I saw this little wooden sign while shopping at the Paper Store before Christmas and it brought a smile to my face. While I believe it was truly intended to remind us of those days when our make-up may not hold up to the sweat and tears of everyday life, I think it could also apply to the search for the holy grail products – those days of testing out a new mascara, powder or lip stain only to realize its just not up to par and you look like you ran the NYC marathon before lunch. Rather than dwell on the negatives, here are my top picks of 2015. I think there is a rather good mix of drugstore and higher end products here. So if you’re searching, there should be something here to suit your budget.
Too Faced Hangover Replenishing Face Primer: this is a non-silicone light weight primer that leaves the skin feeling so beautifully hydrated without being oily.
Runner up: Tarte Clean Slate Poreless 12-Hour Perfecting Primer: this is a waterproof primer that leave the skin much more slippery (for lack of a better term) allowing your make-up to glide on easily. I like this one for full coverage foundation events because it really does leave your skin looking poreless.
Too Faced Born this Way: I never thought I would leave my Make-up Forever HD foundation or my Urban Decay Naked Foundation, but this new one from Too Faced is really really good and has quickly become a favorite. It provides such wonderful buildable coverage and goes on flawlessly with both brush and beauty blender.
Bareminerals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream: This is my summertime and weekend fav for sure! So light and hydrating yet it provides enough coverage to even out my skin tone. It is so much more than a CC cream could ever aspire to be.
This is a very hard category for me because I am still searching for the right combination of products that can handle my genetic dark circles, but these products come very close to perfection.
Bobbi Brown Corrector: I recently switched from porcelain peach to light peach when I reordered and that half of shade difference does an even better job of lightening the darkness under my eyes. A little bit goes a very long way so while the pot appears so tiny for the price, it is well worth the splurge.
It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye: This stuff has been one of my favorites for several years. It is really good. It goes on nice and creamy and warms with the skin to provide a good amount of blendable coverage. It works especially well when baked with the Make-up Forever’s HD Setting Powder or the Mary Kay translucent loose powder.
Maybelline Super Stay Better Skin Concealer: This gem beat out my prior drugstore fav of the same brand – the Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Treatment Concealer. I find it has a creamier, somewhat thicker consistency – more like the Bye Bye Undereye, which is something that I prefer for all day wearability. The Instant Age rewind more closely resembles the texture of a prior favorite by Nars, which is very light weight and needed to be layered for me. Although I have to say, I recently picked up the Fit Me concealer also by Maybelline and it is really good too. Ultimately, if you need a good quality budget concealer, you can’t go wrong with any of these from Maybelline. Concealer and lipsticks are certainly two of the things this company does well!
This is another difficult category for me because I have so many favorites. I picked my top three to streamline things.
Cargo Swimables Water Resistant Blush in Los Cobos: This is described as a soft tangerine and looks bright in the pan, but on the face – PERFECTION. In my humble opinion this blush far surpasses the Nars blush in orgasm in versatility and durability, and I have gone through over 10 pans of that blush over the years. Its very good, don’t get me wrong, but this Cargo blush is better.
Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Blush in Blushing Bride: This particular shade is a rosy pink that gives just a hint of that natural blush tone to your cheeks providing a good everyday option or the perfect complement to a heavy smoky eye or red lip. Like the Cargo blush this baby has some real staying power.
Makeup Revolution Ultra Blush and Contour Palette in Sugar and Spice: For $10, this little darling is a steal for eight shades of highly pigmented blushes/highlight. I’ve been toying with the idea of getting the other grouping which they refer to as hot spice and tends to go more toward the peachy tones. In case you get sucked in the next time Ulta does one of their buy one get one 50% off sales, I wasn’t a huge fan of the Makeup Revolution Eye Shadow Palettes. Although they are a pretty awesome dupe for the Urban Decay Naked palettes upon swatching, I found that the colors got a bit muddy upon blending.
Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil Matte Bronzer: For me, there is only one Bronzer I have ever loved and this is it. It is the perfect shade for adding a little sun kissed glow to skin that hasn’t seen 70 degrees in awhile and also works lovely as a contour shade, when I have the time! I apply it with the Real Techniques Bold Metals Flat Contour Brush, No. 301 to give my round face a little sculpted definition.
Benefit High Beam: Long before the Kim Kardashian of the world brought highlighting and contouring to the forefront of the make-up industry, I was using High Beam. Its not glittery or overdone. Just a simple dewy brightener to tap lightly on the top of your cheek bones, the inner corner of your eyes or your brow bone.
This is a large category that deserve some further differentiation I think. There is just such a wide array of products that could easily be the best of the best here so I’ll break them down into palettes, cream shadows and singles.
Urban Decay Naked Palettes: These are all wonderful. Personally my favorites are the original and the Naked 2 Basics palettes. These give you just about everything you need to take you from daytime to evening throughout all four seasons. I do wish there were a few more matte shades, which is why I also rank the next contender right up at the top with Urban Decay.
The It Cosmetics Naturally Pretty Palette: This beauty is packed with a large variety of matte shades from pink to browns, to purples and navy and you can add a little shimmer to the center of the eye lid if you prefer using the transformation powder that is included in the palette.
Cream Eye Shadows
Charlotte Tilbury Eyes to Mesmerise: At $32 a pop these are certainly a splurge, but they are the most decadent shadows I have ever used. the Bette and Jean shades also work beautifully as a foundation or base for powder shadows.
Maybelline Color Tattoo Cream Shadows: A much more budget friendly option, these Maybelline cream shadows offer a huge range of finishes from shimmers to mattes and some very bold color options. I probably have 10 or so shades of these but my favorites are the Barely Branded shade as an all over eye shadow base, the Bad to the Bronze shade as a single shadow on “no makeup” makeup days and Too Cool as a white primer to make brighter colors pop while lending a little extra staying power.
Stila Kitten: This is the perfect shade to brighten the inner corner of a smokey eye, to provide bling to winged liner or just wear all on its own. However, it is very fragile so I suggest keeping it at home or carrying it with you where it can be loved. Every time I try to pack it in my suitcase it shatters to smithereens.
L’Oreal Paris Colour Riche Single in Pain Au Chocolat: These are new to the scene for L’Oréal with a late 2015 launch here in the States. I may be jumping the gun a bit by including them as a favorite, but these are a super creamy, very pigmented gel formula that just glides on and stays put all day! They are surely going to win the hearts of many.
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner: I tried to love the Kat Von D Tattoo liners. I really did, but at the end of the day I prefer the Stila liners. The color is richer and they glide on to my eyes better leading to less tugging and fixing to get the perfect winged look. For a budget option the Physician Formula Eye Booster Liquid Liner is pretty good, but goes on a little thin so I typically have to apply a second coat.
Rimmel Exaggerate Waterproof Eye Definer: I have trouble with the Urban Decay liners staying put so I searched for a good waterproof formula and found it at the neighborhood CVS. These are really good to create that smokey smudged look and the ripe plum shade is a great complement to brown eyes.
Bobbi Brown Intensifying Long Wear Mascara: This is my all time favorite mascara, but despite its name, it is not a high impact “wow look at those lashes ” kind of product. However, it cannot be beat for lower lashes. It also gives a great base for my favorite high impact mascara – Tarte Lights Camera Lashes. The waterproof formula that I live in all summer long is called Lights Camera Splashes.
Cover Girl Lash Blast: This is likely the only product I love from Cover Girl – their Lash Blast mascaras and not all of them. The original volume mascara is awesome, the Supersizer is equally awesome and the new Lash Blast Plumpify… ok so I’ve only used the last one for one day and technically it was January 3rd so I’ll give it a nod here as one to try in 2016. If you like that rounded tip brush that has become so popular…it should be on your list too. The reason I love the lash blast formula so much is that they are very buildable without being clumpy and they have some major staying power even for those of us that wear glasses to the office all day. No flaking or smudging or looking like I’ve cried through a morning full of conference calls. I don’t ask for much!
Bite Agave Lip Treatment: This super thick, hard to get out of the metal tube, balm is hands down a beauty staple for me. I put it on every night before I go to bed, wear the tinted one on weekends to the ball field and never board an airplane without it. If you suffer from dry lips it is a must try!
I have always leaned more towards gloss than lipstick till recently. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect classic red lip to go with my fair skin and brown hair. After trying more than a dozen I found both a premium option and a budget option in the Nars Velvet Matte Lip Pencil in Cruella and the Rimmel London Lasting Finish Kate Moss Collection in the shade 01.
Since I am not the lovely and talented Taylor Swift, I opt for a more “my lips but better shade” for the office on most days. My favorites are Bite’s Fig and Rimmel London’s Kate Moss Collection in 08 or the Rimmel London Lasting Finish in Heather Shimmer.
Smashbox Be Legendary Lip Gloss: This gloss is always on my favorites list in Rosette (a dusty rose, creamy pink) and Cognac (a brown berry with just a hint of shimmer). In my opinion these glosses are every thing a gloss should be. They are not sticky, provide a sheer pop of color perfect for wearing on their own or layered over lipstick, and shine like Cinderella’s glass slipper. They are just beautiful!
I have used a lot of powers in my life time since I tend to get oily throughout the day even in my 40’s, so I opt for a good setting powder like the two I’ve already mentioned above by Makeup Forever and Mary Kay. For a budget option give the Rimmel Stay Matte powder a try. It does a great job at the drugstore price point, better than any others I’ve tried.
That concludes my 2015 beauty favorites. Hope you’ve found a few wish list items to add to your shopping list. There are a ton of new launches to look forward to in 2016. Will my favorites be ousted? Time will tell!