It's that time again, when we stop to pause and reflect on the year that was... and here, that means making a list of the very BEST beauty products of the last 12 months.
Since this ol' blog has been around since 2009 (eeks!) and I was a magazine beauty editor even before that (double eeks!), I am lucky enough to receive A LOT of product for editorial consideration. (Too bad they can't pay my rent, ha!) I do test it all, but alas, most things don't warrant a mention. Since I'm not really a review blogger—I would rather spend my time giving you articles like this—I don't bother talking about stuff that is just okay, not great.
So rest assured, when something impresses me, you WILL know about it. This is that list for 2015! All new products, and mostly makeup (because I am such a skin minimalist, I pretty much stick to this and not much else). If there is interest, I'll do another listicle of my most-used products of 2015 that aren't necessarily new launches.
Okay, get out your shopping list... here we go!
Best New Foundation
Make Up For Ever upgraded the formula of its popular HD foundation this year; the result is Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation and God, it's good. I used to wear the original HD for many years, but this one is even better. It feels thinner and more weightless, while still providing buildable medium coverage that doesn't look like you're wearing anything. (Or smell like it! It's a huge pet peeve of mine when foundations are fragranced, but this one thankfully isn't.) The 40-shade colour selection is also amazing—it is one of the few lines where I can actually find a shade that is both light enough and neutral enough. I've long felt that MUFE made the best high-performance foundations, and that is still very much true!
Note: When coverage/longevity is not a big concern, I will wear Sappho Organic Foundation (not new; reviewed here) or RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up (also not new) sheered out as foundation, since I prefer natural ingredients on my skin.
Best New Mascara
I'm never that impressed with volumizing mascaras, but whenever I use the Physicians Formula Eye Booster Instant Lash Extension Kit, it really does make me go, "Wow!" It is a three-step process whereby you coat your lashes with the mascara, then dust on the loose fibres, and finally seal them on with another coat of mascara. You can repeat that as many times as you want. The result is dramatically thicker (not so much longer) lashes that totally make your eyes pop. I also love that it doesn't smear or smudge like so many "wet" formulas. You can read my original review and see how it looks over here.
Honorable mentions go to Maybelline Lash Sensational, which is great for a regular volumizing mascara at the drugstore, and Rimmel Wonder'Lash, reviewed here, which is an excellent choice if you loathe clumping and like a clean, defined look.
Best New Eyeshadow
Powder eyeshadows are a dime a dozen, but a nex-gen liquid shimmer texture that lasts all day without creasing? THEN I pay attention. That is what you get with Giorgio Armani's Eye Tint, which comes in 18 colours (three are limited-edition for holiday 2015). These are a breeze to apply and blend out with a fingertip; the creamy-shimmery champagne shade, 12 Gold Ashes, is my go-to and works daytime, nighttime, any time. The darker colours are also great, and will definitely give you that mono smoky look that is so modern right now. I can't say enough good things! You can read my original review and see three swatches here.
Best New Eyeliner
Clinique for eyeliner? Who would have thought! But yes, the brand had some surprisingly impressive makeup launches this year, including the Skinny Stick. As the name implies, it is an skinny eyeliner with an ultra-fine tip, which allows you to get as close to the lash lines as possible. That really does make a difference when you're after more delicate lines that you don't necessarily have to smudge. It comes in an nice array of shades, and being ophthalmologist-tested, is less likely to irritate sensitive eyes. The best part is that it stays put REALLY well, even though it is not waterproof. My original review and swatches are over here.
Best New Brow Filler
Brow mascaras blew up in the past two years, and thank goodness for that because I'm very picky about my eyebrows. I would much rather see the individual hairs bulked up than powder or pencil on the skin underneath. I think Yves Saint Laurent Couture Brow is the best new tool because it gives you hold and buildable texture. You can brush it straight up if all you want is a quick groom; but if you stroke it back and forth through the brows in a "windshield wiper" technique, it adds amazing volume. There two shades, and they are perfectly ashy (I've found ones that lean red are a common problem). The dry-down is soft, not crispy. See how it looks on in my original review here.
Note: Although it dries crispy, I still love my Maybelline Brow Drama (not new; reviewed here). If I have to fill anything in, Dior Diorshow Brow Styler (not new) and Ecobrow Defining Wax (not new but I should review soon!) are both incredible.
Best New Blush
Chanel Les Beiges Healthy Glow Sheer Colour Stick is NEXT LEVEL blush. You know how so many cream blushes just sit on top of your skin with visible texture? Not this one. It dries down to nothing and fuses in so seamlessly, it looks like the flush is coming from inside you instead of makeup. Very easy to blend and comes in three universally flattering shades. You can read my original review and see a swatch here.
Best New Lip and Cheek Stain
Speaking of seamlessness, I am a sucker for stains... and you don't see new ones that often. Hence, I needed to own the new Dior Cheek & Lip Glow. I am still a fan! It is a refreshing, watery gel that can be used on lips or cheeks (obviously) for a soft, rosy pink stain. It is extremely subtle but buildable, and I actually like that—since we've all tried stains that were way too dark and then grappled with how to get them off! My original review and swatch is here.
Best New Lipstick
Lipstick is the beauty item that I test and review the most—so to choose a favourite out of all the launches this year is quite the challenge! But... I think I have to go with NARS Audacious Lipstick and its 40 shades of creamy gorgeousness. The reason being, the colours are SO unique, and not in an edgy Marc Jacobs way either. They are super-flattering, bright but not too bright, and most likely a little different to what you have in your lipstick wardrobe already. My original review and swatches of 10 of the shades is over here; my top pick is the "flamingo" one called Natalie.
Best New Lip Crayon
Lip crayons are nothing new, but lip crayons made with natural ingredients definitely are. Especially when they come in rich, opaque, unusual colours instead of the usual sheer glosses. Enter the Burt's Bees Lip Crayon, which I still use pretty much every week, rotating between the six beautiful shades. (Although the peachy Niagara Overlook is my most favourite.) Even if you're not into natural products, you will love these! My original review and swatches are here.
Best New Tinted Lip Balm
You might've noticed that pearls and shimmers are quietly emerging as a modern new texture for the lips. I can't explain why, but to me, they suddenly feel so right. But not in a gloss. I want them in a comfy balm, and the best one is Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Fig. I've praised Fresh lip balms many times, and this particular tint is beyond cool. It's a pearlescent plum that gives your makeup this really subtle '90s feel. You can see the swatch, and my original review, over here.
Best New Lip Liner
One of the biggest trends in makeup this year was the return of lip liner. But we're wearing it a little differently now—to slightly overline the lips, and in shades close to our natural lip colour. I've already mentioned all the ones I use, of which the best newbie is the Marc Jacobs Poutliner Longwear Lip Liner Pencil. Long-wearing it certainly is, and very opaque, smooth, comfortable and non-drying. You can see my swatch here. Only gripe is they need more than three shades!
Best New Makeup Brush
If there is one brand I'm completely obsessed with, it is RMS Beauty. Everything Rose-Marie touches is gold, as far as I'm concerned. So I knew I would love her foray into makeup brushes before I even tried them—but just how much surprised even me! If I had to pick one out of the three, it would be the RMS Beauty Skin2Skin Blush Brush. Holy air-brushed effect! If you've ever struggled with applying and blending your cream blush, this will be game-changing for you. Although you can use it with any blush, I cannot believe what a difference it has made when I use my RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek (of which my go-to is Curious Orange, reviewed here). I'm going to buy a second brush to have in my purse; that's how much I love it.
I should also mention the RMS Beauty Skin2Skin Foundation Brush, because it is amazing, too—the bristles are so densely packed and mimic a skin-to-skin application. Also check out the Hakuho-do + Sephora Pro collab for some great quality brushes with cheerful red handles.
Best New Nail Polish
I'll be the first to admit that I'm not very adventurous with nail polish, and it's mostly because my nails suck and are extremely chippable. Who has the time to be fixing that ish every 48 hours? That's why I found myself wearing Formula X Sheer Strength Sheer Nail Color more than anything else this year. This stuff was MADE for me. It is a 10-shade range of sheer tints that strengthen, nourish and protect your nails in a single step. I apply two coats (no base coat or top coat needed) and get pretty, shiny, feminine-looking nails in literally two minutes, without having to stress about a perfect application. The longevity is great, but since they are both sheer and strengthening, you don't have to worry about chipping as much regardless. People have even complimented me on my nails wearing this—how crazy is that?
Zoya Naked Manicure also deserves a shout-out, as it is a similar concept. And for actual colour, I'm loving the new RMS Beauty Nail Polish, especially in Luminizer to match the cult-favourite highlighting cream.
Best New Hair Product
This year, I continued to be very low-mainty with my hair, usually just air-drying it—which happened to be the trend, anyway. But whether or not you have time for that, the single new product that best helps you achieve the air-dried look is Bumble and Bumble Don't Blow It. It is part texturizer, part styling cream—so you get a frizz-smoothing effect as well as some sweet body and maybe even natural wave enhancement. I have fine hair, and appreciate that it doesn't weigh me down or leave me greasy like every other hair cream on the market.
Honourable mention goes to the Kérastase Carré Lissant Hairstyle Touch-Up Sheets, which look like blotting papers but can be swiped over your hair to instantly smooth and add shine. Amazing to have in your purse!
Best New Beauty Gadget
You're probably thinking, "What IS that?!" It's the new Sigma Spa Express Brush Cleaning Glove, a.k.a. the product I never knew I needed, but now can't live without. You slip it over the palm of your hand and use it as a pad to swirl your makeup brushes over as you wash them with cleanser and water. The rubber has all different kinds of grooves that really get in there as you swirl, to get your brush super-clean. Believe it or not, washing my makeup brushes is actually fun now!
There are two more gadgety things I want to mention. If you're in the market for a new razor, check out the new Gillette Venus Swirl, which impressed me because of how well it glides with your curves. Also, the Foreo Issa Toothbrush, which I hated at first but have JUST come around to liking, because of how hygienic it is, and the way it massages your gums. Review on that coming soon!
Shop Editor's Picks
1. Foundation | 2. Mascara | 3. Eyeshadow | 4. Eyeliner | 5. Brow Mascara | 6. Blush | 7. Stain | 8. Lipstick | 9. Lip Crayon | 10. Tinted Lip Balm | 11. Lip Liner | 12. Makeup Brush | 13. Nail Polish | 14. Hair Cream | 15. Brush Cleaning Glove
What were your favourite new products of 2015?
Have you tried any of mine?