Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Favorites - Just A Few Of Them

Happy New Year's Eve!

Despite how crappy I've been feeling this week, I could not let the year end without one final post. Calling this my 2015 Favorites but really, if I show all of my favorites of the year, this post would be miles long and take days to read. As it is, I've collected a few of my favorites to show off.

For me, 2015 was a year of transition. It was also my first entire year as a former employee of my former employer. I'll admit that at first, it was hard to think that I'd never go back into that office again. Instead, I spent a lot of time and money training for a new career in copywriting. Still working on that one, by the way. I also put in a concentrated effort toward finishing my first novel. Also, still a work in progress.

I guess I could consider 2015 as that year vacation I always wished for. I certainly got rested up and recovered from a job that was slowly killing me. I now feel ready to become more financially productive in 2016, even if that means getting a temporary job while my other income generating endeavors continue to evolve. 

All of that aside, what really makes 2015 stand out for me was the transition of this blog from only nail polish to all things beauty related, most notably, makeup!

It all started with this kit right here....

....then exploded into a major obsession.

While I still love my NYX Smoky Eye kit (and I really do need to pull it out for some smoky eye looks), I did discover and fall totally in love with E.L.F. products.

In fact, if I gathered all of my E.L.F. stuff into a single pile, this particular box would be overflowing. Thanks to all of the awesome promotions E.L.F. had this year, I even have several dupes of several products in a separate drawer.

If I had to pick a single E.L.F. product to be my all time fave, it would have to be the Contour Palette they came out with this year.

I use this thing pretty much every time I do makeup. Been using mostly the left side, which is one reason why I do wish they would make the individual pans available as well. The other side is also good but the left side suits my color much better. I can use that one in the lower left for both bronzer and contour and the one in the upper left is good for setting my undereye area and eyelid primer as well as highlighting whatever needs highlighted without looking like a disco ball. 

My collection has also grown thanks to the monthly beauty box subscriptions I've signed up for - Ipsy, Beauty Box 5, Boxycharm, Glossybox, Allure, Birchbox - my favorite being Boxycharm simply because of the value they send out every single month. Speaking of boxes, I still have both the Boxycharm and Beauty Box 5 for December to review. You'll see those next week.

I've discovered lots of new to me brands through these monthly arrivals, many of which I went on to purchase full-sized products. Most, however, now reside in my sample drawer waiting to be used. Some I passed on to other people because I wouldn't use for whatever reasons. Not many, though.

I've also become obsessed with makeup brushes.

This isn't even all of them that I now have. Most are from E.L.F., by the way, and E.L.F. even added to the collection when they sent me this.

This was sent out to all of us who had shipping issues over November and December as their way of apology. Granted these are mainly the cheaper, Essentials line dressed up in different color handles but even their Essentials line is pretty awesome. I have several brushes from that line that I love. 

I also really love the Real Techniques brushes that I've purchased along the way.

Another makeup tool that I will never be without is the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion Sponge.

I know most everyone raves about the Beauty Blender but I have had a chance to compare the two now and I prefer this sponge over the Beauty Blender, hands down. It doesn't soak up as much foundation as the Beauty Blender and I think it does a better job of making foundation go on smoothly with better coverage. I'm still using this particular sponge and have two more waiting in the wings. And considering this costs way less than a Beauty Blender, this one has my vote for life.

Another makeup item I hope to never be without is the Reserve Your Cabana bronzer from Wet n Wild.

This isn't so much a bronzer as it is an excellent setting powder and low-level highlighter. I'll use this for setting my eye primer as well as highlighting my cheekbones and even all over my face when I want that subtle all over glow. Perfect for all of that and there's a lot here but if I ever run across another one, I'll definitely pick it up for a backup.

All this makeup is great but if the skin underneath isn't the best it can be, the makeup is pretty much worthless. So this year, skin care became a priority. I've also been playing around with formulas and application order to see what works best. Still working on that.

I still love Noxema the best for cleanser,and that has not and probably will not ever change. What I use afterward, however, has changed. A lot. Starting with my favorite recipe for toner.

The Pixi is one of the products which I first got to know from a sample size and went on to buy the full size later. A 50/50 mix of these two products is still my go-to toner. That sticker is covering up the name of the Thayers toner - which is the alcohol-free witch hazel with aloe vera and rose water. I mix these two because the Pixi is a little strong for my skin and the Thayers really tones that down. It also makes the concoction smell really good.

At the moment, Philosophy is still my go-to for treatments.

I did add the night cream and serum to the mix recently and loving the results. Still need the E.L.F. moisturizers for the winter, though. I had some Birchbox points as well as a $10 gift card from them so I purchased the Marcelle Hydra-C set to give that a try. I've heard that vitamin C is really good for aging skin so thought I would see for myself. Might try it for the winter then go back to Philosophy for Spring into Summer. 

I did bite the bullet and purchase one of the most expensive skincare products I've tried so far - the Dr. Brandt Microdermabrasion exfoliator.

I received a deluxe sample of this in one of my Birchboxes and absolutely fell in love with it. When Dr. Brandt had 40% off the entire site, I jumped at the chance to get the full-size. I'm using this sparingly, though, so that it will last. 

I'm also using an exfoliator from ClariSEA that I received a sample of in another Birchbox.

Another sample that prompted a full size purchase. I will mix this with my cleanser and use it a few times a week. I also got the mask that goes with this but don't like it as well.

Another deluxe sample that I love is from 100% Pure.

Still using this same sample and found that I can purchase this same size on Amazon for about $13. A definite repurchase is in my future for this product. But it takes so little and I'm only using this at night so it will still be some time before I'll need to repurchase. 

As for hair care, I've also purchased based on samples received. 

The sample was of the Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizer. I decided to get the matching conditioner as well as the full size of the Volumizer. Since there is no matching shampoo, I went with the Be Gentle, Be Kind Green Tea Shampoo. The combination works wonders and I do believe my hairline is changing because of these products. 

And in case you're now wondering, I have not forgotten the original subject of this blog - my nails. I also have some favorites in that category. Starting with nail oils.

You all already know how much I love the Bliss Kiss Pure Nail Oil but I've also found a couple of other nail oils that I've added to that particular mix with great results.

The original two were these.

That's Simply Pure from Bliss Kiss and Sweet Baby by Donna. I then discovered Nail Ale from So Much Goodness.

I love this one because I can choose the scent I want - which is usually lime. When I add all of these together, I get the most amazing nail oil. I've even added oils I've received in my monthly subscription boxes - to the point where I have no clue what's in the bottle now but I do know that it's working wonders for my nails. Especially now that Winter is here and the air in the house is so very dry. I also think all this care makes my nails grow faster. I seem to be filing them down a lot more.

Another oil I love is from Nuxe.

I got this oil in a limited edition Glossybox that included more high-end products. Love that box in particular. I add this oil to my hand lotion along with the nail oil concoction currently in the bottle. Makes the lotion smell divine.

And finally, nail polish. I haven't been doing my nails as often now that I don't work outside of the house. I intend to change that in 2016, by the way. Along with using makeup more often.

Anyway, my pick for all-time favorite is from Pipe Dream polish and sad to say, April had to discontinue these as well as her ever popular A Night In Vegas collection due to the unavailability of the pigments she was using. Since she couldn't find any suitable replacement, she made the decision to discontinue both collections, which means I will forever treasure the Street Carnival collection that I do own.

Aside from the bright neon of these colors, one reason both of these collections were so popular is how they water marble like a dream. This collection is only missing a good yellow.

This was my first water marble using the Street Carnival collection and this was also the first dips after creating the pattern. I did use a white base, however, I have heard that the A Night In Vegas collection did not require a white base. Although, I think that might have been for just straight polishing and not for water marbling. Don't know.

So there's just a handful of my 2015 favorites for you. In 2016, I'm hoping to delve more into higher-end products like M.A.C., Urban Decay, Tarte, and Too Faced. Might be later in the year, however. Still have that financial issue of no income to get around. But 2016 is a new year and I have high hopes for what the year has in store for me.

Thank you all so much for joining me in my own little world. It still amazes me that so many people have viewed and liked my page. It's kind of humbling, really. When I started out, it was simply for the pleasure of blogging. I didn't really expect things to grow like they have but I'm very happy to see it happening and I am truly thankful for each and every one of you.

With all that said, I'll leave you with fond wishes for a fantastic New Year. 

Thanks for reading and stay tuned!


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