With new beauty launches every day, it’s often impossible to know which products you can rely on and which will last the test of time. My friends always ask me what my all-time favourite products are and in the 10 years I’ve been messing about with make-up, I’ve definitely tried my fair share. Even though this may change in years to come, these are currently my best of the best.
1. Mascara – Benefit, They’re Real
Being blessed with short curly lashes, hasn’t exactly been a blessing. The only thing worse, could be short and straight- but then at least curling mascaras would be a bigger deal for me?
Mascara is still the UK’s bestselling beauty product and it’s no surprise really, considering that most of us like to pretend it’s all we wear. My favourites have ranged from Max Factor’s Masterpiece (great for lengthening lashes) to Benefit’s Bad Gal, which like YSL’s Volume Effet Faux Cils, instantly gives you big, bold, voluminous, black lashes.
If you want a wow mascara for every day, there’s nothing better than Benefit’s They’re real, which sits somewhere between their Bad Gal lashes and Max Factor’s Masterpiece; it lengthens, separates and one coat gives a day-time appropriate amount of volume. It’s the UK’s number 1 for a reason.
Benefit, They’re Real mascara, £19.50, Boots.
Highly commended: Lancome, Bad gal, YSL, Max Factor
2. Concealer – Bobbi Brown, Corrector + Concealer
I was pretty new to the concealer game. I tried one once when I was about 17 and Rimmel dabbled in creating concealers for darker complexions. It was such a joyous occasion, that I literally bought the whole range. It was basically a little foundation stick, but it was cakey, non-hydrating and dried out in a few days.
Thankfully things have moved on since then and there are hundred of fantastic under-eye concealers and illuminators; Touche eclat anyone? Sadly, I still can’t use YSL’s touche eclat, as a trip to Selfridges a few months back confirmed. Luckily it’s not all about the brush -there are some fantastic concealers in the old stick form that have been updated. Chantecaille and Benefit, with the Bio-lift and Fake-up respectively, have both created concealer sticks with a cushioning hydrating balm. M.A.C’s Mineralize liquid concealer is light enough to not weigh down the delicate eye area, but high enough in coverage to make a difference.
The best of the bunch though, is Bobbi Brown’s Corrector and concealer. The corrector looks the same as the concealer (though you should actually opt for one a few shades lighter,) but is in fact there to neutralise dark circles. The creamy concealer is then used on top. Though you don’t have to use the two together, the results are really quite fascinating. I took about 50 selfies in disbelief, as the results were so drastically different, that my original face looked like I had been in a brawl or four.
Highly commended: MAC, Benefit, Chanetcaille
3. Eyeliner: Gel – Laura Mercier; Liquid – Chanel; Pencil – MAC
It’s impossible to pick one liner, when you consider all other factors: what type of flick you want, what your skill level is, what look you’re trying to create and how sensitive your skin is. There was a time, when every time I would put on L’Oreal’s liquid liner my skin would literally come up in hives; but kohl on its own would never last.
Thankfully along came gel liner and it seemed so sophisticated, what with its separate brush and little pot. One thing about gel is that it is quite particular – it never likes to be left with its lid off (it will just dry up and become useless if you do) and its brush needs to be cleaned constantly, if you want a precise line. If these two rules aren’t a biggy, then gel is your best friend. It’s versatility means you can manipulate the thickness of your flick with ease. And for gel, there’s none better than Laura Mercier‘s which glides on, is rich in colour and stays put.
There are some days you need the ease of speed of a liquid, and for this I would recommend Chanel’s Ecriture felt-tip liner. For that signature rock & roll eye, you need kohl, black – soft and smudgeable- kajal. If money’s tight Rimmel’s kajal is still as good as ever, but if you can splash out, then it has to be M.A.C’s smolder.
Highly commended: Topshop, Rimmel, Giorgio Armani, Bobbi Brown
4. Lip liner – Smashbox
Five years ago, lip liner would most definitely not be in this list; it would probably be blusher, but Kylie Jenner has proved herself to be quite the trendsetter. Lip liner has become an essential and really is the best way to keep your lipstick in place and on for longer. Urban Decay‘s traditional lip pencil is great and really stays put (although word to the wise, don’t lose your lid, as it does dry out if you do.) Whilst Nars and M.A.C also do a great job, Smashbox’s Always Sharp is a revelation. It comes in 12 shades, but what really sets it apart is it’s lid, which houses a sharpener, so everytime you close and open it, you’re greeted with a perfectly sharp and precise lip pencil. I mean really, who can top this.
Smashbox, Always sharp lip liner, £15.50, Boots
Highly commended: Urban decay, Nars, MAC
5. Lipstick – Nars
This has been the hardest category to decide upon. I’ve changed the winner about 5 times already- and as soon as I publish this I’ll probably want to change it again- but as of now it has to be Nars. As I’ve said a million times Tom Ford’s lipsticks are fantastic- and the nudes particularly so.
Topshop’s lipsticks are the best for a budget colour fix; if you want to dabble in a new shade, but aren’t quite ready to drop a twenty (or thirty in Mr. Ford’s case). Chanel’s are the best everyday lipsticks- they’re balm-like in their hydration and silky feel and are the most gorgeous in terms of packaging (apart from Tom Ford, of course) but when it comes to shades that are striking, packaging that is cool and textures that are always on point – it has to be Nars. Whether you want matte, sheer, creamy or glossy, in pencil or lipstick form; Nars never disappoint and I think if I were to have one wish, it would be a lifetime’s supply.
Nars, Lipstick, £19, SpaceNK
Highly commended: Tom Ford, Chanel, Topshop