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2013 Favourites: Makeup & Nails

12:49Alice Grace


Forgive me for being a month late with this one, but now my batteries are recharged after a hectic, few months, the time has come for me to unleash a whole load of 2013 favourites, starting with part one - the makeup and nail products that have truly bowled me over and will give my past loves a run for their money. Another year has passed and although my blogging had tailed off towards the end of 2013, due to work and busy, general life, my thirst for anything beauty-related remained unquenchable. As the months go by, we find products that we like, love and hate, but to narrow everything down to only one item per category is bloomin' challenging.


Honestly, face primers aren't something I go crazy for. Fortunately, my makeup usually tends to last well on my skin without the need for an extra, prepping step in my routine. Only on special occasions, when I'm not pushed for time, will I toy with the idea of using one. Eye primers are a different kettle of fish, though. Since purchasing the Nars And God Created The Woman Palette, which came with a sample size Smudge-Proof Eyeshadow Base, whenever I plan to go all out with my eyeshadow, I'm sure to use it first. I'm lucky in that any powder eyeshadows usually wear well on me, without smudging or creasing really being a problem. But, I notice such a difference in how the eyeshadow looks, and stays looking, whenever I use this Nars primer. Longevity is increased, pigmentation is intensified and my eyelids are smoothed out, to create the perfect canvas for application. Unlike other eyeshadow primers, this isn't too thick and doesn't disrupt any base makeup underneath. When sweeping shadow over the top, the light, non-sticky formula doesn't cause any makeup brushes to drag the delicate skin and doesn't leave behind any horrible, congealed gunk, like some others tend to do. You don't need much, which is why I'm still able to scrape enough product from the inside of my sample-size tube. I do have a back-up, full-size at the top of my 'to buy' list though, so I should have a brand-new one waiting in the wings, after payday!

Dior Diorskin Nude BB Creme 002

2013 was the year I cracked out the sheerer, skincare+makeup bases, more regularly. Before then, I tended to wear them if I wasn't really going out anywhere special, but still wanted to look polished and put together. That's completely changed. Whilst I continue to wear 'proper' foundation about 50% of the time, I reach for tinted moisturisers and their souped-up counterparts (BB creams) for the other half. That's mostly thanks to the verging-on-perfect, Dior BB Creme. With the formula being so unique for a tinted moisturiser, it's remained at the top of my sheer bases drawer. Blurring imperfections with a soft-focus glow, the weightless formula adds a touch of coverage and a healthy radiance, whilst setting to a satin-matte finish. Of course, the coverage will never be hot on the heels of a fully-fledged foundation, but it's certainly enough for even an 'I look hideous and nothing is helping' kind of day. My redness is toned down in an instant, my complexion is evened out and the shade '002' is my perfect match, blending in to create a new layer of perfected skin. It's virtually undetectable on the skin. In Summer, it let my skin breathe and in Winter, it's kept my parched face hydrated, but not suffocated. Well done, Dior!

Nars Sheer Glow Foundation Fiji Swatch

Without a doubt, my favourite makeup item to buy is foundation. Forever on the hunt for 'the one', I've accumulated a ridiculous stash, with numbers continually rising. I can't stop myself, but this means that I've become rather good at spotting a keeper. My base tastes change daily, depending on how my skin is looking/feeling, what I'm doing that day, how long I need it to cling on for etc. There's many factors that make up my decision, which made it virtually impossible to pick my top choice of 2013. In the end, I decided it had to be Nars Sheer Glow, which has been a favourite of mine for a couple of years now. Buffed onto smooth, moisturised skin, it sits nicely, giving a medium-full coverage that settles to a semi-matte finish. Apply too much, over dry, flakey skin and it just doesn't work, so it's all about the preparation with this one. But it's so worth it, for a flawless, but natural looking complexion. Whilst it does leave skin with a glow of sorts, it's not at all dewy and the coverage is definitely more than sheer, so don't let the name of it fool you! To hear more of an in-depth review on what I think of this foundation, you might want to check out my Nars Sheer Glow Review


I've been ever so slightly cheeky with my concealer choice(s). Technically, I should probably only pick one, but to be fair, the concealer I use to hide those dreaded under-eye bags, isn't one that I'd slap on over any redness and/or blemishes. I think I can get away with two, top picks, right? Firstly, we have the Corrector from Bobbi Brown in 'Light Peach', which saves the day, no matter how little sleep I've had the previous night and is definitely a hungover hit-list staple! The correctors have either salmon or peach tones to them, to counteract any blue and purple shadows around the eyes. Thick and creamy, the formula can be quite heavy and sticky if you go overboard, but a small dab of it tapped around the inner corner and contours, transforms the under-eye area. Instantly, my eyes look brighter, more awake and any bags and shadows just seem to vanish. Bobbi Brown suggest using the corrector first and then layering one of their regular concealers over the top of it, although I find the corrector to be effective enough on its own, unless I'm pulling out all of the stops. Set with a light dusting of powder, it lasts all day on me, with a very minor amount of creasing.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Flawless Wear Concealer Warm Light Swatch

For the rest of my complexion, there was no competition for the Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Concealer. Delivering high coverage, without any nasty, tell-tale signs left behind, it perfects my complexion with minimal effort. When dabbed on and patted in, it literally melts onto the skin and covers a plethora of sins. Like every other beauty blogger out there, I have serious love for the Collection Lasting Perfection concealer, but this one from EL pips it to the post, as it's not as thick or drying on the skin. Being part of the Double Wear line, this concealer runs the distance during the day, setting to a semi-matte finish, without having to use powder to keep it in place. This concealer is the perfect accompaniment to sheerer bases, giving extra coverage wherever needed, without masking the entire face, like the notorious Double Wear foundation can be known to do. It may not be cheap, but I'm still using my first tube and it has been at least six months since I bought it. My precious back-up hasn't been touched, yet. Nothing quite compares!


My makeup drawers see numerous powders come and go. Some may make a rare return to the stocks if I've been impressed with their performance, whilst some are banished for good, being chalky, cakey and downright crap. However, one luxury purchase turned my powder preferences around. Not all powders have to zap the healthy sheen from skin and the Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powders certainly don't. Since mentioning my purchase in my August 2013 Favourites, I've barely even looked at another powder. Whilst toning down any unflattering, greasy-looking shine, these pressed formulas impart such a luminous glow, which looks lit from within. Yes, there's a whole load of shimmer in there to create that, but it's virtually invisible once on the skin. Don't worry, you aren't left resembling a disco ball! There's a range of different shades which, depending on your skin tone, can be used as a specific highlighter or general, all-over face powder. The shade I have, 'Diffused Light' has a yellow undertone to it, which helps to cancel out redness, which is one of my main skin concerns. Even if I'm wearing minimal makeup, a sweep of this powder and my complexion is set in place and enhanced, without looking dry, dull or drab.


For the entire year, I've mostly been using the same bronzer. Guerlain are renowned for their Terracotta range and it's damnnn good. My favourite of the line is their Four Seasons number, which, hinted at by the name, contains four, separate shades of bronzer that get gradually darker. Perfect all year round, you can customise the product to suit your skin tone at different times of year, by using just one shade, or mixing them. Completely matte, this bronzer is a godsend if, like me, you can't be bothered to carry round both a bronzer and contour shade. 'Brunette' is my shade choice, but the darker sections have to remain reserved strictly for Summer or contour use, as they're so strongly pigmented and a little goes miles. Despite being so intense, application isn't hard work. Thanks to the powder being so soft, the bronzer blends so easily and I'm never left looking patchy or with obvious streaks underneath my cheekbones. Who could say no to that amazing packaging and embossed product, either?!

M&S Autograph Pure Luxe Highlighting Powder Golden Rose Swatch

M&S beauty products never really caught my eye. Even with their relatively recent efforts to transform themselves and lure in those under the 50 year mark, I still held onto my unfair prejudices up until last year. I ventured in and to my surprise, their makeup range was extensive and included some gorgeous looking items! Slap on the wrist for me, eh? After a peruse of their shelves, I took a nice, little selection to the till with me and the stand out product from that haul, had to be the Luxe Highlighter in Golden Rose. Not only is the embossing just divine, looking as high-end as Dior or Chanel, but the product itself is incredible. The smooth, buttery texture of the highlighter allows it to glide onto the skin, feeling more like a cream than a powder. Rose gold was a massive trend last year and will be for seasons to come, I'm sure. This take on the shade is a warming, rosy gold that isn't too pink or orange-toned, making it perfect for the majority of skin tones. Rather than being jam-packed with glitter, this highlighter has a metallic, frosted finish to it. It's intense, but looks absolutely stunning. Whether used with a brush or fingers, the finish is soft, glowing and gives the glossy effect of a cream highlighter, without any sticky, gloopy mess.

Nars Powder Blush Luster Swatch

One of my harder decisions for this post, I have to praise Nar's whole blush collection, before editing everything down to just one shade. For me, they produce the best powder blushes around, with only one or two other brands snapping at their heels. After expanding my collection big time this year, I was only left adoring them even more. Generous with their pigmentation, their shades are just incredible and their formula isn't anything to scoff at, either. Soft and silky, they blend like a dream and leave my cheeks very happy indeed. To be honest, whilst the majority of the shades are a massive hit, there are a couple which fall into the miss pile, so make sure you do some research and go and swatch them for yourself to make sure you're happy with your purchase. If you'd like to hear me rave about them some more and see swatches of my entire collection, you might want to check out my Nars Powder Blush Collection post. My favourite and most-used shade of 2013? Luster. A peachy, golden hue, saturated with flecks of golden shimmer, it added a gorgeous glow to my cheeks in Summer and has been paired beautifully with the customary bronze and red colours, during Winter, too.

Urban Decay Naked 2 Palette Favourites Swatches - Bootycall, Snakebite, Suspect & Pistol

Desperate to make the most of my entire eyeshadow collection and steer away from my easy, usual choices, I made a concerted effort to not just fall back on my neutral, MAC palette, during 2013. Of course, I dragged myself away from one illustrious palette and fell into the arms of another! The Urban Decay Naked Palettes, now there's a set of three, cover every possible, neutral-eye eventuality and you can create a whole eye look with the one compact. My number one has been destroyed, thanks to excessive use, number two was barely touched and the most recent release was just a bit too late on the scene to become loved in time, really. Compared to its predecessor and the follow-up, the Naked 2 Eyeshadow Palette contains a lot more cool-toned shadows. Usually, I favour warmer colours as I think they compliment my skin tone better, when I'm more often than not dosed up with a generous helping of self tan. However, after experimenting with the second palette release, I'm a cool-hue convert. My four favourites from the twelve are definitely 'Bootycall' (a sheer wash of frosted champagne, with a touch of peach), 'Snakebite' (a mid-tone, warm, metallic bronze), 'Suspect' (a soft, shimmery, golden beige) and 'Pistol' (a dirty, metallic, blue-grey, with hints of brown). As with the majority of Urban Decay eyeshadows, the shades are beautifully rich and pigmented and they have wonderfully soft textures. They can create some fall-down, though and the lighter, matte shadows are slightly powdery and difficult to work with. Those minor blips aside, I was hooked on this palette in 2013 and I can't see myself putting it down any time soon, either.

Stila Smudge Stick Waterproof Eyeliner Damsel Swatch

Ever enslaved to harder-formula, kohl, eyeliners, I often found myself skipping the step in the mornings, as it was too much work to sharpen, soften, apply, smudge, apply, blend etc. An angled brush and some eyeshadow became a pencil replacement. But, sometimes I want my eyes to look deeper and more defined, without the faff and necessary precision of a gel or liquid formula. A softer, pencil liner was needed to make light work of my eyes on rushed mornings or evenings. No, I haven't turned my back on the likes of MAC 'Coffee', which is one of my favourites, but my top eyeliners of 2013 have to be the Stila Smudge Sticks and in particular, the shade Damsel. A deep, ebony brown, the shade looks almost black, giving the eyes just as much depth and intensity, without being quite as harsh. With the formula being so soft, the creamy liner smudges with minimal effort, creating a smokey look in seconds. It's fast, but as it's waterproof and stays put once it's set, you need to work quickly with it. I love that effortless, grungy effect that it gives, though and it became a staple look of mine, for 2013.


Over the years, I've toyed with a variety of different brow products, from pencils, brow pens, waxes, gels, to powders. I had found it a chore to do my brows, as I was never happy with the harsh, unnatural results of most products. But, after using MAC Omega and Brun with an angled brush, doing my brows is one of my favourite parts of my makeup routine. However, it's Benefit's Speed Brow that takes the acclaim for my favourite brow product of 2013. A light, brown gel, it can be slicked onto brows with the mascara-like wand, to hold those bushy beauties in place. Combing the brush through brows softens any shadow/pencil/gel products, preventing the dreaded 'scouse brow' effect. Sometimes, if I haven't trimmed my brows and the hairs are getting a little long, they can go a bit wild, but this gel keeps them in check. Unlike others I've tested out, this one from Benefit doesn't coat my brow hairs with too much gunk, leaving them hard and crispy. The light brown, tinted formula works better on my darker brows, as clear formulas can strangely leave my brows looking a bit grey and odd. But, the 'neutral' shade works on all hair colours, from blonde right through to the darkest brown. It's a tiny tube, too, so it's been great for traveling with.

Benefit They're Real Mascara With & Without Swatch

For so long, I refused to cave in and believe the hype about this mascara, but now I'm finding it impossible to discover anything that can top it. I'm not quite sure why it happens, but as soon as something has a surge of rave reviews, I always expect disappointment. Benefit's They're Real Mascara holds a corker of a claim; it's the UK's number one, best-selling mascara! Eventually after trying it, I can see why and I curse myself for leaving it so long until purchasing it! I'm not fussy when it comes to plastic or bristle wands; I've had hits and misses with both types. But, I do like a brush that has a tapered end to coat those hard-to-reach, tricky, inner lashes and wing out the outer corners. Benefit got it just right, I think. The plastic wand is the ideal size to get right into the roots of the lashes, without risking a painful, watery poking. Lashes are perfectly combed through, giving separation, volume and length and the continuation of the bristles on the end of the wand, allow for extra definition. Personally, I like my lashes to look dramatic, no matter the circumstances and this Benefit beauty definitely delivers on that! I can't quite see it myself, but my boyfriend has certainly been fooled into thinking I'm wearing falsies with this mascara, so I'm happy with that! The only qualm I have with the formula is that, whilst being super black and intense, it starts off far too wet for my liking. It takes a good, few uses until I'm happy with how it leaves my lashes looking and until then, they can look slightly sparse, as they tend to stick together. It's annoying, but I can live with it!


Lip liner can be hard to pull off. There's nothing worse than a harsh, obvious, overdrawn line that has been resurrected from the 90s. To work, it needs to be only a shade or two darker than your natural, lip colour and drawn on lightly, to give a subtle effect. A perfect, plumped pout is easily achieved with the Natural Lips Liner from Laura Mercier, which I discovered in 2013. Rather than leaving lips outlined with a definite border, the liner creates more of a shadow. Instead of leaning too pink, brown or orange, like most other, nude liners, this shade is the perfect mixture of the three, giving a colour that would suit most skin tones. Even when I'm at my palest, sans self tan, I like to think I can still pull this liner off, without looking drag-queen-esque. Formula wise, the pencil is soft but not smudgy, allowing it to blend easily, without the worry of it bleeding into any lines around the mouth. It enables me to make the most of my pout, subtly enhancing it without the need to start considering any more 'permanent measures'.

Dior Rouge Dior Nude Lip Blush 169 Grege Swatch

The toughest category of all, choosing my favourite lipstick was a struggle. Overall, Dior are by far my ideal, lipstick brand. The formulas, shades and packaging all hit the spot, in my opinion. Each line is just lovely, but when the Rouge Dior Nude Lip Blushes came out, they topped the lot. Creamy and pigmented, they not only look gorgeous, but feel it too. My favourite of the bunch, '169 Grege', is a warm-toned, peachy nude that leans slightly brown. It's more than your average nude, but nothing too drastic, so can be worn day or night, when dressed down or dressed up. Thanks to semi-transparent pigments, the shimmer-free shade still has a luminous finish to it, which instantly adds brightness to the face. The silky, balmy formula drenches lips in moisture, but doesn't leave them feeling wet or sticky. My pout seems plumped, as any fine lines are smoothed out and even after removing it, my lips continue to feel in better condition. I can see myself repurchasing this lipstick over and over and already have a back-up stored away, in case Dior decide to discontinue another of my favourites!

Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick Nudist

Frankly, I can't really be bothered with the hassle of lip gloss. Typical, sticky, wet glosses only cause havoc for my frustration levels when they decide to start up a clingy relationship with my hair. Instead, when I'm after more of a sheen on my lips, I opt for a glossy finish lipstick, or one of the more recent chubby-stick, lip crayons. My favourite of them all and one that I've been sporting at least every, other day since I purchased it, is the Soap & Glory Sexy Mother Pucker Gloss Stick in 'Nudist'. A warm, browny nude that contains a subtle amount of golden shimmer, it's right up my street. Let's face it, the shade isn't groundbreaking, but it's one that really finishes off a look and pulls everything together, whether I'm keeping everything simple, or pairing it with a heavier eye or base. Smelling sweetly of vanilla, they're irresistible. Gliding on, they seem to magically even out the lips and leave behind a healthy, plump finish, with an almost bee-stung effect. If my lips are dry, the moisturising texture helps to nourish them, whilst adding a hint of a tint. I have an entire ode dedicated to the Soap & Glory Gloss Sticks, so check out that post if you'd like to read more.


After trying out practically every nail care varnish from Sally Hansen, without ever being truly wowed, I thought I'd dip my toe into the OPI world. My natural nails have never been amazing and I'm always envious of girls who have long, strong nails that don't split or break after growing 1cm. The Nail Envy line has been around for ages and I'd heard mostly good things about the range. There's a total of six on offer, all aimed at different nail concerns, from dry and brittle, to one that maintains healthy nails. For my weak, damaged nails, I opted for the 'Sensitive and Peeling Formaldehyde-Free' formula. Now, this isn't the best base coat for when I'm wearing a colour over the top, as I find it makes any polish chip in big chunks after a couple of days. But, when I'm giving my poor, abused nails a well-earned holiday, it works wonders. My nails are left with a healthy sheen, the ridges are much less defined and they're considerably less dry. Any peeling is really reduced and my nails have managed to remain at a longer, but manageable length, whereas before they'd split after even the smallest amount of growth. There's still some way to go with my nails, but OPI's Nail Envy treatment is certainly helping them along.

Leighton Denny Pillow Talk Swatch

I've rabbited on about my love for Leighton Denny polishes before, but Pillow Talk has to be my number one shade from the brand of all time, not just 2013. A deep, raspberry pink, it screams Autumn/Winter, but it's not too dark that it can't be sported all year round. With a smooth, gel-like consistency, nails are left looking so perfect, super glossy and glam. The finish isn't creamy or opaque, but I much prefer it to regular polishes as it glides over the nail and fills in any uneven surfaces, without resulting in annoying lumps and bumps. Two coats is all you need for a flawless application, but I have managed to get away with just one in a hurry. I'd say the wear time for this varnish is average, with minor chipping at the nail edge after a week. But, if you look after your nails, prep with a good base and finish off with a layer of good-quality top coat, then it will stay looking perfect for as long as you can maintain it.


When you've spent precious time meticulously taming your talons and perfecting that mani/pedi, you want to seal in all of that hard work and protect it. But, if there's one thing that puts me off bothering with my nails altogether, it's waiting for the polish to dry. The same thing always seems to happen; when I've slicked on my last sweep of colour, the toilet suddenly calls, or the doorbell rings, or I need to sneeze. One sudden, carefree movement and it's ruined. Looking for something that could lock in my efforts effectively, but more importantly quickly, I decided to try Sally Hansen's Insta-Dri. I'd heard other bloggers/youtubers mention it, so there was nothing to lose, but a lot of extra time to gain. Lacquer it on and in a flash they are dry to the touch. I'm not saying I'd purposefully press on them and bash them around willy-nilly, but it makes it much quicker to finish the job. Nails are left with a glass-like, high shine and I find that it minimises chips pretty well, too. After a week, I find I only have minor wearing at the edges of my nails, but they're usually free from any major chips. Bish, bash, bosh!


Which makeup and nail products did you love during 2013?

AGB X



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