Wednesday, 8 February 2012

My besties of 2011

Right it's time to step away from the negativity and go onto something positive! I thought I'd finally share my favourites of last year, i'm only just in February so not as bad as last year where I just never got around to it.
(I stole the catergories from jennifaes awesome blog, because I am too lazy to make up my own! I did add a couple of things though and removed some that i don't have favourites of though). Some of the categories have contenders which are products that only just didn't make the cut.

Best High-End Beauty Brand
 A lot of my favoutite products come from Illamasqua, they tend to have really high quality, beautifully packaged, excitingly coloured and richly pigmented makeup.  I also just love Illamasqua as a brand! Here's why. 

Best Drugstore Beauty Brand
ELF tends to be a bit hit and miss with their products but the majority of those I have tried have been really brilliant, particularly those from the Studio section of the brand. The prices are fantastic (basically everything is under £5) and the packaging is really nice considering how cheap it is.

Sleek are another great Drugstore brand. I love that they have very pigmented, bright and interesting shades and exciting products like their Molten Metals and Pout Paints. Their shadow palettes are also fantastic and (even with the stupid price hike) great value.

Best Indie Makeup Brand
Darling Girl
Darling Girl is one of the newest indie companies I've tried but they've quickly become my favourite. All the products I've tried have been fantastic quality and come in lots of gorgeous colours. The prices are fair and Susan (the owner) is one of the nicest, most helpful people you could hope to deal with. I've never had a problem with an order and TAT are always reasonable. I have a proper review coming up soon :) 


The reason Sugarpill didn't win is that they have fewer products to choose from and also I find it hard to catergorise them as an indie company! The packaging, branding and quality of the products is absolutely amazing and wouldn't seem out of place in a High End brand. 

Best Pressed Eyeshadow
Sugarpills pressed eyeshadows are just the bees knees. They're insanely pigmented, bright and true to colour and also apply smoothly and blend easily. They're also really reasonably priced at $34 for a palette of 4 huge pans of shadow or $12 each. At the moment there are 9 fantastic rich colours and a tonne more are coming out soon!

MUA Pressed shadows
MUA shadows are nice, particularly the pearl finish ones which are creamy and easy to apply, but not amazing. However as they cost £1 each they're a fantastic bargain!

Best Loose Eyeshadow
Darling Girl, Shiro, Sugarpill, Venomous Cosmetics, Fyrrinae
I couldn't choose just one brand for this. All of the above make amazing shadows, pigmented, creamy, easily blendable, great range of colours, long lasting etc. I'd say they're all about equal in quality. Sugarpill tends to have the brightest, boldest colours, Fyrinnae the most complex, Darling Girl has fantastic unusual neutral shades and lovely duochromes, Venomous has great sparkle and Shiro has wonderful soft shades.

Illamasqua pure Pigment, Barry M Dazzle dusts
Both of these are lovely too but more expensive (particularly the Illamasqua)

Best Pencil Eyeliner
Illamasqua Medium pencil
I really like these because they come in a multitude of colours and you can use them anywhere on your face, which means you can finally have a pale green lipliner or bright red eyeliner if you wanted! I also just really like them, they're soft enough to leave an easy line but not so soft as to break or smudge easily and they last longer on my waterline than the average eyeliner.

Best Liquid Eyeliner
Illamasqua Precision Ink
 This eyeliner has a really great applicator, it's a felt style one (not a felt-tip pen style though) but is a bit longer than average (I think? Something's different anyway) which makes it really easy to apply precisely. The formula is great, completely opaque and slightly glossy. It dries quickly and does not fade or smudge at all.
It's only available in 4 shades which is a bit of a shame in one way because I love coloured eyeliner but in another it's great because I love this stuff but my bank balance does not :P

Best Glitter Eyeliner
Collection 2000 Glam Crystals Dazzling Gel Liners
Just the best glitter Eyeliners ever. These are packed full of glitter which means you don't need to layer it over and over to get a proper glitter liner look (unlike some glitter eyeliners *coughUrbanDecaycough*). They come in lots of lovely bright colours including some holographic ones and also dry quickly.

MUA Glitter Eyeliner
These are almost as good as the Collection 2000 but have a worse brush (it's too long and splays and is just a bit odd) and only come in about 3 shades, but they're also just £1 yay!

Best Mascara
Benefit They're Real
I've been using this as an alternative to my absolute favourite mascara (Lancomes Oscillation) since I discovered that lancome test on animals (or support animal testing or something, it's hard to tell :/ ). It's a really good mascara giving wonderful length and volume (doesn't add much curl but my lashes are naturally curly so I never bother with curling mascaras) and it doesn't flake or clump easily. The brush is a plastic one which I always prefer to bristles and has a cool little spiky top part that helps to lift the lashes up and coat them right to the roots. I have found that it's dried out a bit though and is not as good or easy to use as it was when I first bought it.

Best Lip Balm
Models own
When it comes to bog standard lip balm used just to moisturise your mouth I don't really have a favourite, I'll use anything as long as it doesn't taste disgusting, but these Models Own ones are amazing. Look here for a full review but these are highly pigmented, lip softening, super shiny, delicious smelling little pots of joy!

Best Lipstick
MAC Amplified Creme Lipsticks
My favourite ever lipsticks, these are creamy, soft, not at all drying and easy to apply. They glide over my lips and are beautifully pigmented with a slightly shiny finish. They come in lots of pretty colours and while they don't have any very unusual ones like blues or greens they do have bright oranges, pinks, purples and reds. 

Mac Matte Lipsticks
I tend to just like Mac's lipsticks in general but only have a few that aren't either Amplified Creme or Matte formula so Matte would be my contender. A couple of the shades are hard to use (Ruby Woo i'm looking at you) but in general they tend to be slightly dry but not bad and not drying to the lips. They're very pigmented and have a lovely retro finish.

I have swatches of all my Mac Lipsticks here

Best Lipgloss
Illamasqua Intense Lipglosses
I just looove these. They're super opaque, ultra glossy, smell delicious, come in fantastic shades like grey and molten silver along with pinks and reds and last longer than any other gloss I've tried. See my full review here and swatches here

Darling Girl Holo-glosses/venomous cosmetics Lip Poisons
Darling Girls Holo-glosses are fantastic (generally) clear or sheer glosses packed with lovely glitter. They last beautifully and are amazing layered over lipsticks. Venomous Lip poisons are actually quite similar to the Illamasqua Intense glosses, they're opaque and long wearing and lovely but just not quite as good (in my opinion) You can see some lip swatches here.
Best Blush
Illamasqua powder blush
Amazingly soft and blendable but ultra pigmented. You need a light hand with these! They last all day and come in a myriad of colours to suit every skin tone (from the palest pink to deepest plum). The majority of these are matte but a couple of shimmery shades have just been released and have a lovely hint of shimmer but not over the top sparkle.

ELF Studio
ELFs blushes are also incredibly pigmented, easy to blend and cheap at £3.50 each but I find them just slightly chalkier and the sparkle in some shades can be a bit brash for me.

Best Bronzer
ELF Studio Cool bronzer

I don't generally use bronzer to look bronzed or sunkissed, I just use it occasionally to  contour my face. To do this properly it's best to use a matt contour shade as the sparkle in bronzer reflects light (and when you're contouring you want to create shadows, which should not reflect the light) and this bronzer is great for that! It's matte and has 4 shades in the one pan that you can mix together or use seperately to get the right depth of colour. It's very pigmented though so you need to use a light hand. 

  Sleek Contour Kit

Sleeks contour kit has a beautiful formula which is really easy to apply and blend. It comes in a few shadesto suit different skin tones. I use the 'light' shade and it works well with my ultra pale pink skin. It's not super pigmented but I find that a good thing because it looks more natural. However it has shimmer in it which as I said before is not brilliant for contouring (for me anyway). 

Best Highlighter
ELF Studio Blush in Gotta Glow/Illamasqua Illuminator
 Gotta Glow is a pearly white pressed powder with some golden sparkle. It's great for adding a bit of shimmer to the face and highlighting large areas like the cheekbones however it's not very pigmented. Illamasqua's Illuminators are cream highlighters that are insanely pigmented and really reflect light. They have fantastic sparkle and dry really quickly. You can apply them sheerly for a hint of a glow or more thickly for a real sparkle with more opaque colour.

ELF Studio Radiance Enhancer
This is a highlighting cream that comes in a handy brush applicator which makes it really easy to apply (especially to places like the cupids bow where you only want a hint of highlight). It gives a nice glow but is not very pigmented and takes a little while to dry.

Best Liquid Foundation
Illamasqua Skin Base 
I love this foundation (though ignore the claims that it's like a BB cream, it isn't) it's buildable from sheer to full coverage, easily blends on my skin, lasts brilliantly and gives a really lovely natural looking finish to my skin. You can see my full review here.

GOSH X-ceptional Wear

A great foundation that blends easily into the skin, leaves it looking matte and lasts all day.

Best Powder Foundation
To be fair I've only tried 2 powder foundations, BFTE's and Physicians Formula. The PF one is pressed, I find it quite hard to apply and the lightest shade is too dark for me whereas the BFTE is a loose powder which applies beautifully and comes in lots of shades (Alabaster suits me well). It's super easy to apply, you just buff it in, and it leaves my skin looking flawless. You can see me in it here.

Best Setting Powder
ELF Studio HD powder
This is just a good, bog-standard powder. It's colourless so should work for most skin shades (though if you're very dark skinned I think it could make you look a little ashy as it could leave a white cast) and sets foundations brilliantly, leaving you with matt skin. You only need to use a little bit and it's cheap at £6 (or cheaper in the US or with one of ELFs millions of codes).

Best Makeup Brushes
ELF Studio
I love the ELF Studio brushes, they're really cheap (generally £3.50), synthetic and thus cruelty free and just work brilliantly! I can honestly say these are on par with my Illamasqua brushes that can cost up to 10x as much. It's hard to explain why they're so good, they just work! I have a video about them here

Illamasquas brushes are great, synthetic, soft, easy to use and apply and blend makeup easily.

Best Nail Varnish
While Illamasqua nail varnishes are among the priciest I've ever bought at £13.50 each (though I always wait for a sale or discount code as I am cheap :P ) they're probably the best quality too. They're generally very pigmented needing only 2 coats to be fully opaque, come in beautiful colours, dry really quickly and last for ages without chipping or wearing.


Models Own, Lynnderella, GOSH
Models Own and GOSH polishes are great and dry quite quickly. I generally need 2-3 coats but the finish is smooth and glossy and lasts for days. Lynnderella polishes aren't quite as quick drying but they are so unusual and gorgeous that they're worth it!

Sorry for the lack of posts everyone, My laptop is being fixed so I have to use claire's and don't have access to my files and photos. I'm getting it back soon though.

If there's any other catergories you'd be interested in knowing my favourites of then comment and I'll add them in :)


  1. Hi Lillian, loved this post. Some great high end and cheap choices! Just one thing: I thought benefit also tested on animals. I adore the look abd branding of their products but I've been avoiding them because I thought they tested.

  2. Great choices! I might have to steal this format as well :D

  3. Louise:
    Hi Louise! Thanks so much. It's so hard to keep up with what's cruelty free! I've checked on their website (here: ) and they say they don't ever test their products on animals but the ingredients that go into them may have been. I'd rather nothing I used had ever been tested on animals but it's pretty much impossible to avoid because some ingredients have been used for decades so were tested on animals years ago. So for me I would say Benefit don't test on animals, as they don't do it themselves but if you're very strict then you might want to avoid them. It's so difficult to know what to do!

    Yes let the cycle of thievery continue!

  4. Some great choices! Thanks for this post xxx

  5. Hi Lillian,
    I know, it is so hard to verify whether a company tests or not. The statements on website can be so confusing sometimes. So I'm wary of any company that doesn't clearly state "we do not test our finished products or ingredients on animals and we do not hire any third party to do so". I also usually check this website Unfortunately for us Benefit is neither on the 'don't test' or 'do test' list. I really hope that they'll be on the do not test list soon, though my wallet hopes the opposite ;-).

  6. Ooh now I want to try the BFTE foundation.

  7. I feel guilty asking for more, but what's your favorite concealer?

  8. Wow, a really interesting post! Very helpful for me, as I'm looking around for some more makeup brands to look at.

    L. Figment
    Good Morning Angel.

  9. Miss LV:
    Youre most welcome! :)

    Ugh it's too confusing! I can't wait for the European ban!

    It's really nice! Though it's the only proper powder foundation I've tried, others may be just as nice.

    No need to feel guilty! I actually don't use concealer very often, I tend to just use my Illamasqua foundation heavier on blemishes. I have a bunch I use from time to time with no real preferences (Illamasqua under eye in 115, ELF Studio illuminating concealer in Fair and some Gosh one without a name)

    L. Figment:
    Thank you, I'm glad I could be helpful!

  10. Hi Lillian!
    Sorry if you have already received this message but im not sure if it sent properly! As an ex-employee of benefit i was told by a member of management that the components of products are tested on animals whilst the finished products are not, hence why they can claim to be cruelty free whilst selling in China.
    Big fan of yours btw! Hope youre well! L xxx


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