It never used to be this hard to keep up with new beauty brands. But increasingly, my dressing table (posh description of ancient inherited chest of drawers) is covered with test samples of exciting independent labels, from Votary and Vintner’s Daughter oils to Glossier glitter. MAC and the rest sure have competition these days …
It’s interesting to consider which of these zippy new brands will stand the test of time as Lauder, Clinique and Lancome have managed to, and which are a flash in the pan. For example, popular LA brand Lime Crime, newly arrived in Ireland, doesn’t appeal to me, or the few teen girls I quizzed – too pink, unicorn-focused and girly for us, and palettes are a hefty €66.50 (though it’s a brand that’s mightily popular with many). But Drunk Elephant and Milk Makeup are just two relatively new beauty arrivals that, for me, deliver beyond the demands of looking good on Instagram.
This week I met Zanna Roberts, co-founder of Milk Makeup, a brand born in New York in 2016 and going international very quickly. It launched in the UK earlier this year, and is now available here via the Cult Beauty website. The brand’s shiny colourful good looks have a lot to do with it – the transparent stick formats grab your attention from the outset, with a no-fuss aesthetic. “It’s all about utility,” says Roberts, whose background is in magazines (she’s an ex-beauty editor) and TV. “It’s clean but cool beauty. Three of us had children under five when we were starting up, so by necessity it had to be quick and easy to use, ideal for on the go.” Its “free-from” credentials help, too – no silicones, mineral oil etc: Milk is also Leaping Bunny certified (“this was a no-brainer from the very beginning”, notes Roberts), and is now 100 per cent vegan. And they were the first to use hemp-derived cannabis oil in mascara, which is a bestseller at Sephora (Milk started in just 50 Sephora stores in the US, and is now across 320).
Product developer Dianna Ruth is ex-Bliss and Hard Candy, and so pigment and skincare benefits are a priority. Most exciting? The new Glow Oils for lip and cheek (£12stg), in six shades; a fun clay and cannabis mask the colour of Shrek that you swipe on, as it’s a stick format (£21) – and the promise of a set of minis arriving later this summer, which will make a great introduction to the brand. Milk stands out as great for travelling with; Roberts notes that the stick format means they can go in carry-on, rather than your tiny plastic bag (though this is bound to vary according to the strictness of airport staff). Kush mascara is a bestseller, while I love the blue Cooling Water hydrating stick with caffeine – Roberts advises that you keep it in the fridge for a brilliant skin refresher that’s especially good for under tired eyes. And for a tenner, the long-lasting Tattoo Stamps are brilliant for festivals or teens – just stamp on little black stars, or even your astrology sign, at your leisure.
Clever, fast and effective, it’s no wonder that Milk is a mighty hit with beauty-lovers of all ages.
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