I’ve decided to do a different kind of makeup favourites for 2017, primarily because these days I’m much better at judging whether I’m actually going to like and use a product just by looking at it, which means I buy way less stuff than I used to. Because I know what I like and what looks I go for and the types of products I like to use day-to-day, I’m much less tempted to try something completely new because I’m very comfortable and happy with what I already have in my collection. Of course, this means that a lot of my favourite products have been in my stash for years, so there’s no point in telling you Luminous Silk is still my go-to foundation for special occasions, or that I love NARS and Hourglass blushes. So I thought rather than talk about my favourite product in every category, my makeup favourites could take the form of my favourite looks I’ve been going for and the products I’ve been using to achieve them, i.e. the ways I most commonly use my makeup, and therefore the products I reach for most often. I always like hearing about people’s favourite products at the end of the year so even though mine is a little different hopefully it’s still interesting and useful for you guys.
Red Lips & Winged Liner
Although I’ve been experimenting with different looks a lot more this year than I have in the past, I still very often go for my standard look of winged liner, neutral eyeshadow and a red lip. I always feel most comfortable and like myself in red lipstick, and I don’t know if that will ever change. I haven’t tried anything in terms of liquid liner that has swayed me away from my favourites, which are the NYC Liquid Liner (not available in Australia) and the Maybelline HyperSharp Wing Liquid Liner (not available in Canada). Both are super black and never fade, flake or run throughout the day which are not-negotiable points for me.
While the NYC one has the advantage of being really affordable, it’s can also be tricky to get your hands on and if you’re used to using a pen then the brush tip has a bit of a learning curve. In fact over the last couple of months I’ve been preferring to use pen liners just because they’re so much quicker and easier, but if you’re confident with a brush tip then you can’t beat this one. The Maybelline liner is naturally much easier to use because it’s a pen, but it’s strangely not available in Canada. It’s got a brush tip that’s pinched and kind of flattened rather than round, so you can get a super fine line or a thicker one depending on how you hold it. It also acts like a semi-waterproof formula, so it doesn’t budge at all throughout the day. I thoroughly recommend both of these liners depending on your preference and what you can get your hands on, but I have been happily using them for years. As for red lipsticks, this year I finally felt like I’d reached saturation point and I’m just over trying new lipsticks. There must be a new lipstick launch about once a week by now, and how significant can the differences really be between new shades and formulas? After editing down my stash significantly before moving to Canada, I just felt like I owned enough.
Since then I received a few around my birthday that were welcome additions (and bought one myself in December which I'll talk about in an upcoming post), but aside from that I've been rotating through what I have and don’t feel like I’m missing anything. In fact I’m much happier choosing from a selection of products I love rather than trying to sort through a whole bunch that I’ve only been able to use once or twice because there are only so many days in a week. So particularly in the second half of this year, when it comes to reds instead of trying new products I did a lot of rediscovering of old favourites.
For the most part I prefer lipsticks that sit somewhere on the matte to satin end of the spectrum and I don’t often wear anything sheer or super glossy. I don’t like anything that’s too drying or that I can’t reapply easily throughout the day, so that should give you an idea of what my favourites are like. A few I’ve really enjoyed reaching for have been the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Red Carpet Red (AU), the NARS Audacious Lipstick in Rita (AU), the Giorgio Armani Rouge d'Armani Lipstick in 400 (AU), and the Urban Decay Revolution Lipstick in F-Bomb.
Unfortunately Urban Decay discontinued this line in favour of their Vice lipsticks (AU), which I don’t think are quite as good as the old formula, but all 4 of these are really creamy and opaque, and they’re super comfortable too. I can wear any of them for a full day at work and only need to reapply them after lunch and they never dry my lips out.
When it comes to liquid lipsticks, a lot of formulas can be really drying, or they build up weirdly when you reapply them and feel super uncomfortable. One formula I can happily wear for a full day without giving it a second thought is the Sephora Cream Lip Stain in 01 Always Red (AU). It’s a beautiful, bright red that’s not too drying and never lets me down. This had been ignored in my collection for a while because I had too many products to choose from, but when I eventually came back to it I wondered why I hadn’t been using it more. The colour is really saturated and perfectly flattering against my skin-tone – and when you catch yourself in the mirror throughout the day and think “yes!” to yourself, you know you’re onto a winner.
& Curled Lashes
A few years ago warm eyeshadow really took off in the beauty world, but it took me a while to warm up to the idea myself (lel) because I’m so fair. I was worried anything too red would make my eyes look bloodshot while simultaneously bringing out any red/pink in my skin – not exactly what I’m going for.
While I’m still not working with anything you might consider red or copper, there are definitely some warmer-toned shades that I’m completely in love with, and I’ve come to think that neutral to warm tones suit me better than cooler ones, and I definitely find myself reaching for them more often. Although I recently got my hands on the Tarte Toasted palette, which is easily the warmest palette in my collection, I’m not going to talk about it here because I only started using it in November, while the rest of these are ones I’ve been using consistently all year. The shades I’ve been most attracted to are along the lines of the bottom row of the Tartelette In Bloom (AU) palette, particularly the shade Sweetheart, which is a beautiful almost pinky-brown that has the perfect amount of warmth while still being really neutral.
I also have a thing for MAC’s Soft Brown (AU) which has a similar vibe but is less pink. These first two were definitely my gateway into using warmer shadows and they really made me love how they can look. Getting comfortable with these made me feel more confident to start experimenting with even warmer shades, like ones from my Viseart Neutral Matte Palette (AU), as well as the reddish looking shades in my two Charlotte Tilbury quads (AU) (Legendary Muse & Dolce Vita). My favourite way to use shades like these has been to blend them into my crease while keeping my lid nice and bright with a champagne shade like Funny Girl (next to Sweetheart).
A pale shimmery shade not only brings light to my eyes, but it also helps to separate the warmer tones from the whites of my eyes, which keeps them from looking bloodshot. Though as I’ve experimented more with the Toasted palette I’ve gotten more comfortable with wearing slightly deeper shades on my lids as well.
One thing about moving to Canada is that I’ve felt more free to experiment with different looks because I didn’t know anyone, so no one had any expectations of me to look a certain way.
Not that I’ve ever had any pressure from friends, but I felt like I’d had the same consistent look for so many years that it would be hard to change, but moving away gave me that mental freedom to shake things up a bit. So although I still wear liquid liner most days, if I just cbf then I won’t do it, which has been quite new for me.
Initially because I had been so used to seeing myself with it, my face looked weird and incomplete without it, but now I’ve gotten used to it and quite like wearing liner-free looks a couple of days a week. So a favourite look of mine has been warm shades in the crease with something light and shimmery on the lid with curled lashes and lots of mascara.
Since I was wearing more liner-free looks, it meant that a lash curler was becoming more and more necessary, so after having been without one for a few months I picked up the Surratt Relevee Lash Curlers (AU) and haven’t looked back. They’re not really an essential for me if I’m wearing liquid liner as the liner demands most of the attention, but I think warm eyeshadows and no liner on the eyes with really long, curled lashes looks super pretty and I have been loving doing my makeup like that.
Pinky-Nude Matte Lipsticks
Along with warm shadows another thing that I finally started to understand is nude lipsticks. From wearing them once in a blue moon and relying on red every day, I have started to really appreciate a good nude in the right shade. I had always find them tricky to work with and didn’t know what suited me, but now I know that anything too peachy makes my teeth look yellow, and anything too plum or cool toned makes me look drained and washed out. I also know that I prefer matte or satin formulas that are comfortable but still look quite matte on the lips – none of this sheer, glossy, “wash of colour” business because I know I just end up ignoring them.
The first shade that made me “get it” was the NYX Soft Matte Lip Crème in Zurich (AU). It’s the first time I'd tried a nude and really felt like it worked for my skin tone and like I’d managed to get it right. From there I knew the first place I should look for more nudes was MAC, who still seem to have the biggest shade range of any brand.
I Back 2 MACed some products and chose Mehr (AU) and absolutely loved it. Something about Mehr or Zurich paired with the warm, pinky-brown eyeshadows I mentioned above just looks so harmonious and so right, and I’ve been hooked ever since. Sometimes shades that are too warm on the eyes can clash badly with a red lip, it’s hard to explain but I remember seeing myself in the mirror and thinking something looked off.
So if I do something quite warm on the eyes most of the time I’ll reach for one of those shades I’ve mentioned, although I also love MAC’s Twig, which is slightly darker, and Brave, which is lighter, as well. And as I mentioned in my recent New In Beauty post, I got a couple of nude liquid lipsticks recently which I’ve also really been enjoying.
In the same vein as warm shadows and pinky-nude lipsticks, I have finally started to appreciate neutral blushes – I know, I’m late to the game. Up until December when I purchased a mini from Hourglass, I only owned two neutral blushes: Too Faced’s Love Flush Blush in Baby Love (AU) which was love at first sight for me, and NARS Douceur (discontinued), which took me a while longer to fall for.
I remember everyone raving about the NARS one a few years ago before it was discontinued, and I ended up buying it because of the blogger hype and not really reaching for it much. But when wearing warmer eyeshadows I wasn’t always sure what blush to go for, because as with lipstick, sometimes the wrong blush can stand out like a sore thumb.
So I started reaching for Douceur more and finally realised how lovely it is and what I’d been missing all this time. Having just picked up another nude blush recently, I’m not really in the market for any more, but I can’t help but have my eye on First Love from Charlotte Tilbury (AU), so I will probably end up buying that at some stage too.
"No Makeup" Makeup
I was unemployed for a large part of the middle of the year (summer) as we had just moved to Toronto and I was looking for work, so without a reason to get ready every day, a lot of the time I just didn’t. I have no issue with not wearing makeup if I’m just popping to Tim Hortons or if my boyfriend and I are ducking out for breakfast on the weekend, but if I’m doing anything more substantial I like to do my makeup.
It’s never really been an insecurity thing for me, I just love the process and using all my different products and I find it really fun. Going too long without doing it feels like I’m missing out because I enjoy it so much, but I’m not going to spend 15-20 minutes doing my face just to pop around the corner and back. In those instances I might even just throw on SPF and worry about my skincare routine once we get home (and if I’m lucky it’ll include a bath and a mask). But if I have a few minutes I like to throw on some concealer, tinted brow gel, mascara and lip balm before heading out the door just to make me look more awake, and because I really enjoy getting ready.
A concealer I have loved for this purpose is the Glossier Stretch Concealer in Fair because it’s really lightweight and looks just like skin. I don’t want anything too full coverage as it can look quite stark when the rest of your face isn’t done, and although I use this concealer with a full face of makeup as well, it’s particularly great for the whole “no makeup” makeup thing because it’s very convincing, while still managing to brighten my under-eyes, give them a bit of a healthy glow and knock back my bags.
I also personally love it for around the face, even on blemishes and redness, because I find that it layers really well and never looks cakey, which in my opinion can make a blemish look even more obvious than if you had left it alone. In terms of lip balms, I love the Glossier Balm Dot Coms for a neutral, barely-there finish, or the Clarins Instant Light Comfort Lip Oil (AU) for something more glossy. I rarely wear lip gloss (I only own four) but because this is so nourishing I think of it a balm that happens to be glossy, and with hardly any makeup on it looks really nice and fresh.