Milani, but I've never bought one that bowled me over with its awesomeness, either.


  4. Ugh, that red Color Tattoo is too gorgeous for its own good, even in the pot. It looks like you get to dip your fingers in a glass jar of crushed rubies and garnets (neglecting the annoying fact that if you crushed rubies and garnets that fine, I suspect they'd be basically colourless). Convoluted sentence is convoluted, people.I really like the look of Bella Charcoal – I, too, am a 'stares at the shadow in the pan more often than she puts it on' sort of person, and the pastel sparkles really appeal. One must always have some sparkles in life, as you know. I would love it if Milani were available here, if only for the lipsticks, which I keep hearing good things about.Ah, London! I can't think too hard about it, or envy will overtake me, but if you're still looking for suggestions, I'd say head to the Liberty store! The building it's in is lovely by itself, but haberdashery supplies and design are a definite bonus. Maybe blindfold your wallet though. 😉 I'd aso make a pilgrimage to Fortnum & Mason, because hello delicious food. And tea. Speaking of tea,. afternoon tea at the Ritz is a pretty neat experience too 🙂 Obviously, I'm assuming already that, like, me, you've visited every museum at least twice. Because you need to do that. If you haven't the Petrie Museum inside Universtiy College is worth sticking your head into as well if you like Egyptian archaeology!


  5. Bella Rouge came out more pink in that photo than it looks IRL, but yeah, it really is beautiful. And thanks for the London recommendations! We went to the British Museum today and saw the Elgin Marbles and a million sarcophagi, as well as the biggest scarab sculpture I've ever seen–it was labeled \”colossal scarab,\” as if that wasn't evident. I thought of you. :)A friend who went to UCL for undergrad recommended I visit their museum, too, so I think I'd better! And the Liberty store is a great idea. I've done lots of highbrow cultural things and almost no frivolous girly things, and that side of me needs nourishment too.


  6. Re: update. Oh, ffs. I hate when that stuff happens. I have two lipsticks (actually expensive ones) that do that thing where they grind themselves into the shaft of te barrel on the way up and down, and make things all smoodgy and munchy. I love the lipsticks too much to throw them out (plus, $$$), and I am too lazy to use a lip brush generally, so no depotting for me, but honestly. 'Feh' is right!


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