41 of the Beauty Products I Used Most in 2015

From foundation to face wash, these products were in high rotation at Beauty Editor HQ.
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Michelle Villett
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From foundation to face wash, these products were in high rotation at Beauty Editor HQ.

We've already talked about the best NEW beauty products of 2015. But those weren't the only products I used and loved over the last 12 months. There were SO MANY more. (Quelle surprise, I know!)

So today, I want to give you a peek into my makeup bag/medicine cabinet to see all the stuff I've been using. This is a long—very long!—list of all my personal favourites of 2015, whether they were new discoveries or oldies that I've loved for ages.

Note: You will see A LOT of natural products on this list, and specifically a lot of RMS Beauty. Founder Rose-Marie Swift's tale of discovering a high chemical load from exposure to cosmetics really struck a chord with me, and so I try to wear things with safe ingredients when I'm not testing. She is the only person I've heard of in the beauty industry who understands the dangers of rancid polyunsaturated oils, and I also just think she has amazing taste in colour and texture. Hence, her coconut oil-based prodz are definitely my jam.

Okay, let's start! Here's what I used most in 2015:

1. Foundation

In 2015, I found Sappho Organics Liquid Foundation, and now my search for the perfect foundation/BB/CC/tinted moisturizer is OVER. I think it looks more natural on the skin than anything else I've tried; it also smells amazing and uses safe, natural ingredients. I wear the shade Leisha and you can read my full review here; also check out my interview with the founder, Canadian makeup artist JoAnn Fowler. I'm not married to any one foundation brush, so I apply this with whatever I grab first from my collection.

2. Concealer (Eye Area)

I've been using RMS Beauty "Un" Cover-Up for years and still adore it. I pat shade 11 on my eye area with my fingers, and sometimes around the nose as well; if I'm having a good skin day I'll even sheer it out as foundation with the RMS Beauty Skin2Skin Foundation Brush. I just find it a bit too creamy for blemishes. Rose-Marie did a talk at The Detox Market last year and convinced me that the ingredients in my former favourite Clé de Peau were probably aging to the delicate eye area.

3. Concealer (Redness + Blemishes)

When I need my concealer to REALLY conceal, and to stay put for hours, I always turn to Make Up For Ever Full Cover Concealer in the shade Light Beige 3. It is completely opaque, requires no setting with powder, and you only need the tiniest smidge (therefore a tube will probably last you years). It's perfect for spot-covering pimples, and sometimes I will put it around my nose since I get redness there. 

4. Concealer Brush

Okay, speaking of pimples... if you want to cover them properly, you have to dab the concealer on with a teensy tiny brush. NOT a concealer brush, because those are too big and too flat. I use a lip brush, and my favourite is the Japonesque Retractable Lip Brush. The bristles are just the right size and aren't irritating on the skin, like many brushes can be. I always have one of these in my purse for touch-ups on the go.

5. Blush (Cream)

I got big into RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Curious last year. On your cheeks, it's not as bright orange as it looks—it's more sheer, and surprisingly flattering on me compared to pink blush. I just bought a second one for my purse, that's how much I love this product! You can read my review of this shade here. I apply it with the RMS Beauty Skin2Skin Blush Brush I mentioned here.

6. Blush (Powder)

Celebrity makeup artist Katey Denno recommended Gabriel Blush in Apricot on Cupcakes and Cashmere last year, so I snapped it up when I found it at Whole Foods. It is so great! I also bought the shade Petal, which is a lighter/subtler nude compared to the peachy-pink of Apricot.

7. Freckle Pencil

Did you know that makeup artists sometimes paint freckles on their clients' faces after applying foundation, so that it looks more natural? BEST TRICK EVER. My product of choice for this is EcoBrow Defining Wax in Marilyn, which I dab on with the Real Techniques Silicone Eye Liner Brush and then soften with a fingertip. 

8. Powder

I was a devoted user of Make Up For Ever HD Microfinish Powder, but I switched to RMS Beauty "Un" Powder last year. Both products are made of pure silica, but I think the RMS silica is higher quality. I have it in the colourless and Tinted versions, and press it on sparingly with the puff. I've found it looks too heavy if you try to sweep it on with a fluffy brush. If you've ever found that "Un" Cover-Up looks too shiny or doesn't stay put, you need (and will LOVE!) the powder over top.

9. Highlighter

No surprise, the best highlighter of all time is RMS Beauty's Living Luminizer. I love this dabbed at the inner corners of my eyes and along the tops of my cheekbones. This is seriously one of the best ways to fool people into thinking you have perfect skin.

10. Eyelash Curler

Shu Uemura's iconic Eyelash Curler is the one that works for me. 

11. Mascara

When it comes to mascara, I am NOT loyal. However, I used L'Oréal Paris Double Extend Beauty Tubes Mascara more than any other last year. Why? Because I was sick of looking in the mirror mid-day and seeing smudgy raccoon eyes from whatever I'd been testing. So I picked the cheapest tubular mascara at the drugstore and eh, it's good enough! I'll sacrifice volume if the product will at least stay put, which this does.

12. Eyeshadow (Powder)

When JoAnn did my makeup, she also introduced me to her amazing Sappho Organics Natural Eyes Eyeshadows, which you can mix and match in the magnetic Sappho Organics Stainless Steel Compact. I like these because the eight shades were all chosen with a makeup artist's eye, so they just WORK. They're more interesting than the typical Sephora palette, but not too pigmented for the non-expert. Pro tip from JoAnn: mix them with aloe vera gel to create more intensity and staying power (I do this with Jono to create a liner). Chloe is my favourite for shading the crease.

13. Eyeshadow (Cream)

If I'm wearing cream eyeshadow and care about creasing, then I will use the Giorgio Armani Eye Tint that I just talked about. If not, I'm a fan of RMS Beauty Cream Eye Polish—in every colour, really, but mostly I wear Myth. It does crease, but I love how these shadows look anyway. Myth is a light minky brown that I wear up all the way to my brows.

14. Eyeliner

Probably my favourite eyeliner is Smashbox Always Sharp Waterproof Kôhl Liner, because it glides on yet is very smudge-proof. The cap also has a self-sharpening feature that keeps the tip nice and pointy. 

15. Brow Mascara

You simply can't beat Maybelline Brow Drama for the results and the price. I reviewed it last year and still use it (in Blonde) all the time. I love that it both bulks up your individual brow hairs and holds them in place all day long. 

16. Lip Colour

How to choose a favourite lipstick out of the dozens I used in 2015? I can't! But I will say that I get the most compliments when I wear RMS Beauty Lip2Cheek in Curious on cheeks and lips. (What can I say? I'm having a major orange moment.) Honorouble mentions go to the Bite Beauty Maple Matte Crème Lipsticks (now sold out), Nūdus Organic Lipstick in Fairy Tales (reviewed here) and Burt's Bees Lip Crayon in Niagara Overlook (reviewed here).

17. Lip Gloss

I wasn't into lip gloss in a big way in 2015, but when I did wear it, I reached for Mineral Fusion's Sheer Moisture Lip Tints. They're crayons but aren't very pigmented—you can see all the swatches here—and my fave is Shimmer.

18. Lip Liner

My lip liner pick is Joe Fresh Long Wear Lip Liner in Cool Nude. Honestly, it perform as well if not better than lip liners from top makeup artist brands. This colour is very "your lips, only better" and it lives up to its long-wear promise. You can see my swatch here. I often wear this with just lip balm.

19. Tinted Lip Balm

Continuing with my orange theme, Pixi Shea Butter Lip Balm in Coral Crush was my favourite lip balm-lip colour hybrid last year. Now that we're in cooler weather, I am also wearing the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Fig that I mentioned here for a '90s pearlescent look.

20. Lip Balm (Day)

It's hard to find a lip balm that works! One that does, for me, is Dior Addict Lip Glow. Apparently it has a slight tint that adjusts according to your body chemistry, but I don't notice that so much—I wear it for moisturization purposes alone. This is always in my purse. 

21. Lip Balm (Night)

I don't wear the Dior balm at night; for that, I use the untinted Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment. I've talked about my struggles with dry lips, but this stuff rescues me from even the worst case of chapping

22. Nail Polish

As I mentioned here, Formula X Sheer Strength was my go-to nail polish last year. For chip-prone nails, it is the best! Easy to apply and makes your nails look clean and glossy, while adding strength. I also love RMS Beauty Nail Polish in Luminizer, any polish from Dior (they have my favourite brushes) and the new Smith & Cult range (reviewed here) for brights. 

23. Foot File

I used to be a mega-fan of the Emjoi Micro-Pedi for keeping the soles of my feet smooth and callus-free, but once I ordered the Microplane Colossal Pedicure Rasp, I never looked back. Can 4,000+ four-star Amazon.com reviews be wrong? No, no they cannot. It may look like a cheese grater, but this thing will leave your feet as soft as a baby's!

24. Face Wash

I'm not too fussy about my cleansers, as long as they're not full of sulfates that will strip my skin barrier. The one I used the most last year was The Body Shop Nutriganics Foaming Facial Wash, and I'd buy it again. I love that it leaves my skin clean and soft, not tight.

25. Cleansing Brush

I think you can get pretty much the same results no matter which cleansing brush you choose, whether it's the popular Clarisonic, Philips PureRadiance (reviewed here) or something else. My personal pick? Foreo Luna, because I am lazy and you never have to worry about cleaning the silicone bristles. I also love the ergonomic design and the fact that there is no charging stand to take up counter space.

26. Makeup Remover

Of course, I can't talk about my favourite products without a shout-out to Bioderma Sensibio H2O, the original and still the best micellar cleansing water. Not a day goes by where I don't use it, both for makeup removal and cleaning up eye makeup smudges.

27. Exfoliator

One of the skincare tips I swear by is to exfoliate as often as your skin can tolerate with an acid toner. It makes such a difference, this is the reason people rave about the cult Biologique Recherche Lotion P50—it's not just about the ingredients but the fact that you have to use it twice a day. When I ran out of P50, I started trying other acids, and you know what? No difference in results when I used them with the same consistency. I like the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel Nightly Brightening Pads because they, too, have niacinamide, and exfoliate with fruit acids.

28. Face Serum

One of my longest skincare relationships has been with Consonant HydrExtreme Hydrating Boosting Serum. It is just the BEST. With only two ingredients, it works better than any fancy hyaluronic serum I've tried. In fact, it hydrates so well, most of the time I don't even bother with moisturizer on top! My full review is over here

29. Face Oil

When I feel like I need a bit more than just serum, I will layer a drop or two of MV Organic Skincare Pure Jojoba on top. The quality of this oil is amazing, it's not a PUFA, and it doesn't break me out—just adds some extra hydration and barrier protection. 

30. Sunscreen

I prefer to use mineral sunscreens, not chemical ones, and Cyberderm Simply Zinc Sun Whip SPF 30 is the best one I've ever found. It protects with a super-high proportion of zinc oxide (22 percent), which is safer than titanium dioxide, in a base of olive oil and anti-aging peptides. It doesn't leave a white residue either!

31. Eye Cream

Truth be told, I got attached to Éminence Organics Neroli Age Corrective Eye Serum last year because it smells sooo good. (Neroli oil and coconut water, yum!) But also acts like a natural retinol, and hydrates and refreshes my eye area without feeling greasy under makeup. This writer at The Cut is also a fan! 

32. Deodorant

The new generation of natural deodorants—which are made from baking soda, coconut oil and shea butter—definitely work for me. The name is terrible, but I think Primal Pit Paste's formula is probably the best of the bunch. I also appreciate that their Natural Deodorant Stick just swipes on without having to dip your fingers in a pot. You can read my original review of it here.

33. Body Lotion

For body lotion, I just use a coconut oil such as Nutiva's Organic Virgin Coconut Oil. I find most body lotions have questionable ingredients, and it's important to me to use something safe when it's going on such a large surface area.

34. Shampoo

I was so excited to discover Toronto-based World Salon's line of professional-quality, all-natural hair products last year. Unlike every other natural hair line I've tried, these actually perform on par with the likes of salon brands such as Kérastase, etc.—I would actually say they work better for me! World Clean Hair & Skin Cleanser is what I use for shampoo. It's clear, not creamy, and leaves my hair feeling bouncy yet nourished.

35. Conditioner/Hair Masque

As much as I love World Clean, I think I love World Repair Deep Conditioner even more. It is an all-natural hair masque with a gorgeous whipped texture, and I swear that it has improved the condition of my hair (to the point where the shampoo girl commented!). I use it on my ends, in place of regular conditioner.

36. Hairspray

The third and final World Salon product I'm loved up with is the World Up Natural Holding Spray, which is a sugar-based, alcohol-free natural hairspray. I just use a tiny bit around my part to hold it in place and tame any flyaways, and it does work!

37. Hair Brush

I use my Mason Pearson Brush for everything I do to my hair: detangling, blow-dries, styling and just generally refreshing my hair. They are pricey but worth it, in my opinion—they will never rip your hair, and last forever!

38. Hair Dryer

I got my first T3 hair dryer 10 years ago and it still works! But in 2015, I upgraded to the T3 Featherweight 2 Dryer, which is even speedier. I'm usually a lazy air-dryer, but this works so fast (and leaves my hair so smooth) that I'll probably blow-dry more often now. 

39. Fragrance

There are so many perfumes I love, but can't wear due to allergies. Fortunately, essential oils don't give me any issues, including the Tata Harper Aromatic Stress Treatment. It's not technically a fragrance, but I use it that way—it smells so fresh and instantly relaxes me. You can read my original review here.

40. Home Fragrance

I can't talk about essential oils without popping in a mention of my new home fragrance obsession, the Escents Dream Ceramic Aroma Diffuser. It dispenses the oils via a fine mist (so no tea light burning required) and I now consider it a must-have for my workspace. I usually do a combo of orange, peppermint and lavender oils.

41. Anti-Aging Gadget

I'm a big believer in red LED light therapy for skin rejuvenation. I use the Baby Quasar, an extremely durable hand-held gadget that you hold against your facial skin, section by section (it will beep after three minutes). I've definitely noticed an improvement in terms of fewer breakouts and better tone; it helps increase circulation and blood flow and is even said to enhance collagen development. It's a big splurge, but I've had mine for at least five years and it's still going strong.

Shop the Story

1. Foundation | 2. Concealer (Eye Area) | 3.  Concealer (Redness + Blemishes) | 4. Concealer Brush | 5. Blush (Cream) | 6. Blush (Powder) | 7. Freckle Pencil | 8. Powder | 9. Highlighter | 10. Eyelash Curler | 11. Mascara | 12. Eyeshadow (Powder) | 13. Eyeshadow (Cream) |14. Eyeliner | 15. Brow Mascara | 16. Lip Colour | 17. Lip Gloss | 18. Lip Liner | 19. Tinted Lip Balm | 20. Lip Balm (Day) | 21. Lip Balm (Night) | 22. Nail Polish | 23. Foot File | 24. Face Wash | 25. Cleansing Brush | 26. Makeup Remover | 27. Exfoliator | 28. Face Serum | 29. Face Oil | 30. Sunscreen | 31. Eye Cream | 32. Deodorant | 33. Body Lotion | 34. Shampoo | 35. Conditioner/Hair Masque | 36. Hairspray | 37. Hair Brush | 38. Hair Dryer | 39. Fragrance | 40. Home Fragrance | 41. Anti-Aging Gadget

Have Your Say

Have you tried any of my favourite products? What's on your "best of 2015" list?