Milani Limited Edition Naturally Chic Shadow Eyez Collection
(retail: $6.99 each, 0.1 oz)
If you have never used these types of pencils before, here's a tip for sharpening them. In warmer weather (it's been in the high 90s here in San Diego this week so I know this first-hand), these can get a bit soft when you're trying to sharpen them with your sharpener. So if you see that your pencil's becoming flat, pop it in the fridge or freezer for a few hours. When you take it out, it will be more solid and, thus, much easier to sharpen.
Notice that the packaging clearly states if the shade is a "metallic" or "matte":
Almond Cream, Sand Dunes, Golden Bronze, Cafe Au Lait, Espresso Line, Black Ink
What you can't see in these swatches (and believe, I tried so hard to capture this in pics) is that the two shimmery shades in this collection also contains lots of sparkle. They're almost on the level of Urban Decay Midnight Cowboy (Sand Dunes being much closer, shade-wise, to Midnight Cowboy) in terms of the amount of sparkle that's mixed in with the shimmery finish.
But the great thing is that, unlike powder shadows that contain lots of sparkle, you'll get ZERO FALLOUT with these pencils. I've tested both of the shimmery shades numerous times I haven't had any migration issues with stray sparkle ending up on other parts of my face. .
To underscore how much sparkle is in these shimmer shades, here's a comparison of Sand Dunes and Champagne Toast (from the permanent line)
Top: Champagne Toast (permanent shade)
Bottom: Sand Dunes (limited edition)
I think you can really see the difference in texture in the photo above. Champagne Toast is a shimmer, whereas Sand Dunes (as well as Golden Bronze) are shimmers with a lot of sparkle to them.
Here are all six shades on my eyes. I used no primer for these swatches and I applied the pencils directly to my eyes and blended with my fingers (I find it difficult to blend these with a brush, actually, because they set so quickly. A finger is best!):
Almond Cream: Since this color is so close to my natural skintone (NC20), it's beautiful for me to use as a base to even out my skin. I also LOVE LOVE LOVE this pencil as a highlighter (for the brow bone, inside corners of the eyes, and even for contouring down the middle of the nose, etc.). This is such a fantastic multi-tasker that if you could only buy one shade in this collection, it should be this one. Even if your skintone doesn't match the color as closely as it does for me, it's still an excellent highlighter because it can be blended and sheered out, allowing you to adjust the intensity.
Sand Dunes: the cooler of the two shimmer/sparkle shades, Sand Dunes has a ton of sparkle to it (that you can't see in my pics). If you love sparkle but hate fallout, this would be a great choice because these pencils have absolutely no fallout during application. I've worn the shimmers numerous times and have never seen even one speck of glitter migrate from my eyes. This shade is like Urban Decay Midnight Cowboy, but in stick form (and minus the fallout).
Golden Bronze: the warmer of the two shimmer/sparkle shades, my camera really picked up the gold in Golden Bronze. In real life, there's really not as much visible gold to this shade--it looks much more bronze and true to what you see when you look at the pencil. It's a bit more sheer than I was expecting, and I find myself using it more as a highlight shade on the brow-bone vs. an overall wash of color.
Cafe Au Lait: Sometimes the most unassuming color in a range ends up being the true hidden gem. Such is the case with Cafe Au Lait. Just like Almond Cream, this one's a workhorse. I've been using it as a base for all of my brown powder shadows, as an eyeliner, and also as a lid color worn all by itself (I'll show you a better pic in second). Needless to say, I love this pencil and all of its matte goodness. It's super pigmented, even after blending. And it blends easily as well, as long as you work quickly (none of these pencils give you much play time, but Espresso Line and Black Ink have the least amount of play-time. The others are a bit more workable in terms of having more time to blend).
Espresso Line: A darker version of Cafe Au Lait, this one is also great for wearing as a base for powder shadows. My one issue with this color is that it sets VERY quickly, so you don't have much time to blend (aka: no time at all). It's been difficult for me to use as a shadow all by itself because I can't blend it up into my crease (which is why I pretty much stopped at my lid in the above photo). I would suggest applying this just to the lid and then following it with a powder shadow in a similar color that you can blend up into your crease. This one's also a bit challenging to wear as liner because the point is not fine (duh, these are jumbo pencils!) and if you don't get it right the very first time, you don't have much time to blend it or correct it.
Black Ink: Notice that I didn't even attempt to blend this in the pic above (I've tried in the past but now I know better!). Just like Espresso Line, this is a rich, highly-pigmented (borderline intimidating!) shade that sets very quickly and doesn't allow much play-time for blending. So again, I think the two darker matte shades in this collection are best for lid-only, and to wear as a base for powder shadows that you can blend up into the crease. I don't care for Black Ink as liner, but that's perfectly OK because there are a zillion black matte liners out there. The point isn't precise enough for me and, coupled with how quickly it sets, it's not a liner I can easily smoke out or play around with. It does work nicely on the waterline though (which you're about to see).
Here's a simple eye look I created using all four of the matte shades in this collection:
For this look, I applied Almond Cream under my brow and on the inside corner of my eye (blended just with my finger). I applied Cafe Au Lait all over my lid and then blended it up into the crease using my finger. I also applied Cafe Au Lait as liner, underneath my bottom lashes (again, blended with just my finger). I then applied a tiny bit of Espresso Line to the outer "V" and quickly blended that with my fingers as well. For the final step, I applied Black Ink to just my waterline.
Aside from some fading on my waterline, this look lasted all day and into the night. I honestly cannot rave enough about Almond Cream--it effortlessly makes my brows pop when I wear it on my brow-bone. And it perks up my tired eyes when I use it on the inside corners of my eyes like you see above. What I love the most is that it's not an obvious highlighter. It gives the skin some lightness, but in an awesome, very subtle way.
If I could, I would marry Almond Cream. The End.
FINAL VERDICT: Milani did not disappoint with this collection. If you're looking for a multi-tasker that can be used as a highlighter, base or all by itself, Almond Cream is the one pencil that should be on your must-have list. My second favorite shade is Cafe Au Lait because I love it worn alone, as eyeliner and also as a base for other powder shadows. The two shimmery shades are also great because they both contain lots of sparkle with ZERO fallout. If you love the look of shimmery shadows with sparkle but hate fallout and glitter migration, those are the pencils for you. Espresso Line and Black Ink are both nice as well, but for me they serve very specific needs and aren't really multi-taskers like the other shades. Both work best as lid colors to be worn underneath powder shadows. If you can only buy one shade from this range, make it Almond Cream. If you can buy two, I'd consider Cafe Au Lait or one of the shimmer/sparkle shades, depending on if you're a matte person or sparkle person. Either way, I don't think you'll regret your purchase. I'm already plotting my order for back-ups of Almond Cream and Cafe Au Lait and I'm praying that Milani makes these permanent!
Milani Limited Edition Naturally Chic Shadow Eyez Eyeshadow Pencils are available now (for a limited time) at select Walgreens, HEB, and Fred Meyer stores. This collection can also be purchased directly on the Milani website here.
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