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Beauty in Review: Best of 2017

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Well hey there. It’s been awhile.

My lack of blogging in 2017 should not be interpreted as neglect for skincare and beauty. In fact, one of the reasons I disappeared from blogging is because I began working in the beauty industry! On top of this huge (and exhilarating!) career change, I was also struggling with mysterious health issues that took the year to unravel, so on top of being busier than usual, I wasn’t really feeling too hot, either.

My makeup habits changed a little bit this year. Since my days at my new job start much earlier than I was used to, 2017 was all about holding tight to staples that I knew wouldn’t let me down. But 2017 was also a big year for beauty in Canada – Pixi came to Shoppers Drug Mart, IT Cosmetics came to Sephora Canada, and Glossier finally made its way across the border as well (with both its ecommerce site and the pop-up showroom in Toronto in the summer). I feel especially thrilled about these newcomers because so many of their products have become must-haves for me – I love that I can get them easily this side of the border.

Here I break down my skincare and makeup favourites of 2017 by category. What were you loving this year?

BEST IN SKINCARE

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Cliniderm Soothing Cream, Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum, Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum

My top two skincare products of the year are Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum ($100 CAD) and Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum ($112 CAD). I’d been extremely reluctant to spend a lot of money on skincare because I always had affordable staples that worked for me. Two things that I couldn’t seem to get right were Vitamin C serums and AHA/BHA serums. I have tried various options from Paula’s Choice, Timeless, Dr. Dennis Gross, Radiant Beauty, Mario Badescu, The Ordinary — none delivered any noticeable results and most broke me out and/or irritated my skin. I guess I felt the need to keep looking for something to address my hyper-pigmentation (acne-prone here, 👋🏼) and ongoing skin congestion.

Before jumping in to full size products, I started by buying the mini duos containing the C-Firma Day Serum and the T.L.C. Framboos Glycolic Night Serum. Trying this minis first ensured that neither product was irritating my skin or breaking me out.

C-Firma faded hyper-pigmentation in record time – I had a particularly stubborn patch from a nasty breakout that faded significantly after a week. The Framboos serum eliminated a stubborn swathe of closed comedones from my forehead within a few uses. I purchased the full-sizes as soon as my minis ran out and have been thrilled with the results.

You still can’t convince me to pay big bucks for cleanser or moisturizer (which I’ll get to in a sec) but when it comes to actives that work, I don’t mind paying for efficacy.

Cliniderm was another great discovery for me this year. Though my sensitive skin can get oily throughout the day, I need a heavy duty moisturizer to prevent it from feeling dry and flaky. Cliniderm Soothing Cream for Face & Body ($20 CAD) fits the bill – this is a non-greasy, fragrance-free, ultra nourishing formula that finally allowed me to break free from Paula’s Choice (I still LOVE the Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment Cream, but Cliniderm is a much better value and easily available in Canada). You can find the full line of Cliniderm products at Shoppers Drug Mart if you want to shop in-store.

BEST IN MAKEUP

BASE PRODUCTS

pixi-elf-it-cosmetics-glossier e.l.f. Highlight Brush, Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer (mini), IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream in Fair, Glossier Stretch Concealer in Light, Glossier Wowder in Light/Medium

2017 was the year of doing away with unnecessary steps, so I skipped primers most days. On the days I did reach for primer, it was the Pixi Flawless Beauty Primer ($30), which adds an extra boost of radiance. I love that they sell a mini version – it’s perfect for travel or if you’re just looking to try.

I fell hard for the IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better CC+ Cream ($49 CAD). Excellent coverage, and comfortable, skin-like wear. It has a citrusy fragrance that I could live without but it doesn’t seem to bother my skin. I like applying with my fingers to blend most of it in, and then finish with a damp beauty blender. I really really really started to love powder this year. Powders are a tricky category for me. I can definitely get shiny throughout the day, but most powders leave my face feeling and looking cakey and dry. The powder staple I adopted this year was Glossier’s Wowder ($27 CAD). I use the shade Light/Medium and apply with either an e.l.f. Highlighting Brush or a damp beauty blender. Wowder leaves a luminous appearance without relying on shimmer – a blessing for those of us with dry skin and texture that we don’t want to emphasize.

Another Glossier staple for me – Stretch Concealer in Light ($22 CAD). I first purchased this at the showroom in NYC and as luck would have it, Glossier.com began shipping to Canada just as I began to run out. This is the concealer for people who hate concealer (me again!). It’s lightweight and super creamy, so it never looks dry or dusty.

BROW PRODUCTS

marc-beauty-brow-wow-glossier-boy-brow Marc Jacobs Beauty Brow Wow Defining Longwear Pencil in Dark Brown, Glossier Boy Brow in Brown

My brow pencil saga was real this year but I finally found my holy grail. The Marc Jacobs Beauty Brow Wow Defining Longwear Pencil ($31 CAD) in Dark Brown 8 is the perfect colour and texture to define and fill in my brows, and the packaging is sturdy enough that the spoolie doesn’t break off before the pencil runs out. I love absolutely everything about this pencil: the precise tip, the cool dark brown shade, even the price isn’t bad.

For days when I’m feeling a little extra, I’ll use Glossier Boy Brow in Brown or Anastasia Beverly Hills Tinted Brow Gel in Espresso. The latter has a larger brush and a more liquid consistency -it’s more fussy to apply but offers better hold.

EYE PRODUCTS

clump-crusher-shu-uemera-bite-beauty-girlaktic Cover Girl Clump Crusher, shu uemura Eyelash Curler, Girlactik Matte Bronzer in Cabo, BITE Beauty Multistick in Blondie

I had many frustrating medical issues with my eyes this year. Both my eyelids’ shape and texture has changed, which has made it difficult for me to wear eye makeup the way I used to. I’ve stuck to simple, all-over colour using either Girlactik’s Matte Bronzer in Cabo ($25 USD), or BITE Beauty Multistick ($28 CAD) in Blondie. Sometimes both together! I absolutely swear by two other things: the shu uemura Eyelash Curler ($25 CAD), perfect for my eye shape; and Cover Girl Lash Blast Clump Crusher mascara in Very Black, which creates feathery lashes without crumbling or smudging.

LIP PRODUCTS

bite-beauty-lip-pencil-agave BITE Beauty Lip Pencils in 036, 076, 070, and BITE Beauty Agave Lip Balm

I’m biased in this category given that I work for the brand, but my take-the-cake lip products of 2017 are BITE Beauty’s Agave Lip Balm ($20 CAD) and BITE Beauty’s Lip Pencils ($20 CAD).

The Agave Lip Balm provides a super protective layer that lasts for hours on your lips and never feels crumbly. I do not leave the house without this – it is what keeps my lips from absolutely peeling off in the winter. I put it on as part of my skin care regimen each morning and night, but I also apply incessantly throughout the day.

The Lip Pencil has been my go-to for lip colour all year. I’ve never been a fan of slippery lip products but I also hate the inevitable drying feeling of so many lip liners and liquid lipsticks. These Lip Pencils are my ideal texture and finish. They’re creamy to apply, the finish is matte but not one dimensional, the colour selection is amazing, and they feel great on my lips all day — I always wear them as an all-over colour. My favourite bright shades are 070 and 076, and my go-to nude shade is 036.

CHEEK PRODUCTS

make-up-for-ever-hd-blush.jpg MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Blush in 225, 315, and 335

My most-reached-for cheek product across the year was the MAKE UP FOR EVER HD Blush ($26 CAD). This cream blush blends easily with whatever tool I use, be it my fingers, a brush, or even a beauty blender. It wears all day and looks seamless on the skin. The versatility of this product makes it perfect for travel, too – I don’t have to worry about packing special tools, and the compact is small so it takes up little space. I’m particularly drawn to the tawny peachy shades like 225, 315, and 335, but I also couldn’t resist 515, an enticing tangerine (not pictured).

HAIR PRODUCTS

bumble-and-bumble-pret-a-powder Hands down, my favourite hair product for 2017 is the Bumble and Bumble Prêt-à-Powder ($31 CAD). This was also my favourite throughout 2016, frankly. One bottle of this volumizing dry shampoo lasts me almost an entire year with regular use. It completely refreshes my hair and allows me to go an extra day or two without shampooing, and doesn’t leave a powdery cast or overwhelming fragrance. This dry shampoo has the best value of any dry shampoo I’ve ever tried – yes, it’s $31, but it will last you ten times longer than any $10 can you can find.

Let me know in the comments what you were loving this year!

January 1, 2018
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