Long time, no see! Before the year wraps up – and isn’t it absolutely wild that it’s wrapping up ?? – I wanted to share some of my favorite beauty products of the year! They won’t necessarily be new releases, but rather what I enjoyed using the most throughout the year.
- Daytime Moisturizer: Glossier Priming Moisturizer. Unless I am using the Glossier Skin Tint, I still wear a primer with this product, but as far as lightweight morning moisturizers go, the Glossier Priming Moisturizer is perfect for my sensitive skin! I’ve been meaning to pick up the rich variation for my dry winter skin, but so far the original version is working well enough for me.
- Nighttime Moisturizer: Korres Wild Rose Advanced Sleeping Facial. I love this overnight cream, which is soothing and smells of (you guessed it) roses. It’s not a miracle in a jar, but it does make me wake up each morning with healthy, glowing skin, and I can always tell a difference when I don’t use it.
- General Moisturizer: First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream. There is now a face-specific version of the Ultra Repair Cream, but for ages I took the product’s description of “head-to-toe moisture” to mean I could use it on my face too, and it always worked beautifully. This is a no frills, super moisturizing, unscented lotion that never broke out my sensitive skin & worked just as well on my face as my elbows.
- Eye Cream: Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream. I fully acknowledge that the concept of using a specific moisturizer for your eyes is hokey, and that the moisturizer I use on the the rest of my face works just as well on my delicate under-eye area, but I really enjoy the Origins GinZing. My eyes definitely look better after using and though I personally don’t believe there’s a real long-term effect, it makes my makeup go on much more smoothly and puffs out any potential fine lines.
- Facial Cleanser: Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Cleanser. I’ve used this bad boy up to its very last drops! A face wash is a face wash, kind of – until you try to use something else for a week and realize that maybe, even though you’re in your late 20’s, you still desperately need some “blemish clearing” help. I don’t know how great it is at makeup removal on its own, as I always double cleanse when I have a full face on. It does have a natural, earthy sort of smell that I enjoyed but which I could see bothering some people.
- Budget Cleanser: Garnier Naturals Soothing Milk Cleanser. I received this product months ago, for free in exchange for a review, and because I am a total spoiled brat I was super unexcited due to it being a drugstore product. It’s not that I have a particular problem with drugstore items, but I care a lot about the ~aesthetic~ of my top shelf & therefore tend toward glass bottles, minimal packaging, etc. HOWEVER, I ended up really loving this little baby! I use it like I would an oil cleanser or micellar water (rub it into dry skin then wipe off with cotton pads and follow with my standard face wash) and I loved the results. It’s pink, lightly scented of roses, and wasn’t remotely irritating to my whiny, sensitive skin.
- Toner: Indie Lee CoQ-10 Toner . Speaking of my top shelf aesthetic, this toner from Indie Lee fits the bill perfectly. The beautiful packaging isn’t the only reason it made this list, though, I promise. I have no idea what a CoQ-10 enzyme is, but I do know that this toner is alcohol-free so it doesn’t dry my skin out, and it has cucumber, aloe, and hyaluronic acid to make it cooling, calming, and brightening (as opposed to the drugstore acne-fighting toners I grew up using). This is one of my top discoveries of 2017.
- Face Mask: Fresh Rose Face Mask. I used a lot of wonderful masks this year, but the Fresh Rose mask is one of my favorites simply because it’s a delight to use. It only sits on the skin for five minutes before being rinsed, it never dries down, it’s gentle enough to be used daily, it’s refreshing as can be and it has sweet little rose petals in it. Unlike a clay mask, it isn’t abrasive at all and leaves your skin feeling plump and healthy.
- Facial Spray: Mario Badescu Facial Spray. If we hang out at all in real life, I’m 100% sure you’ve heard me talk about this dang spray. I keep one at work and in my car and in my handbag and in my bedroom. I realize now that I have a consistent rose water trend, and this one is no different. Again, I appreciate the fact that it’s refreshing, soothing, and safe for sensitive skin. Last but not least, it’s totally affordable.
- Facial Oil: Julep Boost Your Radiance Facial Oil. Julep carries my favorite of all the facial oils. I apply it on top of my nightly moisturizer if I need an extra boost of hydration & to lock everything in. While I generally recommend incorporating rosehip seed oil into your routine no matter what, the Julep Boost Your Radiance Oil takes your standard rosehip seed oil and adds shea butter, vitamin E, and bergamot oil for an extra glow-y, hydrating boost.
- Serum: The Ordinary Buffet Serum. It’s hard to choose a “best of” serum when there are so many varieties for so many different skin concerns, but the Ordinary as a brand is well-worth including on this list due to their no-frills and completely affordable line of products. Yes, you’ll need to do your own research about which products you need and in what order you should use them in a daily routine, but it’s so nice to purchase high-quality skincare at an affordable price & still have it look really nice (ie. glass bottles, minimal packaging, the usual). “Buffet” is one of the more expensive serums on The Ordinary’s site at just under $15. It’s an anti-aging serum that I use morning and night – at night, I’ll often mix it with The Ordinary’s 10% Lactic Acid (which is the main ingredient in Sunday Riley Good Genes) for some added chemical exfoliation.
- Sunscreen: Julep No Excuses Invisible Sunscreen Gel. Sunscreen is hard and personal and, as with all skincare, your mileage may vary. However, I love Julep’s gel-based, rosehip oil-infused sunscreen. It feels more like a lightweight moisturizer than a sunscreen and never leaves your skin with a white cast, nor does it break me out. The only downside is that it now makes any other sunscreen feel horribly heavy!
- Primer: Becca First Light Priming Filter. Lovely, lightweight, and doesn’t clog my pores. I’ve really enjoyed using the First Light primer this year, but would like to try the more popular Backlight Priming Filter for 2018 so I can compare the two.
- Foundation: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC Cream. This is another holy grail item for me, which I’ve evangelized to all my friends. Yes, it’s a CC Cream and not a foundation, but I rarely (if ever) wear anything heavier, and it has quite a bit more coverage than you’d expect from a CC Cream. I anticipate sticking with this for 2018, but if I branch out it would be to try the Illumination variation of the same product – lord knows I love to glow.
- Concealer: Tarte Double Duty Shape Tape Contour Concealer. This concealer does not mess around. A little goes a long way and it’s fairly heavy duty – I avoid wearing it unless I’m fully made up, or I blend it out with a damp blending sponge. It is a pretty amazing miracle concealer, though, hiding redness & imperfections & dark spots better than any concealer I’ve ever used.
- Budget Concealer: Maybelline Fit Me! Concealer. Basic, lightweight, and doesn’t crease. The only drugstore concealer I’d recommend at this point! If I’m doing a lighter makeup day/no makeup look, this is the concealer I reach for.
- Blush: Glossier Cloud Paint. These! Are! The! Best! I wasn’t sure I would like a cream blush, but the Glossier Cloud Paints are gorgeous. A little dab on your finger goes a long way, and they blend out seamlessly on your cheeks. I have Dusk and use it as a warm peachy nude blush, and I cannot wait to add the other three to my collection. I have some beautiful blushes from Tarte, Julep, Cargo, Makeup Geek, and the Balm, and I still feel like I’d toss them all for the sake of the four Cloud Paints.
- Highlighter: Laura Geller Diamond Dust Baked Gelato Swirl Illuminator. Listen – I am a highlighter girl. Like Ash, I’ve gotta catch ’em all. This was a hard category for me, and it is in no way an insult to my Anastasia (Moonchild was so heavily used this year!) or Becca (Prismatic Amethyst and Lilac Geode are my babies) or even the drugstore highlighters (Wet’n’Wild’s Precious Petals truly knocked it out of the park). However, I’d say the Laura Geller Diamond Dust was a standout product for me this year. It’s a gorgeous white gelato swirl in the pan, but on the skin it has a vivid, hot pink shift without being glitter. It’s absolutely stunning (though certainly not subtle) and I recommend it to anyone.
- Contour: Pumpkin & Poppy Oak Bark Contour Powder. I want to do an initial shout out to this post from Valery Brennan for helping me even believe there could be a contour powder that would suit my fair, cool-toned (MAC NW15) skin without turning me orange. She recommends some great products in that post – however, after using the Sephora Collection Blush in “Tranquil” (discontinued) for the earlier part of the year, I learned about the Oak Bark contour powder from some random makeupaddiction reddit post. I purchased it and, frankly, my mind was blown. It’s cool and soft and is a contour that genuinely looks like a shadow being cast across your face. If you’re like me and felt like you’d never be able to contour, please check this powder out – even though it’s from an independent little etsy shop. Trust me.
- Finishing Powder: Hourglass Ethereal Light Ambient Lighting Powder. All of the Ambient Lighting Powders are gorgeous, I just happen to use Ethereal Light. I recommend them all. They add a subtle lit-from-within glow, they feel luxe, and I love them.
- Budget Powder: Wet N’ Wild Reserve Your Cabana Color Icon Bronzer. If you can’t afford/don’t want to afford Hourglass, this baby is beyond words. It says bronzer – don’t let that fool you. “Reserve Your Cabana” is a perfect, subtle glow finishing powder for fair-skinned girls, though since it works so beautifully as an all over face powder, I assume that darker shades could work similarly for darker skin tones.
- Setting Spray: Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray. It’s just the best. I tried quite a few setting sprays this year, and All Nighter truly does what it says it’ll do – it makes your makeup last a long ass time. While I think Mac Fix+ is the best for applying foil eyeshadows, Urban Decay’s are the best for actually setting your face and making it last.
- Mascara: It Cosmetics Superhero Mascara. Mascara preferences are so personal, but this was the big winner for me this year. It was lengthening and never, ever smudged under my eyes.
- Budget Mascara: Essence Cosmetics I Love Extreme Volume Waterproof Mascara. I never believed I could be so happy with a $4 mascara, but if you are searching for a waterproof mascara next summer, look for this big blue tube at Ulta. It makes my lashes look great and is a chore to remove.
- Brow Product: Glossier Boy Brow. I mean, at this point who hasn’t heard of Glossier Boy Brow. I use Black because I like a bold brow. I love that it’s quick and easy to apply while adding fullness to my brows and taming the little weirdos that want to go the wrong way.
- Budget Brow Product: Nyx Tinted Brow Mascara. At half the cost & double the size of Glossier Boy Brow, Nyx is definitely the better value. It doesn’t add quite as much fullness, but it does tint & tame and has a (slightly) wider shade range.
- Eyeshadow Palette: Colourpop Yes, Please! . Essentially released as a dupe for the Natasha Denona Sunset Palette, Yes Please really changed the game when it came to expectations for budget eyeshadows. The shadows are pigmented and buttery and cohesive and on a personal level, they were my first foray into the warm shadow trend. You can create a completely neutral look with this palette if you so choose, but the yellow and red pops are killer. It’s on sale right now for $12.80.
- Eyeshadow Single: Fyrinnae Cosmetics Rapunzel Had Extensions. This single is STUNNING. It’s a pale pink shadow with a golden shift that I apply over a sticky base like Too Faced Glitter Glue or Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy. The closest mainstream shadow I can think of that could dupe this would be Urban Decay Fireball, but it still doesn’t have the downright ethereal effect that Rapunzel does. Rapunzel doesn’t photograph or swatch well due to it’s color shifting nature, but believe me when I say it’s absolutely beautiful.
- Eyeliner: Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Crayon Eyeliner. I ended up buying cobalt and teal shades this year, in spite of the $25 price tag for a freakin’ eyeliner. However, I’d been searching desperately for some bold shades that could last in my lower waterline for an entire day and these came highly recommended. Unfortunately, they’re well worth the price tag and I’d happily buy the whole shade range if my budget allowed. I wasted so much money on blue eyeliners trying to dupe this one, so just take my word for it – Out of the Blue is the best true blue eyeliner on the market. Nothing else will stay in my waterline without fading or smudging.
- Eyeshadow Pencil: Sephora Collection Colorful Shadow & Liner in “Taupe”. This little guy is another no-makeup-makeup go-to! I use it as a chubby eyeliner for some neutral brightening.
- Misc. Eye Product: Fyrinnae Pixie Epoxy. Pixie Epoxy was a game changer for me, but I’m not sure what to classify it as. I apply it over a primer and under whatever shimmer/metallic/duochrome/color-shifting (just never under a matte) eyeshadow I want to really pop, and the shadows always come out looking absolutely beautiful and 100 times better than they do without the epoxy. I don’t know what it is, I don’t know why it works, but I do believe that everyone needs it.
- Lip Gloss: Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb . I keep this in my bag every single day. It’s neutral and shimmery and works just as well on it’s own or on top of other lipsticks. Warning to those who have scent sensitivities – there’s a distinct vanilla scent, which I love, but I know it can be #controversial.
- Lip Balm: Rosebud Perfume Co. Smith’s Rosebud Salve. In spite of seeing this balm lauded for literally years, I didn’t try it until this Fall. What a fool I have been. Though it’s in a tin, which annoys me, I don’t care because it is so incredible moisturizing. I don’t know what to say about it other than I’ve run the gamut with lip balms, from $3 gas station varieties to $60 French balms in glass jars, and this is the best.
- Liquid Lip: Sephora Collection Cream Lip Stain. If you haven’t tried the Sephora brand lip creams, I highly recommend you go for it. I have tried a plethora of matte liquid lipsticks, and they consistently dry out my lips regardless of how many layers of balm I try to apply. Sephora’s Cream Lip Stains dry down to a matte finish but feel smooth and creamy the entire time. I currently own White Iris, Strawberry Kissed, African Violet, Cherry Blossom, and Chai Latte, and I recommend each and every one of them.
- High-end Bullet Lip: Pat McGrath LuxeTrance Lipstick. I purchased two shades of the Pat McGrath LuxeTrance lipsticks during a Sephora Rouge sale after I’d had them on my wishlist since their release. I chose Beautiful Creature and Madame Greige because if I’m dropping almost $40 on a lipstick, I wanted them to be shades I could wear daily. These lipsticks are undoubtedly a splurge purchase but they do feel wonderful on my lips – they don’t need lip liner to stay put, they’re opaque in one swipe, and they stay put well. When they start to fade, they fade evenly. These aren’t MUST BUYs because I understand how pricey they are, but if you’re in the market for a high-end lipstick, Pat McGrath makes some wonderful ones.
- Mid-range Bullet Lip: Urban Decay Vice Lipstick. Urban Decay currently has ninety-seven shades of Vice Lipstick on their website, so they truly have something for everyone. If Pat McGrath is out of range, the Vice Lipsticks are SO GOOD. The packaging is appealing and the quality of most shades is excellent – creamy, long-lasting, and non-drying. I have Backtalk, Rock Steady (my current favorite red, from Gwen Stefani’s collab), Firebird, Amulet, and Crash.
- Best All Around: Colourpop Ultra Satin Liquid Lip, Ultra Glossy Liquid Lip, Ultra Metallic Lip, Lippie Stix. Y’all! Yes, I hate Colourpop’s Ultra Mattes, but everything else they put out is typically wonderful, affordable (most liquid lips and Lippie Stix are currently on sale for around $4 right now), and equal-or-better-than most higher end lip products. I won’t list everything I own because I currently have 22 Colourpop lipsticks/glosses/etc, and that’s after multiple destashings. If you are wanting to experiment with color, Colourpop is an affordable way to do it – Kat von D has some beautiful liquid lips, but if you only wear a metallic royal blue once a year, why spend $20+ on it? A few of my personal favorites are Lumiere, Marshmallow, and Bee’s Knees.
- Applicator: BeautyBlender. Are you sick of hearing about beautyblenders? Well, me too. I’ll just say that I love the effect that the damp sponge gives my foundation, especially during the dry winter season. This is #controversial, but I typically apply foundation with my fingers (like a moisturizer) and then buff out the edges/blend with the beautyblender.
- Drugstore Applicator: Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. A perfectly fine dupe for the beautyblender if you don’t feel like dropping $20 on a dumb sponge.
- Nail Polish: Julep Polish in “Kay”. This is far and away my favorite nail polish of the year. I’ve been working through my nail polishes since May 2016 (not allowing myself to reuse a polish until I’ve gone through all of mine … and I still haven’t finished going through them …) and Kay was such a joy that I’m going to use it as my constant staple once I’m using my polishes like a normal person again. It looks like a standard neutral shimmer online, but in person it’s absolutely color-changing – sometimes taupe, sometimes lavender, sometimes silver, sometimes gold. I got my mom one for Christmas since she loved it on me so much. Unfortunately, I’ve never seen a dupe like it, so I may be stuck with the Julep version for life.
- Perfume: Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia, Maison Margiela ‘REPLICA’ Beach Walk, Glossier You . Perfume is so personal that it’s hard to really recommend any. I wear perfume based on the seasons – English Pear in the spring and Beach Walk in the summer. For a year-round, neutral recommendation, Glossier You is excellent. My only petty qualm with it is that it has a pink frosted bottle (which I like) with a bright red lid (which I hate).
- Clip-in Hair Extensions: Luxy Hair. I researched clip-ins extensively last January when I decided to dye my hair dark. I’d been experiencing a lot of breakage (even though I was going to a salon) and I wanted something to add volume and length to my hair. If I had to have a “natural” hair color, I at least wanted to have full, flowing princess hair. I have had my Luxy extensions in Dark Brown for nearly a year now. I only wear them a few times a month, so I can’t pretend to know how they’d hold up with consistent use, but I feel that I’ve gotten my money’s worth. Any time I wear them I get tons of compliments and though I certainly don’t need them (who does?) they boost my confidence every time I wear them.
- Silly Purchase That I Love & Will Continue To Repurchase: Shiseido Facial Cotton. Please believe me when I say that I know I could be buying $2 cotton rounds from a drugstore. There’s something about this plush cotton squares that I just adore – they’re fluffy and never tear apart when I’m removing eye makeup or applying toner or removing nail polish. They’re frivolous & I get that, but they genuinely make me happy.