Saturday, January 7, 2017

2016 Beauty Favorites: My Most Reached For Products

2016 Beauty Favorites

I've had several favorite beauty products of the year including both new releases and reliable classics. I haven't listed everything but instead chose to highlight the items that immediately came to mind when I thought of what I reached for most this year. Some items were limited edition but I believe everything can still be purchased online via one source or another. When you're a major makeup lover and collector like me, you have a lot of makeup to choose from. The fact that these products were routinely used speaks volumes. I give each and every mention my golden stamp of approval.

Side Note: I'm actually attempting a no-buy for the entirety of 2017! Rules were made to be broken so I will of course make concessions for any necessities or limited edition releases that I would regret missing out on, but for the most part, this year will be free of buying new beauty items. If I do pick up something special, I will be giving up something else in its place. Makeup hoarding collecting is one of my major hobbies so wish me luck. It will be interesting to see how I "shop my stash" and what products turn up (and likely repeat) as favorites at the end of this year.


Smashbox Photo Finish Primer Water, $32

This has been my go-to for the past couple years. I always prep my skin with a fast-absorbing gel cream moisturizer and top it off with a few spritzes of this primer. It's excellent for dry skin and really helps to give the makeup a hydrated, smooth base without interfering with various foundation formulas.

Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion, $20 $8

A staple in my collection for years, this is my favorite eyeshadow primer. UD recently updated its packaging so you can stock up with the discounted price. One tube carries on for ages. I prefer the older packaging so I picked up enough backups to last for years.


ColourPop Singles, $5

These little cheap thrills (which are anything but cheap in terms of quality) have transformed my makeup collection. I became a bit addicted to procuring seemingly every new release. I might have bought a few too many but you can't beat the price or the unique formula. It makes doing your makeup a little more fun and proves that you don't have to break the bank to find something you love. A few of my favorite shades: Desert, Nillionaire, Game Face, Drift, So Quiche.

Dior Mono Shadow in Meteore, $31

I love adding this stunning bit of sparkle over simple eye looks to give it that added touch of glamour. The formula is a dream to put into place and it's oh so flattering in making eyes pop. A grown up shimmer that's subtle yet striking enough to wear from day to night.

Chanel Fall Quad, 268 Candeur et Experience, $61

This past fall, Lucia Pica's debut collection for Chanel got me really excited. While these shades have become easily dupable, I couldn't pass up the chance to add this beauty to my collection. The colors are definitely 'me' shades and very wearable. It's surprisingly Chanel's first ever all matte quad and what a winner it is.

Chanel Illusion d'Ombre Eyeshadow in Rouge Brule (Limited Edition), $36

Also from the fall collection, I missed out on this stunner and had to resort to an international seller out of Russia to obtain its wondrous presence in my collection. A more expensive version of ColourPop's White Rabbit or Game Face perhaps, but I would have thought about this product for years and regretted it had I not tracked it down. Its coppery hue has my name on it and it really goes so perfectly with the rest of the warm palettes in my collection.

Viseart Neutral Matte Palette 01, $80

Overpriced with slightly flimsy packaging but the formula of these shadows are superb. What I love about this palette is its foolproof. The shades blend together seamlessly while creating a natural look with just the right amount of pigmentation. If you love mattes, this is one of those palettes that you won't need any other eyeshadows to complete your look. I often use it on its own or grab a couple ColourPop shadows or a Natasha Denona kit to add shine and/or sparkle to the lid.

Tarte Tartelette In Bloom Palette, $46

While Tarte isn't my favorite eyeshadow formula on the market (I was not a fan at all of the original Tartelette palette-- too cool toned, too matronly), I found myself reaching for this quite often. The shades are very flattering and wearable from day-to-night and the packaging is just so bright and beautiful.


When I was in my teens and early 20s, I rarely went without a classic liquid black or brown eyeliner. But as I've gotten older, I prefer the ease of use and results achieved from a pencil. I like smudging my pencil into the lash line to create a sultrier look. It's nice not to fuss about creating a balanced wing that might be a bit too harsh for day or peel throughout its wear-time. I tend to wear neutral eyeshadows so I enjoy bringing color into my look with a pop on the top or bottom lash line. While I enjoy wearing seemingly every color liner under the sun, I usually go for traditional blacks, browns, bronzes and my favorite, golds! I rarely if ever attempt to put product on my water line (my eyes are way too sensitive), so I can't speak to how these products perform in that regard. But these are excellent for regular use.

Too Faced Perfect Eyes Waterproof Eyeliner, $18

This shade of black is very deep and the formula glides effortlessly on the lash line. It wears incredibly well without any fading. Despite being waterproof (which I tend to avoid), it's easy to remove.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Eye Pencil in Gold, Burgundy Suede, $24

This formula has topped my other favorite eye liners from Urban Decay. They apply easily and wear beautifully. The color range is also very nice. I love the opulent Gold shade and adore the bronzed hue from Burgundy Suede. If I didn't have a drawer filled with liners, I'd add a few more to my collection.

Elizabeth Arden Beautiful Precision Beautiful Color Eye Liner in Emerald, $22

Whenever I wear this emerald green liner, I always get compliments. It looks gorgeous over neutral warm eyeshadow and really makes my eye color pop. Its formula is very smooth. For fans of retractable liners, this is a great avenue to explore.

Etude House Bling Bling Eye Stick, $5

I adore these little shadow sticks. Etude House is always having incredible sales in addition to their fabulous prices so I was able to pick these up in every shade. I like to wear them as liner on the lower lash line or as a pop of color on the lid.


Too Faced Better Than Sex, $23

This has been one of my favorite mascaras for the past few years. It's always reliable in delivering length and volume without looking too made up.

Bobbi Brown Smokey Eye, $30

I reached for this mascara the most overall this year. It's a bit overpriced but it really is a good one.


Anastasia Perfect Brow Pencil in Soft Brown, $23

I liked this pencil a lot this year. I'm not sure if it's my favorite but its ease of use made me reach for it quite often. If you're looking at the Anastasia line, I definitely recommend this or the pomade over the Brow Wiz as you get so much more product for your money. The Brow Wiz should really only be used to fill in gaps on an already full area not define the entire brow.

Anastasia Tinted Brow Gel in Brunette, $22

I love this product for adding a bit of dimension and color to my brows. It also sets the pencil nicely. I have naturally dark eyebrows which is apparently unusual for a redhead but I still like to give my brows some additional shine.


I hate the feeling of wearing a mask. Heavy foundation is not for me. I have fairly good skin (knock on wood) but it's also dry. It seems to reject most foundations (when I can even find one that is light enough). I'd rather use a tinted moisturizer, BB cream or cushion to even out any redness rather than create a barrier between my natural complexion with a thick foundation.

Tarte BB Tinted Moisturizer, $36

This has been one of my favorite face products for the past couple years. I love that it's easy enough to use with your fingers but it can slightly be built up with a sponge or brush. It makes the skin even and hydrated and is really lovely for those who don't want a medium or full coverage foundation.

Lancome Miracle Cushion Foundation, $47

You don't get a lot of product especially for the steep price but this is a fabulous cushion foundation! It has a shade that is light enough for very fair skin (010) and it's very easy to use. I was able to stock up on a couple when Lancome had an unprecedented 50% off sale this Summer. I wish they would lower the price or include a second cushion but it's worth the splurge.

MAC Studio Fix Powder, $28

I've had this powder in my collection since I was about 16-years-old (repurchased several times over, that is). I always have it tossed in my makeup bag. It's perfect to use on its own on days when you don't have the time or energy to put on a liquid. It's also easy to use for touch-ups over other products. Many times I will use it simply for the mirror when reapplying a lippie. I'm in shade N3 which is practically the lightest powder on the market. I highly recommend it for all skin types.

Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Illuminating Powder in Nude, $50

I picked this powder up in a shade that is deeper than recommended for my complexion but instead use it as a light radiance boosting bronzer. It is very subtle and creates the most ethereal bronze. It's almost undetectable but makes such a difference. It's fine enough that someone very light can still use it as a finishing powder. I'd be curious to play around with the lighter shades but I love my Hourglass, YSL and Guerlain powders for this effect. At first I was disappointed in this product's performance but as I appreciated the beauty of its delicacy, it quickly became my favorite. The price is steep but I really enjoyed it.

YSL Boho Stones Gypsy Opale Limited Edition Couture Palette

Unfortunately, this stunning piece was very limited in its release but I'm so glad that I added it to my collection. Not only is the packaging gorgeous but the color correcting powder adds a beautiful radiance to the face. I like to use it as a finishing powder over tinted moisturizer. It should last for years but it will be a sad day when I run out of this beauty. Tip: Never travel with limited edition products that you love and can't replace! I don't even like to put this in my on-the-go makeup bag.

Guerlain Pressed Powder Meteorites Compact in 02 Clair, $62

While I love my traditional Meteorite pearls, the pressed version is much more convenient to use. While the price is steep, a little goes a long way and I expect to have this product in my collection for a long time. Like the YSL powder, the meteorites provide color correction and radiance in the most subtle way. I adore the gentle scent as well. This is a well-made, heavy product so if you plan to put it in your handbag for touch-ups, expect the extra weight.

Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Pressed Setting Powder, $35

As someone with dry skin, I try to avoid setting my concealer or T-zone with translucent powder whenever possible. But during the warmer months or for special occasions, I reach for this one. A little goes a long way so this compact will last for eons. I hear so many wonderful things about the Laura Mercier loose powder but I prefer the convenience of something pressed as loose powder gets so messy. If you prefer loose setting powders, Tarte also has this product available in that formulation.


Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer in Fair, $7

I love the applicator on this product. The sponge makes the product glide and blend effortlessly. The formula is hydrating and sheer enough for those who aren't looking for extreme coverage. Tip: Always prep the area with eye cream and/or a hydrating primer before applying concealer for optimal results. I love the Clarins Super Restorative and Bobbi Brown hydrating eye creams as well as the Smashbox under eye primer. Honorable Mention: Bobbi Brown Tinted Eye Brightener, $32 $23 in Porcelain Bisque.


Urban Decay Beached Bronzer in Sun-Kissed, $28

This is a fantastic bronzer if you're looking for a touch of warmth without veering into oompa loompa territory. And that packaging is too cute to pass up. The palm trees evoke a feeling of being bronzed in a tropical paradise.

Bobbi Brown Bronzing Powder in Golden Light, $42

While I love Bobbi Brown, admittedly, her products are overpriced. This bronzer is wonderful, though. I love its golden tone for adding a bit of glow to my fair complexion.

Side Note: I didn't include any contour kits or powders in my list because I just don't take the time to contour very often. I prefer to just use a couple bronzers to add depth and dimension and find that regular bronzing provides a more natural look that's just as flattering.


Clinique Cheek Pop Blush in Nude Pop, $23

I love this blush! The packaging is too cute for words and it just makes me happy. It's compact and easy to travel with as well. This shade goes so well with warm-neutral eye makeup that I almost always favor.

Too Faced Love Flush Blush in I Will Always Love You, $26

This blush is adorable. It reminds me of the Polly Pockets I would play with when I was little. I'm a fan of anything heart-shaped and Too Faced is definitely one of my favorite brands. This blush is more than just a cute gimmick, though. It lasts for hours and is very flattering on redheads.


I've been a lover of highlighters for years-- long before they became the trend they are today. But something changed along the way. Highlighters went from adding an angelic radiance to being overwhelmingly glaring. I prefer my highlighter to look 'lit from within.' Subtle. I have several favorites in this category but these are a few that are most memorable for the year.

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Palette, $62

This palette is a no-brainer when it comes to adding a finishing glow to the skin. I'll often swirl my brush in all three shades. It really is foolproof. But the lighter shade can be concentrated to add an extra touch of highlight.

Lancome My Parisian Shimmer Cube (Limited Edition), $59

Not many people responded well to this little beauty. I thought it was a uniquely interesting addition to my collection. You can use it as eyeshadow, highlighter, blush or finishing powder. The packaging is precious. It's not the best formula in the universe but it made doing my makeup fun.

Dior Glowing Gardens Illuminating Highlighters (Limited Edition)

I picked this up in both the pink and golden shades. It's one of those "gelee" type formulas that sit well on the skin. I almost wish I only got the lighter shade but despite having extremely fair skin, I do love a warm highlighter. Blame it on my hair.


Clarins Instant Light Lip Comfort Oil in Honey, $26

This is hands down one of my favorite beauty finds in the past several years. I've already gone through two bottles of this. I'm not one to purchase "backups" of anything but I definitely have an extra lip oil in my stash in case this ever gets discontinued. It hydrates the lips unlike anything else and has a pleasant taste/scent. I don't care for the other two shades in the range but the honey version is spectacular! I enjoy wearing it on its own when I want something on my lips without the hassle or as a treatment under a balm.

Clarins Moisture Replenishing Lip Balm, $24

This lip balm pairs perfectly with the lip oil and is also fantastic on its own. It has the slightest bit of sheer pink tint which is very flattering on the lips. I love the way this feels. I have repurchased this product several times and have one in my handbag, one in my collection and one in my nightstand.

Dior Addict Lip Glow Color Revival Balm, $33

On days when I just want a no fuss tint to my lips, I reach for this. It feels very comfortable and lovely on the lips. I like that it leaves a bit of tint/stain behind. I have this in a couple shades but the original is still my favorite.

Urban Decay Lip Liner in Rush, $20

I wasn't much of a lip liner person until this year. I prefer to match my lip liner to the color of my product as opposed to a nude shade that is closer to my lips. This liner is magical in that it is "my lips but better" but still has enough of a pink hue that makes it the perfect partner with pinks and nude lipsticks. It has the slightest bit of sparkle that creates an interesting dimension to your product without being at all glittery.

Gucci Luxurious Moisture-Rich Lipstick in Exposure, $39

This is probably the prettiest lipstick I have ever owned. I've been a Gucci girl since I was a kid admiring my Mom's handbag (which I later scored for myself). Gucci has become very trendy over the past few years which the hipster in me is disappointed by. I liked having it "for myself." But I digress. Not only is the packaging of this lipstick phenomenal with its patterned logo and magnetic closure, but the formula is ultra comfortable and hydrating. I love this shade as it's neutral enough to pair well with most looks but still has a good color to it. I'd love to add some more Gucci lipsticks to my collection but not this year!

Tom Ford Lip Color in Pink Dusk, $53

My one and only Tom Ford lipstick. At that price, there's a good reason for having a limited supply. But this particular shade makes it understandable how the brand charges an arm and a leg for their product. This is a special lipstick for sure. Its packaging is dynamite and the formula is phenomenal. I love that this shade, like my Gucci lipstick, is neutral enough to pair with any eye look. It's my go-to for everything from everyday wear to an evening out. But at $53 a tube, I try to make sure I don't wear it too frequently.

Charlotte Tilbury K.I.S.S.I.N.G Lipstick in Hepburn Honey, $32

This is a gorgeous shade of warm peachy nude. It takes well to a variety of different lip liners and glosses which can make it pull darker or lighter with ease. The packaging is stunning and the formula is fantastic. It's my only Charlotte Tilbury lipstick but it won't be my last.

Physicians Formula pH Matchmaker pH Powered Lip Gloss in Light Pink, $9

This has been a perennial favorite. I've had this in my collection for a long time but it never disappoints. I reach for it over a drawer filled with every high end brand imaginable. What's not to love about this product? It's very affordable, can be purchased at the drug store, has a mirror, adjusts to match my body's chemistry, goes well with a ton of different lip products, works perfectly on its own, leaves a tint andddd it lights up! What more could you ask for?


Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray, $31

This product does exactly what it promises. It locks your makeup into place and prolongs its wear time. This bottle lasts quite a long time so I was happy to stock up when they went on sale last year. It seems as though there is new packaging for the new year so I hope that the formula hasn't changed.

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Now Playing: "No Other Plans" by Sunny Levine
*I love this man's music! Not enough people talk about how talented he is.

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Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States
I'm living life in beautiful Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. I hold a journalism degree from West Virginia University. I have worked in television news, fashion marketing, PR, and cosmetic sales. My love for writing and sharing with the world my various passions is strong. One of my many ambitions is to be published and continue creating in the fields of digital and print media, literature and film. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music, going to concerts, reading, following Pittsburgh sports and traveling as often as possible. Some of my favorite things include beauty, style, architecture, books, tarot and astrology, thrifting and my shih-tzu, Ireland. I’m engaged to the love of my lifetimes and we look forward to starting our next chapter together. If you have any questions or comments, I would love to hear from you!