Happy New Year everyone! I don’t know about you, but I’m glad to have got through 2021 and happy to leave it in the past! A new year, means it’s time to share the Best Beauty Products of 2021!
There were A LOT of interesting releases last year, but also plenty of gaps where either nothing was released, or it was boring/rehashed stuff. My tastes definitely changed. In terms of coverage, eyeshadow, blush etc. I found I was going more towards dewy skin tints, barely any eyeshadow and cream blush and highlighter.
For me, 2021 was the year of the cream blush! I started switching to hybrid formulas in 2020/early 2021. Those cream to powder blushes where I felt I could dip my toe. I was still kind of scared of looking like I had doll cheeks with true cream or liquid blushes. However, in 2021, I went full on into cream and liquid blush world!
I also tested quite a few liquid highlighters. I think, overall, I still prefer powder highlighters. However, there’s one liquid highlighter that I’ve fallen head over heels for. Most others I found issues with, be it how they wore or how they mixed with my foundation and concealer. They looked nice until I got really close in the mirror… Then I’d see where they bunched up. The one I’ll mention today doesn’t do that. But, I’d still say I have and purchase more powder highlights than cream.
My eye makeup this year went from me trying to work on my shadow blending to super simple. Sometimes one cream shadow, or one light shimmery shade over the eyes. Most of the time, no eyeshadow, just a bit of eyeliner and mascara. I loved trying new things this year and subscription boxes and gifts with purchase were my jam.
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Towards the end of the year, I didn’t wear much makeup at all, I spent a lot of time ill in bed and recovering from life threatening blood clots. That first time I actually felt the desire to put on makeup again was so good. There were times I thought I’d never get the “old me” back. I mean, I don’t think I will ever be the old me completely. I do have a new normal. However, I’d like to think there are elements of the old me, mixed in with the new.
OK, enough with being philosophical, let’s dive into the Best Beauty Products of 2021!
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BEST BASE PRODUCTS
BEST HIGH END PRIMER – ESTÉE LAUDER FUTURIST AQUA BRILLIANCE WATERY GLOW PRIMER – £30.50 from Estée Lauder
OK, OK, I know this product wasn’t released in 2021. In fact, it was my favourite primer of 2020 as well. However, I tried some new primers in 2021 and none of them knocked this one off of the top step. There is one drugstore one that is a close second, which I’ll get onto in a minute. I’ve nearly gone through the whole tube, I wear it ALL.THE.TIME. It’s flawless, hydrating, slightly dewy and grips your foundation all day long. It’s also super lightweight, doesn’t clog pores or cling to dry patches. I have worn it under every base products I own, from skin tints to full coverage foundations and I haven’t found a single one that looks bad with this primer.
I’ll promise you all now, this is the only product in this Best Beauty Products of 2021 post which is a duplicate of last year.
BEST DRUGSTORE PRIMER – REVLON PHOTOREADY PRIME PLUS PERFECTING AND SMOOTHING PRIMER – £10.99 from Look Fantastic
A primer I did try for the first time in 2021 is this one by Revlon and I’ve been super impressed with it! It creates this blurred, smooth, poreless base for your makeup. It does have silicone in it, silicone is in pretty much all smoothing primers. However, this doesn’t feel quite as silicone-y as others I’ve tried. There are hydrating ingredients in the formula and it feels refreshing and lightweight on the skin.
This primer doesn’t have a strong fragrance, it spreads evenly and quickly, I’ve had no pilling with any foundations and I love the fact this primer doesn’t feel heavy. Some silicone heavy products can almost feel like a film on top of the skin. This one sinks in quickly and gives you a blurred, flawless complexion. For under £11, it’s an absolute steal! There’s actually a couple of other primers in this range, I have the brightening one, but haven’t tried it much yet! If it’s anything like the smoothing one, then I might be mentioning it in a favourites post soon!
BEST FOUNDATION – LISA ELDRIDGE SEAMLESS SKIN FOUNDATION – £44 from Lisa Eldridge
I was so excited when I found out Lisa Eldridge was releasing a foundation. Everything else I’d tried from her had been out of this world amazing, so I had high hopes for the foundation. I try not to watch reviews before buying a product. (I have to admit, I had plans to review the foundation when it first came out, but I was still really poorly and by the time I had the energy, it wasn’t new anymore). With this foundation, however, I did watch Lisa’s review and a few others because there are SO many shades and undertones.
It can be a little overwhelming as there aren’t just 40 shades, but about 5 or 6 undertones as well. Of course, this means that you are almost guaranteed to find a shade to match, but I spent a long time trying to decide what shade to get. When it released, you could get sample cards free with an order. There was nothing I wanted to buy at the time, so I decided to look at as many swatches online as I could. Lisa said that because she goes so light and so deep with the shades, you may not be what you normally are. In my case, I was still the palest, neutral shade, but to be honest, in a lot of ranges the palest neutral shade isn’t a perfect match either.
Happy to report shade 1 is my perfect shade. And this foundation is most definitely worth the hype. From the heavy, frosted glass bottle to how much product comes out with each pump, Lisa has thought of everything. The bottle is almost like art. One thing to note – the bottle does not stand up on its own. It will lay down on one of its side, but if you want it to stand up, you have to keep the box. I didn’t really want to keep the box, but, once it arrived, it was a non issue. It just stands up happily in its box, inside my Alex drawers.
Let’s talk about how flexible this foundation is. A lot of foundations claim to be buildable, but I find they aren’t. This one truly is. You can apply an entire layer, let it set and then go in again and it will build seamlessly. Two pumps do me for light/medium coverage. Three for full medium and 4 for full coverage. It’s best to work in layers, rather than applying the full amount the first time. So, I’ll do one complete layer, then go in with the next. I don’t find I need to set this, it has an ingredient in it which makes it set down apparently. I also find that it’s the one foundation I have that doesn’t need both a brush and sponge to apply flawlessly, it is seamless with just the brush.
It isn’t the longest wearing foundation I own, but I still get a good 9 hours from it. It doesn’t cake up or look heavy. Your skin will look flawless all day. Both cream and powder products blend seamlessly on top. The Foundation is a true natural skin finish. This means you can apply it on top of a matte primer and it will be more matte, or for a more dewy look, apply over a glowy primer. You can also mix it with moisturiser and products like the By Terry Cellularose CC Serum. Lisa has a liquid highlighter as well which mixes well.
I’ve been dealing with some pretty bad acne in the last few months, since having to come off of the pill. However, when I wear this, my skin looks amazing. It really is quite incredible!
BEST TINTED MOISTURISER – SAIE SLIP TINT DEWY TINTED MOISTURISER – £27 from Cult Beauty
I have actually done a full review of this tinted moisturiser, which you can read here. I was after a tinted moisturiser that I could apply with my fingers and had a good amount of coverage. This product is all of those things! Saie only launched in the UK recently and only at Cult Beauty, but I’m just glad to have it at all! I wanted to try their products for ages, but couldn’t get them anywhere!
As the name suggests, this is a dewy product. It’s probably the most dewy product I own, so beware! Of course, you can powder it if you need or want to. I have combination skin and find this gives me a healthy, radiant look. My skin has been more dry recently, so I’ve been leaning to the more hydrating complexion products in my collection.
Considering this is a tinted moisturiser, the coverage is great! You can really even out any redness and uneven patches. This lasts a good 8/9 hours on me before becoming ultra dewy and needing a blot/powder. Whenever I wear this, it’s a light makeup day, so a bit of blush, lip balm, brow gel and mascara. It makes me look put together, but not like I have a full face on. I’ve used this product so much in the last couple of months and I know it will be a firm favourite throughout this year!
BEST CONCEALER – KOSAS REVEALER SUPER CREAMY CONCEALER – £26 from Cult Beauty
I actually found a new concealer love this year! I feel like for the past couple of years I’ve had the same favourite concealers as I’m quite picky with them. Usually, I need two concealers as well; one for under the eyes and one for blemishes. The Kosas one does both! I do prefer it under the eyes and will sometimes still use the Maybelline Fit Me if I have lots of acne. However, this Kosas concealer still works great on the rest of my face.
It’s hydrating and super easy to blend. I usually blend with a brush, then go over with a damp sponge. However, with this, I can just use a brush. It’s so lightweight, while having really decent coverage too! I sometimes set this with powder, it depends how my skin is behaving because it’s all over the place at the moment. But, I wouldn’t say you absolutely have to powder this, it does perform well both set and unset. I get the tiniest hint of settling in the fine lines under my eyes, but nothing noticeable unless you get super close. It wears really well and doesn’t fade either. So glad to have found this concealer as it’s both hydrating and long wearing. Sometimes, you’ll get one and not the other!
BEST POWDER – KOSAS CLOUD SET BAKING POWDER – £32 from Cult Beauty
Another hit from Kosas! This has to be the finest, most imperceptible powder I’ve ever used! The first few times I used it, I actually kept putting my brush back in as I thought nothing was being picked up!! However, it being so fine is exactly why I love it. You cannot see it on your skin at all, but it lightly sets and mattifies the skin. You can layer it up throughout the day, if necessary, without it ever looking heavy.
One negative is it does seem to suffer from hard pan after a while. You can scrape this off, or use another area of the powder, but it’s slightly annoying. Mostly because I’ve used this powder tonnes and you can’t even see a dent in, so I think its going to last years. You don’t want hard pan after a month if a product is going to last for so long.
There’s a decent shade range with these powders, I have the lightest and it matches. It doesn’t matter quite so much to have a vast shade range when a product is this lightweight and sheer, since each skin tone can probably use a couple of shades and be fine. If this was a heavy powder, you’d need a closer match. All in all, I love how this makes my skin look. I think there’s the tiniest amount of shimmer in the formula too, but not enough that you see flecks of shimmer on your face. It just makes your skin look like skin, but perfected.
BEST CHEEK PRODUCTS
BEST CREAM BLUSH – MELT COSMETICS CREAM BLUSHLIGHT – £16 from Beauty Bay
I tested A LOT of cream blushes in 2021! A lot of them were older formulas, but they were new to me. These were new out in 2021 and let me tell you, when I saw the first promotional photos of these I knew I was buying some! They looked gorgeous, I loved the fact that there were matte and shimmer shades. The formula sounded right up my street, so I picked up one matte and one shimmer.
I have also reviewed these fully, so I’ll summarise here. They are super easy to blend and apply with a brush or sponge. Easy to layer, buildable colour. They last really well on my skin and even the matte one gives you a a slight healthy glow. I’ve been meaning to pick up another shade for ages, but it keeps going in and out of stock. Melt can be a little hit and miss with their formulas, but they nailed their cream blush formula. I would love for them to expand and release some more pinky/mauve/plum shades.
BEST POWDER BLUSH – PAT MCGRATH SKIN FETISH DIVINE BLUSH – £30 from Pat McGrath
Was there ever any doubt that these blushes would make it to my Best Beauty Products of 2021? Everyone had been begging Pat McGrath to release blushes and she kept us waiting 2 years… But we finally got them and they were every bit as amazing as I hoped.
I splurged and bought 6 shades at launch, that’s how confident I was that I was going to love these. One note – the prices seem to have gone down since launch. When I purchased mine, they were £35 each, they’re now £30 each. It could be the exchange rate, but PML seem to have separate prices for the UK rather than where you can tell it’s just a conversion from USD as it’s a random amount in GBP. You can also buy these blushes from Selfridge’s, but they still have them priced at £35.
These blushes are stunning. There’s no other words to describe them. Silky smooth, blendable, pretty to look at, they last alllllll day and layer well. I love every shade that I bought, but if I had to pick a favourite, it would be between Fleurtacious and Nude Venus. For a collection of 9 blushes, Pat McGrath managed to curate a really good range of light to deep and pinks, nudes, peach and rich reddy pinks.
Now, granted, I may have large collection of powder blush, but these came in and instantly became my favourites. I can’t imagine not having them and I wear them so much as I have a colour to go with every look.
BEST HIGHLIGHTER – CHANTECAILLE LIQUID LUMIERE – £37 from Fenwicks
I’m not sure if Chantecaille is about to discontinue or reformulate these, but they seem to be hard to come by at the moment. I really hope they don’t stop making them, because the formula is out of this world! It’s the best liquid highlighter I’ve ever tried. It’s so lightweight and natural looking. Some liquid highlighters do this weird thing where my concealer and foundation meets. It sort of congeals slightly and becomes noticeable on the skin. With this one, it just looks like healthy, glowy, skin. It blends into every foundation and concealer I own.
Side note – their liquid blush is divine as well. I have two shades now and am going to purchase the other shade they do soon. Again, blends seamlessly, looks just like skin and is so easy to apply. I was SO worried that with liquid blushes and highlighters I’d end up looking ridiculous, but Chantecaille’s products actually just make it look like I have amazing skin when I don’t.
I have the shade Sheen and if you looked at a heavy swatch of it, you might think it’ll make you look a bit tin man like. However, it doesn’t. Applied lightly to the high points of the face, it brings my pale skin to life. They do two other shades; a champagne gold and rosey pink. I want the gold shade, just as soon as I can find it! I find this product lasts really well, but even if it does start to fade, it does so in a natural way where you don’t suddenly notice a heavy, separated bit of highlighter.
BEST EYE PRODUCTS
BEST EYELINER – L’OREAL PARIS LE LINER SIGNATURE EYELINER – £5.99 from Boots
A cheap and cheerful favourite for you next! This eyeliner has replace my Hourglass eyeliner which is about 5 times the price! I also no longer feature Hourglass on my blog or purchase their products, since they continue to ignore pleas to be more inclusive with their range. I’ve recently seen a palette which *might* finally be deep enough for those darker than a medium white person, but I haven’t seen anyone review it yet. Hopefully, this is finally the start of them listening to consumers and releasing products for light AND deep skins.
Anyway, back to this liner. It’s soft and pigmented. I use it to line my top lash line pretty much every time I wear makeup. I’ve got the Brown Denim shade as it’s softer on my skin tone than black. This eyeliner lasts all day, doesn’t transfer or smudge off my lash line. You don’t have to continually go over and over your lash line. Just a few strokes and you’re done which I love as I have sensitive eyes.
I also love that this is retractable. With the Hourglass one, once you’ve clicked a bit up, that’s it, it won’t go back down. The L’Oreal one isn’t as fine as the Hourglass one, which I thought I might not like, but it’s not an issue. I’ve nearly used this whole liner and will be repurchasing soon along with the plum colour they do.
BEST MASCARA – LANCOME LASH IDOLE MASCARA – £23.50 from Look Fantastic
Looking back to my favourite mascara from last year, it seems my preference for mascara has changed! Last year my favourite was the Nars Climax Extreme. That one gives you thick, thick, humungous lashes. The Lash Idole, volumises ad lengthens, but doesn’t give you huge, clumpy lashes. I find that this Lancome one lasts all day, doesn’t smudge unless you get it really wet and enhances my lashes without making them look spidery. I am blessed with long lashes, but I do still like to have full, black lashes.
The wand is different with this mascara too, it’s slightly curved and not too spiky. Although I enjoyed the Nars formula, I did find the wand painful sometimes. It’s huge and spiky, if you catch your eye… OUCH! The Lancome one is much softer and I haven’t poked myself in the eye at all. I’ve already gone through a travel size and am nearing the end of my full size. I’ll continue buying this as I love it, it’s a makeup bag staple for me!
BEST LIP PRODUCTS
BEST HIGHER END LIPSTICK – MAC LUSTREGLASS LIPSTICK – £19.50 from Look Fantastic
I already loved the MAC Lustre lipsticks, so when I heard they were reformulating them I was apprehensive. I needn’t have been, because I love the new Lustreglass formula just as much, if not more than its predecessor. They’re slightly more pigmented than the lustre formula, but just as lovely to wear. They’re more hydrating, now having some hydrating oils in the formula. A few of the classic shades have come back, with plenty of new ones too.
My favourite shade is Sellout. It’s a pinky peach nude, so easy to throw on and wear. My lips looks healthy and glossy with this formula. I’ve since bought two other shades and love them too. MAC are definitely onto a winner with this formula and I hope they release more shades!
BEST DRUGSTORE LIPSTICK – L’OREAL PARIS COLOR RICHE SHINE LIPSTICK – £9.99 from Superdrug
I couldn’t pick just one favourite lipstick this year, so I had a more expensive and more affordable one. These lipsticks from L’Oreal are amazing! They smell fruity, apply easily and perform like a higher end lipstick. I wish there were more colours available in the UK. In the US, I’ve seen so many more shades! They also do a plumping, tingly version of these lipsticks. Those ones I don’t like as I don’t like tingly lipsticks.
My favourite colour is 658, its a pink nude with a hint of brown. It goes with everything and is easy to wear. I’ve had this lipstick in my handbag for months, just in case I need to touch up my makeup or throw on something to make me look slightly put together!
BEST LIP GLOSS – MAYBELLINE LIFTER GLOSS – £8.99 from Look Fantastic
I’m not usually a lip gloss lover, however, this year I’ve found a gloss formula that I really like! Normally, I don’t like the fact that my hair gets stuck in my gloss, or they’re goopy and sticky, they don’t wear very long. But, Maybelline released the Lifter Gloss in 2021 and they are dreamy. I’ve purchased two shade so far and have plans for more.
They are a thicker gloss, they’re also more pigmented than many glosses I’ve tried. You can easily wear these alone as they have enough pigment to give a wash of colour. There is a sheer colour if you want, but I have two pink shades. I do sometimes use them on top of a lipstick, but often I just wear alone. This year I was much more into light washes of colour on my lips than pigmented lipsticks and these fit with that. I also find with some glosses, that they settle into the lines on your lips and have that white, gloopy look which I really hate! These glosses don’t do that and they wear off nicely. Since they’re slightly more pigmented, they wear longer than other glosses I’ve tried and also aren’t sticky.
Well, that was intense! It seems I found a lot of great makeup products that have earnt their spot in my Best Beauty Products of 2021! There are a few categories where I didn’t find anything new in 2021, so I didn’t mention them. Brow gel for example, still using the same one as last year. This year, I also didn’t have a favourite eyeshadow palette. I’ve probably only bought two or three palettes this year, I’ve just not been into wearing it really. If I do, it’s a light shimmery colour that I put all over the lid. There was no point me mentioning a palette I’ve only used two shades from!
Now we’ve got my 2021 favourites out of the way, I’m super excited to see what 2022 brings us in terms of releases! I’m hoping for more skin tints, glossy lipsticks and cream blushes!