Can you believe it’s actually 2014? We’re one year off hoverboards according to Back to the Future – get a move on scientists, I’ve been looking forward to this for years! But on a more beauty related note, the year wouldn’t be complete without a good old round up of my favourite products now, would it? I was planning on keeping it short, but there have been so many lotions and potions that have impressed me that was never going to happen, realistically, so this is going to be a little longer than you may have anticipated.
I’ve split the post up into sections: we have eyes, lips, base, hair, skin, body and tools – that pretty much covers everything I wanted to include – added a link to where I buy each product from and included a bit of a description/mini review/verdict so you can see exactly why these goodies earned the top spots.
Best of: Base Products.
Starting with potentially my favourite category – there are some real gems in here. I don’t think I’ll ever switch from BareMinerals foundations – although I sometimes use Laura Mercier or YSL underneath it and in areas where I need less coverage, I need something more heavy duty for my redness and this fits the bill perfectly. It’s buildable, glowy, creamy and oh so perfect. The Chanel is one of those products which doesn’t even have a specific purpose – I use it as a primer but I have a friend who loves to mix it with her foundation to make it more sheer and glowy. It evens out your skin tone and texture and adds the most gorgeous glow I’ve ever seen! Illamasqua is fast becoming one of my favourite brands – this blusher is a warm, peachy pink with a fine gold shimmer running through it – it’s by no means glittery but it gives your cheeks a gorgeous sheen and negates the need for highlighter. You’ve heard me sing my praises for Nars loose powder here and here before, so I’ll save you reading it again, and finally the Instant Smooth was given to me by the lovely Jo from Joanna Loves – this is a seriously heavy duty primer and your make up will last through a hurricane (note: not tried and tested) with this stuff on, yet it still feels light and undetectable on the skin.
Best of: Eyes.
Urban Decay are really, honestly the best when it comes to eyes. I know you’ll probably be surprised that Naked 3 isn’t featured here but a) I only got it in December so feel it isn’t allowed in a ‘Best of 2013’ review and b) I haven’t actually used it much. I know. It’s pretty, but it doesn’t suit me anywhere near as much as the first two, and Naked 2 is by far my most reached for palette this year – I feel like every shade suits me and I use them all. £36 for 12 almost full sized eyeshadows – £3 each compared to a usual price of £14? You need at least one of the Naked Palettes if you don’t already have one, promise. But moving swiftly on: this mascara is my most used by far. I have a Chanel one too, and Benefit They’re Real, but to be honest they’re not even as good as this. The L’Oreal brow pencil is fab – I use Brunette and it’s a cool toned medium brown which is perfect for me. It also comes with a little brush on the cap, and a waxy end too to set your brows once you’ve filled them in. Nothing needs to be said about the gel liner – Bobbi Brown really is the best – and the same goes for the Primer Potion. Makes a whole WORLD of difference to your eyeshadow.
Best of: Lips.
There’s a theme running through these lip products: low maintenance. I can’t be bothered with removing and reapplying lipsticks multiple times a day – sometimes it’s a necessary evil for a particularly gorgeous shade, but for the vast majority of the time I love one you can slap on and go, with maybe one or two reapplications over the top, during the day. Here I’ve featured this Lush lip scrub – yes, it’s 5 quid for a bit of sugar and oil, but yes it’s worth it. This stuff creates the perfect base. The Guerlain offering is oh so pricey and oh so, so, so perfect – it’s honestly the most flawless formula I’ve ever come across. It’s creamy, smooth, pigmented and just lasts all day without drying out, and if you take one thing away from this whole post, it should be that you should buy this ASAP. I have it in Garconne, which is a very slightly blue toned bright red (swatches here), and my life won’t be complete until I have Gigolo too. The YSL has a similar formula with slightly more gloss and slip, and slightly less staying power – but don’t let that put you off, this is my ultimate lipstick. Rose Opera is a perfectly neutral medium pink, great for everyday wear (swatches!). And LOOK at the packaging. I know the Barry M option here might seem a little out of place, but I just love it. It’s more of a lip stain in lipstick format – it’s buildable and lasts well into the next day, and is lovely and light and moisturising. The ‘touch of magic’ aspect of it comes from the fact that it applies green and turns into a different shade of pink on everyone depending on the alkaline levels of your lips – on me it’s a deep, bright raspberry. And finally, the Burts Bees lip balm – don’t think I’ll ever use anything else. This stuff (particularly when combined with the above scrub) is fab, and walks all over Vaseline (which you shouldn’t get me started on – awful stuff).
Best of: Skincare.
First off, a quick apology – you can’t get the Lush face mask any more, it was a Christmas offering only. I’m sorry, but I have to sing its praises anyway so cross your fingers with me that it comes back next year! I’ll start with that one: it’s a face mask to soothe and repair sore, red skin which has suffered with too much cold weather, and it’s the only thing I’ve found so far which makes a significant difference to the redness on my nose. Just my luck that it’s limited edition, right? If you haven’t tried any of the Lush masks though I really recommend you do – Oatifix is a particular favourite of mine and perfect for sensitive skinned girls (and boys) like me. Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish needs no introduction or review; I’ll just say that it’s absolutely brilliant and I’m on my 6th bottle. The Clarins toner is perhaps my favourite part of my skincare routine – anyone who skips toner and sees it as an unnecessary step needs to get with the times and get down to their local Clarins counter to invest in a bottle of this. It’s a chemical exfoliator and is gentle enough even for the most sensitive of skins (mine) – I use it nightly and it keeps my skin smooth and clear like nothing else. The Urban Decay spray is what I use under all my make up and primer, it makes a real difference to help keep oil and redness at bay during the day, and it helps my moisturiser go further when I apply the two together. And finally, Origins Ginzing moisturiser – this stuff was perfect for my skin during the summer. It’s a light gel but is still really moisturising, it sinks in straight away and it smells gorgeous.
Best of: Hair.
If you’re looking for a great dry shampoo, look away. Batiste XXL is not it. I’d recommend their tropical offering if that’s what you need; instead, if you need a great volumising product this is perfect. It’s not for everyone – it makes the hair feel very full of product if you use too much – but my god, is it volumising. I can quadruple the size of my hair with this stuff, it’s an absolute necessity for a night out! L’Oreal Elnett is pretty much the best hairspray on the market, and this Flexible Hold version is my favourite of the bunch – it’s heavy duty but still lightweight and leaves your hair soft. I did admittedly only buy the Umberto Giannini (will someone please tell me how to pronounce that?) texture cream a couple of months ago but it’s already a firm favourite. I have very fine, soft and downright slippery hair when it’s clean, and a big splodge of this applied before blow drying gives me all the texture I need. I add a little bit after it’s styled too, just to mess it up that little bit more. The Organix oil is fab – it’s not as good as the original Moroccanoil, but for a fraction of the price who cares? It adds shine, manageability and softness, just like the original. And finally, my current absolute favourite: Colour Restore Iced Platinum toner. I use this on freshly dyed hair to eliminate all the yellowness in it – my hair looks so much better cool and ashy, and this does the job perfectly. I leave it on for 20 minutes longer than the recommended half an hour or so, and it has great results, it neutralises all the golden tones. It’s a conditioner too, so leaves your hair lovely and soft and healthy feeling, and I get about 3 uses per bottle.
Best of: Body.
I’m going to start with the fake tan, to get it out of the way. This stuff is £37. It’s an extortionate price for fake tan, and I would never normally have bought it, but I was lucky enough to find some at a charity product sale at work, which meant it cost me a whopping £1. In all honesty, I don’t know if I’d pay full price for it, but it is really, really good. It’s a mousse so it’s stupidly easy to apply, it’s tinted so you can a) see where you’ve applied it and b) apply it stupidly last minute like I always do and still be tanned, and it also does last a long time. I’ve never used the recommended three layers which supposedly makes it last three weeks, but I have found that one layer lasts a whole week like they claim, and as a plus point it doesn’t go patchy when it fades. It’s a lovely golden brown colour without an orange tone in sight – like I say, it IS good but it IS expensive. If you’re a serious fake tanner, I wholeheartedly recommend you try this. Moving onto the cheap and cheerful products: Soap and Glory’s Heel Genius is a really nice foot cream – I apply it at night time, add some cotton socks over the top and come morning I have feet like those of a baby. The Garnier body lotion is better than any expensive body butter I’ve found – it really does last a good few days and the cocoa butter offering which I use softens and moisturises dry, rough skin SO well, and sinks in quickly too. I’ve only owned the Champney’s Spritz for a couple of months but I adore it already – it smells fresh and minty (my favourite) and I spray it on my arms and back while I’m sat in a towel applying my make up in the morning – it’s so light and the spray so fine that I don’t even have to bother rubbing it in, it absorbs by itself in minutes. And finally, the Sanctuary scrub is just brilliant: I reviewed it here if you want to take a look. I’m on my second tub.
Best of: Tools.
And finally, we have my favourite beauty tools. This was a difficult category – I’ve recently acquired the RealTechniques buffing brush which tried to fight its way in, and the Remington Pearl curling wand was a very, very close 6th. However, these are my picks – and the winner clearly has to be the GHDs. The ultimate straighteners, I’ve used these exact ones almost every day for the past 6 years 2 months, and they’re still going so strong. This Mac brush is the only Mac one I own – I treated myself at the airport a few months ago and I’ve been using it every day since. It’s technically a contour brush but I’ve found it perfect for my Chanel cream blusher. The Tangle Teezer is frankly a lifesaver – my fine, damaged hair is horrendous for getting knotty and this is the only thing which will save me in the mornings. The tweezers are a close second to my GHDs (in order of my favourites, I don’t mean they have the same purpose) – I’ve had this pair for 10 years and they’re still sharp, precise, and meet perfectly in the middle. And last but not least, my foundation brush. Me and this little brush have been through a lot, and it’s still loyally applying my foundation every day without fail. If you need a good powder foundation brush this is the best out there – nothing comes close in terms of density and softness.
And that’s all, folks! Well done if you managed to stick with me throughout this – I know it’s been a long one to say the least. Next year I’m splitting it up into sections, that’s for sure. I’ll be interested to see which products steal the crown for 2014, and which of my favourites I stay loyal to throughout the year. It’s going to have to be something pretty special to knock most of these off the top spot, but I’m excited to try all the exciting new releases we’ll undoubtedly have!