It's gonna get sappy up in here.
One thing I absolutely love about our XO community is the open conversations that happen on each and every article. I love how I can talk about my personal experiences with products and it creates a discussion about whether or not they worked for you, or products you'd recommend instead.
That, folks, is why we're here today. I got my hands on some of the products recommended to me on numerous occasions in the comment section of my various articles and tested them out. Here's how it went!
I tried this gloriously fluorescent sponge out way back when my sister and I swapped makeup looks, but I wanted to see how much of a difference the beautyblender made if I swapped my trusty foundation brush for this little pink egg on a daily basis. First off, it isn't cheap — up here in Canada it goes for $28 on local Sephora shelves, and the cleanser runs about $22 (which, yes, I bought).
Now, as far as products that are in it for the long haul, brushes will always win out over a sponge. A makeup brush, if properly cared for, can last about 10 years. Having said that, nothing quite blends like a beautyblender (surprise). Beautyblenders have a lifespan of about three months, but considering it's a sponge you'll be washing daily (a plus for germaphobes like me), that's actually a pretty decent amount of time. I've heard varying dates on when to swap out your old sponge for a new one, so I think I might try to see how long I can go before I notice a change in shape/application.
After about a week of using hand soap to wash my beautyblender (I know, I can hear your screams from here), I picked up a bar of the solid blendercleanser, and I have no regrets.
I say even if you aren't sure about using a beautyblender forever, it's worth trying at least once. I haven't quite used anything that applied my makeup so well, though my flat kabuki brush comes close.
I've never used a Paula's Choice product I didn't like. I was first introduced to PC products when I did an article about the best vitamin C products, and I still swear by that vitamin C spot treatment. A few PC products were coming up in the comments on a regular basis, so I figured it was a pretty safe bet to snatch them up and put them to work. (Heads up: SPF is recommended while using any of the Paula's Choice products I'm talking about today. Chemical exfoliants usually make your skin more sensitive to the sun, so be safe and always wear a layer of sunscreen.)
I tried to get into toners a few years ago, but could never really stick with it. It could have been the combo of impatience, forgetfulness, and the fact that my skin felt a little too clean (read: dried out) after each use. But this little liquid is something I've used daily now for a few weeks and have yet to have any negative side effects. In fact, I'm amazed at how amazing my skin feels, and regularly in awe of all the makeup my cleanser didn't get off.
This BHA exfoliant is water-based, so if you're like me and began to avoid any sort of post-cleansing toner because of dryness, I can't recommend this enough.
I apply this clear gel nightly after I tone my skin with the 2% BHA liquid, and although it takes a few minutes to soak in, it it leaves my skin feeling cleaner than ever (and not in the weird, unsettling squeaky way). I feel like it's working, and every time I apply it feels like one step closer to clearer skin.
I know it says "all skin types", but if you have oily or combo skin (like me) I especially recommend this.
I don't think I've used this regularly enough to see a complete eradication of the keratosis pilaris I've always suffered from, which is something this product directly calls out as something it can help control, but I've definitely seen a difference.
This body treatment touts ingredients you might recognize if you're familiar with products aimed at clearing and soothing stressed out skin. Think salicylic acid, along with willow herb and green tea extracts. It has a bit of a medicinal scent to it, but nothing overly offensive, and it sinks in fast. It helps sooth the bumps on the backs of my arms that I've struggled with as long as I can remember, and I think with regular use it could be a total game changer. The trick is remembering to apply it.
First off, this lipstick smells A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. If sweet, buttery, vanilla is your thing, you're going to love this long-wear liquid lipstick.
It's this incredibly vibrant true red, and I don't think I've ever worn a lipstick SO red before. Even my trusty bullet of Ruby Woo doesn't pack as much of a saturated punch as Beso.
Fun fact: I'd never used a liquid lipstick before testing out Beso. I was always really afraid/irked by them. So the application was a bit of a learning curve. Sitting in my sister's makeup class as her model years ago left me with this hyper-awareness of how to properly apply lipstick. The meticulous application involved to wear a red without sloppy, wobbly lines is both easier and more difficult with a liquid lip. The single swipe nature of the wand application leaves you with a more smooth, constant shape. But getting that shape perfect on the first go is seriously difficult when you're used to short, precise application of a lip pencil. If you're really worried about it, I'd recommend outlining your lip with your favorite true red and filling your lip in coloring book style with Beso. Otherwise, you might end up with a tacky, overly applied lip like I did my first few tries.
At the end of the day, the sheer length you can wear this lipstick without reapplication (I only had to fill in a bit of the center of my bottom lip after eating), is worth the price alone. I definitely think it was a top-notch introduction to liquid lipsticks.
The artist responsible for the package design for this entire line is a goddamn hero. How often do you come across something so uniquely packaged? It's like a design school dream.
Everything about this line is clever, right down to the twist action to completely alter the brush for this mascara. This mascara literally offers a dial to alter the brush — the elongated brush to curl and the pushed down to create thick, voluminous lashes.
Like the Stila lipstick, I went outside of my comfort zone while using this product. I generally avoid any sort of mascara that doesn't have a fluffy brush. For some reason, any brush with rubbery bristles has always resulted in a clumped up mess on me. I found I nearly met that fate while using this mascara, but with careful application (read: not layering) I achieved the long, thick lashes I see everyone raving about.
Way back when I interviewed one of my favorite people, model Jillian Mercado, she mentioned using this product on her face at night to heal her skin during NYC's brutal winters. It started popping up a lot in the comments again, so I decided it was something I needed to finally try.
This heavy cream is a hearty blend of sunflower, rosemary and almond oils, with pansy and chamomile extracts. Given the amount of oils and extracts, it's not exactly a subtle cream fragrance-wise, but it works on softening skin like nothing else. I'm happy to have this handy for what is sure to be a long winter.
I've been using this every day and night for weeks, and I totally get the love now. It doesn't leave my skin too dry (shout out to ceramides) and a little goes a long way, which is a huge plus for something already so inexpensive. I won't be surprised if this lasts me a good eight months, with daily use. You really can't go wrong with this cleanser.
I use the CeraVe AM as my moisturizer/SPF combo in the morning because the price really can't be beat, and I see why the PM Lotion gets even more love. The smooth, frosty-looking lotion blends out into this almost water-like consistency. Despite how light this lotion glides on, it's packed with helpful ingredients like ceramides, niacinamide, and hyaluronic acid. It's great for nights where you don't necessarily need a huge amount of thick lotion but want results. And it's significantly cheaper than a lot of products out there.
It's pretty safe to say that our community is full of talented, intelligent beauty lovers, and I really do appreciate the incredible recs. I'm thrilled to finally have a beautyblender in my daily routine, an incredible bold red that really does last all day, and some skincare products that have blown me away with how well they work, and I'm so happy with what I discovered thanks to you, and I can only hope I've been able to return the favor.
- What products did you try out because of xoVain (via a writer or a fellow commenter)?
- What's the best product you tried so far this year?
- What should I try next? More recommendations, please!