Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Best of 2014 - Make Up & Tools

Hey beauty junkies! How's 2015 treatin' you so far? We had our first 'real' snow fall for the season here in the DMV area. It was more than what most people expected. Work wasn't cancelled so, I had to trek out to the school and it was the most horrendous commute of my entire life. It was REALLY bad. My usual 30 minute drive turned into 2 hours of slipping and sliding on the streets. I'm just really grateful to be able to make it back home. If you're experiencing snow right now, too, or are expecting it the coming days, please stay safe! 

Anyhoo, as promised, I wanted to talk about my picks for favorite beauty products of the past year. I listed down categories and thought about which products I really used and would recommend to others. I ended up not having a pick for every category as I wanted to only pick products that I absolutely love. For each one, I asked myself, "If this was the only one [for each category] I'm allowed to use for the entire year, would I still like it?". If I even had to take a minute to second guess, out of the list it went. I wanted to make sure that I'm only recommending the best of the best that had worked for me in 2014. I also didn't want this post to be forever long so I'm keeping my descriptions as short as possible. I'm sure you already know about most of these but please don't hesitate to ask me if there's anything else you want to know about a specific product. 

Let's get started!


Best Eye Shadow Palettes

I HAD to pick two!

Lorac Pro Palette - Need I say more? Ugh. This was the only palette I brought with me when I went to the Philippines last summer. The combos you can make with the 10 matte, 10 shimmery shadows are endless. The quality is unbeatable! My go to everyday look? MAUVE all over the lid, SABLE on the crease, then DEEP PURPLE to line my lids. ($42)

Sonia Kashuk Eye On Neutral Matte Palette - I got this towards the end of the year and it has quickly turned into my holy grail, can't-live-without palette. It has all the basic matte shades you will ever need! It's very inexpensive but the quality is amazing. This is definitely my favorite drugstore palette in the world. If you're looking for a Naked Basics type palette, then this is definitely the way to go! ($18.99)

Best Single Eye Shadow

Milani Bella Eyes in Bella Cappuccino - This is the perfect transition shade for me. Before I had the SK Palette, this was a staple in all my makeup looks, no matter what palette I'm using or look I'm going for. It's a shade that's almost my skin tone so I use it on my crease before any color to help blend out the look. ($4.49)

Best Primer

Benefit Porefessional Primer - It's everything people claim it to be! It minimizes and blurs out my pores, it makes my foundation go on smoother. ($31 for full size)

Best Eyebrow Product

Anastasia Brow Wiz - I use SOFT BROWN and DARK BROWN. 2014 was definitely the year I learned how important it is to learn to do your eyebrows properly. I've experimented with so many different products but these are by far the easiest to use. They won't make your eyebrows look overly drawn (they're SO easy to blend) and they stay on all day. ($21)

Best Mascara

Lorac Pro Mascara & L'Oreal Double Extend Carbon Black Mascara - The Lorac mascara is definitely my all time favorite mascara. It's lengthening and super volumizing. It doesn't run or smudge but it also isn't impossible to take off at the end of the day. The only thing that makes it better is the fiber part of the L'oreal Double Extend Mascara! I love this out of all the fiber mascaras I've tried because gives that extra length and volume that I want without being too clumpy or spidery. ($23, $10.99)

Mary Kay Black Gel Liner - LOVE this! I used to think liners are all the same but 2014 was the year that I established that I prefer gel liners and that this was the best one there is. It's the blackest black, it's matte which I prefer, and the wear time is amazing!

Best Blushes

Milani Baked Blushed in Corallista - Total underdog in my opinion. I like it more than I like Luminoso. It's a bright coral shade with gold glitter. If you don't like shimmery blushes, then this might not be for you. On the flip side, if you like that bright, highlighted look, then this is a really fun one, especially during the summer time. ($8.49)

Physician's Formula pH Matchmaker Blush - This is my ultimate go-to blush for all year round. Supposedly, it adjusts to your body temperature to give you a natural, pink glow. I can't say I've seen it change person to person but on me, this just gives the perfect everyday 'I worked out' or 'walked out in the snow' flush. ($12.95)

The Balm Instain Blush in Toile - My go to blush if I wanted something a little deeper. It's a deep, matte coral shade and it lasts all day! I recommend Instain blushes in general!  ($22)

Best Bronzer

Revlon Photoready Bronzed Chic - I don't know why I haven't yet, but if I'm gonna hit pan on any makeup, it would be on this one. It's matte and is easy to blend out. I love that there are 4 different colors for different functions. I usually just stick to the two darker shades for contouring and then swirl my brush all over to warm up the perimeter of my face. Unfortunately, I think it's been discontinued. I found mine at my Local Big Lots and I'm hunting down more for my back up. I definitely recommend for you to pick it up if you come across it!


Best Lip Balm

Smith's Lip Balm in Minted Rose - I'm a lip balm junkie. Always have, always will be. I have tried so many lip balms and this by far is the best of everything I have ever tried. I know that salves in pots like this can be tricky as they're not the most hygienic but of all the lip products I have, this is the one I keep coming back to. I fell in love with it even more when I got the Dior Creme de Rose and found that this works better for me and it's not even half the price of the much hyped Dior balm! ($7)

L'Oreal Color Riche Caresse Lipstick in Satiny Cocoa - This has been a favorite since last year! I first talked about it when I wrote about my favorite vampy lipsticks. Since then, it has been upgraded to my favorite lipsticks for everyday, all year round. From experimenting with SO many different lip colors, I have established that I feel most comfortable wearing darker, deeper lip shades. This one is my pick for everyday lip color. It seems so much darker on the stick but I find that it comes out more of a deep cranberry shade, definitely with a cocoa brown undertone. It's moisturizing and does not feel heavy on the lips. ($9.99)


Best Finishing Touch/ Setting Spray

Urban Decay All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray - I was a bit skeptical at first about this whole setting spray business. I've tried a few different kinds and wasn't really seeing much of a difference. I was asked to do my friend's makeup for her wedding last May and because I was so paranoid and nervous about how it was gonna go, I picked this up after reading on a million tips about doing bridal makeup. Boy, was I glad I did! I've been using this ever since and every time I need my makeup to stay in place for a while, I spray this on after I do my face. It keeps my makeup from fading too quickly and not gonna lie, I love the cooling mist after putting all that product on.

I also wanted to include my favorite brushes from last year. I won't stay on the two purple ones for too long because they're limited edition but I had to share them because I truly, really love them. They are both from the Sonia Kashuk 15th Anniversary set (you can read more about them here). One is the eyeliner brush which you would think is pretty boring and standard. I mean, who has a favorite liner brush?! I enjoy this one though because it's stiff enough that it's super easy to control! The other one is the contour brush and what sets it apart from other contouring brushes of similar shape is the handle. This one has a regular round brush handle which makes it so much easier to maneuver than let's say, the Nars Ita brush.

This BH Cosmetics Blending brush is my favorite for putting on a transition color on to my crease and also for blending out shadow. It's super fluffy and soft! ($3.99)

The new ELF Studio Crease Brush is also worth the mention. It's super fluffy which also makes it great for more precise blending but what I like to use it for is to put on shadow to deepen up my crease. It's great for those second crease colors that you want to put only at the outermost part of your lid to give your look a little more dimension.

Another gem from the drugstore is the Up & Up Medium Shadow brush from Target. It's perfect for packing on color on the lid and since it's from Target, it's super inexpensive. It's soft and has just the right amount of density to hold enough eye shadow to distribute it easily and evenly. ($4.99 for set with smudge brush. PS. Love that brush,too)

Last for makeup tools is the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge. Now, full disclaimer, I haven't tried the Original Beauty Blender so I can't make valid comparisons BUT, I have tried a lot of sponges that claim to be dupes. A lot of them are duds as they don't really expand or do anything to make my makeup application easier. However, this RT sponge, when used damp blends up my makeup seamlessly. I use it for both foundation and concealer. It also soaks up excess product so that the base work wouldn't look caked on. ($5.99)

FINALLY, I also wanted to quickly mention the Revlon Liquid Quick Dry. This is a miracle worker! Instruction says to put your chosen nail polish on wait for 1 minute then put this enamel on. I tend to wait about 3-5 minutes before I move my hands and voila! It's ready! I really don't have the time or the patience to wait around for my nail polish to dry like a normal human being and so I don't do my nails without this!

WAAH. Did you make it to the end of this post? High five to you if you did! I'm so sorry that it's so long but I just really wanted to share these products with you. Gah. I have literally 3 skin care items to share but I think I'll leave that for the next post. 

What did you think? Have you tried any of these products? Did you find any holy grail items from last year? Let me know!

Thanks for reading!

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