Of all the makeup, hair care, skin care, and beauty tools I tested and tried in 2015, there were a lot I didn’t care for, a few that made my skin erupt like a teenager, and some that I liked OK. But then there were the precious few with which I fell in love.
My favorite beauty debut of 2015 was Naked Smoky Urban Decay ($54), a 12-shade eyeshadow palette that, as the name suggests, is both smoky and neutral. It has finishes from matte and satin to glitter, all blendable and highly pigmented, and is great for everything from a no-makeup makeup look or a bronzy eye to the darkest of smoky eyes. And just in case you don’t know how to create those looks, step-by-step instructions are included.
Whenever I’m asked for a lipstick recommendation, I dig into my handbag for a Clinique Pop Lip Colour + Primer ($18) because I always have at least one shade with me. These are easy, comfortable formulas that are pigmented enough to go on in one swipe and are long-wearing and hence low-maintenance. Nude Pop, Bare Pop, and Beige Pop are my favorite effortlessly chic shades. I also love darker shades like Cola Pop, Berry Pop, and every other color in the range.
Perfect Hair Day (PhD) Shampoo and Conditioner Living Proof ($24 each) are simply the most aptly named products I’ve ever encountered. Living Proof patented a molecule, OFPMA, that keeps hair cleaner and longer. Your hair literally will repel dirt and oil. Your tresses will look smooth, shiny, full of volume, and strong. If Santa is reading, I’d like swimming pools full of this stuff, please.
Sunday Riley Luna Sleeping Night Oil ($105) is a nighttime treatment oil that fights the visible signs of aging with an advanced retinol complex. If applying oil to your face scares you, get over it. Luna Oil will tighten your pores, diminish fine lines, and even out pigmentation. It will also stain your pillowcases blue. Yes, it’s annoying, and the blue dye is an additive the product doesn’t need. But pillowcases are a small price to pay for lovely skin.
Sheet masks, for the uninitiated, are face-shaped pieces of fabric soaked in serums and other skin-care goodies that target common concerns like dehydration, dullness, and lines. When applied, the fabric barrier keeps liquid components from evaporating as it covers the face, giving your skin a massive, soaked-in treatment. Dr. Jart+The Book of Masks ($39) is an eight-mask holiday special kit with a variety of treatments, from a neck and chin–lifting to an activated Korean charcoal to a water replenishing mask.
Have you ever applied makeup in artificial lighting, then discovered in natural light you look like an Oompa Loompa? I have, and it’s a beauty catastrophe I wish on no one. The simplehuman 8–inch Sensor Mirror ($200) is my favorite beauty device of any year and maybe the greatest invention of our time, short of the wheel. The LED ring provides sunlight-type lighting for color correctness.
The five-times magnification enlarges enough to promote easy application of makeup, allows you to see your entire face, and it lights automatically as it senses movement toward the mirror. Now, a word of caution: If you’ve never seen your skin magnified five times in simulated natural sunlight, it can be disconcerting at first. But we all have pores. And with the products above, no one will ever see yours.