1.05.2018

2017 Favorites: Makeup

If 2016 was my year of perfecting makeup techniques, 2017 was the year I really indulged in the products that elevated those techniques. I don't have a tiny collection, and I don't have a huge one. I am pleased to say I took great joy in the products I own this year, without having excess items that didn't get much love.

Some of the products I'll be talking about were purchased prior to 2017- they're not all new or new-to-me but they represent what I enjoyed most this year!

Stellar Limitless Foundation


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I can't believe I've only been using this product since June of 2017. It kind of feels like it's always been there for me. In any case, since I purchased this product, I have not found its equal within or without my existing collection. I usually wear a full face of makeup with powder, highlighter, and blush, but in the photo above I was only using the Stellar foundation for my base. This is a light-medium buildable to medium-full coverage foundation with a skinlike but not overly dewy finish. It's extremely longwearing on my oily skin when set with a powder, but I have spoken to many drier-skinned women who find it hydrating/wearable for them as well. 

To me this is a masterfully made formula, because of its versatility on different skin types, and the fact that it is such a "beautifying" foundation. Some foundation is just like paint- it covers your face in a uniform color, but it needs to be prodded, tweaked, spritzed, and buffed to actually improve your overall face. The Stellar Limitless Foundation is something that can be swiped on in a hurry, and it immediately makes you look like a better version of yourself. I can compare it in that way to the MAC Face & Body, although it is much less dewy, and has considerably more coverage. I never hear "Your foundation looks great" when I wear this, I hear "Wow your skin looks amazing!"

In addition to that rare beautifying quality that makes it so unique, the color range of Stellar's foundations is phenomenal for someone like me (neutral-warm olive) who doesn't like to use traditional yellow-toned foundation straight up. Their latest shade offering is S01, which is what I wear, and it's between an NC20 and NC25 in MAC terms, but it has a swampy yellow-green undertone, unlike the schoolbus yellow of some other companies' warm tones. This line in general caters toward the medium toned part of the spectrum, paying careful attention to the way real skintones work in real life, not just using a sliding scale and distributing 12 shades across a Pantone color gradient.

The last thing that I have to rave about is that the Stellar foundation is seamlessly skin-like. I usually dot my foundation on using fingers and then go back in to blend with a sponge, but if I get distracted in between those steps, I've actually forgotten to blend the Stellar because it meshes with my skin so beautifully. This is not just a colormatch issue, this happens because the texture is so fine and flattering on the surface of the skin. I find that it looks beautiful up-close in person but even nicer in photos, if possible. All around a truly stellar (heh heh) addition to the foundation market in 2017.

Tom Ford Eye Duo in Naked Bronze


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File this product under "worth the hype, and then some." Tom Ford makes several shades of this cream/powder duo, but this is the standout in my opinion. I purchased this because smoky bronze is my favorite flattering eyeshadow color. I am pretty faithful to Urban Decay Smog for a powder shadow look, but I wanted one cream to use as a single wash in case I was in a hurry or traveling.

I have tried and hated a lot of cream shadows. MAC Paint Pots, Maybelline Color Tattoos, Kiko Shadow Sticks- to me they all had one defect in common- they do not blend out seamlessly at the edges. For some people with very sculptural, dynamic eye shapes, this is not a problem. I personally have a plain-Jane eye area. It needs carving and smoking and swooping and sculpting to look really good and most cream shadows don't allow for that.

Tom Ford Naked Bronze however- it contains multitudes. It is a sheer neutral-warm satin brown when applied lightly, and it builds to a lustrous medium dirty bronze, and then finally to a metallic chocolate bronze with an even heavier hand. Because it can be blended out to create a soft, seamless crease, it doesn't require fussing or partner products. It just looks good. And I haven't even mentioned the pressed glitter half yet- it can be left off for a smokier look or popped on top for a burst of glittery sheen. This truly is the one eye look that I can't mess up, and the fact that it can be adjusted and worn at about 6 different levels of drama/formality makes it unique among other "single wash" products.

If you are cooler than me, try the single Cream Color shade Platinum. If you are significantly paler, try the Golden Peach duo.

Addiction Blushes

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Although my love affair with Surratt blushes continues, my wandering eyes landed on blushes made by the Japanese brand Addiction this year. My friend with impeccable blush taste compared the texture of these blushes to Surratt, so when I visited Japan in October I took the opportunity to pick some up. Since I got home, I've regretted only buying 2 shades.

These are powder blushes that have a feel in between a traditional soft powder and a powder-gelée formula (like the Clinique Cheek Pops.) The color range is quite extensive with more than 20 available shades, but I think where they shine is their selection of nude blushes and more saturated scary-in-the-pan shades.

The two shades I first purchased are Revenge and Amazing. The former looks like a bright red in the pan, similar to NARS Exhibit A, and the second is a fuchsia-bubblegum on first glance. However, both apply so seamlessly and sheerly I have to wonder what kind of deal with the devil the formulators at Addiction have done to get this so right. When applying bright/intense blush I typically layer the most intense shade over a nude, soft one to diffuse the edges and aid blending. However, the Addiction blushes are so fine and sheer that they can be whacked on carelessly without looking streaky or patchy.



Stila Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Eyeshadows


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The Stila liquid glitter shadows were my gateway drug to all things glitter. In 2017, I went from owning almost nothing that could qualify even as high-shimmer to a collection that's heavily weighted in the fabulous direction. Partly through coaching by my glitter-obsessed friends, and partly just from my own experimentation, I learned how to wear glitter in a "casual" way. Although glitter is a shorthand for New Years Eve and nights out, I mostly wear glitter in the daytime to my office.

The Stila shadows made the transition from a satin/pearl dimension to the glitter life totally seamless. My favorite shades from the line are the ones with no base tone, as they make versatile toppers for any eye look. The Gold Goddess shade is a neutral, not-too-yellow gold, and Diamond Dust is an ultra-reflective silver with some holographic sparkle. I don't find too much extra utility in the shades with tinted bases, because I prefer to do 90% of my eye look with powders, and add sparkle as a final step. However I have seen many people wear the colored-base Stila shadows beautifully. My personal favorite ways to wear them are as a smattering on the inner eye corner, all along my lower lashline, and as the center "pop" in a halo eye.

These shadows make glitter application foolproof, as they require no special primer, they do not create excessive fallout, and the formula distributes glitter very evenly with no effort. I particularly enjoy that the pieces of glitter are quite flat, large, and irregular, which gives a broken-glass type effect. I find it to be more editorial and interesting compared to what I call "pinprick" glitter which often looks more like remnants of a kindergarten craft project.

MAC Next to Nothing Pressed Powder


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One of my greatest makeup challenges is achieving a dewy, glowy base while keeping my makeup in place for 10+ hours. It often feels like you have to pick one or the other as an oily-skinned person, but this year I tried the brand-new MAC Next to Nothing powder and all my satin-dew dreams came true. I was a devotee of the famous Laura Mercier translucent loose powder, but I always had a few complaints. It was just a hair too matte and quite inconvenient for travel. The MAC powder improves upon both of those issues- it has a beautiful "strong" setting power but it only barely mattifies the skin/foundation. It's travel-friendly and comes pressed in the standard MAC compact.

I use this powder in the shade Light Plus. It does not offer any coverage, but it is not a true translucent powder. It took me 6 months to fully use up a single compact, and I gladly repurchased it when I realized that all the other powders in my stash were seriously lacking. I prefer it to the sexier-looking Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Powder, which is ever so slightly too-mattifying, and on the flipside actually has worse oil control compared to the MAC.


Clinique Chubby Stick in Whole Lotta Honey


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When I first started wearing lipstick, it was always fully opaque, satin or matte formulas. I scoffed at the idea of sheer lipsticks, partly because I recalled trying crappy tinted balms in the past, and also because I doubted the impact and definition a sheer formula could offer. I actually received Whole Lotta Honey as a gift from a friend in 2016, but I really started rocking it often in this past calendar year. It's a semi-glossy sheer formula housed in a twist-up crayon format, and its magic lies in the exact balance of depth and pigmentation. Most sheer lipsticks are too weak to make a difference, or too pigmented to be considered low-key. I have crooked lip lines, which means most lipsticks require application with a lip brush to look decent. I can literally scribble Whole Lotta Honey on without a mirror and it looks good, no, great.

This swatches a muted orangey-brown but once applied to my lips, it manifests as a peachy nude. My natural lip tone is a pale, dead-looking cool pink, which doesn't harmonize well with the warmth in the rest of my features. Whole Lotta Honey goes with any subtle look, and most warm-toned dramatic looks. It even works well with some cooler eye looks, depending on what blush I pair with the look. It also works well to modify many of my other lipsticks. Layered over a too-stark or too-dry color, it can add plumpness and warmth where it's missing. Most of my lip products stay in my bookshelf where I can pick through them based on what my mood is that day, but Whole Lotta Honey literally lives on my vanity. I use it so often, alone or layered with other colors, that it doesn't make sense to ever put it away!

NARS Audrey


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On the heels of a rave for a super-subtle lipstick, let me rave a bit about one of my favorite dramatic lipsticks of the year. NARS Audrey is a satin-finish berry that has some magical undertone I cannot find a perfect dupe for. I actually avoided buying this lipstick for over a year because it seemed crazy to pay NARS Audacious prices for a berry shade, a lipstick category that is saturated at drugstore and high-end price points. But in this case, I ended up wasting more money on failed dupes than I would have if I'd just shelled out for Audrey from the beginning!

Audrey is uniquely flattering for my muted, yellowy skin. It's neither too bright nor too muted. Berry shades with too much brown tend to make my face look dull or dragged-down. Berry shades that lean pink turn neon on me, and that's just not the look I'm aiming for every day. Audrey is strangely muted without being brown or blackened. It is clearly cool (berry) and not a plain red lipstick. It brightens my face without screaming for attention. It just works. The lesson I learned from Audrey is that everyone can wear some version of a color category. You just have to be adventurous and willing to kiss a lot of lipstick frogs.

Conclusions


2017 was a great year for makeup, personally, and for the market as a whole. I learned a lot about my own face and preferences, and the fast-paced release schedule in 2017 meant that companies were constantly one-upping each other and improving their offerings. It can be dizzying to face the enormous variety on the cosmetic market today, but remember that you as the consumer can only benefit from increased competition. A competitive market economy propels technology and innovation forward, while putting a downward pressure on retail prices. The increased availability of different products should excite you, as it will allow for a collection more finely tuned to your exact preferences.

Don't ever feel that you as an individual must own all the exciting new things. Each of us can only take so much, financially and mentally. Stay focused on finding things that suit your face and your budget, and that bring you joy. I love to stay on top of new releases, but I also don't regard each new makeup collection as an opportunity to buy. If you ever feel stressed over the number of new releases, just return to what you enjoy about makeup- and focus on your own goals. Part of the reason I wrote this post is it makes me happy to use a single product to death. The more products I own, the less I can use my favorites. That's something I try to keep in mind, and it might help you if you are having doubts about your makeup collection. 

11 comments:

  1. Great post! These are all products that I associate with you :) I'm definitely going to try Naked Bronze and the Mac powder.

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    1. Yay! Feels good to have some signature products :)

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  2. I came here to take a look on your fave makeup but I ended up admiring your eyes! Haha! Everytime I scroll, I see your eyes and I was like "OMG her eyes are so pretty!" I wish I have that eye color.

    I've heard a lot of good stuff about Addiction but I've never tried any products from them yet. I really want to try their blushers. Even the eyeshadows since it's no.1 in Cosme ranking.

    Marxie

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    1. Aw thank you, Marxie! That's very kind.

      Addiction blushes are AMAZING. I really like the eyeshadows but there are SO many good eyeshadow formulas available cheaper here in the USA that I prioritize the blushes (they are significantly better in quality compared to many other blush brands.)

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  3. Addiction blushes and MAC powder added to my wishlist, you totally sold me on them. You write and describe everything so vividly! I'd love to see what your skincare/body care favorites for 2017 are as well.

    http://fashionistalooks.blogspot.com/
    http://athenianchic.wordpress.com/

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    1. Thank you Athena! I actually posted my skincare faves right before this one :)

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  4. @blogmiablog this was a great post

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  5. Have you considered adding any links to the products? (If you made them affiliate links you could also make some money off great posts like this!) :)

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    1. My blog is a hobby, so I don't use it to generate any income for myself!

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  6. How did you find your color match for the Stellar foundation? Did you find somewhere we can swatch in store?

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    1. My local Sephora has it, not all do! But with foundations from prestige brands- it's worth it sometimes to order and simply return if the colormatch is no good. I wish more people reviewed the Stellar as it's VERY hard to find swatches online. I lucked out and also had a few friends swatch it for me first. reddit.com/r/OliveMUA has a lot of swatches.

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