Monday, January 28, 2013

Top Beauty Products in 2012 - Favorites

Happy New Year!  And what a year it has been?  It's been a year since I started my blog and one of my first posts was a list of my 2011 favorites...and here we have come round full circle to my favorites list of 2012.  

But first off I want to thank all of you for your continued support and for coming back to read my blog posts, commenting, and subscribing to my blog.  This blog has been my side project and my baby (outside of my real babies).  I have had so much fun writing for this blog and doing my "research" (i.e. having a great excuse to buy makeup and beauty products).  I have done quite of bit of "research" this year and have found a lot of great low-end and high-end products that have become my favorites for this past year.  This blog has also allowed me to try beauty products outside of my beloved MAC brand and I have found some amazing products at all price points.  It has taken me quite some time to compile my list but here are my favorites for 2012:

Primers - I really fell in love with the Urban Decay Complexion Primer Potion and the Loreal Magic Perfecting Base.  Both of these primers leave your skin feeling so soft and it truly preps your skin for either mineral or liquid based foundations.  I also like the Laura Mercier Oil-Free Primer which I used up at the beginning of 2012.  This primer is a cult favorite and for good reason.  I'll likely go back to using that primer once these are done.

Face - For foundations, I tried a lot of foundations in this past year but the few that stood out in my mind are the Laura Mercier mineral foundation, Tarte Amazonian Clay 12-hour full coverage foundation, and the Revlon Colorstay Whipped Creme Makeup.  All three of these foundations provide medium to full coverage and the finish for all 3 are very natural.  I love that with these foundations I don't feel like I'm wearing a mask and I don't feel the need to use a lot of concealer to spot conceal - the foundation does it's job.  I love these!

For concealers - I have tried a lot of concealers but there are 5 that I have been interchangeably using on a daily basis.  The MAC Studio Finish concealer has been a long time favorite - it is very full coverage and a little goes a long way.  It's also very creamy and easy to blend into my skin.  I have a NC (neutral cool) pot for spot concealing and a NW (neutral warm) pot for my under eye concealing.  The Bobbi Brown corrector and creamy concealer has also been another 2012 staple for me.  They too are super pigmented, creamy, and easy to blend under my eyes.  The corrector is a peachy shade which works perfectly to cancel out the blue undertones under my eyes.  The Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Waterproof Concealer has also earned a spot on my favorites list.  This stick concealer applies like a dream.  I can use this concealer under my eye as well as for spot concealing.  It is easy to apply, easy to blend out and super creamy.  I have 2 drug store favorites: The Revlon Instant Age Rewind concealer and Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Highlighting concealer.  Both of these multi task in concealing and highlighting the under eye area.  And their applicators make them easy to apply and they are super easy to blend out either using my fingers or a large fluffy brush like the MAC 224. All of these concealers are on my favorites list because not only do they do a great job concealing and/or highlighting, but they don't settle into the fine lines around my eyes which has increasingly become a problem as I am getting older (Sheesh - the problems of an aging woman!).

For eyebrows - I have very sparse eyebrows as a result of decades of "over-plucking" my eyebrows.  So now I have to fill in brows every day.  For this I really like using one of three products - my MAC Charcoal Brown eye shadow, Tarte EmphasEYES waterproof Amazonian Clay Brow Mousse, or the Anastasia Beauty Express kit for brows and eyes.  Regardless of what product I use, I always apply it with my beloved MAC 208 brow brush.  This is one brush that I cannot live without!  It has short, stiff bristles making it easy to apply the shadow and achieving a more natural look.  I like to brush out my brows when I'm done with a spoolie or brow brush.

For face powders - Depending on what I put on my face (i.e. tinted moisturizer, BB cream, liquid foundation, cream foundation), I like to set it with either the Laura Mercier Translucent loose powder, MAC MSF Natural or Rimmel Stay Matte powder.  When I use a lighter foundation-type product (like a tinted moisturizer or BB cream) and I feel like I need a little more coverage on my skin, I like to use the MAC MSF Natural.  With my medium to full coverage foundations, I will use either the LM loose powder or Rimmel Stay Matte.  These all leave my skin looking natural and fresh, while helping to control the shininess.

For Cheek Highlighters - I scored a lot of small sample size highlighters with a recent Sephora Favorites In The Glow Set but the 3 that I tend to reach for the most are the MAC Beauty Powder in Too Chic, NARS Albatross, and Tarte 12-hour Amazonian Clay blush in Angelic.  I love that these 3 highlighters are very subtle and not too shimmery and over-the-top sparkly.  They provide just the right amount of highlighting and catch the light beautifully as you move your face in daylight or the right lighting.  Highlighters are the perfect way to finish your face and "highlight" your features.

For Mascaras - I have a lot of mascaras that I have been testing out....but there have been 3 that have left me longing for more, especially considering that mascaras have a shelf life of 3 months!  I tested and fell in love with the MUFE Smoky Lash, Chanel Inimitable, Benefit BADgal Lash Mascara (not pictured), and Tarte Lights, Camera, Lashes! mascaras.  And then there is my beloved and faithful CoverGirl Lash Blast.  To be honest, I really like to "layer" my mascaras.  I like the effect that I can get when I layer mascaras - one will lengthen and volumize while another mascara separates, curls, and lengthens, etc.  No matter what mascara I use, I always end with my CoverGirl Lash Blast - the wand will help to separate my lashes while the formula will further lengthen my lashes. I may layer 2 mascaras or 3 mascaras, it all depends on how full I want my lashes to look that day - but no matter which ones I use, I like my lashes to look super long, full and I'm wearing a pair of false lashes.  
For Blushes - I have 2 repeats from last year and a few new ones.  I will always love MAC Margin blush - this blush is the perfect peachy-coral-y shade that I find is the perfect universal shade for everyone.  I love how this blush can work any day of the year with any eye look you want to rock - it's the perfect blush.  My next repeat fave is NARS Orgasm - another great everyday blush that gives you that perfect "flushed" look.  Another NARS blush that made my favorite list is Deep Throat - it's an amazing pinky shade that gives your skin that "just in from the cold" flushed look.  I love using this blush when I wear darker shades on my eyes.  The remaining 2012 faves are all by Tarte - this line has really impressed me this past year.  The Amazonian Clay 12-hour blushes are amazing - the formulation and pigmentation are awesome. These blushes conform and adapt to your skin type.  If you have oily skin, the formula helps to absorb the oil and mattify the skin.  If you have dry skin, the formula helps to hydrate your skin.  They have both matte and shimmery shades as well as powder and creme formulations.  My favorite shades that I found I reached for the most were Exposed, Stellar, Shimmering Poppy (creme) and Adventurous.
From top to bottom, R to L:  NARS Deep Throat, MAC Margin,
NARS Orgasm (w/Albatross highlight), Tarte Exposed,
(next to Albatross) Tarte Stellar,
Tarte Adventurous, Tarte Shimmering Poppy (creme)
For Bronzers - There are two bronzers that I reach for everyday not only to add some warmth to my face but also to lightly contour with.  One is a cream formula and the other is in a powder formula.  I love the Chanel Soleil Tan De Chanel creme bronzer - this product looks so natural on your face due to the formulation.  You have to be careful with bronzers because you don't want it to look too fake or orange that make you end up looking like an Oompa Loompa.  This bronzer is great for light to light-medium skin tones and good for any skin type.  I know that this is a pricey product but you get so much product and you end up using so little product, so this will definitely last you forever.  The next product was a 2011 favorite and is a favorite again in 2012 and its NARS Laguna.  Again, this bronzer is not too orange looking and perfect to bronze or contour your face.  There is a little shimmer in it but it doesn't translate onto your skin.  As you can see I have hit pan on this and I will definitely repurchase this bronzer when I run out.  I love it that much!!!

For Eyeliners - I have tried SOOOO many different black eyeliners in search for that HG e/l that will stay put in my waterline.  Well I haven't yet found that e/l though I have had some success with gel liners in my waterline.  But I have found some e/l that will last longer on my waterlines that others.  My favorites are the Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On liner in Perversion, MAC Kohl Power in Feline, Clinique Quickliner for Eyes in Intense Plum, MAC Eye Kohl in Smolder and Tarte Cashmere liner in Brown Black. These liners are all very pigmented, creamy in formula, easy to apply, and easy to smudge.  I forgot to add in the gel liner in the picture but I really like the MAC Fluidline in Blacktrack - which was also a favorite of mine in 2011.
UD 24/7 Perversion, MAC Feline, Clinique Intense Plum, MAC Smolder, Tarte Brown Black
For eyeshadow/eyeshadow palettes - For single shadows, I will always love my staple MAC eyeshadows, some that I mentioned in my December 2012 favorites: Shroom, Vanilla, Naked Lunch, Grain, Nylon, Soft Brown, Wedge, Texture, Sketch, Mystery, Espresso, Handwritten, Twinks.  But this year, Urban Decay came out with 2 amazing neutral palettes - Naked and Naked 2 palettes.  I love both of these palettes.  The original Naked palette has warmer neutral colors in it versus Naked 2 has more cooler toned neutral shades in it.  Either way, I find myself reaching for these two palettes at least a couple of times per week.  Not to mention whenever I have to travel, I will always bring one of these two palettes with me and nothing else.  I also love the NARS single eyeshadow in Mekong - I typically use this to line my upper and lower lash lines giving me a softer line than the "harsh" line that you get with either black gel liner, liquid liner or even with a sharpened pencil liner.  I love smudging this shadow out and creating a simple everyday smokey eye with this shadow!  
NARS Mekong
MAC Eye Shadows
From top to bottom, left to right: Charcoal Brown, Vanilla
Sketch, Satin Taupe, Shroom
Twinks, Mystery, Naked Lunch
Wedge, Jest
from left to right, Urban Decay Naked2 Palette, Original Naked Palette
For tools - There are a few staple tools that I cannot live without:  
-For cleansing, this was a favorite in 2011 and it is again in 2012 and it's the Clarisonic Mia.  I love using this cleansing tool.  It gently buffs and exfoliates your skin allowing any moisturizers and serums that you use to penetrate the skin better and you actually will get better results.  I also feel that your skin is better prepped for your makeup application because you have exfoliated and now your skin is smoother.  
-I received this next tool in a Birchbox earlier this year and it is the Beauty Blender.  This makeup applicator leaves your makeup looking so flawless and airbrushed looking.  You get such a natural and flawless finish with this sponge...there are so many cheaper dupes out there but none of them give you the same finish as the original Beauty Blender.  It is so worth the price for what you get from it.  
Beauty Blender w/Cleanser
-I love my Shu Uemura eyelash curler.  I have very long lashes naturally but I find that if I don't curl my lashes, my eyes look smaller and "sleepy-looking".  Curling your eyelashes instantly gives a "lift" to your can add some mascara and be done with your eyes!  I know that this eyelash curler is also a tad on the pricey side for an eyelash curler but I feel that it's important to find the right eye lash curler that suits/fits your lid shape and this one works perfectly for me.  The only downside with this curler is that I can't buy it at Sephora can only get it on the Shu Uemura website;(  
-For makeup brushes, I have a couple of brushes that I reach for the most despite having SOOO many brushes.  I love my MAC 217 blending brush, MAC 208 brow brush (my all-time favorite), MAC 224 for blending out my under eye concealer.  I also love the Sigma E55 Shading Brush for placing down the color, the Sigma E25 Shading Brush (equivalent of the MAC 217), the Sigma F84 Angled Kabuki for liquid foundation.  I also love using the Real Techniques Brushes, specifically the Expert Face Brush for liquid foundation and cream products and the Deluxe Crease Brush for blending out my undereye concealers.  I also love the Sephora Mineral Foundation Brush #45 for applying my mineral foundations.

For Lips - Last year, I had the chance to try many different brands outside of MAC, which continues to have lots of awesome colors and finishes that suit all skin color shades.  Some of my favorites for this past year have been:  my all time favorite lip liner - MAC Stone (unfortunately now discontinued), MAC Fresh Brew (repeat favorite from 2011), Revlon Lip Butter in Gumdrop, MAC Lipgelee in Amber (LE), NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss in Sweet Heart and Beige.  I also included on my favorites list the YSL Rouge Volupte Lipstick in #1 (Nude Beige) - I know that this is quite a pricey lipstick but it's worth every penny IMO due to it's lush and gorgeous packaging, creamy and moisturizing formula, and incredible pigmentation. Every woman should have that one pricey lip product that makes them feel like a million bucks!  

Well these are my favorite beauty products for 2012.  As I have mentioned previously, prior to starting this blog, I pretty much had my blinders on to all other makeup brands other than MAC.  But this blog has opened my eyes (and bank account) to other high end and drug store products.  I have loved researching and trying new products and have in the process, fallen in love with new beauty products.  I will continue to enjoy the "research" process and look forward to sharing my reviews and opinions with you.  Happy 2013!