Milani: Drugstores' Most Well-Kept Secret

Milani Cosmetics is not as well-known as other drugstore brands that are already household names, but it is slowly gaining popularity especially for penny pinchers like me who want more value for their money. This cosmetics line is known for creating products that rival high-end, department store brands for less than a quarter of the latter's price. Milani is also popular among teens and young adults who cannot afford MAC eyeshadows because Milani makes perfect dupes that are so rich in pigmentation and have great texture, for an unbelievable price. When Milani came up with their line of eyeshadow quads, I made a bee-line for our neighborhood CVS which is just a stone's throw away from our house. I was amazed at the beautiful pigments, wonderful combinations and silky textures these shadows offer. I snagged six of these quads for an outrageous price of $5 each. I love these eyeshadows and they do indeed rival MAC's in terms of pigmentation. The only difference I notice between MAC and Milani is that the latter's eyeshadows tend to crumble more easily during application and would migrate to the undereye area. However, this is a minor issue, nothing loose powder below the eye area and a powder brush cannot remedy.

And did I mention their blushes and lipglosses are great as well? They have a blush called Luminous which a lot of people swear is a dupe of the cult favorite NARS Orgasm. Their lipglosses are rich and pigmented, and lends a pretty, luscious sheen to the lips. Their nail polishes are great as well. I tried their blackish maroon polish on my piggies and they looked really fab.

My Milani eyeshadow quads (I have singles as well but I opted not to include them in this entry:

Top L-R: Earthy Delights, Wild Violets, Denim Blues
Bottom L-R: Autumn Earth, Dreamy Baby, Sedona Sunset

In the pic below, I used my favorite quad out of all the Milani quads I own, Earthy Delights. The antique gold and olive shades are just to die for, and even the off-white highlighter is tinged with golden green, as well. I am amazed how the colors really complement each other.

I used Bare Escentuals 2.0 Light foundation, Bare Escentuals mineral veil, Milani Earthy Delights e/s quad, Bare Escentuals liner shadow in Black Ruby used wet to line upper lashline, CoverGirl Eye Slicks gel eyeliner in Moondust on inner corners of eyes, Cargo blush in Louisiana, MAC lipliner in Spice, MAC Viva Glam V lipstick and lipglass

Valerie Beauty Mineral Cosmetics

I am so glad there are mineral makeup companies out there that cater to the modern woman. There is a cluster of busy, working class women who expect good customer service and products that give more bang for their hard-earned buck. I fit into this category and I have expectations whenever I buy products for my body, especially for my face. Valerie Beauty mineral cosmetics surpasses all these expectations and gives me little pleasant surprises whenever I receive their packages in the mail, making my shopping experience such a delightful one everytime. I have two major raves regarding Valerie Beauty: the wonderful, high-quality products, and the superb customer service of its lovely CEO: Valerie herself. Everytime I ask her a question or email her to comment about something, she ALWAYS responds promptly and is ever-so-quick to help or to reply to anything I'd say. She is also very gracious and accommodating. I recently placed an order on her site and I wanted to add another item even though I already paid for the first batch. She very graciously sent me an invoice for the additional item without charging me for shipping. It might be just a small thing to some people but to me it meant a lot. For a seller to actually care about her customer enough so that she didn't have to pay double for shipping (and didn't have to wait for two packages instead of one) shows the hallmark of a great entrepreneur who sees customers as people (and friends) and not merely as sales figures.

Her products are great, as well. Val's Cover Deluxe foundation is one of the best mineral foundations I've ever tried. Coverage is great, finish is silky and smooth as velvet to the touch, and has great staying power. She has a new collection called the Pin Up Girl collection and her colors are to-die-for, especially O My! blush which Val thinks is a deadringer for the ever-popular NARS Orgasm blush. Her illuminating finishing powder in Satin Sun likewise gives a beautiful, glow-from-within sheen that gives the whole face a lift. In her new collection, she is introducing the peaches-and-cream version of Satin Sun in the new Centerfold illuminating finishing powder. I snagged this baby and cannot wait to get it. I also asked Val for her thoughts on which lipstick would look good on my skintone and she immediately recommended Bonbon lipstick, a soft, shimmery mauve. Below is a look using Valerie Cover Deluxe foundation and her multi-purpose mineral in Miranda. Miranda was one of the freebie samples I received from Val when I got one of my packages. I was stunned when I wore this shade on my lids, it looked SO pretty in person! It was shimmery but not screaming glittery, and it perfected a neutral daytime look. I love it and I am planning on getting the full-size version. I can imagine using this again and again!

I used Pureluxe cream eraser as primer, Valerie Beauty Cover Deluxe foundations in N2.75 and W3.0 (mixed), Bare Escentuals Well-Rested under the eyes, Valerie Beauty illuminating finishing powder in Satin Sun, ULTA bronzing powder, Laura Mercier illuminating powder quad in Pink Rose as blush, Rimmel 1000 Kisses Stay-on lipliner in Wild Clover, MAC Danse lipstick, MAC Corps De Ballet lipglass

I used MAC Beige-ing as base all over lid and browbone, MAC Shroom eyeshadow to highlight, Valerie Beauty multi-purpose mineral in Miranda used wet from inner to mid-lid, Valerie Beauty pan eyeshadow in Dolce Vita on outer V, MAC Subtle pigment on crease, MAC Graphic Brown fluidline to line upper lashline, Maybelline Volume Express Turbo Boost mascara

MAC Icon (Raquel Welch) and Danse Collections

I really didn't get a lot of stuff from these collections, but I particularly loved the lip products. I just got the mineralize skinfinishes from the Danse collection, Swan Lake eyeshadow and the following lip stuff:

Clockwise from top: Pas-de-deux lipglass, En Pointe lipglass, Corps de Ballet lipglass, Curtsy lipstick (Danse collection)

Danse lipstick

Swan Lake

I love Pas-de-deux lipglass because it really gives a duo-chrome sheen and gives a lovely irridescent, sparkly sheen to lipsticks when worn under it. I love to use it over darker lipsticks. En Pointe is pretty when worn alone with Spice or Whirl lipliner, and Corps de Ballet is a browner version of the cult fave Viva Glam V lipglass.

From the Icon (Raquel Welch collection): Roleplay lipstick, Vital Spark lipglass, Pro Longwear Lustre in Rollerderby

I love Roleplay lipstick, it's my favorite lipstick as of the moment. It gives a very berry-ish sheen that's buildable and completely suits my skintone. It really brightens up my entire face. Rollerderby is my first pro longwear. It really does not budge even through a meal. I really am loving this and the color is fantastic.

Some swatches: L-R: Rollerderby, Curtsy, Roleplay, top to bottom: En Pointe, Vital Spark, Pas-de-deux

Bare Escentuals Mineral Blushes

I just received some Bare Escentuals blushes from Colorful*Sprinkles. Too bad it's closing down when I've just discovered the joy of using mineral blushes. I will get one more order from the website before it closes down in order to avail of the discount.

Here are swatches of the blushes applied wet and glimmers I got from the set "Exotic Beauty".

L-R: Bare Escentuals blushes in Escape, Secret, Glee, Joyous Jennifer, Thistle

L-R: Bare Escentuals glimmers in Rio, Bali, Morocco

Mineral Gel Liners, Anyone?

Okay, so many have tried MAC and Bobbi Brown gel liners. I really love the efficiency, drama and precision of gel liners. I also love the fact that they stay put longer than pencil liners. Gel liners are also better than loose powder liners because you don't need a separate sealant or mixing medium to make a paste with before application. Gel liners are also more efficient than liquid eyeliners because application is so much easier. But has anybody ever tried mineral gel liners?

I found some gel liners on sale at the Fyrinnae website. I was attracted to the colors and since I didn't have any liners in those unusual colors, I gave in and got some. I also snagged one beautiful, shimmery eye color in Digital Faerie, which I read is one of Fyrinnae's bestsellers.

(clockwise: Midnight -deep dark blue- gel liner, Pumpkin Coach gel liner, Digital Faerie eye shadow, Believe gel liner).

I tried Pumpkin Coach this morning and I was amazed at the intensity of the color, and it really went well with my neutral/bronzey eye look today. I like the fact that it was noticeable, but definitely not over-the-top. It's an interesting accent to an otherwise boring neutral eye.

MAC Beige-ing shadestick as base, MAC Gleam e/s to highlight, MAC Expensive Pink e/s on lid, MAC Bronze e/s on crease and outer V, Fyrinnae gel liner in Pumpkin Coach

I really like the Fyrinnae gel liners; they give good color payoff (in fact, pigmentation is fantastic!). My only gripe is the texture. It doesn't smudge off, it peels off, like paint! I'm glad Fyrinnae is re-formulating their gel liners. I hope they eliminate the peeling effect. It's a great liner except for that one factor.

I used Pureluxe cream eraser as primer, Monave mineral foundation in Teporah, Monave Angel Finishing Powder, Bare Escentuals Well Rested over Mary Kay undereye concealer in Ivory, Monave blush in Star Lilly used wet, Rimmel 1000 Kisses stay-on lipliner in Wild Clover, MAC lip lacquer in Varneesh

On a different note, I just wanna state that MAC Springsheen blush is gorgeous! It's a lot, lot better than NARS Orgasm on my skintone. It is as pretty as Cargo's The Big Easy blush and the peachy pink color really brightens up my complexion. I can't believe I let it languish at the bottom of my traincase for so long!

Blue and Teal

A blue look. All MAC products, unless otherwise noted:

Beige-ing shadestick all over lid as base, Sea Me shadestick on lid, Teal pigment on lid, Freshwater eyeshadow outer V, Deep Truth eyeshadow other V and crease, L'oreal High Intensity Pigment (HIP) duo eyeshadow in Showy (used Teal shadow) to line lower lashline, Ricepaper eyeshadow to highlight and inner corners, Almay Amazing I-Liner (liquid eyeliner) on upper lashline

Pureluxe cream eraser, Lumiere Veena Velvet mineral foundation in Light Warm and Light Medium Warm (mixed), Monave Angel finishing powder, Lumiere veena blush in Wild Rose used wet, Petticoat mineralized skinfinish over Lumiere blush, Beurre cremestick lipliner, Syrup lipstick, Be-In lipglass

A Few Looks Using Mineral Eyeshadows

Mineral eyeshadows are somewhat like MAC pigments - loose, vibrant, have great color pay-off, especially when foiled. Here are some looks using mineral eyeshadows:

MAC Beige-ing shadestick as base, MAC Ricepaper eyeshadow on browbone, MAC Swan Lake e/s on lid, Lumiere eye shimmer in Silver Lining inner to mid lid used wet, Taylor Made Minerals in Galena on outer V used wet, MAC Nightfish fluidline as liner, Maybelline Volume Express Turbo Boost mascara

Pureluxe cream eraser, Valerie Beauty mineral foundation in W3.0 spritzed with MAC Fix+, Monave Angel finishing powder, Cargo blush in Topeka, MAC lipliner in Whirl, Revlon Superlustrous lipstick in Caramel Glace, MAC Viva Glam VI lipglass

MAC Vanilla pigment on browbone as highlighter
Taylor Made mineral eyeshadow in Amazon applied wet from inner to mid lid
Taylor Made mineral eyeshadow in Vixen applied wet from mid to outer lid/outer V
Almay Amazing I-liner (liquid eyeliner) on upper lashline
MAC Fibrerich mascara

MAC Beige-ing shadestick as base, MAC Ricepaper e/s as browbone highlighter, Bare Escentuals glimmer in Celestine inner to mid lid, Bare Escentuals glimmer in Queen Tiffany outer V, MAC Teddy eye kohl to line upper lashline

MAC Beige-ing shadestick as base, MAC Vanilla pigment to highlight browbone, Valerie Beauty mineral eyeshadow in St. Tropez inner to mid lid, Valerie Beauty mineral eyeshadow in Dolce Vita crease and outer V, MAC fluidline in Blitz & Glitz

Mineral Blush Swatches

Since I am on a mineral blush roll, I might as well post swatches of the goodies I just received from Lumiere. First off, here are my Lumiere blushes in their pretty, pretty pots! The smaller ones I got for a buck each during Lumiere's sale, and the bigger 2g (10g in volume) pots were for $3.50. Not bad for a whole lot of product that you use so little of in one application! Please note that these blushes have been applied wet in order to clearly see the pigmentation and texture. You can always opt to use it sheer or dry. All Lumiere mineral blushes, unless otherwise noted:

Now on to the swatches:

L-R: Apricot, Terra Cotta, Mauvelous, Monave blush in Star Lilly, Autumn, Flushed (cut off)

Same swatches, except with Dusty Rose (leftmost)

L-R: Antique Brick, Hibiscus, Desert Rose, (I completely forgot the name of this swatch), Clay, Sultry Brown, Dusty Rose (cut off)

Used Dusty Rose wet on cheeks with angled blush brush

Lumiere: Another Great Mineral Makeup Brand

Lumiere in French means "light". I see this as an apt name for another great gem of a company. It is currently reaping the sweet fruits of its labor and great customer service through word-of-mouth. Lumiere made others see the light on how great mineral makeup is for the skin and how it can be easy on the pocket as well (less dermatologist fees!). Lumiere is also part of an impetus that is slowly changing how women look at beauty and cosmetics, a view that not all products in fancy bottles and gaudy department store packaging are the best or even good for their skin. I believe it's simply the inevitable course of human nature: if a company sells top-notch quality products for a very affordable price and the owner personally takes care of her customers like they're her personal friends, then people will be satisfied, raves and accolades will abound, good reviews will reverberate over the internet boards and through word-of-mouth, and buyers will flock. This is the case of Lumiere Cosmetics and Kim, the company's uber-helpful, accommodating and ever-pleasant CEO. When I first asked questions via e-mail, I was surprised at how fast Kim responded, as if all my concerns were hers as well. I was even more surprised at how cheap she was selling her stuff which was on sale at that time. I just bought one measly pot of foundation because I wasn't sure of the quality of her products. I was surprised when she sliced my shipping fee in half because she said she could not bear to charge me that much when all I bought was a 30g pot of foundation. That got me to think that she was probably one honest, excellent seller. She was. Now if only her products were half as good as her customer service, then I'd be a fan for life.

Kim's foundation did not disappoint. I used it wet and I was amazed at how flawless my skin looked, and she recommended the perfect shade for me: Light Medium Warm. I didn't see any demarcation line between my jaw and neck, it looked amazingly even. This turned me into a Lumiere fan through and through. I was still amazed with the fact that she was selling her inventory at 60% off the retail prices because she was getting rid of her old pots bearing her old company name. She could have just sold those empty pots on Ebay and still would have made a profit, yet she chose to share her products with her customers (note: huge amounts of products and not merely samples) at an outrageously low price. I ordered foundations and kabuki brushes for my sisters-in-law as Christmas gifts, and they were amazed with the results as well. They kept asking me where I got it, and I could only smile. Word-of-mouth is a powerful tool, it can make or break a company. In Kim's case, her products and service are the main reasons why people love her brand. I hope these do not change.

The Lumiere experience also made me get most of the eye shimmers and blushes that the label has to offer, and I don't regret it. Coverage is beautiful, colors rich and highly-pigmented, and last quite a while especially when used wet. Here are some looks using Lumiere foundation, eye shimmers and blush. I didn't use a lot of mineral blushes before because it faded on me even before mid-day. However, it got me to think that if I can use the foundation wet, why not use blushes damp as well? I used the blush wet and I was stunned with the result. I used an angled blush brush, spritzed MAC Fix+ on it, swirled a small amount of the blush in a small bowl, applied it on an angle on the cheek and blended with my fingers. I used my finishing powder to set it and I was floored. It lasted the whole day and looked prettily flushed all the time. I just love mineral makeup!

Lumiere products used are emphasized:

MAC Beige-ing shadestick as base
MAC Juxt e/s inner third
Lumiere e/s in Cat's Eye mid lid used wet
Lumiere e/s in Deep Forest Green outer V
MAC Humid e/s crease and outer V
MAC fluidline in Shade
Maybelline Volume Express Turbo mascara
MAC Ricepaper e/s on browbone
MAC fluidline in Blitz & Glitz to fill brows

Pureluxe cream eraser
Valerie Beauty foundation in W3.0 used with MAC Fix+
Mary Kay undereye concealer in Ivory
BE Well-Rested over Mary Kay concealer
Monave Angel No. 2 finishing powder
Lumiere blush in Neutral Pink used wet
MAC lipliner in Spice
MAC lipstick in High Strung
MAC lip gelee in Dame in A Dress

MAC Beige-ing shadestick as base
MAC Ricepaper eyeshadow on browbone to highlight
MAC Coco pigment inner to mid lid used wet
Lumiere eye shimmer in Deep Plum on crease and outer V
MAC Nightfish fluidline
Maybelline Volume Express Turbo Boost mascara
remainder of Nightfish fluidline to fill in brows

Pureluxe cream eraser as primer
Ocean Mist mineral foundation in Ingenue and Sandstone (mixed)
Monave Angel finishing powder
Laura Mercier blush in Wild Bouquet topped with MAC Petticoat MSF
MAC lipliner in Whirl
MAC lipstick in Viva Glam 1 topped with MAC lipglass in Pas-de-deux (from the current Danse collection)

MAC Beige-ing shadestick as base
MAC Vanilla pigment on browbone as highlighter
Taylor Made mineral eyeshadow in Amazon applied wet from inner to mid lid
Taylor Made mineral eyeshadow in Vixen applied wet from mid to outer lid/outer V
Almay Amazing I-liner (liquid eyeliner) on upper lashline
MAC Fibrerich mascara

Pureluxe cream eraser as primer
Lumiere mineral foundation in Light Medium Warm applied with a kabuki brush spritzed with MAC Fix+ moisture spray
Valerie Beauty Illuminator Finishing Powder in Satin Sun
Bare Escentuals Well Rested undereye concealer
MAC blush duo in Tigerlily/Bloomsberry (this is a huge fave of mine!)
MAC cremestick lipliner in Beurre
MAC lipstick in Touch
MAC lipglass in Orangedescence

My MAC Eyeshadow Depotting Tutorial

This is an old tutorial on depotting my MAC eyeshadows and placing them in their new MAC 15-pan palette homes. MAC lovers like me go through such lengths to depot eyeshadows in order to avail of freebies from the Back2MAC program: for every 6 empty MAC plastic cases you return to MAC (whether it be an eyeshadow pot, a mascara tube, or an empty powder compact), you get either a lipstick, lipglass or an eyeshadow of your choice. Neat, huh? So I gathered all my MAC babies and started a depotting spree. Here is my tutorial on depotting around 5 months ago. The only different step I do now is that I take off the label at the back of the pot by heating it and sticking it on the pan instead of writing on the magnet using a gel pen.

The tools you need: Swiss army knife, votive candle, magnet strips, gel pen, tongs

Pry the lip with your knife.
Swiss or exacto knife is OK. Lip will pop open very easily.

The lip when pried
If your knife's blade is thin enough, the lip will separate easily.

Using tong, place over lighted candle. Make the tongs grab the hinges of the pan so it's easy to hold and will stay put. Hold the pan under fire for 30-60 secs. You'll notice the plastic will shrivel & become soft. Put it down carefully. DO NOT TOUCH the pan! You will get burned.

Pry under the naked pan with knife. Work swiftly while the glue & plastic are still soft. Work the knife under the pan, wiggle to loosen glue.

The naked pan

Cut a strip of magnet and using gel pen, write name of e/s while the pan is cooling.

Place magnet on the bottom of pan and place in palette with fork.

Ta-da! My blue and green MAC shadow palette!

My MAC shadow palettes 5 months ago

My reward for all my hard work: free 6 brand-new MAC lippies!

On MAC Mineralized Skinfinishes

I just love them. Don't ask me why. But I'm just hooked when it comes to these hypnotizing, shimmering orbs, almost like little planets. I have most shades and I am only missing Pleasureflush which is so hard-to-find. I have found this really great community of MAC cosmetic junkies online, and I've been getting a lot of ideas from them lately. These ladies helped feed my desire to collect the MAC mineralized skinfinishes, or MSFs. They are limited-edition, discontinued, and extremely hard-to-find products that are coveted by every MAC addict out there. Through their help, I was able to collect 13 of these babies in a span of a month-and-a-half. They are beautiful skinfinishes that act as highlighter, blush, even eyeshadow. They are extremely versatile. I am really proud because not only are they rare, they are beautiful on the pots and even more beautiful when worn. Some of these go as high as $120 each on Ebay, so I really know just how priceless some of them are. I was lucky enough to score several of these online without the outrageous price, which I believe is quite a feat.

Odd ball out: Metal Rock

From top, L-R:

Gold Deposit, Porcelain Pink, Shimpagne x2

Shooting Star x2, So Ceylon x2

Petticoat x2, Naked You, Stereo Rose

Stereo Rose

Gold Deposit

Metal Rock

Metal Rock on outer V

My two Petticoats (notice the raspberry veining)


wearing Shimpagne on top of Cargo blush in The Big Easy

Shooting Star

So Ceylon

New Vegas

Lightscapade (from the current Danse collection)

Glissade (from the current Danse collection; very similar to NARS Orgasm)