Over the past year, I did a lot of traveling, moved across the country, and got married, which sometimes got in the way of trying lots of new products. After quitting birth control last fall, I also spent much of the year struggling with new hormonal acne woes, which at times kept me from feeling super motivated when it came to certain kinds of experimentation. However, as I was going through all of the products I tried over the last year I was surprised at how easy it was to identify a bunch of standout products that made a big impact on me and became staples in my collection.
Starting with makeup, and a product that I spoke about fairly early in the year, I really enjoyed Sephora Collection’s new foundation release, their Teint Infusion serum-consistency foundation ($24). I will also add that their Bright Future Gel Concealer ($14), which I just started trying this past month, is also phenomenal. Both products are available in a ton of colors, apply easily, look really natural on the skin, and last well. Further reading: check out my original review of Teint Infusion.
My favorite mascara of the year was L’Oreal’s new Superstar 2-in-1 primer and mascara ($10.99), and I tried the waterproof formula. I bought a handful of new mascaras to try in preparation for my wedding because most mascaras smudge on me, and while day to day I can tolerate that to some degree, I really didn’t want to at that point in time. This mascara gives great lift and volume and stays so well it’s kind of hard to remove at night. Further reading: I previously mentioned this mascara here.
Here’s one that I haven’t actually said much about on the blog. The Too Faced 3*Way Lash Lining Tool ($22) is a 3-pronged black eyeliner, which I like to wiggle in between my lashes to make them look fuller and fill in any little gaps. It’s really easy and just takes a few seconds to use, but goes a pretty long way to making my eye makeup look more polished. I got this for Christmas last year, and have kept it in my makeup bag both at home and when I travel since. Further reading: what I got over the holidays last year.
Shiro’s highlighting powder in Curaga ($8) is one that I was happy with but not floored by when I first reviewed it, but the truth is that it really snuck its way into my routine. Recently, I’ve been using it several times a week. It’s not super high-sheen, but has a pretty pearly color and finish, and I also like that I don’t have to be too careful with it. If I do go a little heavy, it is really easy to soften with a fluffy brush. Plus, the name’s a Final Fantasy reference. I use the blush in 1-Up ($8) quite a bit, as well, and wouldn’t hesitate to purchase more of these products from Shiro. Further reading: my original review of Curaga highlighter and 1-Up blush.
When I was going through the eyeshadows that I bought this past year, there’s one purchase of mine that especially stood out to me. I made a really great purchase from Fyrinnae for my birthday. One shade that became a go-to lid color for any time I wanted to wear something that was flattering but neutral and not too dramatic was Fyrinnae’s Caramel Layer Cake ($6.75, pictured third from the left in the photo). It’s well described by Fyrinnae as a satin peachy tan with light pink sparkle, and it’s perfect for blue eyes. I think this shade was actually a fairly recent release from Fyrinnae. While we’re on the subject I also wore Witchy Woodland Creatures (shimmering tan, second from the right) and Automatic Toaster (brown, far right) a whole lot, too. Just last night on New Year’s Eve and I wore Mischievous Sidhe (gold, third from the right) all over my eyes. Further reading: check out everything I got in that Fyrinnae order.
Keeping with the topic of eyeshadows, this year I went through and pressed all of my loose eyeshadows (including those Fyrinnae shadows above). That meant I needed a place to put all of the pans, so I purchased this group of handmade magnetic makeup palettes from Book of Shadows on Etsy. These are fantastic and the little one in particular goes everywhere with me. I couldn’t leave these off of the list! Further reading: a look at the Book of Shadows palettes I purchased.
Transitioning to skincare, this was my favorite makeup remover I tried this year. The Banila Co. Clean It Zero is a silky, lightweight balm that effortlessly removes makeup and rinses clean with the addition of water. A good cleansing oil will do the job, too, but I love the texture of this. It’s Korean so it’s a little expensive if purchased in a store in the US ($20-ish) but can also be found for less online. You get a big pot of it, though. Further reading: see my full review.
I mentioned acne right upfront, and so I should also mention the acne-control product that stood out to me the most. I tried a lot of stuff this year, mostly both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide products, and I actually bought these Stridex pads ($4.49 for 55 pads) with salicylic acid in a pinch to hold me over until I could get a better product. I was actually really impressed to find that my skin responded immediately to them, but yet I also don’t find them harsh (there’s a few strength levels, and I use maximum strength). My nearby Rite Aid sells them for $4.99 at regular price and at $2.99 when they’re on sale, plus they come with a little $0.55 coupon in the box. They’re typically sold in jars of 55, but my most recent purchase had a bonus 25% for a total of 70. I can’t believe how affordable they are, and I can’t believe it took me so long to try them. Further reading: I previously mentioned these Stridex pads here.
I wanted to pick out one (non-acne) standout skincare product, which was difficult because I tried a lot of really nice things. I decided that the winner is this moisturizer from Derma MD because of how wonderfully effective it is at fulfilling its claims. The Diminish Lightening & Brightening Creme ($62.95) is supposed to lighten dark spots of pigmentation on the skin, and does it ever. Plus, it has a great texture that will work for most skin types as a moisturizer. This was sent to me by the brand and I wouldn’t have identified dark spots as a concern of mine, but I could definitely see a difference in my skin as I used it. Derma MD recommends using it 3-4 times a week until you see the changes you’re looking for, and then once a week to maintain. Further reading: check out my full review.
As I was going through all of my posts and photos, it seemed crazy to not mention henna powder on my year-end list, which I’ve been using to dye my hair since the spring. I thought I’d start experimenting with adding other colorants to it this year in order to adjust or tone down the color, but I haven’t gotten sick of the red yet. I continue to get lots of compliments on my hair, and my posts about henna have actually become some of the most popular on the blog, which was a total surprise to me. Further reading: using plain henna powder vs. Lush Caca Rouge hair dye.
There are my ten! I’d love to hear about your experiences with these products, or what your favorites of 2015 have been. Hope you’ve been enjoying the holidays, and I wish you all the best in 2016.