*Image above from Westman Atelier.
I’m back with more honest reviews of recently-tested, heavily-hyped products. The TL;DR: out of everything on this list, you need this foundation stick if you are looking for matte, full coverage that is a dream to apply.
+Hourglass Eyebrow Gel. I love this product and have recommended it to two close friends in the past few weeks. To be honest, most mornings, I just don’t have the energy or time to use an eyebrow pencil. It feels so tedious to fill in all the little sparse spots and even things out. I find this eyebrow gel is a perfect alternative — the color fills things out while also giving the brow shape and definition with a few quick flicks of a wrist. Bonus: eyebrows do not feel stiff afterward like they do with ELF, which I have to say I also like because it is $2 and clear; perfect when using with a pencil. I’ll stick with this Hourglass stuff for everyday — it’s a one-stop shop for my daily makeup routine.
+Westman Atelier Foundation Stick. (You can buy this from multiple online boutiques, but Credo is the only one I could find that offered a 10% discount for new users with code CLEAN10 and a generous return policy, which was important given that I didn’t know for certain what shade I would be.) This stick is amazing — I would liken it to Cle de Peau concealer, but as a foundation. Like CDP, it glides on and melts into skin effortlessly so long as (and this is critical) skin is well-moisturized before application. I use my Artis brush to blend. It is matte as matte can be, so I often find myself wanting to soften things up with a lot of highlighting fluid afterward (I love this), but it stays put and offers exceptional coverage. At first, because of how matte it reads, I thought I would only use this when getting dolled up in the evening or when I have a breakout, and planned to continue to use a tinted moisturizer for everyday wear. I have found myself using it almost daily, though, much to my surprise. It really evens out and smooths skin and wears beautifully throughout the day. Bonus points: even the packaging of this foundation stick is cool (the cap is magnetic).
+Parade Underwear. In pursuit of comfortable nighttime unders, I kept seeing this pair highly recommended, nearly always reading that they were “insanely comfortable.” But they just weren’t my speed — I realized I prefer something with a slightly lower rise, and in a soft pima cotton, I think. (These ended up being the winner for me.)
+Hyper Serum. I was desperate to love this product (I admire the founder and have read countless rave reviews), which promises to lighten hyperpigmentation and clear skin, but it did not play well with my complexion. I broke out and was left with dry skin after using it for two weeks, and everything cleared up when I returned to my former regimen. However, I do think — as with most skincare products — that your skin may react differently to this than it did mine; perhaps my skin is too sensitive for it. (Similarly, so many people have raved about Necessaire products but I literally broke out in a rash after using their body wash and have avoided it since!) I will say that the product glides into skin effortlessly — it was easier to apply than my Mad Hippie serum (which I think requires more attentive blending with fingertips and leaves skin a bit tacky).
+Pantene Rescue Shots. These inexpensive deep conditioning treatment ampoules have worked wonders on my dry hair, which I think I have damaged from all of the blow-drying and the minimal hair cuts. My hair appeared so deeply hydrated and tangle free after use. Strongly recommend if you’re going through a rough (dry) patch yourself.
+Olay Ultimate Eye Cream. I was looking for something to help with my ultra-dark under-eye circles and this came highly recommended from so many people. Honestly, I did not see a big difference in the dark circles beneath my eyes after studying the area in the mirror for weeks on end after application. I think I am now resigning myself to the fact that there is probably nothing that can impact this genetically-born feature–so concealer it is. I did like the cream overall, though. It was hydrating and easy to apply and absorb — almost a whipped quality to it. For the price, a very good cream.
+Sunday Riley Luna Retinol Sleeping Oil. I received a very generously sized sample of this and have been using it for about two weeks and will order more. I have grown increasingly reluctant to add any new oils and serums to my regimen — I mean, how many does a single woman need?! I really love Vintner’s Daughter and Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum and tend to alternate between them, and I’m skeptical that I need much else. However. I will say. I used this oil and noticed — without having read it on the label in advance — that my pores were basically nonexistent on my cheeks especially. I mean, it was like perfect baby skin! I checked the label and saw that this oil specifically shrinks pores (among other things, like reducing redness and smoothing wrinkles). For the pore treatment alone, I will continue to use this. I find that the VD and MH serums have more of a brightening/evening-out effect on my skintone overall, in case you’re wondering how this complements or differs from those items.
+Kosas Concealer. (<<The shade-finding tool on their site was really helpful, FYI, and I got the perfect shade without having used any products from the brand prior.) I thought this concealer was very good but not exceptional (i.e., it will not dethrone CDP). So many reviews cited its creaminess but its consistency doesn’t have a patch on Cle de Peau in my opinion, which — despite existing in stick form — truly glides on like a gel of some kind and then just melts into the skin. I had a little bit of trouble figuring out how to apply Kosas properly — it has a somewhat thin consistency but if applying with the built-in applicator, you can easily apply way too much (i.e., the thin consistency is deceptive: a little goes a long way). Where Kosas excels, however, is in coverage and staying power — it really blocks out the dark undereye circles and redness around my nose, and it lasts! I will be using this when I need to bring in ammo in breakouts and the like. I also appreciate the price tag, which is far more reasonable than Cle de Peau. All in, I’ll be keeping this in my cosmetics bag as an alternate for CDP when I need lasting coverage.
+Laura Mercier Signature Eye Shadow Palette. This is not new, but I use this eye shadow palette constantly. I don’t think I’ve been tempted by another eye shadow from any other brand in years — this palette has everything you need. The formula is excellent and the colors are so easy to wear on an everyday basis. I love the cashmere color especially (sort of a mauve-pink) and then the nude is great for brightening the eye when I look tired.
Thinking back across all the products I’ve reviewed so far in 2020, I do have to say that the standout for me has been these vitamin C-serum-infused cleansing wipes. I love them so much. They are inexpensive, effective, and they smell like fresh laundry to me. I also love that they show up at my doorstep as a part of my subscription to Billie, which — I would say — is my second favorite discovery thus far this year. I know, razors?! So weird — but I love not having to think about buying razor blades (you let them know how often you shave and they automatically send you replacement blades). It is also so much more affordable than Gillette, especially given the free shipping! Honestly, a no brainer. I can’t complete this paragraph without also one more time singing the praises of my Revlon One-Step. Maybe it ties for first place with the wipes. It is SO good and it has made keeping my hair presentable possible. If I had my druthers (and infinite resources), I would get my hair blown out every few days by a professional. I hate washing and blow-drying my hair — it is fine in texture, but I have a ton of it, and it takes forever to dry. The One-Step has made the process infinitely more palatable and easy to maneuver — I now scarcely mind it.
What are your holy grail new discoveries from 2020? Anything else you’re itching to try? (I love being your guinea pig!) I am currently eyeing more from the Westman Atelier line since I was so impressed with their foundation stick. I’m specifically eyeing their “Lit Up” Highlight stick and their blush sticks. I would also eventually like to try Augustinus Bader’s heavily-touted and crazy expensive cream, but I’m scared I might become addicted…
P.P.S. Remembrances of my grandfather.
P.P.P.S. Fly-fishing and writing.