Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Stylish Awards: Best in Beauty 2014 - EYES

Happy New Year, dear readers! obviously, I failed at Blogmas.  Maybe next year? *shrug*

Now that that's out of the way, I can get to the point! I present to you the first of a series of posts dedicated to the best beauty products I've used last year. I'll be dedicating posts to makeup, hair products, skin care and beauty "helpers". I'm excited to be starting with eye makeup and I'll be giving two awards per product. One award for a drugstore product and one for a higher end product. These are products that I have actually tried in 2014, so these may not be the best out there, but they are the best I've discovered. There are also no limited-edition products here because...hey, that's not fair. So, here we go!

Best Eyeshadow Palette (High End): Too Faced Chocolate Bar $49

Swatches on my arm from the top left to bottom right - no primer!
This palette is my favorite palette that I have purchased all year and I purchased a lot of palettes last year. I have a thing about eyeshadow palettes and I just can't resist them. I like to rotate which ones I use throughout the year so that I give love to my entire collection, but this one has been my hands down favorite. Not only does it smell like chocolate (it is made with cocoa powder), the color payoff is amazing, the shadows are buttery soft and the neutral color selection is a knockout. It comes in an adorable metal tin with a magnetic closure (they actually redesigned this packaging to be less bulky, but I have the bulkier original packaging). It looks like a chocolate bar (A+ for cuteness) and as soon as you open it, you get a whiff of beautiful chocolate scent. It's not overpowering, it's just enough to make you go; "Yum!". The scent does not stay on your skin once you apply the product (unlike the cocoa powder foundation, but we'll get to that in a little while), but the palette does smell like one of those packets of hot chocolate. Every color you need in the world is here, but I have my favorites of course. However, there is not a single color here I haven't tried and they are all beautiful. The only downside is that there is no black color here, which is important if you want to create a smokey eye look, but I hardly ever do that, so it's not a deal breaker for me. If you buy ANY high end eyeshadow palette, I would recommend this one over the Urban Decay Nakeds (although I like them, they are just GLITTER CITY). It smells good, you get a huge mirror, color payoff is bomb...seriously, get off your butt and order this palette right now! There is a newer version of this palette that exists, but I have not gotten a chance to try it yet and word on the street is that it's not as good.

Best Eyeshadow Palette (Drugstore): Wet n' Wild Color Icon 8-Pan Palette in Comfort Zone $3-$5

Arm swatches, no primer...can we talk about that duo-chrome blue/brown for one second? I mean...come on...
I remember the days when cosmetics from Wet n' Wild were just cheap...and also terrible. Well, this company (as well as every other drugstore brand) has stepped up its game. This little 8-Pan palette is in-credible. They are long-lasting, the color payoff is super and the colors are beautiful and comparable to the Urban Decay neutral colors that are offered in the Naked Palettes (The dark color in this pan and Blackheart in the Naked 3 Palette are exactly the same color). This is a BEAUTIFUL palette and for around $5, you really can't go wrong here. There are a couple of other color selections offered in this 8-Pan Palette format, but I have not tried them. This palette comes with a couple of applicators, but I would go ahead and use your own brushes as I do with every product. Companies do not spend a lot of money giving you a nice brush to go with your product (with the exception of Urban Decay, who gave a decent brush in all their Naked Palettes. I still don't like the brush very much, but it's better than some others I've seen). I do want to say that products in EVERY line of cosmetics are hit or miss. I find generally that Wet n' Wild eyeshades are nice in general, but sometimes, the formulas in their "limited edition" palettes is not as good as the formulas from the permanent line. However, I reiterate that this is true with most cosmetic brands, both drugstore and higher end.

Best Single Eyeshadows (High End): Urban Decay $18 ea

Urban Decay Single Eyeshadow in Sin
In my opinion, if you want a single color and you're new to high end makeup, buy one of these or maybe even two. I know that some people love the Makeup Forever Shadows, but I can't speak to those. These are expensive, but they are fantastic. The texture is buttery and the color payoff is spectacular. The only thing I have to mention is that there are a lot of glittery shades offered (oooh, sparkly!) and there is a tremendous amount of fallout that you may experience. Use a good primer (Urban Decay happens to make a fantastic one, but we'll get to that later!) and have a clean fluffy face brush on hand to brush away the particles.

Best Single Eyeshadows (Drugstore): **A TIE!!!!** L'Oreal Infallible 24 HR Eyeshadow $5-$9 ea. & Milani Bella Eyes Gel Powder Eyeshadow $3-$5 ea.

Bella Gold, Bella Bronze and Bella Emerald...
I just could not decide between the two of these products because BOTH of them are amazing. So, I will give a little love to the both of them. First, I'll talk about the Milani eyeshadows, which are beautiful and very affordable. I find that they are between $3 and $5 at CVS. I'm not sure what the name "gel powder" implies since these are a fun shape in the pan (looks like they are baked?). Milani says the product starts as a gel but is transformed into a powder by a "special process". Sounds magical, doesn't it? Anyway, don't let that fool you, this product is, in fact, a powder. It's stiff when you put your finger or brush in it which is slightly disappointing because it looks as though it would be bouncy or something. However, this little eyeshadow is AMAZING. I find that it works best to use your finger to apply it (or a damp brush). Every color I've tried is beautiful and they are long-lasting. I wish I had every color.

L'Oreal makes beautiful products and this eyeshadow is no exception. It is actually a pressed pigment in a pot (meaning it's not a packed powder, but highly pigmented color particles that are pressed together but not adhered together, if you dropped it, it would fall apart...I've found this out the hard way). It comes in a cute little pot with a little press stopper that you are supposed to keep inside the product. I've also find that this product is best applied with a finger and the color payoff is PHENOMENAL. It is also extremely long wearing and great for single eyeshadow looks or for slapping on if you are in a hurry. My favorite shade has been Amber Rush. I just slap this on my eyelids and BOOM, I'm out the door. These are gorgeous, go get you some! Don't drop yours on the floor like I did. You'll be sad. They are a little expensive for a single drugstore eyeshadow (I think they are about $9 at CVS), but worth it.

Best Liquid Eyeliner (High End): Stila Stay All Day Liquid Waterproof Eyeliner $20

It's no secret that I love liquid eyeliner, but I was always hesitant to try a pen form. I was pretty attached to a bottle and brush type applicator until I got one of these in a Sephora Giftset. It. is. amazing. The tip is precise, the liner is very black and it stays in place all day. I have this in three other colors and the product seems to last a long time. It's very easy to use.

Best Liquid Eyeliner (Drugstore): E.L.F. Liquid Eyeliner $1

This shiz is ONE DOLLAR. Brush and a bottle, so you need some practice if you're not good at it. I'm not saying it's amazing, but it's pretty good and it's ONE DOLLAR. It does smudge a bit if you touch it though.

Best Pencil Eyeliner: JURY STILL OUT

I struggled a bit here throughout the year and I'm open to suggestions. I have used a few pencil eyeliners to tightline with (I don't normally wear liner in my waterline), but by the end of the day. it's halfway down my face. It infuriates me and I need a waterproof eyeliner to tightline that is going to stay in place. I might try to tightline with a gel liner and give up on pencils altogether.

Best Gel Eyeliner (Drugstore):  L'Oreal Infalliable Lacquer Liner 24 HR about $10

So, I have never used a higher end gel liner (aside from the Benefit They're Real Pushup Liner which...*sigh*, will appear in a later blog post) but I don't think I need to. This liner is awesome. It's super black, stays in place and glides on super smooth. I don't use the brush that came with it because I need to use an angled eyeliner brush otherwise, it's a hot mess. That being said, it does come with a nice brush that you can use if you are skilled or if you don't have curly lashes that get in the way, which is my issue. I'm new to gel eyeliner and I find that it is really nice if you need your eyeliner to be intensely black (or whatever color you prefer). The Maybelline Eyeliner is nice too but I found this dried out quickly, even if stored upside down. That being said, I don't have a favorite high end gel liner because I didn't like the one that I tried this year.

Best Mascara (Drugstore): L'Oreal Voluminous Carbon Black Mascara $7-$8

The truth is, I happen to think a LOT of drugstore mascaras are EXCELLENT. I like them more than most high end mascaras and I find that both L'Oreal and Maybelline make excellent formulas. I happen to love a LOT of L'Oreal Mascaras, especially lately, the Miss Manga, which I hated at first. It's got a funny brush on it and it's bendy and weird...however, once you get past that, the mascara is actually very good. However, I have been using L'Oreal Voluminous since I was a teenager and it was one of my favorites (along with Lash Out which is sadly discontinued). I hadn't used it for a while and the Carbon Black version of the formula is amazing. Not only is it volumizing, I also find that it lengthens my lashes as well and doesn't make them hard or crispy. It allows my lashes to be soft, full and super, super black. This stuff is amazing and costs under ten dollars. Holy Grail. Again, though, I like a lot of L'Oreal formulas, but this one seems to be my most favorite.

Best Mascara (High End): Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara $23

This is the only high end mascara that has impressed me enough to re-puchase it. It is very similar to the L'Oreal Voluminous, but it is even more dramatic. I am not a natural lash girl. I want my lashes to be like BAM!!!!! This mascara is very dramatic. It's very, very black, volumizing and lengthening. I don't have issues with mascaras flaking or anything like that, but I also have to say that this mascara also doesn't leave your lashes crunchy either. It's the bomb and I'm on my second tube. This formula is a little wet upon opening, but dries to a nice consistency the longer you use it. I think talking about packaging is kind of stupid, but the packaging is cute (pink!) and feels very heavy and substantial. The name,'s doubtful any mascara is better than sex. If it is, you may need to work on some things in your life, just sayin'...

That does it for my favorite eye products of 2014! Are any of these your favorites too? Any recommendations I should consider trying? I'd love to hear from you!

My next installment will be Best in Beauty for the face! Blushes, powders, primers...get excited!