The Beautypedia Team reviews a LOT (and we mean a lot!) of makeup products throughout the year, ranging from primers and powders to contour kits and a seemingly endless assortment of mascaras. Each year brings its share of highs and lows, so we’ve compiled some of the standouts, both good and bad, that crossed our desks in 2015!
Best: Bare Escentuals Complexion Rescue Tinted Hydrating Gel Cream Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($29) – This tinted moisturizer has an elegant gel-cream texture that hydrates dry skin while providing broad-spectrum sun protection and natural-looking coverage. If that wasn’t enough, it’s also fragrance-free and comes in a good range of shades for most skin tones.
Worst: Burberry Beauty Fresh Glow BB Cream SPF 20 ($44) – This BB cream demonstrates that expensive doesn’t necessarily mean better due to its inclusion of potentially irritating fragrance and lavender. An unpleasantly tacky finish and barely-even-there coverage make this one a definite pass in our book.
Best: Maybelline Matte + Poreless Fit Me Foundation ($6.99) – Talk about a beauty bargain! Though this won’t quite “erase” pores, it does a great job blurring them with a natural-looking matte finish that’s ideal for normal to oily or combination skin. It’s fragrance-free and comes in a range of shades from light to deep skin tones (a rare to find from a drugstore brand).
Worst: Physicians Formula Sexy Booster Va Va Voom Volume Mascara ($9.95) – While this mascara doesn’t flake or smudge, it barely adds anything in the way of thickness or length, doesn’t adhere well to lashes, and has a fragranced formula that could irritate sensitive eyes. (That’s anything but “va va voom” to us.)
Best: Cover FX Customer Cover Drops ($44) - One of the most innovative products we’ve come across in a while, these concentrated pigment "boosters" allow you to add coverage and customizable tint to any concealer, foundation or moisturizer. A tiny drop of pure genius in a truly extensive range of shades!
Worst: L’Oréal Infallible Pro Spray & Set Makeup Extender Setting Spray ($16.99) – Essentially hairspray for your face, this water-based spray isn’t likely to make your makeup last any longer than it would on its own (and could actually make it wear off faster). It’s also loaded with skin-damaging alcohol—a true disappointment.
Best: Kat Von D Shade & Light Contour Palette ($46) – If you’re on the hunt for a contour kit, this is an excellent option, featuring a generous amount of natural-looking shades. Each is matte, blends easily, and wears well for a perfectly sculpted look.
Worst: L’Oréal Infallible Smokissime Powder Pen Eyeliner ($9.99) – While this powder liner with a sponge tip is richly pigmented, it doesn’t allow for precise application for smaller eye shapes, takes extra blending to work, and fades in just a couple of hours, in spite of its 14-hour wear claim.
Best: Rimmel Provocalips 16 HR Kissproof Lip Colour ($6.69) – We wore this true drugstore gem all spring (and through the rest of the year)! This liquid lip color makes good on its longwearing claims with a formula that’s impressively transfer-proof. The cherry on top? It doesn’t dry out lips, comes in a good range of shades, and is easy to remove with makeup remover.
Worst: CoverGirl UltraSmooth Foundation ($14.49) – Though this foundation has some likable qualities, it drags during application, even when you use the gimmicky plastic applicator that accompanies it. It also doesn’t have an impact on smoothing facial hairs as claimed, and emphasizes pores as the day wears on.
Best: NYX The Skinny Mascara ($7) – Even though this has one of the tiniest brushes we’ve seen, that works in this mascara’s favor because it helps reach every lash from root to tip. The formula’s a standout too, adding definition, slight length, and curl to lashes without flaking or smudging throughout the day, and it’s water-resistant, too!
Worst: Maybelline New York Volum’ Express The Colossal Chaotic Lash Mascara ($5.99) – You may have seen the ads for this mascara featuring huge, spider-like lashes (that’s the intended look), but it turns out this only adds moderate length and volume, no matter how you apply it. Worse yet, it smudges after a few hours of wear. Not as much “chaotic” as it is just disappointing.
Best: Charlotte Tilbury Brow Lift Three-Way Shape, Lift & Shade Tool ($30) – If you’re looking for an easy-to-use, all-in-one tool to get perfectly sculpted brows, this fits the bill quite nicely! Between the retractable pencil to fill brows, the spoolie brush to groom hairs in to place, and a highlighting powder to polish off the look, Brow Lift delivers everything you need and comes in a great range of shades, too.
Worst: M.A.C. Retro Matte Lipstick ($16) – While M.A.C. is a brand known for its standout lipsticks (we’re fans of most of them), Retro Matte was a letdown for us. The drying formula tugs on lips during application, balls up and pills on lips a couple of hours into its wear time, and fades unevenly for a look that’s anything but glam, no matter the decade.
Best: Kat Von D Metal Crush Eyeshadow ($21) – These powder shadows hit the scene in a big way over the summer, featuring saturated color and a buttery-smooth texture that’s easy to apply and blend. Though they’re truly metallic, the sheen is attractive, not overly shiny, and they don’t crease, flake, or fade throughout a workday.
Worst: CoverGirl Outlast All-Day Makeup Primer ($11.15) – A bust on just about every front, this primer drags as it dries, pills in certain areas of the face, emphasizes the appearance of pores, AND makes foundation appear patchy and uneven! In essence, pretty much the opposite of what a good foundation primer is supposed to do.
Best: Becca Under Eye Brightening Corrector($29) – No sleep? No problem! This creamy, fragrance-free, salmon-pink colored brightener reduces the intensity of dark circles under the eyes impressively on its own, and when topped with concealer (as it’s designed to be used), nearly makes them disappear.
Worst: Sonia Kashuk Twist-Up Long Wear Gel Eyeliner ($7.99) – While the packaging for this eyeliner is convenient, nothing else about it is: It smudges within a couple of hours of application, flakes onto other areas of the face, and fades within a few hours (it’s not long-wearing at all).
Best: Urban Decay Ultimate Ozone Multipurpose Primer Pencil ($16) – At first glance, this seems to be another clear lip liner, but it has a lot more going for it than just that! While its tenacious (though not sticky) texture does indeed keep lip color from fading and feathering, you can also use it to correct makeup mistakes (like cleaning up smudged eyeliner), and it sets brows, too.
Worst: Rimmel Exaggerate Smoke N’ Shine Automatic Gel Eye Liner ($5.99) – While this goes on smoothly with no tugging or skipping, it’s extremely prone to smearing and transferring, and the color fades to the point of disappearing within a couple of hours of putting it on—no exaggeration.
Best: Kevyn Aucoin The Sensual Skin Enhancer ($48) – One of the flagship products of the Kevyn Aucoin brand, The Sensual Skin Enhancer has remarkably buildable coverage that can go from sheer all the way to truly opaque. It comes in a wide range of natural-looking shades and has a moisturizing finish that remains flexible on skin throughout its wear time.
Worst: Clinique Acne Solutions BB Cream SPF 40 ($38) – Though this is designed for people with acne, it contains a high amount of potentially drying alcohol, which can make oily skin + breakouts worse. It also feels heavy on skin with an unnatural looking finish.
Best: Bobbi Brown Face Highlighter ($35) – This creamy yet lightweight highlighter comes in three versatile shades that give skin a candlelit glow, not obvious shimmer. Adding to the good news, it blends and layers easily, is fragrance-free, and even has some skin-beneficial ingredients as an added bonus.
Worst: Dermalogica skinperfect primer spf 30 ($49) – This primer has its strong points (broad-spectrum sun protection, an impressive mix of antioxidants and peptides), but it also contains lavender and eucalyptus oils, both of which pose a strong risk for irritation. See our list of Best Foundation Primers for superior options.
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