Happy new year! It's that time again—time for me to make my annual list of the year's best beauty products. (Here is last year's.) For 2013, there were so many good launches that I just couldn't narrow it down to only 10, so instead you get 15—in no particular order—of the top products that have made it into my personal grooming regimen this year.
And because I just can't help myself, I had to list 5 more of my faves... not new launches, but all new discoveries for me this year. Let's do this!
I first heard about the MAC Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara when Caitlin Callahan raved about it at a media event—and it totally lived up to her praise. The small brush is easy to control and lets you get at and define every single hair, and the ultra-black formula is so soft and buildable. I've had mine for months and it hasn't clumped yet. I swear, it's the best mascara I've tried in a long, long time. (Runner-up: Dior DiorShow Iconic Overcurl.)
Lush Sikkim Girls, a new Gorilla Perfume launched this year, features frangipani, jasmine and tuberose notes—but it's the sexiest white floral I've ever smelled. Must be the touch of vanilla. I just love how sensual and exotic this scent is, but with a touch of hippie vibe too. It lasts forever on my skin. Looks like it's sold out in the US, but still available here.
So many makeup artists praised the new Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder this year—and no wonder. Who wouldn't want to create the effect of a soft-focus lens on the face? There are six shades, each one to mimic a different type of lighting but versatile enough to work on every skin tone. I find these powders diffuse imperfections and give a subtle glow without being heavy or chalky-looking.
I've loved this lip balm in clear for years, but it wasn't until the arrival of Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment SPF 15 in Cherry in August that I got on board with it in colour. While the other tinted shades are just okay, Cherry is the PERFECT red. It's highly pigmented without being heavy and lipsticky, plus you get the supreme moisturizing benefits and incredible Fresh signature scent. I like this tinted balm way better than regular red lipstick.
If you're looking for a serious workhorse mattifier, the BECCA Ever-Matte Poreless Priming Perfector is for you. It works so well at soaking up oil that you actually have to be careful about only applying it where you get shiny (so your forehead instead of your cheeks, for example). The added bonus is that it's also silicone-free.
Revlon's original balm-stains were good, but who knew they could get even better? This year, they got revamped and renamed, now known as Revlon ColorBurst Matte Balms (matte finish) and Revlon ColorBurst Lacquer Balms (glossy finish). I'm partial to the mattes because they're so surprisingly non-drying, but both are incredible: bright pigments, balmy feel and of course, the wicked drugstore price. Well played, Revlon. The Stila After Glow Lip Color crayons are a similar product I also fell in love with this year—particularly Electric Pink.
No surprise, I'm still loving Dior Nail Glow, which came out in the spring. The clear polish with a hint of pink makes nails look whiter and brighter; outdoors, it gives my nails this awesome mauve-ish tint. With its fat brush, it couldn't be easier to apply. This is a great option for days when you don't have time to do a proper mani but still need to dress up your nails a bit.
The Chanel Stylo Eyeshadows were a limited-edition launch that I hope turns permanent. They're long-wearing eyeshadows in a creamy stick format, and they impart a cooling sensation on your eyelids upon application. The colours are all lovely and shimmery, and are so easy to apply—one swipe and you're done. Snap these up while you still can!
Big news this year in curling irons. Two brands, BaByLiss and Conair, came out with automated curling devices that do the work for you. (You just clamp down on a section and the machine draws the hair up into the "curling chamber" for a few seconds before it beeps and you release the curl.) I test-drove both for a FLARE assignment and found the BaByLiss Pro MiraCurl Professional Curling Machine easier to use... it was gentler on my hair and gave me well-formed curls that didn't droop. That said, I wasn't able to keep either device after my test-drive, so maybe I just needed more practice. I think either one would be a great investment if you're like me and a bit of a dummy with heat tools.
Hate greasy eye creams under your makeup? You need to check out SkinCeuticals AOX+ Eye Gel. It gives you all the benefits of a serum (antioxidants that protect from oxidative stress and repair photodamage) along with actives that reduce puffiness and signs of tiredness. Unlike a cream, it sinks in quickly and isn't greasy, making it the perfect daytime eye care solution.
Skincare benefits, hydration, light-diffusing capabilities and medium-to-full coverage: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer really knocks it out of the park. I find it particularly good for camouflage around the eye area, since it totally lives up to the "creamy" and "radiant" parts of its name. It works on other areas too, but you may want to use a smaller brush—a little goes a long way and the wand tends to dispense more than you need. There are 10 shades.
2013 was definitely the year of the CC Cream. (Last year, it was all about BBs.) I tried a bunch of them, and my pick is Nip + Fab CC Cream SPF 30 because of the creamy but non-oily texture, excellent coverage—I'd say it's at least medium—and the budget-friendly price. It comes in two shades and the light is actually pale enough for me, which rarely happens with these things. Chanel's CC Cream is also a great choice, although it's much pricier.
Even with all the CC Cream buzz, Guerlain Lingerie de Peau BB Cream SPF 30 was quietly introduced this year, and it's a winner. It gives a lot of pigment for a BB (I would describe it as similar to a medium-to-full coverage foundation), spreads beautifully and like Nip + Fab's CC Cream, has a Light shade that is actually light enough for my skin tone. It comes in Medium, too. I especially like that it dispenses out of a pump. One of the best BB Creams on the market, in my opinion.
14. CND Vinylux
The CND Vinylux system consists of a Weekly Polish and Weekly Top Coat that resist chipping for, well, up to one full week. I get about five days out of it (which is amazing for me) and like it better than Shellac because it goes on and comes off just like regular nail polish. You don't even apply a base coat. The reason it lasts longer than normal nail polish is because the top coat gets stronger with exposure to natural light. So much more convenient than going to the salon—and kinder to your nails.
I've been meaning to talk about Benefit Gimme Brow for a few months now—but every time I remember, I'm overdue for a Mary appointment and not wanting to post my bushy brows on the internet. To fill you in: this is a tinted brow gel... with a twist. It has tiny fibres that adhere to your brow hairs to create the illusion of more fullness, looking much more natural than a pencil or powder would on the skin. Honestly, it's the most genius brow product ever.
That wraps up the big 15! Now, here are five more things I discovered this year that aren't new—but they're definitely noteworthy:
- Shiseido The Makeup Facial Cotton: Where has this been all my life? Way better—and in fact more economical—than regular drugstore cotton balls.
- Kai Perfume Oil: The latest addition to my collection of tropical, beachy scents.
- SkinCeuticals Blemish + Age Defense: Does an amazing job of keeping skin clear and glowing.
- TRIA Skin Rejuvenating Laser: I'm gearing up for my second round with this home laser device, which targets discolouration and fine lines.
- Caudalie Instant Foaming Cleanser: My current go-to cleanser, which is 99 percent natural and gently foams on contact but doesn't dry you out.
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Have your say
Have you checked out any of these products yet?
What were your top products of 2013?
What do you want to add to your regimen in 2014?