Friday, January 18, 2013

FINALLY! The Best of 2012!

Well, it only took me till half-way through January, but I finally got my Best of 2012 list together. I feel a sense of accomplishment (and if you get through this monster of a post, you should, too). These are not necessarily my favorites for the year, but are my most used products of the year. In most cases, they are my favorites. In others, I've notated my actual favorite, as well. I hope this helps some of you. If you have favorites of your own, please list them in the comments! I'd love to read them.

Okay, I'm tired now. Have fun, and good luck.

Seriously, this is crazy long. Go get a snack or something first.

Really. I'll wait.

Okay, here we go!


Face Wash
Olay Skin Smoothing Cream Scrub
I've been really happy with this scrub. It came highly recommended from Total Beauty members, and has proven to be a very gently, effective scrub. It leaves skin feeling clean, soft, and moisturized. I ran out of it this morning, and am planning to repurchase after I give the Simple scrub a chance to wow me (and it's not going well).

Face Wipes
Simple Cleansing Facial Wipes
I'll be honest, Neutrogena wipes remove makeup more effectively, and I used them for years without a qualm. Somewhere along the way, the formula must have changed because they started to leave a greasy film on my face, and the smell became unbearable. I tried to keep it up for a few packs, but had to change to something else. These Simple wipes smell fresh, leave my skin feeling clean and not greasy, and do a really good job at removing makeup. Waterproof mascara is still a bit of a challenge, but I can deal with that to not look like a oil slick.

Makeup Remover
Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover
This works, doesn't irritate, and is, surprisingly, cheaper than a lot of drugstore makeup removers. If you need something small to hit your $25 or $50 order goal (for freebies or free shipping), this is a good choice.

Olay Total Effects 7
I used this stuff for a couple of years, and liked it a lot. I'm only 32, so I don't know how well the anti-aging benefits worked, but they sure couldn't have hurt. My skin felt hydrated and supple, and makeup applied well on top. It's a darn good moisturizer.

*Clean and Clear Dual Action Skin Moisturizer
When Thomas and I went to Disney World this past October, I'd run out of my Olay and was using a sample of Ole Henriksen Truth Serum (awesome). I'd forgotten how dry car rides can leave your skin, and the sample wasn't cutting it for either of us, so we ran to Walgreen's to grab...something cheap. This was only a few dollars, and was supposedly good for breakouts, too. Turns out, it worked even better than I'd hoped, and I've been using it ever since. The Olay is fantastic, but for the money, you can't beat this. I use it on my actors, too, when I'm doing their makeup. It hydrates, clears up pimples, and feels fresh and minty.

Eye Cream
SUPER By Perricone Eye Brightening Melon
You know what, I'm not even going to bore you with a description. It's discontinued, and I'm sad. It was awesome in a jar, and I feel I may shed a tear when the last dregs are used up. If you can find this, BUY THIS.

Lip Treatment
Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment
I have used this every morning and every night since June, and I've noticed a dramatic reduction in the frequency of very chapped lips. I've used other products in the past to heal chapping, but this is the first thing I've tried that seems to actually prevent occurrences. Plus, it smells like oranges and tastes like sugar.

Facial Treatment
GlamGlow Mud Mask
This ugly, chunky, green, leaf-filled clay paste is pure magic. Blackheads? Gone! Dullness? Not anymore! This leaves you with tighter, clearer, brighter, HD-ready skin for up to three days after just one use. Even my husband loves this stuff. Just don't buy retail. It's incredibly expensive. I got ours through Amazon (proper...with free shipping) for a significantly more reasonable price. Just be careful and use a trusted seller.

Tooth Whitener
Colgate Optic White Toothpaste
I'm a coffee drinker. I like Coca-Cola and chocolate and red wine (on occasion), therefore, my teeth have been a pain in the rear to keep white. Strips, bleaching...everything but in-office whitening--nothing worked! This toothpaste works. Within a week, I could tell a major difference. I've been using Optic White for about a year now, I guess, and people are asking ME what I use to get my teeth so white. Oh, and it's only about $2.50 at the grocery store.


Body Wash
Bath and Body Works Be Enchanted
This came in the 2011 Black Friday bag, and I've been a fan ever since. It smells like sugared pomegranate, which makes me think of sparkles and glitter and girly-girl shinies. It's loverly.

*Bath and Body Works Cashmere Glow
If you want something a little more grown-up and sophisticated, this also smells divine and has the added bonus of shea. I don't even need lotion after using this, most of the time.

Shaving Cream
Gillette Satin Care with a Touch of Olay
I started using this over the Summer, and have repurchased several times since then. During the past few months, I did try a high-end and another drugstore brand of shave cream, and neither compared to this. I've gotten close, smooth shaves with very few nicks, and my legs feel silky smooth afterwards. It's a keeper.

Sunless Tanner
Victoria's Secret Beach Sexy Sunless Tanner
Would you look at that? I'm not orange! My clothes aren't orange, either? And you only cost $15? At a place that runs $10 off sales regularly? Wowzers! Now, will it make you look like a VS Angel?, but it will make you look less like Wednesday Adams.

Sunscreen (Face)
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock
This is non-greasy, sinks right in, and isn't a pain to apply makeup over. Basically, it's everything a facial sunblock should be.

Sunscreen (Body)
Hawaiian Tropic Dry Oil Clear Spray Sunscreen
I just like this sunscreen! It smells good, comes in a wide variety of SPF values, and gives you a little bit of a shiny glow without making you feel like you'll stick to everything you come in contact with.


Hair Treatment
It's a 10 Miracle Leave-In Product
It detangles. It conditions. It's a heat protectant. It adds shine. It slices. It dices...okay, maybe not those last two, but it, seriously, does repair and protect your hair. I've used this for a year, and even with all the heck I put my hair though, I've found little to compare it to.

Styling Product
Bumble & Bumble Prep
This stuff has saved my life on more than one occasion. Maybe that's a little overly-dramatic, but not by much. I use this on shoots when I have to touch up curls. Prep reactivates the products already in your hair, so a few spritzes of this and a few minutes in hot rollers and I'm back in action. I also love it for reactivating Surf Spray, to get some serious texture for messy buns on the second day. And yes, it works to add volume and sleekness to blow-outs, and can be used by itself with hot rollers to create soft waves. A travel size is about $6, and it's worth every penny.

Pantene Pro-V Classic Maximum Hold
It's an oldie but a goodie. Basic hairspray that does what it says. 'Nuff said.

*Aquage Freezing Spray
I used this on my most recent shoot, and was dumbstruck. My pin-up hair stayed picture perfect for several hours, even in humidity, and even when it began to wilt toward the end of the day, it wasn't enough to require a touch-up. It's pricey, but if you need liquid cement--that doesn't look crunchy or stiff!!!--this is a great product.

Dry Shampoo
Ion Daily Solutions Dry Shampoo
If you have time to wash your hair, then by all means, wash your hair. However, for those omigod-I-can't-believe-the-alarm-didn't-go-off mornings, this might be a lifesaver. I like to use it as a texturizer for braids and buns, even when my hair's clean.

Styling Tool
Remington Style Ceramic Compact Hot Rollers
This little wonder gives you five small rollers and five medium-large-ish rollers, as well as pins, and can still fit inside your purse. It's great for travel, small spaces, and--in my case--touch-ups on shoots. Even with really long, really thick hair, you'd be surprised how effective these are. I have several sets of rollers, and these are, by far, my favorites.

Hair Color
L'Oreal Root Rescue
It's a squeezy-tube of 10 minute color, and it really does match! My hair grows really fast, and I'm starting to get those pesky "sparkles" (I refuse to call them gray hairs!), so even with regular colorings, sometimes I need a pick-me-up. I love this, and recommend it highly. Trust me, you won't end up with polka-dotted hair.


Tarte Clean Slate
I've tried all sorts of other primers, and I just keep coming back to this. It feels silky and fills in pores beautifully. It's just a really darn good primer.

Tinted Moisturizer/BB Cream
Too Faced Beauty Balm
This is, I think, the only foundation I've ever repurchased. I know I bought a couple of CoverGirl NatureLuxes, but I'm not sure if any were flat-out repurchases. Yes, I realize this is pretty much a glorified tinted moisturizer, but it gives light-to-medium coverage (depending on how you build it up), feels light, and makes my skin look brighter and more even. The vitamins and skin benefits don't hurt, either.

MAC Studio Sculpt
This gives medium-to-full coverage, and was recommended to me when I went to MAC looking for HD foundation. Even with that, it still feels light and leaves a slightly dewy finish. Lasts for hours and looks like skin. It's a winner.

Maybelline Age Rewind Concealer
This is one of the best concealers I've ever dealt with. I kind of hate the packaging, but it's worth the hassle for the gold inside. This reduces puffiness, so I haven't had to use my undereye roller in months. It conceals so well and with such a lightweight feel, that I wish it was foundation. It's also a pretty great highlighter, if you get a lighter shade for under your eyes. There's not a great range of shades, but if you can find yours, definitely consider giving it shot.

Rimmel Stay Matte Pressed Powder
It's cheap, has decent coverage, works on a wide range of skin tones (especially the Transparent shade), doesn't clog pores, sets makeup beautifully, isn't cakey, lasts a good long while, and did I mention it's cheap?

Eye Primer
Urban Decay Primer Potion in Eden
If you have any redness or discoloration on your lids, this will help counteract it. If you don' still gives you a great blank canvas to make shadow colors pop and keep them from creasing. I've tried other primers, and I just keep coming back to this one.

Cream Eyeshadow
Benefit Creaseless Cream Eyeshadow in Sippin 'n' Dippin
I'm afraid this one's been discontinued, but you can still get it from All Cosmetics Wholesale. It's a beautiful peachy gold that works beautifully as a base and by itself.

Eyeshadow Palette
Urban Decay Naked 2
This gets a lot of flack for being fairly one-note, but I beg to differ. I've gotten dramatic smoky, daytime bronze, glamorous silver, and about a bajillion other looks out of this one palette, and still reach for it over my Naked 1 more often than not. Yeah, there's a lot of taupe, but it's a lot of different taupes, so it works.

Eyeshadow Single
Buxom Stay-There Eye Shadow in Collie
This could have taken the Cream Eyeshadow spot, but it's really more of a mousse, and I've never even considered using it as a base. Plus, it seems to dry down to a powder. Anyway, this is a simply gorgeous champagne shadow with oodles of sparkle. If you want glitter without the fallout, here you go.

Eyeshadow Pencil
Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeshadow Pencil in Rehab
Great as a liner, great as a quick lid color, doesn't budge, and the color is a pretty neutral medium brown. You can't go wrong.

Eye Liner
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Pencil in Zero
Again, this doesn't budge. It's also very creamy, very black, and most likely included in whatever palette you just bought. Seriously, I have so many I've given some away and still may never have to buy one.

Buxom Buxom Lash Waterproof
A makeup artist used the non-waterproof version of this on me years ago, and I've been in love ever since. The waterproof version came out a few months ago, and I've never looked back. It's everything you need for long, voluminous, black, pin-up-worthy lashes.

Eyebrow Enhancer
E.L.F. Eyebrow Kit
For three bucks you get a wax and a powder, and they're both good quality. What's not to love?
*Smashbox 10 Piece Eye Liner and Brow Tech Palette
I've been using this on my actors, since they're of varying brow color, and it's incredible. This is a very natural-looking set of powders, and perfect for anyone who needs options. It's also hard to get a hold of, but worth the effort.

Cream Blush
MAC Cream Color Base in Virgin Isle
This is the perfect pop of healthy color! Use your fingers or a small stipple brush, and use over cream foundation or even just moisturizer. Perfect for beachy looks.

Powder Blush
NYX Crimson Amulet Palette--large peachy-pink blush
If anyone knows if this shade comes in a single, please let me know!!! I'm going crazy trying to find this! I want to put it in my go-to palette, and can't find it! This is a stunning, sparkling, universally flattering, uber-pigmented color, and I love it so much.
**NARS Orgasm
If you can't find the NYX, and don't mind spending way too much on a blush, you can't go wrong with this one. I've had mine for, oh, three years now, and it's still going strong. I wear it a lot, too, so that's really saying something. It's a shimmering (read: not glittery, just a nice sheen) golden peachy-pink, and looks amazing on everyone. There's a reason it's a cult favorite.

Contour Bronzer
Benefit Hoola
It's a fantastic matte contour color/bronzer, and another cult fave. Keep your eyes out, because generous mini-versions of this can be found in sampler packs all the time. This is one I keep in my actor makeup kit, and it works great as a shadow, too.

"Bronzing" Bronzer
Too Faced Pink Leopard
This one seems to polarize folks. Either you love it or you hate it. Me? I love it. It's a light bronzer with a hint of pink and fair amount of shimmer. You can use it as a bronzer on the tops of cheeks, as a highlighter for more golden looks, or as a very subtle blush. For fair lasses, it's a multi-tasking dream. For darker tones, it's a lovely highlighter, but might not be worth your while.

Cream Highlight
Benefit Watt's Up
Whoa, Nellie! This leaves a gorgeous pale golden champagne glow on your skin, and the stick form makes it easy to apply to your cupid's bow, and allows you to travel with it easily. Again, keep your eyes open for mini-versions in sampler packs: they're even more travel-friendly, and will last for-freaking-ever.

Powder Highlight
MAC Mineralize Blush Duo in Moon River
I bought this before I got married five years ago, and it's still going strong. This is THE perfect pink powder highlighter, and I'm still on the hunt for a replacement dupe. Unfortunately, it's long been discontinued.
**Too Faced Snow Bunny
This is so shiny and beautiful, I can't even begin. The colored strips merge to give you a pinky-bronzy-champagney glow.
*Too Faced Glamour To Go Spun Sugar Highlighter
This is part of the G-T-G palette, and is by far the most used section of mine. It's glittery and gold, and not for the faint of heart. Loves it!

PINK: Victoria's Secret Enamored
Glossy, but easier to apply and far less sticky than regular gloss, in a perfect coral pink.
NUDE: MAC Shy Girl
Warm, slightly pumpkin-y nude with a glossy sheen.
MATTE: Buxom Big & Healthy Lipstick in Bombay
A true rose shade that can also be used as liner. Comes with built-in sharpener!
RED: MAC Russian Red
It's red. It's matte. It's long-wearing. It's fabulous.

Lip Gloss
NUDE: Urban Decay Lip Junkie in Naked
This is my Summertime nude gloss. It's a little pink, non-sticky, and lasts a good long while. Over time, it really did noticeably plump my lips. It's a little pricey, but the tubes are huge.
PINK: Buxom Big & Healthy Lip Polish in Trixie
This is another great Summer color. It's a Barbie pink that's just opaque enough to show up. Non-sticky, cool mint feel and taste.

Lip Balm
Revlon Lip Butter in Cherry Tart
This is as low-maintenance a true red as you can get. It's also glossy and moisturizing. Amazeballs.

Balm Stain
Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stain in Honey
This gives your lips just a hint of color, and you don't need to worry about, ever. You might want to keep some clear balm around for moisture touch-ups, though.

Lip Liner
Rimmel Lasting Kisses
This is the only lip liner I use these days. They're creamy, long-wearing, come in a ton of shades, look as good as MAC (in my opinion) and cost a few dollars at the drugstore. I can't argue with any of that.

Setting Spray
Urban Decay All-Nighter
How good is this? I shelled out the almost thirty bucks for a big size to keep in my actor kit, and a mini sits on my counter. Need makeup to last for hours? This'll do it. Need powder to look less cakey? It'll set you up. Anti-humidity protection? BAM! It's a must-have.

Limited Edition Palette
NYX Crimson Amulet Palette
I am so glad I picked this up. High-quality shadows in a variety of shades and finishes, some of the best blushes I've ever used, a really good highlighter, and so much more! If you can find one, grab it. You won't regret it.

Real Techniques
These are my brushes of choice now. I've started buying a second set for shoots. I gave a set to my Mom. That's how good they are. Dense, soft, highly-effective, easy to work with brushes that are color-coded for function, flat on the bottom (to stand up), and come with their own display/brush rolls--and are not much more expensive than E.L.F.'s Studio Line. Answered prayers.

Nail Polish Brand
China Glaze
I've just really gotten into this brand this year! They're inexpensive, great quality, and the colors are unique and plentiful. The Hunger Games collection were some of my favorite polishes of 2012, hands down.

Nail Polish Remover
Sephora by O.P.I. Nail Color Remover
This works quickly, smells nice, and doesn't make my nails peel. It's also not terribly expensive.

*Loved more, but used less due to when it was discovered.
**Non-Limited Edition most used product.

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