2015 was such a full year for me! I struggled a lot with my job at school. I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree. I spent the summer traveling all across the United States, including visiting 8 states for the first time (Alaska, Washington, South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa, Indiana, Kentucky, and Tennessee). I attended the first funerals I’ve been to since I was 9, and unfortunately that was funerals in the plural. This means I’ve been so, so incredibly lucky not to have lost anyone close to me since then, but it made this particular year really rough. I started graduate school and managed a 3.82 GPA last semester.
It was so hard to develop my “best of” list for this past year. In 2014 I discovered a lot about the basics of beauty, but while I did learn a lot in 2015, this year was more about delving in and figuring out what I liked most. I still don’t have any true holy grails (I haven’t tried quite enough products for that!), but I’m getting there. After all, isn’t that what this whole process is about?
1. Serums & Oils
This year was the year I discovered the wide world of serums and oils. My interest in serum-type products started back in the summer of 2014 when I purchased the Nutriganics Drops of Youth Concentrate, but this year I expanded the number of serums I own by a huge amount through sampling and started using serums regularly in my routine. Now I have too many serums, and am struggling to get through them at a fast enough pace. Oops!
In March I received an oil from Paula’s Choice in my Birchbox and liked it so much I ordered a full size. Then I tried out a rosehip oil and a serum-in-oil, as well as transitioning to using a body oil and starting to test out hair oils. I even started using a cleansing oil!
2. Face Sunscreen
My grandmother gave me a bottle of moisturizer with SPF 30 for Christmas 2014, and to humor her I tried my best to use it throughout the winter and spring despite not loving it. In May, on a determined sunscreen-using kick but lacking products I loved using, I ordered the Sephora Favorites Sun Safety Kit and discovered several SPF products I love. The Supergoop! Anti-Aging City Sunscreen Serum SPF 30 topped the list, and this year I’m intending to buy a full-size version. It was the first sunscreen I’ve ever tried that I truly loved the feeling of on my face, and it layered really nicely with other skincare products and sunscreens. The Vita Liberata Passion Flower & Argan Dry Oil Broad Spectrum SPF 50 was another product from that kit I loved (since I discovered oils for everything else, why not a sunscreen oil?). In general, this year I made a huge effort to use SPF protection and it paid off — I only got sunburned once, and it was just my shoulders. It ended up being a lot easier than I’d been expecting to use sunscreen every day (although now that it’s winter it’s harder again!)
3. Coastal Scents Revealed 2 Palette
I LOVE this palette. It has been my go-to palette since I bought it in the fall of 2014 and was the one makeup product that I used consistently throughout the year (along with the Coastal Scents Step One Eyeshadow Primer). Even though on the surface the colors seem autumnal, that didn’t stop me from using it in the winter, spring, and summer. Making looks with this palette is just so easy, and I’ve actually used every single color in this palette at least a couple of times (although I definitely have my favorites — that lavender shade? that rosy shimmer? that matte cranberry? All perfection in powder form).
4. Eyeshadow foiled as eyeliner
In May I discovered that you can use a wet brush to apply eyeshadow as eyeliner. I found it so much easier to do this than to use a real eyeliner, and since I love eyeshadow and have so many colors, it really opened up the possibilities of eyeliner colors I could achieve. My favorite eyeshadow to do this with is the Coastal Scents Chocolate Berry hot pot, which is a shimmery dark purple shade. It came with me on every trip this year for this very reason. In general, I’ve loved experimenting with my CS hot pot colors for this look because I rarely wear the hot pots I have otherwise (in part because I’ve been using the Revealed 2 palette so much!)
5. Chloé Love Story perfume
I received this perfume as a gift last Christmas and immediately purchased a FLO atomizer so that I could carry it with me when I traveled. I’ve found that it’s suitable for most situations, from everyday wear to fancy dances. Therefore, this perfume has come with me literally everywhere I went this year, including being tossed in my handbag for refreshers during events like graduation.
6. Coastal Scents Loose Eyeshadow in Cobblestone and Nightingale
This has been my favorite eyeshadow pairing all year — together, these shades achieve a beautiful brown gradient smoky eye. Despite my love of eyeshadow I’m still a newbie when it comes to technique, and this duo helped me step out of my comfort zone. Plus, just look at that pigmentation!
7. The Body Shop Body Butters
Despite their amazing reputation, I never really liked the TBS body butters. That all changed because of two products I received this year: the Shea body butter as a gift-with-purchase and the Smoky Poppy body butter from a giveaway. It made me realize that I just hadn’t found the body butter with the right scent and texture for me until now. I loved these products so much that I ended up buying a second tub of each.
8. Nail Polish
I stopped biting my nails on January 11th, 2015. Since then, I’ve almost always had a polish on my nails, and so I wanted to highlight a few of my favorite polishes that helped me beat the nail-biting habit. I have to give a special shout-out to Essie Grow Stronger Base Coat, because it was the base of pretty much every manicure I did from March until December and I credit it with helping my nails recover from over a decade of being bitten. Zoya Glimmer is a sparkly nude that I loved because it is so easy to apply and wear. And both Zoya Nyx and Revlon Diamond Texture were important because wearing textured polish was a great way to avoid biting my nails.
9. The Body Shop
I’ve already mentioned a TBS product in this favorites post, but I have to include the brand as a whole as well. Last year Yves Rocher was the brand I purchased from the most, but this year it was superseded by TBS. I shopped at TBS enough over the course of the year to qualify for a free upgrade for my Love Your Body card (which requires spending at least $160). Almost none of the products I bought from TBS were duds, and for those that were they have an excellent return policy.
10. Yves Rocher Elixir 7.9
Despite it not being my overall favorite brand this year, products from Yves Rocher are still definitely making my “best of” list. I discovered this moisturizer in January 2015, and am currently working my way through my second jar. I loved it so much that I also bought a travel-sized tube so I could carry it with me on vacation this summer. Its thick but gel-like texture makes it suitable for me for both summer and winter.
11. Face Masks
This category made my list last year, but I’ve expanded my collection of face masks so much this year that I think it deserves to be included again. My favorite new mask from this year was the nügg Revitalizing Mask with Flaxseed and Peppermint Oil. I also still love the Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask and the Yves Rocher Hydra Vegetal Intense Hydrating Mask, as well as the Royal Apothic Cuppa Cuppa Exfoliating Firming Tea Mask. I could probably be happy with just these 4 masks in my collection (but don’t tell the rest of my masks that!).
#12 for 12 months of Birchbox! For 2015 I took the plunge and signed up for an annual Birchbox subscription. I was extremely nervous about it after a mediocre January box, but throughout the rest of the year Birchbox did nothing but wow me with beautiful boxes, star products, amazing customer service, and great discounts. Pictured here are some of my favorite products that Birchbox introduced me to this year, including the nügg face mask.
13. Coola BB Cream
Speaking of products Birchbox introduced me to… this sample came in my February box, and I purchased a full size in May for use over the summer. It doesn’t offer as much coverage as I would like sometimes and it’s only capable of covering small blemishes, but it’s mattifying, it’s lightweight, and it contains SPF — all that I want in a summer BB cream.
14. Benefit Roller Lash Mascara
Yet another product Birchbox laid in my lap! I’ve never loved mascara, and this aversion wasn’t helped by trying mascara after mascara that were a pain to apply and just ended up making my eyelashes look unnatural. I’m a fan of the “MLBB” (my lashes but better) look, and Roller Lash achieves that for me — lengthening but not too lengthening, blackening but not too blackening. My lashes naturally have a slight curl, and this also accentuates that. One coat and I’m good to go!
15. Wet n Wild Blushing Bali Lipstick
A ton of Wet n Wild lipsticks were in the bargain bin at my local drugstore last spring, and so I bought ~10 of them. This is pretty much the only color from that set that I actually wear, but I’ve worn it so much this year that it deserves the final spot on my 2015 favorites list. It’s a beautiful coral color that toes the line between MLBB and bold (for me, at least) and has been the gateway lipstick for me to start wearing everyday lip colors that aren’t the exact same shade as my lips.
I also wanted to give a couple of honorable mentions for products that didn’t quite make my top 15 but that I loved nonetheless. I picked up the body/hand cream on the left while I was in Alaska this summer in two scents (Vanilla Ginger Spice & Rosemary Mint, which both smell heavenly). The Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask has rescued my chapped lips several times this year. I discovered how wonderful the Lancome Clarifiance Gel Cleanser was this summer, just in time to find out that it has been discontinued for a while now (oops). And these are the brushes that were in my favorites last year and have made almost every single makeup look I did this year become a reality, especially those three eyeshadow brushes — they’re total workhorses. I used them almost every single day this year, including taking them on 11 different trips.
It’s interesting to me that no hair care products made this list — I guess I just didn’t care that much about my hair this year! Which I think is definitely true, since I pretty much wore the same basic braid as my hairstyle all year and barely touched my arsenal of styling products. Maybe this year I’ll be more adventurous when it comes to my hair.
Here’s to the discovery of even more makeup and skincare products in 2016!