While I can safely say that I love and use every single product in my makeup collection, I do still have my favourites that I deem holy grail and there are those outstanding products that have ended up performing above and beyond anything I ever expected them to. Some of them even completely changed my initial skepticism and underwhelming first impression. Naturally, most of the products I'm talking about today have been with me for a fair few years, but there are also a couple of relatively new beauty bits that have ended up wowing me from the get go too. Skincare will be featured in part two of this little series of mine, but for now, here's all about the makeup that exceeded my expectations.
The first time I tried this primer was back in 2013 while browsing Mecca Cosmetica in Sydney with Jess (the first time we met!), and as I applied it to the back of my hand, I instantly saw my pores vanish. I'd never seen such incredible, immediate results from a primer before and I ended up purchasing it the following year. The Hourglass Veil Mineral Primer has a silky lightweight texture and while it improves the durability of makeup, as previously mentioned, it also visibly diminishes pores and fines lines, providing a smooth, even canvas for foundation. It's the perfect primer for nights out and special occasions, though I often wear it day-to-day too and my skin always looks good. Best of all, it works well for either dry or oily skin types too.
Whenever a stranger compliments my skin or asks me what foundation I'm wearing, 98% of the time, it's NARS Sheer Glow. Though my skin is relatively decent even without foundation (thanks to the pill and my Asian genes!), it still fascinates me just how much of an impact this product has on my skin. A love affair going on five years now (my full review from 2012), I decided to try this foundation as I was after a lightweight formula that provided a medium to full coverage base, and upon first application, this fit the bill perfectly. I spent a long time skeptical of this foundation due to the word "sheer" in the name, though I think it signifies its radiant, luminous finish as opposed to the coverage. Buildable and long-lasting, this foundation is perfect for everyday wear, nights out and work. I know I can always rely on NARS Sheer Glow to look good no matter the situation and though I wouldn't recommend it to oily skin types, for those who are normal to dry, it remains a cult classic for a reason.
Too Faced Shadow Insurance has been my go-to eyeshadow primer for years (since I first got into high end makeup), but as my skin has become drier as I've gotten older, it doesn't apply nicely on my eyelids anymore and I was also keen to switch things up. I've tried the Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer Potion in the past, which never impressed me, but as NARS has always been such a reliable brand to me, I knew their Smudge Proof Eyeshadow Base was the eyeshadow primer to try next. I finally used up my last tube of Shadow Insurance (I'd been trying to use it up for two years, but it was worth it for the feeling of satisfaction and accomplishment!) two months ago and this NARS offering has been a much welcomed change. It feels smooth against the delicate eye area, while eyeshadows adheres and stays put all day. When I've been out, I'm always so impressed by how good my eyeshadow still looks when I come home; there is no creasing, no smudging whatsoever and this stuff does not budge at all. For how impressive this eyeshadow primer is, you really don't need a lot of product either and although I haven't been using it all that long, this is definitely my new go-to.
When the By Terry Ombre Blackstars first came onto the scene some few years ago, I really didn't think that much of them and I have to admit, this was a rather spontaneous purchase simply because people were talking about them. Having had mine for a good couple of years now though, I can safely say that this is the best cream eyeshadow formula ever. It does not budge from your eyelids, never creases and looks utterly, utterly dreamy. I have the shade Bronze Moon, a sultry taupe-bronze colour that shimmers and sparkles so beautifully and makes for an effortless bedroom eyes look. You have to work one eye at a time to blend it out as it does set quickly, but it takes little to no time at all to apply and is a lot more convenient than cream eyeshadow pots, which tend to dry out too. Whether you're in a rush or feeling a little bit fancy, I cannot fault the By Terry Ombre Blackstars.
The Chanel Le Volume de Chanel Mascara was a product I discovered by chance when I received a deluxe size sample of it with the purchase of my nanna's Christmas present. That was back in 2013 and now, four years on, it remains the only mascara I use. As I'd never heard anyone talk about this mascara before, I wasn't all that bothered when it came to trying it out, yet I was immediately blown away and couldn't get over just how long and fluttery my eyelashes were. No matter how many coats you apply, it never clumps or looks spidery, and unlike mascaras I've used in the past, it doesn't dry out quickly either. I can get a solid six or so months use out of a single tube and while other hyped up mascaras come and go, none of them have phased me simply because I have this one in my life. If you like, you can read my full review from 2014.
I didn't have a very good first impression of the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Lighting Blushes; I thought they were powdery, chalky and not very pigmented, but I think that was just down to the testers being old. I completely changed my mind when I swatched them for a second time (at a then newly opened Mecca with brand new testers) and now I'd even go as far as calling it my favourite blush formulation. With a satin-like finish, it leaves a soft-focused, natural flush to the cheeks and upon application, the complexion appears luminous and fresh. There's no obvious shimmer or sparkle, but your skin nevertheless glows. I have the shade Mood Exposure, a "soft plum", which translates as a nude-berry shade on my skin tone, and while it looks stunning when worn, there's no denying how beautiful it looks in the pan too.
While it's always the colour that draws me into a lip product, the formula of the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipsticks is... well, revolutionary. Normally, I associate matte lipsticks as something quite drying, but these feel so comfortable on the lips, it's as if I'm wearing nothing at all (stupid sexy Flanders!). Gliding on smoothly for a rich, velvety finish, I'd describe the Matte Revolution Lipsticks more as a demi-matte; it's still intensely pigmented, but it's not going to completely suck the moisture out of your lips. I don't usually pay attention to the ingredients in makeup, but these lipsticks contain Lipstick Tree Extract, a natural anti-oxidant to protect the lips, as well as Orchid Extract, which smooths and hydrates. Not only are they soft and light feeling, but the shade variety is perfect for neutral lovers too; I own Very Victoria (here's me wearing it), a cool-toned nude and new to my collection is Pillow Talk, a nude-y pink. The Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk is my most used lip liner, so I knew I had to pick up its lipstick equivalent and really is just as beautiful. Comfortable, flattering on a wide variety of skin tones and with the most opulent packaging ever, the Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipsticks are an all-round winner for me.
What makeup products exceeded your expectations?