Hey, peeps! There has been a lot of social media debate about whether or not to wish New Year. It is a calendar change which is cathartic in certain ways. Here's to wishing that you make good of 2016 and may the fate be ever-so-kind towards all of you!
Did you guys make any beauty resolutions?
More so, what are the results of your last year's beauty resolutions.
One of my 2015 resolutions was to share my favorites every month. I did. Even if I was submitting September Favorites in December ;) You can check 11 months of Favorites on my Facebook. The last three months did not have corresponding posts because I was short on time due to frequent travel plans and work/family commitments. Another resolution was to declutter my makeup drawers and that I effectively did for the most part. I did rediscover some of the old favorites and hauled my beauty wishlist - courtesy of my dearest husband who agreed to it... begrudgingly :-P
I am back to a spending ban and have lots of creative aspirations for 2016. Hoping that they pan out well. I will cut my random blabber and take you right to my beauty picks!
Don't mind if it seems a little rushed. There are almost 60 products that cannot be elaborated upon in one post. For any queries, you may comments, email or reach out on Facebook and I shall make sure that I give a timely response <3
Let's have a quick look at my 2015 winners in both high-end and drugstore categories. I should, however, inform you all that I tried offering a pricey option and an affordable counterpart for the categories, where applicable. I will specify which I liked more between the two choices, so that you can draw your shopping wishlists and try them on, if you haven't done already!
Smashbox Photo Finish Primer - This is a cult classic face primer to be worn underneath your makeup. The silicone-y slip of the primer makes the foundation glide effortlessly on your skin. It's a splurge, but you can find travel size and deluxe packagings that last for a fairly long time. It is better than its other counterparts, but if you are looking for this to control oil - it won't. You'd be needing the compact or mattifying spray (AND blotting sheets, in my case).
Butterfly Cosmetics Perfect Makeup Base - It is an impulse buy from Al Fatah, Lahore that I have fallen in love with. I, most definitely, prefer this over my more expensive primers. This costs around 500-700. It has an updated packaging now (which I saw online). I have not spotted it in Karachi yet. This one works really nicely to prime your skin without the greasy slip of silicone. The makeup stays put pretty well. My pores are not filled completely, but they do get a soft-focus effect with the primer and I am super pleased with it.
Magicosmetix Orange Concealer Neutralizer - I was scared to see the bright coral orange cream pot. I have previously had problems with color correctors peeking through foundations. When applied, it was bright peachy orange against my skin. I had my fair share of doubts, but I was blown away by how awesomely my pigmentation was covered - without leaving the tiniest tint of orange when covered with foundation/concealer. That's a true corrector & neutralizer.
Stageline Paint Stick in Orange - Stageline Paint Sticks were purchased by me earlier last year and I found them to be super slick in blendability. That did not pan out well for me during sweaty summers as the product would move. However, the Orange corrector (Paint Stick) was the perfect one for my skin tone and dark circles. It is creamy and peachy. I can even wear it alone to neutralize dark circles without having any need to layer it up with the concealer. What sorcery is that, you ask? Because it just has the right amount of peach undertones to neutralize my pigmentation on the NC20-25 skin tone. If you have darker skin tone and deeper dark circles, you need to pick a darker orange/red shade of the corrector. I will compare all the ones I have used in a review!
Urban Decay Afterglow Blush - These are some of the gorgeously pigmented blushes that apply like a dream. It's weird to say this our loud, but I feel they can "sense" what type of application I am looking for :-P They will be sheer or nicely layered just up to my liking every.single.time. I have Crush and Bittersweet with me and I plan on grabbing Quiver, Rapture and Bang next. Oh, and the packaging - so cool! It's grunge-meets-sleek. I would have liked a mirror, but that's not a dealbreaker. I barely ever use the mirrors included in the blushes (if I can help it).
Makeup Revolution Blush - The blush line from Makeup Revolution is a winner for me for its variety, formulation, product quality, price point and performance overall. From lacquer and cream formula to powder and baked range. They've got it all. It is available at Reforma.PK and Daraz.PK in Pakistan. You've got to try their wide range of products, You can find many of their product lines reviewed at the blog here as well.
MAC Studio Fix Foundation - This is a recurring favorite from last year. I understand that people have a love-hate relationship with MAC foundations. At the time of purchase, I was unsure and I did not quite use it much at first due to absence of a pump dispenser. Over the period, however, it became an almost-holy grail for me because I can rely on it for every season, function, coverage need and everything else. I have NC20-30 skin tone, so as a safe bet through the year, I had chosen NC25 and that works well all year round. You can check the swatch and review in my Foundation Collection 1 post.
Jordana Complete Cover Foundation - It is a slim little tube that I did not expect to fall in love with for something that is as light as a BB cream, but gives me enough coverage to skip an undereye concealer altogether. It does have its fair share of "oh-no-no's" like the transferability issue that cannot be curbed with powder or setting spray. Apart from that, it is quite a stellar product that younger teens and university students can enjoy without any fuss over blending.
Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer - Every drugstore concealer recommendation videos, articles, and posts include Age Rewind. I thought it is about time that I grab this one for a trial and comparison! Using a lighter shade of concealer irks me so much. I wasn't sure how to choose an appropriate shade for myself since they have limited shades. I ended up choosing Neutralizer which is a little lighter than my liking, but works wonderfully over my orange correctors. It doesn't settle into my fine lines and provides good coverage as well. Good choice for pale-to-medium skin tones with light-to-moderate pigmentation.
Maybelline Fit Me Concealer - This was not an instant favorite, to be very honest. I used half of it wrong, trying to blend the concealer the wrong way. The trick is to apply and blend the edges, so that the necessary coverage is provided to you without lifting the color off of the problem area. Setting it with a compact powder locks the cream concealer in. Now, it is my absolute favorite with and without foundations. If you have NC25 skin tone with light undereye circles, 120 will be a good choice. For deeper circles, 125 medium is appropriate. It is best to begin with a neutralizing color corrector as this does not have the right undertones to do that job by itself.
NARS The Multiple in Copacabana - I remember asking on a beauty forum about the best cream highlighter formula since my friend is *OBSESSED* about highlighters and does not use any other makeup item... like ever. One of a very reputable makeup artists and trainer - Wafa Khan - mentioned how awesome Copacabana the Multiple is. This looked like cool-toned highlighter which I got for my friend. Once I swatched hers, it suited my warm-neutral toned skin just as much as her cool toned one. I was intrigued enough to grab my own and this is some awesome stuff! It glides so effortlessly and gives just right amount of highlight that you can build up or sheer out up to your comfort level. Equally great with/without foundations! I have used other cream/stick highlighter products that remain tacky for a while or become a nightmare in Summers over oily sweaty skin. Not this one! This is something that will last you a long while and I will keep re-purchasing this!
Essence Soo Glow Highlighter - My love for this started before they were launched in Pakistan. My lovely cousin in Germany sent this over to Pakistan and I couldn't be more overjoyed with the amazing quality and fuss-free application of the natural highlighter. It is cream-to-powder formulation that I like. Its texture is comparable to some of the high-end products I have. They are available at Essence makeup counters and online as well! Looking forward to more offerings from Essence.
Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Powder - I am clumsy and scared of loose makeup pigments and powders, making a mess all around me. However, this has been a game changer. It sifts the right amount of product that you can shake to go back in, if you feel too much product has been dispensed. It is finely-milled and I love applying it with the flat end of Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge over the foundation or moisturizer in Summers. Pricey, but a win so far!
Essence All About Matt Compact Powder - It is one of those things you top your grocery basket off at the checkout counter with and flash a quick smile at your Mom for :P I had read positive reviews about this and was in one of those phases where I wanted to see if something can outperform the Rimmel Stay Matte powder. Turns out, this one does - on most fronts, at least! Very little is needed for you to set your complexion products and the price tag of 500 helps a lot in making the choice :)
Sleek Contour Kit in Medium - I tried nearly 10 different products for contouring this year, but nothing came close to the ease of using Sleek Contour Kit. It is a budget buy that performs so well while you are a beginner at makeup. Lately, I have discovered that cool-toned (grey-browns) mimic the color of natural shadows better and I am in search for a proper cool-toned kit, still, this one remains my first choice :)
MAC Prep & Prime Lip - Another recurring favorite from last year. It is a non-greasy primer to wear underneath your lip products. It helps the liquid and matte lipsticks glide easily over the lips without compromising on the shade. It does enhance the longevity of the lip products too. My Holy Grail!
Colourpop Lippie Stix Primer - I am still experimenting with this one to find out if it is a worthy second to the MAC lip primer. It is in the favorites list this year to have you all know of a cheaper alternative. So far, I love it under the lipsticks like Ruby Woo and the drying Colourpop Ultra Mattes. It feels a tad heavier than MAC, not significantly so. A good buy for its price!
MAC Prep & Prime Fix+ Spray - I have sung sonnets in its praise on my previous posts - 2014 Favorites and 5 Fixing Spray review posts. I will reiterate that the super awesome multipurpose spray is another item I will repurchase all my life. It is not a hardcore makeup fixing spray. This, instead, is a makeup finishing spray that works very well on different stages of makeup. I love it over bare skin as well as under/over my makeup. It seems pretty bland to those who have not witnessed the awesomness of it, but you MUST at least try a travel size of this and discover the goodness locked within.
Makeup Revolution Amazing Makeup Setting Spray - It has been a part of my detailed comparison review and I will simply say here that this gives you the right bang for your buck. It promises to keep your makeup intact longer and does just that for a very good amount of time, especially with the summer heat.
The Original Beautyblender - I could never justify liking a sponge so much. This is quite a splurge and then you need to take real care of it. Like one of those assignments where you have to take care of an egg as if that's your baby. Well, that's true. I damaged my BB in the first 20 minutes of grabbing, using, and washing it. I still used it for quite some time before hopping onto next one while delaying for dupes. The effortless finish the dampened sponge gives you is the best version of your skin. I will update more on this in the comparison post with the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge.
Real Techniques Core Collection - A favorite from the last year's winners, my love for this has been strong in 2015 as well. You can truly manage full face of makeup with this one. Each brush serves different purpose and can do double-duty to give you the best complexion of yours. From creams, powders, liquids and mousse, these babies handle them all too well!
The Body Shop Camomile Waterproof Makeup Remover - I can blindly rely on this remover to purge my skin of makeup residuals on eyes and lips. This makes full face of makeup removal a dream. Its prices are getting higher in Pakistan, so I am waiting to grab the replacements for this through online sales. Meanwhile, Simple Cleansing Wipes are happy to assist me.
Nivea 2-in-1 Eye & Lip Makeup Remover - Another waterproof makeup remover that you can grab from your nearest supermarket. I love it for its ease of makeup removal. However, I feel it might be a little harsh on the sensitive skin, if not shaken well before usage to mix the oil and water-based removers in it. Still, a cheap thrill that performs great!
Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow Pomade in Medium Brown - This is my ultimate brow-savior. It fueled my brow obsession to its extreme. Whether I want a groomed look for a lazy day or full-on intsa-brows for events - I can trust one product and that's it. With a stiff, thin slanted brush, you can have the dream-brows of your choice.
DMGM Brow Pencil in Dark Brown - When I am too rushed to open the pot and lovingly draw on brow hair at a time with my ABH pomade, I am doing the quick-fixes with DMGM Pencil. This is adequately pigmented and stiff in getting the job done for your brows. Another love of mine that has traveled the world in my bag and helped me through some serious sweaty days. Probably the only reason for not investing in the Brow Wiz by Anastasia.
Lorac Skinny Palette in Black - It was a Nordstrom anniversary exclusive at an unbelievably low price. I remember asking Ayesha Ismail to grab one for me - although these things fly off the shelf the exact minute they are released. Guess what, she had an early access card that allowed me to lay my hands on this one. Like most palettes I own, these are neutrals. I usually do not sport much eye makeup. Still, the day I tried Sigma brushes with this one - MAGIC happened. So buttery, so pigmented, so long-lasting. I can so all the eye looks I want all year round and not miss another shade ^_^ Total steal!
Colourpop Super Shock Eyeshadows - Instagram is full of rave reviews for brands that you probably haven't even heard of. Everyone was praising what an awesome thing CP eyeshadow formulation was. I was intrigued, but never enough to pay more than the dollar price. That is when a beautiful lady offered to order these for me and carry it with her to Pakistan at dollar prices. I couldn't be more ecstatic and carefully placed the order for very limited products. Had I known I would fall in love with everything, I would have probably hauled my *** off :D The eyeshadows are incredibly creamy and pigment. A little too fragile, but I can roll with that! The color payoff is something to drool over. Detailed review coming soon!
Inglot AMC Gel Eyeliner in 77 Black - Inglot recently reached in Pakistan and I was really happy for their full range of products and testers available for us to grab any time we wish to. The prices were reasonable as well - Reasonably by the Middle Eastern standards, at least. The gem of their BIG BIG collection is AMC Eyeliner in 77. The darkest and creamiest black that stays put through all kinds of weather! For PKR. 1300-1500, you cannot find a better eyeliner that glides on your lid and gives you control for that intense matte wing or tight-lining.
Colorstudio Professional Hypnoeyes Eyeliner - There were days when the best black pencil liners were failing me. I was recommended this Colorstudio eyeliner. My previous experience with Colorstudio marker liners has been really bad. They dried out and were not quite pigmented. This was a pleasant surprise as the liner dried matte and the felt tip made the application easy-breezy! Would definitely recommend to those who are looking for a decent liner on a bargain.
Lorac Behind The Scenes Eyeshadow Primer - It is the perfect eye primer for my oily eyelids. Usually, the best formulations crease or transfer on my hooded eye-fold. It sounds like an infomercial, but I'd still say that Lorac primer is the perfect solution to my eye makeup predicaments.
NYX HD Eyeshadow Primer - It has a smooth and silky slip to it which made me doubtful of its effectiveness. It is one of those cheap-thrills that paid off well. I don't only use this one on teh lids, but the whole eye contour area. It helps my correctors go on smoothly without breaking and cracking into fine lines.
Benefit Roller Lash Mascara - A new mascara release from Benefit - I first thought this will be one of those rotating brushes that some other brands have. I was not too keen on trying the deluxe mascara size because they somehow fail to deliver the same quality as the full-sized product. I have tried and failed all four times with deluxe mascaras, while the full-size of same products worked really well. I tried this after borrowing once from a friend and was amazed at how low-maintenance and high-impact this was. Pairing it up with They're Real does wonders too. I recently grabbed my own and can't be happier :)
Benefit They're Real Mascara - Y'all know this is my ultimate mascara love. Mine ended a couple of months ago and I am seriously contemplating the repurchase of this. The wand of They're Real is better for my stubby straight eyelashes than the Roller Lash's. Love it for so many other reasons - like it is not waterproof, but still stays put decently through face-wash, wuzu and sweaty summer days.
Ardell Demi Wispies - I remember bloggers raving about these and I was on the lookout for the lashes that do not appear super heavy. These are still a little too heavy for me to wear in the day, but absolutely perfect for the evening functions. My next try would be the 101 from Ardell False Lash line.
Artmatic False Eyelashes - The cheapest and reliable option. I rarely ever come across any local lash pair that I can sport well. I can't remember the name or the number, but there is one particular pair that I find flattering to wear on my eye shape and size :) For PKR 60-75, you can't go wrong with a relatively less dramatic and more natural eyelashes as this pair was. I can't remember the reference number for the life of me, but you may ask the counters for the simplest and smallest of all, lol.
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant - All those who look for skin care reviews online are aware of Paula's Choice as a brand and a good reviewer of skin care products. I rely on this for the myth-busters that many brands had us believe. My original impulse was to grab a an exfoliating face wash from Paula's Choice, but this turned out to be a gel exfoliating serum. Something that you apply overnight. I will dedicate a detailed review of the post to this, but let's just say that this makes my skin smooth, blemish-free and bright, Masha'Allah! <3 A good splurge, if it suits you :)
The Body Shop Vitamin C Microdermabrasion - This I have previously raved about in my favorites post as well as a full-blown review that you can find here on the blog! Overall, I still remain a fan of gentle exfoliation that doesn't dry my skin out or cause irritation. Those who are allergic to citrus items might want to skip on this though.
Clinique Dramatically Different Gel Moisturizer - The same moisturizer has a gel form and a lotion form that look ALIKE in formulation and packaging. The lotion is richer, of course for dry skinned beauties. Mine is combo-oily, so I use the gel version all year long. In Winters, I use 3 pumps and apply with fingers or sponge to buff it into my skin. It never crumbles or ball up under makeup and works as the ultimate moisturizer for me! You can try it out in different packaging sizes to see which one suits you. As soon as this finishes, I am trying the moisture surge one!
The Body Shop Vitamin E Sorbet - It's a repeat from the last year's favorites! It has a nice fluff to it that makes your skin super super smooth and hydrated. Although, you need to apply the right amount because if you overdo it, this is going to crumble a little under makeup blending.
Bioderma Sensibio H2O - I have barely used cleansers or toners this year because I consumed 3 bottles of this baby! This stuff is pure gold. In figurative terms, of course. It is so gentle in removing the most tenacious waterproof makeup and cleansing the skin along the way. The dream of the lazy girl is to not get up after you have used the remover to wash the face. This ensures that I am fine after tonnes of makeup with just a quick wipe and no rinse.
La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF50+ - I still thank the awesome ladies who recommended La Roche-Posay as the routine sun-block. I don't trust the sunblocks that claim to control oil. I have been duped by the best and it is an achievement that this remains my favorite through two years. I have drafted a full review of this and will link back to this :-)
Solaris SPF40+ Sun Block - It was a tube of sunblock that I got from the doctor's office. Considering it is a local brand, the results were definitely worth mentioning. Shortly behind this, I have Nurnmir - another affordable local sunscreen that my dermatologist recommended. It reminds me of Spectraban as Solaris makes the skin smoother and works great as a makeup base as well. However, it is not the best for oil control and will suit normal skin the best.
ISIS Unitone Reveal Gel - A dermatologist invited in a program was recommending face-washes. Being the beauty blogger who barely ever watches TV, I was intrigued to know which ones does she pick. She mentioned a few and this name stuck with me. I was not actively seeking it, but recognized the name in my next trip to grocery shopping. I thought, well, let's try it. It made my skin fresh, nicely exfoliated and brighter without making it stretchy or dry... BUT the smell was chemical and I had to cringe every time I put it over my face. I must say that the smell dissipates as you apply, but it is worth-mentioning, if you wish to try this for the results.
Pond's Pure White Deep Cleansing Face Wash - I have mentioned my love affair with this one in multiple posts since 2013. It is a cheap thrill that I absolutely adore for its no-fuss-great-results qualities. In dry winters, it does lean towards being a little dry on me, but it still remains an evergreen love and you should give it a shot!
Pure Desi Ubtan - I have been on a mission this year to incorporate natural products and try DIYs in 2015. It is not as rewarding as people make it sound like, but it did impart a lot of knowledge and I will hopefully gather my thoughts to do a post on that. So, this Ubtan that I am talking about is a full-blown mask - not a yellow mustard powder. I have been mixing it with milk in colder weather and rose water in warm summers. There are no breakouts and it is helping my skin retain its moisture and softness. This I got from Ghunwa Memon of Pure Desi and if you haven't heard of the hype - her oils, masks and other products are a reliably pure and work very nicely. She does not make gimmicky claims for them. You can call them simpler products that you effectively enjoy.
DIY Papaya Mask - I have shared the recipe of this over social media. I'd like to give a big disclaimer that don't put anything and everything on your face. Do a patch test with these DIY items to see if you have any allergies or reactions and since you have no idea about shelf life, if you are making something - use it in one go. I pureed organic papaya, honey, and peppermint oil drop with a tiniest dash of buttermilk to make this and felt my skin become taut. Not the stretched out kind - the real firm and plumped up one. Was the most happiest and made it fresh a few times in the summers.
Burberry London - It was a gift from one of my besties and this has that amazing lingering feminine fragrance which you can smell if you pick up old clothes. That has been the dream I am glad I accomplished with this one.
Versace Bright Crystal - I remember testing and liking the fragrance at a store in Singapore. When my lovely sister-in-law presented it as a birthday gift last year, I couldn't help but fall in love with the fragrance. I am very bad at explaining notes and scents, so let's just say - YOU ALL NEED THIS! There are testers and deluxe sizes available for this, so you will be able to test it out before purchasing a full-sized ones. It is strong enough to linger on your skin and clothes, yet it does not cause any irritation to my eyes or skin.
Toni & Guy Cleanse Shampoo for Damaged Hair - It is my go-to shampoo. I keep switching shampoos up, but I return to this as the benchmark of great performance for the straw-like hair I happened to have acquired genetically.
Vidal Sasoon Shampoo for Damaged Hair - It's an impulse purchase that paid off well. I have a knack of picking "damaged hair" shampoos and this was another step in the quest of establishing a holy grail. However, all shampoos fail to perform beyond a certain period and need a little switch-up once a while. As for this one, my ends had taken the brunt of the extenso - and this particular shampoo softened them up considerably. It also cleansed the heavy hair oils that I kept testing on my hair.
Lee Strafford Poker Straight Hair - Another of the impulse purchases from Green Valley, that too at an amazing price. It claimed to be the mask for "flat iron addicts" and well, if it ever gets included in the dictionary, they will surely have my picture attached with the description. It doesn't reverse the heat damage (nothing can), but takes the stiffness away from the split ends to make your hair super soft.
Lolane Keratin Repair Mask - It's an affordable protein mask that you can apply at home. I have big issues with its updated packaging and the thin consistency of the product since it has become prone to spillage. Still, I am unable to relinquish it. Trust me, it is that good of a product. If I could specify one hair product I could keep repurchasing for life - it would be this one. I am sure there will be those who perform better, but at this price tag - I am more than satisfied!
Bath & Body Works French Lavender Body Cream - I'm not a regular with body creams, especially those with stronger fragrance. This, however, is a treat to apply. It gets absorbed within seconds and leaves a warm pleasant fragrance for the rest of the day. No residual remains, no tackiness. An absolutely awesome formula.
Vaseline Lotion - My Mom is a big fan of body butters and lotions. She swears by Vaseline as it provides necessary hydration without a hefty price tag. It gets absorbed in the skin really well and can be used around the year.
Toni & Guy Nourish Condition for Fine Hair - It promises to deliver weightless moisture and actively does just that. My hair are very thin in their structure and usually moisturizing products or those claiming to tame the flyaways cause my hair to lose their volume. This conditioner makes 'em soft, without weighing them down.
Sunsilk Perfect Straight Conditioner - Although this one does not live up to the "perfect straight" claims for me, but it still performs decently in making my hair manageable. The trick is to apply on the ends and keep it on for 2-5 minutes before washing it off.
Toni & Guy Glamour Hair Spray - It's the perfect flexi-hold hairspray that a gal like me needs. I'm not a fan of crunchy hair and that kind of spray makes my straightening go down the drain. With T&G Glamour, I get the right volume boost without compromising on the hold of my hairstyling.
L'Oreal Elnett Firm Hold Hair Spray - It is a cult classic for a very good reason. If you are into the same benefits that T&G provides at fraction of a price, go ahead with the Elnett. The crunch level is a bit higher in this one, but if you spray sparingly from a distance (unless you require the long-lasting hold), it should be just fine.
As you all know, my love for lip products is not limited to two picks only. A separate and relatively more detailed post about those will be shared shortly after this one.
What have been your favorites last year? Which products would you recommend! I would love to hear your feedback <3 Thank you so much for your support!