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?