Tuesday, December 31, 2013

My Favorite Products of 2013: Makeup & Nails

Hey, friends! Welcome to the last College Beauty Buff post for 2013. Today I'd like to share part two of my favorite products of the year with you. These aren't necessarily products that were released into the market in 2013 (who has the money to buy a whole new makeup wardrobe every year?). Instead, these are products that I discovered, rediscovered, or found myself reaching for the most this year. I've talked about almost all of these at least once before on the blog, so I'll give a brief description of each product mentioned, and then link to the previous post(s) if you'd like to read more. If you'd like to read part one of this post (hair and skincare), please click here.

On to the fun part! 


Face Brushe.l.f. Studio Blush Brush ($3 - shown beside NYC Smooth Skin Loose Powder) 

I was really happily surprised by this brush. It's soft, and I've found multiple purposes for it. I like to use this to not only apply blush, but it's also a perfect size to powder my T-zone (the only place I apply my setting powder). It's also really soft, making it a wonderful find for $3. 

Primer: Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Hydrating Primer ($42 for 1oz)

I don't often apply primer, since I mostly stick to BB creams that (in theory) have a primer built-in. However, when I do use primer, it's this one. It's cooling and freshing, especially under the eyes, and makes my dry skin feel soft and smooth. 

BB Cream:

This is more of a tinted moisturizer with added benefits, than a true BB cream. The coverage is sheerer than typical BB creams, but I use this for my everyday makeup looks. I don't like a lot of coverage, so this makes my skin look and feel like skin. This makes my face feel nice and soft, which is especially nice in the wintertime. 

(Sample-Size [5mL] $1) (Full-Size [1.5 fl oz]: $29)

This has excellent coverage (at least medium), but it still has the added benefits of a BB cream (SPF, etc). I really like this, because you can apply it with a  brush or your fingers and it won't look streaky. This requires a little more blending than the Maybelline, which I can essentially slap on in a minute, so I save this for my more polished looks. 

Read more:   Birchbox September 2013 ReviewSeptember 2013 EmptiesSeptember 2013 Favorites
(Runner-up: Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Beauty Balm SPF 25 PA++)

Concealer: Yaby Concealer in Buff ($5 for 3.5g)

This concealer is a great shade match for me, and it can cover any acne or redness you may have. It's awesome, and it's only $5. The only problem is that Yaby is a Canadian company, so "international" shipping to the U.S. is about $20 (yikes). It tends to dry up a little bit if left unused for a little while, but the warmth of your fingers can bring it back to life and allow it to melt into your skin, which is why I don't use a brush to apply it. 

(Runner-up: Physician's Formula Gentle Cover Concealer Stick in Light)

Under-eye Brightener

This is a wonderful dupe to the YSL Touche Eclat Radiant Touch pen. It doesn't provide a lot of coverage (I recommend using a concealer to cover up particularly dark circles), but it does a wonderful job at brightening. I like to use this on the inner half of my eyes, as well as the corners of my mouth, cupid's bow, and anywhere else that could use a little brightening. It's just so easy! 

(Sample-Size [.5g]: about $3.50) (Full-Size [3.5g]: $24)

This provides more coverage than the Maybelline, so this combines the concealer and brightener into one step for me. I also love the moisturizer ring around the concealer, making it less susceptible to creasing. My under-eye area feels more hydrated after using this product, but I still like to apply a little bit of powder to keep it staying all day and crease-free. 

You will never find a better $3 powder. It's so inexpensive and it works so well. It controls the oil on your face without making you look lifeless. As always with powder, don't over-apply, but otherwise I find this to be a great drugstore find. The first ingredient is Talc, so if you have any sort of sensitivities to that, I would steer clear. Otherwise, have fun! 

Bronzer/Contour Powder:  NYC Smooth Skin Bronzing Powder in Sunny ($3 for .33oz)

NYC strikes again! I love this bronzer. It's the perfect shade for bronzing or contouring on fair skin, without turning muddy or orange as the day goes on. I have no complains. You will never find a better $3 matte bronzer! 

Okay, I'll admit it: I'm a sucker for cute packaging. But look at it! It's so cute! This shade is a very sheer blush, so if your skin is not super fair like mine, this won't show up on you (but don't worry--they have other shades!). This one is impossible to over-apply, which I like, because I can get heavy-handed with blush when I'm rushing to get ready in the morning. I think the "happy-boosting" part is BS, but the hearts will 9-times-out-of-10 make me smile. 

I do think that Physician's Formula is over-priced for a drugstore brand, but I've never purchased a product that I didn't like from them. This is a beautiful, shimmery highlighter that's perfect for cheekbones, the cupid's bow, or the inner corner of the eyes. I think it's a little shimmery for a browbone highlight, but to each his own. I really love this! They also make colored ones, too, but this one is a simple white (which is not the same as "Translucent"--weird.)


I think a fluffy blending brush is essential for every eye look, whether it be adding color to the crease or just blending everything out. I like the long handle on this brush, and Sigma's brushes are always soft from what I've experienced. This was $12 when I bought it, and I heard years ago this brush cost $9. So, if you're interested, I would highly recommend purchasing sooner rather than later before the price goes up again

Read more: May 2013 Favorites

Powder Eyeshadow Palette

Save: NYC Union Square Palette for Brown Eyes 
($5 for 4 shadows, a primer, and an illuminator)

I am so excited about this find! I purchased this one when NYC was on sale and I had a CVS coupon, so I snagged the first one for about $2. I snagged their one for Green Eyes during their annual Winter Beauty Sale for another $2. These are amazing for the price. The primer is pretty good for a drugstore eye primer, and I can't help but wonder why they don't sell it on its own. The illuminator is kind of strange, so I don't use it much, but the eyeshadows are the real star. They're so smooth and and soft and pigmented, even the matte shades! How do more people not rave about these? You can create beautiful looks with these palettes, and I kind of want to collect them all. Like Pokemon. Snatch one up and see for yourself! 

Splurge: MAC Mystic Cool Eyeshadow Palette ($36 for 6 shadows - Limited Edition)

As much as it kills me to talk about limited edition products on here, I would feel like I was keeping a secret if I didn't mention it. This was essentially the palette of my summer (though, oddly enough, it was only mentioned in my October Favorites). I love how this includes a relatively neutral look on the bottom row and a fun look on the top. As always when it comes to MAC, these shadows are soft, smooth, and pigmented. The only disappointing shade is the sapphire blue, which comes out as more of a sheer navy when applied. What a shame. Still, 5/6 ain't bad. I recommend all of MAC's eyeshadows, because their formulation is just lovely. 

Cream Eyeshadow: Revlon Smoky Shadow Sticks ($9 for 2g)

I grabbed Torch (shown) on a whim, and Atomic during CVS' Winter Beauty Sale, and I couldn't be happier. I love these for an easy and quick eye look. I usually use the light color all over my lid and the dark color in the crease and as an eyeliner. They're so easy to blend, and you don't even need a brush! I heard through the grapevine that these are being discontinued, so hopefully Revlon releases a similar product for 2014. Though I do have one gripe--the brown part practically fell out the other day when I was about to apply it. I was so shocked! So, perhaps that is the reason they're being discontinued. Still, I love them, because I can wear them all day without a primer or applying powder on top and they never crease. Revlon, why do you do this to me? 

Eyeliner (Pencil): Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil in Zero ($19 for 1.2g)

I think Urban Decay has something crazy like 40 shades of these pencils now. They're so soft and pigmented, and apply so perfectly. You have about a 30-second window to smudge them out a bit before they just lock in place and don't budge. I'm almost out of this pencil, so I'm on the lookout for a drugstore alternative (because $19/pencil makes me want to gag). Perhaps I'll try NYX next. 

Eyeliner (Potted): Smashbox Cream Eyeliner in Midnight Brown 
(Sort-Of Discontinued - $12 for 1.7g)

This is my foolproof eyeliner. As you can see, I've used a good chunk of it. It's just so easy to apply, and I find that brown looks more natural than black (especially on pale ol' me: Sammi the Friendly Ghost). Liquid eyeliner always ends up looking like a mess on me, but this cream eyeliner never gives me any trouble. I'm not quite sure what the deal is with availability on this anymore. For awhile, you could only get their cream eyeliner in a palette, but then Smashbox started selling this on their website for a limited time. Maybe they turned it into a limited edition product? Either way, I recommend getting this and their No. 9 brush if you struggle with eyeliner like I do. 


This mascara is my ol' faithful. It gives wonderful length and volume, and the fact that it's under $10 and can be found in drugstores is so nice. I don't tend to spend money on high-end mascaras because there are so many great ones that are cheaper, and this is my favorite one. 

(Deluxe Mini Size: $10 for .14oz) (Full size: $23 for .3oz)

If you want a lot of drama, you can turn to this one. I first tried it when I received it in my Sephora birthday gift, and I was shocked. If you're going out at night and want something that says va-va-voom without having to put on fake lashes, this is the mascara for you. I don't like to typically spend so much money on mascara, but I really do like this one. It might just be me, but this mascara seemed to dry quicker on me than some other mascaras I've tried. If you like to have more than one mascara open at a time, I'm not sure if you'll be able to use up a whole tube before it dries out. Otherwise, give it a go! 

Beauty Tool: Revlon Eyelash Curler ($4)

If you don't want to invest in an expensive Shu Uemura or Chanel eyelash curler, I'm a big fan of this one. It gets the job done, is easy to find, and it's like a fifth of the price of either of those. What more do you need? 


Lip Treatment: e.l.f. Lip Exfoliator ($3 for 4.4g)

This is a funny little product. It's a lip scrub in the shape of a lipstick bullet. It's wonderful because it smells/tastes like brown sugar, and it's travel-friendly. I don't like to spend money on expensive lip scrubs, because all you really need is sugar and honey or oil, but I can agree with the price of this one. I don't mind paying $3 for the convenience of this, and it leaves a balmy texture on your lips after you've applied it. Exfoliating your lips really couldn't be any easier. I just wish e.l.f. was sold in other stores besides Target. 

Lip Balm

Oh, how I love lip balm. I really like this one, because it works without leaving an artificial taste in my mouth. 

(Runner-up: Nivea Lip Butter in Smooth Kiss)

(Sample-Size [3mL]: $3) (Full-Size [15mL]: $14.50)

I used this as my nighttime lip balm, because it's really moisturizing, and it also doubles as a cuticle cream. Plus, the look on my roommate's face when I told her I was using nipple balm was priceless. 

Lip GlossJuice Beauty Reflecting Gloss in Pink ($15 for .14 fl oz)

This lip gloss provides a lovely pink color without the stickiness. It's smooth and silky and smells just a little bit fruity. Yum! 


Save: Revlon Colorburst Lip Butters ($8 for .09oz)

I have two of these, in Red Velvet (shown) and Tutti Frutti (which is more of a coral). These are the most convenient lipsticks around, because they're moisturizing (like lip balm), slightly glossy (like lip gloss), and provide enough coverage to be a lipstick. They're not scarily pigmented (I get shy when it comes to lip color), and I don't need a lip liner and lip brush to wear them well. They're so easy! I kind of want to catch 'em all, like Lipstick Pokemon. Imagine if you wanted to get a new lipstick, you'd have to battle it and catch it with a Pokeball? Wouldn't that be something! 

Splurge: MAC SlimShine Lipstick in Intimidate (Discontinued)

I don't know why MAC got rid of these lipsticks, because they're genius. They provide shine like a lip gloss without the extra step, and they came in so many pretty colors. This is a perfect everyday color. If you find any of their SlimShine Lipsticks in a Cosmetic Company Outlet, I recommend picking one up! 

Nail Treatment: Sally Hansen Miracle Cure ($8 for .45 fl oz)

As a theatre person, I often have to work with my hands, so I like having something on my nails to protect them. This leaves a glossy finish to my nails, yet it doesn't look bad if it chips. It's quick and easy and makes me look more polished. 

(Runner-up: Rejuvacote)

Base CoatSally Hansen Double Duty Base & Top Coat ($5 for .45 fl oz)

I'm not too picky with my base coats, but this works just fine. I'm not as big of a nail junkie as I am with other aspects of beauty (as a theatrical scene painter, I don't have much reason to paint my nails). But I recommend giving this one a try! 

Color/Brand: Ruffian Nail Lacquer in Fox Hunt ($10 for 5mL)

This polish comes in a smaller bottle than most, but I love the formulation. It's smooth and doesn't create bubbles or streaks when applying. The color is beautiful, and I'm looking at spending my Birchbox points on getting the purple color (Delirium), too. 

(Runner-up: Zoya in Blu)

Top Coat: Sally Hansen Speed Shine Top Coat ($4 for .45 fl oz)

I love this top coat because it leaves my nails with a shiny and glossy finish. It's also not too goopy and thick, which I like. 


Phew! That's everything! If you made it through the whole thing, you're a superstar! 

Now, for the sappy part: College Beauty Buff isn't even a year old yet, but the amount of traffic I've gotten is astounding (nearly 40,000 hits!). I'm so proud with how far this blog has come, and I have even bigger hopes for the future. Whether you've been reading since the beginning, or you're just stopping by now, I'd like to thank you for participating.. Every comment I get on this website, on Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and in real life, as made this blog better. I can't thank you all enough. It's been a blast! 

Best of luck in 2014! Stay classy, beauty buffs.  

 Disclaimer: This post is not sponsored. Sometimes my mother buys me makeup if she's in a good mood. That's really it. All thoughts and opinions are my own. I wasn't paid to make this post. So, there. Last disclaimer of 2013! 

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