Faves & Raves 2016

Happy New Year, beauties!  I hope that you all have started off with a ton of hope and excitement for the new year – I know so many people for whom 2016 brought much struggle and strife, so I’m crazy optimistic about 2017.  Please note: This paragraph was written on January 1, 2017.  It is now January 31, 2017 and I have almost no hope or optimism based on the things that have happened in this country in the last 11 days.  Having said that, this is a beauty blog, not a political manifesto and I’ll just carry on.

In beauty terms, 2016 was a pretty great year for me and it was very challenging to narrow down my list of favorites to just a few (dozen!), but I’m not a quitter and I managed to get it done!  Without further ado, here is my list of the best in skincare and makeup for 2016.


Make it Squeaky

This year, I discovered the K-Beauty (Keauty, I swear I’m going to make it stick!) double cleanse method and it has been life (and skin) changing.  The short version is that you start with an oil-based cleanser that emulsifies and removes make-up, dirt and oil.  Then, you follow up with a water-based cleanser to remove the remaining residue.  My skin has never been cleaner or healthier than it is right now!

coldcreamThe Face Shop Mango Seed Cleansing Butter is a great big jar of hydrating happiness and runs about $15.  It’s definitely a throwback to the old days of cold cream (they were really on to something) It’s extremely hydrating though, so if you lean towards oily I wouldn’t recommend it.  For my Saharan skin it’s pure heaven in a pot.

You’ll have to remove the residue, however and that is when I turn to Murad’s AHA/BHA Exfoliating Cleanser ($38 – $40).  It doesn’t smell amazing, but it leaves my skin feeling refreshed, clean and soft.  I am completely addicted to it and it’s a true multi-tasking product.   Micellar Water is very au courant at the moment.  Less expensive (but even more effective than) Bioderma’s ($17) is Garnier’s Micellar Water ($9).  I use this twice a day: nightly to remove the last traces of makeup and every morning instead of a soap and water wash.  Occasionally, when I’m too tired or lazy to properly care for my skin, I’ll use this in place of a traditional cleanser.  I prefer the blue-capped version, I think the pink-capped version is for sensitive skin.  I’ve tried both and love them both.

Primed & Ready

With so many amazing primers on the market, it’s really hard to choose just one.  My top pick for 2016 is Sunday Riley’s Effortless Breathable Tinted Primer.  It looks like Sephora has stopped carrying it since I purchased it in November – so I guess I’ll be leaning on Dermstore for that!  It’s exactly what it says it is – a lightweight tinted primer that makes foundation application a breeze and lasts all day looking flawless.


I’m addicted to snail products.  My affinity for snail snot arose from my Keauty obsession and like you, I thought it sounded disgusting.  But, it made such a huge impact on my skin that I overlooked the gross factor and carried on.  What makes snail snot so special?  Well, the snail slime contains proteins, glycolic acids and elastin.  This is beneficial to the snail because it allows their bodies to heal quickly should they sliver over a particularly abrasive surface.  It’s beneficial to you because those same healing powers work to halt and erase signs of aging.  Ah, the magical snail.  My husband still won’t kiss me if he knows I have snail face.

Pretty Up

When it comes to cosmetics, it’s so hard to narrow the playing field to bests.  I have my best for every reason you could think of – and that doesn’t really narrow it down.  The color cosmetic products I tried this year that blew my mind are, in no particular order:

Temptu Shimmer Bronzer $30 – I received this in a subscription box and I wasn’t thrilled.  I do have an airbrush but I don’t use it daily (or even monthly) so I wasn’t sure this product served much of a purpose.  Then I tried it with a damp Beauty Blender and OH MY GOD….life changing.  It is perfect for a sheer wash of sun-kissed bronze and you can make it as subtle or as sharp as you choose.  It’s the sheer-ness of the product that really won me over.  It truly creates a natural looking bronze.  I still haven’t tried it in my airbrush.

Urban Decay Perversion Mascara and Urban Decay 24-7 Waterline – I’ve always been a fan mascara-dotsof Urban Decay, particularly for their bold, cutting edge colors.  The waterline liner doesn’t last all day, but it does give you a big boost of color and applies as creamy and easily as their other eyeliners.  It’s also available in 6 shades which means you have options.

I was a major devotee of Stila’s Huge Extreme Lash Mascara until something changed.  I’m not sure if the formula changed or if my eyelashes did (ha), but it has begun to flake off which is NOT acceptable.  Three hours into my day I was noticing my under-eye area speckled with black dots that you cannot do a thing about. If you try and wipe them off, they streak, making things look so much worse.  Not cool, Stila.  NOT cool.  Anyway, Perversion is the new obsession.  It offers considerable length and mad volume, with a brush that is small enough to really get in and fluff those lashes.  I don’t feel like it’s the end of my mascara journey, but it will certainly do for now and/or until Stila offers me an apology and fixes whatever they did to my favorite mascara.

Laura Mercier’s Secret Brightening Powder is UH-MAZING for setting (baking) your under eye.  It helps prevent those black mascara dots from sticking (just kidding!).  It’s a super finely milled powder that is bright white.  There must be some sort of mica compound or something in it because it reflects light perfectly, brightening your under eye area enough that you would swear you’ve slept.  I know you haven’t.  None of us really get enough sleep.  It’s expensive at $26 for a small pot, but it lasts forever and a day.

Matte liquid lips are still all the rage.  I’ve tried so many.  An upcoming blog post will be a comparison of each of the brands I’ve tried – but the clear winner for me is Inglot’s HD Lip Tint Matte.  The first thing you’ll notice is that they have a light, but nice, fragranace/flavor that’s sort of like cake.  They apply more like a paint and last for literal hours without touching up.  They also wear quite nicely so you aren’t left with those gross, dried out patches of color on your mouth (yes Colourpop, I’m talking about you!).  If you let one sit in the same spot for a bit, they will separate and a rich looking oil rises to the top – I’m guessing this is why they aren’t super drying like many matte liquid lippies. Inglot is available in 21 colors.  I have two. Only 19 more to go and my collection will be complete.

Finally, I’ve tried loads of Indie brands of eye shadow this year.   The standout, but a landslide, is Make Up Geek.  I have a couple mattes, a couple shimmers and as many of the foiled as I could afford.  They are extremely pigmented, creamy and blendable.  The palette at the top is all of my MUG shadows and I literally use at least one daily.  I haven’t tried a color that I don’t adore and seriously want enough to fill a whole other palette.  Please?  Their brushes are also Best in Class, but I didn’t find that out until Christmas – so you’ll have to wait until next year’s raves for that story…


Any product is only as good as the tools you use to apply it.  I don’t love Colourpop shadows because I don’t love applying eye shadow with my fingers.  You know what I do love applying shadows with? This teensy, tiny little Crown Brushes brush.  I always want the smallest brush possible for the task at hand when applying my makeup, and this one fits the bill perfectly.  It also has a little finger notch that makes it so much more comfortable to hold and gives tons of control.  They are extremely reasonably priced as an added bonus.

I don’t apply my foundation with a Beauty Blender – it just doesn’t work out all that well for me.  I do use my blender every day though!  I like to blend my concealer with it, especially under my eyes.  As the day wears on, I like to mist it with a hydrating spray and tap it on my face – this quick move brightens your entire look at helps it last long and strong.  I haven’t decided whether I like the original Beauty Blender or the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge as there are things I like better about both.  For example, I love the exact material that composes the Blender, but I love the flat side on the RT version.  The insane price difference certainly factors in here – and I don’t think the original BB is $16 better than the RT.  I’ll have a post on Blender hacks soon enough – and it won’t matter which one you choose!

glamtechLast but certainly not least is a magnetic palette.  With the rapidly increasing popularity of single shadow pans, palettes to hold them have become very important.  The concept seems to have originated by Z-palette, but their lack of innovation has left a door wide open for other companies to come in an improve on the original design.  Dollup Beauty really upped the ante with their amazing cases, but their social media tactics make my stomach churn.  I really wanted one, so I snagged a gorgeous, limited edition one by tarte Cosmetics that came complete with five double-ended, high-quality brushes.  While the cases that store multiple products are amazing for travel , I needed something that made sense to use on the daily.  My favorites are the different sizes of Make Up Forever’s Metal Palettes.  They are almost always sold out, so if you see them back in stock – stock up!  I could use several more.  The best part is that you can just write the contents on the metal lid in Sharpie.  It will remove easily with rubbing alcohol when you switch up the story.  Still searching for something more custom?  Glam Tech Cosmetics offers you almost unlimited freedom in creating a palette that truly defines your style.  I’ve got to snag one of these cuties – and maybe you’ll see that on the list in 2017!

Thank you for reading, beauties! I would love to hear about your favorite product discoveries of 2016 – or any that you’ve already discovered for 2017.  I certainly have lots to share.

Coming soon…

Beauty Blender Hacks

Battle of the Brands (Foundation and Matte Liquid Lips)

Invasive Skin Treatments – IPL Lasers, Botox and Deep Chemical Peels






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