Holy moly, now THIS was a process… Choosing my top makeup picks for 2015 was like choosing a favourite fur baby. It can’t be done. When I first started going through my acrylic makeup storage units, I ended up taking out 30 products. I almost had a heart attack when I finished counting everything, so I took a break (breathed into a brown paper bag) and came back to whittle the list down to 17 products. It’s still a rather large number, but bear with me.
And just in case you missed any of the recent ‘Best Of Beauty 2015’ blog post, click on the highlighted text below:
I’m going to write this blog post a bit differently to how I have written my previous ‘Best Of Beauty’ blog posts, mostly because I have chosen 1 product from each makeup category. So I’ll be taking you through my makeup application process (in order of how I apply each product) i.e. primer first, then foundation, then favourite concealer etc. It’ll almost be like I’m telling you a story. Ready?
Go grab yourself a cup of tea / coffee (add a biscuit to the mix) and let’s get started:
Most of you already know a makeup primer is an absolute must for me, and this might not come as a surprise to you but I was head over heels in love with the Smashbox Pore Minimizing Primer (R495,00) – still am. It fills in (and blurs) those pesky little pores and creates a beautiful smooth canvas for the next step in my makeup routine. It was very difficult for me to choose just one foundation (there are so many great ones out there) but after careful deliberation, I chose my favourite full coverage foundation – Estée Lauder Double Wear Foundation (R480,00). The thing about heavy coverage foundations is you can sheer them out by adding a few drops of your favourite facial oil, or your daily moisturiser (think tinted moisturiser or BB cream). You can’t add coverage to a light or sheer coverage foundation, so that’s why I’ll always invest in a good full coverage foundation. Hyperpigmentation, blemishes, redness, you name it, Double Wear will cover it. I like to apply this foundation with a dampened makeup sponge (like the Beautyblender or Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge) as I find it adds a little bit of moisture back into the foundation, since it is quite a matte-finish foundation. I suggest you head over to your nearest Estée Lauder counter, let them swatch test the shades on your jawline (with 29 shades available, you are guaranteed to find your perfect match) and take a sample home with you. I’m sure you are going to LOVE it.
Next up is concealer – I like to use 2 types of concealers most days (some days when my dark eye circles are a real problem, I add the Catrice Camouflage Cream to the mix as well but I don’t use it every single day so I’m not including it in this year’s lineup). For my under eye circles and any other imperfections on the skin, I rely on the MAC Select Cover-Up Concealer (R275,00). It hides blemishes, cancels dark circles, and leaves behind perfected skin. Select Cover-Up provides superb coverage and feels comfortable and hydrating on my dry under eye areas. The shade selection is amazing, so I suggest you head to your nearest MAC counter to check it out.
To highlight or accentuate certain areas on my face (cheekbones, bridge of the nose, chin, and forehead) I use one of my favourite affordable concealers. Catrice Re-Touch Light-Reflecting Concealer (R69,95) provides extra moisture, plus gives the skin a beautiful, natural-looking highlight. It contains a teensy bit of shimmer (hardly noticeable) that gives your skin a healthy glow, plus it blends like a dream and melts into the skin. I’ve used this concealer in many of my makeup tutorials, you can take a look here.
I have combination skin during the hot Summer months, so it is essential that I use a setting powder. Even when I use a heavy coverage foundation, I like to apply just a light dusting of powder to my T-zone and under eyes (to set those areas and keep the oil at bay). The face powder I mentioned in my ‘Best Of Beauty 2014 – Makeup’ blog post is still my ride-or-die favourite, and it is so finely milled, you won’t ever have to worry about it looking too powdery or cakey. I’m talking about the MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural (R390,00). I also use it to set my under eye concealer and I find it gives those areas an flawless, air-brushed finish. When I use a light coverage foundation or something with a dewy or satin finish, I use the same powder to set my whole face. It adds a bit of coverage, cancels oil, and blurs pores in one velvety swoop.
The Body Shop Honey Bronze Bronzing Powder (R215,00) has been a firm favourite of mine since since 2013, the compact you see here is my second one in 2 or so years. The texture is soft, matte, and perfect for subtle bronzing on fair to olive skintones (there are 4 shades available ranging from ‘Light Matte’ to ‘Deep Matte’). The key to getting that perfect sunkissed glow is not just having a great bronzer, it’s also knowing how and where to apply it as well. When applying a bronzer, I like to use a big, fluffy brush (like this one) and tap off any excess product before applying it to the temples, upper forehead and along the cheekbones. For a more natural day-time makeup look, using a contour powder is unnecessary – apply a fairly neutral-toned bronzer, it lifts cheekbones and creates a clean, natural, sculpted effect. I filmed a ‘How To: Contour & Highlight For Beginners’ video last year – if you would like check it out, click here.
Let’s move on to the rest of my face – blush and highlighter. I have quite an extensive blush collection (I went through a phase where I thought I needed to own every blush I laid my eyes on) so choosing just one was quite a process. Initially it was a tie between Essence Silky Touch Blush in ‘Adorable’ and the Bobbi Brown Blush in ‘Apricot’ (R420,00). I had to think about it long and hard, and eventually decided that the Bobbi Brown blush was top of the pops for me. What I like about Bobbi Brown blushes, is that their undertone mimics natural blood flow to the skin. And the shade ‘Apricot’ matches my natural flush perfectly, making it my perfect everyday blush. It’s a lovely deep coral-pink shade that stays true to colour until you wash it off, plus it suits all skin tones – pale, light, medium, olive, tan, deep. Start out with a light dusting (especially if you have a light skin tone) and build your way up from there. Try this gorgeous blush if you are looking for a natural, youthful flush.
If you’re anything like me, then you will agree that highlighting is one of the most important steps in any makeup routine. I’m sure it comes as no surprise, theBalm Mary-Lou Manizer (R399,00) gets 5 stars from me! For a full review on this gorgeous highlighter, take a look at this blog post. Mary-Lou and I are on a first name basis, because she is my glow-getter go-to. The texture is smooth, the pigmentation is really impressive, and it blends like a dream. This world class champagne highlighter brings a lot of light to the face, without adding chunky glitter. If you would like to see where I like to apply my highlighter these days, take a look at this video. If there is one highlighter that every makeup loving gal needs in her collection, it’s definitely Mary-Lou Manizer. You can find this beauty online at Retail Box.
Next up is brows, and we all know my brows need all the help they can get. In terms of a brow pencil my love for the MAC Brow Pencil in ‘Lingering’ (R210,00) is still as strong as ever. For me, a brow pencil is so much easier to work with than a brow powder or a brow pomade – but that’s only true if you use a good quality brow pencil. ‘Lingering’ suits most hair colours (I even used it when I was a blonde) and the shade is perfection, it has no green- or red undertones, plus the texture is waxy which helps to keep those brow hairs in place. Speaking of which, if you suffer from ‘droopy-brow-syndrome’ or you have unruly brow hairs, then you need a brow gel in your life. I don’t really have unruly brows, but my brow hairs do tend to droop down after a couple of hours – why can’t they just stay nice & perky? Anyway, the Catrice Eyebrow Filler Perfecting & Shaping Gel (R62,00) was my go-to for most of 2015. It adds a little bit of colour to the brows, and keeps them in place all day long without feeling crunchy.
My favourite eyeshadow primer was featured in last year’s ‘Best Of Beauty 2014 – Makeup’ blog post, so I won’t go into too much detail why I love it so much. It has been my ride-or-die primer for the past 3 years and I don’t see myself falling in love with any other eyeshadow base anytime soon. For eyeshadow that doesn’t crease, smudge, or budge – you need MAC Painterly Paint Pot (R250,00) in your life. To read why I love this primer so much, click here.
Moving on to eyeshadows, now I own way too many eyeshadow palettes for just one girl but there’s method to my madness. Eyeshadow palettes are easier to travel with (compared to packing 5 different potted eyeshadows), plus they usually contain all the shades you need to create a natural daytime makeup look, or a smoldering smoky eye. I was going to feature my Urban Decay Naked 3 Palette, but it’s not readily available in South Africa (yet…ahem…) so I picked another palette that I also constantly reached for during 2015. The Stila Eyes Are The Window – Soul Palette (R495,00) contains everything you will ever need to create an array of different makeup looks. If you’re a neutral eye gal, then trust me, this palette will be your trusted companion for years to come. The palette contains 12 pans in varying shades of nudes and neutrals, with different finishes (matte, frosted, shimmer, glitter). The texture of these eyeshadows are soft and easy to blend. The palette also contains Stila’s bestseller ‘Kitten’ eyeshadow, which makes for a great all-over lid colour, inner corner highlight or upper cheekbone highlight. All the shades are true to the colour of the pan, plus they all work so well together. Let’s not forget – the palette is absolutely gorgeous! The outer packaging features a mix of yellow- and rose gold, plus when you open it up you’ll see a big mirror – perfect for on-the-go makeup. I recently used this eyeshadow palette in a makeup tutorial video, click here to check it out.
Eyeliners, now there are 2 types of eyeliners I enjoyed using during 2015 – a liquid eyeliner and a soft kohl eyeliner pencil. I didn’t use gel liners that much last year, not sure why, but I think it’s probably because I find pencils and pens are easier to work with. I adored the L’Oréal Super Liner Blackbuster (R119,00) and I still do, it’s an intense black liquid liner that is surprisingly very easy to work with. Initially the bulky marker-type packaging scared me a little bit, because I thought it was going to difficult to create a perfect, fine line on the upper lash line. Turns out, it works really well because you can either use the fine tip or you can lay the tip down on its side and create a line like that. It has a slightly creamy formula that glides on easily and doesn’t drag across the lid. What I love most about this liner is that it doesn’t fade throughout the day, and yet it’s very easy to remove at the end of the day. Winner!
In terms of a soft kohl pencil eyeliner, I loved the L.A. Girl Glide Gel Liner in the shade ‘Deep Bronze’ (R59,95). I featured the black version of this pencil in my ‘April 2015 Favourites’ blog post, and mentioned I loved it so much that I went back to Dis-Chem to pick up 2 additional shades (one of them being ‘Deep Bronze’). The name of these ‘Glide Gel Liner’ pencils are very fitting, because they really do glide across the lid / lower lash line – they are so smooth and creamy. The best part? Even though they’re very creamy, they don’t smudge or transfer at all. You do have about a minute to work with the pencil once you’ve applied it before it dries down, so you can definitely smudge or blend it out with a stiff eyeshadow brush like the ‘Real Techniques Accent Brush’ (featured here). ‘Deep Bronze’ is a beautiful warm metallic brown shade, a very good dupe for ‘MAC Eye Kohl in Teddy’ (and lasts longer too).
Moving on to mascara – it was a tie between the Smashbox Full Exposure Mascara and the Maybelline Lash Sensational Mascara (R149,95) but after thinking about it for a while, I decided that the Maybelline mascara was the winner. I knew I liked this mascara from the very first swipe – the clump-free formula is great (not too wet, not too dry) and the brush is nice and stiff, so it does a great job of separating and fanning out my lashes. The rubber brush features short, densely packed bristles along the inner curve (to deposit mascara at the root of lashes) and longer bristles on the other side to sweep and carry the mascara through each lash. I can get away with just 1 coat (but I’m a creature of habit, so I always apply 2 coats) to achieve defined, separated, and yet volumised lashes. What I also love about the mascara, is that the one side of the wand allows me to get those inner corner lashes and bottom lashes without smudging. If your goal is to have evenly separated lashes for that wide-awake, doe-eyed look, then Lash Sensational is the mascara for you.
Last but certainly not least, we have lip products. I must admit, I don’t wear a lip liner every single time I apply a lipstick but when I know I’m going to be out & about and I need my lip colour to last a while longer, I always reach for a lip liner. My liner of choice during 2015 was the L’Oréal Lip Liner Couture By Colour Riche in the shade ‘Bois De Rose’ (R129,95). This is such a gorgeous colour, the perfect dusty rose shade. It creates a beautiful neutral pink canvas for your lipstick, and the formula is nice & creamy, so it doesn’t drag across the lips. I featured ‘Bois De Rose’ in a ‘Get Ready With Me – Winter Edition’ video last year and more recently in this makeup tutorial – in the recent video you will see it works really well when paired with a light nude lipstick, but it also looks stunning when topped with a lipstick like the one I’m about to mention.
There are gorgeous lipsticks, and then there’s this beauty. It prompts social media pandemonium, blows other high-end lipsticks out of the water, and has established a cult status for itself. I’m talking about the MAC Lipstick in ‘Syrup’ (R220,00). Whenever I wear this lipstick, people always ask me what I’m wearing – even strangers, no jokes! I recently sported the lippie in this blog post and my readers went mad for it, I received so many comments and tweets from people telling me they were going to go out and buy it ASAP. Syrup is a hydrating, cool-toned mauve lipstick with a shiny finish. The colour is so versatile, it looks great with everything from bold smokey eyes to a more natural everyday look. Because Syrup is such a neutral, mauve-pink shade, I can wear pretty much all year ’round (the shade isn’t season-specific like for example bold corals for Summer or deep plums for Winter). This lipstick is certainly well loved – it was a hot Summer’s day, and as I swiped the lipstick across my lips, it literally broke right down the middle. I was in such a state of shock, but fortunately adrenalin kicked into gear and I thought: “Heck no! You’re not dying on me now!” So I heated up each side where it broke off, and stuck it back together again (almost like Humpty Dumpty). It looks good as new (kind of) and I love it way too much to just chuck it away. Oh, and I usually stock up on a new MAC lipstick when I have 5 empty containers (as part of their Back-To-MAC initiative) – remember, even brow pencils count!
If you’re more a gloss girl, then I highly suggest you check out the NYX Butter Glosses (R124,95) at selected Clicks stores. My love affair with the NYX Butter Glosses started over 2 years ago when international beauty bloggers and YouTubers started raving about them. I was fortunate enough to place a rather large order on Cherry Culture (back when the exchange rate was still okay) and paid about R60,00 each. There are so many beautiful shades to choose from, but my ultimate is ‘Vanilla Cream Pie’ – it is a lovely natural pink shade that is the perfect ‘my lips but better’ shade. The texture is creamy, smooth, intensely moisturising, but bot sticky at all. And the pigmentation? Top notch! I own 13 shades and ALL of them are extremely pigmented (if you’d like to see what my collection looks like, take a look at this blog post). They all have dessert themed names (Eclair, Strawberry Parfait, Cherry Pie, Peach Cobbler) which works perfectly with their sugary sweet cake batter scent. They are pure perfection – whether you wear them on their own or layered over your favourite lipstick.
And to top it off? Of course I have to finish my makeup look with a setting spray, and I’m pretty sure you already know the name of my favourite finishing spray. For a full review on the MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ Finishing Spray (R250,00 for 100ml / R130,00 for 30ml), take a look at my ‘Battle Of The Makeup Setting Sprays’ blog post.
I hope you enjoyed this blog post! These products served me so well throughout 2015 and all of them have found a permanent spot in my current makeup routine. What are YOUR current makeup favourites?
P.S. Did you manage to pick up on the hint / clue I gave you in this blog post…? Hhhhmmmm?