I know I just did my December Favourites, and in that post I said I didn't think I would do a yearly favourites as this blog hasn't been up and running all year. But a commenter asked me too, and I felt like it might be fun, so here it is.
Fair warning - I couldn't narrow everything down to one product alone, and this will be quite picture/text heavy!
What have been your favourites of 2011?
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Shampoo & Conditioner:
James Brown Photo Fabulous Volumising Shampoo and James Brown Photo Fabulous Moisturising Conditioner (£6.99)
The Volumising Conditioner in the range is actually better, but I wasn't able to find it at Boots the last time. I've spoken about this range of hair products before and I haven't changed my mind - these are my favourite shampoo and conditioners; they leave my hair shiny but with body, it doesn't get limp or greasy within seconds like it has with other shampoos, and it doesn't leave it overly dry. That's good because my hair is damaged from years of colouring. I used to think that shampoo and conditioner didn't really matter and you could buy any kind but I only buy these two now!
I had heard rave reviews about this product and my boyfriend gave me some to try - I fell in love. It makes my hair feel stronger and treated. I can't tell whether it really helps with growth as my hair has grown anyway, but it certainly feels like it has more volume. The only downside is that I go through the product quite quickly and it's pretty expensive for a hair product in my opinion.
Lee Stafford Argan Oil (£11.99)
I spoke about this in my December Favourites, so I'll direct you there for a better review. Suffice to say that I can't afford Morrocanoil on a regular basis and this works well to smooth my dry split ends and make my hair shiny.
It's been so long since I bought this that the packaging has changed! This is a great minty foot mask that I pop on at night before sticking on some socks. It feels a little weird at first but in the morning I'm rewarded with minty smelling, soft feet.
Lush Snow Fairy (unavailable until Christmas)
It bugs me that this is a Christmas-only product as it is probably the Lush product I'd repurchase most often, given the chance. It smells sweet, like candyfloss or bubblegum, but isn't overwhelming. As far as I can tell it doesn't treat my skin in any way but I just love the smell of this!
Soap & Glory Butter Up (£14.81 as part of A Butter Suite)
I've mentioned before that this is my favourite body lotion, and how much it bugs me that you can only purchase it in a pack of three lotions. It does come with The Righteous Butter, however, which I know is a lot of people's favourite. This is a very citrusy, orange scented lotion that melts into my skin almost immediately without locking in heat. It's also quite pearlescent so it leaves me with a subtle glow, as well as my skin feeling soft and smooth.
Face and Hands Skincare
I only included this as it's the only exfoliant I currently own - it's a little too mentholy for my face, so it stings a bit. But it does it's job fine. I just would prefer to buy a couple others to try. Any recommendations?
L'Occitane Shea Butter Hand Cream (£7.00 for travel size)
I've spoken about this before - this hand cream is perfect in my opinion! Lights but hydrating, and the travel size is perfect for popping in your bag to take around with you. It is expensive, but it works better for me than other moisturisers I've tried which can feel heavy and make my hands greasy. This sinks in almost straight away and my hands really needed it this winter.
Another purchase I was worried wouldn't live up the hype. I've been using this loads this winter and as a little goes a long way I haven't used too much up yet. It smells fantastic, citrusy and lemony without being soapy, and it does what it says it will - my cuticles are in much better shape now than they have ever been!
Stella McCartney Sheer (LE)
As this product is limited edition and also appeared in my December Favourites, I'll keep this short. I'm sad that I'm almost finished this bottle as it's one of the nicest perfumes I've ever had. However, I have a few other perfumes to use up and two new perfumes that I got for Christmas so that's brilliant.
I'd like to put a little disclaimer here: I haven't tried loads of different brushes. Some of the brushes I included in a previous post turned out to leak dye and shed hair, and so these are the ones I have found work best. I'm still trying to save up enough for a couple of MAC/Sigma purchases though. Any you can recommend?
Sephora Large Powder Brush ($39 in travel brush set)
This is so easy to swirl into powders and dust on the face or the cheeks. I find the domed bristles good for patting colour in specific areas and then blending out.
Clinique Concealer Brush (£13.00)
This is actually perfect. As you can see, I use it with my MAC Studio Finish Concealer and it works really well. It also has a more precise point for applying concealer into the crease of my nose or onto any blemishes, but it blends out really well too. I love this brush.
I use this as a blending brush for my eyes, I find it is the perfect size, density and angle to work into my crease and blend powders outward. This has been my favourite Crown Brush from the set I received. I love this brush too! And it's so inexpensive.
Rimmel Fix & Perfect Pro Primer 002 (£4.49 in sale, usually £6.99)
For a drugstore primer, I was really impressed. First of all that Rimmel even had a primer in their range where so many other drugstore companies don't provide an option. Secondly at the price point - even at £7, it's a fraction of the cost of my NARS primer. Thirdly, it does smooth and refine my skin and allow my makeup to last longer. I felt that my skin was noticeably brighter when I applied this primer. Well worth the money, especially at the moment as it's on special offer!
NARS Pro-Prime Pore Refining Primer (£24.00)
Ah, my most loved primer. I had never used a primer before I turned to NARS and since then I have never looked back. This is perfect - to me it feels weightless and absorbs into my skin whilst leaving a slightly matte, smooth base to work with. My makeup lasts much longer with this on than without and it makes my skin feel softer and appear plumper. I know that sounds like an advertisement but it's not, I just cannot express how much I love this. The only (rather significant) downside is the price - £24.00 is an awful lot of money. Rimmel's drugstore alternative is fine for me in the times I can't afford this, but if I had the money this would be my choice each time. Another benefit of both primers is that both come in a tube which can be cut open to scrape out the last of the product.
NYX HD Eye Shadow Base (£6.67 at the moment, has been £8.00 before)
This is a total cheat. I only got this the other day but I'm already in love. You can see my first impressions here, where I swatch a MAC eyeshadow without this primer then with it. The results startled me. I wore it with MAC Honey Lust and Brown Down all day at work without creasing or fading, my eyes felt smoother although it didn't even out my skintone, and I have to say I don't think I need to try the UD Primer Potion as I've now found an eye primer I instantly love! What do you think? Is the UD primer better?
MakeUp Forever HD Foundation in #115 Ivory ($40, don't know where to get it in the UK)
I do not remember this being that expensive when I bought it in New York! But I guess it kicked off my love for high-end foundations as I haven't looked back. This is definitely my winter shade as it's paler and pinker than my MAC foundation, but the coverage is great. It's not too matte but it's not dewy either, it's more of a velvet finish and is pretty full coverage without looking cakey. I'd look washed out if I wore it in summer though, but the only downside to this is that I can't get it in the UK. And that it's so expensive!
Another expensive foundation, I'm afraid. I want to try the other MAC foundations too as this is great but a very satin, velvet finish and I'm looking for something more dewy. This is too dark for me in the winter, but in the summer or anytime that's not consistently grey and overcast, this is perfect. Not full coverage I'd say, more of a medium, but it's very lightweight and easy to apply. I love it.
I know the conventional wisdom is to go a shade up in your concealer but when I tried that in store it gave me 'inverse panda eyes' so I went with this. My dark circles have been a pain for me for years and this at least mostly covers them, as well as any blemishes or redness, with minimum fuss and long staying power. It also doesn't crease which is a plus. This is by far my favourite concealer as it's so easy to blend so it doesn't tug around the eyes.
Powder, Blush and Bronzer
MakeUp Forever HD Microfinish Powder ($30, don't know where to get it in UK)
I really rarely wear powder but when I do it's this translucent powder by MUFE. I got it in the US and don't know where to get it here. The downside is that it's a messy powder to use - it gets everywhere - and it doesn't whiten in flash photography. But adding a little to your cheeks or eyes can make powder shadows and blushes easier to blend. This isn't a must have for me, but it's the only powder I'll use as it feels silky and fine, not chalky.
NARS Oasis (£20.50)
So expensive! But so worth it. I love this pink shimmery champagne colour. It's easy to overuse but adds such a lovely warmth to the face. I love the formula of this - it's so easy to blend, and butter soft. I've barely dented it too so need to start using it more, but you do get a lot of product in my opinion! A gorgeous blush, you can see it (and other powder products) swatched below.
This is another thing I got in New York, so I didn't really realise the price of it. It's a gorgeous pale rose pink, perfect for adding the subtlest pink flush to the cheeks. It was my go-to blush in the autumn as it seemed such a perfect colour, making it look like the healthy flush of pink you'd get from taking a walk in cool weather, if that makes sense?
I had tried the E.L.F Bronzer before this to test if bronzer worked for me but that was way too dark and heavy. I love this - the cute design, the nice smell and the way it's quite a subtle, warm colour without being orangey, and can be built up for contouring. I wear this pretty much every day ever in winter - a light wash of colour can stop me looking ill!
I'm sure if you read my blog you'll know how much I love this. In fact I have a couple more parts of my series on it to finish, but you can see my swatch and review of it here. For the price you get so many eyeshadows, the majority of which as extremely pigmented, and blend well. I love the available colours too - the golds are lovely particularly. These are super soft, creamy eyeshadows that I can't recommend enough!
MAC Amber Lights (£9.50 for pro pan refill)
My first MAC eyeshadow and still my favourite. A beautiful bronzed gold which you can see swatched below, if I could have only one eyeshadow forever, it'd be this one. It's such a warm colour which can be washed over the lid or built up to gold-plated intensity. I really love this - it's maybe even my HG shadow.
No7 LashAdapt Mascara (£12.50)
To be honest, I wasn't sure about this. I got it with a £5 off voucher and don't think I'd repurchase at full price. I've never bought a high end mascara but since many of them are only a few pounds more expensive than this I might have to. In comparison to other mascaras I've used though, this is the best. Non-clumpy, although it doesn't hold the curl very well. It's pigmented and lengthens my lashes, but don't trust it's claims that you can use it so many times in an evening - you can use it a few, but it does dry out your lashes!
Sleek Brow Kit in Dark (£7.99)
Ahhhh this brow kit is brilliant! The gel-powder combination works great for my brows, shaping them and filling them in without making them look overdone - although I'm sure you could build it up to striking full brows if that was your thing. This instantly defines my face and tames my ridiculous brows. I have swatched it here.
Lush Bubblegum Lip Scrub (£4.95)
This smells lovely - sweet and like candyfloss. It works great too, getting rid of my dry and chapped skin in this freezing winter! And plus it's nice to have a little bit of pink sparkle.
No7 High Shine Lipgloss in Smile (£9.00)
As I mentioned in my December Favourites, I got this ages ago and hadn't used it very much, but just recently got into using it again. I like it on its own but it looks great layered over nudes too. It's a peachy pink nude with a subtly golden shimmer, and it's not gloopy or sticky at all. That's important for me as I have hated lipglosses in the past for the sticky residue they leave on the lips.
Drugstore Matte Lipstick
Another item from my December Favourites. You can see these lip products swatched below, by the way. This is a lovely dusty peach pink with a lovely matte finish that doesn't dry out the lips. Other than NYX I think Revlon have the most dedicated drugstore line of matte lipsticks which is great, and I would definitely repurchase this. It's long-wearing, non-drying and a gorgeous colour.
High-End Matte Lipstick
You can see a more full review and swatch of this here, but this was my first proper expensive lipstick and I'm so glad. It's a beautiful deep blue-based red with a hint of pink, that wears beautifully on the lips with a velvety, satin finish. It's so long-wearing and so classic, and it barely dries my lips at all. The packaging is so luxurious I feel like it was worth the money. A definite future repurchase.
I've said it before, and will again - for £1 this is a ridiculously good lipstick. The colour is beautiful - a deep purpley-pink tinged red, the formula is creamy, the little pot of lip tint you get in the tube is a lovely touch. I couldn't believe the quality of this when I tried it and can't recommend it enough!
MAC Lipstick in Hue (£13.50)
My go to nude. I love the shade, the finish, the formula. It's a Glaze, which is like a slightly creamier gloss. This is a subtle pink nude which is so easy to swipe on throughout the day. A definite repurchase in the future and a recommendation. I guess a lot of people love it too as it's a really popular shade.
Drugstore Nail Polish
I've said before that Models Own Polishes are my favourite in terms of price for quality, and this hasn't changed so far. For £5 these polishes are high quality, with a great selection of colours and finishes. This is a brilliant polish which has sold out loads as people really love it. You can see me wearing it here - I love it. I'd wear it every day if I didn't feel like I had to try out my other polishes!
High-End Nail Polish
Chanel Le Vernis in 527 Nouvelle Vague (LE)
You can't get this on proper shop websites anymore as it was an LE polish. My boyfriend got this for me and it's as beautiful as people say. I've been trying to ration my use of it but realise that's a silly idea now and plan to use it loads more in the new year. It's a very Tiffany blue which you can see me wearing in the early days of this blog here. The formula is lovely too.
Left to right: MAC Amber Lights; NARS Oasis; Laura Mercier Rose Petal; Bourjois Delice de Poudre
Left to Right: No7 Smile; Revlon Mauve it Over; Chanel La Fascinante; MAC Hue; MUA Shade 1
So, what were your 2011 favourites? Any recommendations would be so welcome in the comments!
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And finally, I'd like to say a massive thank you to all of you who've read and interacted with my blog this year. I never realised I'd love doing this so much and all of you have made it so much better. Thank you, really.