This is the last post of the 2017 where I round up my best beauty tools and accessory finds of the year. Ideally I’d love to find just one brush line that has all the tools I need but I have yet to find one. These are my favorites from this year. Press samples listed with a *.
Best Beauty Tools and Accessories 2017
The Daily Edited Large Cosmetic Bag – Taupe shown, I also have it in Black (shown here and here). This is one of my best makeup bag buys. I reviewed it in more depth with my Travel Beauty Cases post and mentioned that while it’s super functional and sturdy the quality isn’t 100%. I still find that for the price, the shape and size is really good and both have served me well this year.
Away Mini Suitcase * – These came back this year and sold out super fast! I tried to review as soon as they came out and hope you were able to buy one! It’s not really intended for just beauty, but you can carry pretty much anything small inside. Review and interior shown here. I really hope they bring this back permanently!
Glamcor Riki Skinny Vanity Mirror from Beautylish – This mirror is one of the best things I’ve tried, it lights up with adjustable brightness. It also comes with a stand to prop up and the center is magnetized to hold a magnifying mirror and cell phone holder to do lit selfies. I’ve been a longtime fan of simplehuman sensor mirrors, but with the round ones you have to get up close to see your face and often times you can’t see your entire face. This one from Glamcor doesn’t have the same quality magnification as simplehuman, but sometimes all you need is a larger mirror with lights to do your makeup. It’s portable enough that I’ve been taking it with me each move.
Tatcha Original Aburatorigami Japanese Beauty Papers – The only blotting papers I use as they absorb excess oil without disturbing your makeup. Also love that there’s no powder on it like some others so it won’t leave the face looking dusty or white. In San Diego one would do the trick. In Florida sometimes I needed 3, but even when soaked with sweat they don’t fall apart or disintegrate.
Glamboxes Glamboard Tray – This isn’t new to me this year but I’ve found it great to hold beauty essentials that I need in the moment. Sometimes I just want a tray that can hold what I need for a full face and this does the trick. Any small tray will do but this has pull out drawers that can expand across a sink if you do your makeup in the bathroom and don’t want things rolling around your counter.
MAC Full Lash Curler – The best lash curler I’ve used for a long time since my favorite one from Chanel was discontinued. The MAC ones perform well without pinching the sides of my eyes.
beautyblender original and beautyblender nude – These are the best makeup sponges and I find that they work better than any foundation brush. You can find a better value in their Gold Mine Set which is limited-edition. They often have value sets or packs so I’d recommend you opt for those instead since they can be spendy.
Wayne Goss Makeup Brushes * are available exclusively at Beautylish. I’ve been so impressed with every single one I’ve tried. The quality is excellent, they’re super soft, there is never any poking on the face. The sets are expensive but every single brush is well made and very functional for flawless makeup application. They really do perform better than your average brush. Also if you buy brushes from any line individually they’re going to add up in price so if you break it down they’re actually very reasonably priced.
The Air Brush was launched in a limited-edition Air Brush Rose Gold *version which is just so pretty, I may need to order a back up. Also available in a Duo Set.
MAC Brush 239 (now 239S) – The 239 is a classic but has recently been discontinued. All the brushes are being redesigned/relaunched in a Synthetic Version. Online at MAC the product says “coming soon” but you may be able to find them in MAC stores now. It’s where I found mine and it performs the same as the original version. This is the classic eyeshadow brush for me because of the shape and density!
La Mer The Powder Brush – Best loose powder brush I’ve ever tried as well, worth the splurge to me because it’s sooooo soft and plush!
Last but not least, this isn’t really a beauty tool or accessory but I had to include it, the Barefoot Dreams Cozy Chic Throw was the best splurge of the year and a lot of their items are on sale for 20% off right now at Nordstrom (not sure how long this is going on). It’s the softest and warmest blanket I’ve ever bought and so cozy.
That wraps up my Best Beauty Tools and Accessories 2017 roundup for the year! I’m doing one last giveaway for the year, I’m picking 5 people to win one $75 eGift Card to Sephora (US). Enter through the widget below! Open internationally but you must be 18 years or older to qualify for an entry. I’ll pick a winner within 48 hours after the giveaway ends by e-mail. I usually ship prizes within a week. Not sponsored or affiliated.
Rounding up my top picks in skincare this year! I attribute the biggest improvements for my skin to lifestyle changes more than my skincare routine. I’ve made a conscious effort to take better care of my body with more exercise and better eating habits. This year I stopped drinking soy lattes (opting for almond or coconut milk instead in and smaller doses). I also reduced my coffee significantly intake as it was contributing to irregular heartbeats (don’t worry I got checked out and I’m completely ok). I switched to green tea, reduced sugar in everything, cut back on eating bread and over time I saw some pretty amazing changes from the inside out.
Skincare testing has still been a huge part of my life this year – especially as I age I’ve become more conscious of protecting my skin. The strong Florida sun can be brutal and the heat intense even if you’re not in direct sun. Finding good sunscreen and skincare has been essential otherwise I’d be completely fried.
This is a pretty extensive list as I switched things up quite a bit over the year. We’ve traveled from coast to coast and experienced climate changes. As many of you have advised me when I moved here, even though Florida is hot, there is a fairly lengthy dry season. That combined with the water conditions here (plus with swimming in the ocean and pools) has kinda messed with my skin. The weather can change daily! Then there are the late spring to summer months where the humidity is almost unreal and everything feels like it could slide off your face the second you step outside. Finding a routine and re-balancing my skin has been a process and I’m really thankful I’ve found quite a few really great products. You can see my bare skin here and here. Press samples have a * next to them.
Shelf 1, left to right:
Sisley-Paris Express Flower Gel Mask * – Best gently hydrating mask for dry or tired-looking skin but without the over emollient feel that some moisture masks have, 100% worth the splurge and I bought a backup tube because I don’t want to be without it.
Tatcha The Water Cream – I’d rank this in my top 3 moisturizers of the year, Tatcha seems to have been the first to develop a water cream which is a truly lightweight moisturizer that feels like a refreshing burst of water, it’s been perfect in humid climate, I’m on my second one.
Eve Lom Brightening Cream * – A long-time favorite for a soft lightweight cream that over time does improve the brightness of the complexion, it contains anti-oxidants that correct hyperpigmentation and smooth skin, also available in the holiday Perfecting Ritual Set.
Tatcha The Water Gel – I’m one who actually hates skincare gels because they’re sticky and don’t typically work with my foundations, this one is just perfect in every way.
Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen – This is my ULTIMATE go to for body sunscreen, it was the most effective for me without any scent or sticky feel which is super important to me, it held up well in the Florida humidity without making me feel greasy and even with regular re-application it absorbs well (I’ve also converted my husband to using this one although he still prefers Kiehl’s).
Supergoop! Hand Cream – I often forget the hands when it comes to sun protection and I don’t realize how much the sun hits the hands especially when driving, this has been essential and comes in a small size that I can throw in my bag.
Shu Uemura Sakura Rose Petal Mask * – Best plumping moisturizing mask that soothes skin, Beauty Look Book readers a special promo of deluxe samples + free shipping on orders $50+ with code BLBXSHU. Deluxe samples include: mini laque supreme sample rd01, maxi:hydrability essence-in cream 13 ml, sakura-rose-petal-mask 13 ml and nutri:nectar sample 15 ml. Valid online at both Shu Uemura US and Shu Uemura Canada.
Caudalie Vinosource Moisturizing Sorbet – One of the best lightweight creams for hot humid months, if you only need a little bit of moisture this is a great one to check out to strengthen skin and protect from environmental damage, there are quite a few sets at Sephora which have smaller trial sizes I’d recommend trying if you’re unsure of this one!
Omorovicza Moor Cleanser – Best hydrating cream cleanser, I use this after a regular cleanser to add back moisture into the skin and it leaves the skin feeling like you moisturized it.
Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil – One I use at night to maintain elasticity and moisture, I noticed my skin sometimes feels dry with the water here after I wash it at night, this doesn’t feel greasy although it is emollient.
111Skin Celestial Black Diamond Retinol Oil * – One of the most amazing night treatments I’ve tried, it has 1% pure retinol so I use this every other night or every 2 nights because I have sensitive skin, it’s still gentle enough to not burn my skin like many retinol products do, it helps diminish fine lines and spots.
Kopari Coconut Melt (mini) – The best body moisturizers for days when my body is so dry, especially since winter hit Florida, I apply it on the body at night before I go to bed. Especially good to restore moisture if skin is dried from summer heat.
Omorovicza Queen of Hungary Mist – New to me this year, but it has the finest mist out of the face mists I’ve tried! Beautifully hydrating in a light way which is just how I like it.
Shelf 4, left to right:
Caudalie Glow Activating Trio (eye cream not shown because I’ve packed it up) – Truly impressed with this line, I bought it from Sephora this year and like the way it really makes the skin glow and moisturize the skin without feeling heavy, I’m purchasing the eye cream after I use up some others, I feel like the serum + moisturizer have started to really help with fine lines I have on my forehead.
Fresh Mask Wardrobe from the holiday set, Sugar Face Polish and Rose Mask have become two Fresh staples that I know I’ll have to replenish very soon.
MAC Fix+ Lavender – MAC came out with scented Fix+ in Coconut, Rose and Lavender, I’m obsessed with these, I stocked up on so many because they’re so nice to use mid-day and refresh the skin.
Kate Somerville Dermal Quench (mini) – This was something I discovered a while back after getting a facial at the Kate Somerville Clinic, the entire line has changed my life in terms of improving my skin, this was the biggest game changer in improving texture and reducing fine lines.
One more shelfie because these couldn’t fit in the photo above:
Left to right
Chanel Hydra Beauty Essence Mist – One of my favorite most repurchased mists even though I really hate the price tag, it dispenses a very fine veil of moisture on the face.
Chanel Sublimage La Brume Intense Revitalizing Mist – I’m obsessed with the Sublimage line although I can’t bring myself to repurchase the creams or eye treatments (so I try to find mini samples when I can), I bought the mist because it comes with three refills which seemed to justify the price more to me, this is a super hydrating mist but has a very fine mist – the dispenser is well designed, I love how it revitalizes the skin.
111Skin Bio Cellulose Facial Treatment Mask – This is my ride or die sheet mask, it surpasses all other sheet masks I’ve tried for hydration, plumping and smoothing the skin making it feel like it’s completely new (comes in a pack of 5). I was sent a couple sheets for review, but have since splurged on 3 boxes.
111Skin Space Defense Bright Eye Lift Gel * – The only eye gel I’ve used that doesn’t leave a sticky residue, it makes this compatible with my foundation/concealer and eye makeup, it’s lightweight but you can still feel it on the skin, keeps the eye area hydrated without any greasy feel.
Chanel La Creme Main * – This has one of the best dry-downs for a velvety feel while still adding moisture, I love the cute packaging on this as well.
That wraps up my list of the Best Skincare 2017. I realize this is a very long list of favorites. Obviously I don’t recommend using all of this at once – I’ve spent months testing and rotating depending on location, season and skin needs. I moved from San Diego to Tampa Bay. I’ve also done quite a bit of traveling back to California, to New York, Texas, further south to Miami Beach and even north up to Georgia and Kentucky. Because I know many of you will ask, here are my ABSOLUTE top picks by category:
Best cleanser: Kate Somerville anything
Best moisturizer: four-way tie between Darphin Tatcha Water Cream, Sisley Black Rose Cream and Eve Lom Brightening Cream
Best night treatment: Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Oil
Best toner: Sisley Floral Toner
Best exfoliator: weekly is Kate Somerville, daily is the Tatcha Rice Enzyme Powder
Best purifying mask: Glamglow Supermud and Aesop Parsley Seet Mask
Best moisture mask: Sisley-Paris Express Flower Gel Mask and 111Skin Bio Cellulose Facial Treatment Mask
Best face mist: tough pick, but tie between Chanel Sublimage and Omorovicza Queen of Hungary
Best sunscreen for the face: Diorskin Cushion
Best sunscreen for the body: Supergoop! Everyday Sunscreen
Best eye treatment: still searching for THE one
Best body moisturizer: Kopari Coconut Melt
If you splurge on 3 things, I’d recommend: Sisley Beauty Subscription, 111Skin Sheet Masks and stock up on Supergoop! Sunscreen
My best skincare tips: Double cleanse at a minimum if you wear makeup or triple cleanse to add an exfoliator on a regular basis.
I’m doing another giveaway! One person will be selected through the widget below to win::
Fresh Mask Wardrobe (includes Sugar Face Polish, Rose Face Mask, Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask, Vitamin Nectar Vibrancy Boosting Mask – all 1 oz)
Nude Lips Duo
Deluxe sampler pack that I got as a GWP.
Full Size Sugar Cream Lip Treatment in Blush
Open internationally but you must be 18 years or older to enter. Giveaway will run through January the 6th. I’ll pick someone within 48 hours after it ends. I usually ship prizes within a week. Not sponsored or affiliated.
Today I have my Best of Beauty Roundup for 2017 with my makeup favorites of the year. I feel like I always say this but I cannot believe another year has flown by! Beauty, skincare and fragrance testing has been a challenging process as we transitioned from the mild climate of San Diego to humidity and different water conditions in South Florida. Many things that worked for me in California suddenly didn’t work the same way for me once I landed in Florida. With seasonal changes I had to switch things up in skincare but the good news is for makeup most everything still worked for me. My best of beauty for makeup this year includes my top picks of the year with a mix of old and new launches. Items that were press samples have a * next to them. As always I’d love to hear about your makeup favorites this year!
I’m doing a few giveaways before the end of the year. One person will be selected at random through the Rafflecopter widget to win a selection of my favorites including: Tom Ford Eyeshadow Quad in Nude Dip, Cover FX Custom Enhancer Drops in Rose Gold, Blossom and Halo, L’oreal Lash Paradise Waterproof and MAC Lipglass color of their choice. Open internationally but you must be 18 years or older to enter. Simply enter through the widget below. I’ll pick a winner within 48 hours after the giveaway ends and e-mail them directly. I usually ship prizes within a week.
That wraps up my Best of Beauty Roundup favorite makeup picks of the year! What were your top makeup picks? Let me know in the comments whether they were tried and true staples or new discoveries that you tested.
By popular request I have an updated roundup of my beauty tools. So many of you have asked me what the best tools are for eye makeup and I’ve often referenced older posts. I was going through some recently and it’s hard to believe the last round up posts were done three years ago! Time literally flies! I’ve been building my brush collection for many years (for over a decade) and yet I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of the tools out there. When it comes to makeup brushes and tools I’m a creature of habit. For the longest time I’ve stuck with tried and true staples from MAC because they’re consistent in quality, they have kept the same designs for years and they get the job done. I have explored a lot of other brands over the years and today I have an updated roundup of the best eye makeup tools I own.
If I could just stick with one collection/brand I would – unfortunately no single brand has everything I want. I’ve split these into categories by shape/function. Also note that I don’t have a crease on my lids so I don’t use a crease brush like most would. I do a lot of blending to get a gradient or wash with neutral colors and then I also have a lot of detail brushes I use. I do realize this is a bit of a long list – I’ve included different options from a small handful of brands I really love as some of you may have different preferences for shape, brush size, handle size/width etc. I’ll round up my top picks at the end of the post as well.
Up first are the basic shadow/lid brushes. I like ones that are soft but somewhat dense so I can pick up powders. A lot of these I use for creams as well even though synthetic brushes often work better – I like the soft texture and feel. Shown below from left to right:
Hakuhodo J242G ($18) is a hybrid goat and synthetic fibers making it versatile for all products. It’s a smaller size making it easy to pack on color on the lids.
Hakuhodo B J004G ($20) is my favorite one for the lids, it’s made of goat hair and extremely soft. This is the best lid color brush I have – it picks up the perfect amount of color and blends powders seamlessly.
MAC 239SH ($25) is also another favorite, it’s one of my most-used brushes, the SH version is exclusive to MAC stores and online. It’s soft and dense and perfect for packing product on the lids. It’s not as soft as the Hakuhodo but still very good.
MAC 239 ($25) is the full size version, I like that both the full and short handle have the same size bristles.
Chanel Blender/Shader ($42) is a new double ended brush that’s super soft with a nice fluffy feel. The small end is also dense but fluffy, the larger side is perfect for blending.
Wayne Goss 18 (old, discontinued) is unfortunately discontinued but was the best option that was slightly larger than the MAC 239.
Chanel Large Eye Shadow Brush #25 ($38) is another great option that’s larger than the MAC 239, it’s not as dense and slightly more loose in how its packed, note that all the Chanel brushes with the silver handles (ones in the current collection) are going to be discontinued. New ones will be introduced around the 24th so if you have any current options on your wishlist you should buy them soon.
Marc Jacobs Beauty The Conceal ($30) is actually a concealer brush (which it’s great for) but I really love this one for cream shadows. It has a beveled/angled tip so it makes the creams apply easily to the lids.
Out of all of these my top two are the MAC 239 and Hakuhodo B J004G. I have multiples of both kinds and they’re probably the most versatile brushes I own.
Next are the blending brushes good for a light sweep of color, for blending or a nice wash. With some of these you will probably be able to use as a crease brushes too. I prefer the ones with white hair as they’re usually soft and super fluffy. They’re small enough so there’s some density to them. Often times I find the darker ones are a bit too loose in the way they are designed. Shown below from left to right:
Edward Bess Luxury Eye Brush ($40) is my favorite large domed fluffy brush because of the density. It’s perfect for sweeping color on the lids for a nice wash and it’s also a great blending brush.
MAC 217 (also available in 217SH) ($25) is another great basic blending brush because of the softness. It’s perfect for blending out colors. For the longest time this was my favorite until I tried Tom Ford, Hakuhodo and Wayne Goss.
Wayne Goss 18 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $27) in terms of quality, I feel Wayne Goss has among the best brushes. They’re right up there with Tom Ford. #18 is the closest option to MAC 217.
Hakuhodo J5523 ($19) is made of goat hair and the equivalent of MAC 217. This one is far better in terms of how it picks up color and blends it out.
Wayne Goss 17 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $28) is a smaller sized fluffy brush, good for detail blending or crease blending.
Wayne Goss 16 (from the Eye Set $130, individual $30) is a bit longer and bigger than #18. This is a good all around blending brush.
Tom Ford 13 ($57) is a fluffy blending brush good for blending things up on the lid for a nice gradient. In my opinion Tom Ford brushes are the best brushes I own.
Tom Ford 11 ($57) is the ultimate wash brush. It applies the perfect amount of color to the lids and is super soft in feel. They’re really well made. The ones I have are made with natural bristles – at an event in the spring I was told Tom Ford was moving towards making brushes with synthetic materials but I haven’t received confirmation of when or if it has happened yet.
Hakuhodo J220G ($24) is a larger fluffy flat brush made of goat and synthetic fiber. I like this one and use it a lot but it’s not as dense as other ones so I prefer the other ones for density and this one for it’s size on some occasions.
MAC 227SH (discontinued, $32) has been discontinued unfortunately, it’s more dense than the Bobbi Brown, but for now the BB is the next best option.
For detail brushes my long-time go to has been the MAC 219 Pencil Brush which I’ve had for years. Unfortunately I lost mine either in the move or while traveling (but sometime in the past few months) and never got around to replacing it. It’s the best all around smudge or lining brush I’ve had but there are still quite a few others that are really good. Shown below from left to right:
Wayne Goss 08 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $17) is the tiniest detail brush I own. It’s perfect for getting into the tiny corners of the line or right along the lashes. It’s stiff but not harsh on the eyes.
Bobbi Brown Eye Definer (one shown is a special-edition one from a holiday set, but same as regular one) ($34) is a classic angled brush you can use for powder or gel liners. It’s also a good one for brows.
Wayne Goss 07 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $17) is the softest mini smudge brush, perfect for a smokey eye or blending out colors along the lash line.
Tom Ford 15 (discontinued) is the best smudge brush I have, unfortunately it’s discontinued.
Wayne Goss 05 (from the Anniversary Set $225, individual $20) is a super soft pencil brush, it picks up color a lot better than the MAC Pencil, but it’s smaller in size so not quite the same.
Laura Mercier Corner Eye Brush ($26) has been discontinued in most places, you can still find it online at a few stores right now like Bluemercury. It’s a good corner eye brush that gets color in tiny spaces with precise application but it’s large enough you can blend it out a little.
Hakuhodo G5514 ($17) is another great detail pencil brush to get that soft smokey eye.
Misc brushes and tools shown below:
Chanel Large Tapered Blending Brush 19 ($38) this originally came in the brown natural hair, then was released in a white version, but not it appears it’s back to the brown. I have both and they both perform the same. This is a good detail blending brush – I use it for under the eye when I want a very soft diffused line or to blend out shadows along the upper lash line. It’s soft and blends colors perfectly. The shape is perfect. At this time I don’t have the full list of what brushes will be coming out around the 24th, but if this is on your list I recommend you get it soon as Chanel will be phasing out their current brushes and replacing them with a new line.
MAC 226 (discontinued) is the best small to medium blending brush, why they discontinued it is a mystery to me because there’s none other like it! For now one of the Wayne Goss brushes from The Eye Set (scroll up) will perform the same way, if not better because of the material it’s made of. However this one is still a really good one.
Wayne Goss 21 (from The Brow Set, $55) is the best brow brush for powders for me. I love that it’s wider than most and it’s super dense making it easier for me to get even application for both sides.
Surratt Eyelash Curler ($30) is one of the best curlers I own. It took me some time to learn to use because it’s so much wider than other brands. It performs really well.
MAC Eyelash Curler ($22) is my most-used lash curler. It always curls perfectly and I really like the shape.
That wraps up my favorite eye makeup brushes and tools post! I hope you found this helpful in case you’re looking for new tools. If I had to pick just one brand it would be nearly impossible to do – but at the moment it would probably be Wayne Goss but I’d have to add a couple from MAC. Overall great basics can be found from MAC – it’s easiest to find at stores and counters which means you can actually see and feel the brushes. For the longest time I didn’t buy brushes unless I could try them in person, but even when I lived in San Diego, I couldn’t find them all so finally had to order some sight unseen. There are a lot of great brush blogs out there so if you need more reference or comparison a google search will bring up some amazing reviews. Best quality and performance goes to Tom Ford, Wayne Goss and Hakuhodo. If I had to pick only 10 brushes to use for the rest of my life, it would be: MAC 239, MAC 217, Hakuhodo B J004, Hakuhodo J552, Edward Bess Luxury, Wayne Goss 07, Wayne Goss 08 and Wayne Goss 18.
What are your favorite tools?
Press samples include the Charlotte Tilbury Eye Lash Curler, Wayne Goss Eye Set and Anniversary Set brushes.
By popular request I have a roundup of foundations and bases I’ve been testing since I’ve moved to Florida where the weather is warm, sunny and humidity levels are very noticeable. By comparison, San Diego is very dry although to me it always felt moderate and what I considered normal. We live in the Tampa Bay area and so far the humidity isn’t quite as bad as I had expected. I’m saying this because in December we drove to Key West which is extremely wet and humid feeling – so humid the air feels like you’re walking around in a sauna. Also a few years ago we took almost a month to travel throughout Europe through Italy and the Mediterranean in late June. It was so scorching hot and humid during out travels I completely gave up wearing makeup on most of the days after trying and failing. That being said, yes Florida is humid and hot and finding a makeup base that stays put, doesn’t budge and that won’t slide off has been a challenge.
To date I haven’t found any makeup base or combination of products can truly 100% last or stand up to serious humidity especially if I sweat. I’m the type of person who doesn’t break a sweat easily but since moving to Florida I start sweating if I’m outside for 5 minutes and there’s no wind or breeze. I’m rounding up what I’ve tested by formula and coverage and note what I’ve found wears the best. Even though it’s humid here the reality is that both Andrew and I are rarely outside for long consecutive hours unless we’re at the beach or a park doing touristy things. Also even on those occasions we can take a break from the heat while in the car with the AC or take a stop at a coffee shop or restaurant.
Up first are the more natural looking foundations with sheer to medium coverage. The most requested reviews I get are for BB Creams and CC creams and I am sad to say that those are products I really do not like. Most feel thick on my skin or look pink in undertone. As one with really yellow/olive skin I can’t do bases that have pink so unfortunately I will probably not review any. Also a quick note on shades – many of you have commented over the years that you’re the same shade as me. Since moving to Tampa I’ve tanned quite a bit – it’s something I can’t avoid. I also lose my tan quickly so my color changes on a weekly basis. Because of this annoying fact I have to mix colors a lot – more than I ever have.
Shown below from left to right:
MAC Next to Nothing Face Color is the sheerest base I’ll do. It really has a super natural tint but adheres well to the skin. I fluctuate between Medium and Medium Plus. The shades run on the pink side but since the formula is so sheer it’s really forgiving. Review and swatches of all shades here.
Bobbi Brown Nude Finish Tinted Moisturizer with SPF15 is more like a natural foundation. It’s sheer like a tinted moisturizer but gives better coverage than most that I’ve tried. It does contain Octinoxate 7.5% and Titanium Dioxide 3% so if those cause problems for your skin you may want to skip. I had no issues with this formula for my skin. If I were still in San Diego I would probably use this more regularly – since it has a mild moisturizing quality it can get a little bit dewy. I bought mine at Nordstrom but Bobbi Brown Online has more shades available.
NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint with SPF 30 is one you’ll see me wearing a lot in beauty looks or lip swatches. This one has Octinoxate 7.5% and Octisalate 3% – it’s one that doesn’t irritate my skin and has a natural looking finish that isn’t too matte, just naturally velvety. I wear St. Moritz now but on my lighter wear Groenland or mix the two.
Diorskin Forever Foundation SPF 35 is one of the best foundation bases I’ve ever tried. The only downside is finding a match can be a bit tricky. I tested 30 and 31 first – in store I had one on each side and they both matched perfectly. When I got home and tested again I found they sometimes darkened about a 1/2 shade. 31 is more yellow while 30 is more pink so I kept 31. I went back to find the next shade down which is 21 (even though there are a lot of shades in between). 21 is the most yellow. If you’re normally my skintone go with either 21 or 25. I use both 21 and 31 mixed together to get my perfect match. For me it’s 100% worth it because this looks naturally flawless on the skin and gives me exactly the coverage I want. It also stays put the best for me. It has 3% Octinoxate and 1.75% Titanium Dioxide.
I have tried the Diorskin Forever Makeup Primer and it’s quite good. I’m just not really a primer kind of person but do think this one is one of the better ones I’ve tested.
Next up medium to full coverage foundations which is what I usually prefer. Most people, friends and family included don’t realize that I’m almost always wearing a full coverage foundation until they see me with bare skin and see all my freckles. I was active in outdoor sports while in high school and even though that was YEARS ago I still got a lot of freckles and sun spots from being outside a lot. I have tried a number of whitening/brightening treatments over the years which has helped with acne scars and dark spots but I still have a lot of freckles.
Shown left to right:
Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation and Concealer is hands down my most-worn foundation base. It offers medium to full buildable coverage and I love everything about it. For me Tom Ford Beauty has the best foundation shades to match my skin tone. It blends easily and covers my skin exactly how I like it without getting cakey. It lasts an impressive amount of time without sliding, creasing or budging. Review + swatches here.
Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Ultra-Longwear Foundation is the newest one I’ve tried. I got an early sneak peek at some of the shades and given my challenge finding a match in the Candleglow version I was skeptical about this one. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how good a formula is for a base – if there’s no decent match, it’s going to be a no-go. I was lucky to find my match to either Buff or Dusk. Right now Dusk is the better match because it’s more olive. On a few occasions I have found I need to mix in a bit of Macadamia to lighten it just a slight amount. I am extremely impressed with this formula. You do need to blend quickly as it dries and sets in a short amount of time. Once it sets it gives a flawless finish that looks matte but not flat. This is one of the few true matte finishes I’ve tried that I like the look of. I’ve found it pretty budge-proof – this is one I wore this on the 4th of July. I applied a fresh face of makeup in the early evening before we headed downtown to scope out some firework locations. I had this on from 4:00 pm until around midnight. That evening the air wasn’t too and we were thrilled that it actually stopped raining by the time we found parking and walked a mile to downtown. After looking around the Channelside area we decided downtown was not for us so we walked back to our car and drove to Hyde Park Village for dinner. After we then walked another mile to Bayshore Boulevard to watch the fireworks. All this rambling is to explain how this formula held up. The humidity was probably the highest I’ve felt here to date – this one held up remarkably well although I did get very glowy looking, it did not slide off or budge.
Giorgio Armani Power Fabric is another long-lasting full coverage foundation that works well in this heat. Before I had to mix 4 and 6. Right now I’m probably 6.5 which is more golden, but I can make 6 work. If you can find a shade match this an exceptionally good one for lasting power.
Next are cushions. I’ve always been interested in cushions but testers usually look pretty gross and also finding the right shade can be a challenge. Korean brands tend to run pink (at least the ones I’ve tried) but I’ve had luck with a few in the past. The best thing about the cushions is that they usually come with a refill pack so you’re getting 1 plus a backup. Right now there are 3 cushions I really like:
Dior Capture Totale Dreamskin Cushion is one I featured in my sunscreen story. It has SPF 50 and isn’t really a foundation but actually a skincare product. I can use this alone or as a base for other foundations. I think the swatches can be a bit misleading because you have to put this on your skin to see how it matches. 30 looks way too dark for me but because it’s sheer it blends in seamlessly with my skin.
Saturday Skin All Algow Sunscreen Perfecting Cushion Compact with SPF 50 is probably the best cushion I’ve tried. I ordered two shades online sight unseen. 05 Honey is my match as this darkens just a tiny bit on my skin. Color selection is pretty limited – so far I’ve only been able to find 4 total, 3 are available at Nordstrom and all 4 are available at Urban Outfitters. It offers medium to full coverage but pulls more towards the full size. It gives the skin a very natural looking glow without being too dewy. It also stays put and doesn’t budge. Active Ingredients are Octocrylene 2%, Octyle Methoxycinnamate 7%, Octyle Saliclate 4.8%, Titanium Dioxide 9%, Zinc Oxide 2%.
Sulwhasoo Perfecting Cushion has full coverage with limited shades. I bought the Brightening Version while in New York in 25 and 33 and after testing them at home was so disappointed to find they are simply too pink for my skin. I ordered the Perfecting Cushion in 25 to try instead which has fuller coverage and a better match. This darkens about one full shade on my skin. The formula is a bit on the heavy side for my preference but still holds up well in warm weather. I don’t hate this but don’t love it – I suspect it’s due to the fact that I don’t have a 100% shade match but I can make Shade 25 Deep Beige work for me.
Next are a few miscellaneous items I love for powders, concealers and a couple tools. I own a lot of loose powders but in general prefer pressed ones because they’re not as messy and easier for touch ups.
For pressed powders:
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish Skin Perfecting Micro-Powder has one of the longest product names I think I’ve ever seen but it’s seriously THE best pressed powder I’ve tried. I saw this applied in action on my BFF at a Charlotte Tilbury event. Her foundation/base had completely worn off already and she told the artist she didn’t really want to try the foundation. The artist applied #1 on her skin and it was literally transformed into a smooth flawless canvas in front of my eyes. My shade is #2 and although I think she could add more options this one has been my go-to for at least a couple years now.
Armani Luminous Silk Compact Dual-Use Powder is another great setting powder. This one has more color options compared to the Charlotte Tilbury. It offers medium natural coverage and comes with a dual-sided sponge so you can either apply it for sheer or more full coverage. I use a powder brush to set my liquid foundation with this one for the most part. The sponge is something I use for touch ups. Even though I’ve darkened quite a bit I’ve still found Shade #4 to work perfectly for me.
MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural in Medium Plus is one of the few mineral powders I actually like. I tried so many when mineral powders were in – so many just looked too heavy on the skin, even after buffing it in. This one offers medium coverage and I use a brush to set my foundation. It gives an airbrushed finish but it’s not completely weightless in feel. It is a very natural looking product though and holds up well with the heat/humidity.
For concealers, I really don’t find myself using concealer a lot anymore. I simply don’t need it with good coverage foundations but my 3 most-used ones:
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer is my all around go-to for everything, spots, under eyes, red areas. It’s creamy and blends in seamlessly with the skin. Coverage is medium but can be built up. It never looks fake or cakey and stays put as long as I set it with powder.
Tools, an updated brush tool series coming up soon on the blog, but for now my two must-haves:
beautyblender is the best foundation application tool I’ve used. I’ve tried a number of the different colors and while technically they should all perform the same, I don’t find they do. The best ones for me are the original beautyblender (bright pink), bubble and nude. Review from a few years ago in this post here.
MAC Brush 140 S Synthetic Full Fan Brush is probably the best powder brush I own. It launched with the MAC Next to Nothing collection and has the perfect density and softness to pick up powder and apply it in a sweeping motion all over the face.
I wasn’t able to face swatch and photograph all the foundations, but here’s a look at two and also what my bare face looks like. With the Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion Foundation in Dusk I’m just wearing the foundation (no powder to set). It was taken with a low flash and I didn’t get any white cast or flashback. Lipstick is MAC Faux.
I hope this roundup was helpful for you! A few notes on other formulas I tested, previous favorites and why I don’t use them as much now:
The Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer worked better for me when I was in San Diego. Right now it’s really too dewy for my skin type. It’s still a great product for sheer coverage.
The Make Up For Ever Ultra HD is still an amazing line for the liquid and stick foundation. I used my shades up the first month I arrived here (this was back in March). Since I’ve gotten darker I haven’t had a chance to investigate other shades to find what my current match is.
The Becca Aqua Luminous Foundation is too luminous for me right now. Earlier in the spring or even when I was here in December it worked perfectly. Right now it’s a no-go just because I have normal/combo skin.
I will be testing the new Diorskin Forever and Chanel Les Beiges cushions. Will keep you posted. I have tried the Lancome Cushion but it’s really heavy in coverage – too heavy for me.
MAC Studio Fix Fluid is one of the most full coverage foundations I’ve tried, I do like the formula but it’s a bit too opaque for me on its own. I can wear it and find it has impressive lasting power in this heat but I need to mix it with a Strobe Cream or something along those lines to sheer it out for my coverage preference.
Some final thoughts and favorites:
Best foundation for me is anything from Tom Ford, but right now my favorite formula is definitely the Waterproof Foundation/Concealer. I used to use Bisque. Now I alternate between Natural (more neutral) and Sable (more olive/yellow).
Longest lasting matte base is the new Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion. If you have normal to dry skin definitely make sure your skin is well moisturized or add a hydrating primer. Reason for this is it’s medium to full coverage and matte formulas can emphasize lines. For me this one went on flawlessly without a primer but my skin is a bit more combination with the heat/humidity.
My most-used concealer is from NARS.
Best sheer/natural looking foundation is the NARS Velvet Matte Skin Tint.
Best new discoveries this year for me are the Diorskin Forever Foundation and Saturday Skin All Aglow Cushion.
I really can’t pick 1 favorite powder (sorry!) – it’s tie between the Charlotte Tilbury and Armani. If you want a flawless truly airbrushed look go with the Charlotte Tilbury. However shades are limited as there are only 3 so the next best option is Armani. The Armani has sheerer coverage with a brush.
For other touch ups and this heat I swear by the Tatcha Japanese Blotting Papers. While my in-laws were visiting we went to Orlando. All of us were sweating with the heat, humidity and thunder showers. I kinda forced them to use these – even my husband didn’t want to use it, he looked at the little square and said “there’s no way that’s going to help.” I gave them 2 each and assured them it really would help and after they tried it I was really happy to find that they did feel a lot better after using them.
Finding a good base in truly humid weather is going to be a challenge and results will definitely vary depending where you are located. Even within the Tampa Bay area humidity levels vary depending on how close I am to the coast. We live in one of the canal areas and while we aren’t directly on the bay we can see if from our house. Temperatures just a few miles inland in certain areas fluctuate and since the weather changes by the hour here so there are some times and places where it’s so hot literally nothing will truly stay put.
For those who are looking for a new base to try I hope this gave you some good ideas. If you have any you swear by let me know in the comments!
Press samples featured include the Laura Mercier Flawless Fusion, MAC Next to Nothing, Tom Ford Waterproof Foundation, Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Concealer, MAC Brush 140S Brush. All others purchased by me.
I love the summer sunshine and warm weather. It’s one of the main reasons we picked Florida to move to from San Diego because we really just love the sun. I’m especially fond of summer for beauty because bronzer is in and even though I wear it year round, I’m always looking forward to new formulas and colors. There are quite a few new summer launches that I’ve been loving – if I made a comprehensive list it would be quite long. Many of you want a super edited version so I’ve picked my top five summer beauty essentials to share today.
A good body oil – I just did a roundup of summer body oils for soft glowing skin, of course right after I did my testing Maison Margiela launched a Replica Beach Walk Dry Body Oil (thanks to one of my readers Lori for putting this on my radar!). I still really love my top picks as mentioned in my previous post, but Beach Walk is a summer beach vacation in a bottle. This one has a salty more beachy feel compared to the fragrance version. I think the two layered together makes for the ultimate summer combo. The Dry Oil feels silky smooth on the skin and is nicely hydrating. Also huge plus it comes with a spritzer! Notes include Bergamot, Pink Pepper, Lemon, Ylang Ylang, Coconut Milk, Heliotrope, Musk, Cedarwood, Benzoin. There’s also a Body Lotion and Shower Gel version too.
An everyday sunscreen – my go-to winning brand this summer is Supergoop! with a tie between the Sunscreen Mousse and Everyday Sunscreen. I carry both in my purse almost all the time (I alternate between the two and they both come in travel sizes). Both have SPF 50 and are easy to reapply. I find it impossible to stay out of the sun here in Florida and sun protection is a must. Both have been really good at preventing the burn and protecting skin. Review here and here if you want more info.
Summer fragrance – I’ll do a roundup of the best summer smells soon, Tory Burch just launched a new fragrance called Bel Azur and it’s just beautiful. It comes in a few sizes. It has a light fresh and sweet combination with a bright feel. Notes include Bergamot, Mandarin, Lemon, Neroli, Pink Peppercorn, Peony, Patchouli Heart, Vetiver Heart, Cedarwood Oil. I notice peony and neroli a lot in this one.
Lip moisturizer – I’m a lip balm junkie and I’ve been really loving the Clarins Lip Oils. They have a nice lush feel and are super easy to just swipe and go. They launched new shades this spring including two that will change color with your lip chemistry. In case you missed it, review and swatches in this post. There are 7 shades total now. They give the lips just a slight tint of color.
Bronzer – I’ll forever be loyal to Edward Bess’s Daydream as my holy grail, but this season I’ve also been loving the Becca Sunlit Bronzers and Guerlain Terracotta Ultra Shine Bronzer. For the Guerlain one I have to say Cafe Makeup made me do it. We both stopped by the Guerlain counter during our beauty trip in New York earlier this spring. It rained in the city the day we met up but it didn’t stop us from going all around town to scout out the best in beauty. The artists put this on her at Bergdorfs and it just made her skin glow in a naturally beautiful way! This one is really gorgeous.
Also not beauty-related, but to date the best summer sandal splurge I’ve made are the Tory Burch Miller flip flops. They are really quite expensive but 100% worth the splurge. I wear them everywhere and am a bit embarrassed to admit how many different colors I’ve bought by now but they’re really comfortable and they make wearing flip flops fashionable.
To celebrate summer beauty, I’m giving away 4 $100 eGift Cards to your choice of Nordstrom or Sephora. It’s open internationally but you must enter through the widget below and be 18 years or older. Full details listed in the Terms and Conditions:
Four separate people will be selected at random to win a $100 eGift Card to Nordstrom or Sephora
Giveaway runs from 7/2/2017 to 7/10/2017 11:45 PM EST
Must be 18 years or older
Enter by using at least 1 of the steps provided in the widget
Winners will be selected at random and e-mailed by 7/12/2017
You must respond within 48 hours or another winner will be selected
Winners will be announced on this widget in this post once selected
Lately I’ve been obsessed with body oils for the lightweight dry down but moisturizing feel. My long-time favorites were from Nuxe, Caudalie and Moroccanoil. They’re lightly scented but not so heavy that they will interfere with my perfumes. Unfortunately Nuxe is no longer carried in the US and with the warm weather and beautiful beaches here I’ve been on the hunt for other options including wearable shimmers. There are a number of amazing body oils out there but the main requirement I have is that it comes with a pump or spritzer (of course I have made exceptions). To this day I don’t understand why companies make oils with open tops where liquid just pours out everywhere. It’s hard to control how much you apply, not to mention gets so messy. Product oozes down the sides of the jars and it really just seems so wasteful and inconvenient. Scent-wise I prefer ones that aren’t too floral, sweet or strong as they tend to interfere with the perfume of the day.
Up first are my favorites which are the clear options. As you’ll see below I’ve already made two exceptions for my packaging and scent requirements.
From left to right:
NARS Monoi Body Glow II ($59 for 2.5 fl oz/75 ml) is the best summer time oil because it smells like a vacation in a bottle. If this had a spritzer pump it would be perfect. It has Monoi de Tahiti oil with a tiare flower inside. It smells tropical and the scent lingers for quite a long time. The packaging is the only downside but it smells so good I’ve made an exception. It’s one I’ve used up quite a few times.
Moroccanoil Dry Body Oil ($48 for 3.4 fl oz/100 ml) is another favorite and it comes with a spritzer! This has the classic Moroccanoil scent with argan, olive and avocado oils. It’s a dry oil and has a nice dry down after a few minutes. This one has a very raw earthy vibe to it. I like that this one doesn’t have a greasy feel.
Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil ($32 for 3 fl oz/98.8 ml) is the most fluid lightweight option I’ve tried. The full size is 3 fl oz, but it also comes in a mini 0.85 fl oz version in a set called The Morning After Kit. It has a very soft rose scent but it fades nicely after a few minutes. This one has a nice dry down and won’t interfere with perfume. It leaves the skin feeling very soft without any heavy feel.
Darphin The Revitalizing Oil ($ for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is one of the heavier body oils I’ve tried. It’s better suited for normal to dry skin or if you want a dewy finish on the skin. It has a very relaxing almost citrus scent to it, it’s not overpowering but definitely noticeable. I like this at night time if my skin feels dry, during the day in the humidity of Florida, this one can feel a bit heavy if I apply it all over. Also because it’s ultra nourishing it doesn’t really have a dry down which isn’t a bad thing – but if you need a lightweight one this may be too rich.
Next up are the shimmers. When it comes to tinted or shimmer options, I really prefer something that won’t stain white clothes so in this case I’ve tried to avoid any bronzer oils. For shimmer I also look for something that has a smooth non-gritty finish. These days I don’t mind extra sparkle but for the most part, I prefer a shimmer that is more subtle and barely there.
Shown above from left to right:
Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Shimmering Body Oil ($98 for 3.4 fl oz/100 ml) this is one I bought when it first launched a year ago and I hated it. Mine was gritty and the shimmer was something I could feel. I gave it another try at my local store this year and it seems the formula has been changed to a completely smooth texture-free finish. I adore the Soleil Blanc perfume so I don’t mind the scented body oil version. This is the most sparkly one I can wear on a daily basis and not feel like it’s too much. The sparkles are noticeable though so if you work in a very conservative environment you may want to stick to the perfume or try the regular body oil version. This one has a super hydrating feel and finish. It has a light moisturizing feel without being greasy but on me it doesn’t dry down 100%.
La Mer Glowing Body Oil ($100 for 3.4 fl oz) is one that is nearly impossible to find. It sold out almost instantly and by the time I decided to splurge it was gone. I found it online when it popped back in stock at Nordstrom. It’s since restocked a few places but sold out again. This is one of the most beautiful body oils with a pretty subtle gold shimmer suspended. It has a very lightweight La Mer scent to it which I adore because the hand cream and body cream are too strong for me. The shimmer finish is very very subtle though – if you need the sparkle, opt for the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc instead even though the scent will be different. The La Mer Oil leaves the skin looking very soft and glowy.
African Botanics Marula Shimmering Gold Oil ($105 for 100 ml) is the best smelling oil I’ve tried that isn’t a perfumed/fragranced one. It’s infused with Marula Oil, Baobab Oil, Moringa Oil, Meadowfoam Oil, Kalahari Melon Seed, Neroli Oil, Gardenia and Magnolia. This one is my husband’s favorite. I walked by him after testing this one and he smelled it instantly and said it smelled amazing. It has a rich finish so doesn’t dry down like a dry oil. The gold shimmer is very subtle and almost disappears on the skin to leave a very fine shimmer.
French Girl Organics is an organic beauty line and the Lumiere Bronzing Oil and Lumiere Moonlight Oil caught my eye. Both have a super fluid texture. These come with dropper applicators and contain sunglower oil, argan oil, coconut oil and meadowfoam oil. The shimmer settles to the bottom so you shake up the bottles to mix it. They both have a very natural scent to them – one of the most natural I’ve ever tried. The pigments and shimmer are so subtle I cannot see anything on the skin, but legs and arms have a luminous glow which I think are mainly from the oil rather than the shimmer. Moonlight is scented with jasmin and neroli but smells identical to the bronzing one. They’re very hydrating and soothing. These are a bit hard to find right now. I ordered them direct from their website as they were sold out everywhere else I looked. You can find the bronze one at Beautyhabit still.
Darphin Soleil Plaisir Sultry Bronzing Oil ($55 for 1.7 fl oz/50 ml) is another beautiful shimmering body oil. I believe this one is new for summer. I picked this up at Bluemercury and fell in love at first swatch. It’s one of the softest white floral oils I’ve tried which is just so pretty. It’s not too strong or powdery like some white florals can get. It has a very hydrating feel like the Revitalizing option but isn’t sticky or greasy. It leaves a smooth veil of moisture on the skin and keeps it hydrated for hours after application. The shimmer is very subtle with a golden copper color so if you’re medium to tan or deep it doesn’t look like traditional gold shimmers.
For Bluemercury, with any $150 purchase and code TRAVEL you get a bag filled with minis
Swatches – note that these blend into the skin to disappear almost completely. The shimmers are very fine – on my medium tan skin, only the Tom Ford really stood out for the sparkles.
A few notes on formulas I tested in store but did not buy:
Bobbi Brown Beach is another amazing scented option. It smells just like a beachy scent would I found this option too strong for me as I really do like my perfumes. This one you could just wear on its own and smell great. It also does not have a spritzer which was a deal breaker for me.
Caudalie Divine Oil is still one I really like, I have a mini but just don’t reach for it as often as I used to.
Clarins has a number of great body oils all in the pour container. These had a more herbal scent to me. I tested all three at the counter and fell in love with the Contour Body Treatment Oil. If this had a different dispenser I would have bought it. However since I had already bought quite a few other formulas decided to pass.
Herbivore Botanicals Jasmine Body Oil was on my radar as I love the line – they have great body products. I was glad I tried this before jumping to splurge. If you love jasmine then you will love this. Since I prefer non-florals for oils I found this one too floral and passed.
L’Occitane Shea Fabulous Oil had all the things I wanted in an oil. It has great packaging and it smells great. I’ve tried this on numerous occasions though and it’s one that is just too heavy for my skin type. I suspect it would be amazing for me during the winter months or for those with dry skin. For me it was too rich and heavy feeling. If they come out with a lighter version I would definitely try it again.
In summary, thoughts and favorites:
My best body oil for summer for lightweight finish is the Ouai Rose Hair and Body Oil
Favorite shimmer options are the Tom Ford Soleil Blanc or Darphin Soleil Plaisir
Best smelling body oils are the NARS Monoi Body Glow, Tom Ford Soleil Blanc and African Botanics
Most hydrating and moisturizing oil is the Darphin Revitalizing Oil
Most natural smelling and naturally glowy oils are the ones from French Girl Organics
If I could only wear one for the rest of the summer, it would be Tom Ford Soleil Blanc
Many of these oils are multi-purpose so you can use a lot of these on the face and hair. I tend to keep things separate, so for the face I really prefer oils designed just for the face and same for the hair. Out of all the ones I tested I found each one left my skin feeling soft and well hydrated, some were just heavier than others in the dry down or finish. If you have any favorites or thoughts please leave them in the comments. I’d love to hear what your favorite body oils for summer are!