Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua + Laura Mercier Smooth Finish Foundation Powder
I have dry skin and a shiny nose, and I've never been able to find a single base that worked for all parts of my face. If it's moisturizing enough that it blends easily and doesn't make me look dry and flaky, it's not matte enough on my nose. I've finally found the right combination: the Chanel all over, and the Laura Mercier powder just on my nose. The Chanel stuff is really light and moisturizing, and the powder creates a really matte, poreless finish. (Oddly, having this powder on my nose seems to make my eye makeup and lipstick look better.) If I don't want to do both, I use just the powder on my nose and chin to cover up redness. These products are pricy-ish, but both under $50, and I'd rather spend more on skin and cheap out on eyes and lips. I use the 10 shade in the Chanel and the 04 shade in the powder.
L'Oreal True Match Crayon Concealer
This may be the first concealer I've ever truly liked. Usually they're too dry and cakey for my skin. This one's super easy to use and blend in. Caveat: I use it mostly to cover up little spots on my skin, be they sun or "blemish" related. (I love "blemish" as a euphemism.) I don't really do undereye concealer, so YMMV.
Maybelline Dream Bouncy Blush in Hot Tamale
This is the product that made me realize red is my favorite color for blush, which is totally counterintuitive; you'd think pink or peach shades would be the most natural, but I think my natural blushing shade is closer to red. The weird texture is like a cross between cream and powder. Note that I tried buying a couple of other shades and ended up returning them; they didn't show up well on my skin. Also, looks kind of gross after you use it, as you can see. Visible fingerprints; not crime-safe.
Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains
I have like eight of these things.They're easier to apply than lipstick and last longer. My favorite shades are Romantic (red) and Honey (nudish pink) in the original formula (not matte or lacquer), not pictured here because the labels are worn off from use. These are my favorite drugstore version of the Tarte pencils pictured below, which are fabulous but so expensive I have to wait for them to go on sale.
The Tarte ones have a better texture, but they actually don't last as long as the Revlon ones.
e.l.f. Eye Palettes
These are great precisely because they are so cheap, which satisfies my constant consumerist need for novelty. I got the small one for $2 at Target yesterday on Christmas clearance. The formula isn't perfect but it's passable, and the colors are really good.
L'Oreal Lash Out Butterfly Mascara
I usually have eight to ten different mascaras going at a time. I get a lot of sample-sized tubes as gifts with purchase and I usually buy a tube every few months too. This has the kind of slinky inky formula you usually only see in high-end mascaras and a very useful, grabby-at-the-corners brush. See my tips below for application; this one especially benefits from the looking-down method.
The Body Shop Honeymania Body Butter
I always have two or three containers of body butter in my house (again, wait for a sale). This is the first one I've liked that wasn't based on a nut (shea, almond, brazil, etc.). It smells a little like honey, but more like a dessert wine, like Banyuls or Sauternes. Really lovely, and not so strong that you can't wear perfume on top. (See also the Vanilla + Bergamot body butter from Bliss.)
Pure Hyaluronic Serum
I got this tip from Carrie Murphy. I layer it under my face lotion (I've been using the classic Clinique yellow stuff for decades) in the morning. I can't say it makes me "dewy" and I don't think "dewy" is really a possibility for me, but it does make my skin feel plumper. Commercial serums are usually upwards of $50 for a tiny bottle but this stuff you can get for like $10 on Amazon.
Also, three beauty things I finally figured out this year, divorced from specific product recommendations:
- Apply mascara while looking down at a mirror. You need to use a tilted mirror (as on a makeup vanity) or a hand mirror that's sitting flat on a table or counter. My mascara looks ten times better when I apply it this way, versus leaning over the sink and looking in a vertical mirror on the wall. Also I get less mascara on my eyelids.
- Tightline top lashes only. "Tightlining" is when you draw eyeliner right at the base of your lashes, almost on the inner rim of your eye. To do this I hold my lid up a bit with my other hand, and come at the lid from underneath the top lashes. This just makes your eyelashes look thicker, versus looking like eyeliner.
- When it comes to tinted face products, buy the palest shade. Obviously this one only works for me. I used to struggle with which shade of foundation or whatever to buy; I'm pretty pale but not ghostly pale and since I have freckles, several different shades can all seem to blend in decently well, especially with in-store lighting. This year I started just getting the lightest shade by default, and it almost always looks better on me than the darker shades. The trick is to match to your neck, not your face (my neck is paler and has fewer freckles than my face).