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Monday, March 29, 2010

Review: Milani The Perfect Red Lipstick

Naming your newest lipstick "The Perfect Red Lipstick" is pretty bold, Milani! When I saw this display at CVS a few weeks ago, I knew I had to give this product a try for its claim alone:

Milani The Perfect Red Lipstick comes in just one shade. Why, you ask? Well, because it claims to adjust to your body's own PH level, making it unique for each wearer. Make no mistake, Milani doesn't say this adjusts to your body temperature, so it's not going to be a "mood" type product that change colors depending on if you're hot or cold. This is supposed to adjust to your PH level, which is a measure of acidity and basicity. In other words, I guess you could say it adjusts to your own unique body chemistry.

Now, putting all that aside in favor of something far more superficial, I couldn't resist the vintage-inspired packaging of this lipstick:

I found it particularly interesting that Milani only printed its brand name on the safety seal of this lipstick. So literally, when you remove the safety seal, there are NO markings whatsoever on the tube, other than a small internal batch code on the bottom of the case. I don't know why, but I kind of like this. It makes me feel like they're trying to say, "You'll never forget who makes this, so we don't need to print the name on the tube." I'm such a sucker for anything that's a departure from how things are normally done!

So let me preface the rest of this review with some background info. You see, I have already found my "perfect shade of red lipstick", and that is MAC Diva (click here for some lovely photos of this shade if you're unfamiliar with it). Diva tends to look great on women with yellow undertones, and while technically not a true red (the MAC website describes it as an "intense reddish-burgundy") it's about as red as I can really go without looking like a little girl who's been playing with mommy's makeup. It's bold, it's dramatic, and darnit, it's RED (to me). And by far, this is the one red that I feel the most confident wearing, and the one I've received the most compliments while wearing. So how does Milani stand up to MAC Diva for me?

First let's take a look at the color itself:

In person, this is a very traditional, bold shade of red. To my eye, it's more on the tomato-orange red side of the spectrum. It's got a very vintage quality to it, so it perfectly matches its packaging.

So how does it apply? Like a feather. Literally, it glides across the lips so softly, so light-as-air, it's as if you're running a feather across your skin. For the feel alone, this rivals a $25 lipstick.

Here's what it looked like on my lips about 20 seconds after I applied it:

(excuse my dry, chapped lips--they seem much worse in this picture than they are in real life)

Now, as you can see, the color in the tube looks pretty much exactly like the color on my lips. I was going to post another picture taken 15 minutes after putting on this lipstick, just to show you how the color changed in accordance to my PH level, but guess what? It looked exactly the same. Literally, the change was so subtle that it couldn't be detected by either my eyes, or my camera's lens. I literally could see no change whatsoever.

Now of course, your mileage may vary, and I'm hoping that some of you may see a far more dramatic shift in color. But for me, this was one of those reds that is truly "what you see is what you get", which isn't a bad thing, really, when it comes to reds. How may times have you purchased a red lipstick hoping it would look exactly as it did in the tube, only to put it on and find it way more more magenta or pink than you were led to believe based on the color in the tube?

Final analysis: If you're looking for a vintage red that's on the orange side of the spectrum, this might be your lucky day. If this color doesn't adjust to your own PH level (as was the case for me) then you might end up with this exact shade. The quality, finish and texture of this lipstick are all first-rate, and definitely worth triple the actual price ($5.49 at CVS). Expect the normal amount of transfer that you get from just about every other red lippie on the market (yes, you'll definitely see it on your coffee cup), but it wears down to a beautiful stain in the end. Also, the smell is quite traditional (sort of vanilla-based) and there's little to no flavor to speak of.

Have you tried Milani The Perfect Red Lipstick? If so, did it change colors for you? I'd love to hear your thoughts!


  1. Hi Recessionista,
    I've been lurking around your blog for quite some time and I've finally work up the courage to comment (and start my own blog/youtube channel). I love this website, I think its fabulous and after I read your post on Revlon Matte lipsticks I went out and bought basically the whole line (I love the color "In the Red"). I wanted to buy the Milani lipstick but it was all sold out near me. Do you know if it's going to be permanent? Thank so much for all your reviews and updates.

  2. Interesting! I tried this, and it's much, MUCH pinker on me! Almost a raspberry color (I have pale, yellow-toned skin as well). I like it a lot, and you're right, it does feel great.

  3. i love the packaging! I keep my estee lauder lipsticks I've had sine I was 10 just for the packaging!

  4. Red lipstick scares me. I've never seen a red lipstick I liked, but that packaging is pretty cool!

  5. Oh my god, i love this, i need this! I just have to find somewhere on the internet that sells it!

  6. I doubt it can adjust to pH levels... I mean, how are you suppose to detect that on your lips? If it does detect pH levels - maybe I should buy that and use it for my lab work... but I don't believe it! However, I like that packaging and it is really pigmented. Although I would LOVE to find out if it does change colors on other people. That'll be cool.

  7. Syd: Thanks so much for the kind words. :) I am thrilled that you are liking those Revlon mattes--I think they have been discontinued, so I'm glad we both got to experience them while they were still available. I bought back-ups of my faves, just in case. Also, I have no idea about the Milani lipstick--to me it looked like a limited edition product, however that's what I thought about those glitter gel shadows and then I saw them a little while ago in the permanent display. So...who knows! lol.

    T: Wow, that is very interesting! I'm happy to hear that this actually changed colors for you, as promised, and that you like it! That's fantastic. :)

    PCS: Yep, I think we're all probably guilty of keeping lippies (and other products) because of cute packaging. *raises hand* lol! ;)

    adorepink: I can totally see how red might scare you, but I also truly believe that there's a perfect red out there for everyone, and when you find it, you'll no longer be scared. lol. :)

    Lillian: Oh sweetie, I can TOTALLY see you rocking this, and looking fab in it as well. I wish they sold Milani in the UK. :(

    ndoodles: Yeah, well I don't know nearly enough to say yes or no on that, but all I can tell you is that it didn't change colors on *me*, but the commenter above said it changed on her, so maybe you should give it a shot and see? :)

  8. The revon mattes can't be discontinued; they are on the revlon website here:

  9. i don't understand how adjusting to the pH level of your body--presuming it actually does do that--can determine which COLOR it should change to. i thought these color-changing makeups worked with light-refracting particles.

  10. The packaging looks really luxurious! Especially lovely for a cheaper brand.

  11. The packaging looks so nice, very high-end style, classic! (yeah, I'm a sucker for nice packaging). I hope this l/s gets here soon.

    Thanks for the review!

  12. comment eaten. :(

    this sounds promising. haven't found my HG red yet, though coral might be my most punchy lipstick choice. it really suits me. will add this to my "to be tracked down" list.

    btw those Revlon mattes can't be disconinued so soon! i refuse to allow it.

  13. Ooh, this sounds interesting. I'll have to give it a try. Love Milani!

    The packaging with the knobby end kind of reminds me of the Dior Addict lipsticks.

  14. PCS: Hum...that's very interesting, because I have looked in vain for the Matte display at several drugstores in my area and it's GONE. It's just not in the same place it was before, and I've scoured the entire display to see if maybe they just changed the location but I can't find it anywhere. I wonder if they just haven't removed it from the website yet? Or maybe they're going to relaunch it in a big way (I hope that's the case!).

    Khymm: Me too. :)

    jane: Good point. I have no idea how this works...just going by what it says on the display. :)

    BJL: Glad you like it! I actually will be emailing you about this tonight! lol!!

    Beda: You are so welcome! If/when you get this, I would LOVE to see you do a review. I love your reviews!! :)

    beautifulmonday: I'd love to know what you think of this if you can find it (maybe it will actually change colors for you!). Oh, and I refuse to believe the mattes are d/c'd too, but I cannot find them anywhere lately. Have you been able to spot them in your area??

    Mimsy: I'd love to see what you think if you try this, honey. And you are totally right! It does look like the Diors!! I didn't even make that connection! :)

  15. I can't find this aaaaaaaaanywhere, and I'm dying to try it! I live in the Midwest. Do you suppose that it just hasn't gotten here yet?

    I'd be pretty disappointed if it just skipped over us entirely. :(

  16. I just purchased this at a CVS near me, and it is amazing. Turned into a berry pink on my lips. It's a similar concept to the Jemma Kidd lipgloss that is sold at Target, and adjusts to your own bodies ph. The Jemma Kidd gloss starts clear, and turns into the most perfect pink. They have also added a blush that is self adjusting as well I think. The difference between those and this lipstick is that this is more pigmented. Also, those are close to $20 in price, while this is far less expensive.

  17. These are on sale now for $1.37! Coming out of the package, I was surprised to learn that mine DOESN'T LOOK TOMATO RED AT ALL, but is rather blue based and deeper in color. I just applied so it's too soon to tell the change. It is one of the smoothest lipsticks I've ever tried, possibly even smoother than the Natural Beauty Sally Hansen ones! It makes it harder to apply with accuracy though, since it slides around so easily.

  18. Pretty packaging...some women can pull off the orangey Red, looks great on you :) My favorite Red is Black Cherry by NYX :)


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