2014 was definitely the year I broke out of my usual MAC and Clarins cycle and experimented with new brands, products, and even fancy skincare. If reading loads of beauty blogs taught me anything, it’s that I need to invest (even on budget) in great products, and that I need all the MUJI drawers to store them in – a dangerous habit but one I’m more than happy to indulge in.

Considering I spend 80% of my time make-up free, I have a lot of beauty products, but I really think good skincare and high-quality make-up work harmoniously to healthy skin and a base you can experiment on with every shade under the sun (more or less), so what made the cut this year? Prepare yourself, it’s going to be wordy…

The most important step in making sure you wake up ***Flawless every morning, and keeping your skin nourished all day and all night long has to be the skincare cleansing and moisturising routine, and I’ve gone a bit wild this year are tried products that aren’t Clarins for once. In the fight against blemished and clogged skin, La Roche Posay’s Effaclar range has taken the title for three of my most loved products of the year. Each from the Anti-Blemish kit respectively, the Purifying Foaming Gel* takes Best Cleanser, Clarifying Toner* for Best Toner, and of course, Effaclar Duo [+]* for Best Serum, and all work together to nourish, cleanse and clear the skin of nasty deep blemishes, clogged pores and help get it back to normal – totally deserving if I say so myself.

Oils have also been a newish introduction over the past year, and it was really difficult to chose between Clarins Lotus Face Treatment Oil and MyChelle Advanced Argan Oil* as they both suit my skin but work so differently; if you want an oil to combat overproduced oils in the skin and mattify, go with Clarins, and if you want to balance the skin and nourish it, go with MyChelle. As well as nourishing the face, I’ve been taking good care of my eye area and I have found the Elemis Pro-Collagen Advanced Eye Treatment goes a long way; a teeny droplet on your ring ringer and patted in as definitely firmed up and reduced the puffiness around my eyes.

Finally, the all round wonder cream-oil-gel moisturiser that snuck in at the last minute from Egyptian Magic to claim Best Moisturiser. I haven’t mentioned it on here before, but after using up my two samples rather quickly I am off to buy myself a big pot of this ASAP because it just works!  Made up of only 6 natural ingredients, this melts into your skin to nourish and repair anything – whatever your skin type, you will love this.

Now moving into the more nighttime staples, and for Best Eye Make-Up Remover there is one thing guaranteed to remove and eye-makeup or long-lasting lipstick – the Clarins Instant Eye Make-Up Remover, and as you can tell this is the start of my second or third bottle this year maybe? But it just does the job every  time.

I had trouble choosing between two masks for Best face Mask, but both do two different jobs so, it’s allowed. For a brightening, quick renew of your skin – which you can also use in the morning pre-facing the world too – I love the REN Flash Rinse 1-Minute Facial, which does all you need in a minute, as it says on the tin. Forget the weird dentist looking consistency and smell to it, and you’ll have glowing skin in a flash. For more of a detox though, the classic Elemis Herbal Lavender Repair Mask always rejuvenates the skin and brings up any nasties that need to move along. Very natural, smells lovely, and just does the job perfectly.

The weird thing about my choice for Best Make-Up Remover is that I haven’t repurchased it since I finished the tub (too much skincare to count), but the absolute best cleansing, gets all your make-up off product goes to Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm; a worthy winner that smells like a spa, and melts into an oily milk when rubbed all over your face. It picks up any scrap of make-up, and is a gorgeous second cleanse – I think I need to pick it up again pronto.

Finally on the face, my two Best New Brands, and for your more budget drugstore option, it has to be La Roche Posay, and for a more luxury price, my Rodial STEMCELL SuperFood* discovery has been the best so far. Best for a second cleanse and to top up your dry skin, and really worth the money for the cleanser as the tub is massive.

I’ve popped this last little bit into skincare as they do care for the skin, just not the face so much but swings and roundabouts really because we all want nourished skin wherever it is on the body. For Best Body Wash it’s a tie between KORRES Vanilla and Cinnamon Showergel and Rituals Hammam Delight, the former a perfect wintery smell that makes you smell all spicy with the added benefit of lots of natural ingredients, whilst for a morning zing, Rituals awakens your senses and smells so refreshing with Eucalyptus and Rosemary – oooh. The product that does it all for nourishing fine yet frizzy hair, it’s O’Right Golden Rose Oil for Best Haircare Product* which is a lovely lightweight oil that helps tame and nourish any damage to your mane. Now a surprising favourite for Best Moisturiser comes from E45 Intense Recovery Lotion*, which I have used as a base after showering to lock in moisture and soothe any dry skin, and it really has made a difference. I love that it’s unscented as I can then double moisturise with another product on top whilst being nourished everywhere.

Now the exciting bit, all the make-up! There’s some old firm favourites, and some sparkling new ones which have made my bass on point this year. For Best Primer, I have to hand it to Pixi by Petra Poreless and Flawless* which has been a solid fave through all of 2014. It’s light, evens out the skin and does  in fact make it look smooth and flawless, which helps my Best Foundation give perfect coverage – yes I’m talking the new hot favourite NARS Sheer Glow in Deauville, which just melts into the skin in a good way, giving you a near match complexion wise and with the tiniest pump you can cover your face and more. Another NARS product to claim a title is the NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer in Vanilla which is my Best Concealer of 2014 so far, and ever. It’s a great in-between of creamy and a thicker paste which doesn’t settle in the creases, covers up blemishes and darkness, and just generally does the job you want it to. It’s a holy grail for a reason!

This is cheating a little bit now, as the Rimmel Match Perfection Creamy Compact Powder takes two titles, the first being Best Powder and it’s only been recently used as its proper purpose and the fact it matches my foundation now – perks of not being as pale as you thought. Just a dab on the t-zone and job done, and it works just as well as a contour powder due to the pale shade (Kevin Aucoin dupe maybe?) with a pale foundation, however for Best Contour my heart belongs to Sleek Face Form in Light*. The contour shade is a great matte brown with a yellow undertone, which makes it appear more natural on the skin whilst adding that much needed sculpt to your cheekbones – result!

Depending on the look I’m going for or the time of year, I do like a little flush of colour to perk up the cheeks. I’ve had a massive dark nude/brown phase this year so Rimmel Santa Rose Powder Blush has to be Best Blusher due to it’s gorgeous brown/pink undertone with a dusty plum edge, great against a brown or muted lip for adding warmth and a deeper glow to your cheeks. When it’s a golden tanned look though, it’s always going to be MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural Powder for Best Bronzer; gold and bronze mixed together in a light-medium hue, adding the perfect ‘I just caught the sun’ tint to your skin.

Picking my best pieces in the eye department was eye-sy, as I’m super picky and when I fall for a product, I fall hard. Best Eye-shadow has to go to Urban Decay NAKED 1, and I mean, is there really any competition (unless you have to Lorac Pro)? Buttery, blendable yet highly pigmented shades to create any look you want and make your eyes ‘wow’, especially with a good base which is why Urban Decay Primer Potion gets the Best Eye Primer nod here – my shadow has never lasted longer!

Brows have been a massive deal in the beauty industry this year, and since I grew mine back out again I’ve been looking for fuller looking brows that still look natural; enter the easiest Best Brow Product that makes your brows look effortless and easy, and at an affordable price from Sleek Brow Stylist. A great dupe for the likes of Hourglass and Anastasia, it comes with a spoolie and a easy to use wax product that winds up and down – an organised, perfectionists dream!

If last year you’d say my Best Mascara wasn’t from Maybelline I’d have laughed, but sure enough Bare Minerals Lash Domination* has swept in and made my lashes look longer, fuller, more voluminous than before – and I’m loving it. Also a new love this year for Best Eyeliner – and getting me back into liner again – is Oriflame Eye Liner Stylo* which works so easily with the felt tip nib, making it easy to sweep above the lashes and not look to heavy especially in the Grey shade.

Most of these products wouldn’t apply as well if it wasn’t for my Best Brushes of the year, the Real Techniques range. Soft, easy to clean and dry, no molting and worth the money – if you’re looking to step your brushes up a level without splashing too much cash, go grab these beauties now!

I am a self-confessed lipstick and nail polish addict, so much so both these next categories have several  favourites as I cannot choose between them – I’m not even sorry. For nourished soft lips and taking joint place for Best Lip Balm is the Bee Good Lip Balm* with natural ingredients that just melt into the lips, making them super smooth, and Rodial Glam Balm LIP* which is packed with stemcell technology that replenishes the lips all day and night – so much so I slather it on constantly.

To line those lips and make them look fabulous, Best Lip Liner has to go to Aveda Lip Pencil in Kantola Bean which is unfortunately discontinued (but the same shade as Tiramisu by Rimmel) but creates a lovely dark browny nude base to rival a Jenner sister and add a lovely deep 90s hue to your look – I cannot get enough of it. Now two lipsticks take Best Lipstick, which look amazing on top of this liner, on their own, thrown on without a care, and always my go-to in a lippy crisis; CHANEL Rouge Coco in No.5 Mademoiselle and Revlon ColourBurst Matte Lip Balm are my ‘your lips but better’ shades, with Chanel being more of a brown/nude to slick on easily, whilst Revlon applies like a dream to add some colour to your face, instantly adding drama and ‘hello’ whilst creating a semi-matte effect that lasts for hours. Budget price that works so so well.

I’ve gone a little bit craycray with the Best Nail favourites this year, but as I said before, I’m an addict when it comes to collecting every shade under the sun so let’s make it snappy – Best Red goes to Nails Inc. Tate (a slightly dark red which looks beautiful in the evening and autumn) and Ciate London Boudoir (a true red that lasts for days); Best Nude is the gorgeous Maybelline Colour Show Cool Touch which is a bright, light lavender-grey when applied over white, and looks stunning all year long; Best Colour (and also longevity and quality if we’re going for it) has to be Maybelline Super Stay Gel Nail Colour in Uptown Blue, and 100% enabled by Amelia Liana. I love blue, I like long-lasting, and I like polish – a good all-rounder then ๐Ÿ˜‰ Best Nail Effect is another Christmas discovery from Ciate London in Dallas Dolly Sequins and looks fabulous over reds, nudes, anything that needs sparkle! Finally, the products that makes the colours shine and last; Best Base is the Sally Hansen Green Tea + Bamboo Strength Polish which is a thicker but very protective base, and has really helped my nails stay strong, and the ultimate Best Top Coat is the one and only Seche Vite – what can I say, my nails dry fast, with a strong glossy coat and long-lasting effect. I’m converted.

Have I lost you yet? Don’t worry, we’re at the last hurdle, and a special nod to the things that make me smell good and have smooth skin is the only way to end this long favourites list. Best Perfume features a sweeter, summer scent courtesy of One Direction Our Moment – don’t judge, this stuff smells amazing, sweet but very light and floral, so easy to blend with other fragrances too, and then for your winter nights, YSL Elle Eau de Parfum and Toilette has been my go-to through the colder days and nights (until I get my mitts on some TOM FORD) with a lovely blend of Ginger, Cedar and Jasmine to give a deep, floral scent to your personality.
And finally, the product that makes my skin smooth and supple, the Best Hand Moisturiser goes to Avรจne XeraCalm Balm*. Since using it back in the summer, my hands are softer, stronger, and much clearer and easy to manage than before. If you suffer from eczema or extreme dry or itchy skin, you need to pick one of these up ASAP for heavenly hands.

Well we did it; 2014 all wrapped up in under 50 products. It’s been colourful, it’s been sparkly, there’s even been some clashing colours and lots of jazzy nail combos, but it’s been fun to experiment and find my firm favourites to see in 2015 with. Now, on to all the new exciting 2015 launches, I’m clearing out my MUJI drawers as we speak…

What were your beauty favourites for 2014? Have you tried any of these ranges? What are you looking forward to picking up in 2015?

Lots of Love,
Lauren x

Some products in this post may have been sent for review or gifted, and will be marked with a * or c/o. All opinions are mine are not influenced by brands or companies. Please see my full disclaimer for more.

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Brighton based Photographer, photographing your fave bloggers by day and testing the best vegan/cruelty-free skincare by night.


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