Ah, my favorite time of year. When all the content creators round up their favorite (and not-so-favorite) products of the year. We race to check to see what products we agree on, rush to buy things we apparently slept on, or question a creator's integrity when they say they swear by St Ives Apricot Scrub.
I know I have been noticeably absent from the blogging space since this spring. I would apologize but honestly, I don't feel guilty. I've been busy. My day job now (blessedly) is almost entirely writing, which I adore, but has left little room in my headspace to also be writing here. But alas, a writer must write, and I need to accept the fact I paid for this bloody website through August 2020 so I damn well better get my money's worth. Anywho! Here are my 2019 favorite products, as well as some products that did not work for me. These are not necessarily products that launched in 2019, but rather things I found myself reaching for again and again this year. Many of these are duplicates from 2018, which attest to how much I enjoy them.
• Koh Gen Do Moisture Foundation - Pricey, yes, but oh so worth it. This foundation has been my most reached for base for every season. Buildable coverage, dewy finish that looks like skin...I could go on and on. It is so damn good. My tube is nearing its end and I will 100% be repurchasing. I wear shade 112 for reference, and would describe my skin tone as fair with neutral undertones.
• Purlisse Perfect Glow BB Cream* - Possibly my favorite base of all time, I have been in love with this BB cream for many years now. Skincare meets makeup for this lightweight cream which calms my skin like no other. I always reach for it on bad skin days because I know not only will it never irritate my skin, but I swear it also quells my redness. The finish is radiant and dewy. A great my-skin-but-better option.
• Hourglass Ambient Lighting Blush in Brilliant Nude* - We all know I am a cream blush girl, but apparently 2019 was the year I fell back in love with powder formulas. This finely milled dream of a blush is a deep nude color with a subtle sheen. When I use it I apply an even, light dusting across my cheeks and it somehow gives the effect of blush, bronzer, and highlight. It is my go-to when I want to look effortlessly radiant.
• Melt Cosmetics Blush - A more traditional powder blush (lots of fall-out), this super pigmented pan took me by surprise this year. I purchased the shade Bawdy during the Sephora sale and instantly fell in love. Be careful with this aggressive fucker - she packs a punch. It takes a very light hand and a fluffy brush, but the vibrant pink gives me an enviable flush of color. I immediately went back for the peach color, Honey Thief, and both have been in high rotation.
• Kjaer Weiss Cream Blush - A 2018 favorite that is still my holy grail, this cream blush is the king of cream blushes. A little pricey, but it's refillable! It is also from a "Clean" beauty brand if that is important to you. This blush goes on like a dream and 8+ hours later still somehow looks like I just put it on. Friggin' witchcraft, I tell ya. My favorite shades are Embrace and Sun Touched. I've hit pan on Embrace and will absolutely buy it again, as it is a dreamy nude pink that is stunning on fair (read: pasty and pale) skin. The packaging is also luxe and delightful; everything about using this product is a joy. ::chef's kiss::
• Surratt Auto-Graphique Liquid Eyeliner - This is, hands down, the best liquid eyeliner I have ever used. Again, yes, pricey, but again - refillable! The ultra-precise tip glides the color on easily, and it dries down quickly. Then it doesn't budge all day. I purchased the brown and the black and I have fallen back in love with the cat eye because of this product.
• Charlotte Tilbury Pillow Talk Eye Quad - This took me a while to fall in love with. Originally released as a limited edition product, I missed it the first time around and watched with aggressive jealousy as others got it and adored it. Everyone raved about it. The makeup artist who did my makeup for my elopement and wedding reception even did a whole IG story series on all the looks she created with it. So when it was finally brought back I pounced on it. I used it a few times, was underwhelmed, threw it in a drawer, and forgot about it. That was until fairly recently when I watched a tutorial featuring it and tried my hand at it. Suddenly this palette was a revelation. The pink hues suit my features, and the formulas are so creamy and blendable. I'm currently head over heels for this quad and plan to pick up more from the brand. I have greenish hazel eyes and think this looks lovely with them, but I bet it would kill on blue eyes.
• Charlotte Tilbury Dancefloor Princess Lipstick - Here's the thing about CT lipsticks - they're all orange. Seriously, they all lean orange. Luckily, orange suits me so I'm golden in that front but it's frustrating. I swear the perfect medium pink of "pillow talk" you see in all the swatch photos never actually looks pink on anyone I know. It's still beautiful, but it's a muddy brown orange-pink in real life. Anyway, that aside, I do genuinely adore Dancefloor Princess. One of Charlotte's new Hotlips 2 launch, this pinky nude does lean a bit coral (surprise surprise) but it works really well on me. It's a soft satin formula with classic wear time that is also very comfortable. The packaging is cute but I know a lot of others have complained the design wears off easily (this has not happened to mine).
• Victoria Beckham Bitten Lip Tint - Ah, the lip oil that begun my latest obsession with lip oils. Half oil, half stain, this lip tint is exactly what is says - a tint. The super lightweight watery formula sinks into lips quickly giving them a "bitten" reddish berry hue that is "universally flattering". I do not question its universality but do desperately wish it was more of a nude color. It's stunning, effortless, but ever so slightly darker than I hoped for. Nonetheless, I love it and have kept it in my bag every day since purchasing it. VB also nailed the packaging. Everything she makes feels luxe and thoughtful. I can't wait to see what is next from her brand (hopefully more of this tint in other shades).
• Real Techniques Brushes - Let's hear it for affordable makeup brushes that kick my expensive brushes' ass. RT brushes never let me down. I started with the Everyday Essentials kit and have since purchased multiples of my favorites from it. The kit includes the blush brush, the setting brush, the expert face brush, the deluxe crease brush, and a sponge. I hate sponges, so that got thrown in a drawer and forgotten about, and the crease brush is just okay. The other three, however, I plan on being buried with. The large RT 400 is an incredible blush or bronzer brush, so naturally I bought two so I wouldn't have to choose. The RT 402 Setting Brush is a dream for setting powder, obviously, but I routinely use it for foundation, concealer, and just about anything else. I also bought two. Lastly, the RT 200 brush performs impressively for liquid and cream foundations. You can find Real Techniques brushes at Ulta, Target, your local drugstore, and on my vanity forever henceforth.
• Charlotte Tilbury Eye Blender Brush - Okay I know I just technically shat all over luxury brushes, but some hold up - like this eye blender brush from CT. It's so dang soft, you guys. It glides shadows on like a fucking magic wand or some shit. Great for the crease or any blending, it works wonders. I love it. She stays.
• Avène Skin Recovery Cream - A cult favorite I actually agree with. My dermatologist told me to start using this back in April and I have gone through four tubes of it since. I don't think I have ever loved a moisturizer more. For reference, my skin is dry and sensitive with rosacea. It's also prone to bouts of acne, aging, and all-around grumpiness. In the summertime, this is my nighttime moisturizer, and in the winter it is my daytime.
• Krave Beauty Great Barrier Relief - I am still in awe this product only costs $28. It's miraculous. As someone with dry, sensitive skin who lives in the harsh ice desert tundra of Chicago and regularly uses actives, it comes as no surprise I compromise my skin barrier from time to time. Great Barrier Relief keeps my skin calm and happy. With hero ingredients like Safflower Oil, Rosehip Seed Oil, NMF + Ceramides, Phytosterol, Squalane, and Niacinamide it's really no wonder it works so well. I use it daily under my moisturizer and plan to keep it in the rotation until further notice.
• Malin + Goetz Lip Moisturizer - I finally found my holy grail lip balm. It has no fragrance, is thick, not sticky, comes in a tube, doesn't have shea or cocoa butter, and I don't have to apply it with my fingers. Most importantly, it hydrates my lips in even the harshest weather. What more could a girl ask for?
• Baby Konjac Exfoliating Sponge - Possibly my favorite skincare tool I rarely talk about (sorry), this gentle exfoliating sponge made for babies is my secret to soft skin. I have a prescription sulfur face wash that makes the dead skin cells on my face dry up and flake, so I need a physical exfoliator. This sponge turns squishy and soft under warm water and I use it to gently scrub the dead skin away. It's just lovely. I replace it every other month. Easily some of the best money I have ever spent.
• Bioderma Atoderm Cleansing Shower Oil* - If you haven't seen this oil on your feed somewhere, you're missing something. I use this to shave with and it doesn't clog my razor - a rarity for an oil. The red bumps I used to get from shaving have also been all but eliminated since having begun using this. The oil is fragranced but it's light and not overpowering. Mostly this oil simply feels soft and nourishing. So many body washes can be stripping, leaving your skin to feel dry and tight after a shower. This oil changed the game. It comes in two sizes, but go for the bigger one as it's cheaper by volume and will last you ages.
• Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Enriched Calming Toner - I was sleeping on Paula's Choice for far too long. I have many favorites from her but this toner has especially stood out to me. I apply it after a shower or after cleansing to keep my skin calm and hydrated before my regular routine. It reminds me of the Laniege Cream Skin Toner everyone loves but I find Paula's to be superior. If you have dry skin, a hydrating toner will help your skin open up and absorb the rest of your routine better.
• Cannuka Calming Eye Balm - I go to bed looking greasy. I do. I don't care. Slather me in everything and send me to bed looking like a basted turkey. Clearly, this eye balm is not for the daytime. She is thick, slightly waxy, and a bit oily. But the combination of Manuka Honey and CBD Oil has me waking up with smooth and bright under eyes, so I call it a win.
• Nécessaire Body Essentials Kit* - Another favorite from 2018, Nécessaire has not taken a single step out of place since they launched last year. I love it all, but the body lotion is who I write love letters to. I was never a body lotion person until Nécessaire. I desperately tried to be but it always ended up with me buying a bottle of something and abandoning it. I am now on my fourth (fifth?) bottle of the body lotion and routinely beg the creators to make me a jumbo pump bottle of it. Hopefully, they will someday. It is unscented, sinks in immediately, and is even great on fresh tattoos. The ingredient list is thoughtfully curated with body nourishing vitamins and nutrients you're used to seeing in the stuff you put on your face. Don't you think it's time to treat your body just as well as you do your face?
• Fur Oil* - Yet another 2018 favorite that is still going strong, Fur Oil. Perfect for any part of your body that has hair, I primarily use it on my pits and lady bits to avoid and prevent razor burn, red bumps, irritation, and in-grown hairs. The antibacterial properties also aid in making my deodorant more effective (bacteria is what makes your pits stink). Use code "CLAIRE" for 10% off your order. You're welcome.
• Elta MD UV Clear Tinted SPF 46 - Another recommendation from my dermatologist, this tinted SPF is perfect for everyday wear. It looks great under makeup and the tint is ideal for those of us dealing with melasma as the tint helps prevent melasma from spreading or darkening. Finding a great SPF is hard as so many break me out but I've had no issues with this one in that respect either.
• Indie Lee Stem Cell Serum - I have gone through two bottles of this serum, which promises to address firmness, texture, and tone while protecting against pollution. It's super gentle but effective, my skin tone was always more radiant when I used it. It's more than I like to spend on skincare, but then again it actually works, so do with that what you will.
• Indie Lee Squalane Serum - A more affordable Indie serum, this beauty has been on my shelf since the weather turned cooler. Indie's squalane is rich but lightweight enough for day time. It looks beautiful under makeup if you want a gentle oil to add some glow to your moisturizer or foundation. I apply this before I use any facial tools to add some slip. I also use this nightly for extra hydration.
• Diptyque Vanille Candle - I used to hate vanilla scented anything. To me, vanilla smells like middle school dances where twelve-year-olds grind to Usher while wearing Juicy Couture sweats. This is not your 2000's teenybopper vanilla. This shit is sophisticated. Vanilla is rounded out with smooth woods for a scent that is warm, delicious, sexy, and very grown-up. ::aims nose upwards because I'm snooty now:: The throw of this candle is insane. If it wasn't so expensive I'd have one in every room burning constantly.
• Diptyque Paris Candle* - This is the best candle you will likely never own. I'm sorry, but it's only available in Paris. Literally. Sometimes Diptyque is extremely kind and makes their city candles available online but there is no guarantee. This candle smells like a mysterious chypre accord accentuated with a hint of lavender. It is a bright, intoxicating, fresh, and a beautiful balance of masculine and feminine. If anyone is going to Paris soon I beg of you, please buy me one. I will pay you back and pay for shipping it to me. Should the candle ever be made available online again, get out of my way because I'm buying them all.
• India Ink Incense - Found in Five Elements Home, my new favorite local boutique, this incense is a revelation. Clean and soothing, it is never overpowering. Stock up because the shopkeeper let me know it's frequently sold out.
• Dedcool Red (Dakota) - My signature scent. I guess I could keep it a secret but that wouldn't be terribly fair. Clementine, gardenia, woods, and amber combine for this irresistible scent I wear every single day. This vegan fragrance brand is owned and operated by boss lady Carina, who is a lovely human. I love all her scents, but the ones from Series 2 are particularly delightful.
•Amika Polished Perfecting Brush* - I haven't even looked at my straightener since this brush entered my life. It is so quick and easy to use and not only tames my hair but also gives me the look of a blowout which we all know I don't have the patience to do with a brush and dryer. Truly, I am the laziest human alive when it comes to doing my hair and this tool means it takes less than five minutes to smooth my hair. I couldn't recommend it more. Use code "BRIGHTYOUNG" for 10% off your order.
• Briogeo Scalp Revival Charcoal Dry Shampoo* This dry shampoo has a weird applicator, but that's fine because it works wonders. My fine hair typically gets weighed down by anything I put on it dry, but this dry shampoo gets the job done by absorbing excess oil and giving my hair a much-needed boost & lift at the roots.
• Bleach London Reincarnation Mask - I bleach my hair fairly regularly and thus need a heavy-duty rescue mask. This not only does the job but leaves me in tears, overwhelmed with gratitude. I use it in the shower as a leave-in conditioner as I shave and such. But the time I rinse it out my hair feels sinfully healthy. People ask me all the time what I do to keep my bleached hair so healthy, I usually lie and say I sold my soul to the devil, but in reality, I just use the Reincarnation Mask once a week.
• Bleach London Silver Shampoo - I'm not going to drone on and on here but instead just say this is the best purple shampoo I have ever used. It is worth the shipping costs.
• Verb Dry Shampoo Light* A classic aerosol dry shampoo, this slightly purple hued spray is a dream for my platinum locks. Lightweight and lightly scented, this is one of the only dry shampoos that does what it says and makes my hair look and feel clean again. It also comes in a dark version for brunettes. When you shop with me through the link above, you should receive 16% off your first order automatically.
• Prose Custom shampoo & conditioner* - I've tried other customized hair care brands in the past and been very underwhelmed by them. I think Prose really takes their process to the next level by taking many more factors (like where you live and what type of water you'll be showering with) into consideration when creating your custom formula. I've been using my formulas for about two weeks now and my hair has been feeling healthier than ever.
• This Milk Steamer/Frother - Honestly I've owned it less than a week and it may be my favorite product of 2019, period. I drink tea every morning and this year I discovered tea lattes (half hot water, half steamed milk) and have never looked back. However, after this discovery, suddenly I was spending $25+ a week at Starbucks for a Royal English Breakfast Tea Latte. Now I can make them at home and they're just as fancy and delicious. Pinkies up!
• SpaDerma Chemical Peel* - Not a product, and something only Chicago locals can take advantage of, but holy hell did I see a significant difference in my skin tone and texture after my chemical peel. SpaDerma is a medical spa so the entire staff is trained to high standards and are extremely knowledgeable and professional. Their gorgeous new North Shore location just opened and if you use the code BrightYoung50 when booking any full-priced service at the North Shore location, you will receive $50 off. Tell them I sent ya!
• RX Epiduo Forte - Not something I can link for you to purchase, as it is a prescription, but worth mentioning because adding a RX strength retinoid to my skincare back in April changed my skin. If everything you've been trying on your own hasn't been working, maybe it's time to go see a dermatologist.
• LHLL Brand anything - My good friend Rebecca launched this company a little over a year ago and it has quickly taken over my closet. The items from here are my most cherished. I live for loungewear and the time and attention to detail spent on each piece is next level. Use code "darling" for 10% off every order.
• Dana Rebecca Designs Mini Huggies - Treat yourself to a timeless pair of 14k gold and diamond huggies. You'll have them forever. Yes, I work for DRD so this is a bit of a double shameless self-plug, but I wear these huggies every single day. They are the perfect size. I have three piercings and pair mine with the Sophia Ryan Petite Teardrop Studs or the Lulu Jack Single Bezel Studs. These earrings are made to last and will never go out of style. You deserve diamonds, damnit, so go get yourself some!
And, finally....the 2019 Misses
• Gisou Shampoo & Conditioner - This may be the most coveted hair brand of 2019. I resisted for a long time then caved when Gisou mercifully had a weekend of free shipping (their shipping rates are absurdly expensive). What I can't stand about this duo is the smell. It's powdery. Pure powder floral. I was promised lush honey and I was delivered bougie baby powder. Its fucking awful. The product is nice and does a good job but as someone who is extremely scent sensitive, I couldn't take it. This gave me headaches and broke out my hairline. Not worth it.
• Caudalie SOS Intense Hydration Moisturizer* - How can someone make a moisturizer claiming to "deeply hydrate even the most sensitive skin" and then pack it full of fragrance? This broke me out and flared my rosacea. A total grease ball of a cream that never sank in and pilled under makeup. No thank you.
• Boscia Indigo Eye Cream - Another eye cream with lots of empty promises that can't perform under makeup. Pretty packaging though.
• Glossier Milky Oil* - Look, this did remove my makeup. But it also left an oily residue all over my face and eyes that took several cleansers to get off. I still prefer the BioDerma Micellar Water, for performance and price point.
• Megababe Rosy Pits - Do you want to smell like artificial roses reminiscent of the crappy makeup you played with as a toddler AND body odor?! Well, then Rosy Pits is for you!
That's it! hah, I say that like I didn't just ramble on for 3,600+ words about products. What were your favorites of 2019? Anything you saw above you think you might purchase?
• An* denotes a gifted item
• This post contains affiliate links