My Favorite Beauty Products of 2014

First of all, I know it's almost February, and I probably should have completed this post sooner. But, on the other hand - hey, January is still hanging on by a thread while I write this so it could have been worse! :-)

For my favorite products of 2014, I decided not to choose one product for every single type (i.e. primer, moisturizer, BB cream, liquid foundation, etc. etc.) but instead I chose the products that I picked up time and time again throughout the year (or constantly once I purchased them if later in the year) and that I know I would repurchase. A good way to determine how much you love something is to ask yourself if you'd replace it if you lost it - I learned that from my organization and decluttering mentor, Ashley, and I think it's such a great rule of thumb!

So, for 2014 these are the items I would have definitely and immediately replaced if I lost them:

1. Hoola Bronzer by Benefit (Macy's, Sephora, Ulta, Benefit online, $28)
Hoola is my ride-or-die, tried and true favorite bronzer. It's deep enough for skin tones darker than my own, but natural enough for fair skin. It's not too warm, so it never turns orange-y and it doesn't have any obnoxious glitter or frost to it. I used to think the brush that came with it was useless, but the more I learn about contouring and highlighting, the more I realize it's actually quite cool. Though Hoola isn't the cheapest product, I find that it lasts me a solid year or more, even with very frequent use. It's finely milled, pigmented but blendable formula makes me always come back to it, no matter what other bronzers I test during the year.

2. Good to Go Fast Drying Topcoat by Essie (Target, Ulta $8)
This was a new-to-me product in 2014, and ohmygosh did it change my life. What's amazing about it, is that you can literally slap on two coats of your favorite nail polish, then add a coat of Good to Go and your nails will be completely dry in less than five minutes. We're talking pull clothes out of the dryer, change the sheets dry. And that's dry people! Not to mention I find the shine to be fantastic and to give a nearly gel-like appearance to my manicure and chipping has also been minimized. Gone are the evenings where I had to set aside a solid hour to paint my nails and let each coat dry for what felt like ages in between, thanks to this magic stuff. Plus, I've recommended it to a minimum of ten people who've tried it, and they all are just as in love with it as I am it seems.

3. Maybelline Lash Sensational (Drugstores/Target, under $7)

I believe this mascara came out in mid-fall but I fell hard and fast for it. I'm always a fan of a curved brush, I feel like it's just easier to work with and build length with, and this curved, rubber bristled brush is fantastic in my opinion. The top bristles are long, and I use them to build up my top lashes and also lengthen them, whereas the bottom bristles are shorter, making it easy to dab them on shorter, bottom lashes without making a mess on the skin beneath the eyes. I have not had flaking or smudging with this mascara, and it comes off relatively easily with soap and water. This mascara gives volume, length AND definition (the nearly impossible lash trifecta!) and the black is deep and rich. This has become my #1 mascara, even surpassing Urban Decay's Perversion (though that is still a top three runner-up, along with Milani Runway Eyes and Almay Triple Effect).


 4. Mac Mineralize Lipstick in Dreaminess (Macy's, Mac stores or online, $22)
This lipstick is my favorite. It's just so very lovely. I in fact did lose it, and did buy a replacement, but shortly after found the first one and was still happy to have two. At $22 it is a splurge, so I don't use it every day - but whenever I'm feeling a little blah or want to just grab something I know will work for me, this is a sure bet. The formula is very creamy and soft and the opacity is medium to medium-heavy, so if you are like me and want your lips to actually appear the color of your lipstick vs. a skin + lipstick mish-mash, you'll like this formula. Dreaminess is a perfect mix of pink, with hints of purple and nude. Not too light, but definitely not dark, it's just fantastic.

5. Too Faced Chocolate Bar Palette (Ulta, Sephora, Too Face Cosmetics online, $50ish)
If I had to choose one eyeshadow palette and that's all I could use for my eyes each day, this would be the one. First of all, it's infused with real cocoa powder, so it smells amazingly like chocolate cake and that's just a delicious experience in and of itself - but besides that, this palette's mix of neutral mattes and metallics range from pale highlights to perfect mid-toned blending shades and deep liner-worthy colors are just endlessly versatile and universally flattering. My only complaint about this palette is that the names of the colors were printed on the plastic insert that came with the product, but not on the permanent product package - and that would have made referencing shades used in tutorials a bit easier.

6. It Cosmetics Your Brows But Better (YBB) Retractable Pencil (Ulta, $20)
I have almost no eyebrows of my own, so brow products are super important for my daily routine. When you literally have to create an eyebrow each day, you worry a lot about things like sweating, the summer, Zumba, swimming, and oh yeah - not looking like you drew your eyebrows on with a Sharpie. Though it was a close match between this YBB pencil and Anastasia's Brow Wiz, ultimately, I feel the YBB wins by a hair (pun intended) because it stays put better when exposed to water/sweat. Both have fine tips that allow you to draw small, hair-like lines precisely and though YBB comes in just one universal shade, I find that it works just fine for me.

7. It Cosmetics Bye Bye Undereye Concealer (Ulta, $24)
This is something I discovered through my monthly Ipsy subscription (if you're not familiar, Ipsy sends you a cosmetic bag filled with 5 beauty/hair/skin products once a month for just $10, and the products always well exceed the $10 you spend) and instantly fell in love with. You only need the teeniest, tiniest dab of this product that melts between your fingertips and erases away under eye circles and imperfections immediately. This concealer lasts all day, is waterproof and won't sink into fine lines - in fact, it has anti-aging ingredients, too. Seriously, it's simply a stellar product.

8. Gerard Cosmetics Lip Gloss in Sugar Mama (Gerard Cosmetics online, $24)
Oh how I adore the Gerard Cosmetics glosses! They're really more of a shiny, liquid lipstick than a gloss and they are incredibly creamy, pigmented and opaque. A tad bit sticky (if you can't handle a MAC Lipglass, these may bug you a little bit) but in my experience if you want a long-wearing color, you have to put up with a tiny bit of stickiness. Honestly though, it's not that bad (if it were, these wouldn't be my favorite gloss formula on the market, and they definitely are) and the color range is just amazing! Sugar Mama is my favorite pink lipstick topper. It's pale and almost completely opaque, so it lightens and brightens anything it's layered with. I just reordered this for the first time and I used the first tube almost daily for a solid 9 months - that speaks to the pigmentation of the product because you literally just need a tiny bit for each application.

9. NYX Butter Glosses (My favorite shade is Eclair, available at Ulta, CVS & Target, $5)
I think I own 6 if not 8 of these in different colors, but Eclair is my favorite. If you can't handle any stickiness in your gloss, you'll love the Butter Glosses. Not sticky at all, just creamy and beautiful the Butter Glosses offer medium to sheer opacity (mostly medium) and a wide range of flattering colors. So comfortable to wear and delicious-smelling, you'll look forward to applying these pretty lippies.

Mac Dreaminess, NYX Eclair, Gerard Sugar Mama (left to right)

10. MAC Powder Blush in Coppering (Macy's, MAC stores, $22)
Though Coppering is not my first MAC blush, it quickly became a most-reached-for shade throughout the year, especially in summer and fall. Coppering doesn't look exceptional in the packaging, but on it is just so amazingly flattering and pretty. It's almost a warm peach with a hint of rose, but it seems to make everyone look fresh, healthy and a little tanned. MAC blushes last forever, too, which is nice. (Though I use them almost daily, I've still yet to repurchase any because there's tons of product left.)

Now, it's your turn! I'm dying to know, so please do share... what were your favorite products of 2014? (If you have a post about them, please comment with your link, too!)


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