It’s Makeup Friday! I’ve slowed down a lot on my makeup buying habit in the past several years, looking instead for the best makeup out there, quality products I can use daily. Long gone are the days when I would plan out my special, colorful, 20-step makeup look at night before bed right along with picking out my clothes for the next day. Ain’t nobody got tiiiime for that! Not on a regular basis, anyway. (Post contains affiliate links, so if you click through and buy, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you.)
The Best Makeup: My Must-Haves
I love playing with makeup, but there are some things I have to keep on hand at all times. They’re the best makeup items I know of, and I keep coming back to them.
The Best Makeup for Faces
It Cosmetics Celebration Foundation Illumination: I’m on my second compact of this stuff. It’s that good! It’s $35.00 and that might seem like a hefty price tag for a compact, but it’s lasted for months. I’m pretty sure if I used liquid foundation daily, I’d go through that just as quickly as this, but I can’t do that with liquids because they irritate my skin (dry, sensitive, prone to eczema and rosacea).
The coverage is fantastic when I do have those annoying reddish-purple patches, but it doesn’t look fake. I will admit it looks much better in the warmer months than in the winter because my skin gets incredibly high-maintenance when it gets cold. I apply with a short-handled, domed kabuki brush.
LORAC Baked Matte Satin Blush: I have this in two colors, Exposed (peachy-pink) and Flaunt (bright pink). The only other blush I used all year was NARS Orgasm, and that was just because I wanted the convenience of blush and bronzer in the same package (I have the duo with Laguna).
A little goes a looong way, so paying $24.00 for this probably ends up being a better deal than $10.00 drugstore alternatives. The name is misleading, though. I don’t think these seem matte at all. There’s no actual shimmer, but there’s something going on that gives a flawless lit-from-within glow. I always think of matte blushes as dull and something to counteract the shine of oily skin, but my dry skin loves this stuff. I use a small stippling brush to apply it.
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer: I’m on my second or third tube of this (my shade is Vanilla). Seriously, nothing else compares. I’m sure I could get slightly better coverage on the first try with some other options on the market, but they crease and look worse than little shadows under my eyes. This NARS concealer strikes the perfect balance of comfort to wear, coverage, shade range, and wear time. When I’m lazy, I use this on my eyelids too (whatever’s left on my finger after I apply it under my eyes) and it brightens that area up, too. It’s $29.00.
YSL Touche Eclat: It took me a long time to buy one of these because it seemed like one of those overhyped products I was destined to be disappointed in after all the rave reviews. I also saw people using it for their dark circles under their eyes and didn’t think it could possibly be the holy grail for me and my allergies that it is for other people (my under-eye circle game is strong!). It’s not. Not that way, at least. It doesn’t offer enough coverage on its own.
What I do like to do is apply it in the darkest spots still leftover after I’ve applied my NARS concealer. It also does a good job of camouflaging my smile lines. I just follow the lines with this and pat it in to make them a lot less obvious. I highlight my cheekbones and the bridge of my nose with this for date nights and special events.
I’d probably be okay with using it daily if it didn’t cost $42.00. I try to make this stuff last. There’s a similar product from Maybelline that I’ve tried and I don’t like it as well, but I can’t tell what the difference is. Maybe the Maybelline one is a little sheerer and drier. The YSL one feels like a moisturizer and a gel all at once and it just melts into the skin. You never see it once it’s blended in, but you can definitely see the radiant effect.
The Best Makeup for Eyes and Brows
Maybelline Eye Studio Color Tattoo 24Hr Cream Gel Shadow: Here’s another drugstore item I’ve loved for its color payoff, price, convenience (I just apply with my finger and don’t use a primer first), and longevity. I’ve tried a few colors, but the one I keep going back to is Bad to the Bronze, which is clearly bronze and not taupe, but doesn’t have the level of redness that could make you look sick or like you’ve been crying that some bronze shadows do. The only negative here is that they dry out faster than my MAC Paint Pots.
Eyeko Eye Do Liquid Eyeliner: I’ve loved the cat eye liner since before I was old enough to wear makeup at all, and this product makes it so easy to get that look. The tip’s not too long or too short, nor is it so flexible that you end up with a mistake all over your lid or so stiff that it hurts to apply it. The shape is perfect for laying it down against the base of your lashes and then flicking it up at the end, followed by a line back to the base, and the filling in of the triangle. I’m on my second one. It’s $20.00 but lasts a long time for liquid liner and it works so much better than anything I’ve tried from the drugstore. I just realized it’s supposed to make your lashes thicker and longer with use, but I haven’t noticed a difference there.
Marc Jacobs Highliner Gel Eye Crayon Eyeliner: This is one I loved (the black one, at least, since I haven’t tried other colors), but I’d only buy it during a sale because it’s $25.00 and I can find things that perform almost as well from other lines for less money. What I absolutely love about this is, well, there are two things. First of all, it’s extremely black. It doesn’t just phone it in with that grayish-black shade you sometimes get from a black liner. It looks incredible — and stays better than most other things — on my waterline. It’s also beautifully smudgeable. It blends effortlessly, whether I’m softening the line or blending it with shadow to get a smoky look. Oh, and it lasts!
LORAC Pro Palettes 1 & 2: Sometimes I wonder where LORAC was in my true makeup obsession days when I spent all my “fun money” on things to paint my face with. I’m also kind of glad I didn’t discover it until later, once I truly began focusing on quality vs. quantity of colors in my makeup arsenal. These Pro palettes are incredible. The shades are all buttery and a dream to work with, and there’s a good balance between shimmery and matte shades so it’s easy to contour and brightness to your lids. They’re intensely pigmented, and between the first and second palettes, I have any color I could want unless I want to step back into my 20s and go nuts with the bright colors (primary, neon, whatever, I had them all). Each one comes with a huge mirror and a shadow primer that holds up well. These shadows last all day with the primer’s help.
Anastasia Beverly Hills Self-Made Palette: I love a good eyeshadow palette, but I’ve been trying to buy fewer of them over the past year or two simply because I have enough shadow to last me until I die of old age. When I saw this one, though, I had to make an exception and add one more to my collection (during the Sephora Friends & Family Sale). The regular price is just $35.00 and you get 14 silky, blendable shades (except for Pink Champagne, which can be a bit of a diva and drop glitter everywhere) that are a mix between warm and cool “neutral” shades you can wear every day, and a few fun colors, like that gorgeous amethyst shade in the corner. Overall, I’d say you could use this palette for work, weekend days, or evenings out. It’s extremely versatile. The brush that comes with it isn’t my favorite, but it works well enough if I’m traveling and didn’t bring anything else. (Update: This one seems to have been discontinued now.)
Anastasia Beverly Hills Brow Wiz: Here’s yet another product I’ve bought over and over again! I’ve used powders, gels, combinations of the two, etc, but once I found Brow Wiz, I never looked back. First, let me just comment on the shade selection! It’s rare to see much more than the general blonde, brunette, red, and black shades, but this line offers nine different shades. It’s designed like a mechanical pencil, so you never have to sharpen it, and it’s soft enough to go on smoothly without making harsh lines, but hard enough to give you control in your application. It’s waxy but doesn’t feel like anything on your face, and it stays put all day. This gives the most natural look of anything I’ve ever used, especially in the part of my brows near the bridge of my nose. I love having the spoolie on the other end, too. So convenient! It’s $21.00. I may use one of these up every six to eight months, so it lasts a while.
The Best Lip Products
Colour Pop Lippie Sticks: I didn’t technically get these until 2016, but I placed my order in 2015. I ordered three colors (paid for two and got one free thanks to a coupon for $5.00 off), which were all matte shades. Lumiere and Contempo are similar medium pink shades, with Lumiere leaning more mauve and Contempo leaning just slightly more peach. Both are beautiful, but Lumiere is the one I reach for most. The other one I got is a deep burgundy called Silk that I love. On me, it’s a cool-toned shade with obvious blue undertones. They wear well for several hours and aren’t bad about migrating to my teeth. While they’re not particularly moisturizing (they’re matte, after all), these are some of the only matte shades I can wear for several days in a row without drying out my lips and making them crack. I apply a light layer of lip balm, let that soak in, blot, and then apply the lipstick. These are just $5.00 each, and if you sign up for the newsletter you get $5.00 off your next order. How could you not try them?
Jordana Twist & Shine Moisturizing Balm Stain: I am SO happy I found out about these little drugstore gems. I’ve been blown away and chose these over my high-end options time and time again. I’m obsessed with the shade Honey Love because it’s just a sheer hint of reddish-nude-pink (hard to describe, but a total “my lips, but better” shade). I say sheer, but there’s plenty of color there; they’re just not creamy or opaque. They really are moisturizing balms that last for hours. I’ve only seen these at Walgreens by the register in the cosmetics section, and get this: they’re $3.00!
The Best Nail Polish
Revlon Nail Polish in Valentine: A friend of mine told me this is the only color she ever wears if she’s doing her own nails (she uses a pro formula from OPI when she has her nails done at a nail salon). I can see why. This is a deep, sexy cool-toned red that’s dark without looking black. Its creamy finish with two or three coats looks stunning against my fair skin tone, but I could see it looking fabulous on anyone. Bonus points for this one since it’s cheap and easily accessible. One coat covers well enough in a pinch, but it’s brighter and pinker in appearance when worn that way.
What are your makeup must-haves? Have you tried any of the ones on this list?