*Best Mascara: Covergirl The Super Sizer Mascara. Don’t be fooled by the drugstore brand; this stuff is the real deal. Like its pricier counterparts (YSL, Benefit) it adds dramatic volume and length, but doesn’t clump lashes or leave you with raccoon eyes by the end of the day.
Best Highlighter: W3LL People Brightener Stick. From contouring to strobing, highlighters became a big deal this year and for a good reason – they make you look like you significantly more awake even before you’ve had your first cup of coffee. Well, at least this highlighter does. Plus, it’s paraben-free.
*Best Face Primer: Murad Invisiblur. Primer is one of those things I always forget to wear but once I do, I remember why it exists. Invisiblur perfectly hides imperfections like fine lines that I could almost do without additional coverage. The silky texture allows heavier foundations to glide on smoothly, and it has SPF 30.
Best Tinted Moisturizer: Jouer Matte Moisture Tint. I wear the Nude for light-medium skin and it adds a healthy glow to my otherwise pale complexion. It also provides decent coverage despite having a lightweight texture.
*Best Lip Pencils: Butter London LIPPY Bloody Brilliant Lip Crayon. These lip crayons are my favorite! They’re moisturizing, glossy (but not sticky!), pigmented, and equipped with a built-in sharpener. Also, unlike the NARS lip pencils, these don’t break off. My favorite shade is Teddy Boy.
Best Blush: NARS. Highly pigmented, long lasting, and doesn’t clog pores. Isn’t that what we all want from a blush? I tried the blush shade Super Orgasm, which has a shimmery hue, after the cult classic Orgasm was sold out. Some people comment that there’s “glitter” on my face, but I don’t mind a little sparkle.
*Best Contour: PUR Cosmetics Cameo Contour Stick. Thanks to this contour stick, which comes in five different shades, contouring isn’t as intimidating or confusing as it used to be. There’s also a handy guide on the back of the box that shows you where to highlight and darken.
Best Eyebrow Pencil: Benefit Instant Brow Pencil. Filling in and shaping my brows is actually fun with this waxy brow pencil from Benefit. I prefer it over other pencils, including Benefit’s brow zings, because I can get a more precise, natural looking shape and shade.
Best Concealer: Miracle Skin Treat & Conceal Concealer. You know those annoying people who say you need to let your pimples air out instead of covering them with makeup? Yeah. Just show them this miracle concealer, which not only conceals breakouts but works to diminish them and it hides dark circles like a good concealer should.
Best Foundation: Kevyn Aucoin ‘The Sensual Skin Enhancer’ Makeup. I bought this after reading that Kylie Jenner uses it (yeah, yeah) and it totally makes sense why. This foundation is heavy duty, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. While I wouldn’t wear it everyday, it adds a lot of coverage from under-eye bags to acne. I highly recommend using a face oil and primer underneath because it’s a bit thick in texture.
Best Exfoliating Mask: Origins Charcoal Mask. It look a lot of sampling to find the right charcoal mask but I’m pretty confident this one is yet. I use this to tighten pores and minimize blemishes, and it does the job in 20 minutes. Another thing I like about this mask is that it’s really gentle and doesn’t dry out my skin.
Best Brightening Mask: SK-II Facial Treatment Mask. This very pricey sheet mask, formulated with vitamins and minerals, is worth every penny. I used this after a long day at NYFW (it was one of those samples from the kiosks) and it provided the most intense hydration while tightening pores and brightening my skin. It’s a must-have for tired looking skin that needs an oomph for a big event.
Best Overnight Mask: REN Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial. If you don’t have time for a mask (or the budget for a very expensive one), this product will do. It magically revitalizes skin overnight to reveal a more youthful and radiant complexion in the morning.
Best Facial Peel: Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel. If you have any sort of hyperpigmentation, bumps, or breakouts this stuff is the real deal. Although the two-step process isn’t enjoyable, and may cause redness immediately after, your face will look totally renewed by morning.
Best Eye Cream: Caudalie Premier Cru The Eye Cream. Eye creams are my least favorite beauty product. For much of my twenties they just seemed wholly unnecessary (“why can’t I just use my regular moisturizer instead of dropping $100 on another cream?!”). But alas, dark circles and crows feet got the best of me and I set out to find the best eye cream at Sephora. So far I like the Premier Cru eye cream by Caudalie best. Not only is it really hydrating, but the cream absorbs into my skin so my eyes don’t feel greasy (as it did with Shiseido) and it brightens my under phentermine no prescription pharmacy eyes unlike any other eye cream I’ve used. I have yet to see any difference with my crows feet, but at the very least it can provide preventative aging.
Best SPF: COTZ Face Natural Skin Tone SPF 40. There’s nothing I hate more than sunscreen doesn’t absorb into my skin (ok, there are a lot of things I hate more than that). The nude shade and smooth texture of this sunscreen perfectly blends into my skin tone without leaving any unwanted residue. It also protects my face better than any other sunscreen, which means it has no toxic ingredients.
*Best Moisturizer (Day) – Murad Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 30. I started using this moisturizer after my face was uncontrollably breaking out over the summer, and it helped balance my skin and prevent further breakouts. The formula is tailored for anti-aging as well so it’s a win-win for any 20-something with blemish-prone skin.
Best Moisturizer (Night) – Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Cream. I stalked this product for a year, reading all the rave reviews, before finally asking for a sample at Birchbox. It’s amazing. If you have dry, sensitive skin or skin that reddens easily, this is for you. I have oily skin and it provides just the right amount of hydration without being greasy.
Best Face Oil: Boscia Tsubaki Beauty Oil. For the second year in a row, this is my favorite face oil. I did nickname it ‘I woke up like this‘ for nothing. The non-greasy oil boosts collagen, calms redness, brightens and soothes skin for a glowing Queen Bey effect.
Best Makeup Remover: Cailyn Cosmetics Makeup Remover Balm. I first tried this in a Birchbox sample (Birchbox is awesome, btw, join here) and got immediately hooked. If you wear heavy eye makeup or waterproof mascara this stuff is a must-have. This is the gentlest makeup remover I’ve ever used (Clinique’s Take the Day Off is a runner-up) and, unlike makeup remover towelettes, it moisturizes my skin instead of irritating it.
Best Facial Cleanser: Fresh Soy Face Cleaner. I got this as one of several samples from Sephora earlier this month and fell in love. It’s very similar to my other favorite cleanser by Liz Earle but comes in gel instead of lotion form so it’s more appropriate for oily skin. My skin has been more balanced and less blemish-prone since using it. And unlike Liz Earle (which I still recommend), it’s more accessible in the U.S.
*Best Pore Refining Treatment: StriVectin Advanced Retinol Pore Refiner. It was a happy coincidence when I received this product at my worst pore outbreak. Not only does it reduce the size of pores, but it also smooths the texture of your skin while preventing signs of aging thanks to the retinol. I saw results within a week.
Best Acne Treatment: Tea Tree Oil. I’ve been using the Body Shop’s tea tree oil as an acne spot treatment for over a couple years now and it works every time. Depending on the size of the pimple it can take between 2-5 days for it go away with regular application (twice daily). I use it as soon as I feel a breakout coming to prevent it from getting larger.
Best Body Scrub: Frank Original Coffee Scrub. I received this as a gift bag goodie from Simply Stylist, and was a little weirded out at first. After all, it’s coffee grinds mixed in with brown sugar and other edible ingredients. But since I’m pretty much a coffee addict I gave it a try and I’m so glad I did. This is the only scrub that’s gentle yet effective enough to exfoliate and smooth my skin. It’s totally worth the mess it creates in the shower.
Best Deodorant: Dove Dry Spray Antiperspirant. Another fabulous sample from Simply Stylist. This spray leaves zero residue so you won’t stain your black t-shirts, and the fresh scent lingers all day. I’ll never go back to stick deodorant.
Best Self Tanner: St. Tropez ‘In Shower’ Gradual Tan. If you don’t tan easily or see the sun much, you’ll wan to use this. Admittedly, it is a bit of a hassle to use in the shower because you need to turn off the shower for 3 minutes before rinsing. But after a handful of tries, you’ll have your tan. The only other drawback is that it stains your hands if you don’t wash them right away. No one ever said tanning was easy.
Best Hair Removal: Completely Bare Wax Strips. The gentlest wax strips you’ll ever use, especially for your face. I’ll never use Veet again.
Best Body Lotion: Perlier Revitalizing Body Butter. You may remember that I raved about this body butter earlier this year. It has the scent of an Italian bakery (think almond cookies) and a luxurious buttery texture that will keep your skin hydrated all day.
There you have it! 28 of my favorite beauty products from the past year. You’ll notice some glaring omissions from this list like eyeliner and anti-aging cream but that’s because I have yet to find the best. Let me know your top beauty products from the past year in the comments!
*Product provided to me for review; all opinions are my own.
**This post contains affiliate links.