Grace Notes: 2018 Favourites
Hello and welcome to this incredibly belated ‘favourites’ list. I love a favourites list - even at the height of my busy-ness it’s the one thing I manage to post about (if not on this blog then on Instagram or Stories at least) - so there wasn’t a chance in hell I was making it through January without waffling on about the products I loved most last year. I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.
I don’t like to make a habit of falling in love with expensive and unnecessary beauty products, nor do I feel comfortable about convincing others that they need to add an eyelash growth serum to their routine. But hear me out: Talika Lipocils changed my life. I wish I’d taken a picture of my lashes before I started using it, because six months down the line I have multiple extra layers of lashes that are longer, thicker, blacker than I’ve ever seen them before. Hell, I even actually have eyelashes on my lower lashline. Every time I get up close and personal with someone (hairdressers, facialists, manicurists etc) I’m complimented on my eyelashes, and everyone I’ve consequently recommended this to has loved it. Of all the expensive and seemingly faddish beauty products, this is the one I’d vouch for. Against my better judgement, I love you Talika!
A solid recommendation from my dear friend Elle (aka @bambidoesbeauty), Solution has done wonders for my skin where I thought I’d exfoliated it to the point of all acids being completely ineffective (I’ve been on the glycolic since I was 19). Before using this my skin had reached a point where my acne marks just weren’t fading, but now they’re almost entirely diminished, and my skin is smoother and brighter than ever. I use it about 3-4 times a week and I switch it out for a retinol serum on alternate days (which is also helping with my scarring), and I’ve found the best way to apply it is to completely soak a cotton round and spend a good 20 minutes pressing it into my skin.
There’s something about Sundays that makes me feel averse to wearing foundation… except I have stubborn acne marks and am prone to breakouts and have a ridiculous fear that somehow (in this city of 500,000 people) I’ll bump into someone I know who will judge me for being a beauty editor who still has problem skin. To be honest, I’m pretty much over it, but this product has helped me transition from BB cream to bare skin on days where I really really really cba with foundation. It hydrates like a moisturiser and smooths like a primer, all while delivering a subtle blurring tint that really is completely undetectable until you go to remove it. Oh, and it has SPF30. Winner. It really is more skincare than makeup, so my no-makeup makeup days can well and truly finally be no-makeup days.
2018 was the year I finally got on the Beautyblender train. Late to the game but this really is the most perfect tool that a person seeking flawless, radiant skin could possibly want. For the past nine months, instead of reaching for my brushes, I’ve been going to this. It deposits just the right amount of product and blends it effortlessly so that my skin still looks like skin. No streaks, no patchiness, no mask like feeling — and cleaning it every day really isn’t that hard, guys. Applying foundation has never been so fun, simple, and easy.
I’m crazy pants in love with this serum (although the name is slightly deceiving because this is essentially an oil). But gone are the days of thick, greasy face oils that sit on my skin, transfer onto my pillow, run into my eyes, disturb my makeup, and clog my pores. This is ushering in an era of light, dry oils which absorb quickly and still do an amazing job of smoothing and hydrating skin. A quick glance at the ingredients list proves that I’m not kidding when I say this has prevented my skin from falling into its usual dull and dehydrated winter slump. The key takeaway is cactus oil - think about it, cacti have to survive in hot, dry deserts for months on end, which make their ability to attract, absorb, and retain moisture second to none.
No shade to every other great multipurpose balm I’ve tried this year (I’m looking at you NUXE and Lanolips) but this came out top because it solved a recent skin crisis I had involving an open blemish and salicylic acid… I won’t go into details but needless to say I had a patch of raw red skin on my face resembling a nasty burn and images of a life spent with a scar slap bang on the middle of my face flashing by. I was at my parents’ house for the Christmas break and didn’t have access to my usual stash of skin saviours, but I did have a tube of this, thrown into my bag to remedy a blister on my ankle (it really is a multitasker). Two days after wearing nothing but this on the offending mark and it was gone forever. Will it fix your rash/burn/relationship/life? Who knows. But I suggest you try it.
I initially bought this for my trip to Australia last February. I wanted something lightweight and sheer that wouldn't feel heavy or sticky or fade off my skin in the heat. It was so so perfect that even when I returned to -11 Manchester (remember The Beast From The East?) I kept wearing it. In fact, I haven’t worn another foundation since (for day to day that is, I do dabble with more coverage for nights out and special occasions). It feels completely weightless (literally like you have nothing on your skin) but it does a stellar job of evening out skin tone, cancelling out redness, and making skin glow - it’s surprisingly pigmented for something that feels like nothing. The bottle is small, granted, but for less than £6 I don’t begrudge buying a new one every other month.
I don’t like Glossier’s lipsticks because they’re cute and because they’re Glossier, I like them because they’re the only lip colours that last and look good on my thin lips. In fact I’d still love them even if the packaging were garish and the brand was crappy. The colours are wearable and weightless, they’re sheer stains that can be built up to bolder pops of colours, and don’t immediately lift off and onto your coffee cup. I’ve been wearing them all year and I’m not about to stop. My favourite shade is Cake.
I got this as a ‘treat my myself’ sort of thing after a makeover at Dior with my amazing MUA friend Amber (@ambermellor). I love winged eyeliner and I love accessorising with red, but I never gave red eyeliner much thought until she tried this on me. It’s the perfect classic crimson and it’s one of the easiest to use liquid eyeliners I’ve tried, delivering the right amount of pigment from the perfect fine but firm nib. The best thing about it is it instantly elevates your look and makes it seem as if you’ve put a lot of thought into your look even if the rest of your face is relatively bare, plus it’s a good reminder (especially on grey days spent wearing black) that makeup is fun. I want everyone I know to buy this and to accept red eyeliner as the ultimate makeup upgrade. Do it, and help me spread the gospel.
Mascara is a tricky product to get right. I know this well because I’ve tried hundreds but only ever loved three. Chanel Le Volume, L’Oreal Volume Million Lashes, and this, Code Beautiful VLM Mascara. Boy, does it make my eyelashes look long, almost like falsies or really good LVL - ‘kind of freaky but amazing’ according to my boyfriend. Sometimes I stop and just stare at them in the mirror. A single coat makes lashes look longer and spikier, a couple more layers and you get red carpet volume (with zero clumps). Do yourself a favour and ignore every other mascara review you’ve read recently.