2015 was a year of a lot of makeup experimentation, but I found myself gravitating towards warm and neutral shades. There were a lot of beauty favorites, but these guys stood out above the rest, and I reached for them over and over throughout the year. Not only are they my personal favorites, but they're also products I use on clients and can rely on them working for pretty much everyone. They're good!
H&M launched a whole new beauty range this year. Their last one was...subpar, so I wasn't expecting too much. The chic, sleek, minimalist packaging drew me in, though. Color me converted. This range is incredible! The eyeshadows give Urban Decay a run for their money, and that's saying something. The color range is so modern, and there's a shade for every look--I am partial to Chin Chin and Gala Gown. I will be back for more! Also notable is the foundation and concealer range that has a good selection of both warm and cool tones, and a whole color wheel for deeper complexions.
MAC's paint pots have been in my makeup kit for clients for years. They are the perfect cream base for powder eyeshadows, but look beautiful alone on the eyes as well. I've used the shade Groundwork on horror shoots to contour faces and dirty up fingernails for ghosts and the like, because the formula does not budge, even in extreme heat and humidity. This year I reached for Rubenesque pretty much every day. It literally looks like a sunset in a jar: swirls of pinks and golds. The name of the color is perfect because it really does make your eyes look like you're in a Renaissance painting. If you layer it a lot, you can even get a kind of futuristic, wet sheen out of it, which is cool. It looks amazing on fair skin, but looks beyond stunning on deeper skin tones!
Urban Decay eyeshadows are a staple for a reason in every makeup artist's kit: they have the colors, the opacity, the blend-ability you need for a variety of looks. My favorite shade will forever be Half Baked, but this year I used YDK on the regular. It's kind of a stardust taupe, with shimmer that somehow doesn't overpower any look. It can look modern or subdued, and plays well with nude and red lips alike. If you have hooded eyes (I wrote this piece here for Total Beauty so you can learn more about makeup for hooded eyes), this shade blended above the socket creates amazing dimension.
Nars' eyeshadows are amazing, but Isolde takes the cake for me! It's a duo of the prettiest burnished copper and a warm mocha brown. NARS packaging can't be beat in terms of aesthetics or functionality. They're such pretty shades this time of year, but they look really great in the summer too. Sometimes I just swipe the copper shade on with a bit of mascara and call it a day, but often I'll blend the mocha into the outer corner to create a subtly smoky look. These shades look especially striking on blue, green and hazel eyes.
Ah! Hourglass seriously knocks it out of the park every time for glamorous, sleek packaging. Just looking at this blush in its swirls of champagne and flattering pinks makes me happy, let alone the glow it imparts. I have never before used a blush that perks up the skin in such a natural, believable way. The dewiness of the highlighter/blush combo gives to the cheeks is unreal. I've used it on tons of clients, and it looks great on every. single. person. If you're going to splurge on a blush, get this one.
TopShop has some of the best makeup out there. If you've ever doubted that a chain store can make amazing beauty products, do yourself a favor and check out their beauty counter. You will never think that way again! Their packaging is so modern, chic, cute and fun. I just love it. They really get what's going on aesthetically right now. This blush is everything I've ever wanted in a cream blush, but could never find before this one. Cream blushes usually feel...gross on the skin. Most of the ones out there (even the highest of the high-end) are so sticky, weirdly wet and hard to blend that they completely mess up the foundation beneath. This one has converted me to the cream side! The peach-pink shade is literally flattering on everyone, and this formula is just unbeatable. It blends seamlessly and feels creamy yet somehow dry, never leaving a sticky feeling. It looks natural and brightens up the face in a very real way. It is just perfect.
Anthropologie always has cute little beauty items, and I found myself gravitating towards the Cheek Wash in First Blush. It's the perfect rosy shade for a winter flush that looks completely believable. If you're fair with freckles, this shade looks especially amazing. I would hesitate to call this a cream blush, as it's more of a stain. As a stain, it's much more bendable than the Benefit stain or other liquid ones, because it comes in a solid form and doesn't interfere with any base product you have on. The product is currently sold out, but hopefully after the holiday buying craze it will be back!
This might be my perfect bronzer/contour shade?? It's a perfect neutral shade, so it makes a natural contour, but isn't so cool that it can't warm up the skin. The blend-ability is great and the shade is perfect for even the palest of ghosts. They also carry a Chocolate and Dark Chocolate, so pretty much anyone can partake in this magical bronzer. You can see it at work here.
I use Captivating on pretty much every shoot, but in my personal stash, I love the shade Tipsy. It looks a little intimidating in the pan: almost a neon coral. It is magical, though: just blend and it gives so much life and a beautiful peachy glow to the cheeks. It's basically spring in a pan. It's super-blendable and actually very hard to overdo on application. It looks great on every skin tone!
This is the perfect 90's meets now shade. I love all of The Buffs because they have a perfect nude in the range for pretty much everyone. I love using these on clients because they have a subtle vanilla scent, a creamy formula that stays put, pretty packaging, and a bullet that's the perfect shape to forgo lipliner or a lip brush. Stormy Sahara is a really unique nude that's kind of a brown-pink with some warm undertones. It looks great on so many skin tones! Nude Lust gets an honorable mention.
Another TopShop fave! I love the formula of TopShop lipsticks--they are some of the best out there! The creamy, matte shades are my favorite, including Brighton Rock and Nevada. I am in love with Whimsical, though, because it's almost a nude, but it has a kind of peachy 60's kick to it. It's a shade similar to what Bridgette Bardot wore in Contempt and Audrey Hepburn wore in Funny Face. A young, cool ingenue shade!
This is the most amazing red! I love it because it's more vibrant than the average red, and carries a subtle orange undertone that really perks up a blah complexion. The crayon-esque packaging is basically perfect, and the matte, creamy, long-wearing formula gets me compliments every time I wear it! It looks great on pale skin, and especially beautiful on deep, cool-toned complexions.
1. Dermalogica Redness Relief Primer SPF 20
This primer is truly a cut above the rest. It does everything! It really does reduce redness, including on clients with rosacea. Sunscreen prevents more redness and pigmentation from forming, and this primer packs a pretty high SPF. The green tint is an old-school trick for cancelling out red (the opposite of red on a color wheel is green). The formula is non-greasy and long-wearing, and just smooths over the skin. It's a great way to start adding SPF to your daily routine (you need to!) without breaking your skin out or creating a white, greasy layer like most sunscreens do. Foundation looks way better and lasts much longer with this primer underneath. On natural days, I just smear a bit of this on and nothing else to reduce redness and create a nice matte finish to my skin.
This stuff is incredible! Regardless of all of the BB/CC cream madness in recent years, this one is a must-try. Never before have I gotten such great coverage out of a moisturizing product. It's not too dewy, so even those with super-oily complexions (me) can wear this guy and not fear the dreaded tinted moisturizer meltdown so common to moisturizing makeup. Yet, it gives the most lit-from-within glow to the skin. You look like a legit angel when you wear this stuff. And SPF 50? It's perfect for a day at the beach, or to be more realistic this time of year, for fending off glare from the snow. It truly is skincare and makeup combined. Blemishes and redness are completely cancelled out by this foundation. It actually comes in quite a few shades, although they need more dark tones for sure.
This last pick for 2015 is probably my favorite of the year! I was so blown away by this product. The neutral shade range really tones down redness, and the formula is everything I didn't know I needed. The consistency is creamy, and blends so well. At first it looks like it's not doing anything, but once you get it blended, the effect it gives the skin is so fresh, dewy and radiant. I've never experienced a base finish like this one gives. For oilier skin types, this completely--completely--keeps oil at bay. Yet, it's not totally matte, so you don't look like a weirdly parched sculpture. The tea tree really has cleared up my skin so much, and the light, fresh scent is so invigorating in the morning. The coverage is great (I still use concealer), and it feels so fresh and slightly tingly when you apply it--so refreshing! My face has never felt this great all day with foundation on. Oily people will understand that by the end of the day, we're usually dying to wipe our makeup off so we can get this horrible slippery feeling off of our faces. But with this foundation, it really does feel like nothing on the skin. I've never experienced that before.
I hope you have a great 2016 and I can't wait to see what makeup this new year has in store!