Best Makeup of 2014

IMG_19412014 was a great year for beauty. I discovered new brands, I fell in love with old ones and I become more discerning about the products I purchased. I tried to avoid unnecessary hype where I could and I also learned to “shop my stash”. I’ve been trying to compile this best of 2014 list for a few weeks now and I’ve been struggling to cut the list down to a manageable length. I love sharing beauty discoveries and I also love to read recommendations from other people so I’ve decided to split my list into makeup and skincare.

Without further ado, here are my favourite makeup products of 2014:

Foundation: I tried a LOT of foundations this year and I have to say that my number one pick has to be the BECCA ultimate coverage complexion creme. This one-pump-wonder has the most amazing pigmentation and coverage, stays put the whole day, and still looks like skin. I will definitely be doing a dedicated review very soon.

Honourable mentions: Cover FX natural finish oil-free foundation, Dior Star foundation, Lancôme nude miracle, Make Up For Ever HD foundation.

Concealer: This was my easiest pick out of my list and the honour goes to the NARS radiant creamy concealer. I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this. It covers blemishes beautifully without looking cakey and it has great staying power. My only gripe is the price but this is definitely one product that lives up to the hype.

Honourable mentions: Amazing Concealer, MAC studio finish concealer, Smashbox BB for eyes

Eyebrows: I flirted with MANY brow products in 2014 but the one that rose to the top is the Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow. The tiniest amount of this gel fills in brows perfectly and it really doesn’t budge once it’s dry. Anastasia Beverly Hills’ dipbrow pomade got all the hype but this old faithful is a better product imho. It does everything dipbrow does but better. Anastasia’s brow wiz was another product I loved but I couldn’t give it the top spot because there’s far too little product in the pencil for the price.

Honourable mentions: Hourglass arch brow sculpting pencil, Anastasia Beverley Hills Brow Wiz, Tarte Amazonian Clay waterproof brow mousse

Eyeliner: For pencil eyeliners, my heart unequivocally belongs to the Marc Jacobs highliner gel eye crayon in “blacquer”. I’m a contact lens wearer so I don’t muck about when I’m looking for an eyeliner. This liner is deliciously creamy, intensely black and Does. Not. Budge. once it dries. I used to carry my eyeliner in my makeup bag so I could touch up during the day but that is now thankfully a thing of the past.

For gel/ liquid liners, I have to give the nod to Benefit’s They’re Real push up liner. I HATED this with a passion when I first got it but something told me to give it another chance I couldn’t be more pleased. Once I learned how to use it properly, it made doing a winged liner so easy and it truly does not budge until you want it to.

Honourable mentions: NARS larger than life long wear eyeliner in “via veneto”, Stila stay all day waterproof liquid eyeliner, MUFE Aqua black, Kat Von D ink liner,

Blush: I stuck with my beloved NARS and Sleek blushes this year and my most used shades were NARS’ “Liberté”, “Torrid”, and “Dolce Vita”, and Sleek’s “sunrise” and “coral”. BECCA’s blush in “songbird” muscled its way in towards the end of the year and it’s definitely a shade I believe everybody should own.

Honourable mentions: Kat Von D ” heartagram”, Make Up For Ever HD blush #515- tangerine

Mascara: I went mascara crazy this year. I began to appreciate why higher-end mascaras cost so much after I flirted with Dior, Lancome, YSL, and Givenchy. MUFE’s smoky lash and old favourites like Benefit’s They’re Real did not disappoint. This category is very hard but I have to give the edge to the Givenchy Noir Couture 4 in 1 mascara over the Lancome Grandiose. It gave me length, it gave me volume, it gave me durability, and it gave me conditioned lashes. If only it was a little easier on the pocket….

Honourable mentions: YSL Babydoll, Maybelline Volum’ Express The Falsies, Dior New Look, Lancome Grandiose, Givenchy Noir Couture Volume

Eyeshadow: This was surprisingly easy for me as the eyeshadow I used the most was the old-stye Make Up For Ever eyeshadow in #162. I used it as a crease colour, as a transition colour, and as the star of my favourite brown smoky eye look.

Honourable mentions: ColourPop super shock eyeshadows in “cricket” and “so quiche”, MAC “woodwinked”, NARS “Persia”, NARS dual intensity shadow “callisto, UD “mugshot” and “blackout”

Lipstick: It’s extremely difficult to pick just one lipstick but I loved the hell out of my Urban Decay Revolution lipstick in “shame” (check out my review here) and my Hourglass opaque rouge liquid lipstick in “Icon”.

Honourable mentions: Bite “vento” lipstick, MAC “flat out fabulous”, NARS “damage” and “Dragon Girl” lipsticks.

Lipgloss: This has to be another tied category with the winners being the Dior Addict Fluid Stick in #575 “Wonderland” and the NARS “Priscilla” lipgloss. They both had great pigment and stayed really well on my lips without any stickiness (my pet peeve).

Honourable mention: They arrived too late to fully make it to the top but the Smashbox lip lacquers are fantastic. YSL gloss volupte #49, Buxom full-bodied lipgloss in “Dolly”.

So there you have it. This list was surprisingly difficult to put together but I have to say that I’m really loving my collection at the moment. I’m hoping to buy (FAR) less this year but I’m excited to see some truly innovative makeup. Let me know if you’d like an in-depth review of any of these products and keep an eye out for part 2 featuring my favourite skincare!

Nana Adomah

NARS Dual-Intensity Eyeshadow Palette Review

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NARSissistNARS are really messing with my low-buy aim for 2015. When they first launched their dual-intensity eyeshadows last year, I decried their $29 price tag but I still went ahead and purchased two of them in addition to the one I was gifted. I remember wishing they came in a palette as I loved so many of their colours so imagine my joy when I saw this beauty on the NARS instagram page!

This 8-shadow palette includes smaller versions of the full-sized shadows in addition to a shorter version of the #49 wet/dry eyeshadow brush, which retails for $28.

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L-R: Europa (gossamer pink peach), Himalia (shimmering topaz), Andromeda (alabaster), Lysithea (shark grey)

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L-R: Europa wet and dry application, Andromeda wet and dry, Himalia wet and dry, Lysithea wet and dry.

These shadows are designed to be used as is, or with a wet brush to give a more intense finish. My (admittedly not fantastic swatches) show how they look both wet and dry.

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L-R: Ursa Major (chocolate glaze), Subra (black orchid), Giove (navy), Sycorax (black)

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L-R: Ursa Major wet and dry, Giove wet and dry, Subra wet and dry, Sycorax wet and dry.

I absolutely adore these shadows but they are not all created equal. “Europa”, “Andromeda”, and “Ursa Major” (a shade exclusive to this palette) definitely took more swipes to show up like I wanted compared to the other colours. “Subra”, “Himalia”, “Giove” and “Sycorax” are a joy to work with and they can be used in so many ways. I love to use “Subra” as a liner as can be seen here.

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The addition of the #49 brush is very welcome and I don’t see a difference in quality between this shorter version and the full-sized version. The brush’s nylon bristles allow you to control how much product you put on your eye.

A quick word on packaging: the palette is small. It is also made of hard plastic with a mirrored lid, which is a welcome change from the usual NARS rubbery packaging. It’s nice and sturdy but I don’t think it’d hold up to many drops.

As much as I love the palette I can’t call it a must-have. There is not much variety in texture and the price is going to be prohibitive for a lot of people. The $79 price tag is easier to swallow when you consider the inclusion of the brush and the variety of shadows. However, these shadows were too expensive to begin with imho and NARS’ prices just keep on creeping upwards.

I’ve never bought a NARS palette before because as much as I love their brand, I tend to be generally indifferent to their shadows. However, these dual-intensity shadows are generally excellent quality and if you like at least three of the shades, I’d highly recommend getting this palette instead.

The palette is limited edition and it can currently be found on the NARS website or you can wait until the beginning of February when Sephora will begin to carry it.

Are you tempted by this palette or will you pass? Let me know in the comments!

Nana Adomah

 

“White Is Not A Mere Absence Of Colour”: Narciso Rodriguez ‘NARCISO’ Review

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Behold my newest fragrance acquisition! I was lucky enough to get this for Christmas from my mum and I’m utterly in love. I’m a long-term wearer of the original Narciso Rodriguez ‘For Her’ fragrance and when I saw this in Bloomingdale’s whilst shopping with mumsy, I knew it had to be mine.

What they say: A sophisticated statement, and an irresistible invitation. Rose and gardenia lend a feminine grace to vetiver and black and white cedars. At the core, notes of musc offer undeniable warmth and sensuality. Evoking mystery, attraction, and exquisite desire, NARCISO embodies the scent of seduction.

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The original ‘For Her’ fragrance is one of those marmite-like things- you’ll either love it or hate it. It works really well with my body chemistry and I’m firmly entrenched in the “love” camp. Narciso’ is a direct successor of ‘For Her’ in my opinion, and I don’t think it’ll be for everybody.

The initial scent is quite strong and slightly old-fashioned but the dry-down is a lovely, soft, sexy scent. It’s firmly in the musk family rather than the “fresh” family and it would be the perfect fragrance for an evening date. My only issue is that I don’t think it lasts very long on my skin and this is particularly annoying considering it’s an eau de parfum. You can still smell traces of it but I do feel the need to touch up after 5 hours or so.

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Bottle signed by Mr. Rodriguez himself

I absolutely adore the packaging of the fragrance as it’s reassuringly heavy and weighty in the hand; it’s one of those bottles that will look great on your dresser. The square-shaped bottle has a milky-white suspension which houses the actual perfume and it has a square, off white lid etched with the Narciso Rodriguez logo.

My bottle was purchased in Bloomingdale’s so it is signed by Narciso Rodriguez himself, which is a cool touch.

I’d definitely recommend grabbing a sample of this if you can and the 3 oz/ 90 ml is currently on sale at Bloomingdale’s for $112.

Happy New Year!

Nana Adomah

Colour Pop Cosmetics Super Shock eyeshadows

IMG_1464I must have been the last person on earth to hear about Colour Pop Cosmetics. A kind enabler on Twitter suggested I check out their lipsticks and I was very skeptical when I checked out their website because who’s going to trust $5 eye shadows and lipsticks right? I ordered just a few colours weeks ago and after thorough use, I can say that I’m really impressed with these. Every time I wear them I get so many compliments and they are just so easy to use.

I received a cute little personalised note with my package, which was a nice touch, and my first impression was surprise at how sturdy the packaging was. These definitely do NOT look like $5 eyeshadows.

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Each shadow comes in a solid, white, screw cap packaging.

The second surprise was the consistency of the shadows. These are not powder shadows and are instead more like a cream/ cooling gel hybrid which dry and set extremely quickly. The consistency is almost mousse/ putty-like and it remoulds itself after use.

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What “Hammered” looks like after I’ve pressed my finger gently into it.

Lastly, was surprise at how amazingly pigmented and shiny these shadows are! Pictures truly do not do these shadows justice and they give a great shimmer without veering into 12-year old girl at her first school disco territory. I got three shadows from the metallic range in “hammered”, “so quiche” and “cricket”, and two from the ultra metallic range in “get lucky” and “game face”.

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So Quiche- The most unusual olive colour with pink reflects

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Cricket- my joint-favourite along with “So Quiche”. A gorgeous light purple with matching reflects

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Game Face- A metallic copper orange with high shimmer

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Get Lucky- a metallic gold with high shimmer

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L-R: Hammered, Get Lucky, Game Face, So Quiche, Cricket

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This is out of focus but it better conveys the intensity of the sparkle

This is one case where the product most definitely lives up to the hype. I would happily pay far more for these and the mind boggles at how they can be sold for just $5. I’ve been using them for weeks and the staying power is incredible. They can easily be worn without a primer and I’ve already made a cheeky second order!

I did get a couple of their lippie pencils and a lippiestix, which were also very impressive, so look out for a review on those later. This new California-based company has really impressed me and I think they will impress you too.

ColourPop super shock eyeshadows can be found here and shipping is free for purchases of $30 or above.

Nana Adomah

Purple Is Not Just A Noun: MAC “Gunner” lipstick review

IMG_1533It seems like MAC have a new collection out every week and I don’t tend to get caught up in the hype but I knew that “Gunner” would be mine as soon as I saw the pre-release. I love purple lipsticks and I don’t have a shade like this so I bought it with no guilt!

“Gunner” is part of the Nasty Gal collection and it is one of a trio of lipsticks called “Stunner” (a true red), “Runner” (a plummy burgundy), and “Gunner” (a matte, deep purple). “Gunner” is so purple that it can lean blue in certain lights. It reminds me a little of OCC’s “technopagan” lip tar and it’s nothing like MAC’s popular “smoked purple” as I’d initially feared.

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Top: swatch with flash, Bottom: swatch in natural daylight

 

“Gunner” is matte but not a retro-matte so it won’t dry out your lips like Ruby Woo et. al. However, a matte lipstick is a matte lipstick so make sure your lips are in tip top condition before rocking this as it is very unforgiving.

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“Gunner” on myself paired with Urban Decay’s “Smoked” palette

I predicted that “Gunner” would be popular and it seems to be out of stock already on the MAC website but continue to check as they may replenish stock. The Nasty Gal collection is in selected MAC stores and online here.

Would you rock a purple lip? Let me know in the comments!

 All the other colors are just colors, but purple seems to have a soul. Purple is not just a noun and an adjective but also a verb – when you look at it, it’s looking back at you.” Uniek Swain

Nana Adomah

Collective Haul: Lime Crime, NARS, Marc Jacobs, MUFE, Carol’s Daughter and more!

I’ve been shopping way more than I should have been so I thought I’d make the best of it and film my first haul video.

It’s quite a long one so grab yourself a cuppa and enjoy!

Made any sneaky buys lately? Let me know in the comments below.

Nana Adomah

Dress Your Face: Anastasia Tamanna Palette Review

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Products used listed at end of post

Anastasia Beverly Hills Tamanna palette

I went back and forth about whether or not to get this palette as I need another palette like a hole in the head. Of course it quickly sold out in store and I was hit with an acute case of FOMO (fear of missing out). Like the sheep I am, I snatched it up without a second thought when I saw it back in stock online.

Don’t be fooled by the blue. The Anastasia Beverly Hills Tamanna Dress Your Face palette is essentially a neutral palette. This is the 3rd palette released this year in collaboration with Instagram/ YouTube personalities and this is by far my favourite. This collaboration with Tamanna Roashan (a.k.a “Dress Your Face”) is perfect in that it will look good on almost anybody and a lot of thought has clearly gone into the colour selection.

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IMG_1380There are mattes, shimmers, semi-mattes, a gold, a brown, a black- basically everything you need for a successful palette.

Anastasia Tamanna palette swatch dark skin top row

L-R: fresh, blush, venezia, gilded, custom

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L-R: sangria, bengal, chocolate, china rose, noir

I’m not going to go through all the colours but my favourites are “noir”- a fantastic true black matte eyeshadow that reminds me of Urban Decay’s “blackout”, “gilded”- a beautiful dark gold shimmer, “china rose”- an orangey, pinky, goldish shimmer, and the reason I bought the palette: “sangria”- a cranberry shimmer that looks great on the lid, crease and lower lash line.

Quick note: I found both “chocolate” and “venezia” to be a little dryer than the other shadows.

The Tamanna palette also comes with a serviceable double-ended brush and 5 surprisingly useful “Get The Look” cards.

Products Used:

Eyes:

Brows: Make Up For Ever Aqua Brow #40

Main Lid- “gilded” and “china rose”

Outer V- “chocolate” and “sangria”

Crease- “sangria”, “chocolate” and Make Up For Ever eyeshadow #162

Highlight- “fresh” and NARS “Madrague”

Lower lash line- “sangria”

Eyeliner- NARS “subra” dual intensity eyeshadow

Mascara- Yves Saint Laurent Babydoll

Face:

Foundation- Becca Ultimate Coverage Complexion Creme in “sienna”

Concealer- NARS radiant creamy concealer in “amande”

Contour- Sleek contour palette in “dark”

Blush- Sleek “coral”

Lips:

Sephora ultra shine lip gloss #22 “Shimmery Deep Rose”

The palette is sold out in quite a few places but you can still find it at Macy’s and Nordstrom online for the great price of $29.

Nana Adomah