Every year, I release my "best of" beauty favorites list, and this year I found some pretty wonderful things! I've been working in various facets of the makeup industry for 19 years, and I've tried my fair share of foundations and shampoos over the years. As formulations improve and customer demands get stronger, thanks to the force of social media, beauty product quality and diversity are at an all-time high. What a lovely time it was in 2019 to watch the industry grow. As we near the end of the decade, I reflect upon things like the baskets of foundations I tried until I found the perfect ones that would perfect my crazy complexion issues. I think about all of the eyebrow trends and how I bought hundreds of pencils, pomades and eyebrow tints to try to perfect a flawless brow. Let's reel it in and make this post all about 2019--because this year rocked!
Best Makeup Tools
Every artist needs a good set of tools--but you don't have to spend a fortune to own a great set! I've been a huge fan of the brand Real Techniques (founded by Sam and Nic Chapman of YouTube
beauty guru status) because of the affordability and the quality. My latest discoveries are the Miracle Powder Sponge and the Brush Crush Foundation Brush. The powder sponge is the best sponge I've found to date for setting your face flawlessly, using either loose or pressed powder. The velvety material used in the design works to pick up more product than a traditional sponge, making it the best tool for setting your under-eye area with powder, and for baking your face
. The Brush Crush foundation brush really surprised me. I am used to using a sponge primarily for applying foundation, but this one stood out to me for the bold design. I bought it on a whim and was happy to see that my full coverage foundation blended seamlessly and without streaking. As always, Real Techniques
brushes are synthetic and no animals were harmed!
Best Foundation and Concealer
My skin is oily and troublesome--I break out easily and I'm sensitive. Finding the perfect foundation formula and color match is a tough combination. Just recently, I ran across the Juvia's Place
I Am Magic Foundation at Ulta and decided to give it a whirl. There are 42 shades to choose from, starting from darkest to lightest. I definitely found my shade AND the perfect full-coverage formula! The product is thick, but all you need is a small dab to make it work. The coverage is flawless, beautiful and long-lasting! As you can tell, I am a fan of full coverage. What's great about full-coverage is that you can use less on a damp blending sponge to create a sheer look. The best concealer I've tried this year is the Huda Beauty
Overachiever High Coverage Concealer. It is not too watery and not too thick. The consistency is perfect for blending under the eyes and creates a very flawless finish. I normally use a damp sponge to blend this in with a dabbing of loose powder on top to set for the day.
Best Serum and Moisturizer
We all have different needs for our skin, but I think we all have a common goal: to have brighter, glowing, balanced skin. For me personally, I have dry and oily skin, which is an annoying combo! Along with that, I have to manage my large pores and any type of dead skin cells that get caught into those pores to cause nasty blackheads. The Ordinary makes a serum that contains niacinamide (aka vitamin B), which can help fade everything from uneven skin tone blotches to help heal acne. It is labeled as being for all skin types, although I find that it does help reduce oils for the slick-skinned sisters like myself. For those who use our SmoothBeauty Laser for the face
, the Super C Brightening Moisturizer is an oil-based form of vitamin C, which has skin brightening properties. I love the way this feels after doing my laser treatments, and it helps keep the skin supple while I sleep. When you awake, your skin is glowing and ready for the day! The hyaluronic acid will help your skin retain its moisture, so you will love this formula if you experience dryness from the laser treatments.
Best Makeup Picks
So much makeup, so little time! I spend a lot of money on cosmetics every year to review for my blogs, and of course, a lot of those products turn out to be duds. I found a few stand out products this year in the color cosmetics realm--some are drugstore and some are luxury products--but they all performed magical things! My first mention was a gift from a friend. The KKW (Kim Kardashian-West) Beauty Blossom Palette
($45) is a high-quality eyeshadow palette with an array of very wearable shades. The neutral choices are both matte and shimmery, and you can amp up the look using the darker plum and cranberry shades for a quick nighttime look. The cardboard palette design makes it easy for travel. I am a huge fan of long-wear lipstick and the Rimmel Provocalips
($8.29) line is my first choice when searching for a lipstick for going out or for a long day at work. The satin gloss that is provided at the other end of the tube is a great choice for those that don't want their lips to look overly glossy. It's just the right amount of shine and moisture. A good mascara is sometimes hard to find, am I right? Once in a while, I'll find a super great mascara, and then it's discontinued or there is something different about the formula later on. So frustrating. A little secret that I've learned in the business and from trial and error is that luxury mascaras, as expensive as they are, last longer than drugstore options due to better formulas. Most of my drugstore choices have dried up within a few weeks and don't perform as well, while my department store collection still stays consistent for several months. One mascara that I fell in love with this year is the YSL The Shock mascara
($29). This is the most volumizing one of YSL's collection and that's no lie! The brush applies the right amount of product while it combs and coats your lashes for amazing thickness and volume. Another luxury pick that I have been in love with is the amazing formula of the Charlotte Tilbury Cheek to Chic Blush
($40). The unique design of the product allows you to apply the outer ring color to your cheek area, and the "pop" middle color to the center of your cheek for a dimensional look. I like the formula because it's a very finely milled powder that looks smooth on the skin. Beware of the compact's packaging when traveling, it is very thin and delicate!
Best Shampoo and Conditioner
I often have to dye my hair--due to grays and because I prefer my hair to be a deep black shade. Finding a shampoo that won't fade my color is pretty tough, even when the label says it's safe for color-treated hair. I found Biolage Colorlast Shampoo to be one of the best shampoos I've found in decades. I don't see a lot of color going down the drain during wash, but it also does an amazing job at cleaning my hair and scalp. No residue left behind! As for the conditioner, I like to experiment. I have had Olaplex treatments done at my salon, but I did not know you can start purchasing their products to take home! I snatched up the Olaplex No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner, which helps tame frizz and makes my hair strong and healthy. You can find this product now at Ulta and Sephora. Tip: You only need to use a tiny bit of this! If you use too much, your hair is weighed down and greasy. Try to concentrate on the dry areas.
Best Beauty Tech
I'm obviously fascinated with beauty technology, and I love seeing what the latest trends are in hair, makeup, and anti-aging tech. As always, I've been a huge Tria fan, with my first product being the SmoothBeauty Laser for the face. I love the way my skin looks when I wake up in the morning--fresh, plumped, and young. At 43, I am mistaken for someone in their late 20s, early 30s. I can thank genetics for playing a part, but the laser really helps tune-up my skin to look its best for my age. I spoke about my favorite hair products earlier, and when it comes to drying my hair, I cannot use a traditional hairdryer. My hair's texture is thick and frizzy with no shine and basically unmanageable unless I use a hot tool on it. I discovered the Revlon Volumizer through a friend and I haven't put it down since. It gives you that salon look that your stylist gives you when they use that big round brush and hairdryer on full blast. It's pretty easy to use and doesn't hurt your wrist while you are styling. When I'm finished, my hair looks shiny, smooth and the frizz is totally gone. I mentioned my favorite foundation brush at the beginning of the blog post, but I also love to use the BlendSmart Foundation Brush with foundation, but mostly for use with my contour colors. The rotating brush design quickly applies and blends with an airbrush finish, and works especially well with deep contour colors that are hard to blend with a traditional brush. Plus, it's fun to use! Well, there you have it! My list is complete for the year 2019! Are we ready for a new decade of beauty yet?