This will almost certainly be my last year structuring my favourites posts this way; I just don’t anticipate having nineteen favourites next year. But here are the eighteen items that brightened up my 2018. These products are presented in chronological order and encompass things I tried for the first time this year. (I cheated a little bit but it’s my blog and the rules are made entirely by me, so whatever.)
NYX Epic Ink Eyeliner
After four years of religiously buying the Stila liquid liner, I made the switch to NYX this year. I see virtually no differences between the two liners other than the price tag. Liners have the tendency to transfer on my lids, but this one stays put all day, which is 90% of what I care about. It’s also easy to apply, and one pen lasts a long time. (I can’t give a terribly accurate gauge of how long since I go through phases with liquid liner and haven’t used it too frequently this year.) NYX products nearly always disappoint me, but their liquid liners consistently impress.
I really like the custom matte formula that Bite offers at their Lip Labs, and of course I’m in love with the burnt orange and vibrant magenta shades I got on a bitter day in January. I genuinely really like these lipsticks, but they’re also a favourite because of how fun the custom creation experience was. Definitely one of my most memorable Christmas presents from last year!
Marc Jacobs Le Marc Lip Creme in Strawberry Girl
This is a bit of a cheat: I incldued So Sofia in last year’s roundup, so Strawberry Girl wasn’t exactly a risky purchase. (Especially since my mom bought it for me on the last day of our month-long European adventure…) Of course I love this creamy, comfortable, longwearing formula and the sleek, substantial packaging. (It has a magnetic closure, guys!) But this muted-ish coral is new to my collection, and since I have nothing else like it I feel justified in calling special attention to it. After years of avoiding anything in the peach/coral/orange family, these are now some of my favourite colours to wear, and Strawberry Girl is complex and flattering. Here it is on my face:
Zoeva Luxe Petit Crease brush
This picture sucks because my DSLR wouldn’t focus on it so I had to use my phone.
Just so everyone is aware, Danish Sephoras carry Zoeva, and it’s a wonder I bought only this brush. But it’s fantastic – soft and comfortable to use, the perfect size and shape for delicate crease work. Brushes aren’t exactly the most exciting of beauty products, but judging by how much I reach for this it would be a glaring omission to exclude it from this list!
Stila Shimmer & Glow Liquid Eyeshadows – Jezebel and Kitten
There is nothing I don’t love about these shadows. They’re ridiculously shiny, they’re easy to apply and blend out, and they seriously do not budge. These shadows make it so easy to create a stunning, high-impact look with minimal effort or skill. I have a gif swatch of them in my summer favourites post in case you want to see how excellent they are. By the way, I love the original Glitter & Glow shadows, but those are definitely prone to a bit of fallout. Not so with these, which are truly gorgeous without any of the mess.
Clinique Cheek Pop – Peach Pop and Ginger Pop
Once again, I am supremely late to the party here, but that’s only because I have believed in the supremacy of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes for so long. And they are still my favourite blush formula, and I still wear Mood Exposure basically every day, but there are limited shades in that formula and this year I wanted something new. The Clinique Cheek Pops are sheer and buildable and come in a nice array of tones – though clearly I’m leaning into warm tones. Peach Pop was practically all I wore this summer, and Ginger Pop is a nice burnt orange that I’ve been loving in the cooler weather. While I’m not a huge fan of the aesthetics of clear plastic packaging, I love how compact and easy to store these babies are.
The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator
I am very picky about hand creams because I absolutely cannot deal with the feeling of anything sticky on my hands. If it leaves a residue, I will not use it, which is why I have spent most of my life not using hand cream. This one sinks in so quickly and does a great job of hydrating. Bonus: I love the lemongrass scent!
NIOD Photography Fluid Opacity 12%
I basically don’t believe in primer. I’ve tried a lot that do not make my makeup last any longer than it would without, and I find a lot of illuminating primers lose their impact as soon as I put foundation on. But this one genuinely makes a difference even under a layer of foundation – it’s not intense by any means, but it leaves a gorgeous natural radiance. It can also be used as a liquid highlighter, though I prefer it as a primer.
NARS Velvet Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl
Another cheat, since I already love NARS Cruella. But I lusted after Dragon Girl for years until I received it as a very generous gift from a family friend. This vibrant strawberry red is pure fun and I wish I had a chance to wear it more often. (My current workplace is neutrals-only, sadly.)
Sally Hansen Miracle Gel in Malibu Peach
AHHH I cheated again! I almost exclusively buy the Miracle Gel formula because it works really well for me and there are a lot of great colours in the line. Malibu Peach is a fun, bright, modern peach that is outside of my usual comfort zone but no less great. For some reason I always get compliments when I wear this colour.
Here is a close-up to prove how bad I am at painting my nails.
Marcelle Translucent Loose Setting Powder
I am all about that loose powder life nowadays, and this one is both inexpensive, massive, and effective. Even in the dead of winter it doesn’t leave my skin looking parched – it has a gorgeous smoothing effect and sets makeup perfectly. I don’t always feel the need to powder, but when I’m using a more dewy foundation that doesn’t totally dry down I always use this. Marcelle is one of my favourite drugstore brands; they just do things right.
CoverGirl Super Sizer Mascara
The worst thing in the world happened this year, which is that Clarins discontinued their Truly Waterproof mascara, which in addition to holding a curl like no other also made my lashes long, defined, and perfectly fluttery. The reason is probably that I was the only person in the world who bought it, so it makes sense from a business perspective while still remaining personally devastating. I’m not going to say this CoverGirl mascara is as good: it’s a lot more volumizing than the Clarins, so it forfeits some of the effortless flutteriness. But it makes my lashes look good, and, crucially, it holds a curl better than basically any of the high end mascaras I’ve tried recently. I’m happy to keep using this mascara because the results are great and the price tag is right. (I got it on sale for $6.99, you guys. The Clarins was $28.)
Bite Amuse Bouche Lipstick in Verbena
I obviously took this photo with a potato.
As I mentioned, I tragically have to wear neutral makeup to work, so it’s always nice to find a neutral lipstick that’s still interesting. Verbena is just that: it’s described on Sephora as a “rose terracotta”, which is the perfect description of this layered, hard-to-pinpoint shade. I’ve never been one for nude lips, and I definitely prefer my neutrals more on the rosy brown side, so this is right up my alley. The hint of orange makes it interesting, but it’s still perfectly appropriate for work.
There is no light in Toronto at this time of year, but this picture is basically colour accurate.
Drybar 100 Proof Hair Oil
I have upped my haircare game and I now use one product daily, which is this hair oil. It makes my hair smooth and shiny and adds some hydration, since I now blow it dry a few times a week. A little goes a long way, so although this is not a cheap item, it’ll last me forever. (I also bought it during the Sephora sale, because I’m smart like that.)
First Aid Beauty Hello FAB Bendy Avocado Concealer
The hype about this concealer is so real: somehow it looks completely natural but still covers and brightens undereye circles amazingly. It’s comfortable on the skin, it’s pretty crease-resistant, and it wears well throughout the day. I’m kind of mad that I like it this much because it’s $28, but shit. This stuff is great.
NIOD Survival 30
$30 for 30ml of sunscreen is clearly expensive. But dammit if this isn’t the best facial sunscreen I’ve tried so far. I’ve used Vichy, I’ve used La Roche-Posay, I’ve used Avène, and this is the least-greasy, most-layerable of all. It doesn’t feel, smell, or look like sunscreen. I also love that it’s packed full of antioxidants for broad protection from free radical damage. The pump delivery system is great, too.
Kiehl’s Creamy Eye Treatment With Avocado
What a luxurious, rich, truly hydrating eye cream. I can’t find fault with this product, other than its $39 price tag. The 15ml tub will last a long time since very little product makes a big impact, which is the only way I can justify this purchase. That said, while I truly love it, I will certainly be on the lookout for cheaper dupes.
Bougie and overpriced? Of course. But these tinted lip balms are absolutely stunning: they soothe and hydrate while giving the lips the illusion of fullness and a gorgeous hint of colour. I balk at spending a lot on something with minimal visual impact, but my lips thank me every time I apply one of these so I guess I can’t really be too upset.
2018 was not actually a huge year of makeup discovery for me, mostly because I reined in my spending quite a bit. The majority of my beauty spending was on old staples, but I did discover some new products that I’ve happily incorporated into my daily routine.
I hardly ever do favourites posts, mostly because I don’t try nearly the volume of products necessary to make that tenable on a regular basis. I think occasional seasonal roundups work for my purposes, though the last one I did was back in the fall of 2016. Here is the warm-weather answer to that, then!
Like many others, in the summer months I opt for a lighter base. This is now my second summer regularly using The Ordinary Serum Foundation in 1.1N, which doesn’t work too well for my skin in winter but looks beautifully natural in summer. To pair with this lighter base, I’ve really been enjoying Bourjois Radiance Reveal Concealer in Ivory. True to its name, it has a natural, radiant finish, but its peachy undertone does wonders in brightening up my dark undereye area. To give it a bit more coverage and lasting-power (and to make it a tad lighter), I usually mix in a little bit of Makeup Revolution Conceal and Define Concealer in C1. Mixing concealers is a new and slightly finnicky trick in my repertoire, but I can’t fault the results.
Here’s the Bourjois concealer on its own (on the right, obviously) for comparison’s sake:
When mixed with the Makeup Revolution concealer, it’s not quite as dewy as it appears in this picture. I do prefer that look slightly, but I think the results of Radiance Reveal on its own are lovely: natural, luminous, and surprisingly effective for such a comfortable, emollient, lightweight formula.
Back in May I used some Optimum points to pick up the Clinique Blush Pop in Peach Pop, my first taste of this well-loved formula. Though I find the clear plastic packaging a bit cheap-looking, I can’t deny that this is a beautiful buildable, long-lasting blush. Like a basic bitch, I love peach in the summer, so I’ve used this very frequently over the past few months. When I want a more vibrant blush, I use my trusty Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Diffused Heat, a lovely red-coral. Between those two blushes (well, and the always-appropriate Hourglass Mood Exposure, of course), I’ve scarcely touched anything else.
My eyelids eat cream formulas after the six-hour mark, and I always have the best results with powder shadow over a good primer. So colour me surprised that the Stila Shimmer and Glow Liquid Eyeshadows truly stay put on my eyes all day. In the heat of a humid Toronto summer, these shadows are quick and easy to apply and completely bulletproof. I picked up the shades Kitten (Stila’s classic champagne) and Jezebel (a rose gold) in May, and I’ve been using them… basically all the time. I do really like the Glitter and Glow shadows, too, but they’re a bit prone to fallout, while the high-impact, metallic Shimmer and Glows are not.
Here’s how Kitten looks on my eye, with a matte brown powder shadow in the crease:
And Jezebel, with some similar crease shadow action (and mascara smudges):
And a swatch gif, so you can see how beautiful these guys really are:
In the summer I gravitate towards my impossibly bright lipsticks, all of which are in the same basic colour family. Marc Jacobs So Sofia, a purchase made almost exactly a year ago as summer wound to a close, has seen a lot of use. So has Revlon Fire and Ice, a truly classic shade which lives its best life in the summer months. New-to-me is NARS Satin Lip Pencil in Dragon Girl, a shade popularized by Taylor Swift several years ago. In the wake of 1989 (which was a damn catchy pop album, sue me), I coveted the colour but could never pull the trigger; when a family friend gifted it to me last month, I was predictably ecstatic. On Swift, Dragon Girl is a bright, fiery red; on me, it’s noticeably more pink, though still as delightfully vibrant. Revlon ColorBurst Balm Stain in Romantic is a long, long, longtime favourite – it’s a beautiful sheer, warm red that’s never too much. (They still make this shade, too, though most of the Balm Stains are long gone.) After a long period of gravitating more towards neutral lipsticks, I’m back to my best self with my bold colours.
L-R: Marc Jacobs So Sofia, Revlon Fire and Ice, NARS Dragon Girl, Revlon Romantic
I arrived back in Canada at the end of May after eight months in the UK, and I found that my hands were suddenly very dry in this climate. Though I have a pretty dry face and very dry arms and legs, my hands have always self-regulated pretty well. But apparently the change in climate was too much, so I had to turn to The Chemistry Brand HA3 Hand Hydrator. This is a super effective, hyaluronic-based hand cream with a light whipped texture. The reason I like it enough to talk about on my blog is that it sinks in incredibly quickly without compromising its efficacy. I cannot stand feeling like there’s anything on my hands; I want to wash them immediately. A lot of hand creams are like nails on a chalkboard to me, but not this one. It also has a very peppy zesty scent which I enjoy.
I also really enjoy The Chemistry Brand Hyaluronic Body Mist for a hit of moisture between body lotion applications. It’s especially nice to have something so quick and easy to apply in the summer, when the heat can induce lethargy. Sometimes it seems altogether too much to rub cream all over my body, but a quick mist is within my capability. This product definitely isn’t a substitute for an actual body lotion (at least not for my dry skin!), but it’s a great interim product.
In the non-makeup realm, I would probably be dead without the Invisibobble knockoffs I got at Primark back in the winter. I’m growing out my blonde (as you have no doubt been able to surmise from my photos over the past year and a half), and I have a few months to go before I can chop it all off. My hair is longer than I like it, and since it’s very thick and abundant it’s just far too much to have on my neck in the summer. I’ve been putting it up in a high ponytail or topknot almost every day, and these little coiled hair ties do an amazing job at keeping my hair comfortably in place. I definitely don’t think you should pay for the brand name version, but if you can find cheap knockoffs they are great for keeping thick, unruly hair at bay.
And, before I go, one summery miss: Avène High Protection SPF50+ Emulsion. This sunscreen has a pleasant texture (if a bit thicker than other facial sunscreens by brands like La Roche-Posay and Vichy) and user-friendly packaging, and seems truly effective if my perpetually-fair face is anything to go by. Unfortunately, it leaves such a white cast. When I’m going to work this isn’t an issue as I put foundation on top anyway, but I often leave my house without makeup but still want to be protected from the sun. It’s a bummer, because I do like the product otherwise, and the pump/squeeze-tube hybrid packaging is always welcome in my home. When I’m out of this I’ll be looking to another brand for my face sunscreen needs.
And that’s what I’ve been putting on my face this summer! It’s a nice mixture of new discoveries and old favourites.
One day the year will probably become so advanced that I will no longer be able to do these gimmicky little roundups. If I still have a blog in 2032 I probably will not have 32 products to share with you. I figure I’ll just keep doing this until I no longer have enough products to flesh out the list, and then I will make something new up.
Anyway, here’s what I discovered and loved in 2017. This time I’m doing it in chronological order instead of by category, because I like to shake things up. As always, these are products that I personally discovered in 2017. Most of them were not released this year! I’ll link to full reviews where possible.
The hype is real: this is a soft, blendable, natural contour shade that is perfect for fair skintones. It’s not so cool as to look ashy but not so warm as to look muddy. This is an everyday product for me and absolutely a staple over the past year.
This has to be my favourite purchase of 2017. I lusted after it for half a year and it still managed to exceed my expectations. The shadows are wonderful quality, I genuinely use and love every shade, and I can get such a variety of beautiful looks out of it. This is my favourite palette, for sure.
(By the way, I took the pictures for this post quite a long time ago, but since then I’ve actually hit pan on Cyprus Umber.)
Though these come with a hefty price tag, the vibrancy of the colours and the long-wearing formula of the liner makes me love them. I don’t have anything like these colours in my collection and I think they’re so fun and unexpected.
Despite the strange marketing of these chubby, sharpenable pencils as lip liners, I think these are great matte lipsticks. They apply easily and smoothly, last well, and aren’t too drying. Somehow I can apply them over flaky lips and still like the result. Hush Hush is my go-to neutral and I can’t get enough of the burnt orange Covert Affair.
I have a hard time getting Covert Affair to photograph as orange as it is!
Hush Hush, from all the way back when I had red hair.
The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
I’ve now gone through three bottles of this and I plan to keep going forever! This product has replaced all my other hydrating serums for a fraction of the cost. It’s great stuff, and at $6.80 CAD you really can’t go wrong.
This $10 Artis knockoff has become my absolute favourite foundation brush. Its density is unparalleled by any other brush in my collection, and it buffs foundation seamlessly into the skin. Plus, its bristles are super soft, making foundation application as pleasant as possible.
I am staunchly pro-drugstore when it comes to hair products, but Olaplex was the only thing that worked on my supremely bleach-damaged hair when I went back to blonde in March. I’ve been using it weekly since then and it’s kept my hair in great condition. I mean, I did three years’ worth of bleach damage before I ever used Olaplex, but my hair is soft and smooth and actually looks and feels like hair instead of straw. Olaplex is the best thing I’ve ever done for my hair!
ELF Small Stipple Brush
This is such a great multi-purpose brush. It’s great for applying cream products to the cheeks, and it’s become my new go-to for contouring because it gives me more control and allows me to build the product up slowly for a more subtle effect. I have a lot of time for ELF brushes, and this is one of my favourites.
Milani Eyeshadow Primer
After years of loyalty, my NARS eyeshadow primer just stopped performing very well. Disheartened, I picked up a tube of the Milani Eyeshadow Primer on emilynoel83’s recommendation, thinking that if it didn’t work out it was only nine bucks down the drain. Well, colour me pleased: this primer holds onto eyeshadow amazingly well. I use it every single day and I know that nothing will come off my eyelids until I want it to.
Vichy Teint Idéal Pure Light Face Roll-On*
This is the most beautiful, impactful wet-look highlighter. Vichy’s makeup doesn’t get any buzz online, but if this absolutely stunning liquid highlighter is anything to go by, we should be paying attention to their releases. I neglected to take a picture of this on my face, but you can see it swatched on the right below:
Stila Magnificent Metals Liquid Eyeshadow in Rose Gold Retro
As usual, I jumped on the bandwagon late, but these liquid eyeshadows deserve every bit of the hype they’ve received. They are pure glitter in a user-friendly format, and the shade Rose Gold Retro is a beautiful dream.
Revlon Super Lustrous Lipstick in Fire and Ice
This summer I decided to jump into the world of oranges and orangey-red lipsticks, starting with the long-time classic Fire and Ice. I’ve always been iffy about these types of tones on myself, but I surprised myself by immediately falling in love with Fire and Ice. The formula is comfortable and smooth without being slippery, and the colour is divine. I’ve seen appear on different people variously as an orange-red, a coral with a definitive hint of pink, and a straight-up orange. I don’t why I like this on myself so much, because it has a healthy dose of orange and neon, which should be a very unflattering combination on me. But I lived in this lipstick this summer!
God, I love this lipstick so goddamn much. I have been searching for this exact colour – a super vibrant coral that flatters my complexion – for eons, and So Sofia is it. Not only is the colour beautiful and harmonious on my face, the formula is excellent. I bought this lipstick in the second half of the year and it’s already one of my favourites ever.
When I ordered this brush out of curiosity back in the summer, I didn’t expect for it to become my favourite blush brush. I merely wanted another one so that I didn’t have to clean my brushes as often. (Uh, I already clean them shamefully infrequently, so…) But the soft synthetic bristles combined with the shape and size of this brush make it absolutely perfect for applying the exact right amount of blush every single time. I’ve used it almost every day since I bought it.
I’m very into ColourPop’s sheer matte Blotted Lips – they’re a comfortable, easy way to wear colour, and they’re a staple for casual makeup days. The terracotta Candyfloss is an unexpected favourite – as with most of the lip products I’ve featured in this roundup, Candyfloss has taught me to move outside of my comfort zone and embrace colours in the orange and brown families. Though it’s a bit of an unusual colour, the sheer matte finish means Candyfloss can look fairly understated and casual.
Urban Decay Liquid Moondust in Solstice
I don’t know if I’m just looking in the wrong places, but I haven’t seen anybody talking about Urban Decay’s liquid eyeshadows. Solstice is a stunning blue-red duochrome that I positively die for. It lasts forever on my eyes too – and when it comes to liquid and cream eyeshadows on my hooded lids, that’s a feat. I’ll have to check out some of the other shadows in this line, because it looks like there’s a whole range of absolutely stunning shades.
If you asked me to describe my ideal foundation, I’d probably say “Fair with neutral-to-yellow undertones, medium coverage, finish somewhere between satin and dewy, hydrating and able to glide easily over dry patches, can be applied with brushes, a sponge, or fingers”. And that is exactly what the It Cosmetics CC Cream is! I actually tried quite a few foundations this year which I liked – Maybelline Fit Me Matte and Poreless, The Ordinary Serum and Coverage – but this one takes the cake. It looks so beautiful on my skin and is always comfortable to wear, and I love the incredibly functional packaging.
(Because I like to cheat.)
And some runners-up for you, too: Bite Beauty Lip Pencils in 020 and 044*, ColourPop Lippie Pencil in Contempo, Lancôme Matte Shakers in Pink Power and Kiss Me Chérie*.
The Ordinary Colours Serum Foundation in 1.1N, Revlon PhotoReady Instafix Highlighter Stick in Pink Light, L’Oreal Brow Artist Plumper in Transparent.