Or do you just want to read 4000 words about stuff I like? That’s fine, too. I’ve never really done a favorites post of any sort before, because I don’t take good pictures and I can’t do accurate swatches, and if I committed myself to learning how, the post would never end up done, so I’ve just kind of shrugged off the whole genre. But I got to try a lot of things this year, and I know when I have gift cards, I do like to check out what other people have bought and enjoyed, and also, it’s my blog and I can post whatever I want, so here we go: my favorite products of 2015.
Actually, here we don’t go yet, because let me lay out some helpful information first. My skin tone is fair, but not, like, alabaster pale. Just regular fairly fair skin. It borders on dry, with those annoying as shit flaky patches that will fuck up your foundation and ruin your whole day. I may have the occasional oily patch, but I don’t generally have to consider oiliness as a factor with skin care and makeup, so do keep that in mind if that’s your issue. I don’t know how to handle that or how any of these products would work with that kind of skin. My hair is dark, but I don’t generally consider that because I don’t have any real skill or knowledge.
That’s another point to consider: I don’t actually have any credentials that make my opinion weigh more heavily than anyone else’s. I’m not particularly good at makeup, but I enjoy it with great enthusiasm, and a line I read late in the year that’s stuck with me for some reason lately is “it doesn’t take talent to practice.” All of this is just my own opinions, and none of the links are affiliate or sponsored in any way. Most of the products are available at either Ulta or Sephora, and I’ll note the ones that are Sephora only or vice versa. I live to help you buy things I like.
Also, there are no pictures, because they would be crappy and worthless because there are many areas in which I am unskilled and I’m mostly fine with that.
I tried a lot of skin care this year and I have to say, I feel like 2015, especially the later half, was when I finally got my skin to a place I really like it. Or mostly like it, anyway, because the quality seems to depend entirely on me engaging in the full routine every single day, and that’s kind of annoying as hell. It’s been worth it, though, because it makes makeup application go easier and does a little more to mask my lack of ability in that area. I feel like it just looks better, which is all I really want, right?
Anyway, reminder: my skin is a bit dry, especially in the winter. It’s not especially sensitive and I rarely have a bad reaction to a product. I have some redness that’s increased over the years, around my cheeks and forehead. Dryness, redness, and overall skin tone and texture have been my main concerns this year. I don’t think all these products would work for everyone, but I do think they’re all very good products.
belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist: This is a relatively new addition to my routine. I use it to wash my face in the morning, when it feels kind of tight after a hot shower. I’d kind of gotten used to my face feeling itchy and tight after washing, then counteracting that with other products. I don’t have a lot of oil on my skin, so it seemed like it was super easy for any face wash to totally strip it. Not this one, though. It feels like it gets my skin clean in the morning without drying it out further. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it adds a ton of moisture, but it’s a good first step. It doesn’t smell bad or perfumed, and it’s very gentle. Sephora only.
May Coop Raw Sauce: I put this on next, in the mornings, before I brush my teeth. I bought the smaller bottle and use maybe 4 drops a day. Shake it in my hand and then just pat it on my face like Kevin in Home Alone with the aftershave, but it doesn’t hurt. This is super liquidy, like water, and it sinks in fast while I brush my teeth. I think this would probably work differently for everyone, but I believe it’s a huge part of why my skin texture has improved so much with consistent use. It claims to make other products work better by preparing the skin, but I don’t know about any of that science shit. I know, though, that it just makes my skin look better in an annoyingly unquantifiable kind of way. Even if I’m not wearing makeup, this goes on under my moisturizer and sunscreen. Sephora only.
belif Hungarian Water Essence: I use this like the May Coop Raw Sauce, but at night. I feel like they’re possibly interchangeable, for me, or that I could do with one or the other and see largely the same results. Sephora only.
belif Aqua Bomb: I have been a Clinique Moisture Surge person for years. I really like the kind of gel-textured moisturizers over creams and lotions. I feel like they’re more immediately effective, especially when my skin is being a total shit with the flakes and tightness. This year, I switched over to this one, and I’m really very pleased. The results seem more long lasting, improving the dryness over time rather than just for the day. This is the last thing I do before sunscreen (sometimes I do them in reverse order if I’m feeling WILD AND CRAZY), and I do it right before I do my makeup so I’m still all slicked up when I sit down at my vanity. I would say that as far as skincare goes, this was probably my top product of 2015. Sephora only.
boscia Detoxifying Black Cleanser: This has been my nighttime cleanser all year. I have a backup bottle ready to go at all times. It’s gentle, it’s effective, it doesn’t smell gross. My skin likes it and I don’t see any reason to change it.Late in the year, I started using it with a konjac sponge. I like the gentle exfoliation, but I think it works just as well with clean hands. It’s the one step of my routine I haven’t adjusted/fiddled with this year. It just works. Sephora only.
Other stuff: No standout exfoliators this year. I’m still using Mario Badescu toners and PTR Anti-Wrinkle Peel Pads occasionally. Also, I’ve been using a snail essence kind of peel, but, you know, not everyone is into snail mucus. Same sunscreen as always, too. I tried a lot of masks this year and still have a lot to try, but none really blew me away. I do like to use sheet masks a lot these days, and the GlamGlow Thirsty Mud as an overnight sleeping mask maybe once a month or so. I have a ton of PTR masks to try out. Also, no real favorite eye cream. I’ve been using Origins Ginzing and you know, it’s fine. It does what I need it to do. I put it on right before makeup so my undereye concealer doesn’t look cakey, and it does that. I’m not seeing anything else to write home about, though.
Becca Backlight Priming Filter: I’ve never found a primer I liked that also seemed to make my makeup stay on any better. I tried a bunch this year – Too Faced, Make Up For Ever, etc – and they were all just… fine. This one, though, is different. It really does add a kind of lit from within glow to the skin. I don’t think it makes my makeup last any long and holy shit is it easy to over do it and look like the moon. But it looks good under makeup, over makeup, or even by itself, sometimes, and it at least does something for me, which is more than I can say for other primers I tried this year. Ulta and Sephora.
L’Oreal Pro Matte Foundation: I tried a bunch of foundations this year, but I mostly stuck to my usual Korean BB creams until maybe June or July? I don’t know when I picked this up, but holy shit am I glad I did. It is. So good. The coverage is at least medium with one layer. It is as matte as the name suggests, but not chalky-matte. It doesn’t cling to dry patches. It applies easily and evenly. I was able to find a great color match (though I know that won’t be the case for everyone). It sets quickly and isn’t tacky. I love it. I’ve recommended it to 8000 people. It’s less than $15 and available basically anywhere. Love it. LOVE. IT. And from what I understand, it should work fairly well for oily skin, too. Ulta and drugstores and wherever.
Coty Airspun Loose Face Powder: Another super cheap product I can no longer live without. I also tried several setting powders this year. I tried the Tarte powder and a couple of others and eh, fine. But I keep coming back to the Coty powder. It’s just effective. I use the translucent shade. I apply it over my concealer and foundation with a damp beauty blender, which I know might sound strange, but try it with your powder. It’s been holding my makeup in place all through the day, including my concealer. There are some tradeoffs with the price, though. It smells. Like, big time. Like someone’s stinky grandmother. The smell doesn’t last on the skin, but hoooomygod is it stinky when you open it. Also, it’s a loose powder, and I’m incapable of using loose powder without getting it every-fucking-where when I close the lid. Otherwise, though. Less than $10. Worth a try. Drugstores.
NARS Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base: I’ve used the LORAC Behind the Scenes eyelid primer forever with no complaints. I always had a little sample tube because they come with the palettes and I liked it. I tried this one out this year, though, and it’s just better. I’ve never really been a big NARS person, so even though I’d heard good things, I’d kind of ignored it. I think because I’m the kind of prude that doesn’t find shade names like Orgasm and Deep Throat to be cheeky and edgy, and I basically held it against the whole brand. Whatever, though. This shit is good. It’s not sticky and it dries down quickly so it’s easy to apply eyeshadow over it without any kind of patchiness or skipping. And it just stays all day. My eyeshadow looks exactly the same at the end of the day as it did at the start, which is a good or bad thing, depending on how artless and sloppy I was that morning. Just a boring, solid product. Sephora.
Wet n Wild Eyeshadow single in Brulee: I don’t know why I’ve never talked about this before because I don’t know how many of these I’ve been through over the years. I’ve used this forever as a base shadow color, just all over the lid, over primer and before other shadows. Obviously, this depends on skin tone, but it’s a fair match for most of us at the lighter end of the spectrum. I just buy this over and over, though I don’t know if I’ve ever used UP more than one or two. I probably just lose them. But $.99! Who cares! This is the perfect base shadow. The texture is super smooth, so when you apply your other shadows, they blend much more easily. This can really be accomplished with any good shadow close to your skin tone, but like I said, this one is nice and $.99. Cannot live without it. Also, it’s great to use for blending along the edges of your shadow after you’re done, to kind of fuzz out and clean up your (my) many copious ham-handed mistakes. Drugstores, Walmart, wherever. $.99!
LORAC Pro Brow Pencil: I talked about eyebrow products at great length in another post, so I won’t rehash. Still really like the micro brow pencils best, and this LORAC one has turned out to be great. The slate color is perfect for dark-ish brows. It doesn’t look grey, it’s just a great match, so give it a shot if you’re struggling with finding the right shade of dark brown, especially in cool tones. Quick and easy, the spoolie is nice, and I’d say it’s a more than adequate way to save a couple of bucks if you’re loyal to the Anastasia Brow Wiz. Ulta.
Viseart Eyeshadow palettes: Okay. Okay. So I know the price is… whoa. But you know I wouldn’t recommend something audaciously expensive to you if I didn’t very grudgingly accept that it’s kind of worth it. I feel like the kind of people that are going to overlook the price and buy a Viseart palette are maybe the more serious makeup people, but I want to make a case for giving them a try if you feel like your skills aren’t good enough to justify an $80 palette. These shadows just work. Just like good brushes are going to make your eye makeup look a little better even if you don’t actually get any better at doing it, these shadows are the same. The colors look on the skin exactly like they look in the pan. When you apply them, they just DO WHAT THEY’RE SUPPOSED TO. You don’t have to fight with them. They don’t smudge all over and they don’t skip or apply in a patchy way. They blend together with much less effort than similar shadows. If you feel like you’re not very good at eyeshadow, these will give you a boost. I have the matte neutral palette and the bridal satin, and as soon as I used them, I started looking at my other palettes wondering which I can just get rid of. Yes, they’re very expensive, but you know how irritating I find it when expensive products are actually good, so it is with full irritation that I recommend these, BIG TIME. Sephora online. Other websites sometimes have deals on them, as well. This is a good use of gift card pretend money.
Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Complete Coverage Concealer: I’ve never found a concealer that didn’t look horrific under my eyes. Cakey, sunk into fine lines that I otherwise can’t even see, etc. I tried the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, figuring I’d throw money at the problem, and was just totally meh about it. Rather than just return to drugstore products that gave me the same shitty results for way less money, I stupidly bought this one. I didn’t care for it at first. However, lately, it’s really been doing it for me. I know it’s probably a factor of improved skin care – dry under eyes WILL fuck up your concealer. Like I mentioned above, I’ve been using that Origins eye cream, and I put it on with my moisturizer, right before I start my makeup. That, combined with this concealer, seems to be doing the trick for me. It suddenly goes on smoothly and doesn’t cake up. I apply it with the wand (which gets super goopy with way too much product), then tap it in with a damp beauty blender. I set it with that Coty powder, and what the hell. It looks good. This has a really nice texture for me. I’ve never done well with those thicker undereye concealers like Bye Bye Undereye, and the gel formulation of this one seems to be almost the exact opposite of that sort. So if you’ve had the same kind of trouble with popular thick concealers, maybe try this one out. Sephora and Ulta.
Other stuff: No favorite mascara or eyeliner this year. I’ve never found a mascara that totally blew me away. Well, sometimes, but I only seem to like them for the first few uses, and then I’m underwhelmed. Probably just my lame eyelashes.
Blush tie: Becca Mineral Blushes and Hourglass Ambient Lighting blushes. I have five or six shades of each of these. I haven’t picked up my beloved Benefit Hervana in months. Both of these blush lines have a little something extra that make them look really glowy but not shiny or sparkly. They blend super easily and don’t look streaky. The shades are interesting and varied. These are easy to wear. Becca at Sephora and Ulta, Hourglass at Sephora.
Becca Shimmering Skin Perfectors: Highlight of choice for the whole year. I’ve tried both the pressed and liquid formulations, not the poured. Opal is probably my go-to shade. I’m not going to call them subtle, because… they’re not… but they’re not disco-bally, either. They go on smoothly and are buildable, so you can be as shiny as you like. I think the poured and liquid can be more subtle, but I don’t know, I don’t wear highlight every single day and when I do, I don’t generally aim for subtle. Whatever, you do you. I know Anastasia has come out with some well-reviewed highlighters this year, but I feel like my highlighter needs are totally covered by Becca. They go on smoothly and blend well into whatever else you’re wearing, so it doesn’t look like a big streak of glow. I think all the colors are very nice, depending what you’re looking for, but claims that a certain color is “perfect for every skin tone” are greatly exaggerated. Ahem. Ulta and Sephora.
Hourglass Ambient Bronzer: If you’re not a bronzer person, I probably can’t make you into one, but if I could, I’d likely suggest one of these. Like the other Ambient Lighting products, they go on smoothly and blend really well, so you won’t look like you have dirt smudges on your face. This one has that powder mixed in with the bronzer, so you’ll also get a nice glow with using it. It’s not easy to over do, but of course, I find a way. This was really, really awesome in the summer, when I don’t wear much makeup at all and just want to add a little color back once I put on whatever foundation I’m wearing. I haven’t reached for it as much as it’s gotten more wintery, preferring a matte bronzer like Benefit Hoola, but I would still say this was probably one of my favorite products of 2015. I do like to wear a lot of makeup, but also really appreciate products that cut down on the routine for days I want to wear less (which does happen!), and this was one of them for me. A few swipes around the outside of my face and a bit on my cheeks plus sunglasses and done. Sephora.
Shiro’s Do Your Research Contour powder: Soft, easy to blend, a great choice for fair-skinned, cool toned people. It’s a loose powder, so it can be a little messy if you’re not careful, but I have faith in you. Also, look at the picture on the front and tell me you don’t want it in your makeup bag.
NARS Audacious Lipsticks: Great formula. Almost justifies the price. They’re long-lasting and have an outstanding color range, one that supports my need to own any lip product that could even be widely categorized as a “dusty rose” shade. (Anna) Good color range + good formula (doesn’t bleed, lasts, isn’t uncomfortable to wear). Probably have to put this one near the top. Sephora.
LORAC Alter Ego Lipsticks: I’m going to say that the formula on these is not my favorite. If you don’t like a dry formula in your lipsticks, you probably won’t like these. However, the colors Duchess and CEO both featured heavily in my rotation this year and I don’t think I could do 2015 favorites without them. I’m pretty sure it was Duchess that kicked off my dusty rose obsession, can’t stop won’t stop. Ulta.
LORAC Pro Matte Lip Color: Two more that I wore all the time – Pink Taupe and Mauve. I don’t think you need to ask what color family those fall into. These are the currently popular, easy to apply lip crayon format, but they have a smaller tip than some others. These STAY PUT and last really well through eating and drinking. They are MATTE-matte, though, so if you’re not on board with the matte lip trend, maybe skip. Ulta.
MAC Creamstick Liner in Buerre: Every time I wear this, I get asked what I’m wearing. Enough said.
YSL lip products in general: I admit I first bought some of these because I wanted to feel like a fancy lady. I now own a couple of the Rouge Volupte Shine, a couple of the Volupte Sheer Candy, I think two of the Volupte Tint-In-Oil, and one of the Vernis A Levres Glossy Stains. No regrets. The price is high, but sometimes you just want something fancy, you know? Of course you know. The packaging feels heavy and special. I like holding them. I like seeing them out on my vanity. To be perfectly, shallowly honest, that would have been enough for me. But they’re actually all quite good. First, every single one of them is among the most comfortable to wear lip products I own. They go on smoothly and easily, and don’t feel tacky or drying at all. Every one of them, across all lines. With that, you’d normally expect to sacrifice some wear time, but I don’t find that to be the case. The ones I own certainly don’t last as long as the matte products or liquid lipsticks I own, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised, over and over, to find lasting, even color four or more hours after application. They’re just good. All around. Also another great use of pretend gift card money. Sephora.
This paint brush. I like to wear black eyeshadow as liner. I have never gotten the hang of liquid or gel liner and I just like the softer look of the powder better. I have used this brush to apply black powder as liner for years and years, and when I was looking through my stuff to decide on my favorites, I couldn’t believe I haven’t brought this one up before. It’s cheap, it’s easily available, it’s soft and perfectly angled. I use it every single day I wear eye makeup and I think you’d like it, too.
Okay! So! That’s it! Not all the products I’ve used and loved this year, but all the products I think stand out as favorites. Did I miss anything? I don’t think so, and how would you know, anyway? If you feel like it, let me know what your 2015 favorites were or what you’re going to get with any holiday gift cards. If you don’t feel like it, that’s fine, too. I already own all the best stuff ANYWAY.
Hope your holidays were fabulous.