New Must-Have Beauty Products | 2018

I’ve shared a lot of my favorites from the 4,000+ products I’ve reviewed this year, but I thought it would be neat to go through and see what products made it into my “vanity” or into my mental must-haves section of my “makeup library.”  (Frankly, my two vanity drawers are far too small to contain everything, especially as I keep lip products and eyeshadow palettes elsewhere!)  Think of these as the products that I remember fondly; they’re the ones that come to mind if you said, “Christine, wear whatever you want today, you don’t have to test a thing!”

Best of 2018

New Must-Have Beauty Products

So the twist with this list is that I’m also including products that have returned to my must-have drawer or may have been reviewed in a previous year but I only fell in love with in 2018.  I have the pleasure of testing out a ridiculous number of new products each year, so sometimes I end up really enjoying something that’s new and move something older out to make room for the new.  I might see a reader or friend rave about the older product and use it anew, and then I fall in love all over again!  I also tend to shift some limited edition products out after awhile in favor of more recently released limited edition ones so I can appreciate more of the products I’ve used (and have kept).

You’ll see that a very newly-reviewed shade already made the list–Bite Beauty’s Sugar Flower–and here’s why: the color is complex and right up my alley (shimmery plum? yes, yes, and yes).  Dior’s Hologlam might be one of the most interesting blushes I’ve tried; it somehow manages to look like two top-tier products layered together but done in one little swish of the wrist (though you’ll likely find me incapable of being 150% extra by adding Make Up For Ever’s 103 on top for extra extra glitz). Charlotte Tilbury’s Pillow Talk is easy for me to wear on my skin tone and have it work with a myriad of looks.

I’m a highlighter fiend, and while I didn’t have much movement in my go-to blushes this year, there were a few highlighters that certainly found their way into my must-haves list this year.  These include Becca’s Berlin Girl Glow (which has more nuance to it than you’d expect), Dose of Colors Bathe (intensely metallic, pinkish hue), Natasha Denona Light-Medium (fantastic formula, I have all three in my drawer, but I probably use this one the most, though it might be tied with Bronze), and finally Make Up For Ever 106 Grenny White (this is me picking one out of several I’ve wanted to wear all-over my face since trying the Star Lit Diamond Powders).

While I don’t regularly reach for bronzer, after testing Becca’s Sunset Waves, I slipped it into my drawer–I love the reddish tone and more luminous finish.  For all-over luminosity, I’ve been regularly using Charlotte Tilbury’s Light Hollywood Flawless Filter (though I’ll likely go through a few of the other shades I have before repurchasing Light specifically) and enjoy Tom Ford Liquid Sun when I use lower coverage foundation (rarely seen on camera).

I can’t recall if there’s ever been a cheek palette that I’ve really returned to over and over again.  I tend to keep my favorite cheek colors as singles in my vanity drawer, so it’s always been rare for me to think about a particular palette to use to complement a look.  That has not been the case with Natasha Denona’s Darya palette (and to a lesser degree, Citrus, but I’ve used Darya the most it feels like). I might have mentioned a time or twelve to Ms. Denona that I require Pink Champagne released as a single.

Palettes o’ plenty defines 2018.  So many favorites, so many ones I’d happily return to and wear for a spell.  It’s hard for me to narrow down favorites because I have such a love for variety. I love color, I love shimmer, I love matte, I love playing with undertones and textures and depths.  These days, I tend to use more shades from one palette than pulling one shade from this palette and another from that palette, but I do enjoy pairing two palettes together (often something more shimmery and something more matte) to get depth and nuance into the look without pulling out five different palettes.  Consider this a brief, barely-skimming-the-surface kind of overview of the palettes that made this list:

  • ColourPop Chasing Rainbows — a surprisingly cohesive palette with a variety of finishes, undertones, and color/neutral interplay. Pair with one’s favorite Super Shock Shadows!
  • Pat McGrath Decadence — duh, I’ve probably mentioned this palette two dozen times this year; superb quality, fantastic depth and intensity, and textures that make me swoon
  • Pat McGrath Subversive Metalmorphosis — I anticipated this as going to be my least favorite of the recent MTHRSHP releases but alas, it came together so beautifully in this look that I would wear it over and over again.
  • Pat McGrath Bronze Seduction — when I first saw this, I was a little disappointed; it’s so… on-trend in a way–warm neutrals–but applied? Stunning.
  • Pat McGrath Subliminal Platinum Bronze — if I think neutrals, it’s likely going to be this taupe-filled six-pan palette by PMG. I’m likely to pair it with Decadence or whatever new-ish palette that might be on my vanity (by another brand).

It’s hard to stuff everything into my vanity drawers, but you’ll find most of the Marc Jacobs See-quins range in there, though I’m partial to Topaz Flash, which is the most complex of the range.  With so many palettes, I find I’m much more inclined to go between palettes than I am to singles (even though I very much enjoy seeing more single shades released), and part of that is owed to the fact that my go-to eyeshadow these days is by Pat McGrath, which is only found in palettes.  I’d love to see quads or singles from PMG, though!

Lip products that entered into my cycle this year have mostly been of the shimmery variety!  First, I rediscovered Bite’s Creme Lip Glosses, and I’ve been having too much fun layering them over various lip colors to create really cool, duochromatic lip looks. I have half the line on my vanity, but if I had to pick just one, I’d go with Oyster Pearl (followed by Gold, which is dazzling but doesn’t have any shift).  These are some of my “everyday” kind of shades that I’ll wear at the end of the day for fun:  Giorgio Armani Luce (101), L’Oreal Varnished Rosewood, Pat McGrath Flesh Fatale, and Too Faced Yummy Rummy.

It’s as likely that I reach for one of the aforementioned lip products as it is I’ll have an “idea” of what kind of color I want and then will go fishing around my favorite lip formulas, as I don’t keep that many separated out.  The shades I separate out tend to be in the coral/mauve family, are particularly flattering, and more “everyday” on my coloring.

To complement this post, I’ll also be sharing my most worn favorites, which will include my must-haves that didn’t get usurped or switched out in 2018, to see what’s stayed constant in another year of lots and lots of great products to fall for!

Did you find any new must-haves this year?

P.S. — You can view swatches of my favorites here.

P.P.S. — If you enjoy reading/viewing my favorites, make sure you check out my all-time favorites here, products I’m thankful for (2018 series), and all of my editor’s recommended products here.

New Must-Haves Discovered in 2018


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Jessica Avatar

I do have serious FOMO for the Metalmorphasis palette, but I can’t get over the 2 repeat shades. Out of the 3 holiday palettes, I fell in love with Dark Star. It’s one of my top PML palettes. I definitely agree with the love of Topaz Flash, it’s so unique and lovely. MJB should make this formula permanent.

Mariella Avatar

My “must haves” include some new purchases – 2 Smashbox Covershot palettes (Minimalist and Punked – I’ve mentioned them both probably more often than people want to read about) and an ongoing “love” that I’ve come to love more and more as I realize that it’s only a matter of time til Sephora discontinues it – their Cappuccino pencil liner. As for something I initially disliked intensely (got it as a points perk) but now use every day – Marc Jacobs’s skinny liners in black and dark blue (I can never remember the spelling of the word-game names he gives) – I use them to tightline EVERY single day (even if I’m not wearing other eye makeup).

dzymzlzy Avatar

Overdrive has been my favorite liner since it was released and it opened a whole new world of color combos to me. I don’t think I had ever used a single liner that wasn’t some variation of black, brown or purple before Overdrive and I’ve actually gone a little nutty purchasing new colors. Double Life was released at the same time and it has been my other “interesting” color used this year. I also purchased Berlin Girl Glow and the Chasing Rainbows palette. I haven’t used the highlighter all that much but Chasing Rainbows has quickly become a favorite but I haven’t found myself using it on its own. I generally end up adding something from the palette to looks that seem to be missing a little something.

Mariella Avatar

I’ve never been a fan of the 24/7 liners (the 2 or 3 I have are anything BUT 24/7 – they smear and smudge) but I have THREE of the Sephora dupes for Overdrive. Now, though, I’m thinking maybe I should give Overdrive a “test drive” based on Christine’s high rating of it and your favourable comment.

Stella Avatar

This was the first year I tried anything from Pat McGrath, and I am still so blown away! The Subliminal and Bronze Seduction palettes are absolutely stellar. I’m someone who loves color, so Bronze Seduction feels like the perfect neutral palette for me, because the (shimmer) colors have so much dimension! Sydney Grace eyeshadows were my other favorite discovery this year–they’ve got the best mattes I’ve ever tried, and such a great range of colors. I really want to try the MUFE Star Lit Diamond Powders; those will be the first things I play with on my next Sephora trip! Thanks for being one of my go-to trusted review sources for makeup in 2018, Christine! I can’t wait to see what Temptalia has in store for this year!

Jane Avatar

Wow, “must haves”…I’m having a difficult time with the thought of that since I’m so fickle when it comes to makeup and beauty products. But I’ll take a try at it:

NEW: Estée Lauder Double Wear Nude Water Fresh Makeup in 4N1 Shell Beige (and for someone with numerous foundations, and at least four that work well, that’s saying much that I could narrow it to one)

OLD (carryover): Even though I didn’t use it more than others, and I have other Natasha Denona palettes and lots of great palettes, I wouldn’t want to be without her Star palette. It may be nostalgia as my first big mid-range brand luxury palette or just that I feel so “adult” and sexy when I were those shadows, I don’t really know, but I feel good knowing it’s there when I need it. And it isn’t even in the color scheme I’m planning for the new year, but you have to have comfort colors, and these are mine, dark, smokey and 80’s-90’s dramatic.

NEW: I’m giving two new Clinique shadows (one small palette, 05 On Safari, and a single, 2A Lemongrass) much thought (after I play with PM’s Subliminal till the infatuation leaves me) and because they’re in the greens I’m thinking they’ll go over with me from 2018 to 2019 and work well with the green, lemon and orange theme I see in my head. Don’t even care what the Pantone color is for 2019, I’ll be in greens, yellows and oranges. So who knows, even ND’s Sunset palette may come into play.

NEW (formulas): And last, some gloss. It may not be Fenty’s Gloss Bomb, that I have really enjoyed in 2018, as well as Guerlain’s Terracotta Kiss Delight in Peach Syrup, but I know that I’ll have gloss whether alone or as a topper in 2019.

kjh Avatar

Thanks so much for all you did in 2018. I still might score Berlin Girl @Becca, but was disappointed they d/c’d the undereye brightening concealer. The products that became my must-haves were the KGD foundation product extensions, the cushion and the powder (gloss film?). It took so long to find a good-for-me ingredients formula with a shade match…>2 years…that I was over the moon at 2 new options. If either liquid doesn’t quite cover…my nose is porous in both senses of the word…a wee swipe of the powder and good to go. And it truly looks like skin, not foundation.

Nancy T Avatar

Quite a few of my own personal favorites are up above and made it onto your list, mostly your PMG picks! Mothership Bronze Seduction, MTHRSHP Metalmorphosis, Flesh Fatale Blitztrance lipstick, plus I also dip into La Vie En Rose MTHRSHP and Bronze Temptation MTHRSHP, Omi MatteTrance and Executive Realness LuxeTrance lipsticks are seeing a TON of use, and I’ve only had Omi a week or so! Other must-haves for me are Ofra Glazed Donut Highlighter, ABH Amrezy, Nars Hot Tryst palette, GA Luce lipgloss, Huda New Nude Palette, and UD Born To Run Palette. And UD Alkaline and Corrupt 24/7 eye pencils.

Genevieve Avatar

That’s a great list Christine.
If I were to purchases a PMG eye palette, it would be Subliminal Platinum Bronze. A perfect neutal palette.

My favourites for the year include:
Anastasia Sultry
City Colour Eyeshadows in Cleo, Sandstorm and All Eyes on Me
Surprisingly, I also love the Maybelline Burgundy Bar – DS eyeshadows are usually very miss, but this one was a hit.
Colour Pop Lux lipsticks
L’Oreal True Match foundation in Ivory Rose.

Z Avatar

Like another commentor mentioned, and I totally forgot about as it’s a staple – Sephora eyeliners are damn good and I use at least one every day.

I got a LOT of makeup this year, too much especially considering how hard I was trying to be a low buy….still, some of my favorites that I’ll limit to only the ones I found and started using this year are:

Nars Wanted eyeshadow palette(my single favorite of the warm/red palettes)
Juvia’s Place Warrior palette
Anastasia Subculture
Dose of Colors Liquid Lipstick in Brick
I can’t remeber if my first three PMG lipsticks were purchased this year, but two new colors were – Guinevere (omg….) and Leatherette
CoverFx Drops in Celestial
Milk Blurr foundation – silicone free and so full coverage I can use it as a concealer
Colourpop Brow Gel in….err…the darkest color
Anastasia Brow Pomade in Granite
Sephora eyeliner in Galaxy Girl (now discontinued)
TooFaced Holiday liquid lipstick set
Smashbox x Vlada Highlight in Prismatic Pearl (as an eyeshadow)
Nudestix eyeshadows
Becca Shimmering highlighter liquid

Christine Avatar

I finally have come to the point where I need to replace some of the Sephora eyeliners! I might do so later this year (work through some UD ones since I’m not really “short” on eyeliner), but a few of mine were falling out of the pencil, LOL.

Vivian Avatar

Thank you for your round up! I had a quick question about a lipstick I love for the holidays but cannot seem to find anywhere! I am in love with my Giorgio Armani Rouge d’Armani #406, which I purchased solely based on your review years ago. It quickly became my go-to fancy red lip. Now that I am nearing the end of the tube I would love to repurchase it, but have been unable to find it anywhere! Is it discontinued? Does it go by a different number? Any advice would be wonderful. Thank you!!

Mariia Avatar

Gosh I want Decadence so much, why, why was it a limited edition?..
I also wish Bite was available in Europe too, I like how these new crayons look on you and I am a sucker for everything shimmery and metallic.

Rachel R. Avatar

What a beautiful list. I’m still sad I couldn’t get Decadence while it was out.

Pat McGrath Bronze Seduction definitely goes on my list, as does Sublime Bronze Temptation. NARS Hot Tryst Cheek Palette, Too Faced Gingerbread Spice Palette; UD Born to Run Palette; UD 24/7 Eye Pencil in Love Drug and Overdrive; MAC x Aaliyiah Age Ain’t Nothing Eyeshadow x 9 Palette and Street Thing Lipstick; NARS Provocateur Palette, ABH Sultry (a cooler palette that doesn’t go muddy on me…YES), Ace Beaute Paradise Fallen Palette, NARS Full Vinyl Lip Lacquers, Fenty Lip Luminizer Trio in Summer Daze and Summer Nights, Huda The New Nude Palette; TF Throw Back Lipstick in TF20; Bite Beauty Sagittarius; Wet n Wild Color Icon Shade Shifting Blush Zombie Blush; CP Lux Matte Lipstick in JV; SauceBox Equinox eyeshadow in Moth; ABH e/s single in Love Letter (my HG brow shade to go with my current hair color).

New to me, but released earlier: Physician’s Formula Butter Blush in Rose Plum. I can’t live without it now.

Sandy Avatar

Thank you for everything you do! I just found your blog not too long ago and have appreciated all your thoughtful reviews and kind replies to my comments. And I just shared the link with my aunt (gave her the Chasing Rainbows palette for Christmas), so she can follow all your lovely reviews, too.

Valerie Avatar

Christine, what did you think of Pillow Talk the eye quad? I love the other pillow talk products but this one disappointed.. Chiat curious your thoughts as there was no review posted.

Jill Avatar

This is a great list, I see a few that I have been wanting to try. Maybe this year? CT for example, every time I sit down and say “Ok, I’m finally going to order something” I start doing the “oooh this one, no wait–that one!” game and I just give up, I’m so weak! I hear more people comment on the three products you have listed here so I think I’m going to start there.

Hourglass has instantly gone onto my favorites list from the first time I tried their brand. I have three of their ambient lighting powders and love them all: diffused light, incandescent light, and mood light. There are so many different ways you can use these powders! This is the one brand I wish that would allow us to put together our own palettes. That would be so incredibly amazing.

My carryover is my tried and true Clinique High Impact Waterproof mascara, I’ve tried SO MANY mascaras this year–drugstore and high end, 2018 was definitely the year of mascara. I always come back to this because for me it works. I also like their Naturally Glossy Mascara for a more natural lash. There’s a few more I want to try but all in due time!

2018 for me was the year I learned the most about how to use stuff properly and I wish I had done this years ago. I used to feel like makeup was a chore and I dialed it in for so many years. I still have a lot to learn but my new “every day” has gotten better and I find that I’m actually enjoying the process now.

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