These are my top picks for January 2016:
This month, it's a bit of a mascara extravaganza. I'm also going to show you my favourite face-cleansing brush, an innovative highlighter concept, and yet another nude lip colour to love!
These are in no particular order...
Foreo Luna 2
As far as cleansing brushes go, I think most of them give you about the same results—softer, smoother, cleaner skin that can more easily absorb your topical products without a layer of dead skin build-up. The reason I like the Foreo Luna is because it's made of waterproof silicone, which means it is extremely gentle and completely hygienic (you never have to worry about micro-tearing your skin or bacteria building up).
Now the brand has come out with a new generation design, the Luna 2, which is even more powerful and effective. The brush head is bigger and the silicone touch-points are longer, so it's faster and easier to reach around areas like your nose. It also has 12 adjustable pulsation intensities and holds a charge for an incredible seven months.
Shown here is the Luna 2 for Combination Skin, but it also comes in Sensitive (lavender), Normal (pink) and Oily (teal) models. They also have a new Luna Mini 2, which isn't specific to different skin types, but is a bit more affordable. I'm really addicted to these things!
Where to buy: Sephora
Physicians Formula Eye Booster Instant Doll Lash Extension Kit
About a year ago, I fell for Physicians Formula's first Instant Lash Extension Kit (which I continued to use throughout 2015). Now, they've come out with an Instant Doll Lash Extension Kit, which I'm finding even better.
The difference is in the brush, which has this new, tapered dome thingie on the end of it. That is exactly what helps you get the flared-out, "doll lash" look. As with the original kit, you then layer on the loose fibres and coat them with the mascara again to seal—repeating as many times as necessary.
Besides giving me flirtier, thicker-looking lashes, I also love this kit because it doesn't smear on me. Even with the cold weather making my eyes tear up, this has stayed put!
Marc Jacobs Feather Noir Ultra-Skinny Lash-Discovering Mascara
I don't know about you, but I LOVE skinny mascaras. It boggles my mind that more brands don't release them (MAC Extended Play Gigablack Lash Mascara is the only one I can think of from the past few years).
So I was très excited about Marc Jacobs introducing what is probably the skinniest mascara I've ever seen. Feather Noir Ultra-Skinny Lash-Discovering Mascara not only has a super-slim wand, but the bristles themselves are maybe a quarter of a millimetre long. That's it!
Unlike the big fat chunky wands that are on trend right now (but so clumsy to use), this lets you really get in there to grab every lash. The effect is very defined, very natural. No clumping or smearing for me, either.
Benefit Shy Beam Matte Highlighter
Strobing became a big deal in 2015, but as celebrity makeup artist Nick Barose told me, "Shimmer is fine—if you’re going to be dancing for Beyoncé." In other words, your highlighter needs to mimic a natural, healthy sheen instead of a disco ball. Enter Benefit Shy Beam Matte Highlighter.
That's right, matte highlighter. Basically, it is a soft, opaque pale pink that picks up the light subtly—so you don't get that sparkly or downright greasy look that many highlighters can give. This is for the tops of your cheeks, down your nose and on the Cupid's bow.
I'm not crazy about the nail polish-esque applicator; make sure you don't paint on too much, or it could look a bit chalky. Also, I think this will show up more on darker/warmer skin tones.
Where to buy: Sephora
The Knot Dr. PhD Hybrid Styler
I will be forever loyal to my Mason Pearson, but if we're talking inexpensive (under $25) rubber bristled hair brushes, then The Knot Dr. is the best I've tried. This PhD Hybrid Styler is primarily made for detangling, but is also heat-resistant, so can be used for styling as well.
I've had such bad experiences in the past with nylon brushes ripping my hair—I'm looking at you, over-hyped Denman—that I didn't have high hopes. But this thing is great quality! You still need to be gentle with it, but it really does get the tangles out painlessly and quickly, without taking your hair with it.
They make a few different styles; you can also pay a little bit more to get a handy carry-case that would be great for your purse.
Where to buy: Murale
Essie Nail Polish in Starry Starry Night
Essie is celebrating its 35th birthday this year, and brought back six discontinued nail polish shades to celebrate. The one you want, of course, is Starry Starry Night from 1997, a twinkling midnight blue that was at one point going for hundreds of dollars on eBay.
Apparently, it's not 100 percent the same as the original, but looks close enough for me—and the price is right. Snap it up before it disappears again!
Maybelline Vivid Matte Liquid
Last month, I told you about the '90s-style nude lips that you can get with L'Oréal Paris Infallible Pro Matte Gloss. Have you noticed that L'Oréal and Maybelline tend to launch things around the same time (having the same parent company and all)? So now, Maybelline is launching Vivid Matte Liquid, and it's pretty similar.
Again, a liquid lipstick—this one just has a more velvety matte texture on the dry-down, that's all. As before, I think the most interesting colours are the nudes. (Do you really need a fuchsia or a red at this point? I thought not.) My picks are Nude Thrill, which has an amazing brown undertone and Nude Flush, for a soft YLOB effect.
Marc Jacobs Lamé Noir Ultra-Glittering Mascara
There's a second Marc Jacobs mascara I want to tell you about (actually, the brand launched three this month, but the Velvet Noir Major Volume Mascara flaked so badly under my eyes on first wear, I gave it an immediate pass). But if you're down with sparkle, I think you'll like Lamé Noir Ultra-Glittering Mascara.
It has a petite skinny wand (but not as skinny as Feather Noir's), no bristles, that coats lashes in gold and black micro-glitter. You do want to be wearing normal mascara first—this is more of a top coat, for evening, to add some extra shine and interest to your eye area.
I love this concept! It's much easier than fiddling with liner and eyeshadow, but not as "out there" as full-blown coloured mascara would be. However, I would avoid if you have sensitive eyes.
Strivectin Hair Max Volume Collection
Last mention goes to not a single product but a full-blown haircare range. StriVectin is known for anti-aging skincare, but now they're venturing into anti-aging hair products as well. There are three collections, Restore (for damaged/thinning hair), Color Care (for colour-treated hair) and Max Volume (for fine hair, shown above). All incorporate their claim to fame, the patented NIA-114 molecule, which is a form of niacin that has benefits for the skin, scalp and hair.
I've been using Max Volume and like that it's sulfate-free; not sure about the anti-aging part, but it does a good job of leaving my hair light and bouncy, not dried-out. This would be a good line to look into if you want an alternative to salon hair products, which are almost always too moisturizing. The one thing I don't like is that it's so heavily fragranced.
Hope you're intrigued by a few of my latest beauty finds! It's hard to pick a favourite, but I really can't live without my Foreo now, and the Physicians Formula Kit is currently on high rotation. Would love to hear what you think about these...
1. Foreo Cleansing Brush | 2. Physicians Formula Doll Lash Kit | 3. Marc Jacobs Skinny Mascara | 4. Benefit Matte Highlighter | 5. The Knot Dr. Hair Brush | 6. Essie Starry Starry Night | 7. Maybelline Matte Liquid Lipstick | 8. Marc Jacobs Glitter Mascara | 9. StriVectin Haircare
What's your favourite new product this month?