2011 Favorites

Posted on Sunday, at bought • 234 views

I haven't gotten myself into the video realm yet (maybe by 2012?), or this would have made a great "first video." Well, I'm a latecomer to YouTube, but how many of you kids are recoding your sites in HTML5 already? We're all first at something.

Some of these products were introduced in 2011, others are just products I tried for the first time in 2011. They cover the whole range: indie, drugstore, conglomerate...if it impressed me this past year it's on the list. I haven't gotten around to reviewing everything just yet, so some of these don't have full write-ups on the site...but I'm working on it!

2011 Favorites

Eyes

MAC Midnight Blues fluidliner — I didn't think I was a hardcore fluidliner fanatic, but then this year, so many great colors came out! Midnight Blues is a muted deep denim blue that shows the blue color without being a bright or garish blue. Midnight Blues is more of a favorite than Waveline, another LE blue fluidliner, because MB has the dusty undertones and Waveline is about a half-step down from navy. I originally didn't like that the fluidliners were dark enough that they really couldn't be used like the paint pots; but with the additional colors available this year I was able to toss a few of my older, less-well-performing cream and gel liners in favor of these. They're pricier, but in my opinion, if they have the color you're looking for, they're eminently worth it.

Stila Sparkle Waterproof Liner — I had been eyeing some Stila products for a while, but the price held me back. When Sirvinya mentioned that she wanted to get lots of Stila when she was over here for her Atlanta trip, I began making out a list of Stila stuff I wanted to try...but held back on purchasing until the Grand Shopping Expedition. I got two smudge pots and some eyeliners, and while I don't know that I'll be a huge fan of everything in the Stila line, I do love the eyeliners. They're very pigmented, there's your choice of liquid, kohl, or marker, and - wait for it - they're all waterproof!!! I have oily lids, so if I don't use waterproof products whenever I can the color will migrate, smudge, or fade fairly quickly.

Concrete Minerals' Seance — Another surprise color. It's a rich blued purple, a bit deeper than "royal purple", with just the slightest amount of shimmer. Unlike some purples that go on as a wash of color, or are more smokey, this one's a rich amethyst-purple, bright and saturated. It's got excellent pigmentation, it stays in place, it does not leave any color behind when you remove it...but once you apply it, it stays in place fairly well.

Meow Cosmetics' Sardonic — This color was such a surprise! On the vendor site it looks like it will be so much darker...and, truly, in the pot it looks that way to. But pat it on, and you get a rich lapis blue. Part of the Shattered Equinox collection, which is flagged on the vendor site as being "seasonal and available for a limited time"...but it's been continuously available for purchase since its debut in fall 2010, so at this point I'm considering it part of the regular line. (And while I love Meow's seasonal reappearances of past collections...I think it's great that they've expanded the regular line by adding a few eye- and cheek-collections.)

Face

Meow Cosmetics' Bel Air blush — I'd had Canna for a few years and loved it; but this past summer I finally ordered Bel Air, as well. Bel Air is a coral-red iridescent blush that works better with my coloring than I thought it would! I've always been a bit leery of any orange or orange-toned blushes because a particular brand's SAs kept trying to put a super-orange-toned color on me even though it made me look like I was trying to hard to be "tanned" - but Bel Air is peach-coral, not orange; and there's enough pink in it to keep it from sliding further into the "orange-brown" spectrum. The iridescence is a further plus! (This one's only available in summer; but since this is Meow, they keep bringing it back every summer without fail.)

Benefit Cosmetics' The Pore-fessional Primer — I'm one of those lucky individuals with few marks or scars, but with fairly large pores. (And sensitive skin that breaks out if you look at it sideways, let's not forget that. Never mind that I passed my 30th birthday more than six years ago; acne into your 50s is one of the trade-offs for looking like you're still in your mid-30s up through your 40s and 50s.) I had previously tried Bare Escentuals' Prime Time facial primer, and ended up with breakouts and irritated skin. I'd also tried a sample size of Urban Decay's Complexion Perfection, and wasn't all that happy with how heavy it felt. Benefit's Pore-fessional works best for me if I only apply it to the areas where my pores are most visible, but it doesn't result in clogged pores, red or itchy skin, or a heavy "covered in axle grease" sensation. This one isn't cheap, but a little goes a long way...and it gives me the results that I want without any of the side- or after-effects that I don't.

Lips

Tarte's Matte LipSurgence — I like that the LipSurgence colors twist up - so one doesn't have to potentially waste product by sharpening them. I like the very faint tingle and peppermint scent. I like that Tarte thought to release a matte, gloss, and shimmer finish - so that folks could take their pick. I like that these apply so smoothly, and stay in place fairly well. I don't like that the Matte (also known as Original) are the only ones with a good appreciable amount of color payoff...though in the Lip Service collection, there were three shimmer-finish colors that seemed to have more pigmentation in them than the first shimmers. So possibly by this time next year, more of the LipSurgence pencils will have the improved color payoff and longevity that the Mattes do now. (Which...they'd kind of better. At $29 per pencil, these are fairly costly to be vanishing after an hour or two.)

Bare Escentuals' Pretty Amazing Lipcolor in Fearless — The Pretty Amazing lip colors were new introductions in 2010, but I didn't pick any up until 2011. A few are just too bright for me, or aren't quite right for my coloring. Fearless is a gorgeous mauve-rose creme that works really well on me - it's just slightly darker than my natural lip color, but not by much. I like that these came in so many kits, so I was able to get some without having to pay the individual retail price. I also like that they're full color. I don't like the applicators at all...no, that's not 100% true. They work well to define the outline. But for applying the rest of the color, they're kind of obnoxious. Fearless is my favorite shade, with Rouge following close behind.

Burt's Bees Lip Shimmers — Another fairly recent find. I'd picked up a regular lip balm from this line this past summer because I noticed that with all the swatching, my lips were drying out a bit so I wanted to start wearing a balm at night. The balm worked okay...but I wasn't happy with the sensation. It just felt too much like wax: it was heavy-ish, it didn't apply smoothly, and I didn't like how it felt on my lips. This wasn't something I could wear during the day, though I did try. I'd seen the lip shimmers but they seemed fairly expensive at $5-6 a piece. Over the holiday season I saw three-packs of lip shimmers for $10 a piece - a much better deal. I've been wearing these lip shimmers every night and many days since I bought the first one, in mid-December. (I'd probably better stock up a bit more, then, before these holiday packs are gone from the stores again!) The darker colors have the best color payoff, where as the mid-range and lighter shades are almost all shimmer with very little 'color' to them. But they're excellent for moisturizing the lips, and have a very faint mint scent and a cooling feeling when you first put them on.

Nails

Zoya's Faye — I've been a fan of Zoya polishes for a few years. I got into them hard-core, picking up a few dozen at the various Earth Day Polish Exchanges and paying careful attention to their various promotions until I now have over 100 Zoyas. My absolute hands-down favorite to date is Faye, from the 2011 summer collection. Purple! Gold! Bronze! Microglitter! Duochrome! It is a glitter polish, so I make sure to use some kind of base coat every time or I'll be 30 minutes removing the manicure and two days with little bits around my cuticles; but I love this polish!! If I get the job I'm hoping to get next week, it'll be a toss-up as to which polish I'll wear into work first: Chanel Peridot, or Zoya's Faye.

Burt's Bees Lemon Cuticle Cream — I am, admittedly, still pretty new at all this beauty-regimen stuff; and since I've been learning as I go, I've only just gotten into things like cuticle cream. Before I tried this product I'd just use regular lotion and kind of hope for the best - and with all the manicures I did for site photos and writeups, my cuticles got hammered. They'd dry out and crack, or at the very least, they'd harden and be a bit painful. This cuticle cream stuff came in a holiday-pak that I picked up just in December, so I haven't used this for very long, but I'm loving the results. Over the Christmas week I gave myself six manicures, and my cuticles stayed fairly soft because I applied some of this each night. Another bonus for me, of this over lotion: it's less viscuous, so I can apply it and read my book without worrying about getting this all over the pages.

Chanel's Peridot — I don't only stick with drugstore makeup, but I don't regularly haunt the counters at Macy's or Bloomingdales...and I definitely am not a regular purchaser of any Chanel makeup. It just costs so much, when compared to other products; and the quality isn't that superior. But when this color came out...I had to pay attention. A roughened-metallic duochrome that shifts between antiqued gold, green, and deep teal...this one is amazing! And just recently another beauty blogger (I forget who, now - I think it was over at Body and Soul Beauty) posted pictures of Jessica's Peacock nail polish that's almost a spot-on duplicate for Peridot, at a fraction of the price. (Which, to me, means that not only can I have my Peridot manicure polish, I won't tie myself into mental knots if I use the less expensive version for nail stamping. I look forward to the designs I'll be able to produce!) I will not become a regular purchaser of Chanel nail polish, with its $24-a-bottle price tag. But I'm very glad that I did get Peridot.

Body

Bath and Body Works' scents: Country Chic and Apple Wreath — I would have not been drawn to Country Chic ordinarily, because the label combined with the name just confuses me. Is that "country" like in "country western", and are you sticking the word "chic" with it to somehow drag some metro sensibility into it and thus hope to hit a marketing bonanza or something? But Country Chic was one of the first scent lines to have the shea cashmere hand lotion...so I gave it a try. I like the shea cashmere because it's more moisturizing and less heavy than the body cream. I like the Country Chic scent because it's very lightly floral - barely so - with hints of lemon and woody notes. It's clean without being astringent; it's citrusy without being too sharp; it's floral without being too sweet. A very nice, low-key balance. (And the shea cashmere is slowly starting to spread across the other scent lines, so here's hoping that it shows up in White Citrus soon.) Apple Wreath is a spicy-evergreen scent that I tried this year when I went in hoping to see Yuletide Vanilla Pear back on the shelves...but found this instead. I stocked up on foaming antibacterial soap so that I can keep smelling the winter holidays...hopefully through until next year, when it comes back again!

Olay Regenerist Night Cream — I've used Regenerist Serum for a few years now, but hadn't been using a separate night-time product. I started using the night cream back in October, and it does seem to help keep my skin from tightening up or drying out, especially in winter. It's also helped the incipient wrinkles on my neck...to stop forming. It's a little bit heavier than the serum, it's very lightly scented, and I like the results thus far. Before this I tried Olay's Total Effects Night Cream, which wasn't necessarily causing me any problems - I just liked the results I was getting from the regular Regenerist serum, so decided to switch my night cream to the same line. I also wanted something that would focus more on anti-aging - and while the Total Effects stuff seemed to work okay, I honestly do like the results I got from the Regenerist items. Total Effects seemed to be more of a holding action: things didn't get any worse, no new wrinkles or signs of aging, but no general improvements in my skin's appearance or feeling. With Regenerist, I actually noticed that my skin appeared a little smoother and felt a little softer.

Miscellaneous

e.l.f. Studio Brush Set — I've tried brushes from Bare Escentuals, Crown Brush, EcoTools, Sigma, Sephora, and MAC. They all had their good points and less-than-good points. Finally, during the 50% sale in late summer, I decided to try the Studio Brush Set. I like the cost, I like the assortment, I wish it included the stipple brush instead of the fan brush but that's a personal peeve, and I like how the brushes work! I also like that they come in a zip-closure case with individual plastic sleeves for each brush, to help keep the brush heads from being malformed or damaged during transit or storage. I am not a makeup artist, so have no idea how professionals view the quality of these brushes; but for my purposes they're excellent.

e.l.f. Makeup Remover Wipes — This was the year I tried e.l.f., and there were hits and misses. This was another surprise hit. I'd been using Walgreen's store-brand makeup remover wipes and was relatively content, but the e.l.f. remover wipes beat Walgreen's in several ways. They're not as easy to get ahold of, and they cost more; but the wipes are stronger, and they actually moisturize my skin slightly. After a swatching session I won't have that tight stinging feeling, either - which is another bonus. The package closure keeps the wipes from drying out much better than the Walgreen's packaging (or the Neutrogena packaging - a brand that I'd used previously.) Supposedly a store near me carries some e.l.f. products, so I'll have to just check and see if these makeup remover cloths are there - I think that swapping the local taxes versus shipping and TAT is about an even trade.

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