My beauty stash is a little out of control. I'm a skincare junkie, a makeup hoarder, a nail polish fanatic. I gutted and redesigned my bathroom this year and turned it into an at-home spa where I can experiment with my beauty goodies -- and try in vain to keep them all organized.
There are always a few duds in the mix when your stash is this big, but there have also been some real standouts. A few of my favouirtes were brand new this year, while others were simply new to me. So without further adieu, here's the best of 2015!
I adore Essie polishes: the colour selection is huge, they're long lasting, and they go on sale frequently. And their base and top coats are fantastic.
Frock 'n Roll launched this fall and it's a gorgeous shimmering rich espresso that's dark and deep. On the nail it's nearly black but not quite, and the shimmer gives a bit of dimension without being full-on glittery. I've been wearing this one for months and I know it'll take me right through winter. If you're addicted to black manis (like me), this is a great polish to switch things up a bit while still giving you a bold, dark look.
This shade sold out quickly in many stores but you can still grab it online at Nail Polish Canada for just $7.95! I've been shopping their site for years and love, love, love it. I've never found anywhere cheaper for Essie.
For the money, I don't think there's a better shower gel on the market than those by The Body Shop. The entire line is vegetarian, contains ingredients that really work, is super affordable, and there are more scents than I can count (perfect if you like to switch things up often).
For wintertime when the air is cold and dry and we're blasting our furnaces 24/7, our skin needs a little extra love. Mine sure does. I recently picked up The Body Shop's Shea Shower Cream and it's a dream on dry, flakey skin. It's a moisturizing, soap-free body wash with a soft, creamy lather and a subtle scent that won't compete with your perfume. It's richer than most shower gels thanks to ingredients like community trade shea butter, sesame oil, and sunflower oil, but isn't the least bit greasy.
If your skin likes to misbehave, this mask by Lush Cosmetics is a must-try. Flakiness? Irritation? Bumpy bits? This is the one to reach for.
Open your pot of Don't Look at Me and you'll find a vivid blue mask with scrubby bits (ground rice) to buff away dry skin, murumuru butter (yes that's a thing) to moisturize, and zingy lemon juice to tone and deep cleanse. Lush even threw in some silken tofu for extra softening power.
The scent is lemony fresh and caused no issues for my fairly sensitive skin.
Because this mask is part of their "Fresh" line, it contains absolutely zero synthetic preservatives and needs to be kept in the fridge. That means this one is an in-store exclusive, and isn't available for online orders.
Each pot has a shelf life of 2-3 weeks and contains enough product for roughly 4 treatments, depending on how thickly you apply it. And when you bring back 5 clean Lush pots (of any potted product) you can trade them in for a free Fresh mask of your choice! I do love those smelly Lush folks.
I've tried loads of lipbalms and most are pretty forgettable. Not this one. A while back Jane Daly of Daly Beauty (the perfume whisperer) suggested Nuxe Rêve de Miel. Jane's a true beauty guru and never steers me wrong, so I thought I better try it. And holy cow is it good. It's a paraben-free salve with a fluffy texture, a light grapefruit scent, and hardworking ingredients like honey and shea butter. Apply it during the day or try a thicker layer as an overnight treatment. It's available at Scarlet & Julia or Shoppers Drug Mart, and if you're not a fan of pots try the lighter tube version instead.
This hardworking night cream totally caught me by surprise. I first found it at Winners on sale for just $16.99, and since I'd just run out of my usual night cream I thought what the heck. I'd heard of Andalou Naturals before and was impressed by the ingredient list: this wasn't your average hippy dippy moisturizer, this baby had serious anti-ageing chops like resveratrol Q10 (an antioxidant found in grapes).
I now scour the shelves of Winners every time I run out of my Resveratrol Q10 Night Repair Cream. This stuff is wonderful! It's gentle, absorbs well, isn't greasy even though it's indicated for dry skin, and has a very light scent that won't offend sensitive types. It's also available at Whole Foods (retails for about $27) and at Well.ca (retails for about $30 but frequently goes on sale). I'm now hooked on Andalou's day creams, masks, and toners too.
I adore this stuff. I defaulted to professional salon haircare for years but got fed up with paying high prices for products that didn't always deliver. Plus I'm not exactly a whiz when it comes to hair styling, so I wonderned if those fancy salon products were a bit wasted on me anyway. I stumbled on Oleo Therapy Perfecting Oil Essence in the haircare aisle at Shoppers and was struck by how much it resembled a smoothing oil by Kérastase that's available at salons. Shoppers was selling the L'Oreal version for $14.99 and that day it happened to be marked down to $10, so I grabbed it.
The two products share key ingredients like argan oil, though oddly enough the cheaper L'Oréal version contains several more plant oils than its pricey cousin. Just one pump is enough for my chin-length hair and it has a lovely floral scent that doesn't compete with my perfume. The oil isn't at all heavy or greasy and staves off frizzies all day, even if you get caught in nasty weather. Buy it at Shoppers Drug Mart or online at Well.ca (prices vary).
Hands down, this is the best mascara I've tried in years. I have short, sparse, straight lashes and can't be bothered with the whole "mascara layering" trend to tackle each problem. Cuz that's a boatload of money, Batman!
I had high hopes when Benefit launched Roller Lash back in early spring and I couldn't possibly love it more. It curls, separates, volumizes, doesn't flake, and doesn't bother me when I wear contacts. I haven't used a lash curler since I bought this little gem. I keep the full-sized version at home and I also make sure I have the travel-sized version in my purse and in my overnight bag. It's holy grail.
At $31 it ain't cheap, but it is 100% the best I've tried. If you don't want to take the plunge right away, grab the mini version and try that first. Roller Lash is available at Sephora, BeautyBoutique, Shoppers Drug Mart, and Murale (online only, Murale's Ottawa flagship closed this fall).
I was a total latecomer on this one. Plenty of women have been fans of gel polish manicures for years now, but I stayed away because I thought it would harm my thin, weak, brittle nails. Not so.
In November I tried The Ten Spot in Westboro and was instantly
smitten with their immaculate environment and irreverant approach to beauty. And their impeccable services. In December I went back to try their Gel Colour Manicure and MY LORD. WHAT HAD I BEEN MISSING OUT ON?!
I do my own nails constantly with high quality traditional polish, and it typically lasts a single day. It's a pain and a waste of time. My manis always chip because I bash my hands into everything, do dishes, etc. Whelp, I had my nails done December 5 and the pic on the left is what they look like now. On December 30. For real. I have zero time these days and not having to constantly touch up my polish is a game changer. I'm going back to The Ten Spot this week for another gel mani.
Confession time: I am completely addicted to lipstick. I can't possibly tell you how many I have but I can probably rhyme off my top 20 from memory. Lately I've been all about liquid lipsticks because til now I could never pull off a matte lip: these hybrid lippies stay comfortable for hours, don't cling to dry patches, and don't flake. They're like magic. Several brands are making liquid formulas now that they've become so popular, but my favourite has to be Stila's Stay All Day Liquid Lipstick.
I currently have 8 shades and counting, and when y'all comment on my lipstick selfies over on Instagram 98% of the time I'm wearing Stila Stay All Day. The other 2% of the time it's probably Kat von D or YSL Beauty but I digress. Stila's liquid lippy is my jam because it stays put and the doe-foot applicator sponge makes precise application a cinch with NO LINER needed. That's right: skip your lip liner completely and this stuff will stay put anyway.
It's normally $31/tube but is on sale for $25 at Scarlet & Julia, so go grab a whole bunch. It's also available at Shoppers Beauty Boutiques and Sephora, but you'll pay full price at those shops.
This fall I found Poetic Blend while flipping through Instagram, and it's been true love ever since. I have all three oils in this gorgeous collection and use them daily. My skin is probably better now that it was when I was 5 years younger: healthy, balanced, and hydrated.
When I first sang the praises of this little Toronto-based line I was taken with Timeless Oil, and now I'm an equally big fan of Hero Oil: it's so soothing and healing, and is great for treating skin aggravated by indoor heating and the like. Ghost Oil I use daily under my makeup, and sometimes my hubby even steals it since it's fabulous on men's skin.
I could wax on about Poetic Blend for ages but really you just need to try it. Let the product do the talking. And if you aren't astounded after two weeks or so, I'll be a monkey's uncle.
So there you have it! My top 10 for 2015. There are so many products out there that's it's impossible for any of us to try them all, so I want to hear what you tried this year. What did you love? What would you skip next time? Did you find a fabulous new multitasking product? Let me know in the comments!