Twenty sixteen was a crazy transitional year for me. The publication I had spent a dozen years of my life devoted to — more passion project than income source — had just shut down, and I was scrambling. Scrambling to find meaning, to redefine who I was without Audrey Magazine. What do I do? Who am I now? Where do I channel my energy?
This blog was a huge part of my redefinition. I had been resistant to starting a blog and joining social media for a long time — partly a fear of the unknown, partly my devotion to all things print. But once I got started, I realized that this blog had become my own little magazine, my Instagram account my own little artistic layout that I curated and pored over like I did with every issue in my former job. And it was fun. And it was for me. And it was a lot of work.
Well, not that much work. After all, beauty is my life — I’d do it for free (and I have). Analyzing, learning, researching, testing, reviewing — I can’t imagine doing anything else for a living. And the best part of my job is finding new beauty discoveries that blow my mind, change the way I do things, and really make a difference in my routine. So herewith, my best beauty finds of 2016, a year that not only redefined what I did but also a lot of how I saw and approached beauty.
I regularly come across products that I love at first, and then the adoration wanes as time goes by for whatever reason — the wear isn’t as long as I thought, the instant results start to plateau, it doesn’t work as well in different season. This is not one of them. It’s been at least six months since I first started using GrandeLash-MD after I accidentally pulled out two major eyelashes during an overly aggressive oil cleansing session. And my amazement at this product has yet to diminish — in fact, it keeps growing. Seriously, my lashes not only have doubled in number and almost as much in length, it doesn’t seem like it’ll stop anytime soon. And a bonus side effect? My lashes now curl on their own (don’t ask me why or how), so not only does it look like I got extensions, it also looks like I got a lash perm.
I love GrandeLash waaaay more than extensions because 1) I don’t have to sit through an annoying two-hour lash extension session every six weeks, 2) my lashes don’t twist and get tangled the way extensions do, 3) the $65 price tag for a three-month supply is way more affordable than $200+ extensions, and 4) these are my real lashes!!!
Don’t just take my word for it (though if you want to, read my review of it here, with photos). Esthetician and beauty blogger Sarah of You Glow Gal has had good results not just with GrandeLash, but their mascara and brow gel, too.
CosRx Master Patch
I’m still battling hormonal adult acne in my 40s, so between that, stubborn hyperpigmentation, and wrinkles and sagging, I feel like I’m constantly at war on my face. Thankfully, LJH Tea Tree Soothing Sheet Masks and Tea Tree 90 Essence help to calm and shorten the lifespan of my breakouts, and I think probiotic supplements might finally help me get a handle on my adult acne once and for all. But in the meantime, I can’t live without CosRx Master Pimple Patch.
When I get a giant deep cystic pimple every month, usually the only thing I can do is not irritate it, wait for it to come to a head, pop it, and then wait for the massive, crusty scab to heal and fall off. Then I get to wait a month for the PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation) to die down, just in time for the next giant deep cystic pimple. It’s a never-ending cycle of breakouts and healing breakouts.
But with CosRx Master Pimple Patch, as soon as my pimple pops, I slap the hydrocolloid patch on it, and it does its thing overnight, sucking out all the blood and ooze. The next morning, the bump is practically gone and there’s just a little red mark. No scab. No crusting. No oozing. It’s practically a miracle. (Read my full review here.)
Which means now I get, like, two weeks of just fading PIH and no breakouts. For me, that’s a damn-near miracle.
I finally gave in and bought the $163 L-ascorbic acid serum, the loud chorus of dermatologists, estheticians, and editors singing its praises ringing in my ears until I had no choice but to splurge. And boy am I glad I did. After my series of Clear + Brilliant laser treatments last year, which only lightened parts of my hyperpigmentation a little bit, this serum has not only lightened my spots further, they’ve kept other dark spots from emerging — a first in my adult life. I’m officially a convert and until someone comes up with a formulation with the right pH and percentage at a more affordable price point, I plan on purchasing this serum for the rest of my life.
LJH Tea Tree line
Yes, the entire line. Read about how the mask saved my skin here.
Hyaluronic acid serums
Since I’ve added a serum specifically dedicated to hyaluronic acid (HA), my facial dryness has all but disappeared, and my skin looks plumper, firmer, and smoother. I’m not brand loyal in this category because I’ve found a number of HA serums that seem equally good. My first was Hylamide SubQ Anti-Age, and I was really impressed. But because I had other HA serums to try out, I didn’t repurchase, and it turns out, there are a lot of good HA serums out there. I’m also a big fan of INUF, Niod, and Elemental Herbology‘s HA serums.
This is not a product, but a K-beauty method. And wow, am I a convert. On days when my skin is extra sensitive, dry, reactive — really, anything but normal — this is my go-to method for bringing it back to looking good. Read about my experience here.
What I love about summer? Shorts. What I hate about shorts? My hyper-pale legs. So when shorts season rolls around, I bathe in self-tanning lotion. While I’ll pretty much only use gradual self-tanning lotions from Vita Liberata and St. Tropez for their even glow and truly not stinking like DHA, I’m officially buying in bulk Vita Liberata Body Blur for those days when my self-tan is fading unevenly. It gives my legs the smoothest, most realistic bronze — not so light that it might as well just be a highlighter for my splotchy legs but not so dark that I look like a DWTS contestant.
Zea Skin Systems Clear Skin
NYX lip products
I couldn’t end this post without at least one color cosmetic product. And while I don’t have one specific product that overwhelmingly sticks in my mind, I do really like Nyx’s expansive line of lip products. From their super rich Butter Glosses to their matte liquid lipstick Lip Lingerie, from my favorite Turnt Up! Lipstick in 05 (the perfect mix of mauve and toffee) to the waterproof Retractable Lip Liner that has turned me into regular lip liner user. And with price tags that don’t exceed $10, Nyx makes me feel like a rich kid at a candy store when shopping at their brick-and-mortar.
What are some of your favorite beauty finds of 2016?