Happy New Year!
In 2018, I spent an all-time low on beauty products. In 2019 (despite my lack of blog posts) I spent a record high! While I have enjoyed my purchases, there are very few that obtained holy grail status for me. And despite eyeshadows being my favorite type of cosmetics purchase… shockingly none made my list! Here are the winners in no particular order:
Nabla Skin Glazing Highlighter
I initially had a bad first impression of this highlighter because I used a brush that had bristles too soft and fluffy to pick up the product. Once I switched to my Wayne Goss ones (the Air Brush and Fan Brush #15) they both did the trick! If you get this, just keep in mind that it is pressed a little harder in the pan than many other highlighters.
I love that the shine stands out when the light hits it, but it is otherwise on the natural side. I prefer having a wet look (which this gives) or a lit-from-within type of glow over a highlighter that’s too glittery.
I even love this more than my Guerlain meteorites (especially the 2019 holiday release)!
NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Setting Powder
The one downside to this powder is that I use it mainly to set my concealer, which can be a bit wet, which is creating some hardpan on the surface. After several months of use, though, it still hasn’t reached the point of the hardpan portion needing to be scraped off.
I loved the original Nars translucent loose powder because I genuinely could see a difference in my photos when I used it or not. My foundation looked more smoothed out in pictures. However, I stopped using it because it was just slightly too white, creating a bit of white cast. Thankfully, this shade doesn’t have that issue! I even prefer this over my previously holy grail status Laura Mercier Translucent Powder in Medium Deep, mainly because that one can still cause a cast with flash on if I’m too heavy-handed with it. And the shade is just a tad too dark. However, Sunstone is perfect for me!
Nyx Sweet Cheeks Creamy Powder Blush (Matte)
The shade Bang Bang looks the best on my complexion. I use it alone or sometimes mix it with Red Riot. I find that the other blushes are too light and only purchased them because the photos looked much darker on Ulta’s website. Thankfully, I bought them on sale so it wasn’t too much of a monetary loss. Ever since I purchased this line of Nyx Blushes, in August, I have used these almost exclusively because they are buildable (within reason of skintone) and blendable. Plus the price is fantastic for blushes of this quality!
Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick
I think this was a 2018 release, but I finally bought it this year and love it! It blends so well and stays put, although it’s not transfer-proof. It’s also incredibly hard to find something dark enough to contour with (that’s also not too red). I always use this for jaw contouring because I don’t seem to have a knack for blending out powders well enough along my jaw.
Half the time I use the Fenty stick to contour my cheeks as well, but the applicator is too big for my nose and looks off in color there, so I stick to powder products for my nose. If I run out, I will definitely purchase another. This product is a must-have for me!
Benefit Cosmetics Hoola Matte Bronzing Powder
Just like with contouring, it isn’t easy to find a bronzer deep enough for me to use. Others I’ve purchased didn’t do anything for me. However, I was curious to try this product and I could finally see a difference! I like the way it warms up the edges of my face. I still believe it is a product that isn’t necessary for me, but it adds that extra oomph when I want to do a full glam look.
Toasted is the shade that suits me best. The second darkest one is Caramel which is far too light for me. It wasn’t that long ago that Benefit expanded their range from 1 to 4 bronzers, but the leap between Caramel and Toasted is so big that I hope they expand the range further this year.
ELF Instant Lift Brow Pencil
I am in utter disbelief that this brow pencil only costs $2. It’s super soft, easy to use, and easy to wipe away with my finger if I’m rushing and make a mistake. That same benefit is also a downside because it can smudge if you rub it. However, I tested it with water and it holds on well, as long as it remains untouched.
I’ve been using this for several months and haven’t had any issues with it yet. At the same time, I’ve admittedly not worn it during the Summer yet. I will update this post if any issues arise!
House of Lashes Iconic Lite Lashes
False lashes have been a struggle for me to use for years! They still aren’t easy for me, but I’ve finally gotten a better handle on them in 2019. I’ve also realized that my particular eye shape makes things more difficult. My upper lashline is very rounded and few lash bands can accommodate such a high arch. My eyes don’t look wide compared to my wide face, but they are still wider than the average person’s eyes. It’s very common for someone to need to cut the lashes shorter, whereas Ardell lashes and many others are actually too short from the start. Eyelure and House of Lashes are the top brands that make styles for my eye shape. The Iconic Lite, in particular, is the most flattering pair I own. They’re gorgeous, fluffy, not too heavy (the regular Iconic lash is too dramatic for my taste). The band is average (not flimsy or too thick). And I’ve seen these go on sale quite often. Minimum of 30% but I stocked up when Ulta had them at 50% off just two weeks ago.
Please excuse the sticky mess on the used lashes. They were never the same once I used Huda Beauty’s new Tacky Lash Glue on them. That glue is amazing until you get it on anything other than skin. It’s like removing tar. Anyway, my used pair finally lost its shape after at least 15 uses. I’ve used it on and off since October 2018 (I only wear lashes for photos and not everyday use). This is on par with the amount that House of Lashes advertises on their website, although Ulta has it set much lower.
As can also be seen in the lash photo, because they are handmade, every pair of HOL lashes look a bit different. Some are fluffier than others. Some fan out a little wider. Some are a little longer. In most cases, this is fine. The multiple boxes of Iconic Lites I have are similar enough to not notice. But I did get a pair (used in the photo below) that were shorter than the others and the two different length layers were a little separated. It looks fine from far away but between my real lashes and the separated double layer, it makes this particular pair obvious that I’m wearing falsies. The point of the Lite range is supposed to be less drama and a little more natural, so if you can buy HOL in store, I’d recommend that over purchasing them blindly online.
In the photo above, I’m using all of my favorite products mentioned in this post. If I had to choose a favorite from other categories such as mascara, foundation, etc. the products I used could be considered my honorable mentions as they are my current favorites:
Face Primer(s) – Guerlain L’Or Primer in areas I contour. Tatcha Silk Canvas elsewhere
Eye Primer – Mac Paint Pot in Groundwork
Foundation – Nars Sheer Glow in Macao
Concealer – Tarte Shape Tape in Deep
*Eyeshadow – Sydney Grace Multi-Chrome Cream Eyeshadow in Alexandrite on the lid. Fenty Snap Palettes #6 and #8 elsewhere. These are new products I’m testing and not part of the honorable mentions. I’m shocked to say the palette I used most this year was the Morphe Jaclyn Hill 35 pan palette. Followed by Colourpop’s As You Like It palette.
Mascara – Loreal Lash Paradise
Eyeliner(s) – Nyx Matte Liquid Liner on the lash line. Milk Long Wear Gel Liner in Boss on the waterline of the inner corner of my eyes
Other Contour – Mixture of Colourpop Pressed Eyeshadow in Cloud Nine and ABH Contour Powder in Carob
Lip Product(s) – Nars Satin Lip Pencil in Rikugien and Fenty Gloss Bomb in Fenty Glow
Thanks for reading and I wish you an amazing 2020!
– Lili ❤