I've spent the past few days whittling down my makeup collection to compile a list of my ultimate make-up picks of the year. I've taken inspiration from the lovely Vivianna Does Makeup and used her categories to list my choices for the best beauty items of 2014.
2014 was a fantastic year makeup-wise, particularly for us Irish gals. Many of the world's most popular beauty brands made their way to our shores, including Charlotte Tilbury, NYX, Physician's Formula and Wet'N'Wild, to name but a few.
If you've read my blog at any point since I made it last June, I'm sure you'll recognise some of these products - I tend to blog about my loves immediately so many of these items won't come as a surprise. So let's get straight to business: (Wait! One more thing - swatches of everything is at the bottom of the post!)
- Best Primer: My primer of 2014 is the Smashbox Photo Finish Primer, without a doubt. I've got incredibly oily skin and I have never found a primer as long-lasting as this little guy. It feels light and velvety, keeping my skin matte and my foundation in place. Love, love, love!
- Best Lightweight Foundation: NARS Sheer Matte. Although marketed as a sheer foundation, it's most certainly a buildable choice that you can make into a medium coverage if you wish. I chose it for my lightweight foundation as that's my preferred way of wearing it - it's so natural yet flawless, with fantastic longevity. It's a pricey base choice but in my opinion it is definitely worth investing in.
- Best Full Coverage Foundation: I'm giving this prize to Maybelline Better Skin Superstay Foundation. I bought this back in June and it is my top foundation of the year, dare I say it. The coverage is nothing short of flawless, it feels light on your skin and blends in seamlessly. It's most definitely the best foundation I've ever come across at the drugstore.
- Best Tinted Moisturiser: I'm not the biggest fan of tinted moisturisers, however I discovered the Stila Oil Free Sheer Tinted Moisturiser about two years ago and it has become a staple for me in the summer when my skin is clear and behaving itself. It's incredibly sheer but it can be built up to a nice light coverage with two or three layers. The formula is very light so there's no worry that it's going to cake up. It's very long lasting so it's an excellent option for the summer time when you don't need much coverage anyway.
- Best Concealer: No prizes for guessing what I've chosen here - of course, MAC Pro Longwear Concealer! I went through two of them this year, and got a new one for Christmas to keep me going for 2015. There are no concealers on the market that compare to it - it's ideal for highlighting under the eyes as well as covering blemishes. I've also started using it as an eyeshadow base and it works better than any primer I own!
- Best Powder: Again, no surprise here - my beloved MAC Mineralise Skin Finish Natural. As you can tell from the picture above, it's very well loved! It'll have to be my first beauty purchase of 2015. I would describe this powder as a filter for your face - it just glides over the skin and banishes any imperfections with a light dusting. It has a light coverage so you can even use it on its own with a bit of concealer if you want a natural makeup look. I don't think I will ever find a powder that will overtake my love for this little guy!
- Best Bronzer: Michael Kors Bronze Powder in Gleam. I love a bronzer with a good sheen to it, no chunky glitter. It's a stunning true bronze with a hint of gold, which is complimentary on every skin tone imaginable. The powder is very finely milled and delivers the most beautiful bronzed sheen to the skin. It's really the only non-matte bronzer that I reach for in my collection.
- Best Blush: I am awarding this to MAC's Dainty blush. It's part of their mineralise range, and is a stunning pink with a golden shimmer, but like the Michael Kors bronzer, it gives a sheen rather than becoming a thick glittery mess on your skin. This is my go-to blush as it looks beautiful paired with any eye and lip look, it's so effortless.
- Best Contour: I'd like to say Laguna by NARS as I'm obsessed, but I don't think it's a fair pick as I've only had it for the last month or so. Hence, the award is going to NYC's Smooth Skin Bronzer in Sunny. It's the most fantastic contour shade as it's completely matte and is a true golden-bronze, not an orange or muddy brown. It's not too intensely pigmented, so you have great control with it and applying it is a breeze. It's also as cheap as chips, so there's no room for complaint here.
- Best Highlighter: This was a complete no brainer for me. Without a doubt, my highlighter of 2014 is Makeup Revolution's The One Blush Stick in Dream. It is the most stunning, pearlescent pink highlight that is so natural yet striking. I reviewed the whole collection of Blush Sticks, which you can view here. I love Dream because the formula is just outstanding - it has a cream to powder effect and you are in complete control of how it looks on your cheeks - you can apply it sheerly or apply it heavily for an intense highlight.
- Best Brow Product: Benefit's Gimme Brow has been my favourite brow launch of the year. I've found that this year in particular, every reputable makeup brand has stepped up their brow game, but I really think Benefit were on to a winner with this product. It's a brow gel that emulates the look of real hairs so you can have a natural looking brow that isn't sparce. I tend to use this on its own if I'm too lazy to do a full face of makeup with defined brows, and it gives my brows a nice bit of definition without looking like a huge amount of effort went into doing them. I will most definitely be repurchasing this.
- Best Eye Primer: I've raved about this primer countless times here on my blog, it's the Essence I Heart Stage Eye Base. I've used this for about two years now and no other primer comes close to it for me. It has a slight tint to it so it eliminates any discolouration or veining on your lids to provide you with a smooth blank canvas to apply your eyeshadow on top of.
- Best Single Eyeshadow: I chose Givenchy's Mono Eyeshadow in Modish Brown. I did a full in depth review of it here which you can refer to for swatches and more detail. It's basically a single eyeshadow, a light chocolate brown, that is divided into four squares to give you four finishes. Fairly suave, non? It's so versatile and as you know, I'm a packaging junkie so I adore the classy Givenchy casing. I'm also a fan of a good magnetic closure, so this is an all rounder by my standards.
- Best Eyeshadow Palette: I don't think will come as a surprise to any of you. Charlotte Tilbury's Dolce Vita eyeshadow palette - also known as the make-up love of my life (well, maybe my second as I think my Tom Ford lipstick has won my heart...). Like my Givenchy eyeshadow, I've done a full in-depth review of the palette with swatches which you can view here. Charlotte Tilbury Cosmetics took the beauty world by storm in 2014, and this product is a true testament as to why she is fast becoming the queen of makeup.
- Best Eyeshadow Stick: I actually had a few in mind for this category, but my winner is the NYX Jumbo Pencil in Milk. NYX launched in Ireland this year and Milk was near impossible to get until about a month after it launched! Anyway, it's the perfect opaque white eyeshadow base or eyeliner that is so versatile. I love to put it under my eyeshadows to really intensify them and improve their longevity. It also looks fabulous as an eyeliner on the waterline.
- Best Eye Pencil: My go-to eye pencil of the year has been the Chanel Intense Eye Pencil in Noir. I read countless reviews of how excellent this one was, so I decided to step away from my beloved Rimmel eye kohl and give this one a whirl. It was most definitely worth it! It's the most long-wearing, intense black eye pencil I have ever tried. It's completely smudge resistant and doesn't budge at all. It's ideal for the tightline as it doesn't transfer at all.
- Best Mascara: The winner here is the Kiko Ultra Tech mascara. This is another firm love that I was introduced to this year when I went to Italy. We don't have Kiko here in Ireland and at €3, I had to snap this mascara up. It's an excellent volumising mascara that is clump free and adds a false-lash effect to your eyelashes. I didn't get the waterproof formula but it doesn't smudge or dry incredibly hard, it's a very comfortable mascara to wear. It's the best I've tried in a while, without a doubt!
- Best Lip Balm: I'm awarding this to the famous EOS lip balms. My younger sister is a massive fan of them - her collection proudly boasts over 20 of them! My collection, however, is a little more demure and holds six different flavours. They all smell divine -my personal favourite is Summer Fruits- and they're incredibly moisturising without leaving a greasy residue behind. Their egg shape makes application a dream, and also quite fun! They're a handbag essential for me - I can't be without my little egg lip balms!
- Best Lip Gloss: I found myself scratching my head a little on which lip gloss to choose - it made me come to the realisation that I've definitely been neglecting glossy lips recently! Anyway, I concluded that the best gloss I've tried all year has to be the NYX Butter Gloss in Peaches and Cream. The name is a little misleading as it's certainly not peach - it's a true pink colour that's highly pigmented. It smells like vanilla, almost similar to the MAC lipsticks, and is very buttery - and ultimately true to its name! I plan on trying more colours this year, so let me know if you've any recommendations.
- Best Lip Pencil: An absolute no brainer for me - MAC's Soar lip pencil. Kylie Jenner took over the beauty world with her lip lining techniques, and when it was confirmed that Soar was her weapon of choice, there was not a Soar pencil to be found at any MAC counter. I've used mine non-stop since October - I think I've worn perhaps five make-up looks without it! It's the most versatile lip pencil in my collection, it works well with every lip colour under the sun. I particularly like to put it under light pink lipsticks, it makes them much more flattering and adds a lovely deep tone. If you only have one lip pencil in your life, it has to be this one!
- Best Nude Lipstick: I've chosen my Essence Stay Matte Lip Cream in Soft Nude. I'm not the biggest fan of nude lipsticks, so as you'll see from the swatches below, this is more a mauve-toned nude. I would go as far as saying this is one of my all-time favourite lip colours - the formula is impeccable, it has fantastic staying power and it doesn't feel drying on your lips, nor does it sit into any dry areas on your lips. The smell is slightly off putting, it smells like very sweet marshmallows, which can be overpowering after a while but it's worth it for such a beautiful lip colour, in my opinion!
- Best Bold Lipstick: My favourite bold lippie of 2014 has got to be MAC's Dodgy Girl lipstick. It was part of May's Kelly Osbourne collection, and it's a matte lilac which is absolutely beautiful, as you can see below. Even though this is the bold lipstick category, I think it's worth mentioning that this lipstick can easily be made into a wearable one by simply adding a slightly darker gloss. It's a true winner that I love in my collection!
And finally, that is everything that I have been loving in 2014! Wishing you all a very Happy New Year - here's to plenty more favourites posts!
Zara :-) x