Friday, 30 January 2015

NEW! Maybelline Dream Flawless Nude Fluid Touch Foundation- Review, Swatches


So the Maybelline gods have unleashed a new foundation on the world and like the total makeup addict that I am, I duly went out and procured some. The eagled eyed amongst you might notice the packaging of this new foundation from it's American twin, the Dream Wonder foundation, and as you can see from the picture below, the packaging is pretty much identical. The foundation is fluid touch which means it is incredibly runny and, like the YSL Le Teint Encre de Peau or Fusion Ink Foundation (which I blogged about here and here) comes with a little plastic applicator as opposed to a pump. I got the Maybelline Dream Wonder over the summer and I absolutely despised everything about it and relegated it to the back of my foundation drawer- my biggest problem with it was the shade which honestly made me look so yellow, I looked jaundiced. I didn't like the texture, the feeling of it on my skin, the application- I just wrote this off. However, in getting the palest shade available of the European equivalent Dream Flawless Nude, I still had hope that I could get this foundation to work. I was VERY wrong.


The instruction on the back indicated that you are to put a drop of this on one finger and then apply it to your face and even though I HATE HATE HATE using my fingers to apply foundation, I sucked it up and tried. I found it was hard to blend, it clung to every part of my skin and the colour of the palest shade Ivory was still incredibly yellow. I've tried this on bare skin, moisturised skin and primered skin and this foundation just does not sit right AT ALL. I've used a painter style foundation brush, a flat top kabuki, a round top kabuki and my Real Techniques buffing brush to get this to settle on my face but it just blatantly refuses to. Plus I had to wash my hands at least three times after using to fingers to apply this because this just sank into my fingerprints. 


The coverage is medium at most and bearing in mind that one coat does not sit well on my skin, trying to build up the coverage was equally as frustrating. I don't have oily skin but this is one slippy slidy foundation and it dried to a powdery matte finish which I really did not like at all, particularly given that the coverage was nothing to write home about. Over the course of wear, it just moved and gathered in patches, got sucked into pores and any crinkles or crevices on my face (see pics below) and made my skin look greasy and sickly. It did not even remotely cover my blemishes- in fact, it positively glided over them and paved the way to show them off in all their glory. 


If you have perfect, poreless, flawless skin AND are a Simpson, this foundation would probably work for you- if not, maybe pick up another foundation. I have never disliked a foundation so much, and I am incredibly disappointed with it- bearing in mind how much I enjoyed using other Maybelline foundations historically. I didn't like the American incarnation and I certainly don't like the new European version either. Sorry Maybelline, I gave it my best shot (twice!!) but you're getting an F for foundation fail. This comes in seven shades and costs €11.99 in Boots BUT bear in mind you are only getting 20ml of product instead of the usual, standard 30ml. Which makes it the most expensive foundation in the pharmacy per ml #justsayin

Some have compared this to the YSL Fusion Ink foundation but there is honestly no comparison- the YSL is 10000000 times better in shade range, performance, application and longevity stakes. These two foundations, in my opinion, are simply not comparable. YSL's Fusion Ink was one of my highlights of 2014 but the Maybelline Dream Flawless Nude is definitely the most disappointing makeup product I have come across in a very long time.

Have you tried this foundation yet? Does it sound like something you would like to try? Let me know if you were able to get this to work for you!
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Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Irish Beauty Show 2015- top 10 exhibitors and free ticket information

I love it when March rolls around because to me, that means only one thing. No, it's not that St. Paddy's Day is around the corner and all the alcohol fuelled merriment that's associated with the day, nor is it the little baby lambs or newly emerging daffodils. The highlight of my March each year is the Irish Beauty Show in the RDS, and this year the Irish Beauty Show will be taking place on the weekend of 8/9th March. I've been to the last three, and I also go to the Professional Beauty Show in the RDS each October, and I'm ALWAYS getting asked what exhibitors were there, what bargains were there to be had etc. Because I consider myself to be a bit of a seasoned pro now (check out my MASSIVE haul from the Pro Beauty Show in October), I thought I would share the knowledge AND also remind you all to book your FREE tickets asap so that you won't have to pay the €20 entry charge at the door. The following is my opinion based on my experience and if any of you have been to either the Irish Beauty Show or the Professional Beauty Show in the past few years, please feel free to weigh in with any tips or tales of your own!


In no particular order, my top 10 exhibitor stalls for the Irish Beauty Show are:

Blank Canvas Cosmetics

Needless to say, I make a beeline for this stand because it is always packed and I am a huge huge fan of BCC brushes. At the Pro Show in October, I did some serious damage to my debit card at this stand. You will find every single brush they have and more, palettes, brush cups, brush belts, eyeliners, makeup sponges- they have an absolutely huge collection. They also run some demos over the course of the two days and recent participants include Sinead from the Makeup Chair, Sarah from MakeupbySaz, Derrick Carberry, Pippa O'Connor, Lauren Cleare and many more. You absolutely have to muscle in and stock up and the prices are amazing- if I recall correctly, all the eye brushes (including the double ended ones!) were just €5 each in October- it's almost robbery.

Flair Hair and Beauty Supplies

This is also one of my favourite stands and I always spend a small fortune here. They always have Seche Vite, Essie and Orly Nail Polishes and treatments for circa €5 a bottle, they have a huge selection of eyelashes, DUO glue, hair tools, headbands, containers and carry a huge selection of Kaeso and Strictly Professional products. The staff are very friendly and you have been warned now- make sure to grab a basket when you get to this stand, even if you think you won't need it, because if you are looking to stock up on beauty essentials, you cannot afford to skip this stand!

French Cosmetics

One of my favourite nail polish brands is Jessica and French Cosmetics very kindly bring a HUGE array of Jessica nail polishes and treatments to us each time these shows roll into town for something silly like €6 each or two for €10. I accidentally purchased a colour I already owned back in October so this year I will be armed with my list to make sure there are no duplications again. The formula of these polishes is just perfection and I always, always stock up.

Hennessys Hair and Beauty - OPI

One of the most famous and busiest stands at the Irish and Pro Beauty Shows is undoubtedly the Hennessy Hair and Beauty stand which sell off bottles of OPI nail polish for about €6 and throw in free top coats and base coats etc etc. I usually pick up a few bottles of OPI polishes and Nail Envy out of habit and can't see why this March would be any different.

 Nima Brush

Another favourite of mine and I'm proud to say, another Irish brush company. Honestly you have no business going near Crownbrush when we have such affordable and quality brushes available from Irish businesses. Niamh is a long time supporter of Irish beauty bloggers and I will definitely be swinging by her stand to pick up some of those adorable soft brush cups and some backups of my favourite Nima brushes, especially the Large Duo Fibre brush which is probably one of my top 5 most used makeup brushes ever and I just adore it. I also love the Artistic collection with their cotton wool soft brush hairs and duck egg blue soft handles- they are amazing!

Dermalogica

Now the queue will be massive but if you have never been skin mapped by Dermalogica before and you don't mind having your face examined by a person with a light bulb attached to their heads in front of all the passers by, you have to swing by and try it out. Not only will you get an indepth analysis of your skin and problem areas, you will also get a ton of product samples to try out before committing to purchase any of them. 

Paese Cosmetics

Now I believe. and I may be wrong, but I am almost certain that this is Paese's first time hosting a stall at the Irish Beauty Show. I know they had one at the abomination also known as the Ultimate Girls Day Out (do not even get me started) but I did go on the record last August to say that the Paese Cosmetics stand was the highlight of my UGDO experience. The products are super affordable and excellent quality, I especially adore the nail polishes, lipsticks with argan oil, eyeshadows and my personal favourite, the Manifestos which are a gorgeous liquid lipstick. I'm dying to try a foundation and primer so I will be popping by to say hello to Martha and have a little swatch of a few products before buying all around me again!

Salon Savers

I got a couple of bits and pieces here over the years- most notably, my nail lamp and IBX kit that I picked up last October which I have been using loads, and they also have a variety of hair products and tools etc. If my memory serves me correctly, I think they also have a huge variety of China Glaze polishes if you are that way inclined.

Waxperts

Aside from the fact that I absolutely ADORE the Waxperts Ingrown Hair Pads (ironically, not for ingrown hairs), I love going to this stand because Ellen and crew always dress up in the Waxperts theme and I love their commitment to their brand. I've never experienced a waxing yet but when I do so, off to Dun Laoghaire to Waxperts HQ I shall pop. 

Graham Anthony

This stand usually occupies pretty much the entirety of the left wall and you can find many weird and wonderful things here- from a huge selection of Decleor products to lashes and applicators and nail tools and gems etc etc. I always find some gems in this stand and I always make it my business to swing by there.

Other notable exhibitors this year are Beutifi- I've met the gang before and they were all incredibly lovely so if you are looking for perfect gift inspo or to hear about a really clever service, definitely swing by their stand. Sweet Squared is another must visit if you are into nails (though I have never been able to get a look in any time they are at a show with the crowds, I will definitely be there early this year!), I'll definitely be hoping to stock up on some Vinylux or Shellac this March. Benefit Cosmetics will have a display there but it will probably be overrun by teenage girls and look like a hurricane ripped through it by the time you get there if previous years are anything to go by. ASU Nail and Beauty Supplies are one of the first stands just inside the door, Makeup Atelier have a pretty impressive stand usually and I only ever buy their products at these shows so I am bound to pick up something, Aurora Hair Rollers will be out in force again, as will Crownbrush and Fuschia if you are so inclined.

My tips for an easier shopping experience are: get there early- there will still be queues but it tends to get incredibly warm and stuffy over the course of the day. Bring plenty of cash with you and try not to rely on the ATM in the RDS- the queues will be massive and the cash runs out pretty quickly which means you have to leave the hall and make your way over the Ballsbridge to the nearest ATM. Most stands also take cards so you won't be stuck but some exhibitors still do not accept debit or credit cards. Also, some places have cash only tills so you may be able to skip some queues if you have the cash in hand, and it might also help you to keep a running tally of how much you spend. Bring your car with you to store your purchases over the day, or failing that, bring a wheelie suitcase to transport your belongings- don't worry, you will not be the only one and you will need to keep your hands free! Also consider wearing steel toe capped shoes because girls, makeup bargains, wheelie suitcases and toes is one huge recipe for disaster. Toe carnage. It gets incredibly warm in the hall so try to leave your coats at home for another day, and maybe even bring bottled water with you to give you some hydration over the course of the day. The Sundays tend to be manic with the general public and it is pretty busy all day long, whereas the Mondays are usually the days when bus fulls of beauty students and beauty therapists from down the country flock to the RDS to stock up on wares. 


Also, I mentioned that it's not too late to book your FREE tickets to the show which will arrive by post to your address about a week before the show. These tickets will save you €20 so if you are interested in attending the Irish Beauty Show, I strongly strongly recommend that you book now and use that €20 to buy some lovely goodies inside. Click through this link to register for your free ticket now and thank me later! :)

Have you ever been to any of the beauty shows in the RDS? What did you think of them? Are you planning on heading in March?

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Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Catrice Velvet Finish Foundation and Concealer with Hyaluron- Review

If you can cast your minds a few months back, you might remember that I raved about a certain Catrice Nude Illusion foundation that reminded me of a certain Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk foundation. Very impressed I was, so much so that when I spied with my little eyes a new foundation offering from Catrice in the new mammoth display units (more about that in this post- ALL the new goodies!), I didn't even remotely hesitate for even a millisecond before I carried it to the till and exchanged moolah. I've been using this foundation a heck of a lot for the last month, including through the Christmas party season, and I've simply been loving it. ANOTHER Catrice foundation winner but for different reasons. I will elaborate.


So if you know me, my style and this blog, you will know that money has no object when it comes to finding that perfect foundation, and there are very few foundations out there that I haven't tried. I'm always looking for my HG foundation and whilst I am not being so bold as to imply that this latest Catrice foundation is the mothership of all foundations, it is one seriously impressive piece of kit. The House of Catrice promise a "velvety-matt foundation combines moisturising hyaluron with a caring repair complex of vitamins E and B5 and allantoin". Allantoin is known for having moisturising properties and increases the smoothness of skin.


Encased in a very chic matte glass bottle (which feels expensive) and complete with a pump that pumps a very reasonable amount of product (straddling the line between foundation flooding and just plain stingy), the packaging from this is very pleasant indeed. The colour name is on the top of the lid, and the packaging has some nice weight to it and feels quite sturdy. The bottle contains 30ml of product which is pretty standard for foundations across the board. I also have to commend this foundation for having an SPF of 30 which is incredibly generous by any standard from a drugstore/ high street foundation.


The texture of this foundation is quite unusual. It's kind of creamy, kind of gel like, it spreads incredibly well (I put a pump or two on top of my Blank Canvas Cosmetics F20 brush and work from center of my face outwards). It provides a lovely, consistent, high coverage layer of not too thick foundation with a velvet like finish- and therein lies the mystery to me. It's coverage- particularly upon application and for the first 8 hours- is somewhat akin to Estee Lauder's Double Wear which I really REALLY love, but it doesn't feel like Double Wear on the skin- it feels nicer, lighter, fresher- perhaps due to the moisturizing hyaluron. It's not matte, not dewy but almost satin in finish, and it almost has a powder finish in that it does make your skin completely flawless. This foundation completely smooths out the appearance of the skin on your face like nothing I have ever tried before. Whilst it does, in my opinion, provide excellent coverage, it has a little bit of sheen and life to it too. It lasts well, it doesn't disappear in patches from my face like some other foundations have the nasty habit of doing, it doesn't make me shiny and has been quite comfortable to wear during the recent chilly spell of weather we've been getting.

One con that I have with this foundation is that the shade I picked out, 010 Light Velvet, is significantly darker than the Catrice Nude Illusion equivalent, and I have to blend this down my neck each time I use it. It's not the greatest hardship in the world, but because I am not the fairest of the fair, and I know for a fact that there are paler skinned gals than myself, I know that the colour may be a bone of contention for many. Speaking of colours- did I mention that there are four shades of this foundation available? Also, this foundation rings in at the tills at a mere €8.99 which is quite bargainous really for what you get. And in a true exposé of how much I do dearly love this foundation, I panicked when I saw that there was only one of the lightest shade left in my local pharmacy (McCabes in Dundrum Town Centre) so I panicked and bought it. Yes- a foundation repurchase. Lord knows if I repurchase a product, it must be a good 'un. 


I also picked up the Velvet Finish Concealer with Hyaluron a month back. I also picked up the lightest shade- Velvet Ivory- and I find that this is a lighter tone than the palest shade in the Velvet Finish Foundation. I don't really rate this on blemishes (and thankfully I haven't had a bad breakout for the last few weeks) but on the undereye area, this foundation is a gift and incredibly comfortable and soothing under the eyes for concealing and brightening any discoloration in the area. It sets well, blends nicely and plumps up the area a little. 

Catrice Velvet Finish Concealer in 010 Velvet Ivory on the left.
Catrice Velvet Finish Foundation in 010 Light Velvet on the right.
Either way, if you're in the market for a new foundation, I highly recommend the Catrice Velvet Finish Foundation with Hyaluron, and if you're looking for a light, creamy, brightening undereye concealer, check out the Velvet Finish Concealer with Hyaluron. If you do purchase, make sure to let me know what you made of it. 

Does this foundation and concealer sound like your cup of tea? Have you been able to source it yet at your nearest Catrice stand?
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Friday, 2 January 2015

Beauty Awards 2014 - High Street Version

 As I mentioned in my 2014 High End Beauty Awards post, last year has, in my opinion, been the best makeup year yet in terms of new releases, new brands coming to Ireland and setting up shop and new innovations being churned out at an alarming rate. The range of high street cosmetics has particularly blown me away this year, and it's clear that you no longer have to shell out big bucks to get quality makeup products. Even though I am more of a high end girl when it comes to my cosmetics (and you can check out my high end beauty picks for 2014 by clicking here), I've found some drugstore beauts too over the year, so for every category I am going to give you my favourite product of the year.

Best Foundation
There have been many new foundations to cross my path over 2014 but my favourite is probably the Bourjois Happy Light Foundation because I just love the coverage for dewy days when I don't really want to look like I have foundation on. The lightest shade is a great match, this wears well and it's just a general high performer for me. Max Factor's Facefinity All Day Flawless 3 in 1 Foundation  also performed well in the coverage and longevity stakes for me this year.

Best Foundation Base
No 7 Instant Illusions Rapid Radiance Balm performs quite similarly to my high end fave Clarins Beauty Flash Balm but is considerably cheaper. It provides just a little bit of life to your foundationed face without impacting the longevity of your foundation. It feels nice and fresh on the skin without feeling suffocating and my skin has not suffered adversely from using this. Whilst the Clarins BFB is a little thicker in consistency, this feels quite fresh, non-oily and performs similarly in terms of breathing life into your face before makeup.

Best Concealer
NYX HD Concealers in 02 and 04 have been godsends to me this year and I've repurchased them already because I don't like the thought of being without them. Pigmented but blendable, I use 02 under my eyes and 04 to conceal any blemishes or redness. I can't remember the price of these off the top of my head but I think they are in and around the €6 mark. 

Best Powder
Bourjois Healthy Balance Pressed Powder- it's an old 'un but a good 'un and this served me well to keep my summer oil-slick shine at bay during the heatwave we experienced in the summer. I will always make sure to have one of these in my collection. The powder is nice and finely milled and you barely notice it over your foundation and in the summer, I did not mind the shade I have (52- Vanilla which is the lightest shade I could find) over my foundation. I find it's a little too yellow toned for the winter however so I'll have to wait for another long hot summer before I can whip this out again.

Best Highlighter
MUA Undress Your Skin Highlighter in Irisdescent Gold- this is another gorgeous champagne highlighter that I love to apply with a fan brush down the bridge of my nose and to the top of my cheekbones. I sometimes cannot believe that this is about €3/4 because it is seriously impressive. I much prefer this to the previous pink version. 

Best Bronzer
The Body Shop Honey Bronzer in Light was a real find back in 2013- so much so, that I've continued using it back into 2014. It's a lovely light bronzer, perfect for the depths of winter when you can't quite get away with looking so golden. L'Oreal Glam Bronze is also a fantastic contender and close runner up- nice and matte, a very flattering shade, and easily available.

Best Contour
NYX Powder Blush in Taupe. This is much revered as being the best drugstore contour shade for pale folk, but I find in my palest state this this looks a little grey on my face, so I usually use this when I have a light tan because I find it's more complimentary. The colour is very distinctive- not bronzer-esque but certainly murky enough to cast those desired shadows to achieve the chiselled face look.

Best Highlighting/Contour Palette
Seventeen Define & Conquer Contour Kit is quite a newbie to the market as it only made it's debut in the latter quarter of the year but that was enough to win me over. I've already posted a review of this palette with my thoughts on it but it's safe to say that I think it's worth a shot. Bear in mind that the highlight shade isn't sheeny or highlightery in the traditional sense, but that's ok because it's a great undereye concealer setting powder and it's great for brightening up that area.

Best Blush Palette
Sleek Blush Trio in Lace- Sleek blushes are amongst the best blushes you will find in the aisles of Boots or the like, and the arrival of Sleek in Ireland in 2014 has made me a very happy camper indeed. The blushes in this palette are gorgeous and I've used all three. The pigmentation is amazing and for somewhere around the €13 mark for three blushes, these are very good value indeed. 

Best Blush
I have to give this award to my beloved NYX Powder Blush in Peach which is a gorgeous pinky peachy shade, nicer than NARS Orgasm, and I'm going to keep repurchasing this over and over. I have swatches on my NYX Powder Blush Collection post if you fancy a look too, but safe to summarise that they are amongst my fave blushes ever and they are only €7.49 a piece and available in Ireland now too! 

Best Eyeshadow Palette
Well the arrival of Wet n Wild to Ireland back in January meant one main thing to me- amazingly affordable buttery quality eyeshadows just became more easily available to Irish makeup lovers. Oh the eyeshadows, they are beauts, and I was fed up of paying through the nose from eBay sellers and shops like Non-Pareil Boutique to get my Wet n Wild fix. My favourite palette so far is the gorgeous Comfort Zone palette, jam packed with earthy neutrals, each colour more impressive than the last in terms of pigment and blendability. Honestly, at €6.49 a pop for 8 shadows, you cannot afford NOT to own this. It is the gift that keeps on giving.

Best Eyeshadow (Single)
This year the arrival of the gorgeous L'Oreal Color Riche L'Ombre Pure Eyeshadows completely turned my head and I still find it hard to believe that you can find these eyeshadows in chemists for something crazy like €5.35 a pop. The pigmentation of these is exquisite, remarkable, the colour selection, colour payoff. These eyeshadows scream luxe with their packaging, embossed detailing, various finishes etc., and these are amongst the best drugstore eyeshadow launches of the year. Again, I feel like I have to mention the Catrice Velvet Matt eyeshadows for being amazingly matte, amazingly pigmented and amazingly affordable eyeshadows. 

Best Cream Eyeshadow
The Maybelline Color Tattoos are without a doubt the best drugstore cream eyeshadow pots out there, and I have lost count of how many I have collected at this stage. On and On Bronze is ESSENTIAL, as is Permanent Taupe and Immortal Charcoal. The kind folks at Maybelline have introduced three of their Leather Effect Color Tattoos over the last year too- Creamy Beige, Chocolate Suede and my personal fave, Vintage Plum, which is a gorgeous smoked out purple/plummy shade that looks amazing under any purple, grey or brown shadow. 

Best Mascara
I really enjoyed using the Seventeen Falsifeye HD mascara this year and in this post, I've set out the 10 things I love most about it. Seventeen as a brand was not really on my radar before I tried this mascara but my level of impressedness has definitely earned a place on my radar. 

Best Eyeliner
Blank Canvas Cosmetics Felt Tip Eyeliner in Winging It has completely turned my head over the last few months of 2014 and I am almost finished up my second one already. The long pointy nib, the jet black line that it delivers and the ease with which one can wing eyeliner when using this most definitley makes it award worthy. I would panic in the morning if I couldn't find this mascara because I have gotten so attached to it. A close runner up has to be the Physician's Formula 2 in 1 Lash Boosting Eyeliner and Serumwhich I've only had for about a month but I've enjoyed using immensely.

Best Lipstick
There have been so many amazing lipstick launches this year. The Essence Long Lasting Lipsticks are absolutely exceptional in my opinion and I think I have 9 or 10 of them by now- not only are they pigmented, the lasting power is absolutely amazing and fades gently off the lips over the course of many hours of wear. The shade 09 Wear Berries is my favourite and one of my favourite lipsticks ever. 

Best Lip Liner
Essence Lip Liner in Satin Mauve. This mauvey pink is meant to be a dupe for MAC's Soar lip pencil which of course was recently reincarnated by Miss Kylie Jenner, but I have loved this for the last few months/ The Essence lipliners are fantastically affordable at €1.29 a pop which is actually robbery. This is a gorgeous mauve colour that I like to wear as a lip colour or as a liner with a pink lip for a slight ombre effect.

Best Nail Polish Brand
Again, there are a whole array of drugstore nail polishes from the drugstore/high street that have performed well this year and my favourites are the Essence Colour & Go Polishes and the Wet n' Wild Mega Last Nail Polishes. For less than €2 and €3 respectively, these nail polishes perform well and last well.

So there you have my top high street beauty picks of 2014 and, as with my high end beauty picks of 2014, I can personally recommend each and every single one of these products to my readers if you're looking for some high street makeup inspiration for 2015. 

Did any of your favourites make my cut? Are there any products for your favourites that I need to try in 2015? I'm always open to enabling! 

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Beauty Awards 2014 - High End Version

2014 has been a great year for beauty lovers- in my humble opinion, I think it's been the best year yet. With all the new brands to hit Irish shores, all the new products to hit our shelves and all the new innovations, we have been truly spoiled. I've been considering my products of the year for the last month and finally I have whittled down the list. To stop this post from being the longest post ever in the history of the blog however, I've separated my lists into two different posts- this one for my high end loves and one for my drugstore/pharmacy/high street loves (click here to read). 

Best Foundation
This is THE hardest category so I said I would get it out of the way first- and I think the accolade has to go to my beloved Estee Lauder Double Wear. I just keep coming back to it, I love the shade (Cool Bone), the coverage and the longevity, I've prob gone through 5 bottles this year alone but the fact that I keep returning to it and repurchasing speaks volumes. An honourable mention has to go to my beloved YSL Le Teint Encre de Peau and you can read my rave review of that here.

Best Foundation Base


Clarins Beauty Flash Balm is a longtime favourite of mine and I just love how this preps my face for foundation. I love the texture and the smell of it, it is probably my favourite Clarins offering. I always pick up a couple of Clarins sets at this time of the year because they are such good value so I'll be picking up an extra two tubes of this at least in the coming weeks because I just love it that much. Any foundation I have ever tried over the Clarins BFB looks great, it's not tinted but it somehow just evens everything out. I sometimes wear this on the rare few days where I don't wear any foundation at all because it just gives instant radiance in a non-shiny and non-shimmery way. 

Best Concealer
MAC Pro Longwear Concealer in NW20. When it comes to concealing blemishes, this is the concealer to have on hand, and a little goes a long way. I haven't had to repurchase this yet because it lasts the longest time and you only need the littlest amount which I think makes this pretyy 

Best Powder
NARS Light Reflecting Pressed Powder is an absolutely exceptional setting powder, and probably the best setting powder I have ever come across. It doesn't really mattify but it leaves just the loveliest soft focus on the skin, almost like an airbriished effect, and this makes any foundation look a zillion times better and more flawless. I hit pan on this months ago but I still seem to have loads left. Honorable mention has to go to my Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders- in the last few weeks, I've been using these almost exclusively and I'm LOVING them.

Best Highlighter
The Balm Mary Lou Manizer. Oh I have a love/hate relationship with Mary Lou. On one hand, it is the most amazing champagne highlighter ever that has converted me towards highlighters in general. On the other, I am on my THIRD one, and it's not because I love it that much, it's because it's the most goddamn fragile piece of makeup I have ever owned, and somehow, I've destroyed two of them. I am taking uber care of my current and third, and even though I complain about repurchasing, I know that I couldn't be without it! 

Best Bronzer
NARS Laguna hands down wins this award because it is my favourite bronzer ever for bronzing up my face, it's not too warm or cool, a lovely contour shade, it's just an amazing product and I haven't found any other bronzer quite like it. Honorable mention also goes to Benefit Hoola.

Best Contour
Kevyn Aucoin Sculpting Powder is a lovely cool ashy contour colour that, unlike my drugstore alternative, looks perfectly acceptable on my pale untanned state. This is expensive there is no doubt, but it feels luxurious and is the easiest powder to use.

Best Highlighting/Contour Palette

Charlotte Tilbury Film Star Bronze and Glow is amongst the most beautiful pieces of makeup that I own with it's luxe gold packaging encasing a bronzer and highlighter. The bronzer is a nice shade for warming the face more so than contouring, and the highlighter is quite subtle when applied lightly. This is expensive at 75 bucks but you know, it's one of those investment items that just reaps so many rewards each and everytime you use it.

Best Blush Palette
Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush Palette is just perfection in a palette and I swear, every time I open the shiny gold case and am confronted with the sight of three beautifully marbled blushes, I feel a little heart ripple of love. It is exquisite and the colours are just divine on your face. I think the thing with Hourglass Ambient Lighting powders and blushes is that they just breathe life on to your face and even if you feel like crap and think you look hideous, these are just godsent saviours. I got this from the Space NK website so not sure of the € price but I think it's around the €69 mark. Saucy I know- but it's great sauce. 

Best Blush
Charlotte Tilbury Blush in Love Glow is a gorgeous peachy shade that is just perfection on the cheeks and I've worn little else since I got it. It's miles better than NARS Orgasm in terms of delivering a healthy peachy pinky glow. And also to pay homage towards my new love of neutral blushes, I have to acknowledge my beloved MAC Blushbaby which is a close second in this category and I've expressed my love for this in this post.

Best Eyeshadow Palette
This was soooooo hard, honestly I feel such a traitor, but I think I have to give this award to the Lorac Mega Pro Palette which has just won my heart since I snapped it up online in the beginning of October. Check out my detailed review and swatches in this post for more info if you so desire. I wish soooo much that we could get Lorac more easily here in Ireland but thankfully, Amazon.com is ready and willing to post Lorac goodies to Ireland for decent prices without customs snags. This palette is perfection and literally has every colour you need to create beautiful Christmas looks. 

Best Eyeshadow (Single)

No surprises here but I am going to have to go for my MAC single eyeshadows- ok, I know they are pretty extortionate little pans when you compare them to Inglot etc., and don't get me wrong, I love Inglot, but I reach for my MAC eyeshadows over and over and over again. Standout colours for me are Woodwinked, Patina, Sable, Nylon and Satin Taupe. The pigmentation, colour payoff etc, make it all worth it for me. I also have to mention the Makeup Geek eyeshadow pans which are just amazing- again, customs charges can be a bit prohibitive so take care when ordering so you don't go over the €30 threshold- if you are feeling brave and want to make an order, I recommend any of the shades in the Starter Bundle Kit which I blogged about in November. 

Best Cream Eyeshadow

MAC Paint Pots are heavenly and I believe I have about 15 of the buggers now. My favourite is still Painterly but I also use Constructivist, Groundwork and Rubenesque on a regular basis. These guys never dry out unlike my Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadows which dried out completely within weeks of me first using it. I have had my Painterly pot on the go now for over two years and I've still got plenty of product left. They are great eyeshadow bases, great for lazy days where you couldn't really be bothered with makeup, just great all rounders. 

Best Mascara
Lancome Hypnose mascara- the original one- has a special place inside my very fussy mascara heart. I love the wand, I love the formula, I love the volumising, lengthening effect it gives. I find myself repurchasing this over and over, even favouring it to my beloved Christian Dior mascara. This is a new 2014 find for me but I predict it will be a favourite for many years to come.

Best Eyeliner
The Benefit They're Real Push Up Gel Liner impressed me this year- so much so that I repurchased it for the Christmas season. I did not want to buy into the hype, and I really expected not to like this as much as I did but I really did love it in all honesty. I delivers dark, non-shiny gel, is easy to use one you get the hang of it, and lasts all night long. This is more of a night time than a day time mascara in my mind but it lasts and contrary to popular opinion, I do not believe that it's that hard to remove.

Best Lipstick
Well anyone who has met me in the latter quarter of the year will know that I am absolutely head over heels obsessed with, completely in love with the NARS Audacious lipsticks, particularly the shade Anna. I have nine of them, so strong was my love for them, and I don't think I've worn anything else since I picked them up. The formula is AMAZE, the color payoff on one swipe is AMAZE and everything about these is just AMAZE. I would go so far as to say you have not experienced lipstick until you have tried these. Check out my full collection and swatches here. Again, I have to give a mention to MAC lipsticks, particularly the Lustres and Amplified Cremes, for their consistently great performance and colour selection. 

Best Lip Liner
Charlotte Tilbury Lip Cheat in Pillow Talk is my favourite lipliner ever because again, it's just a gift that keeps on giving. This is a perfect shade for defining the shape of your lips and can be used with any other lipsticks- pinks, nudes, reds. I never really bothered with lipliner apart from when I wore red lipsticks but since I got this, I use it at least 3/4 times a week. It's not cheap but if you feel the need to splurge on a lipliner. look no further. 

Best Nail Polish Brand
Essie consistently impress me with their nail polishes- between the selection of colours, the ease of application, the lasting power sans chippage and the creamy opaque finish. I've tried many different types of nail polishes and whilst I am not interested in nails enough to justify spending big bucks on a nail polish as opposed to a lipstick, foundation or blush, I have no problem shelling out 10 bucks a bottle for Essie nail polishes. Their summer pastels are particularly impressive so I look forward to busting them out again when it is more seasonally appropriate. 

So there you have my top high end beauty picks of 2014 and I personally recommend each and every single one of these products to my readers if you are looking for high end recommendations for 2015. As I mentioned above, I've also undertaken the same exercise with my high street/drugstore/pharmacy favourites so if you're interested in that, grab a cuppa and click this link for a read! 

Did any of your favourites make my cut? 

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