A Few of My Favorite Things | Sephora Holiday 2021
‘Tis the season for gift guides! Here’s my updated guide to products worth shopping at Sephora — these are products that are permanent (or seemingly limited life, since they’ve been around for nearing on a year still!). I’ll have a separate guide featuring newly-released, limited edition products available at Sephora shortly.
Sephora kicked off a bonus points event on October 14th. From October 14th through October 24th, Rouges will get 4X points, VIBs will get 3X points, and Insiders will get 2X points on all purchases with code YAYPOINTS. Plus, we have the Sephora Holiday Savings Event to look forward to in November.
Every year, in anticipation of the Sephora Holiday Savings Event[/retailer], I share a curated list of my personal favorite products/formulas available at for whether you’re looking to be tempted by something or to find a special gift to give someone else.
For a broader range of my all-time favorite formulas and products (which were updated this month!): Best Blushes, Best Highlighters, Best Eyeshadows, Best Eyeshadow Palettes, Best Lipsticks, Best Lipglosses, Best Eye Brushes, Best Face Brushes.
Pro-shopping tip: both brands and retailers compete heavily between now and the beginning of December. Your best bet is shopping a brand directly, as they typically have 20% to 30% off (sometimes even better, especially if you are after more than a few products). While not yet populated with deals for the year (most are under embargo!), you can check out our Black Friday Beauty Deals 2021 post to get an idea of what to expect from brands and retailers based on last year’s sales. You can also check out our always-updated makeup sales & deals post for available sales at any given time (bookmark, as it updates daily!).
Natasha Denona Zendo
Natasha Denona Zendo 15-Pan Small Eyeshadow Palette ($65.00 for 0.67 oz.) contains a real assortment of finishes: four cream-powders, four creamy... Read full review.
Natasha Denona Retro
Natasha Denona Retro 15-Pan Small Eyeshadow Palette ($65.00 for 0.67 oz.) is the newest mid-size palette release from the brand. It includes a mix of... Read full review.
Pat McGrath Midnight Sun
Pat McGrath Midnight Sun Mothership Eyeshadow Palette ($125.00 for 0.47 oz.) is new, permanent palette that features 10 shades across a myriad of... Read full review.
Natasha Denona Metropolis
Natasha Denona Metropolis 28-Pan Midi Eyeshadow Palette ($129.00 for 1.35 oz.) is a new, limited edition palette with an assortment of shimmers and... Read full review.
Natasha Denona Star
Natasha Denona Star Eyeshadow Palette ($169.00 for 1.44 oz.) features 18 eyeshadows, all of them new, with a combination of four finishes. There are... Read full review.
Makeup by Mario Master Metals
Makeup by Mario Master Metals 5-Pan Eyeshadow Palette ($48.00 for 0.25 oz.) is a new, five-pan palette featuring a gel-powder formula that can be used... Read full review.
Natasha Denona Zendo
Natasha Denona Zendo Mini Eyeshadow Palette ($25.00 for 0.14 oz.) is a new, permanent mini five-pan palette that features three shimmery eyeshadows... Read full review.
Makeup by Mario Master Mattes
Makeup by Mario Master Mattes 12-Pan Eyeshadow Palette ($48.00 for 0.36 oz.) is a new, permanent all-matte eyeshadow palette that featured a mix of... Read full review.
Natasha Denona Sunrise
Natasha Denona Sunrise 15-Pan Small Eyeshadow Palette ($65.00 for 0.67 oz.) is a new, permanent palette designed to complement the original Sunset... Read full review.
Melt Cosmetics She's in Parties
Melt Cosmetics She's in Parties 8-Pan Eyeshadow Palette ($48.00 for 0.58 oz.) is a new, likely-permanent palette that takes the brand's original stack... Read full review.
Dior New Look (599)
Dior New Look (599) 5 Couleurs Couture Eyeshadow Palette ($65.00 for 0.24 oz.) is a new, smokier neutral color story that had one matte eyeshadow with... Read full review.
Natasha Denona Bronze
Natasha Denona Bronze 15-Pan Small Eyeshadow Palette ($65.00 for 0.67 oz.) is a new, seemingly-permanent warm-toned palette that includes five matte... Read full review.
Natasha Denona Biba
Natasha Denona Biba 15-Pan Eyeshadow Palette ($129.00 for 1.2 oz.) is a new, permanent palette that features three Metallic eyeshadows, four... Read full review.
Kaja Beauty Bento Bouncy Shimmer Eyeshadow Trio
Pat McGrath Bronze Seduction
Pat McGrath Bronze Seduction Mothership Eyeshadow Palette ($125.00 for 0.47 oz.) is a new, permanent palette that contains an assortment of... Read full review.
Sephora 12-Hour Contour Eyeliner Pencil (2021)
The formula is supposed to be "ultra-pigmented," "waterproof," and have "12-hour" wear. The majority of the shades were semi-opaque to opaque in a single stroke with a smooth, creamy consistency that had good glide with a few shades being overly soft and more prone to breaking/mushing on the skin (so needed a lighter hand--is less prone to do so when lining the actual eye area rather than swatching on one's arm, though). Read more...
Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil (Eyeliner)
The formula is supposed to go on "smoothly, stay soft and super-creamy for blending" before it "dries to a long-lasting finish that won't budge" with "intense" coverage. I'm a long-time fan and user of the formula--almost a decade now--and they're still a go-to. I keep a handful of formulas at my fingertips, and I have all of the shades from this range in a cup within reach. Read more...
Melt Cosmetics Gel Liner
Clinique Cheek Pop Pearl
The formula is supposed to have "buildable watercolor payoff" with a "silky-smooth" texture that lasts for "10 hours." The formula has the feel of a gel-powder hybrid, so it is firmer, denser in the pan but has no powderiness and is extremely blendable. It melted slightly after being applied and buffed on the skin, though the original formula seemed more luminous and seamless (by a touch). Read more...
Pat McGrath Divine Blush
The formula is supposed to be "featherlight, long-wearing" that "build effortlessly from sheer to subversive." The blushes are available in two finishes--demi-matte and satin pearl--and range from more muted to more vivid in color. The biggest "downfall" of the formula was that it was rather pigmented than buildable, so one could use a lighter hand to get more buildable coverage, but I found I had to use a light to moderate hand to ensure I didn't over-apply each shade. Read more...
Natasha Denona Puff Paint Liquid Blush Serum
The formula is supposed to be "mistake-proof" with "easy and even blending" that is "buildable" and "can be layered" for greater coverage. Per the brand, it can be applied with a "fluffy brush or using your fingers." The pigmentation was semi-sheer to medium, buildable coverage that was easy to work with using a stippling brush or fingertips. Read more...
Makeup by Mario Soft Pop Blush Stick
The formula is supposed to have "sheer, buildable coverage" with a "healthy and radiant" finish. If a truly dewy finish is something you love, the formula might be right up your alley; if dewy is your arch nemesis, move along as this very much lived up to its "radiant" claim. There wasn't a real dry down, so it wasn't all that transfer-resistant, though it didn't slide off my face too readily either--most shades lasted between seven and eight hours on me. Read more...
Melt Cosmetics Cream Blushlight
The product is primarily marketed as a cream blush, but the brand also stated that they can be applied to lips as well with some shades working as cream eyeshadow for a monochromatic look. There was nothing about coverage that I could find, though the brand's swatches--both live and in promotional images--were opaque. Read more...
LYS Beauty Higher Standard Satin Matte Cream Blush
The formula is supposed to have "high payoff" with a "satin-matte" finish that has a "natural flush." They were very pigmented but blendable and easy to control, so one could apply less and get sheerer, more buildable coverage, if preferred. The consistency was lightweight, thin, and had moderate slip but turned more powder-like--the "satin-matte" came through--as it was applied and blended out on my skin. Read more...
Tower 28 BeachPlease Lip + Cheek Tinted Balm
The formula is supposed to have "buildable color" with a "luminous, second-skin finish" that can be used on lips and cheeks. They seem quite pigmented initially, but they are more buildable coverage than they are intense coverage as the moderately emollient consistency readily sheers out in practice. This is likely how most people want their cream blushes to work, as it makes the formula easy to work with as it's quite blendable but can easily be built up for higher coverage where needed. Read more...
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush
The formula is supposed to give a "fresh wash of color" that is "effortless" to blend with a "natural-looking" finish. The coverage is designed to be "sheer, buildable" with a "sweat- and water-resistant formula." The brand recommends to apply with fingertips or their 125 brush (which is a fairly dense, angled brush). Read more...
Make Up For Ever Artist Face Color - Blush
The formula is supposed to have "intense color payoff" with a "long-lasting finish." The range is split into three types--Highlighters, Sculpting Powders, and Blushes--that is easy to determine by the first letter of the shade name (H for Highlighter, S for Sculpting, and B for Blush). Read more...
Huda Beauty GloWish Soft Radiance Bronzing Powder
The formula is supposed to be "buildable" and "easy to use" with a "light-as-air, non-powdery texture" that lasts for "12 [hours]." The coverage was more semi-opaque to opaque, but the texture was forgiving and lived up to the "non-powdery" claim so a lighter hand was all that was necessary to pick up less product. Read more...
Dior Dior Forever Natural Bronze
It is supposed to be a powder brush that is long-wearing and "blends seamlessly" to yield a "natural healthy glow." They had semi-opaque to opaque, buildable color coverage with a particularly smooth, velvety consistency that looked almost cream-like applied to skin, yet was slightly powdery in the pan. The product applied beautifully to bare skin as well as over foundation and was particularly easy to blend out. Read more...
LYS Beauty No Limits Matte Bronzer
The formula is supposed to be "ultra-buildable" and be "easy-to-blend." They were more semi-opaque to opaque in pigmentation, though the softer consistency made it possible to pick up less product for an "ultra-buildable" application if desired. The texture felt velvety and finely-milled in the pan, but there was a little dryness, too. There was a bit of excess powder kicked up in the pan. Read more...
Anastasia Cream Bronzer
The formula is supposed to be "buildable" and to "melt effortlessly" into a "matte, second-skin seamless finish" that can be applied "on bare skin" or "on top of makeup." They can be used to add warmth and/or definition (by choosing a shade two to three deeper). Read more...
Fenty Beauty Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer
The formula is supposed to be "non-greasy," "sweat-resistant," "easy to blend" cream bronzer (or contour) with "sheer, buildable" coverage that has a "natural-looking" finish. The brand called out two shades specifically as contour shades--Amber and Toffee Tease--though they can certainly be used as applicable to one's skin tone and undertone. Read more...
Milk Makeup Flex Highlighter
The formula is supposed to apply "seamlessly" to skin and hydrate skin with a "weightless pearlescent base" that gives "next-level glow." There's no specific description about coverage, but the promotional swatches showed all shades as opaque. The formula is as smooth and as silky as described; it felt like a thinner, powdery cream than it felt like a true powder. Read more...
Dior Forever Couture Luminizer
It was described as having a "multidimensional glow" that "blend[ed] seamlessly" and was long-wearing. The formula felt like it was a gel-powder formula, which was indicated by its slightly firmer, almost stiff, feel in the pan, but there was no powderiness, and the product picked up well with a moderately-dense brush. Once on, the powder almost "melted" on my skin, which gave it a particularly seamless look that was never dry or dusty. Read more...
Charlotte Tilbury Hollywood Flawless Filter
The formula is supposed to be a "customizable complexion booster" that can be used as a primer, highlighter, or mixed with base products. The line includes seven shades, like a more typical foundation or concealer range, but they have sheerer coverage and fine pearl, so there is some flexibility, though for added luminosity (but not altering color) all-over, one would want to choose a shade closer to their actual skin tone. Read more...
Fenty Beauty Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter Duo
Natasha Denona Super Glow Highlighter
The formula is supposed to be a "super-soft powder" that "mimics skin's natural texture for a slick, seamless finish that won't settle in fine lines" while creating a "multidimensional glow" and "glass-like sheen." The powder has a denser consistency with slight slip and creaminess, but it definitely feels like a powder. Read more...
Smashbox Be Legendary Prime and Plush Lipstick
The formula is supposed to have a "creamy" texture with "rich, pigment-packed color." The textures were smooth, creamy with light slip, and comfortable to apply in a fluid motion as they did not tug. Some shades were more satiny in their creaminess, while a couple felt more emollient and would likely benefit from a lip liner for better wear, though I did not experience any shades feathering/bleeding on me. Read more...
YSL The Slim Velvet Radical Matte Lipstick
The formula is supposed to have "full coverage" with "long-lasting semi-matte color" that has "creamy comfort." They were very pigmented with a moderately dense, velvety consistency that was creamy without sliding around. The substance/density of the product helped the product sit more smoothly on my lips and helped them be less prone to emphasizing lip texture and settling into my lip lines. Read more...
Urban Decay Vice Hydrating Lipstick
The formula is supposed to be "super-pigmented," "hydrating," and "long-lasting." There are three finishes: cream, matte, and shine, and the way they feel, apply, and wear does depend on the finish, so I've broken the overview down by finish. Read more...
Giorgio Armani Lip Maestro
The consistency has more slip and a velvety-smooth feel that softly “clings” to the lips, so while the finish has a glossier look for the first few hours, the color stays on well. If you’ve ever used a silicone-based primer, there’s a bit of that feel to the formula overall. Most shades last between six and eight hours on me, are non-drying to lightly hydrating, and comfortable to wear. The formula is unscented and has no discernible taste. Read more...
Pat McGrath MatteTrance Lipstick
The formula is supposed to be “richly pigmented” with “”supreme hydration” and “opulent matte opacity.” The consistency was smooth, velvety, and dense without being too firm for one-stroke, glide-on application (I found the original shades to be slightly firmer compared to more newly released shades). They had nearly opaque to opaque coverage in one layer and most were buildable. Read more...
Rare Beauty Lip Souffle Matte Cream Lipstick
The formula is supposed to be an "air-whipped lip cream" with "rich, melted-in color" paired with "nourishing hydration." It's a liquid lipstick with a more velvety consistency and satin to matte finish--some shades seemed to turn matte very quickly while others were a bit denser and creamier. Read more...
Sephora Rouge Lacquer
The lipstick is supposed to have a "silky smooth melting formula" that yields "intense long-lasting color and high-shine" with "instant hydration." Most shades were creamy without being so slippery that they felt that way or went on unevenly. They do melt quickly, though, so if they are left in a warmer area (with all my photography lights running) and applied, they feel substantially creamier than at room temperature (about 72 degrees). Read more...
Sephora Lipstories Lipstick
The formula is supposed to be "lightweight" with "full-coverage color in one swipe." The majority of shades were pigmented with semi-opaque to full color payoff in a single layer, as described. The more shimmery shades tended to be a bit sheerer overall, while the mattes and creams were usually closer to opaque in coverage. Read more...
Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb Lip Luminizer
The formula is supposed to have a “peach-vanilla” scent (I’d agree–sweet, lightly fruity) and be “conditioning.” It was designed to be worn alone or layered over other lip products. The consistency was very smooth, light-to-medium in weight, non-sticky, and comfortable to wear. It had a plusher consistency that helped it stay out of most of my lip lines. The shimmer was moderate but noticeable, and it distributed evenly across the lips. They last about three hours on my lips but are hydrating.
Pat McGrath Divinyl Lip Shine
The formula is supposed to offer "mirror-esque" shine with "rich color" that has a lot of "hydration." It's part of the brand's Lip Fetish range, which is a lip balm-based formula, but these appear to be the higher coverage offering within the various finishes available. They have a smooth, balm-like feel--light glide but not overly slippery, lightweight, and comfortable to apply and to wear. Read more...
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Wow – what an amazing list of products to purchase on sale.
Wow thank you for assembling so many wonderful makeups all in one spot!
Thank you Christine for all these great
Thank you Christine for this list of great products, i have been wanting to try the new Clinique blush since it was released.
Anyone who has a Sephora inside JCP near them – the rouge lacquer from sephora house brand is 1/2 off… I was very surprised and impressed with the one I grabbed (girl gang I think?).