What a novelty – it’s early January and somebody else has decided to start the year by writing a blog. That never happens!
… I’m giving it a go anyway.
Over the past couple of years, make-up has become my favourite pastime, hobby, addiction, obsession, whatever you want to call it, and in the past twelve months, I have fallen in love with a lot of things, and I have fallen hard. 2016 has produced some stuff that’s blown not only me but the whole beauty world away and yes, I am definitely guilty of making purchases based on what I’ve seen on Instagram or YouTube, but I’ve found that most were hyped for good reason.
I recently took the time to declutter my overflowing drawers that were stuffed full of products that I have used once and never reached for again (or some that I haven’t even touched or swatched) and (along with my incredibly helpful friend Izzy) I was able to slice my collection in half, tossing products that didn’t do me right or that I simply never reach for. My expectations are high and these days I find myself only reaching for the best of the best. One of my resolutions for the new year (yes, I know, yawn) is to keep my make-up collection ticking over and to make sure that I am regularly reaching for things I haven’t in a long time, and if I realise that I’ve been neglecting them for a reason, I pass them along to someone who will get some use out of them or I toss them. 2017 holds a lot of potential and ambition for me, and I will strive to save money by not making so many random trips to Superdrug because I’m bored and focus on really thinking about my purchases, ones that I really want to make, or repurchases of holy grails.
And with that, I managed to narrow down my top 16 of 2016. These products are ones that I absolutely consider to be holy grails, ones that I would find myself reaching for on a daily basis and ones that I would absolutely repurchase in favour of trying new ones.
(Small disclaimer: yes, I get I’ve spent a lot of money on this stuff and yes, I’ve purchased most of these with my own money, although two or three were gifts. This is in no particular order, and yes, I know there are a lot of highlighting products in here but I refuse to apologise, it’s part of who I am.)
- Anastasia Beverly Hills Moonchild Glow Kit (£39, buy here)
I know I said no order but this is definitely my fave because this… this. This. This. This is quite possibly the best highlighting palette I have ever stumbled across. With its six unique shades and pigmentation that you will probably be able to see from the actual moon, this absolute dream of a palette is definitely my most reached for highlight palette of the year. If you’re not always the most conventional with your make-up and you like to glow then this is a must-have. There is nothing more stunning than popping one of these on the tops of your cheekbones, and depending on the colour you choose you’re looking at a unique and gorgeous duochrome-y reflect that compliments so many looks and skintones. I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of the shades Blue Ice or Star for this, and I’ve popped Pink Heart in the inner corner of my eyes almost every single day since I got my hands on it. And now it’s more readily available in the UK, well, you’d be a fool to miss out on it.
The hype over this concealer was insane, and I hate to say that while I didn’t get it at first… I really get it now. I am a concealer junkie through and through, and if there’s something out there that promises to be exceptional then I’m all over it. This little baby has the best coverage of any concealer I have ever used, the most incredible applicator that is big, chunky, and yet applies just the right amount of product for it never to look cakey, or for it to crease on my dry skin. It brightens beautifully, feels lightweight, has helped my cut crease game improve tenfold, and it blends into any foundation like a dream. It almost sounds too good to be true, so if you don’t believe me, just ask any other beauty blogger or influencer and you’ll have your answer. An absolute staple.
3. Urban Decay All-Nighter Foundation (£27, buy here)
2016 is the year that my skin had a massive personal freak-out, and as a result all I want from a foundation is full coverage that doesn’t look cakey, heavy, or too yellow. And I found it in this bad boy. This is the foundation of my dreams, the foundation I will turn to if I need a bulletproof base to my make-up and an absolute must-have for nights out or long days. A little goes the longest way and it is hella full coverage, but in the best way. I’ve never had any issues with blending concealers or powders on top and, even though it is a very matte finish, I don’t have any issues with it and my dry skin. I know that a lot of other dry skin sufferers don’t enjoy it, but for me it just works perfectly and I never reach for anything else for a night out anymore. One of my absolute favourite new releases of the year, and I can’t wait to see what Urban Decay brings out in 2017.
4. Benefit Brows – Ka-Brow (£18.50), Precisely, My Brow (£18.50), 3D Brow Tones (£18.50)
Anybody who knows me know I take my eyebrows very seriously. It takes a lot to impress me in a brow product because I have tried so many I cannot even tell you. And then halfway through the year Benefit go ahead and drop a whole range of insanely wonderful brow products that changed my brow game. I didn’t think there was much that could rival my Anastasia Brow Wiz, but the Precisely, My Brow pencil is definitely what I reach for more often. It lasts a hell of a lot longer in my opinion, and it’s a slightly harder consistency that allows you to get a more precise line. It applies equally as well on top of other products, like the Ka-Brow, which I like to use first to draw on the tail, then fill in the rest with the pencil to create more hair-like strokes. In September I received a deluxe sample of the Ka-Brow and it’s still going strong – perfect colour for my hair and skin, excellent little brush that comes with it, cannot fault it at all. And the 3D Brow Tones are a great product that makes your now-perfect brows just a little bit more natural. If you ever wonder what’s on my eyebrows, it’s almost always these three.
5. Colourpop Super Shock Cheek Highlighter in Flexitarian ($8/£6.51, buy here)
2016 was also the year that Colourpop started shipping to the UK, and also the year my bank balance started weeping. The customs fees are a bit much, but they offer free shipping on orders over $50, which is dangerously easy to do. I picked this up on my first Colourpop order, and it has been on my face nearly every single day since. You can’t even tell it’s Colourpop anymore, the packaging is so wrecked. But regardless of its cheap jar and its slightly odd texture, this highlighter is BEAUTIFUL. It’s creamy, so I usually apply it just below my undereye concealer and blend them in together. It doesn’t look natural, but hey, I’m not out here looking for a natural highlight. I am out here to look like a glazed doughnut, and this is absolutely delicious. In some lights it’s almost pearl in colour, in some champagne, and with a light dusting of powder highlighter over the top you will be dazzling them up on the I.S.S. If you’re going to make a Colourpop order this year, make sure you chuck this in.
6. Colourpop Lippie Stix in Frenchie ($5/£4.07, buy here)
Sticking to the Colourpop theme, this is a little gem that I picked up in my third (oops) order of the year. I have been searching for a long, long time for the perfect bright warm red lipstick that can be worn for festive looks, for summer looks, with a simple eye or a dramatic eye, and I finally bloody found it. I have been wearing this pretty solidly across the festive season, and now it’s over I’ve no intention of putting it away until next year. My only issue with it is that it smells revolting (though I think that might be a dud because my other Lippie Stix smell fine) but aside from that, my absolute fave red lip of the year, possibly of life.
7. House of Lashes Iconic Lashes (£14, buy here)
I had never worn falsies before this year, so when I decided that this was something I wanted to get into, I watched countless YouTube videos on application, style, sizing, and fitting them to your eye shape. I saw so many people rave about these lashes, and even though they’re a little bit pricey for a beginner, I decided to bite the bullet and just give them a go. I LOVE THEM. Once again, they don’t look natural in any way, shape, or form, but that’s usually the look I go for. Even the simplest make-up look can be given ten times more drama with a pair of these on, and they’ve been my go-to for a night out/party/day out/lunch with gran/pretty much anything I can find an excuse to wear them for. I’m looking forward to improving my lash game this year, but for now I’m pretty content to wear these again, and again, and again.
8. NYX Angel Veil Primer (£12, buy here)
I didn’t think I’d find a primer that I’d reach for over my BECCA Backlight Priming Filtre, but apparently this is it. Over the course of the year I became a bit of a primer junkie, buying high-end and low-end primers alike to find one that would give me what I hoped for – hydration, radiance, smoothing and a bit of a glow. I don’t know how this primer seems to do all of that while also giving me an absolutely dreamy foundation application over the top, but it really does. And it’s an absolute steal – I used up my first tube in two months because I used it literally every time I did my make-up, and I didn’t even feel guilty about making an instant repurchase, despite my shelf of other (second-rate) primers. It’s creamy in texture, and to be fair I wouldn’t say a little goes a long way because it does dry fairly fast, but I’ve found applying it with a brush works wonders. I also don’t think it’s particularly good for making my make-up last longer, but it does make you look healthy, bright, and awake underneath your base, however heavy it is. At £12 it’s definitely worth a try.
9. Bite Beauty Amuse Bouche Lipsticks ($26/£21.15, buy here)
If I could only wear one lipstick for the rest of my life, it would be Honeycomb by Bite Beauty. If I could only wear one lipstick formula for the rest of my life, it would be these, the Amuse Bouche lipsticks. Creamy, easy to apply, the best colours, a beautiful scent, long-lasting and completely food-grade? Sign me up for the entire collection.
10. Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette (£41, buy here)
Everyone and their mothers flipped their lids over this palette last year, and I was one of them. When the photo first popped up on Instagram, I immediately thought holy moly that’s my dream palette, then proceeded to tear my hair out of my scalp as I bounced from site to site to site, only to be greeted with the words SOLD OUT at every corner. I finally managed to snag it from Net-A-Porter (and forked out the £5 postage fee as a birthday present to myself) and since then I’ve used it weekly at least. The range of looks you can create with this is infinite, and to be honest if I had the time I would wear a warm smokey eye using the reds and the oranges from the palette every single day. It’s a warm eyeshadow lover’s dream and I can only hope I get to wear it more often throughout this upcoming year.
11. Too Faced Born This Way Concealer (£20, buy here)
If there’s one concealer out there that could rival my love for the Tarte Shape Tape concealer, it is definitely this one. I picked this one up on a bit of a whim because, as previously mentioned, I am a total concealer junkie, but from the day I purchased it it was pretty much the only thing I would ever wear until the Shape Tape came into my life, so I had to mention it. The shade Fair is the perfect shade to brighten my undereyes and make it look like I got ten hours of sleep. It’s easy to blend, it doesn’t crease on me, and it’s a lot lighter on the skin than the Shape Tape, so this tends to me my day to day concealer. It’s the kind of product that I get separation anxiety from if I go away and leave it behind, which I think is when you know. I have three tubes knocking around for this very reason.
12. Sleek Highlighting Palettes in Solstice and Midas’ Touch (£10/£4.99 on sale, buy here)
Would it even be a 2016 favourites for any highlighter lover if the Sleek highlighting palettes weren’t mentioned? Probably not. These little things are INSANELY GOOD. Even if you’re not much into make-up but you’re looking for a highlighter I would highly recommend picking one of these up. I tell everyone who will listen about them because they are just that good. I used to buy Sleek eyeshadow palettes back when I was fifteen and didn’t know how to blend, so seeing them have such a successful year and come out with such a variety of exceptional stuff has been really great. At one point I did have all four, but in my declutter I took it down to the two I use the most – the Solstice, which I feel like everyone already knows about, but also the Midas’ Touch, which is an excellent and much cheaper alternative to the Moonchild Glow Kit if that’s a little out of your price range. The pigmentation is insane, and the range of colours you get in these palettes will go with all looks, all styles, all skin tones. There’s also a mix of creams and powders if you really want to build the colour up even stronger, but even I, someone who loves to look like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz, thinks that can be a little bit too strong at times. Seriously, check these out, they are so affordable, and to be honest, even if they weren’t I’d still happily fork over whatever for something this good.
13. Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder (£40, buy here)
I have never ever found a setting powder I love more than this one. As someone with dry skin I’m not madly in love with the idea of piling tonnes and tonnes of powder on my face anyway, but this stuff is just so light, effortless, and radiant. It doesn’t mattify my skin like other powders do – it leaves it with a radiant, almost highlighted from within glow that works day and night. It’s expensive, but I totally think it’s worth it, especially if you’re like me and you don’t use much powder. But even when I am baking my face (usually before a night out), I use this to dust away the translucent powder and it really helps any risk of cake face subside. I wear mine in the shade Dim Light, but I’d love to get a lighter shade so I can use this all year around.
15. Zoeva Nude Spectrum Blush Palette (£15, buy here)
I am a massive blush fanatic. When I was decluttering, my blush drawer was definitely the one that needed the most attention because I am a sucker for all different colours, finishes, packaging, even. But over the past year I’ve gotten a bit more discerning when it comes to what suits my skin and my style, and I now favour peachy or nude-toned blushes. It began with Suede from Sleek, which is another favourite nude-toned blush of mine, and then I picked this up on a bit of a whim. Inside are four multi-purpose shades, which range from pale pink to a lot more bronzy and apricoty, and what really draws me to this palette time and time again is the versatility of it. I’m pale enough that I can often mix the shades together and it’s all I use on my cheeks, but this would also be great for deeper skintones, some really beautiful shades that would make all cheeks pop and sparkle. It’s simple yet effective, versatile yet unique, and it’s an absolute steal for how much product you get. If you’re in the market to shake up your blusher collection, definitely check out Zoeva (not just for blushes, but also for brushes and eyeshadow palettes alike).
16. Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops (£34 each, buy here)
It only seems fitting to finish up this list with a highlighting product, doesn’t it? Before these, I was never really one for cream highlighting, but these just… these do things to me that very few other products do. They are quite simply stunning, and can be used in a multitude of different ways. My favourites include adding a couple of drops to a super matte foundation (such as the Urban Decay All Nighter) to make me look extra glowy, or dotted lightly across the tops of the cheekbones and then a light dusting of powder highlight on top. They can even be used on top of powder, and they’re able to blend into a powder contour/bronzer so smoothly. It’s very easy to go overboard, mind, so do beware! They are called drops for a reason – start with one, and then build your way up. And while I would love to say that these are something I’d repurchase, I’m pretty sure I’ll never need to – you get enough product in there to have you glowing for a really, really long time.
And there we have it, my round up of 2016 and its best beauty buys. While I’m aware it’s a little highlighter crazy and there are tonnes of other products that I have adored and used religiously, but these are absolutely my stand outs. That’s all, folks, stay tuned for more from me over the next few weeks and months. Thanks for reading, peace out!