Five things you need to know about Milk Makeup

Words: Grace Gargini

 

New beauty brand alert: Milk Makeup has arrived here at Selfridges! Famed for its vibrant colours, genius roll-up sticks and mega Insta following, the cult New York-based beauty brand is one we’ve been pining after for a while now, so we’re thrilled it’s joined the Selfridges family. To celebrate, we caught up with the team behind Milk Makeup to get the lowdown on their story so far, brilliant packaging and 100% vegan and cruelty-free formulas. Plus, we ask Co-Founder Zanna Roberts Rassi to reveal her five holy-grail Milk Makeup products from their line-up. 

1. Their story so far…

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With Co-Founder Mazdack Rassi

How did the beauty industry react when Milk Makeup launched, and what was the reception from industry insiders?

The beauty industry was in a very different place when we launched. It was so much about telling people how not to look or what mistakes to avoid, instead of celebrating make-up as a tool for creative freedom. We felt that there wasn’t anyone speaking to a different kind of crowd, to people who, yes, wanted great payoff and formulas, but who also wanted excitement and innovation. I think Milk Makeup was kind of a breath of fresh air for the industry because we did things differently right out of the gate, just by being ourselves and thinking about beauty in a new way. 

Milk Makeup skincare heroes
Milk Makeup skincare heroes

Milk is known for – and prides itself on – its clean ingredients. What were the challenges that came with this?

There are a lot of initial challenges to orienting a beauty brand in a cleaner direction. It’s forced us to be even more flexible and innovative because we have to search for alternative ingredients or formulations that work with our values – but it’s worth it. A big one was when we were making KUSH Mascara, our bestselling mascara. We needed to find a way to create a nice, creamy texture without using traditional beeswax, which is often used as a thickener in mascaras. After many, many rounds of trial and error, we found that a combination of synthetic beeswax and hemp-derived cannabis seed oil were great replacements for beeswax. They help give the formula a super-creamy texture that doesn’t clump or flake. 

What does it feel like when you see Milk products being used by people who were previously underserved in the beauty world?

It’s a great feeling! It affirms what we’ve always felt at Milk Makeup – that beauty is to be defined by the individual, and that everyone deserves to explore and mess around and create their own vibe and their own artistry. 

 

Shade ranges have increasingly become a talking point in the beauty industry. Can you tells us how Milk has responded to this?

We’ve expanded the shade and undertone ranges on our existing complexion products and will always be doing the same as we move forward. We think a lot about what we offer and how we can tweak and expand thoughtfully so that we’re providing really good options for everyone from the beginning. 

2. Their unique beauty approach

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With Co-Founder and Creative Director Georgie Greville

What was your creative vision for Milk Makeup?

We wanted to demystify beauty and make it as approachable as art supplies, while also delivering clean, high-quality, unisex products. Our products are as spontaneous and fun as us New Yorkers are. Our products are conscious (vegan, non-toxic), user-friendly, and deliver instant results. We wanted to make make-up that was trusted and so innovative that it would replace everything else in your bag. 

Left: Milk Makeup Creative Director, Georgie Greville. Right: Milk Makeup campaign image 
Milk Makeup Creative Director, Georgie Greville

How do you go about casting your vibrant and diverse campaigns?

A lot of our models are self-cast by our internal creative team, as we have such a gorgeous and engaged online community. We also work with up-and-coming casting directors who do a lot of street casting to find fresh, inspiring individuals that represent the future of beauty. Most of our models are creatives that happen to model, which gives them a deeper sense of individuality in the campaigns.

 

What’s next for Milk Makeup?

More game-changing, clean innovation in high-impact colour products, as well as essential skincare. We are constantly developing and improving our sustainability as a brand, so there will be some exciting news on that soon as well. 

3. Their cult formulas and packaging

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With Co-Founder Dianna Ruth Co-founder, Head of Product Development and COO

Tell us about the innovative packaging – why the sticks?

The sticks were built as the perfect tools for busy, on-the-go lifestyles. We wanted products that people could apply directly to their faces, travelled well and worked on their own.

 

What makes the Milk Makeup formulas so popular?  

I think our formulas are really amazing quality. They are clean and deliver what they promise. Good ingredients. Epic payoff.

Milk Makeup sticks 
Milk Makeup sticks

What’s the process behind launching a new product? How do you know what to create next?

The process is a journey that can start with a word, a song, an ingredient, and then evolve from there. We add all the layers, benefits and technology we can pack in. The process always starts with a concept, then it goes to formula, and then packaging.

 

Why are the vegan and cruelty-free formulas so important to the brand?

We have always believed that animals should not suffer for our products, so nothing is tested on animals or derived from animals. We find effective, high-quality alternatives to these animal by-products, and we’re always searching for exciting vegan ingredients.

 

Can you tell us any fun or insightful titbits about the products? 

The KUSH Mascara’s Puff Puff Brush bristles are actually pink!

4. Their creative community

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With Co-Founder and Creative Director Georgie Greville

What’s the best part of having such a broad community of Milk fans?

It reinforces our ‘no rules’ and ‘all are welcome’ beauty ethos. You can’t live in a place like New York City and not deeply respect and celebrate diversity. Milk itself is an inclusive space with a vibrant creative community, so we naturally wanted our products to be able to speak to a wide range of people.

The faces of the Milk Makeup community
The faces of the Milk Makeup community

What’s the best piece of content featuring Milk Makeup you’ve received from a customer?

People are constantly creating exciting new looks with our Tattoo Stamps and KUSH products. The new KUSH Liquid Eyeliner is also delivering killer content at the moment.

5. Their holy-grail products

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With Co-Founder Zanna Roberts Rassi

See the Milk magic in action as Zanna shares her all-time favourite products.