2019 Round-Up: The Best And The Worst!

Hey y’all!

2020 is quickly approaching, and I’m not sure about you guys but I am SO ready for it. I love fresh starts, and New Years is the ULTIMATE new beginning.

To wrap this year up, I wanted to do a little round up of all my favourite and least favourite products of the year. I love discussing all the products that worked best for me on my blog — but until now I’ve avoided discussing what didn’t. I was trying to avoid being too negative in my reviews and content — but at the same time, I feel it’s important to discuss what doesn’t work. If nothing else, hopefully I can save others from learning from mistakes I’ve made.

So before we get into it, this is going to be a two part post: the first part is going to cover my ten favourite and five least favourite products of the year, and the second is going to be my top five favourite skincare and makeup brands, as well as the top five brands I’m excited to try in 2020!

One last little disclaimer — all my reviews, obviously, are personal to me. If one of my “least favourite” products is a product you use and love, or were hoping to try, don’t let my opinions stop you! Some things work better for some people than others, and just because I didn’t like something doesn’t mean it is inherently bad. As well, I do not have any bad will for the brands I’m discussing — many of them are brands I love, and while they’re other products are absolute favourites of mine, some just didn’t cut it for me, and that’s okay! The brands I’m discussing, overall, are still wonderful.

So, let’s get into it!

The Best (And Worst) Of 2019

The Best: Biossance Squalene + Vitamin C Rose Oil

Biossance Squalene + Vitamin C Rose Oil

This product single-handedly changed my skincare. Not only is this the most mega-hydrating serum OR product I’ve ever seen — the squalene content in it really helped to rebuild my skin’s protective barrier. The amount of clogged pores and breakouts I’ve had since starting this product has gone down so significantly that this is officially a staple in my nighttime skincare routine until the end of time. While I do find it a little too heavy to apply in the mornings, I do find applying it before bed and letting it sink in overnight is perfect — my skin feels so soft the next day AND there’s no residue. A lot of heavy moisturizing products won’t absorb fully and leave behind traces the next day, but not this one. Plus, you know that feeling you get when you’re using a new skincare product for the first time and you’re always excited to apply it? A year later, and I still get that feeling every night.

Read more about this product in my review here!

The Best: Peter Thomas Roth FIRMx™ Peeling Gel

Peter Thomas Roth FirmX Peeling Gel

There are very few products, no matter how much I love them, that I would deem “perfect” — but this one is one of them. I love everything about this exfoliator; from how gentle it is, to how easy it is to apply and remove. No harsh scrubbing or long mask wait times required — this stuff exfoliates your skin instantly and effectively, and leaves your skin soft and clear.

Read more about this product in my review here!

The Worst: Biossance Squalane + Bamboo Deodorant

Biossance Squalene + Bamboo Deodorant

It really hurts me to add anything by Biossance to this list, they’re one of my all-time favourite brands. Sadly, this product was a serious let down. I bought it on a bit of a whim in the Sephora check-out line, thinking that a) Biossance could do no wrong and b) I should really switch to natural deodorant anyway. When reading up on reviews after I purchased this product, there were a lot of fairly low ratings, however, there were also a lot of people saying that these comments were from people who didn’t wait out the two week “detox period” you have to go through when switching to aluminium-free deodorant. So I waited out the two week period, smelling absolutely terrible but waiting to love this product once my detox was over. And then the two weeks were up, and I kept waiting. However, I kept sweating through this product within an hour; as well, the scent — which I can only describe as very weird and a little earthy — only made me smell worse when mixed in with my natural body odour.

Finally, my manager at work literally had to confront me about how bad I smelt — which was incredibly embarrassing but also a wake up call that after a month, it was time to call it quits. This deodorant simply did not work for me (and honestly, actually kinda made me smell worse). I wasn’t quite ready to give up on natural deodorant, however, so I switched brands and now find aluminum-free deodorant works better than any other I’ve used in the past. Plus, as Biossance’s product was $17, I was saving a lot of money by switching, so win-win, right?

My recommendation? Instead try: Tom’s Of Maine Natural Deodorant!

The Best: Herbivore Botanicals Crushed Amethyst Exfoliating Body Polish

Herbivore Botanicals Crushed Amethyst Exfoliating Body Polish

Okay, I know I’ve already discussed this product so, so many times before, but it really is amazing. First of all, it smells like lilacs — one of my all time favourite scents. Second of all, it does a fantastic job of exfoliating, and unlike many other exfoliators, the grains do not melt away as you scrub. One of my largest pet peeves with salt- or sugar-based exfoliators is how quickly the exfoliating elements of the product simply dissolve as you use it, meaning you use a lot more product. With this product, I guarantee you, you won’t have that problem. Not only that, but it exfoliates evenly and isn’t too harsh — plus it’s packed with all kinds of hydrating oils, leaving your skin feeling soft as every when you’re done.

Read more about this product in my review here!

The Best: Function Of Beauty Shampoo + Conditioner

Function of Beauty Custom Shampoo

You guys already know how much I love this product. After years of bleaching out my hair, I had resigned myself it would likely be damaged beyond repair until I grew it out. I already put so much effort into caring for my hair that I couldn’t imagine what else I could do to revive it. Function of Beauty totally changed that. Not only is it super fun getting the chance to totally customize your own shampoo and conditioner — but it shows real results, too. My hair is SO shiny and smooth now, seriously, it feels healthy for the first time in years. I actually can’t remember the last time, if ever, my hair felt this healthy. Give this product a shot, healthy hair or not, and trust me — you won’t regret it.

Read more about this product in my reviews here and here!

The Worst: Lancôme’s GRANDIÔSE Extreme Wide-Angle Extreme Volume Mascara

Credit: @lancomeofficial on Instagram

As I’ve discussed before, I rarely branch out from my select few favourite mascaras, and when I do — I tend to regret it. I’ve made this mistake one other time this year with Milk’s Kush Mascara, however, nothing has ever been as much of a disappointment as Lancôme’s GRANDIÔSE Extreme Wide-Angle Extreme Volume Mascara. It’s advertised as some kind of magical all-in-one product that will lengthen, curl, and volumize your lashes — but I really didn’t find this to be the case. Frankly, not only was this the clumpiest mascara I’ve ever tried, but it hardly did anything to accentuate my lashes whatsoever. With it’s fancy curved applicator and incredibly steep price, you’d think this mascara would be a godsend. I really hate to say it, but I found it the complete opposite — it was honestly the worst mascara I’ve ever tried at any price point.

My recommendation? Instead try: Tarte’s Lights, Camera, Lashes or Dior’s Diorshow Iconic OverCurl Mascara!

The Best: Huda Beauty Obsessions Palettes

Huda Beauty Neon Obsession Palettes

My idea of “living my best life” would be owning one of each colour of all of these palettes. They are hands down THE most beautiful and pigmented eyeshadow palettes I’ve ever tried. They’re creamy instead of powdery, allowing them to blend seamlessly. My favourite aspect is how they cover every shade you’d need to blend out a full look in each specific colour set in only nine shades. I’ve seen a lot of people who get offset by how “small” these palettes are for their price — but they’re absolutely worth it. Not only are they pigmented enough to give you enough bang for your buck — but they also contain just about as much shadow as any nine pot palette. They’re just arranged in a way to make them purposely compact — making them perfect for travel.

Read more about this product in my review here!

The Best: Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick

Fenty Beauty Match Stix Matte Skinstick

This year, I finally got back into contouring. I fell out of favour with it back when it was hugely popular, as I often found that powder contour did not give me a natural look — it fact, it often looked muddy. However, after seeing enough videos watching artists use cream and stick contour instead of powder, I felt inspired to try again.

This contour stick is absolutely perfect for getting a seamless blend and natural look. I’ve not once had it look muddy or fake, it applies SO easily and flawlessly creates contour anywhere you apply it. I’m so glad I took the leap to get back into contouring with this product, it’s really upped a lot of my makeup looks!

Read more about this product in my review here!

The Worst: Kylie Cosmetics Glitter Eyes

Kylie Cosmetics Glitter Eyes in “Eat Cake”

After my first ever Kylie Cosmetics haul earlier this year, I was incredibly impressed with the quality of so many of the products I tried. This one, however, was incredibly disappointing. I absolutely adore liquid eyeshadow products for their incredibly pigmented look and easy application — but this product did not live up to others I had tried. It was dry and flaky; it didn’t even last until the end of my eyeshadow application before it had managed to flake off entirely. Not only that, but it took absolutely ages to dry and washed off with only the smallest amount of water. Even if you manage to apply this product well, it would never last a day without flaking or melting off in rainy weather. I’m sad because it was so beautiful, but definitely not at all worth it.

My recommendation? Instead try: Stila Glitter and Glow Liquid Eyeshadow! (You can also read my review on this product here).

The Best: Lilly Lashes

Lilly Lashes in “Miami”

Lilly Lashes, along with Sephora’s Luxe Lashes, are one of my two all-time favourite lash brands. If you know me, you know no look is complete without lashes — I literally feel naked without them. While Sephora’s lashes do give an incredibly flawless and real look, Lilly Lashes are bold and long-lasting. Seriously, so long as you take good care of these lashes, they’ll last you forever. For something as delicate as lashes, that’s pretty impressive.

Read more about this product in my review here!

The Best: Cover FX Custom Beauty Drops

CoverFX Custom Enhancer Drops

I’m sure I’m not alone in this when I say dewy skin > matte skin makeup. For the ultimate dewy skin look, I love Cover Fx’s Custom Beauty Drops! Not only do they give THE most natural yet blinding highlight — they’re extremely versatile. These drops can be added to foundation for a natural glow, applied underneath or on top of your makeup for a subtle or bold look, used as an eyeshadow, inner corner highlight, mixed into gloss and more! The possibilities are pretty endless — you can really use this product however you want. If you ever get the chance to test this product out, you’ll be sold in a heartbeat — they have so much depth to their colour and blend so flawlessly. They’ve become an absolute staple in my makeup routine.

Read more about this product in my review here!

The Worst: Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

Glossier Perfecting Skin Tint

This might be a hugely unpopular opinion, but I’m not crazy about Glossier. While some of the products I’ve tried have been pretty great, it’s certainly not my all-time favourite brand or anything. While I do adore the Balm DotCom, and I do find the Cloud Paint/Haloscope duo gives me a great little glow if I’m in a rush to do my makeup — I really was not a fan of their skin tint product. This product really doesn’t do anything at all for your skin — I honestly couldn’t even tell where I had applied it or not as it made such a little difference. Nothing else about it is inherently bad, per se, but I feel like I would have been better off saving my money and just not wearing any kind of product on my skin, as it looked the same either way.

My recommendation? Instead try: Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer! (You can read my review on this product here).

The Best: Urban Decay All-Nighter Setting Spray

Urban Decay All Nighter Pollution Protection Setting Spray

Urban Decay has been my go-to setting spray since I started even using setting spray at all. Seriously — I’ve never used another brand. I have, however, tested out just about all their setting sprays (and even some of their spray-on primers) and I have to say, this one is the best. While their other setting sprays are all wonderful — there’s a reason All-Nighter is their most well-known (and yes, its because this product will literally make your makeup last all night). However, when I decided to branch out and try their “Environmental Protection” spray instead, I was pleasantly surprised. It lasts every bit as well as the original All-Nighter spray, but I did notice an improvement in my skin after use. This product is designed to help keep out harmful pollutants in the air we all come into contact with every day — and based on my skin’s appearance alone, it definitely holds up to that promise.

Read more about this product in my review here!

The Best: Tarte Cosmetic’s Creaseless Concealer!

Tarte Cosmetic’s Creaseless Concealer

This concealer has been my holy grail under-eye product since I first ever started using it. I chronically suffer from dark, baggy under eyes — seriously, no matter how much sleep I get and how much stress I avoid, they always look like I haven’t slept in weeks. Not only is this concealer super pigmented, it has a thick yet creamy formula that helps to hide all discolouration and dark circles — no colour corrector required. On top of that, this concealer does a MUCH better job of not settling into fine lines and creases than any other product I’ve tried. It lasts all day without wearing off even a little, so once you’ve got this applied your under eye area will look as flawless as if you’ve just gotten back from a month-long uber relaxing spa get-away. Seriously, this stuff is that good.

Read more about this product in my review here!

The Worst: Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

Kat Von D Tattoo Liner

Liquid eyeliner is another trend I’ve really started to get back into this year. Back in high school winged eyeliner was literally my “thing” — my friends even coined a nickname for me because of it. (It was “Nike” if you’re wondering). I kind of stopped with the liner for a few years, but this year I was ready to give it another shot. Back in high school, I had two go-to liner brands — Stila and Kat Von D. When I went to Sephora, however, they were out of Stila’s liquid liner, so I went for the latter. I know Kat Von D may not be the best role model, but I honestly didn’t even know which other brand to try. The result? I honestly cannot remember why I loved this liner so much in high school. It’s strange brush-type tip makes it incredibly hard to achieve a sharp point at the end of your wing, and it easily gets overwhelmed with eyeshadow — causing it to apply unevenly, dry out, and appear more of a dull grey rather than a nice, black line. Maybe I just wasn’t good enough at makeup in high school to really notice, but this product was a major let down.

My recommendation? Instead try: Stila Stay All Day Liquid Liner (or, my new favourite — Gel Liner and a brush)!

My Top Five Skincare Brands

Biossance

Credit: @biossance on Instagram

Herbivore Botanicals

Credit: @herbivorebotanicals on Instagram

Ouai

Credit: @theouai on Instagram

Fresh

Credit: @freshbeauty on Instagram

Dr. Jart

Credit: @drjart on Instagram

My Top Five Makeup Brands

Anastasia Beverly Hills

Credit: @anastasiabeverlyhills on Instagram

Huda Beauty

Credit: @hudabeauty on Instagram

Kylie Cosmetics

Credit: @kyliecosmetics on Instagram

Nars

Credit: @narsissist on Instagram

Tarte

Credit: @tartecosmetics on Instagram

Top Five Brands I’m Most Excited To Try In 2020

ColourPop Cosmetics

Credit: @colourpopcosmetics on Instagram

Glow Recipe

Credit: @glowrecipe on Instagram

Charlotte Tilbury

Credit: @ctilburymakeup on Instagram

Jeffree Star Cosmetics

Credit: @jeffreestarcosmetics on Instagram

Farmacy

Credit: @farmacybeauty on Instagram

And that’s a wrap on everything from 2019! It’s crazy to think we’re officially two days away from the new year and a WHOLE NEW DECADE. I, for one, could not be more excited to see what the new year will bring. This upcoming year should be one of new beginnings, and it’s definitely for the best! I can’t wait to see what goals I accomplish and what changes will be made by this time next year.

Do you agree or disagree with my reviews? I’d love to hear it — especially if you love something I didn’t. As well, I’d love to hear all of your favourite brands of 2019 and what you’re hoping to try in 2020 — I’d love a little extra inspo!

Stay tuned next Sunday to hear all about how to make the perfect, maintainable and achievable New Years Resolution! A lot of people feel all kinds of pressure to completely redo themselves come each new year — which can have a lot of negative impacts. If you’re interested, I’m going to be sharing next week how I set attainable goals for each year that help push me in a positive direction towards being the best version of myself.

Happy end of December, y’all, hope the holiday season has been treating you all well!

Xo,

Meredith

Holiday Gift Guide #2: Skincare Edition!

Hey everyone!

Happy December, and welcome officially to the Holiday season! This week I’m going to be sharing the second instalment of my Holiday Gift Guide series — Skincare Edition! For anyone who follows my blog regularly, you’ll already know I’m huge on skincare. Not only does it have the obvious benefits of giving you a clear, smooth complexion — it can also be an act of self-care, a nighttime routine, and a way to boost your confidence.

This is exactly why skincare makes such a great gift — it can have so many purposes! Whether its splurging on something someone else wants but doesn’t want to spend loads of money on, putting together an at-home spa night, or just sharing a product you love with others, there’s a skincare product out there that will make a great gift for anyone in your life.

All of the products below are some of my tried-and-true, all time favourite products. Many of these I use every day, and none of them have ever failed me before. As well, all these products are generally suited for all skin types, so if you don’t know the specifics of the person you’re gifting for, that’s okay! You may already recognize a few of these from my weekly “Favourites” segment, but I’ve also incorporated some products I haven’t gotten the chance to post about yet. Either way, I hope this post helps give you some great gift ideas, or inspire new ideas for gifts you’d like to gift to others in your life! (Or, you know, just products you want to try out for yourself. There’s no shame in that!).

For Someone Looking To Moisturize And Rebuild Their Skin’s Natural Barrier

Biossance Squalene + Vitamin C Rose Oil

This product right here is probably my all-time favourite skincare product. For those of you who’ve been following my blog since the beginning, you’ll probably remember that this serum was my very first ever product featured in my weekly Favourites segment. The Biossance Squalene + Vitamin C Rose Oil is a great product for almost everyone, as it both helps to hydrate and firm the skin — as well as rebuild it’s natural barrier. Squalene, an ingredient found in every Biossance product, it vital to the skin’s protective barrier that keeps pollution and dirt from entering into our skin. However, as you age, your body begins to produce less and less squalene naturally, which is why it’s important to reintroduce it via your routine. Don’t let its price deter you — one bottle lasted me an entire year. While this product is pretty universal in terms of skin types it works for (as it is a rather lightweight oil formula), Biossance has a whole line of products that contain Squalene. If you’re looking for something a little better suited to the person you’re gifting for’s personal needs, be sure to check out their whole line for more inspo! (I’ve tried two other products from their skin care line that I personally adored, so I’d say no matter what you end up purchasing it’ll likely make a fantastic gift).

Feeling inspired? Check out the Biossance Rose Vitamin C + Squalene Oil here! You can also check out the entire Biossance line at Sephora here.

For Someone Who Wants To Add A Little Brightness To Their Complexion

Caudalie Beauty Elixir

Know someone hoping to add a little brightness to their complexion? The Caudalie Beauty Elixir spray is the absolute perfect gift. This spray makes a great addition to any skin care routine, and can also be used periodically throughout the day to help freshen up your skin! I’ve been using this product for years now and love how fresh it keeps my skin feeling and how simple it is to use. Dull skin has never been much of an issue for me, and I definitely have this spray to thank for it. As well, this spray works on all skin types (even sensitive) so if you’re worried about not knowing the specific skin type of the person you’re gifting it to, it shouldn’t be a problem. As well, this product can double as a makeup setting spray for anyone trying to avoid harsh chemicals in their makeup routine!

Feeling inspired? Check out the Caudalie Beauty Elixir at Sephora here!

For Someone Looking For A Gentle Toner

Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Facial Toner

While toner is a vital step in many skin care routines, a lot of toners can include alcohol or other ingredients in their formulation that causes them to dry out skin. If you have someone in your life who’s totally over toners only causing them to break out, consider gifting them to Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Toner! This toner is incredibly gentle and super moisturizing, making it a great solution for just about any skin type. This toner is formulated with so many fantastic ingredients that help moisturize your face, rather than irritate and strip the skin of it’s natural oils. Some of these include Rose Fruit Extract (known for its toning abilities), soothing and nourishing Rosewater, and Angelica Leaf Extract to help retain moisture. If you want to know more, be sure to check out the Favourites post I wrote on this product!

Feeling inspired? Check out the Fresh Rose Deep Hydration Toner at Sephora here!

For Someone Who May Be A Little Tired After The Holiday Season

Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Gold Eye Masks

Look, while the Holiday season is an incredibly fun time full of joy, giving, and family, it can also be incredibly exhausting. The month of December is often jam-packed with travel, shopping, exams, deadlines, and more — it can really take it’s toll bay the time January rolls around. For those of us (since I definitely relate to this) who struggle with dark circles and under-eye bags, we can end up looking a little rough by the time we arrive back to school and work. If you know someone who’s got a lot coming up this month, consider the Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Gold Eye Masks as a gift! I received these in my fall FabFitFun box this year, and I instantly fell in love. These little masks do absolute wonders for brightening your eye area, so if you know anyone who’s going through it this Holiday season, treat them to a little self-care with these masks to help get them through this month looking their best.

Feeling inspired? Check out the Wander Beauty Baggage Claim Gold Eye Masks at Sephora here!

For Someone Who Wants An All-Natural Spa Night

Lush BB Seaweed and Brazened Honey Masks

For the environmentally conscious/vegan lovers in your life, look to further than Lush for the perfect face mask gift. Not only are these masks formulated all-natural (and truly stellar) ingredients, they absolutely work wonders on your skin. For a few years, I avoided purchasing these masks due to my busy student lifestyle and the inconvenience of these masks short shelf-lives, but when I reintroduced them into my skincare routine I was really blown away by the results. Not only do these products pack all-natural, vegan ingredients — they have serious results too. These masks come in all kinds of different formulas for every skin type, but my personal favourites are the Brazen Honey and BB Seaweed. The best part about these masks is that if you save up five containers, you can take them back to Lush for recycling and they’ll gift you a free mask! What more could you ask for?

As a quick side note — these masks DO require refrigeration, which is something to keep in mind before you gift them. (So don’t wrap them up and leave them under the tree for weeks before Christmas!)

Feeling inspired? Check out Lush’s face mask line on their website here!

For Someone Who Wants To Try A New Skincare Trend

Dr Jart+ Rubber Lover and Shake and Shot Masks

As far as single-use face masks go, the Dr Jart+ Rubber Lover and Shake and Shot masks are hands-down my favourite of all time. Now, I don’t wanna give away TOO much info on these products, since I have upcoming Favourites posts scheduled for both of these coming soon. However, I will say these make incredible gifts because between the two of them, there’s a formula for every skin type and skincare concern. As well, no other single-use mask, or really any mask for that matter, has given me as strong and immediate results as these two have. These masks will make a perfect gift for just about anyone in your life, as they’re super on-trend (who doesn’t love a good rubber mask?), effective, and fun. Plus, they’re a bit of a splurge, so I personally never really buy them for myself without a big event coming up — making them a great gift for anyone who needs a little extra pampering who wouldn’t indulge in something like this for themselves regularly.

Feeling inspired? Check out the Dr Jart+ Rubber Lover and Shake and Shot masks at Sephora!

For Someone Looking For A Little SPF

Origins A Perfect World SPF 40 Age-Defense Moisturizer With White Tea

I only just recently purchased this product, but it too already has a Favourites post being released soon. However, I still wanted to share it in this post because I believe it would make a FANTASTIC gift. The Origins A Perfect World SPF 40 Age-Defense Moisturizer with White Tea makes a pretty great present as it really helps add a little SPF to your morning skincare routine, which is something all of us need. It can be a challenge to remember to wear sunscreen every day, especially since it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking we don’t need it during the cloudier months. However, UV rays can cause a lot of damage to our skin, causing premature aging and hyperpigmentation; and of course, some very serious health concerns. For anyone in your life who hates face sunscreen, or needs a way to incorporate sun protection into their daily routine — look no further! This cream is also super luxurious and moisturizing; it feels lovely, smells amazing, and is guaranteed to make anyone excited to apply it every morning!

Feeling inspired? Check out the Origins A Perfect World SPF 40 Age-Defense Moisturizer with White Tea at Sephora here!

For Someone Who Knows Healthy Skin Comes From Within

Active Collagen Supplements

For anyone really looking to up their skincare game, consider gifting some collagen supplements! While many skin care products contain collagen, the best way to boost your body’s collagen production is to ingest it, rather than let it absorb through your skin. For anyone who doesn’t know, collagen is one of the most important components in retaining our skin’s elasticity. With time and aging, wrinkles begin form from decreased collagen production. Therefore, collagen intake is vital to retaining youthful skin, avoiding wrinkles, and any anti-aging skincare routine. However, these pills do tend to be a little pricey, which can deter people from purchasing them for themselves. If you know someone who’s been considering trying them out but a little put off by the cost, they can make an amazing gift! As well, they really help to add to the routine for anyone who’s all about adding skincare to every aspect of their life.

Feeling inspired? Check out some Collagen Supplements online here! Alternatively, you can find them at your local health and wellness pharmacy or food store.

And that’s it for this week’s ideas! Hopefully you all got a little something out of it — whether it’s for others or yourself (once again, no judgement here). Skincare can be a tricky gift to give as it’s obviously all super personal and varies hugely from person to person. However, all the ideas I’ve shared here are gentle on the skin and work for all skin types — so they should make a great gift for just about everyone. As well, if you didn’t find the inspo you were looking for from this post, you can always check out my first Holiday Gift Guide: Skincare Edition!

Happy December guys, I hope you all have a great month ahead of you! It’s the last one until we start the new year, so be sure to hustle towards finishing any goals you have left for the year before it ends. You can do it!

Xo,

Meredith