Happy New Year 2019! I hope everything you wish for this year comes true!
A lot of people ask me what my favourite products are, not only because I am a beauty blogger but also because I am a chemist by profession and therefore, one can say, I am a little pickier than others. I always take into consideration the ingredient and formulation of the products as well as whether they actually work and if they look nice! So, without further ado, here’s my ride or dies, my swear by products, the official: A chemist’s favourite beauty products – the Bonds of Beauty 2018 awards! These are products that I highly recommend whole heartedly, without any hesitation, as they work well and are worth your time and money.
Not all products were released in 2018 but they are so good that they are still holding their title! Since this is about excellent products and not just about good products, I will not be giving an award for each category but only for the ones were there is a clear winner.
These products are top notch and there aren’t many of similar quality that come near them. They are the top of the top and they deserve that you, at the very least, give them a try!
Best Beauty Brand 2018 – Estée Lauder
This title is still held from last year. I don’t think that Estée Lauder, or any beauty brand for that matter, is perfect but they are very consistent and good in both makeup and skincare. While not all of their products are ride-or-die, they are all really good. If I had to live off one brand for the rest of my life it would be Estée Lauder.
You can create entire looks using only this brand. They have pretty much any product you might need and even amazing skin care. The formulation of their products is top notch and it is very rare, in fact I don’t actually have an example, that their products are not good. I might not have a favourite from this brand for each category, but their products are still excellent.
It’s an expensive brand but you also know that you are at least getting quality products. I’m sure that a large part of the price is for the name and the fact that this is a company that specialises in cosmetics, but the products are high quality too.
I wish I could visit their labs. A chemist’s dream come true.
Best Skincare Brand 2018 – Paula’s Choice
Where have you been all my life? Paula’s Choice is My Choice as a chemist. This brand might not be very good at makeup (although in all fairness I’ve only tried one item but it was an utter failure check out: Paula’s Choice Skincare Resist Anti-Aging Serum Foundation – In-Depth Review and Ingredient Analysis) but they are the best in skincare.
They use ingredients with scientific backing, which is what I am all about, and their formulations are free from fragrance which is just unnecessary. Their products will not just nourish but also future proof your skin.
This brand doesn’t promise to erase wrinkles and doesn’t base their marketing on women’s fears and insecurities. Paula’s Choice products will deeply nourish your skin while slowing down ageing and in reality that’s all we can do. It also doesn’t break the bank as much as other brands and even if it did…at least the products work!
Sadly it doesn’t have very good presence or any in the UK which is why I took me until this year to discover them but seriously, give this brand a try.
To get £7.50 off your first Paula’s choice order (minimum £25 order) click here.
Best Day Moisturiser for oily skin 2018 – Paula’s Choice Super-Light Daily Wrinkle Defernce SPF30
If you have oily skin, you have to try this one out (also works for normal and combination skin). Don’t get too bothered about the “wrinkle defence” statement if you are too young to care. What that means is that it’s nutritious for your skin and it contains ingredients that you should be using way before wrinkles even appear. There are no ingredients that are specific to ageing skin.
This moisturiser helps keep your skin moisturised, so that it doesn’t over produce oils, but it also controls any oil production that takes place and helps keep you matte all day. It also contains a respectable SPF30. For summer time or high light exposure I also recommend the Paula’s Choice Resist Youth Extending Daily Hydrating Fluid SPF50.
Both work really well under makeup, nourish the skin and don’t break the bank. Please note that Paula’s Choice is going through package re-design and so you might find these products in matte baby blue packaging instead. The formulation is the same.
For alternative options but without SPF check out: Best day creams for oily skin – Estée Lauder Daywear Matte vs Omorovicza Balancing Moisturiser. In Depth Reviews and Ingredient Analyses
Best Serum 2018 – Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Serum
This serum is still holding its place from last year and has been around for a while but yet it is still so good and worth it.
It gives your skin that little extra nutrition and it is the type of product that you will see a difference from soon enough or when you stop using it. I don’t think I can praise this serum enough, for me it’s almost like skin medicine. My pores became noticeably smaller, my skin smoother, healthier and younger looking
It’s such a versatile product as well. If you get burnt while cooking you can use this to help your skin heal faster, thanks to the hyaluronic acid and other great ingredients it contains. If you get a rash or irritated skin, this will calm it down. Obviously, if you have a skin condition or something more serious that you are worried about, consult with a medical doctor first.
The bottle is nice and I love that it comes with a little squeezy dropper. It is expensive, £53-88, depending on size but it is absolutely worth it. Check out: Estée Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronized Recovery Complex II Serum – In Depth Review and Ingredient Analysis
Another good serum worth mentioning and trying is the Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil which also gave me noticeable results after consistent usage. I can’t say that it is better than the Night Repair because they are simply different but it is very good. For all the details check out: Dr Botanicals Moroccan Rose Superfood Facial Oil Review – Performance and Ingredient Analysis
Best treatment 2018 – Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment
Treatment/serum same type of product essentially but I’ve separated them for fairness. If you don’t have retinol in your skincare, start with the cream mentioned in the next category below first, the Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide Enriched Firming moisturiser, as it is an ingredient that you should only slowly introduce to your skincare, to avoid skin peeling and other side effects. When you start using the Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment also go slowly and use it only 1-2 times a week up to every other day slowly if your skin can tolerate it.
This product has made a difference to my skin, making it look younger even though I don’t have wrinkles yet but also more healthy and less dull. It might be marketed and focused on retinol but it also contains a huge list of other ingredient goodies, a whopping 53 ingredients of which 41 will offer your some benefit (the rest are mostly for formulation purposes).
In a nut shell, this product is a cocktail of skincare goodies that your skin will absolutely adore. Definitely a must try product! For all the details check out: Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment – In-Depth Review, Ingredient Analysis and a Chemist’s Verdict
Best Night Cream 2018 – Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturiser
I found a couple of excellent options for day and night creams and in truth I just rotate between them but if I had to only pick one I’d pick the Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturiser. However, all three creams mentioned below are different enough to be worth buying all and since they don’t contain SPF you can use them at any time, day or night.
In third place I’d rank the Estee Lauder NightWear Plus.I’ve been using this cream for ages and it is nutritious for the skin. It has great ingredients and a nice formulation. It’s thin and not too creamy, so it works really well for oily skin and it gets absorbed very quickly. It doesn’t leave any residues behind and it has a refreshing, cucumber-like scent. It’s called NightWear but in reality there is no reason not to use it in the day other than it doesn’t contain SPF or help with oil production. The creams mentioned in the day cream section are obviously better and more suited for purpose but if you were stuck and had nothing else you could use this one as a day cream too. The biggest drawback of this cream is the jar packaging which is not hygienic and might help accelerate ingredient oxidation.
In second place I’d rank the Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Ageing Clear Skin Hydrator which is suitable for normal, combination and oily skin. It works really well, comes with a pump and contains many nutritious ingredients. It’s not a night cream specifically, it can be used at both day and night but again because of its lack of SPF and oil control I use it in the night.
Last but definitely not least, in fact best, is the Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide Enriched Firming Moisturiser. This cream is my top not only because it is suitable for all skin types but because it contains many nourishing and skin replenishing ingredients and works really well. It also comes with a pump which makes it easy but also sanitary to use and it has made a huge difference in my skin which now feels thicker and healthier. It is also not a night specific cream but because it contains retinol, lack of SPF and oil control it is best used at night. Check out: Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide-Enriched Firming Moisturiser – In-depth Review and Ingredient Analysis
As I mentioned at the beginning all three creams are suitable for all times, almost all skin types and are worth the cash. Because of their slightly different ingredients I tend to rotate between them and match them up with the serums or treatments I use. For example, if I use the Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment I would follow it up with either the Paula’s Choice Resist Anti-Ageing Clear Skin Hydrator or the Estee Lauder NightWear Plus and avoid the Paula’s Choice Clinical Ceramide Enriched Firming Moisturiser because it contains retinol too.
Best toner 2018 – Paula’s Choice Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner
Toners are not must have products but they can be excellent addons to take your skincare a little further. Ideally, you should choose ones with ingredients that are not in your day/night creams or serums, but once you start looking at their ingredients you will quickly realise that most of them are just a waste of money.
The most nourishing and actually worth using toner I found so far is the Paula’s Choice Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner. It is at the right pH for the skin, it can remove left over makeup and oils and also contains good nourishing ingredients.
It doesn’t break the bank either and lasts for a while. For more details check out: Great skincare addons – Paula’s Choice Resist Weightless Advanced Repairing Toner – In-depth review and Ingredient Analysis
Best face mask 2018 – Glamglow Gravity Mud Firming Treatment
Face masks are also not necessary especially if you have a good skincare routine, they are worth nowhere near a good serum or moisturiser. However, they can be good addons especially if you use them often (you wouldn’t just diet for one day and expect results). There are definitely some options out there that contain good ingredients but most face masks are more hyped than they should be.
The most exciting one for me this year was the Glamglow Gravity Mud Firming Treatment for all the wrong reasons but aw well! I never noticed any firming from it but this mask really makes my skin look very clean and bright. For me it’s the best anti-dull mask I’ve ever tried and it looks nice too.
It has a silky-silver colour which is meant to change colour as it dries (mine never did). You can leave it on for 20-30 minutes to dry and then you simply peel it off. I use this mask once to twice a week to keep my skin clean.
To give you an idea of the difference, my partner who is like most men who don’t want creams on their face etc, noticed an instant difference on my skin and shaved the next day so that he can use it too! Yes, I am still shocked.
Best Eyeliner 2018 – Nyx Professional Matte Liquid Eyeliner
The best eyeliner is a major, major, major, major category for me as I have been wearing eyeliner on a daily basis for at least 20 years. I consider myself a bit of an eyeliner super user and so it’s an absolute huge thing for me to say that the best eyeliner that I currently use is the Nyx Black Matte Liquid Eyeliner, which is still holding it’s title from last year. Nothing this year has managed to convinced me to switch.
It’s sleek, has a proper black colour, it doesn’t shine, doesn’t smudge, lasts all day and it’s even there after you wake up (we’ve all been there) and although it is not waterproof, it survives a splash of water. It only comes off if you rub it while wet or if you fully immerse yourself under water.
It works well over eye shadows, doesn’t lose its intensity and you can also layer it up although, it’s really not needed. It has a very thin brush which I love as you can create very precise looks. I personally prefer brushes over felt tip pens because (a) they are most of the time more intense in colour and (b) they can be a lot more precise if you practise using them and (c) you don’t have that problem of them loosing pigment because you are holding them upside down or in an angle (aka they don’t work like the pen ones).
This eyeliner is completely weightless and super affordable. It comes off easily in the shower with just water or a makeup wipe/remover and doesn’t ruin your lashes. The best part is, it retails for £6!
Best eyeshadow palette 2018 – Tarte Tartelette in Bloom
This is an interesting category as there were so many nice eye shadow palette releases this year and in general there are so many palettes worth having. I was beyond excited for the Urban Decay Backtalk palette this year as the colours were based on their Backtalk lipstick which is my kind of everyday colour, a dusty pink or pink-mauve shade. However, that’s a personal preference colour choice and so I could not recommend it for everyone. Check out: Let’s Backtalk. Urban Decay Backtalk Palette and Lipstick. In depth review, functionality and ingredients
The one palette that everyone should have is the Tarte Tartelette in Bloom. This palette is very good quality, durable and travel friendly, looks nice, has a giant mirror and the colours contained are suitable for all. It has a gorgeous vanilla smell, the ingredients are actually better than a lot of other eye shadow palettes and it is standalone, meaning it contains a white and a black as well as mattes and shimmers. The brown and gold colours are suitable for both day and night looks as well as casual, glam and professional occasions.
It’s an all-round high quality palette suitable for all people and occasions. For all the details check out: Which Tartelette palette? Amazonian Clay Toasted vs Bloom vs Matte. In depth review, functionality and ingredient lists
Best Makeup Primer 2018 – This Works In Transit Camera Close-up Primer, Mask, Moisturiser
This product is as much skincare as makeup-enhancer and still holds its place from last year too. The first time I saw this I was completely confused. Is it a primer, a mask or a moisturiser? How can it be all, there are very different ingredients, formulations and functions for each one of those! I was almost sure it wasn’t going to be good but my goodness, it is the best!
This primer is bar none, the most nutritious one out there that I have at least come across. I use it as a primer, after my moisturiser, and it keeps my skin nicely moisturised and smooth while helping my makeup stay flawless all day long. After using this for a while, I noticed a positive change in my skin.
It smells really nice and has a thick consistency, however, don’t rub this too much, it sort of destroys the formulation. Just dub it in and let it get absorbed by the skin.
You won’t find another good for your skin and great functional primer out there like this one. It is truly in a league of its own. Even Victoria Beckham said “this works” and it has also won a lot of beauty awards.
It retails for £30.00 which honestly, is an excellent price for the ingredients it contains and it lasts for 3 months of daily usage. It’s also great for travelling as you can use it as a day/night moisturiser too, not needing to take other products with.
Best Foundation for oily skin 2018 – Estée Lauder Double Wear
The Double Wear foundation is still holding its title and probably for many years to come! I have oily skin which makes finding a suitable foundation very difficult. There are many foundations in the market that claim to control oil production and stay put, without coming off or separating, all day long, but neither work as well for me as the Estée Lauder Double Wear. It comes to no surprise that this is the world’s number one foundation and the beauty bloggers’ choice, if you check places like Influenster etc.
It lasts all day long, controls oil production well and it’s one of the very few foundations out there that truly don’t come off. There are many foundations that claim to “stay in place” but this one actually does.
The formulation doesn’t contain bad ingredients, doesn’t separate, doesn’t oxidise, it’s an all-rounder, and even the bottle it comes in looks nice. It doesn’t have a pump but you can buy one from the brand (£4-5) if you need to, although I promise you it’s very easy to get used to it, you won’t need one at after all.
It’s a medium to full coverage and layering it up works like a charm. I actually always layer it twice because it controls my oil production even better, not so much for the coverage and this way it lasts all day without re-touching. Honestly, I cannot speak highly enough for this foundation, give it a try, especially if you have oily skin. It lasts me somewhere between 3 weeks to a month, depending on usage, and it retails for £33.50.
Too Faced gave this foundation a good run for its money last year, with the Peach Perfect foundation launch, coming close with an 80% match dupe (see post Three way battle of foundations: Estée Lauder Double Wear vs Too Faced Peach Perfect vs Too Faced Born this Way.). However, the fact that Estée Lauder has 54 shades to choose from, definitely gave it the upper hand.
However, the Nyx Can’t Stop Won’t Stop foundation is the real winner here as it works as well as the Double Wear with the only let down being the colour selection not containing specific undertones. It’s half the price of the Double Wear though and for that alone it’s worth a try. Check out: Best Foundation Dupe yet? Estée Lauder Double Wear vs Nyx Can’t Stop Won’t Stop vs Nyx Stay Matte – In-depth Reviews and Ingredient Analyses
For more foundation comparisons check out:
Best Concealer 2018 – Tarte Shape Tape
Again, a beauty blogger favourite, all over Influenster and other blogger media. I was a bit slow to try this one because of Tarte’s lack of UK presence, but after I have, I just instantly ditched the Urban Decay Naked Skin, even though the latter is more nutritious for your skin!
I love this concealer because it lasts for ever, it doesn’t crease, it doesn’t need to be set with a powder as it dries on its own, it doesn’t add heaviness to the eyes and it truly does make the eyes brighter and younger looking (choose 1-2 shades lighter than your foundation).
It’s basically very similar in terms of results to the Urban Decay Naked Skin with the only difference being that it is slightly thicker. It retails for £22 but it will last you 2-3 months!
Both concealers are really good options. Check out: Battle of the top 2 concealers – Urban Decay Naked Skin vs Tarte Shape Tape – A chemist’s verdict and ingredient analysis
Best Mascara 2018 – Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir
This is a tough and very extreme category. Mascaras for me either work really well or not at all, there is almost no mediocre.
The absolute best mascara I’ve ever tried so far is still, as last year, the Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir but getting your hands on it can be quite difficult. Check out Marc Jacobs Beauty Velvet Noir Influenster VoxBox – Unboxing and Review.
As a result I’ve also been using alternative options such as the Tarte Gifted Amazonian Clay Smart mascara which is very good indeed but also not the easier to get.
A cheaper but also very good option is The One 5-in-1 Wonder Lash Mascara which costs something like £4 but is even harder to find.
The most accessible mascara’s that work well are: the Too Faced Better than Sex mascara and for more natural looks the Max FactorX 2000 Calorie mascara.
All the above mentioned last all day and do not smudge but the only one that gives both length and thickness (and might even temp you to not use fake lashes) is the the Marc Jacobs Velvet Noir. If you can get your hands on it, try it!
Best natural highlighter 2018 – Too Faced Love Light Blinded by the Light
These two highlighters still hold my heart from last year and I’m still using the same products and haven’t hit the pan! They last 18M so it’s time that I throw them away now but I have been using the silver one every day for a year and a half and still haven’t hit pan. They are amazing value for money, work well and do not emphasise texture.
They are still my favourite out of so many highlighters out there because they look natural, not only in their blindness but also in their lack of added texture. The light they reflect doesn’t look like you are oily or sweaty but rather just a bit naturally reflective. You can also layer them up for stronger looks, they come with a mirror and in a super cute heart shape container. What more can you want?
There are three available colours, “blinded by the light” which is the silver one, “you light up my life” which is the gold one and a pink one which I always forget the name of. The pink one is not as good quality so just forget it, but the gold and silver ones are great. They retail for £25-30 which is a very good price considering they will last you for 1.5 years+. For more details see Too Faced Summer Collection 2017 – Natural Love Eye Shadow Palette and Love Light Highlighters – Reviews and Swatches !
Best Setting Spray 2018 – Urban Decay All Nighter
Again, another no shocker here. A beauty blogger favourite, the Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray. There are many setting sprays out there but not many will keep your makeup flawless for as long as this one does and not many will help control your oils too.
It doesn’t feel sticky or strange, it doesn’t smell bad, it doesn’t feel like a shock when you spray it on the face and it doesn’t ruin your makeup at all. It dries in a few seconds and creates a nice invisible barrier between the world and your makeup.
It retails for £24 and comes in a travel size too. You only need to buy the travel size once and then you can keep the bottle, open and refill every time you need to use it!
This year I’ve compared it to another blogger favourite, check out: Showdown: Urban Decay All Nighter vs MAC Prep and Prime Fix+. Are They Both Setting Sprays and Which One is Best? In-depth Review and Ingredient Analyses
Best Lipsticks 2018 – Clinique Pop Lip Colour
I really wish I’ve tried these lipsticks earlier but I only discovered them this year. They are the most nourishing and moisturising lipsticks while lasting a long time.
They keep lips feeling hydrated all day long and only fade slightly when eating or drinking (although that depends on how you eat and drink as well). They come in three different finishes: matte, glossy/shiny and sheer, as well as many colours to choose from. The only let down is the lack of range in the red shades, for example, there isn’t a nice strong red with blue under tones or a darker wine-red but aw well!
Special shout out to the Urban Decay, MAC, Laura Mercier, Estée Lauder and Too Faced lipsticks all of which are also great and have good colour ranges (especially Urban Decay and MAC) but are nowhere near as nutritious or moisturising as the Clinique Pop ones. For all the details check out: Coffee Chat: Q&A You asked “What is your favourite lippie formula” – Best lipsticks for dry lips
And in case you are wondering, my favourite every day lipsticks are: Urban Decay Backtalk, MAC Mehr and Clinique Cute Pop, all of which are dirty pink-mauve shades.
Best Lip Balm/moisturiser 2018 – Oryza Dewy Glow Balm
Even if you don’t have dry lips this lip balm is the perfect addon to make your lip skin smooth and flawless. You can use it under or even over a lipstick or as a skincare product too.
It has been a life saver for my dry lips as it keeps them soft and moisturised for much longer than other lip balms and it is also cheaper than a drugstore balm because of how much product it contains. A tiny amount of it will condition your lips and even if they are still dry after a while, they will still be in better condition than initially.
Best contour product 2018 – Nyx Wonder Stick
There are many products out there that can work well for contouring including bronzers and concealers, you don’t have to have contouring specific products to achieve a chiselled face.
However, for me the Nyx Wonder Stick has been a favourite for a couple of years now because it is one of the very few brown colours out there that is actually brown and not orange-brown. Why is this so hard to find! It’s also not too dark for me (there are a few options for the stick but I use the Light/Medium which is the lightest) and it looks natural. It looks like a bone shadow on my face which is what contouring should look like and not like I put lots of brown stuff on it.
It’s creamy and very easy to use as it glides effortlessly, it blends quickly, can be easily layered for more intense looks and it costs £11! It lasts for months too.
The only let down is the highlight side, it just doesn’t work well for me. I’d prefer to use my concealer but even for using half of the contouring stick, only the brown side, it’s totally worth it for me.
Best setting powder 2018 – Laura Mercier Translucent powder
This might also come as no surprise as it is a beauty and blogger influenser favourite and there is good reason.
This powder works really well. For me the biggest advantage ia the fact that it doesn’t add colour or oxidise after, which is something that I’ve noticed with many powders, even the ones that are labelled as translucent! Another big advantage is the fact that it doesn’t have flash back whereas many other branded ones do, like the Estée Lauder or Bare Mineral ones that will make you look like an alien/firefly hybrid in pictures (don’t even try)! You would think that these two characteristics are just logical but they are not found in a lot of setting powders.
The bar is fairly low on this type of product and even though the ingredients are not worth the cash, this product wins the category for the fact that it simply works well and as intended (a bit sad).
Best beauty tool 2018 – Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge
I really like all the Real Technique sponges and although they look a little gimmicky, there is a good use for all of them. Check out: Real Techniques Makeup Sponges – Are the different colours and shapes just gimmicks?
However, the one sponge that has been a life changer for me is the Real Techniques Miracle Complexion sponge, aka the orange one. It comes with a flat bottom which is so much easier to use than the egg shape beauty blender or other sponges because (a) it uses a larger surface area with each bounce so it can apply foundation faster and (b) it can also get into corners, like around the nose, easier.
It doesn’t give you any miracle complexion etc as the name might suggest, but it’s shape, higher durability than a beauty blender and the fact that you can also buy it with a case, make it the most practical one. It’s also cheaper than a beauty blender (although not as cheap as unbranded sponges) and the case can be used even if you are not travelling, just to keep it away from dust (which makes you foundation look worse).
For a comparison check out: Battle of the makeup sponges – Beauty Blender vs Real Techniques vs B.
Sadly, there aren’t many items that are truly impressive in this category but I am still searching. However, two options that might not be top notch but are good enough and worth mentioning are the Revlon Professional Daily Normal to Thick Hair Care shampoo and conditioner and the Redken Heatcure mask.
Best hand cream 2018 – The Chemistry Brand Pro-Repair Anti-ageing Skincare for Hands
This hand cream might be a little sticky, expensive and harder to get than others but it is the most nourishing hand cream I’ve ever tried and it truly moisturisers the skin. I can see a difference that is beyond moisturisation, from when I use it consistently and when I don’t and it contains many good ingredients including amino acids. For all the details ceck out: The Chemistry Brand – Pro-Repair, Anti-Ageing Skincare for Hands. Does it Work?
The bodycare category is slowly getting more attention, as people as slowly realising that the rest of our body is skin too that needs nourishing. I found some good options during my quest to find excellent body care this year but not any products that I would say are ride-or-die.
For good options check out:
That’s it for the beauty favourites of 2018. There’s a lot of categories I haven’t touched at all, not because there aren’t any good products in them, but because those products are not THAT much better than others to deserve the category award of the year. I’m very excited to see what 2019 will bring us and if next year this time, I will be talking about the same products as now, or not!
I hope 2019 is even more beautiful.
I am not affiliated with any company or brand. These are my views and experiences.
Beauty is a very personal thing, we all have different skin, requirements and biological build which can influence things. What worked for me might not work for you and vice versa. Have you ever tried these products? Did they work for you? Let me know your experiences below!
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