BEST OF BEAUTY – 2016

bluetrophy

These are my picks for products that absolutely slayed the game in 2016. As always, the usual disclaimer applies: what works for me may not work for you. It is okay if we disagree—that’s life! The products in this post may not necessarily be ones that were launched in 2016, they are just the ones I enjoyed the most this past year.

 

FIRST CLEANSE

WinnerClarins Total Cleansing Oil

Let’s face it—the first cleanse is the boring cleanse. I will never understand why people waste gorgeous cleansing balms, non-emulsifying oils, and rich creams to remove makeup and/or sunscreen. I’ve always seen this step as a joyless, necessary evil. It doesn’t have to be fancy. You’re literally just removing makeup. Take it off and move on. I’m giving it up to the Clarins Total Cleansing Oil here because it has a weightless and water-like texture, it is actually very economical given its usage, it removes everything, it emulsifies the second water hits it, it rinses completely clean, and it doesn’t strip the skin.

Honourable Mention: MAC Cosmetics Cleanse Off Oil

 

SECOND CLEANSE

WinnerSarah Chapman Skinesis Ultimate Cleanse

Oh, my first—and well-deserved—Hall Of Fame product. *swoons* As much as I love my jarred balms, it’s a nice change of pace to see a cleansing balm housed in an airless pump dispenser. The smell of this soufflé-textured cleanser is intoxicating. It melts into the skin just enough to provide the perfect amount of slip needed for a facial massage (battering, knuckling). Removed with one of Sarah Chapman’s cleansing mitts, it leaves your skin hydrated and glowing. It is the best cleansing balm I’ve used to date, and trust me, I’ve tried more than I care to remember.

Honourable Mention: Omorovicza Thermal Cleansing Balm

 

MORNING CLEANSE

WinnerBiologique Recherche Lait VIP O2*

I never would have found this product had it not been for my friend Fiona (@orchidsandpeonies on Instagram) offering to send it to me after having a bad experience with it. This fragrance-free cleansing milk contains whacky ingredients like amniotic fluid, yeast, vinegar, embryo extract (?!), hydrolyzed gelatin, and onion bulb. One might imagine this to smell vile, but it actually doesn’t have a discernible smell at all (not that I would know what amniotic fluid and embryos smell like, mind you…). Familiar superstar ingredients like niacinamide, lactic acid, salicylic acid, witch hazel, hyaluronic acid, and papain make this an incredible glow-boosting and plumping cleanser for the morning.

Honourable Mention: Sarah Chapman Skinesis Rapid Radiance Cleanser

 

MANUAL/TONIC EXFOLIATOR

WinnerJosh Rosebrook Active Enzyme Exfoliator

After admiring my glowing, smooth, even complexion in the mirror just moments after using this product, I knew I had to create a dedicated Instagram post to sing its praises. This exfoliator is no joke—it isn’t for the faint of heart. I had previously drafted a Hall Of Fame post for my Honourable Mention product below, but I came to the conclusion that this one is better. If you need your skin to look great for something, this product should be your first port of call because it just works, plain and simple.

Honourable Mention: Omorovicza Refining Facial Polisher

 

CHEMICAL EXFOLIATOR

WinnerBiologique Recherche Lotion P50 1970*

The mother of all toners. I had the privilege of trying out the elusive and contraband 1970 formulation of Lotion P50 (pronounced loh-see-o(n) pay sa(n)-kon(t), thank you very much. Don’t try and get fancy with the pronunciation of Biologique Recherche and then say “low-shun pee fiff-tee”. *cringes* And while we’re on this topic, the French word “de” IS NOT PRONOUNCED ‘DAY’! STOP DOING THAT IMMEDIATELY, PLEASE. *pulls out butcher knife from kitchen drawer*) this year thanks to a swap I did with my darling friend Annie (@nourished_beauty on Instagram). People complain about the smell of this product, but I’m slightly addicted to it. It smells like burning wood and cotton candy to me, which is fantastic! Well, anything is fantastic compared to the non-1970 formula, which is a vinegar-bomb. The vinegar-bomb still works (not as good as 1970), but it makes your face smell like a fish and chip joint. The 1970 formula kicks your skin square in the arse—it exfoliates, tones, refines texture, corrects pigmentation issues, and NUMBS… oh, boy, does it numb. Follow the BR directions on how to apply this (dab it on from the cotton pad, do not rub/swipe—trust me, it makes a difference). And make sure to do your lips. It’s orgasmic.

Honourable Mention: ClarinsMen Fresh Moisture Toner with Apple Vinegar

 

TONER

WinnerLiz Earle Instant Boost Skin Tonic

I’m itching to get my hands on this product again, but it seems like Liz Earle is uninterested in organizing Canadian stockists. The last order I placed from the Liz Earle U.S. website got slapped with the biggest customs/duties charge I’ve ever experienced (and an unfair one at that, as the country of origin and dollar value were misrepresented on the commercial invoice), and it’s turned me off of even attempting a repurchase. And that is a shame, because this gorgeous botanical toner really was one of my 2016 standouts. Until Liz Earle sort themselves out, I am happy to purchase the Clarins Toning Lotion with Camomile (I’ve been having a love affair with this—cheating on my beloved Toning Lotion with Iris, gasp!) instead.

Honourable Mention: Clarins Toning Lotion with Camomile

 

FACIAL MIST

WinnerJosh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator

Again with Josh. His products are winners, that’s all there is to it. This was another instance I had to stop and make everyone aware of my newfound love. The mist dispenses in the most perfect airy cloud. The sweet fragrance of this product calms the mind and the virtually endless role call of botanical extracts and hydrosols that saturate its ingredients list provide immediate hydration and comfort to the skin. As I’ve expressed before, I wish the bottle was glass!

Honourable Mention: May Lindstrom Skin The Jasmine Garden

 

ESSENCE/AMPOULE

WinnerShiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Balancing Softener

I can’t pinpoint exactly what it is this product does for my skin, but I definitely notice a difference when I’m not using it. This was the first essence-style product I ever used, and it is still the best one I’ve used to date. I will keep trying them as my interest has been piqued for a long time, but I haven’t found one that’s as good as this. But I want to. And I will. The search continues.

Honourable Mention: Nature Republic Rose Real Nature Ampoule

 

SERUM

WinnerClarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase

Most of you already know that I’m generally not one for serums as they tend to do bugger-all. Maybe it’s because my face is in pretty good nick that I simply fail to see the results. But I’m not going to damage my skin so I can reap the benefits of a corrective serum. I just see better results with creams and oils. Sorry, y’all. That being said, this serum by Clarins is beautiful… and I might be a bit biased in saying that as I’m partial to an oil, and this one happens to be bi-phasic. Everything about it is on-point. And being a sufferer of dehydrated skin, this product (and the Kate Somerville product below) does my favourite thing—immediately relieves dehydration. You can see and feel that your skin has changed in terms of hydration after applying it. Locking it in with a cream or an oil or both prolongs the effects for several hours. P.S., Apparently the HydraQuench range has been discontinued and rebranded as Hydra-Essentiel. That’s fine with me (nicer packaging), as long as the formulas have not changed.

Honourable Mention: Kate Somerville DermalQuench Liquid Lift

 

EYE CREAM

WinnerClarins Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate

Yay, eye cream! (Were you able to contain your laughter?) Eye creams are a joke. They don’t do anything that a normal facial moisturizer can’t. You don’t need one. Unless the skin around your eyes is vastly different than the skin on the rest of your face (e.g., you have extremely oily skin but your eyelids and under-eye areas are drier than a popcorn fart), take everything around the eye area. Yes, I know your facial moisturizer says avoid the eye area. That’s because the brand wants you to buy their eye cream! Biggest scam of the industry. And after all that, here I am saying that I actually enjoy the Clarins Super Restorative Total Eye Concentrate… I would never buy it in the full-size, but you better believe I’m going to be using it if it comes as a GWP. It’s a lightweight lotion-cream that does not cause milia or puffiness and *hallelujah* IT DOES NOT BALL UP!

Honourable Mention: Bobbi Brown Hydrating Eye Cream

 

FACIAL OIL

Winner — Tata Harper Beautifying Face Oil*

The most underrated Tata Harper product. In my humble opinion, it is better than the Vintner’s Daughter oil-serum that everyone and their dog quacks on about. Sorry, VD. Hah. I said VD. Moving on. This medium-weight oil smells like flowers plucked straight out of a cow patty. It smooths over the skin beautifully, it heals blemishes fast, and it imparts one hell of a glow. I’m allowing it to trump my beloved Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil this year for these qualities only. The only downside is that you can only buy this from Tata Harper’s website (to my knowledge), so my stateside friend Annie, previously mentioned, was kind enough to send this to me when we did our swap.

Honourable Mention: Clarins Blue Orchid Face Treatment Oil

 

TARGETED TREATMENT

WinnerSarah Chapman Skinesis Overnight Facial

Another winner from Sarah Chapman. This oil-serum was created to mimic the effects of Sarah’s award-winning Skinesis facial. It has vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, Co-Q10, peptides, alpha lipoid acid, anti-inflammatory omegas, and it smells beautifully of woods, fresh roses, and earthy jasmine. Every time I use this product I wake up with better skin. I love that it’s a sure-thing.

Honourable Mention: Guerlain Midnight Secret Late Night Recovery Treatment

 

MOISTURIZER

WinnerCrème de la Mer The Moisturizing Soft Cream

Ah, this is a rekindled love affair. The price of La Mer products makes my eyes water, but what’s a boy to do when they work? And let me tell you—they work. This moisturizer is like butter. It makes the skin feel plush like velvet. I haven’t found another product that comes close to replicating this effect. It’s just a fabulous cream. Worth the hype. There’s a very good reason why La Mer’s products are legendary.

Honourable Mention: Omorovicza Balancing Moisturizer

 

SPF

WinnerCharlotte Tilbury Charlotte’s Magic Cream SPF 15

I purchased the Gift of Red Carpet Skin set from Charlotte Tilbury at the beginning of last year. Expectations and skepticism were at an all-time high here. The Supermodel Body and Take It All Off Makeup Remover were swiftly re-gifted to my sister (and FYI, she loves them both). I was only interested in the Multi-Miracle Glow Balm (yuck), Goddess Skin Clay Mask (awesome), Wonder Glow (awesome), and of course, Charlotte’s Magic Cream. The first time I used this product I knew it was a winner. Rich, cushiony, comforting moisture, instantaneous reduction in redness, enhanced glow, and sun protection. It is magic, and its magic seduced me into purchasing the full-sized jar. I’m pleased to say it’s my top daytime moisturizer.

Honourable Mention (non-tinted): Avène Hydrance Optimale SPF 25

Honourable Mention (tinted): Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30

 

CLAY / MUD MASK

WinnerThe Body Shop Himalayan Charcoal Purifying Glow Mask*

I only started using this mask at the end of December as it was a Christmas gift from my grandmother, BUT it is so effing good that it bowled over every other clay mask that had a chance of making this list. It is better than GLAMGLOW’s clay masks. It is better than the Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask (which otherwise would have won this category). As it was a gift, my expectations were more or less nonexistent. I still haven’t bothered to dissect its ingredients list. What I will tell you that it is the strongest clay mask I’ve ever used. It is massively tingly, wildly exfoliating, it decongests pores, kills blemishes, retexturizes the surface of the skin, and makes your face look so much clearer overall. I didn’t expect a product like this from The Body Shop of all places. I need to check out their other new face masks to see if they’re as good as this one!

Honourable Mention: Omorovicza Deep Cleansing Mask

 

EXFOLIATING / RADIANCE-BOOSTING MASK

WinnerLiz Earle Brightening Treatment Mask

Here is another incredible Liz Earle product that I enjoyed in 2016 but that I most likely will never be able to purchase again because of the stockist issue and customs/duties mishap previously mentioned. Even though this pump-dispensed mask is clay-based, I don’t find it behaves like or mimics the effects of typical clay masks. It doesn’t dry to a thick crust like most clay masks do (in fact, it’s probably the easiest-to-remove mask I’ve ever used) and it doesn’t decongest the skin. Instead, it tightens contours and turns dull and lacklustre into radiant and bright. I loved using this mask in the morning if I had some extra time to get ready because it guaranteed a good skin day.

Honourable Mention: CelleClé Omega-Zyme C Enzyme Masque*

 

HYDRATING / NOURISHING MASK

WinnerMay Lindstrom Skin The Honey Mud*

I just scooped the last bit of this chocolatey gem out of the jar I won in a giveaway hosted by Green & Pure, and it’s on my face as I type this. Out of all of May Lindstrom’s products, this is the one I thought I would dislike the most, but it is actually the one that I enjoy the most. I love when that happens. I don’t find The Honey Mud effective as effective when used as a cleanser, so I always use it as a mask, leaving it on for hours and hours to allow my skin to suck up all of its gorgeousness. It emulsifies on contact with water and leaves behind a thin veil of nourishing protection on the skin. If my skin is balanced I can skip moisturizer after removing this product. It’s a winner, and I can’t wait to repurchase it.

Honourable Mention: The Lotus Sleeping Pack with Lotus Leaf Extract*

 

SHEET MASK

WinnerPeach & Lily Reset Button (Sooth + Restore)*

Peach & Lily released their own line of sheet masks this year, and the generous folks over there were kind enough to send them to me to test. Their mask line was designed to fill in the gaps where other companies went wrong—they’ve taken out the questionable ingredients most sheet masks contain (alcohol, artificial fragrance) to make more room for the good stuff. These are the best-fitting sheet masks I’ve ever tried and they stick to your face like nobody’s business, allowing you to go about your life without worrying the mask is going to flop off. Out of the three masks, Reset Button was my favourite for its natural gentle scent and soothing and hydrating results.

Honourable Mention: Reme+G Aqua Home Peeling 3-Step Kit*

 

LIP BALM

WinnerBag Balm

The best lip balm and skin-soothing hybrid on the market. I whack a thick layer of this on my lips every night before I go to bed and never experience any dryness or chapping. Bag Balm is a lanolin and petroleum mix (sorry if you’re averse to this) that contains the antiseptic compound 8-hydroxyquinoline sulfate, making it great to heal rashes, cuts, and even blemishes. My only qualm is the packaging—I wish they would put this in something other than a tin. I do like the tin, though, because it’s cute and green and has cows and roses on it, but it forces me to use a cosmetic spatula or a sterile cotton bud to remove the product so I don’t muddy it up with finger germs.

Honourable Mention: fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Balm

 

SPOT TREATMENT

WinnerCOSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch

This year I discovered the wonders of hydrocolloid technology to heal blemishes in a rapid way that doesn’t leave scars and doesn’t dry the shit out of your skin. On a clean, dry face, before putting on any treatment products, stick one of the patches over your blemish (they come in different sizes, so pick the appropriate one depending on how big the blemish is), and carry on with the rest of your routine. Allow a couple hours for the patch to suck all of the gunk out of the blemish (I leave them over night if I can). You can tell that it’s worked because you’ll see a white dot within the patch where the exudate has been drawn. Once the patch is removed, you’re left with a flat surface and a bit of residual redness that can easily be colour-corrected and concealed. No poking, squeezing, dryness, nothing. The leftover inflammation goes away on its own. No scarring. Brilliant. I can’t recommend these enough. COSRX needs to make a sheet mask of this.

Honourable Mention: Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel

 

IMPLEMENT

WinnerDHC Silky Cotton

These cotton pads are like soft little pillows for the face. They are the best cotton pads on the market. I’ve been using them for years now and still recommend them to everybody. I buy mine off of FeelUnique.

Honourable Mention: Bog-standard terrycloth flannel (ol’ faithful)

 

RAPID-FIRE HAIR + BODY FAVOURITES OF 2016

 

SHAMPOO: Oribe Signature Shampoo

CONDITIONER: Oribe Signature Conditioner

HAIR SPRAY: Oribe Superfine Hair Spray

BODY WASH: Caudalie Thé Des Vignes Shower Gel

BODY LOTION: Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream

BODY EXFOLIANT: The Body Shop Coconut Body Scrub

BODY OIL: Rachel’s Plan Bee x kimberlyloc Jasmine Body Oil

SHAVING CREAM: Face Skin Care Ultimate Comfort Shaving Cream

DEODORANT: Clarins Gentle Care Roll-On Deodorant

HAND CREAM: Clarins Hand and Nail Treatment Cream (Fig Leaf Scented)

 

MOST DISAPPOINTING PRODUCTS OF 2016

 

– May Coop Raw Sauce (does nothing)

Kypris Moonlight Catalyst (does nothing; brand is daft when it comes to customer service)

Sunday Riley Blue Moon Cleansing Balm (gritty texture; plasticky scent; clogs pores)

indeed Laboratories Eysilix Total Eye Rescuer (balls up and peels off almost immediately)

Cura Complexion Catalyst Crème (odd chalky texture; doesn’t absorb; balls up and peels off)

Hourglass Ambient Lighting Powder, Dim Light (oxidizes to bright orange)

NIOD Superoxide Dismutaste Saccharide Mist (sticky; does nothing; dehydrates skin)

NIOD Sanskrit Saponins (sticky; smells vile; does not [and cannot] cleanse the skin)

NIOD Copper Amino Isolate Serum 1% (does nothing; dehydrates skin)

NIOD Multi-Molecular Hyaluronic Complex (hydrates only marginally for an “advanced” formula)

The Ordinary (useless products; inelegant textures; novice formulas that focus on single ingredients)

Pixi Glow Tonic (does nothing; smells absolutely horrendous [mouldy flowers])

Ursa Major Essential Face Tonic (poor packaging [leaky cap]; smells like Pine-Sol; does nothing)

Tata Harper Purifying Cleanser (loved this initially but grew to despise it; fussy; packaging issues; exorbitant price tag not merited by any stretch)

Cremorlab Aqua Tank Hydro Plus Water-Full Mask (gel sections don’t adhere to face; does nothing)

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Night Cream (sticky; does not absorb)

Charlotte Tilbury Multi-Miracle Glow (sticky; clogs pores)

 

……………………………………………………………….

Here’s to putting 2016 behind us! Thank you to everyone who has stuck by me and has been so kind and patient over this past year. Your support and friendship means the world to me. Any product in this post that has been marked with an asterisk is one that I did not purchase with my own money. Either these products were gifted to me by friends or family, have been won by me through a giveaway, or were sent to me for PR consideration.

Let me know what your guys’ favourite products of 2016 were in the comments if you have the time! x

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8 thoughts on “BEST OF BEAUTY – 2016

  1. My def no1 product of 2016 is Clarins energy booster. It does such a difference to my exhausted skin.
    In general, we don’t have common favorites because we have different skin type. But I need to try that Clarins eye cream, you really did description of me- oily skin and eye area is popcorns fart LOL (still dying!!)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t wait to try the boosters! I have no room for them in my collection right now but I’ve been eyeing them up for a long time. 🙂 And LOL, the popcorn fart thing is something my dad used to say. I have no idea how it’s snuck its way into my own vocabulary, but I’m glad it made you laugh! x ❤

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  2. I did NOT know that Clarins released a cleansing oil! And it’s olive oil based too. MUST TRY. Have you tried the MUJI Sensitive Skin cleansing oil? It’s great and super inexpensive – also olive oil based.
    Also interested in trying the Clarins Toning Lotion with Camomile.
    And yesss, I’ve tried the Clarins HydraQuench Intensive Serum Bi-Phase (a few samples) and I lurve it. I’m waiting for a gwp before I take the plunge.
    I’m not sure why my post turned into such a Clarins love-fest but those are all of the items that piqued my interest.
    Now I also Nature Republic Rose Real Nature Ampoule and Bag Balm.
    And hmmm I was thinking of trying The Ordinary skincare – thanks for your thoughts on it. And gasp, Pixi Glow Tonic is no good? I was thinking of grabbing one when Shoppers starts carrying the line!
    Great list!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yesss! Most people don’t know about it because you can only get it online. 🙂 It’s very similar to the cleansing oils from Japanese brands (i.e., awesome). Where do you find the MUJI cleansing oil? I’m always up for trying new ones. 😀 The camomile toner is awesome, it smells like Fruity Pebbles. 😀 And a lot of my items are from Clarins because they are so darn good! They usually get things spot-on, so I have no problem giving credit where credit is due. I got my Bag Balm from Urban Outfitters! It’s amazing! You can pass on The Ordinary altogether, it’s not even worth its cheap price (you really do get what you pay for). Yeah, I was always iffy on the Pixi Glow Tonic, and when I finally got to try it I had been right all along. It just smells so disgusting. Intolerably so. And I’m saying that after having used the vinegar P50 and Masque Vivant!

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  3. I just discovered your blog while researching Kypris products, fascinated to read of your experiences with their awful customer services. But I’m really interested that you mention several Niod products on your most disappointing list. I’ve been trying to use some of their products all year,could not understand why they weren’t working for me, kept reading rave reviews all over the place. Especially the Mist,why does it dehydrate when it’s supposed to do the opposite?? And the Hyarolonic serum, expensive and seems to do nothing? Wow, even the famous Copper Amino,I got though a whole bottle and…nothing! Glad it’s not just me! I’m using the Neck Elasticity Catalyst at the moment, don’t hold out much hope after the others but will continue till the bitter end! You never know, this one might be the one that actually does something!
    I like your blog a lot, please keep it up.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Awww, thank you so much Vivienne! I really appreciate your thoughtful comment. It’s a shame that the NIOD products didn’t work for you, either. Before you commit to a purchase, try and find reviews from actual people whose opinions you trust. When you read reviews authored by bloggers who received products for free, take everything with a grain of salt and always use your better judgment. If the reviews are gushing and discount codes, etc. are offered in the post, chances are you can write it off as dishonest.

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