• Featured Brands: Milk Makeup

    In a beauty metropolis filled with what seems like eons of the same products over and over and over again, consider Milk Makeup a beacon of light shining down on our “we need a makeup line that understands us” faces. The "us", of course, are the conglomerate force of Gen Y and Z, Millennial, genderless, non-binary conforming, feminist revolutionaries—also known as, anybody you know who aren’t your parents. With a mixed bag of genius at the helm – co-founders include Milk Studios co-founder Mazdack Rassi, seasoned editor and style expert Zanna Roberts-Rassi, product formulating guru Dianna Ruth and creative director, Georgie Greville – the brand was poised to blow our minds from the start. While each brings a different creative lens to Milk Makeup, the beauty radicalist behind the brand is Georgie Greville, who famously created Milk Studio’s LEGS video production sector, and holds a career path that checks off every box of "cool" we could ever dream of. Take, for example, Milk Makeup’s campaign ads, where a ragtag group of New York City’s raddest residents were casted based on their personalities and stories first—looking at inner beauty, rather than just another pretty face. This way of thinking is embedded throughout Milk Studios DNA, a refreshing and poignant view in today’s era, especially when it comes to the beauty industry.

    Among a few of those who were casted—Samantha Urbani (an artist, musician, and activist), Sahara Lin (a British model who hides a rack of braces behind her gigantic smile), and Thistle Brown (a New Zealand stylist who can only be described as the lovechild of David Bowie and Mick Jagger)—comes with a how-to makeup look based on the uniqueness of each individual, with a fun, tongue-in-cheek video to match. Here, enters the products themselves… courtesy of Ms. Ruth. With a goal of developing every product to be unique or to fix an issue in the marketplace, Dianna Ruth set out to create products that are unbreakable, comfortable, weightless and easily applied with your fingers or a built in applicator. The line boasts everything from Sunshine Oil, a highlighting stick dubbed "Lit", an all-natural, unisex deodorant, mascara formulated with sapphire dust, punchy Lip Markers, and something called Eye Vinyl. We get the impression that Milk Makeup didn’t take the “go big or go home” approach, but rather, covered all the bases as a beauty-conscious brand we’ve been yearning for, with stylish product offerings and packaging to match. Here, we sit down with Georgie and Dianna to pick their brains about all things Milk. Drink up.
    Photos by Frankie Marin, words by Jade Taylor

    How did you first conceptualize the idea for Milk Makeup?
    GG: We’ve got this incredible punk, creative spirit that’s totally unique to Milk and is really characteristic of the people in our community. There’s a scrappiness that we really wanted to keep alive and when we talked about the concept of the brand we all agreed we didn’t want to do a studio or pro makeup line. We wanted to create something inspired by our community, about real people. Milk Makeup is all about the Milk Girl and Boy and what they’re looking for - quick application, good quality ingredients, thoughtful design and useful, functional and well-designed packaging.

    Totally. Can you expand on that idea more?
    GG: Well, we have Thistle Brown in our line up—but that’s just the beginning. In our Generation Milk video with him, he says, “Why not wear makeup?” He doesn’t make his ambiguity an issue, you know? It’s just this attitude of like, do what’s special to you and then you’ll be sexy and awesome. Which is the best thing about him. He’s authentic.

    Can you tell me more about the videos?
    GG: It’s been a crazy whirlwind! This fall I was shooting almost every single day doing all the product videos because everything is video based on our website. It’s a little crazy, but for me it’s the most fun ever because our team is mainly women, which I love. Being a female director sucks a lot of the time because you’re constantly in a boys club. The product, because it’s not a pro line, opens it up so much. Like, we can name products fucked up things because who cares? We needed to resonate them in a way where it’s a sense of humor, as you can see in the how-to videos. I really like that about it. I feel like that’s a unique thing about the products and the videos—they’re approachable. I hope the humor really comes through.

    I think it definitely does. How did you decide on what products you wanted to be in the line, and why?
    GG: We looked at what we wanted and then what we thought our girl would need. What are the essentials? What would be in a girls bag? What can we bring new to these essentials so they work better with their lives.
    DR: Georgie came up with the tagline "Milk girls do their makeup quick" and that was the first thing they told me when I came. The great thing is you can build it up, or you can keep it simple. Our goal was to cater to the girls or guys who don’t have time but want a really bold, versatile look: A creamy shadow liner, an amazing lipstick that gives you pigment immediately… and then there are all of these other products that we wanted to be as natural as possible, like Sunshine Oil and the natural, unisex deodorant. Many of them are based in coconut oil, like the highlighter, the lip and cheek stick, and the concealer. They all melt into skin immediately, so you don’t look like you’re wearing too much. Our Urban Defense Mask is an Urban Outfitters exclusive, and it’s amazing because it’s all about detoxing your skin. It goes on like a gel and you leave it on for three to five minutes. When water hits it, it turns to milk. Basically, the whole line is very simple and filled with basics…but better.

    Can we talk about how amazing these lipsticks are for a second?
    DR: Well, most lipsticks are about 15% pigment—ours are 30% pigment. They’re a semi-matte finish, so matte with a touch of sheen, and they glide on really easily. We made all of our lip shades to live on any skin tone, so darker skin ladies can wear the same exact color as lighter skin ladies, and they work across the board which is something we’re really proud of since it’s something that not many lines do.

    Let’s talk about how you came up with the names for the products.
    DR: We crowd sourced the Milk Family to come up with them —all the girls from the events team to the equipment room. Some examples are "Swear By", "That Red Tho", "Swish", and "Turnt". Our highlighter’s name is "Lit", and we have the Eye Vinyls that are named "Bridge" and "Tunnel".

    And there’s a lipstick called "Grrrl"?
    GG: Yes, an ode to riot grrrl. "Grrrl" is a goth-maroon, which makes sense. We also have shadow liners called "Trust Fund", a champagne pink, "Model/DJ", a teal hue, and "Hustler", a navy blue.

    How did you choose the products that will be exclusive to Urban Outfitters?
    GG: We first got together and thought about the “Urban girl”, so the sets are inspired by things that a girl would really use—specifically girls in the beauty and fashion world. The "Oh Snap" kit is a triple mini lip color kit—which are the super pigmented lipsticks we were talking about earlier—and they’ll be inside of this little holographic wallet set.

    Let’s talk about the campaign. What was the casting process like, and how did you choose the specific makeup looks for each person?
    GG: With casting, we were always really adamant about using people with a lot of integrity, and what we mean by that—without sounding pretentious—is that they had to have a lot going on. They all represent a Milk person that’s creative and ambitious, but also have a sex appeal—like a new generation of New Yorkers kind of thing. They also had to be good on camera, which was a huge thing we were looking for, too. And they all had to have a story, they had to have a little life experience behind their eyes, and be able to perform both in videos and in stills, which is a kind of tall order, actually. And we always knew we wanted to have at least one boy, and Thistle really stood out as the guy. We’re happy that their personalities comes through a lot; and since we’re not a pro line, we wanted to be approachable by having these people be the friendly, awesome people they are. And we definitely wanted a variety of skin tones and ethnicities and backgrounds. You know, the world is a melting pot, which goes without saying. We just want to be open. And Samantha [Urbani] definitely stood out to me, I really believe in her. She has such a timeless face, she reminds me of Debbie Harry and Madonna.

    Did you decide the makeup looks for each person by their personality or did you have them already planned?
    GG: The looks were interesting because we looked at each face with our makeup artist Frank B and decided who would look good in what look, since we needed to cover this spectrum of looks from fresh-faced to raver. We had a lot of fun naming the looks and thinking about who could actually pull them off. "Dot", for example, was based on Chloë Sevingy’s character in Gummo. A young David Bowie inspired the look for "Astro Boy", so obviously Thistle was perfect for that. Samantha’s is called "Atomic" and hers is bold, with a glossy black lid and a full lip—she was really the only one that could pull it off. We just fit people to their character in both the print and how-to videos.

    Did anyone specifically influence you when creating Milk Makeup?
    GG: My initial spirit animal was a Polaroid of Debbie Harry, and all the photos of her on stage in the CBGB days. She’s got this sex appeal, and I actually know why she’s so perfect then, and it’s because she was in her thirties since she became a pop star later in life, so she had already figured it out. She knew who she was and she knew what worked. She figured out what worked with her face and she had this and power when she wore makeup. I love that. I love that her makeup was a positive thing, and it didn’t take anything away from her or her power.

    Why is the line perfect for the Urban Outfitters girl?
    GG: I feel like the girl walking into Urban Outfitters is yearning for a line like this. I always think of Tavi [Gevinson] before she was Tavi, and all the alt girls that are out there that really want to be spoken to on their level. They’re savvy, and enjoy having things that look great on them but are also made with good ingredients. I feel there’s a spirit inside every girl to be a little different. We definitely want to speak to those girls. Like I said, the young Tavi’s, or young Petra’s [Collins] that have this fire inside them to do something and have a signature look at the same time are who inspire us. I feel like nothing has really existed like this before in a makeup line. I’m really interested to see how girls relate to it. I know the girls here [at Milk] relate to it a ton. They feel like it’s them.

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