Full disclosure: I found the third year of maintaining this blog challenging. You know I do it for the fun of it and I've always kept it real, but somewhere along the way I lost steam and found it all a bit forced and stale. Don't get me wrong, I still liked makeup, I just didn't feel so enthused with having to write about it.
For a few months, blogging took a backseat as my 20-something year old self tried to figure some identity/life/relationship stuff out (I still haven't, but it's a work in progress). Basically, it was kind of a weird year. It wasn't just blogging that I lost interest in, but it was one of the easiest things to let fall by the wayside. Beauty blogging is inherently not that deep (as distinct from personal, which I feel it absolutely can be), since at the end of the day the conversation revolves around what you're using to paint your face to make it look better, and I wasn't sure I had the energy, ingenuity and lightness of heart to elaborate on another neutral eyeshadow or peachy lipstick without collapsing into boredom or detecting my own insincerity.
It wasn't until my much-needed holiday to Japan in September that I could recharge, reconnect with my interests, and even feel excited to create content again. In some ways, a dip in enthusiasm is inevitable with any long relationship, but I haven't lost any appreciation or capacity to be entertained and to learn when it comes to "beauty".
From newer readers to those who've stuck with me since the beginning and are still here, more than ever, I'm grateful for you. You keep this blog alive and give me a platform to connect with you and be heard. This year, I might even branch out into some non-beauty stuff occasionally to shake things up and get a little more personal. Until then, in true annual tradition, here are my top beauty products of 2014.
NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer
Quite simply, the best concealer I've ever tried. Does everything you want a good concealer to do, including covering up pesky pimples, scarring, areas of redness and uneven skin tone. Best of all, it's a breeze to use and extremely portable. I usually put some on the back of my hand with the applicator and dab the product onto my face with my fingers. No intricate, patient brush work required, no issues with disturbing your existing makeup or the concealer being too dry or hard in texture. It's just the right amount of creaminess to blend into the skin effortlessly while still adhering to the skin and not slipping/sliding off or transferring. Instant repurchase material.
Australis Nail Colour in K-Pop
If I had to nominate an "It" nail polish colour of 2014 that I gravitated to repeatedly, it would be this bright, mid-tone pinky purple. Estée kicked things off when I saw her wear Essie Splash of Grenadine in one of her videos, and soon I couldn't get enough of similar hues (see Rimmel 60 Seconds Nail Polish in Lucky Lilac, Essence Colour & Go in Purple Sugar). My favourite variation of the shade would definitely be Australis K-Pop. Just the right balance of pastel and neon, and not too dark. Formula is smooth and easy to work with, requiring only two coats for full opacity.
Napoleon Perdis Cream Blush
Who knew a magazine freebie could be so good? It's conveniently compact making it perfect for travel or to pop in the makeup bag (I've done both), it imparts a fresh, wholesome, natural flush that injects instant life to the face, wear time is excellent, it's light but creamy in texture and doesn't apply patchily or cling to areas of dry skin. Virtually faultless.
Chanel Vitalumière Aqua
My foundation discovery came late in the year but I wish I'd made it much earlier. What most delights me about Vitalumière Aqua is it really sets on the skin. While a bit of shine does come to the surface as the day goes on, all things considered, it's impressively transfer-proof. The quintessential "no makeup makeup" base, it provides good, subtly radiance-boosting coverage while still appearing natural and not completely erasing the skin's underlying qualities.
Real Techniques Multi Task Brush
I never thought the day would come when I'd ditch my Real Techniques Buffing Brush for anything else to apply my foundation. I made the switch in the middle of the year and haven't looked back. While I previously used the Multi Task Brush mainly for powder products (contouring, blush), this works like a charm for liquid foundation, especially slightly thicker, heavier coverage bases that can get a little cakey if not blended out completely. Simply put, the Multi Task Brush involves less work than the Buffing Brush, and the longer, softer but still fairly dense bristles feel nicer on the skin while delivering a streak-free, airbrushed finish.
MAC 217 Blending Brush
There's a reason this is such a popular, oft-relied upon, frequently raved about brush. The first time I used a MAC 217, I instantly understood the hype. The brush applies eyeshadow slightly higher up than what I'm used to, creating more of a rounder shape where the shadow follows the natural curve of the eye all the way around, giving the appearance of bigger eyes. The edges almost appear naturally diffused and never look harsh or too defined, though the actual effort involved is next to zero. The somewhat firm but still fluffy bristles pick up product brilliantly so that colour is really concentrated when it's applied to the lids.
Dolly Wink Liquid Eyeliner in Deep Black
I featured the Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eyeliner in my 2013 Favourites, but I've managed to find something even better. While very similar, the Dolly Wink gives me even more precision and control. It's no exaggeration to say it virtually revolutionised the way I draw my eyeliner. Because of the ultra-fine tip and how inky black but not overly wet it is, it enabled me to experiment with different shapes and lines that better suited my monolids (essentially, partially drawing the line with my eyes open rather than closed). The only problem is that it does run out quicker than the Stila and since I bought mine in Japan, I'm anticipating a real struggle to find an online stockist that ships to Australia at a reasonable price.
Benefit They're Real! Mascara
Definitively, the best mascara I've used. Even at $38 in Australia, I would repurchase without hesitation. I forget just how good it is when I stop using it. When I come back to it, as I did in the second half of 2014, it's a revelation all over again. Every other mascara seems substandard in comparison. It lengthens, curls, darkens and adds volume to the lashes without clumping or smudging. My short, barely visible Asian lashes need all the help they can get, and They're Real is the closest to a false lash effect I can achieve from mascara alone.
Urban Decay Naked3
We're all at the risk of suffering a bit of Naked overload, which is what makes the third Naked palette all the more impressive. Urban Decay managed to create 12 all new tantalising shades of even more neutral goodness that you never even knew you wanted. Like any good, thoughtfully assembled palette, the versatility and creative potential is all there in the shade selection. Personal favourites include the ultra-glittery Trick which I usually apply wet, sophisticated matte Nooner, and richly metallic Liar.
LORAC Pro Palette
Admittedly I didn't exactly give this palette a resoundingly positive review at first (mainly because I wasn't a huge fan of the actual colours in it), but I never faulted the quality or pigmentation of the shadows. One thing has won me over since, to the extent I'm placing the whole palette in my yearly favourites: the calibre of the matte shades, especially Sable and Espresso. These are the deepest, darkest, most intense mattes I have ever encountered. A light dip into the pan with my eyeshadow brush instantly adds incomparable depth and definition to any eyeshadow look. When I want immediate impact, those are the shades I reach for. And they've never let me down.