Tuesday, February 2, 2016

2015 makeup, brush & beauty favorites

I am really excited to share my 2015 makeup, brush, and beauty favorites with you! These were my most used products of 2015 and ones I would confidently travel with. Most of the products shown below will likely be familiar to longtime blog readers - I tend to stick with products I love using. If I have a post about a product listed, I included a link for you.

A note about the type of of products I like - I use quite a few makeup products on a daily basis, but I like my makeup to look invisible on the skin and give a natural, healthy, flattering effect. This group of products are the ones I lean on to consistently give me the impact I'm looking for without looking too much like makeup. I have dry, sensitive skin, so I'm always on the hunt for moisturizing and non irritating formulas.

In addition to specific product favorites, I have a few bigger picture makeup favorites. My top makeup favorite of the year is my getting ready time every morning. Sometimes its only 15 minutes, but I love taking the time to make a cup of coffee and do my makeup in the morning. It helps me wake up, plan for the day, and I appreciate the luxury of quiet morning time. Another 2015 favorite is Japanese brushes, particularly Koyudo and Chikuhodo. I fell in love with Hakuhodo brushes in 2014 which encouraged me to try Koyudo and Chikuhodo. I think Japanese brushes are highly underrated in the beauty community, especially considering that many brushes are cheaper or price competitive to mid range brands like MAC or NARS but much higher quality. My last big picture favorite is a favorite technique - applying powder with a damp beauty sponge. Applying loose setting powder or pressed powder foundation with a damp sponge gives a beautiful natural matte finish and I highly recommend trying it!

  • Favorite foundation/bb cream: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC cream in Fair. I love applying this with my fingers for a quick, easy base. The It Cosmetics CC cream is not full coverage as advertised, but the medium coverage and dewy finish works well to hide my persistent redness and even out my skin. I also appreciate the SPF 50!
  • Favorite sunscreen: Paula's Choice Barely There Sheer Matte Tint in 1.  I am a big believer in wearing sunscreen everyday, and the Paula's Choice tinted sunscreen blends into the skin easily and sits under makeup well. I have a full review here if you want more details
  • Favorite powder foundation: L'Oreal True Match powder in N1. Finding dry skin friendly powder foundations can be tricky, but the L'Oreal True Match powder gives me light coverage with a natural finish. I love applying this powder with a damp Real Techniques sponge. This powder also works well as a setting powder or for mid day touch-ups.
  • Favorite touch-up powder: Essence All About Matt!. This is an underrated Essence gem. For less than $4, All About Matt is the perfect invisible mattifying touch-up and setting powder. I think I went through 3 of them in 2015!
  • Favorite face brushes: Real Techniques Buffing Brush & Miracle Complexion Sponge. The Real Techniques Core Collection is worth the price for the Buffing Brush alone - the shape and density work so well together to blend foundation. I have many expensive brushes, and the Buffing Brush is my absolute favorite for liquid base products. I also adore the Miracle Complexion Sponge from Real Techniques and prefer it to the Beauty Blender for its density and shape. I love it for applying liquid foundation and powder.  
  • Honorable mentions:  The Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage concealer is a champ for covering up break outs, but the dense, waxy texture doesn't work under the eyes. I love it as a specialty product, but I don't use it daily. I chose not to include the Skin79 hot pink BB cream as a favorite intentionally - I love everything about the formula, coverage, and finish on the skin, but the color is a bit dark and pink for me. In the correct shade, the Skin79 BB cream would be a definite favorite.

Cheeks, Lips & Brows
  • Favorite blush: (tie) Inglot #20. The Inglot blush formula is nothing special (a bit powdery if I'm being honest), but I love the neutral light pink shade. I was all about matte pink blushes in 2015 and Inglot #20 was my default blush shade - light pink blush is a classic for a reason. I always feel healthy and pretty wearing this.
  • Favorite blush: (tie) Bobbi Brown Pale Pink. Bobbi Brown's Pale Pink blush is also a matte pink, but is cooler, more purple, and more vibrant, looking almost fuchsia compared to Inglot #20. Pale Pink was my go to 'fun' blush shade of 2015 - I always feel bright and happy putting this shade on! I recommend Pale Pink to anyone who wants to step outside their comfort zone with a brighter blush but keep it wearable and work appropriate. My favorite blush brush is the Hakuhodo K022 (a little bit squashed from traveling in the picture), which I have reviewed in depth here.

  • Favorite bronzer: Too Faced Milk Chocolate Soleil. There's a reason everyone says that Milk Chocolate Soleil is the best bronzer for fair skin! I love the shade, the formula, and the scent - it absolutely flatters my skin every time I use it without looking muddy, orange, or fake. I look in the mirror after applying and see subtle, sun-kissed definition. My most loved bronzer brush is the Koyudo BP010, a candle shaped tapered goat brush.
  • Favorite highlight: Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector in Pearl. No other company makes a luminizing liquid like Becca's. The gel texture blends into the skin and the shimmer in the formula looks incredibly natural. I'm not someone who likes a strong visible highlight and I love how Pearl makes me look glowing and healthy without looking like makeup or seeming greasy. 
  • Favorite brow duo: Anastasia Beverly Hills Perfect Brow Pencil in Medium Brown & clear brow gel. I prefer Anastasia's Perfect Brow Pencil to the cult favorite Brow Wiz - it is a better value, very natural looking, and has excellent longevity. I love pairing this with the Anastasia clear brow gel for a natural textured brow. I have tried many, many clear brow gels, but the Anastasia one has the best hold hands down.  
  • Favorite lip product: Fresh Sugar Rose. Rose is a classically pretty rosy pink and the thick balm texture helps the color stick around longer than most tinted balms. I find it moisturizing, easy to apply, and always flattering. 
  • Honorable mentions: Hourglass Ambient Blush formula - the best blush formula in my collection, but I didn't find a shade I fell madly in love with this year. I also adore the Bite Beauty lush fruit lip gloss in Currant, a watercolor neutral plum shade. 

  • Favorite eyeshadow: Urban Decay. I really enjoy the Urban Decay eyeshadow formula, particularly the Naked Basics palette and the single shadow in Sin. I love having products in my collection that I can rely on to just plain work when I need them to. I have swatches of Sin here and swatches of Naked Basics here
  • Favorite eyeshadow primer: Smashbox 24 hour photo finish. I have oily eyelids and dry skin under my eyes, and the Smashbox eyeshadow primer works beautifully on both. It isn't cakey or fussy, doesn't separate, doesn't cling to product so much that it makes blending tricky, and my eyeshadow and concealer last all day. 
  • Favorite mascara: Covergirl Clump Crusher Extensions. I loved the separation and definition of the original Clump Crusher, but it didn't have enough ooomph for me. Clump Crusher Extensions is the more bold, volumizing sister of the original - same brush, same definition and separation, but way more impact. I don't have to blot excess mascara off on a tissue before applying or worry about flaking either! My favorite lash comb (with any mascara) is the Maybelline One By One mascara wand - the oval shape and soft rubbery bristles are masterful at combing lashes.
  • Favorite eyeshadow brushes: Koyudo BP035, Chikuhodo Z-5, Hakuhodo B5521. All three of my favorite eye brushes are squirrel - I love soft bristles for eye brushes!  The smallest of the three, the Koyudo BP035, is a flat shader brush with a fluffy taper at the end. I love using it for an inner corner highlight, a pop on the center of the lid, and under the lower lashline. The medium sized brush is the Chikuhodo Z-5, perfect for an all over lid color like a skintone base shade or crease definition. The Hakuhodo B5521 is a goat-squirrel blend (and technically a highlighter brush) that works well for quickly powdering over the lid with powder foundation, a base shade, or a large socket placement of bronzer. 

Skin, Hair, Nails & Fragrance 
  • Favorite lip balm: Jack Black lip balm. I don't even know how many Jack Black lip balms I have used up this year - 10? 12? I have three open right now - one on my nightstand, one in my purse, and one in the pocket of my winter coat. I highly recommend to anyone who wants a seriously moisturizing lip balm but doesn't mind the salve texture. I like all the flavors but mint (which irritated my lips), but the Lemon and Shea Butter flavors are my favorites. 
  • Favorite nail product: Burt's Bees Lemon Butter Cuticle Cream. The Burt's Bees cuticle cream has been a purse staple of mine for almost 10 years - it is affordable, moisturizing, smells great, and just plain works. 
  • Favorite fragrance: Issey Miyake L'Eau d'Issey. This scent is feminine but not overly sticky, sexy or sweet. On my skin, I smell lilacs, rose, and a delicate Spring freshness. L'Eau d'Issey reminds me of Tom Ford's Grey Vetiver (one of my husband's favorites). 
  •  Favorite hair product: Living Proof dry shampoo. I have tried quite a few dry shampoos, and this is the only one that leaves my hair feeling clean and refreshed instead of powdery or coated with product. The smell is a bit strange, but the formula does what it says. 
  • Favorite face moisturizer: CeraVe Moisturizing Cream. CeraVe moisturizing cream in the tub is plain and unassuming, but it works wonders for my dry, sensitive, eczema prone skin. The texture isn't very refined and can feel sticky, so I wouldn't recommend it for daytime wear. I use a few layers of this every night and my skin feels plump, healthy, and hydrated every morning. 
  • Favorite body moisturizer: Shea Moisture Baby Eczema Therapy. The Shea Moisture baby body butter has the texture of actual butter and is insanely hydrating. This stuff is a godsend for eczema and I go through about a tub every two weeks all winter long. 
  • Favorite face mask: Aquaphor. When my face is feeling angry, irritated, or super dry, I do a thin top coat layer of Aquaphor as a sleeping mask before bed. The Aquaphor keeps the moisture locked in and resolves flaky patches. I also use this as a lip balm and all around ointment! I currently have three in rotation floating around my apartment. I also have a full skincare routine post if you want to read more.

Beauty book

Without question, Lisa Eldridge's Face Paint: The Story of Makeup was my favorite beauty book of 2015. Face Paint was fun to read and is packed full of stories and gorgeous pictures. I loved reading about the history of different companies, types of products, and colors. If you haven't read Face Paint yet, buy it or check it out at the library!

I hope you found my 2015 favorites interesting! I love seeing what other people think of my favorite products and which products other people use all the time - leave me a comment and tell me what you think!


    1. Hi! I just came from Instagram and love your blog! This post is great, I'm a huge fan of the Real Techniques sponge too. I've heard such good things about the It Cosmetics CC Cream and the Jack Black lip balm, I'm gonna have to try those out!



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