Year in Review: 2013 Favorites

With New Year’s eve now behind us, it’s officially the time of year when “Best of 2013” beauty lists are inundating your blog feeds. It’s also the time of year when you accidentally put 2013 instead of 2014 every time you write the date and have to awkwardly macguyver a four out of a three. Fun times.

I decided against publishing monthly favorites for the last few months to build up excitement for the big finale. And by that I mean stepping up my blogging game is a major resolution for 2014. I hope you’ve all had an amazing holiday season filled with food, family, friends, and all the other nice things that start with F. Without further ado, here’s my roundup of the all-star products from 2013 – read on!

face, makeup, cosmetics, benefit fine one one, favorites

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer (Vanilla) – I have a feeling this baby is ending up on many a “Best of 2013” list. My favorite concealer I’ve ever tried. Full review here.

Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup (Shade 1.0) – I really owe this product its own review. It is hands down the best foundation I have ever used and I would shed actual tears of sadness if it were ever discontinued. The formula is super lightweight with a buildable medium to full coverage and a demi-matte finish. The demi-matte finish is great for those of us with oily skin who run in fear from any foundation with the words “radiant” or “luminizing” but still want to look natural. The formula contains light-diffusing spheres that blur imperfections for a flawless finish, even without concealer. I like to apply this with a buffing brush for that little extra coverage. The foundation is available in 18 shades that are numbered according to undertone – which makes the painstaking process of choosing a foundation color that much easier.

Benefit Stay Flawless 15 Hour Primer – While I’m still looking for my one true primer love, this Benefit primer was my most reached-for in 2013. Full review here.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Blends Translucent Oil Control Powder – If I had to pinpoint my longest running, most committed relationship to date, it would be with this powder. I found this gem during the dark and spot-filled years of puberty and have stayed loyal ever since. While I use Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder to actually set my makeup, I use Neutrogena to keep my face matte throughout the day. It’s not cakey, adds no additional coverage, and is the best shine-fighting powder I’ve ever used. Bonus – you can find it at any drugstore with a Neutrogena section.

cheek makeup, favorites, josie maran coconut cheek gelee, makeup, cosmetics

Josie Maran Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelée (Poppy Paradise) – 2013 was truly the year of the cream blush. Or in this case, gel blush. I picked this up a few months ago and am still head over heels. The blush’s texture is unlike any other makeup I’ve tried, it feels like smoothing cool water over your skin. It’s super pigmented and creates the most beautiful, natural flush that lasts all day. The packaging is also as streamlined as it gets, the little pot is super small and fits easily into a purse or travel makeup bag. If you’re into cream blush – you need to give this a try.

Benefit Fine One One – Another superstar of the year of cream blush. I had a rather intense love affair with Fine One One this summer and still whip it out when I need some help looking awake/alive – the consequence of being naturally pale during a polar vortex. Full review here.

Physicians Formula Solar Powder Bronzer (Light Bronzer) – I rediscovered this gem in my makeup stash this year. I consider this the unicorn of the bronzer world: matte, light, affordable, and with SPF. Do you know how challenging it is to find a bronzer when you are naturally “fair” and live in fear of all-over shimmer? Well the hunt is over – this is it. This is a particularly great bronzer during winter when the all-over bronzed look is harder to explain.

eye makeup, urban decay basics, favorites, makeup

Too Faced eye shadow palettes (Matte Eye, Natural Eye, Boudoir Eyes) – I think of Too Faced eye palettes as the Cinderellas of the beauty world. You always hear about Urban Decay, MAC, STILA, and LORAC but rarely will Too Faced come up in a conversation about the best eye palettes. Well I have three of these babies – three! And I couldn’t be happier, the shadows are smooth, pigmented, and gorgeous. The packaging, while occasionally a wee bit tacky, isn’t bulky or fiddly. Too Faced has also taken much of the guess work out of creating an eye look, each palette comes with three pre-arranged looks: day, classic, and fashion. There’s even a little instruction manual tucked inside that details precisely where on your eye each shade should go. Easy peasy. The warm brown combination in the Matte Eye palette is my all-time favorite combo for a quick, easy smokey eye that works both day and night. The Boudoir palette is packed with gorgeous, subtly sexy shades and the Natural Eye collection offers beautiful, wearable neutrals in both light and dark shades. Great quality, great value, and a great option for anyone new to makeup.

Urban Decay Basics Palette – Confession time. This is the only Urban Decay palette I own. Shock, horror! I realize this is akin to a cardinal sin in the beauty world but I am a matte, neutral eye girl at heart and $50 seemed a lot to spend on a palette I wasn’t sure I’d use. But before you click away from my blog in outrage, I’ll let you know that I’ve decided to give in and pick up the original Naked palette. I am slowly but surely embracing all things shimmery and sparkly and, to be honest, I feel like a bit of a fraud without one. Anyway, I picked up the basics palette earlier this year (matte AND neutral – be still my heart!) and now couldn’t imagine life without it. From natural everyday to polished professional to bold but classic, this palette has it covered.

favorites, makeup, real techniques expert face brush, clinique almost lipstick

Clinique Almost Lipstick (Black Honey) – Don’t be alarmed, but I’m prepared to declare this my favorite lip product of all time. ALL TIME. Black honey looks downright intimidating in the tube but is the most gorgeous, sheer cranberry on the lips and, as far as I can tell, suits everyone. It glides on like lip balm, it’s not sticky or smudgy and can build from a sheer stain to an eye-catching lipstick. As someone who’s always shied away from bold lip color, this is the perfect way to work red lipstick into my makeup routine and I have LIVED in this over the holidays. Do yourself a favor and just get it. Go now, I’ll wait.

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush – If by some chance you’ve yet to hear about Real Techniques makeup brushes, do yourself a favor and check them out. They’re not only incredible and super affordable but they’re also cruelty free. They also happen to be created by one of my all-time favorite YouTubers, Samantha Chapman of Pixiwoo. The Expert Face Brush is my reigning favorite foundation brush, it buffs product into the skin to create a flawless, full coverage finish. Pair this with the Urban Decay foundation mentioned above and you are SET.

perfume, favorites, chloe eau de parfum

Joe Malone English Pear and Freesia Cologne – Oh, Jo Malone, so nice to my nose and so cruel to my wallet. Le sigh. This scent was my daily go-to this past spring and summer, it’s the most delicious, fruity, summery fragrance. Sometimes I would just stand in my room and smell it…and drool a little. One downside, other than the steep price tag, would be lack of staying power. I would need to touch this up throughout the day but this is still going to be a permanent fixture in my perfume line up.

Chloé Eau de Parfum – This little number was my most used perfume of fall and winter. The scent is feminine, sophisticated, and a little sexy with staying power that is out of this world. Since accurately describing fragrances is so tricky, I’ll let Sephora give you the low down:

“This fresh, smooth floral fragrance evokes sublime powdery rose. The effect is chic, comfortable, and entirely addictive.”

^ What they said.

Marc Jacobs Nail Hi Shine Nail Lacquer, nail polish, favorites

Seche Vite – this top coat is super thick, super shiny, and super fast drying. What more could you possibly want?

FAVORITE SHADES

Gatsby (Marc Jacobs) – A totally unique silvery pink chrome polish that’s crazy pigmented and will have strangers asking after your nail color. 

In the Cab-Ana (Essie) – A gorgeous, eye-catching turquoise with warmer undertones than your typical blue shades. My most worn shade of the summer.

Read my Palm (Sephora by OPI) – This muted sage color somehow manages to be both sophisticated and, well, green. The formula is also a total winner too, lasted days on my nails with nary a chip. I can’t find it online but I still see it in stores if you’re interested!

Chinchilly (Essie) – The ultimate trendy neutral. My favorite toe nail shade of the year.

Gold Roses (Sally Hansen) – The perfect, perfect rose gold polish. Again, I can’t find a link but I tracked one down recently at a CVS! 

beauty, favorites, Lush BIG shampoo

LUSH BIG shampoo – Super weird, super effective. Full review here.

Macadamia Hair Mask – This has to be my favorite hair mask. The thick, creamy formula leaves my hair feeling soft, smooth, hydrated and smelling ridiculous – all without weighing it down. I’ve never hear a bad word about this baby, apart from maybe the price tag, though I promise you it’s worth every penny.

Beauty Protector Protect & Detangle – Hands down the best leave-in conditioner/detangling spray I’ve ever tried. Full review here.

Bumble & Bumble Dryspun Finish – 2013 was truly the year of texturizing sprays. Salt sprays are just so 2012, people. With naturally fine, straight hair, salt sprays never really worked for me so I embraced the new trend with open arms. The Dryspun Finish appears to be Bumble & Bumble’s answer to the wildly popular Oribe Texturizing Spray – same idea but with a lighter finish. I love this stuff. It’s super easy to use and gives my hair that little bit extra body without being heavy or crispy – the perfect way to wake up a tired ‘do after a long day.

the body shop vitamin e body butter, favorites, skin care, beauty

Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial – This moisturizer is super gorgeous and never fails to make my face feel plumped and pampered. A luxury item that somehow became a staple. Full review here.

Soap & Glory The Righteous Body Butter – Good lord does this stuff smell good. I personally find the other Soap & Glory scents a little too sweet and intense (blasphemy!) but The Righteous Body Butter is in a class of its own. I generally don’t enjoy smelling like a fruit or any type of baked good which seems to be the theme with most body butters so this sophisticated, sexy fragrance was calling my name. The formula is moisturizing but lightweight and works into the skin quickly so you can dress immediately after application without that awful feeling of having your clothes sticking to your skin. This also layers beautifully with the Chloé Eau de Parfum mentioned above.

Body Shop Body Butter (Vitamin E) – I might be the last person to jump on the band wagon with these. I’ve been foaming at the mouth to try their Honey Body Butter but it’s been sold out everywhere. I finally gave in and picked up a different scent, Vitamin E (which isn’t technically a scent but let’s all just go with it). This stuff is phenomenal. The formula is creamy and smooth and sinks quickly into the skin yet leaves your skin feeling plumped and moisturized for hours. This has been an absolute lifesaver for me this winter (radiators – the most drying heat source in the world).

Emma Hardie Amazing Face Moringa Cleansing Balm – 2013 was a big year for Emma Hardie. This balm seemingly ended up on the favorites lists of every blogger/vlogger/beauty guru I follow – and for good reason. The formula is absolutely gorgeous, smooth and luxurious, it takes off every trace of oil and makeup without being drying. An oil-based cleansing balm seems a counterintuitive choice for someone with naturally oily skin but just TRUST ME this baby is a gem. It’s revolutionized my skincare routine and I have a backup stashed away at all times.

Well that’s all, folks, all my best bits and bobs from the past year. Let me know some of your favorite products from 2013 – Santa oh so kindly left me a Sephora gift card in my stocking so recommendations are welcome! And for US readers living anywhere other than Florida or southern California, stay warm, friends!

Monthly Favorites: August/September 2013

As you might have noticed by the gaping holes in my post archive – I’ve not been on the blog much in the past couple months. As a result, instead of giving you two individual monthly favorite posts for August and September, you’re getting a special edition, a two for the price of one August/September faves list. You are welcome.

Cosmetics

Stila, beauty, cosmetics, makeup, blush, cheeks, lips

Stila Convertible Color in Petunia – these lip/cheek babies are cult favorites for a reason. The formula is incredibly pigmented, creamy, actually works on both the cheeks and the lips, and comes in ten absolutely gorgeous shades. I have two: Lilium (a neutral brown-toned rose) and Petunia (a super bright coral pink). I use Illium for days when I want a more natural, bronzer-focused cheek look and Petunia for the most beautiful, healthy flush. The color is very buildable but is so pigmented you need only the tiniest amount to begin with. I apply these with a MAC 130 but any flat-topped synthetic brush would work or even your fingers! The packaging is also a win, super pretty, super slim, and colored to match the product inside so there’s no guesswork. $25/.15oz – this is a little pricey but I’ve used Petunia at least three times a week for months and made barely a dent!

Nars Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla – Full review to come! But I will say this my current favorite under-eye concealer – super creamy and subtly radiant. $28/.22oz.

Maybelline Color Tattoo in Bad to the Bronze – I know everyone and their mother is in love with these and I’m no exception. These drugstore treasures are super pigmented, super long-lasting, and come in a ton of shades that run the gamut from super wearable to super bold. They work both as a cream shadow and an eyeshadow base. This particular shade, Bad To The Bronze is a gorgeous warm metallic bronze that can be worn in a sheer layer for a day look or layered up for an evening smokey eye that’s a great alternative for girls who struggle to pull off black eyeshadow. An amazing shade for blue eyes! $6.99/.14oz at CVS.

Anastasia Brow Gel in Clear – this is an excellent, clear brow gel that holds hair in place pretty much all day (unless they’re truly feeling mutinous). The brush is fuller than the average brow gel brush which allows you to really comb through and separate the hairs for the most natural look. It also comes in snazzy silver packaging so you’re not forced to watch the gross evolution of your gel from clear to the murky flesh color that always appears after a few weeks of use. $22/.28oz.

Skin Care

Korres Wild Rose + Vitamin C Advanced Brightening Sleeping Facial – full review here. $48/1.35oz.

Sephora Collection Age Defy Eye Cream – I first got this as a freebie sample and was intrigued, I’d never tried any Sephora brand skin care before. To be honest, I didn’t even know they made any. Well I was impressed! The formula is super creamy and moisturizing and feels lovely as part of my nighttime skin routine. The packaging comes equipped with a pump which is a rarity for eye creams and keeps things nice and hygienic. $25/.5oz.

Nails

“Read My Palm” by Sephora OPI – I’d be lying if I said I didn’t buy this color because it matched one of my favorite cardigans. It’s  a gorgeous bright sage green color that manages to walk the line between colorful and classy. What impressed me most, however, was the formula. I’ve never had a polish last so long on my nails! I’m an absolute convert. I paired this with OPI shatter polish in Gold Shatter and got compliments on my nails from what seemed like everyone. I couldn’t find the exact color online for some reason but I still see it in the stores. Well worth checking out! $9.50/.5oz regular price, currently on sale for $4.50!

Seche Vite Top Coat – while this seems to be the king of topcoats in the UK, I’d never really heard much about it in the US. With the ongoing influx of European beauty standards flooding our shops and drugstores, however, I knew I’d find it eventually. And I did – tucked innocently away in my local CVS one morning (I believe Ulta carries it too). I snatched it up and whisked it home to see whether or not it lived up to the hype. It so did, people. It’s a lovely thick, shiny topcoat that dries almost instantly. What more could you possibly ask for? $9.49/.5oz.

Fragrance

perfume, fragrance, sephora, beauty, review

Versace Bright Crystal – since describing fragrances is ridiculously hard, I’ll let Sephora do it for me:

Inspired by a mixture of Donatella Versace’s favorite floral fragrances, Bright Crystal is a fresh, sensual blend of refreshing chilled yuzu and pomegranate mingled with soothing blossoms of peony, magnolia, and lotus flower, warmed with notes of musk and amber.

I really love this fragrance. In fact, when I was picking out my new “signature” scent before I started college, (I was a weird teenager) I ended up torn between this and Miss Dior Cherie (now called Miss Dior).  Miss Dior won but Bright Crystal stayed in the back of my mind and so I jumped for it when I saw the rollerball size. I love how feminine this perfume is. It’s a perfect balance of floral and fresh and makes me feel simultaneously girly and sophisticated. I also really love this layered with Chloe Eau de Parfum. $20/.3oz (rollerball size).

Books

Goodreads.com – when I don’t have my nose buried in beauty blogs then it’s most likely buried in a book. I’ve been absolutely addicted to reading since before I can remember. When my brother and sister and I would misbehave we’d have our books taken away instead of TV or videogames. As anyone who has ever lost a book halfway through reading it knows, this should be illegal. It’s just cruel. Anyway, In the last several months I’ve gotten really into a site called Goodreads.com. Its a site for bookworms everywhere to rate books, read reviews, talk to each other, mark books to read, and follow their favorite authors. I got really into this site after getting a kindle last christmas. As much as I love the convenience of an eReader, it falls totally short when it comes to browsing for a new read. Goodreads allows me to see what my favorite authors are loving, what friends (with accounts) are reading, and creates personal recommendations based on what I’ve already rated. I’ve found some unbelievable reads on here and highly recommend it to anyone looking for a new book!

cheryl Strayed, books, review, advice, amazon, readingTiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed – I’ve had friends describe this book as their bible, that’s how amazing it is. I’ve never been one for self help books or advice columns or that type of thing but I will undoubtedly page through this book until it falls apart in my hands. Tiny Beautiful Things is a collection of letters and responses from a formerly anonymous advice column called Dear Sugar. These letters are in turns hilarious, heartbreaking, shocking, profound, life changing, and thought provoking. I’ve given this book to so many women in my life and will continue to do so as long as I can find people who don’t own a copy (it also works for boys!). Cheryl Strayed is simultaneously a beautifully gifted writer and a perceptive, sympathetic, kickass, mindblowing advice giver. She shares as much of hersef in her answers as her writers have shared of themselves in their letters. Still doubtful? Stop by a bookstore and read just one letter and you’ll see what I mean. $8-$15/353 pages depending book format.

Random Bits & Pieces

Allen Stone – this self described “hippie with soul” has the smokiest, smoothest voice I’ve heard in ages and his album “Allen Stone” is a win from start to finish. Anyone who has a soft spot for soul music and brilliant lyrics should check this dude out. Two of my favorites are “Unaware” and “Celebrate Tonight.”

Bath & Body Works candles – anyone who loves candles loves Bath & Body Works. They’re just so darn good. Their three wick candles especially (which always seem to be on sale) are incredible and fill an entire room with fragrance. My current favorite is Cider Donut which is RIDICULOUS. I honestly drool a tiny bit when I go to light it. You get the sweetness of the sugar and cinnamon but the undercurrent of apple keeps it from getting too sickly on you. There hasn’t been a single person who hasn’t commented on how awesome my rooms smells if they walk in while I’m burning it. Also worth mentioning are what my cousin and I call their “sexy man candles.” This might sound a bit strange but once you’ve smelled one you’ll understand. Sexy man scents include but are not limited to: Mahogany Teakwood, Sandalwood Citrus, and Black Pepper Bergamot. Perfect for anyone wanting to pretend a sexy man just left their…um…kitchen. My favorite is the sandalwood citrus. It’s like an Abercrombie model in a little candle. 

On that vaguely creepy note, I end my August/September favorites. Hope you enjoyed them! Anyone else loving similar things this month?

Image Credits: Sephora.com, Amazon.com

Monthly Favorites: July 2013

Here’s a quick hit list of what I’ve been reaching for again and again this past month.

Cosmetics

  • Ardell Brow Sculpting Gel (clear) – seeing as how my eyebrows are constantly in a state of mutiny,  eyebrow gel has become a staple in my makeup bag. That being said, I’ve yet to find one that really wows me. This gel, while not being amazing, is pretty darn good and is significantly cheaper than the other gels I’ve been testing recently. For those whose eyebrows need only mild encouragement – this could be an excellent bargain! $6.49/2.5oz.
  • Rimmel London Scandaleyes Kohl Kajal Eyeliner in #004 “Taupe” – this eyeliner is a great option for people who prefer more subtle definition when it comes to their eye makeup. It’s a warm, grey-brown shade that’s great for sneaky eyeliner looks or running along the lower lashes for a softer effect. The best part? It’s waterproof and won’t budge once it sets – win win win.
  • Benefit “Stay Flawless” 15 hour primer – full review here.
  • Revlon Super Lustrous lip gloss in #215 “Super Natural” – I’m a girl who love her “your lips but better” lip products – pinky browns alllll the way. Well this Revlon gloss is perhaps the ultimate YLBB gloss for me. It’s fragrance-free, non-sticky, and shiny without being over the top. It’s currently my go-to day gloss and I always keep it in my bag!
  • Smith’s Rosebud Salve – this multi-purpose salve is incredible. It’s a super pretty clear pink balm that comes in a retro, rose-adorned tin. I love swiping this on before I head to bed at night – sometimes I can still feel in on my lips in the morning! Moisture city. $6/.8oz.

Nails

  • Essie “In the Cab-ana” – Blues & turquoises are probably my all-time favorite shades to wear on my finger nails so the fact that this Essie offering is currently top of the pack should say something. It’s a gorgeous, summer color that’s bold and bright without being harsh. $8/.5oz.
  • Color Club “Reign in Spain” – this color is available exclusively as part of the “Wanderlust” collection from Birchbox. It somehow manages to strike the perfect balance between neon and pastel and while it doesn’t look that amazing in the bottle, it’s a showstopper on the hands. It’s one of those polishes that has you continuously peeking at your fingers throughout the day. While the formula’s nothing to write home about, the color makes up the difference – it makes even my albino hands look tan. $8/4 mini polishes.

Fragrance

  • Joe Malone “English Pear & Freesia” Cologne – this is the perfect summer perfume: light, sweet, fruity, and refreshing. It doesn’t have the most amazing staying power but the smell is so delicious it more than makes up for it – I just carry around a little sample version I hoodwinked the saleslady into giving me for touch-ups! A wee bit steep on the price front but I think the name “Jo Malone” might have already given that away. $60/30ml.

Random Bits & Pieces

  • Target “Mini Cinnamon Donuts” Candle – I’ve done a mini review on this yummy candle.

That’s all I have for this month! But I made a ninja trip to Sephora during my lunch break last week and have a ton of new skincare products I’m testing – hoping those end up in my August faves next month! What have you been loving this July?