Hey babes! I hope everyone’s January is going well! How are those New Year’s Resolutions coming along? I have kept my goal to meditate daily, yay! Also, I’ve been watching some Youtube vlogger “Best of Beauty” videos and decided to share a blog post of my own favorites! Below I’ve listed my very favorite (or favorites if I couldn’t pick just one, although I will try my very best to!) products in each category of beauty, skincare, & hair! Please leave me a comment sharing what you think was one of your very top products of 2016! Hope you enjoy this post! xo, Nicole
Best Primer: Smashbox Photo Finish Primer ($36) This is a tried and true primer I’ve used forever! I tried many other samples over the past year, but I’ve gotta say this one is still my fave! I just love the smooth texture. Also the fact that I have about a million and one samples of it doesn’t hurt either! You’ll see they also offer many differnt variations of the original now that address specific concerns such as pore minimizing or color correcting.
Best Liquid Foundation: Estee Lauder Double Wear ($39.50) I had a hard time choosing one foundation for this category, but I think I would have to go with this one! After hearing it was a classic fave of many beauty vloggers I decided to give it a try and could not agree more. The coverage is full, yet it feels light and cakey. Plus there is a large shade range and it is now carried at Ulta! Definitely check this one out if you are looking for a new high-end foundation!
Best Stick Foundation: Hourglass Vanish Stick Foundation ($46) I received this product complimentary to try out from Influenster (click here to join free!) and absolutely adore it! It has amazing coverage and is so easy to apply right from the stick, then blend in with a brush or beauty blender. They have a great shade range and the staying power is amazing. I also love this for travel because it is lightweight and you don’t need to worry about it leaking!
Best Tinted Moisturizer: NARS Tinted Moisturizer ($44) I have used this for years and I just never find anything as smooth! I love the texture, and it smells great too! This has SPF 30 so it gives great sun protection with medium coverage for a day when you’ll be outside! I wear this almost daily and it is great for these sunny Florida days we have year-round! They also have a matte version, so if you have oily skin check out that one!
Best Concealer: Tarte Shape Tape ($24) Well well well, what can I possibly say about Shape Tape!? If you haven’t already heard it praised a million times, let me confirm that it is the single best concealer ever created! This launched at the end of 2016 and pretty much anyone who tried it has never looked back. It is full coverage, won’t crease, and lasts all day. The shade range was just expanded to be even wider, and the price is actually very reasonable because this is the biggest concealer tube I’ve ever seeen. Likewise, the wand is bigger than I was used to with the NYX or Maybelline Fit Me versions. It is great to cover the entire undereye area with one swipe!
Best Setting Powder: Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder ($38) This is a classic high end setting powder that I just love! It is loose so you can easily get the perfect amount on your brush and it sets your foundation or concealer so nicely. Great for oily skin!
Best Blush: I had to give a tie between Tarte Amazonian Clay Blush ($28) and Bare Minerals Blush ($21)! I love both of these because they have a super wide shade range, great staying power, and similar price points. The difference if you’re trying to decide which to try is that the Tarte blush is pressed and the BareMinerals is the salt-shaker type packaging with loose powder.
Best Bronzer: The Balm Betty-Lou Manizer ($24) I have used this bronzer for years, but it remains my favorite because of the natural bronzy glow it gives with the shimmer it contains. It is great for light to tan skin and could be used as highlighter probably for darker skin tones. A pan of this will last you foreverrrrr! The Balm has 50% off flash sales on their website pretty often, so sign up for their emails and next time there is a sale grab the products of theirs I mention in this post!
Best Contour: The Balm Bahama Mama ($24) This is officially a bronzer, contour powder, and shadow that could be used for both eyelids or brows! It is matte so that is why it is a great contour powder for me. I actually received a mini size of this in my Ipsy Bag this month, so maybe you have too and will get to try it out if you haven’t already!
Best Highlight: I wanted to give a tie to these two highlighters. New to me in 2016 (another product I got to try courtesy of Ipsy) is the City Color Highlight Trio ($6) which I was amazed with. This contains three different highlight colors (a golden, pearly, and pinky version- these are the right three swatched in the photo below) which are all equally pigmented and beautiful! Plus, hello did you read that price point!? MUST-HAVE! Honorable mention has to go to my The Balm Mary-Lou Manizer ($24) classic I’ve been using for years because this is just a tried and true reliable, gorgeous highlight I have purchased time after time. The swatch of this is on the left here:
Best Lipstick: For actual lipsticks, I am pretty content with my two drugstore faves: NYX Matte Lipstick ($5.99) & Milani Color Statement Lipstick ($4.99) Both have amazing price points and feel so comfortable on the lips!
Best Liquid Lipstick: I am loving the new liquid lipstick trend and have tried so many of them! My two faves have got to be the Buxom Whipped Liquid Lipstick ($21) which I got to try out via a sample from Ulta. This is the most beautiful feeling liquid lipstick I have ever felt! Sooo creamy and soft with beautiful color payoff. My other favorite would be the Makeup Geek Plush Matte Lips ($12) that I recently tried and gave a full review of + swatches here.
Best Lipgloss: I have for years loved all shades of the BareMinerals Marvelous Moxie Lipgloss ($18). They have a ton of color options plus they have little kits that contain multiple minis so that you can try a bunch! These are comfortable on the lips and have a minty scent. Another fave I tried out in 2016 are all of the lip products from ColourPop ($5-6). You can read my reviews of some of them here.
Best Lip Liner: I find that my NYX Lip Liner ($3.99) is super affordable and works just great! They have any color you could ever want and are great for lining the lips or filling them in entirely before applying lipstick or gloss!
Best Setting Spray: I have always loved the Urban Decay All Nighter Setting Spray ($31). On days when my makeup isn’t “important” (aka when I’m working), I admit I’ll use the NYX spray because it is cheaper but the UD All Nighter is my ultimate fave for when I REALLY want my makeup to STAY PUT!
Best Eyeliner: I have said it a million times, but if you’re new to my blog (hi!) you’ll soon learn that my very favorite eyeliner for ever and ever is the It Cosmetics Gel Eyeliner ($22). This lasts all day and doesn’t ever smudge. It is amazing for the waterline and I would pretty much be shocked if I ever discovered one I loved as much as this. Probably the closest I’ve found is the Marc Jacobs Highliner ($25).
Best Mascara: Due to the fact that Ulta, Sephora, & Ipsy basically give out sample mascaras left and right, I have tried MANY a mascara during the year and none has been able to beat my favorite of all time, L’Oreal Telescopic Carbon Black Mascara ($9.99)! This mascara is sooo lengthening and natural looking, plus it doesn’t clump and umm hello it is only $10! If you have never tried this, you MUST! You will wonder (like me) why you ever wasted all those dollars paying $24 a tube for They’re Real or Diorshow!
Best Eyeshadows: I will admit I don’t wear eyeshadow very often at all, but I still find it fun to play with and it is a goal of mine to use it more frequently! I have to say that both the Makeup Geek Duochrome Shadows ($6) and the ColourPop Super Shock Shadow ($5) are amazing in pigmentation, have incredibly beautiful shades, not to mention they are super affordable! Definitely check these out! Below are some swatches (Makeup Geek on left, ColourPop on right):
Best Eyeshadow Palette: I don’t honestly own all that many eyeshadow palettes because, as i mentioned above, I don’t use eyeshadow all that often. However, when I saw the Too Faced Peanut Butter & Jelly Palette ($36) I fell in love with how adorable it is knew I just had to buy it! The shades are so beautiful and I just think the theme and packaging is the cutest ever!
Best Brow Product: Granted, I now have microblading so I don’t use brow products anymore (click here to read all about my experience!) BUT before I got this done in November, I was hooked on the ColourPop Brow Pencil ($5). First of all it is super inexpensive! Secondly, it is so easy to apply, self sharpening, and has a spoolie on the end so it is so easy to shape your brows without making a mess! They have a huge shade range so check these out!
Best Makeup Brushes: I had to give this category to the Real Techniques Brushes because they are the most consistently amazing collection that I’ve tried. I also love Elf Brushes, but some are not so great. I have only tried one or two Crown brushes which I love but can’t vouch for the entire line of brushes. I own eleven Real Techniques brushes and all of them are fabulous at applying makeup, can be cleaned easily, and are long-lasting. These are often on sale at Ulta too!
Best Makeup Brush Cleaner: Although there are many products you can use to clean your brushes, my favorite that I’ve used is the Beautyblender Blendercleanser Solid ($16). This is the easiest and least messy cleanser for me to use, plus it does a great job and is gentle on the brushes.
Best Cleanser: A month ago I decided to finally pick up the Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water ($6.29) after hearing about and basically ignoring the micellar water trend for the entire year. WOW, what was I doing with my life!? Micellar water is a whole new way of life! This stuff makes it sooo easy and non-messy to clean your face and take off your makeup. It is so gentle on the skin yet effective at really getting off the gunk! I apply this with cotton rounds.
Best Exfoliator: In a Sephora Play bag one time, I received the Skin Inc. Pure Revival Peel ($55) and was amazed at the results it gave! You basically apply this gel to a clean face, then only 10 seconds later you rub it in circles and you will literally feel the dirt on your face balling up and falling off. It is actually quite intriguingly disgusting how much gunk is on your face that you don’t realize until you use this! I like to use it once per week and a little bit goes a very long way!
Best Makeup Remover: As I mentioned above, the micellar water is great for taking off makeup, including eye makeup. However, previously I always loved the gentleness, texture, and luxurious feel of the Benefit They’re Real! Remover ($18). This is my favorite lotion-type product to use for removing my eye makeup!
Best Face Wipes: I have tried many face wipes and I do think that a lot of brands make wipes that successfully remove makeup or cleanse the face. I use them mainly after a workout or if I’m super lazy at night, perhaps because I’m traveling! My main problem with face wipes is that a lot of them don’t glide across the skin easily and start to kind of bunch up so you have to keep stretching them out to wipe the entire area of your face. The best I’ve found that do not give me this trouble are the Pacifica Cleansing Wipes ($6) which also smell amaaaazing.
Best Toner: I must admit I’ve only used one other toner which irritated the heck out of my skin years ago, so I gave up on the toner train. Recently I was getting a facial and my facialist told me I need to be using toner daily so I grabbed the Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner ($18) and it has totally agreed with my skin 🙂
Best Serum: I have tried a ton of serums as well from personal purchases and product samples, and I think there are a ton of great options out there to be honest. Depending what skin concern you are trying to address, there are hundreds of serums to chose from! I will say that recently I have tried the Drunk Elephant Night Serum ($90) and really love it. All of this brand’s skincare products are superb.
Best Facial Oil: I will always stand by the Tarte Maracuja Oil ($48) for any and everything! You can use this in your hair, on your lips to hydrate, and on your body and face as well to moisturize. I like to use this after a serum, but before my moisturizer in the morning or nighttime. If you dry skin, this will be a saviour for you. And, if you have oily skin- DO NOT BE AFRAID! Face oils are actually great for oily skin because they regulate the amount of oil that is present so your skin doesn’t feel parched and produce as much oil on its own to make up for any imbalance. Trust me, facial oils will only make your skin better, never worse.
Best Moisturizer: This is another category where I have found so many great products over the years. My main requirement besides smooth texture and pleasant smell is that my daytime moisturizer contains at least SPF 15. This year I tried the Garnier Clearly Brighter Moisturizer ($14.99) and will totally call this my fave of 2016! It feels so hydrating and smells very fresh.
Best Night Cream: My favorite night cream from this year has to be the It Cosmetics Confidence in a Cream ($48). You’ve probably heard me talk about this one before, but it is just so good for your skin between the creamy texture that will give you a serious hydration boost and the ingredients it packs into your skin to keep you looking and feeling healthy and beautiful!
Best Eye Cream: For morning mainly, I have been loving the Origins Ginzing Eye Cream ($30) which is super brightening and energizing for those mornings you wish you could hit snooze. For nighttime, I have tried a ton of eye creams and would say that the Mario Badescu Eye Creams ($18-20) are my favorites!
Best Eye Gels: I absolutely love the Skyn Iceland Hydro Cool Firming Eye Gels ($30 for 8 pairs) for depuffing and energizing the under eye area. As you see in the photo below, you stick these under the eye for about 10 minutes, then remove them and rub in the remaining serum. They feel so refreshing and are great for any morning you are short on sleep or feeling extra groggy.
Best Mask: I am a mask fiend, but overall I would have to award the Mario Badescu Masks ($18-24) as the best masks out there. They have tons of different masks to address varying skin concerns, but two of my favorites are the Super Collagen & Flower Tonic. I brush these on with a flat foundation type brush for a spa-like feel.
Best Sheet Mask: I have tried tons of sheet masks as well, but my remaining favorite has to be the Yes to Grapefruit Sheet Mask ($15.99 for 5). This mask is for brightening and tightening pores. It is super refreshing and cooling, and I love the serum it leaves to rub into your skin afterwards.
Best Acne Product: If you have a problem acne spot or zip pop up, then the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion ($17) is going to be your savior! I had seen but never tried this for the longest time and finally grabbed it during a sale. Turns out I was missing out big time! This is a formula you apply right to the spot and I swear it clears it up overnight! So incredible! The only downside is that it comes in a glass bottle, so if you’re traveling or don’t want something this fragile, my runner-up recommendation would be the Peter Thomas Roth Acne-Clear Dots ($30). You stick one of these clear stickers on the zit overnight (you can even wear them during the day too, I totally have!) and the salicylic acid built in will work away!
Best Lip Treatment: I have always found the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask ($26) to be the greatest treatment for repairing my eternally chapped lips. I bought this years ago and still have half the tube, so it is WELL worth the price! Now they make tinted versions as well, but it is very tacky so I prefer to mainly wear it while I sleep and let it heal away!
Best Lip Scrub: I tried the Elf Cosmetics Lip Exfoliator ($3) at the recommendation of a Youtuber, and am so glad I discovered it! It looks just like a lipstick that winds up out of its tube, but it is a solid mix of brown sugar, oils, etc that you gently rub over your lips to exfoliate them. I use this in the morning and before bed before I put on the above lip treatment. Can you believe the price point too!? Definitely try this one!
Best Face Mist: If you know me, you know I’m a die hard fan of the Mario Badescu Facial Spray ($7). I mean seriously, this man Mario can do no wrong! I wish I could meet him one day and thank him for keeping my skin so glorious and happy! I keep this mist in the travel size in my purse for a quick spritz whenever
Best Perfume: After trying a sample of the ARI by Ariana Grande ($36.99 for 1.7 oz) and receiving so many compliments on it, I had to try the full size! This smells surprisingly amazing and if you’ve ever watched me unbox my Sephora Play bag on My Snapchat, you’d know I am so, so picky about perfumes.
Best Body Wash: I first read about the H&M Revelation Shower Oil ($9.99) in a magazine and was so thankful I had! This stuff is sooo luxurious and unique in that it goes on as an oil, but lathers into a normal body wash type formula. This smells divine, makes my skin super smooth, and turns my shower into my own personal spa!
Best Self Tanner (Face): I like to be picky about what I put on my face because this is some of the body’s most sensitive skin and I don’t like any unnatural ingredients to interfere with my skin here. So, I love using the Tarte Brazilliance Self Tanning Facial Towelettes ($21 for 10) because they are made with maracuja oil that is anti-aging. I actually cut each of these in half and use one half at a time to go over my entire face. It is all you really need, plus it helps the pack last longer!
Best Self Tanner (Body): For my body, I love the Jergens Instant Sun Mousse ($12.99). I use this almost daily to keep a nice, bronze glow year-round since I have become super conscious about protecting my skin from the sun. This gives a very natural looking color and finish doesn’t look streaky! I like to apply it in circular motions with the Tarte Application Mitt ($6) and the best part is that it dries in a minute so you don’t have to worry about it staining your clothes or sheets!
Best Deep Conditioner: Hands down my favorite hair mask is the Macadamia Nourishing Moisture Masque ($36). After shampooing, I comb this thru my hair and leave in for about 5-10 minutes before rinsing it out. It makes my hair feel so incredibly soft and smooth, no other product I have tried really measures up!
Best Leave-In Conditioner: I’ve tried a bunch of leave-in conditioners to spray into may hair after I get out of the shower, but I think my favorite has to be the Sexy Hair Soy Tri-Wheat Leave-In ($18). It seems to be very repairing to dry, heat damaged hair and smells nice too.
Best Oil/Finishing Product: So I found this Pantene Smooth & Sleek Serum ($6.47) randomly in the sales section at Target and decided to give it a try. The texture and results are great, but what really got me is the scent. I have never smelled a hair product so lovely! This is truly captivating!
Best Dry Shampoo: Forever and always, my favorite dry shampoo will be the Dove Dry Shampoo ($5.79). I have tried tons including the two most popular in the beauty industry and I have to say that I really hate them and prefer this over any others out there! It doesn’t show white in my dark hair, smells nice and fresh, and does the job flawlessly!
Best Hairspray: After trying a mini TIGI Bed Head Masterpiece Shine Hairspray ($23) I had to stock up on full size cans during the Ulta sale afterwards. This stuff holds my waves so well while also adding shine and NOT SMELLING BAD (*MAJOR KEY!) Definitely try this one out 😉
Well that concludes my Best in Beauty Picks for 2016! Leave me a comment (if you made it this far! haha) and let me know what you think of my picks and which items you would add!