Best of Beauty 2015

Hi friends! Look who’s finally written their 2015 best of beauty post! It only took a bajillion years…

Asking me to pick my favorite makeup products is like asking me to pick a favorite child—it just can’t be done. I love all of them for different reasons. (Er…most of them, anyway.) That’s why, initially, I wasn’t going to write a 2015 favorites post. January is almost over, everyone else has done it, and I worried no one would want to read it. But then, one of my friends asked me to write it, and here I am. I’ve caved. Not all of these were 2015 discoveries, but I definitely used the heck out of all of them last year! I decided to save my skincare favorites for a future post—I’m long overdo for an updated skincare routine anyhow!

Without further ado, here’s my 2015 All Star Lineup!

face

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I’m still not completely sold on the need for primers, but I’ve come to appreciate products that double as skincare. The Hourglass No. 28 Primer Serum became my savior back in March. This put the dry, flaky skin I was dealing with due to travel, to a rest. Usually, I have combination-oily skin, making this a bit much when combined with my daily serum and moisturizer, but was a great boost on days when I needed extra moisture. It’s also an awesome double-duty product for travel when you’re trying to cut down on the number of liquids you’re carrying.

In the foundation category, I have a few products to mention. I declared the Makeup Forever HD Invisible Cover Foundation my “holy grail” foundation before it was sadly discontinued and reformulated. I’ve yet to try the new formulation, but I did continue my search. I’ve been incredibly impressed with the Tarte Amazonian Clay 12 Hour Full Coverage Foundation. It’s one of the few foundations I’ve found that can survive the heat and humidity of a DC summer without feeling heavy on my skin. I don’t know if it’s reached “holy grail” status, but I’m definitely a big fan. For something a bit more budget friendly, I’ve been floored with the L’Oréal Infallible Pro Matte Foundation. It gives great, full coverage with a satin-matte finish that never looks flat. And finally, if you’re looking for something on the sheer coverage end of things, I continue to be impressed with my Garnier 5-in-1 Miracle Skin Perfecter Oil Free BB Cream. It’s easily the best lightweight base I’ve ever tried—at any price point. I just wish the formula wasn’t so runny!

For concealers, I pretty much alternated between two all year, but ultimately, I chose the Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer as my 2015 pick. This concealer is the workhorse of my makeup bag—it can easily be used under my eyes or to cover blemishes, and it has enough coverage that I can wear it alone for minimal makeup days. (A special shoutout does have to go to the Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Dark Circle Eraser, though. The only reason it didn’t quite make the cut is because the sponge tip applicator makes it a little less versatile.)

Choosing a setting powder was a little more difficult—I use a number of different products to achieve a variety of finishes to my makeup. After some careful deliberation, I chose the product that I reach for most often: the Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder in Transparent. This powder keeps me shine free all day without dramatically altering the finish of my base or adding additional coverage. It’s never cakey or powdery, and it’s only a few bucks at the drugstore. Always a bonus!

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention my favorite contouring powder from 2015. Contouring was one of the biggest trends of the year, and I’ll admit I tried to jump on that bandwagon—especially at the beginning of the year. The Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder in Medium is every Karlie Kloss wannabe’s dreams. Just apply this perfectly ashy-brown powder to the hollows of your cheeks, and you’ll instantly look like you have mile-high cheekbones. It has a sheer, buildable formula, too, which makes it relatively idiot-proof. Relatively.

My 2015 picks for bronzer, blush, and highlight were all no-brainers. By far, my favorite bronzer of the year was the Tarte Amazonian Clay Matte Waterproof Bronzer. This bronzer is the perfect shade for warming up your complexion subtly or going full-on bronze goddess. Its tone is just cool enough that it can also be substituted for contour in a pinch. The Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blushes—particularly the shade Incandescent Electra—have blown me away. They give the most beautiful radiance to the face, and the shades are perfect for adding a healthy amount of color to your complexion. The blush also has just enough shimmer that you don’t need to add a separate highlight. Unless of course you want  to! Which brings me to the Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder in Highlight 01. A latecomer to my collection in 2015, this highlighter gives the most subtle glow to the face. It’s become my favorite everyday highlighter, since it’s subtle enough to be worn to work.

Eyes

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The Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion was the first eyeshadow primer I ever tried. Despite testing several others, it continues to be my favorite.

My favorite single shadows are the Nars Dual Intensity Eyeshadows—no shade in particular. I love the three I’ve tried, and intend to purchase more. They give a gorgeous, metallic, almost “wet” look to the eyes, and are one of my favorite products for special occasions.

In the past, I’ve never been a big fan of cream eyeshadows, but I discovered two products this past year that changed that. The Colourpop Super Shock Eyeshadows have a unique cream-to-powder formula unlike anything I’ve ever tried. They’re intensely pigmented and come in a mind-blowing variety of colors and finishes. They’re easy to blend with a finger, and set after just a few seconds. Beautiful alone, or as a base to a traditional powder eyeshadow, this has almost replaced my need for a traditional eyeshadow primer. Similarly, the Giorgio Armani Eye Tints are a liquid eyeshadow formula that you apply with a doe-foot applicator. One swipe applies a sheer wash of color all over the eyelid, and it can be built up with additional applications. These also set after a few seconds, and are a great way to create a one-color eyeshadow look on mornings when you’re in a rush. I’d definitely buy more shades if they weren’t so darn expensive…

The best eyeshadow pencil comes from the Covergirl Flamed Out Shadow Pencil. A zillion different brands make these eyeshadow pencils, and frankly I can’t tell the formulas apart. What makes the Covergirl line stand out for me is the shade range. In particular, Melted Carmel Flame and Violet Flame are great dupes for some much higher end eyeshadow pencils.

My favorite eyeshadow palette of the year really shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone: the Tartlette in Bloom Palette. I’ve tried so hard to remain objective with this palette and not get caught up in the “newness,” since I bought it in November, but it truly is my perfect palette. Not only is the formula buttery smooth, but I couldn’t have picked a better shade range if I tried. There’s not a single dud shade— each one completely wearable! I’ve written a full review and comparison to the original here, so I’ll stop my gushing. For now.

I’ve experimented a bit with brow products this year, but I continue to come back to my original dynamic duo: Benefit’s Gimme Brow and the Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz. Easy, reliable, and no-fuss, these two products give my sparse brows some life without going overboard.

Stila has my heart when it comes to eyeliners. Both of my favorite liners—liquid and pencil—come from the brand, and they never let me down. Nothing beats the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner for creating the perfect cat eye, and their Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner is great on days when you want something a bit softer. Both come in a great range of colors and last all day through sweat and tears.

And finally, we come to my favorite mascara of 2015. When I first tried the Benefit Roller Lash Curling and Lifting Mascara, I wasn’t sure I was a fan. It certainly doesn’t curl my lashes like it claims to (but I’ve since accepted that no mascara ever will). However, on my fine eyelashes, this Benefit formula gives them gorgeous length and separation that’s not too over-the-top for everyday. And while I no longer wear contacts, my eyes are easily irritated by mascara flaking off—something that I’ve never had to deal with when using this mascara. It’s not completely waterproof, but it’s definitely water resistant, and has lasted through a tear or two. All in all, a solid mascara that I’ll continue to repurchase.

lips

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If you’ve been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that I’m an unabashed lipstick hoarder, so this is where things got difficult. I tried hard to narrow things into categories, but really, it ended up being an amalgamation of all my favorite lip products.

My all-time favorite lip treatment is the Nuxe Rêve de Miel Ultra Nourishing Lip Balm. This super thick, hydrating lip balm always brings my lips back to life when they’re cracked and dry. I keep it in my purse at all times! However, when I want a traditional lip balm—one where I don’t have to dip my finger in the pot and can layer it over another product—the Nivea A Kiss of Milk and Honey Soothing Lip Care is the best around. It’s moisturizing without being thick, and keeps my lips comfortable for hours on end. And as an added bonus—this lip balm doesn’t break down the formula of many liquid lipsticks I’ve paired it with!

I had to award my overall favorite lipstick formula to two lipsticks: the Bite Beauty Luminous Crème Lipstick and the Nars Audacious Lipsticks. Bite’s lipsticks are some of the most comfortable I’ve ever worn, and the Nars’ lipsticks are easily the most pigmented. They’re quite comfortable as far as matte lipsticks are concerned, but as you might expect, they’re not the most forgiving to dry lips. I just couldn’t get enough of either of these formulas last year, and I’m hoping to slowly build my collection of these.

My favorite “my lips but better” lipstick is the Clinique Different Lipstick in Sweet Honey. I actually think this is the first lipstick I ever owned! My mom gave me a sample from a Clinique gift set when I was a little girl, and I’ve yet to find another color quite like it. It’s the perfect pinky nude, and it leaves me feeling super nostalgic. I actually plan to write an entire post on just this lipstick, so I’ll keep this short, but it’s one of my all time favorites. I only wish it lasted longer!

My favorite red lipstick continues to be the Rimmel Lasting Finish Lipstick by Kate Moss in 01. Don’t let this drugstore gem fool you: it’s the perfect true-red shade that’s comfortable on the lips and lasts nearly all day. My favorite thing about this lipstick is that it doesn’t bleed outside my lip line when I wear it for extended periods of time. For those who prefer a matte finish, that can easily be achieved simply by blotting the lipstick with a tissue.

Liquid lipsticks blew up in 2015. It seems like every brand has a range nowadays. I’ve tried several different formulas and variations, and there are a lot of great options on the market. However, my biggest complaint is how drying they are! No liquid lipstick is ever going to be as comfortable as a traditional lipstick, but The Balm’s Meet Matt(e) Hughes liquid lipsticks are about as good as it gets. Their shade range isn’t great, but the colors they do have are gorgeous!

Discovering the Colourpop brand was one of the beauty highlights of 2015. I already mentioned how much I love their Super Shock Eyeshadows above, but I’m also obsessed with the Colourpop Lippie StixThese lip pencils are so comfortable and so easy to use. Just like their eyeshadows, they come in a mind blowing array of shades and finishes, but I’m quite partial to the matte formulas. I wrote a full review here if you’d like to learn more.

And finally, for this category: lip pencils. I’ve never been the biggest fan of lip pencils—I’m far too lazy and I’m not a fan of the overdrawn lip look. However, there is one lip pencil in my collection that I love because you literally can’t tell I’m wearing it! It’s the MAC Lip Pencil in Dervish. I’m convinced that this is the lip pencil for people who don’t like lip pencils—it’s not too light, not too dark. It just enhances the natural shade (and shape) of my lips. Maybe I’ll test the waters with bolder shades next year, but for now, Dervish is great for getting my toes wet.

Other

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And finally just a few random items to round out my 2015 beauty favorites.

This adorable Lesportsac XL Rectangular Cosmetics Bag was a part of the company’s collaboration with Rifle Paper Co. I’m a huge fan of Rifle Paper Co., and when I saw this bag, I knew I had to have it! It’s quickly become my favorite makeup bag and it’s already traveled all over the country with me. The bag is lightweight and holds a ton which means that I never have to sacrifice leaving favorite products at home because of lack of space.

My favorite nail polish of the year is Essie’s Nude Beach. It’s a beautiful, sheer, iridescent nude. I don’t necessarily love the formula of Essie’s nail polishes (I actually find that they chip easily) but this is the shade I wore when Dave and I first got engaged and later for our engagement photos. The subtle color just looked clean and polished, and will always remind me of a really exciting time in our relationship.

This next product is something completely and utterly frivolous, and definitely not something anyone ever needs to spend money on. That being said, it’s such a luxurious product if you’re looking for a pick me up in the middle of the day. The Caudilé Beauty Elixir is absolutely heaven on a hot summer day. The fresh, herbal scent is completely relaxing, and the cooling mist leaves you feeling refreshed and relaxed.

And finally, my fragrance pick for 2015 had to go to Elizabeth and James Nirvana White. I wore this every single day from August through December—a feat never achieved by any other fragrance. Ever! I think I’ve almost used up the bottle! It’s a beautiful floral scent balanced with an ever-so-subtle musk that’s perfect day or night.

Oh man… I think that’s everything! If you’re still with me— thank you so much for reading! I hope you’ll stick around for future beauty adventures in 2016! I can’t wait to continue discovering and sharing with you this year.

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