Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Top 14 in 2014; also, hello 2015!

2014 was so last year guys (hur hur hur). Still, with all the ridiculous ups and downs I had, it's a wonder that I managed to graduate! Yes, that's right - I now have a second Master's degree (but no job as yet, mind you sobs uncontrollably.)

I will say that 2014 was the year I really came into my own when it comes to makeup - bridging the gap between "I bought this and it doesn't work because I don't know how to use it" to "I bought this and it doesn't work because it doesn't work for me". While I'm no means at any sort of professional level, I now have the ability to look nice, should I choose to!

That being said, there were some things that really stood out to me in 2014. Unfortunately, some of them were limited edition items, so in those cases I will suggest alternatives, if I can.

Let's get right to it, shall we?

The Brown Girl's list of what rocked her world in 2014

In no particular order of preference we have:

1. Ben Nye Luxury Powder in Banana
2. Clinique Cheek Pop Blush in Ginger Pop
3. Lorac Mega Pro Palette (limited edition)
4. Urban Decay Vice 3 Palette (limited edition)
5. Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick (the set was limited edition; shades available individually)
6. Beauty Blender
7. theBalm Bahama Mama
8. Houglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light
9. NARS blush in Almeria (limited edition)
10. Chanel Cream Blush in Chamade
11. Marc Jacobs The Sky Liner Seven Piece Petit Highliner collection (limited edition set still available; shades available individually)
12. Bite Beauty Best Bite Remix (limited edition; shades in the set not available individually, but other shades in the formula available)
13. YSL Baby Doll Kiss and Blush in Rouge Effrontee and Fuchsia Desinvolte
14. Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Gold (limited edition shade no longer available, but other shades available)

Bite Beauty Best Bite Remix
Bite Beauty makes some of my favorite lip products, and this year's set certainly lives up to the hype! They are creamy, super pigmented and glide on your lips without tugging. They are not transfer-proof, but they do last a good four and a half hours on me, fade evenly, and leave a stain behind. I'm definitely going to be investing in more Bite products in the future!

Ben Nye Luxury Powder in Banana
This was one of those "YouTube/Beauty Bloggers made me buy it" purchase, and I admit at first I was completely baffled as to how to use it. But I soon found it is great for setting my under eye concealer, and giving it a bit of a highlighted look. It's also reasonably good at oil control (though not the best). I now use this exclusively to set my under-eye concealer!

Clinique Cheek Pop Blush in Ginger Pop
I love the Clinique Cheek Pop blushes, and have three of them, but Ginger Pop will always have a place in my heart (or more accurately, on my face). It's a great, natural, everyday sort of blush that can - and will - go with every look you choose to do. The few weeks before my graduation were a blurred rush, and I barely had time to get ready in the morning, but this blush was one of two that would find itself on my face without fail because it never failed to brighten my face up.

Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed in Champagne Gold
As an oily skinned person with lots of pores, I learnt I was supposed to hate highlighters because they "made my skin look even oilier" or "they emphasized pores and textured skin". Well, halfway through the year I sort of ignored it, and at the first touch of highlighter to cheekbone, fell in love. This shade is a limited edition shade, it's a pale gold that looks fantastic on deeper skinned, warm toned girls but that being said, I love the Becca highlighters. They're subtle, but will really add a lovely glow to your skin - regardless of the natural state of your skin. I do recommend checking them out.

I debated long and hard about whether or not to include these palettes in my favorites list, given that they're limited edition. Unfortunately, I can't help it - these have been my most-reached for palettes ever since I got them, and my other palettes weep silently in the background.

Urban Decay Vice 3 Palette
The continuation in the limited edition Vice series, the Vice 3 palette has a great mix of neutrals and colors in a variety of finishes. Despite some of the very questionable names (Bondage? DTF? Really?) this is a really palette to have. You can easily use this to create a variety of looks, and some of the shades are very appropriate for the 2015 Pantone Color Of The Year (Marsala). Some of the shades seemed to have some fallout when swatching, but on my oily lids, they adhered well, and lasted a full day (over primer) with minimal fading.

I know this was limited edition, but similar shades might be found as single eyeshadows in the Urban Decay line.

Lorac Mega Pro Palette
If the Lorac shadow palettes were Greek Mythology, the Pro Palette 1 would be Zeus, the Pro Palette 2 would be Poseidon, and the Unzipped would be Hades. Which would undoubtedly make the Mega Pro palette Kronos. With that bit of nerdiness aside, the Mega Pro palette is really, really versatile - with 16 matte shades, and 16 shimmer and glitter shades in a range of colors. I will say that it has a lot more neutral shades than I expected, with some of them being in the same color family; but for all that, I would still not give mine up! The shadows are softer than those in the Pro Palettes, so if you have normal or dry skin, using a primer will not only help longevity but will also help with adherence; in my case, given my oily lids, I had no such issue. It's great for softer daytime looks, but it's very easy to amp up the drama should you like.

This again was a limited edition release, but I can suggest and recommend the Pro Palettes. They have some great shades, and the quality of the shadows is actually a bit better than the ones in the Mega Pro (but only by a little bit!)

Marc Jacobs The Sky Liner Set
I received a sample of a Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Pencil with one of my Sephora orders, and when I used it, I was really, really impressed. I'm not the kind of person to spend $25 on an eyeliner - and truth be told, I don't know what I'm going to do once this set runs out! - but these are impressive. Smooth, highly pigmented and quite creamy, there's no effort involved to get them on the lids. And they have very impressive lasting power - easily a full 10 hours on un-primed lids! The only catch is that some of these have glitter, making them unsuitable for the waterline, and again - $25 for a eyeliner? Augh.

YSL Baby Doll Kiss and Blush [ Fuchsia Desinvolte & Rouge Effrontee]
The only dual-purpose product that actually works for both lips and cheeks! It feels like a velvet-y gel product out of the bottle, but once it's on your lips/cheeks it turns into a creamy powder finish. The finish is matte on both lips and cheeks, and being very pigmented, a little goes a long way. The matte finish is surprisingly flattering on my lips, and looks stellar on the cheeks! It lasts a good 6 hours on my oily skin as a blush, and a good 5 hours on my lips (it did leave behind a slight stain). I highly recommend you try this - it's a really amazing product.

Chanel Cream Blush in Chamade
Chanel cream blushes are my hands-down favorite. I haven't found a cream blush I like better than these! Chamade has been one of my favorite shades in the year - it's a gorgeous red-pink that is very flattering on me, and I think all deeper skintones in general. It's very pigmented, a little goes a long way, but it's easy to blend, and sets to a lovely matte (but not flat) finish. Oh, and the wear time is good, too - 5 hours on me and my oily self!

theBalm Bahama Mama
Despite the fact that it's labelled as a bronzer, Bahama Mama has a slightly cool undertones that make it great for contouring - even on warm skintones. It doesn't come off as ashy, or strange, bu it really does subtly bring out your cheekbones. Unfortunately, I don't think this will work on anyone over NC45, but it's a great bronzer/contour powder for those with light-medium dark skins.

Houglass Ambient Lighting Powder in Dim Light
The Ambient Lighting Powders are one of those products that are either loved or hated. I'm partial to Dim Light - I find that it very subtly brightens my face, especially when I use it over a matte foundation. As a powder, it's good at imparting a subtle glow (for example, when used to set under-eye concealer) but it's not very good at oil control, or even setting a very dewy foundation. It's really meant as a finishing powder (which is its purpose) - to breathe some life back into a face that might otherwise read as too flat. I like mine, and will repurchase if I cannot find an alternative - I've got a few indie products in mind that I hope to purchase and compare to Dim Light in the near future.

Beauty Blender
This was the one product I mocked, and now have to religiously eat humble pie. It's a sponge, yes, an egg shaped sponge, but oh my God what a sponge. Every foundation I have used this with has given me a flawless finish - I don't understand how, or why, but it does. It just gives me this perfect finish... just...I can't explain any more, but you do have to try it to see it for yourself. I might try the Real Techniques sponge to see if it's a 'dupe' for this one, but if not, I will have to repurchase because frankly, I can't see myself without this in my makeup life.

NARS Blush in Almeria
This was part of the Holiday 2014 collection, and it's just a lovely blush. It's a warm toned, reddened, deep tan rose blush that looks so natural on me. Remember how I mentioned that Clinique Ginger Pop was one of two blushes that I wore everyday to brighten my face? Well, Almeria was the other one. It reminds me of NARS Dolce Vita, but better. A similar shade is Illamasqua Allure, but Allure is shimmery while Almeria is matte. I haven't found a better 'dupe' than Allure, but I'll try to.

Too Faced Melted Liquified Long Wear Lipstick
Let's be honest here - I was skeptical of these. They had some huge claims - a gloss, stain and long lasting at the same time? HAH. I wasn't too keen on investing in them, which is why I got the set. The finish isn't glossy (thank heavens!) but a satin, which turns to a matte finish after a few hours. However, they never completely set, so they do transfer. They're quite pigmented, and comfortable to wear, last a good amount of time (5 hours with light snacking and drinking) and leave a stain behind.

And that's it! What do you think of my list? Is there anything you think I've overlooked? What are some of your favorites from last year? Comment below and let me know! 

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