After a long winter, repair and hydrate with these amazing spring beauty finds
2018 has just begun and we've already tested over 100 beauty products, from makeup to skincare to hair care. Looking at the shortlist, an obvious theme emerges: hydrating and repairing skin, to make it radiant. After a long winter of grey weather, dull light and extreme conditions, our skin needs help, both internally and externally.
Here are 12 favourites to keep you looking—and feeling—your best as spring dawns...
1. Hollywood Flawless Filter by Charlotte Tilbury
Charlotte TilburyAmong the most anticipated products of the season is certainly this "primer-hybrid complexion booster" from Charlotte Tilbury, especially after it was featured in the Temperley Autumn/Winter 2018 show during London Fashion Week. It comes in seven shades. Not quite a foundation nor a liquid highlighter, it's also not a primer as it won't prolong wear-time. So what is it? It's definitely a hybrid product that will provide megawatt glow without a sparkle. It works best blended into foundation or used on top. Despite the generous bottle, use this judiciously, avoiding any textured areas. Because it's tinted, I found it melts seamlessly into the skin, which is where it differs from traditional highlighters. This is the closest I've ever come to that elusive "lit-from-within" luminosity.
Available at Nordstrom, Holt Renfrew and online, $50
2. Viva Glam Sia lipstick by MAC
Mac CosmeticsI have more red lipsticks than any one person could possibly use in a lifetime, yet this latest Viva Glam has made it into my current rotation. It's just on the warm side of neutral, an easy-to-wear, yellow-based tomato red. Ruby Woo is pinkier, Russian Red more blue-toned. This one is also brighter, lighting up most complexions. The creamy matte formula is easy to blot on as a stain or sheer out over lip balm if you don't want the full impact of a matte. Like all Viva Glam lipsticks, 100 per cent of the selling price of this goes to men, women and children affected by HIV/AIDS.
Available at MAC counters and online, $17.50
3. Deep Relax roller ball by Aromatherapy Associates
Aromatherapy AssociatesBeauty sleep is a real thing. Sleep is when our body repairs itself, therefore good sleep = good skin. Yet, a 2017 Statistics Canada report found that 55% of Canadian women have trouble getting asleep or staying asleep and one in three Canadians sleep fewer than the nightly allotment recommended for optimal physical and mental health.
The venerable UK brand, Aromatherapy Associates, is finally more widely available in Vancouver and everyone needs to get a Deep Relax roller ball. Not your typical lavender-based product, this is a luscious, sophisticated blend of vetivert, chamomile and sandalwood. Just before bedtime, I like to roll the product over an open palm, then gently rub my hands together before cupping over my face and inhaling deeply. I press what remains onto my pillowcase before falling asleep.
Available at various spas and online, $41.50
4. Galifornia blush by Benefit
Benefit CosmeticsBenefit's new pink-coral blush is housed in their signature love-it-or hate-it cardboard box. I hate it (along with the vanilla grapefruit scent!) but the blush is so good that I'm willing to overlook these minor irritations. It's heavily pigmented, so go in with a light touch and a stippling or dual-fibre brush. The effect is a sun-kissed flush with subtle undertones of golden pearl, a brightening, perky colour for most complexions. This comes in two sizes; the large, standard size does include a very pretty gold overspray but if you're willing to forgo this embellishment, the smaller size is both adorable and extremely travel-friendly.
Available at Sephora, Benefit counters and online, $38 (standard), $20 (mini)
5. Love You So Mochi eye shadow palettes by NYX
NYX CosmeticsThe concept of a putty-like texture isn't new, but it's a stretch to liken these to soft, squidgey mochi. The colours, however, are beautiful. They're bold and vivid in the pan, but swatch more sheer and work best as a subtle flash of colour or as an eye shadow topper. That might sound unexciting, but it means you can now transform the dozens of neutral shades you already have into something more magical by combining it with a wash of iridescent pastel teal or glittering sunshine yellow. For more subtle looks, the Sleek and Chic palette offers shades of copper, mauve and rose gold. For more fun, Electric Pastels includes a Kool Aid assortment of colours to keep your creative side giddy. Both palettes absolutely require a primer and, if you really want them to last, apply with a brush dampened with setting spray.
Available at drug stores and online, $25
6. Shimmer Veil and Glitter Drops by Cover FX
Cover FXA leader in makeup customization, Cover FX has done it again with two new enhancing products: Shimmer Veil and Glitter Drops. Shimmer Veil is the brand's first foray into colour cosmetics with six shades of high-shine shimmer ranging from iridescent lavender to burnished topaz to "holographic" multi-colour shifting shimmer. Use as a unique highlighter on cheeks, smudged onto lids or tapped onto the centre of lips.
Glitter Drops provide a very sophisticated glitter product that I love on eyes and will be putting on shoulders when they're finally exposed again in summer's sun. These drops come in three colours: Lunar (multi-coloured pastel glitter), Mirage (golden champagne glitter) and Aurora (multi-tonal pink glitter).
Shimmer Veil, $35; Glitter Drops, $54; Available online
7. Perfecting Powder Cream by Valmont
Valmont CosmeticsBest known for luxury skincare, Valmont has recently released a foundation infused with its proprietary Triple DNA—derived from salmon—which can retain up to 10,000 times its weight in water. This is a deeply nourishing, hydrating foundation with the texture of softened butter that melts gorgeously upon contact with skin. There are only four shades, but coverage is light to barely-medium so I consider this more as a tinted serum-balm, although it does contain SPF 30. It's housed in an elegant white and gold compact that, while larger than I'd typically consider as travel-friendly, I'm happy to tote around because it's so pretty.
Available as of March 5th at Holt Renfrew and online, $190
8. Color Riche Shine On lipstick by L'Oreal
L'OrealAfter one too many nights out with a liquid lipstick leaving my lips parched and uncomfortable, each of these glossy, balmy options are a relief and joy to wear. They're high shine, almost like a solid lip gloss, with sheer-but-buildable coverage that leaves a nice stain as they wear. I find them similar to the YSL Volupte Sheer Candy, just at a fraction of the cost. They come in 12 shades—ranging from reds to tropical brights to nudes—and are a cinch to apply even on the move, as they are housed in a smart, clear, beveled acrylic case.
Available at various drug stores, $12.99
9. Lipikar Soothing Balm & Lipikar Replenishing Washing Cream by La Roche-Posay
La Roche-PosayIt's been another long winter in Vancouver and my temperate-loving skin has been stressed from the prolonged freezing temperatures and dry indoor heating. I'm a big fan of La Roche-Posay's entire Lipikar skincare line and these two products, developed specifically to restore the skin barrier and replenish the skin's lipids, these two products certainly soothe. Don't go strictly by the label: even if you don't technically have itchy skin, you most definitely have winter-weary skin that could use these non-irritating, comforting products. They're so gentle that they've even been approved for use on newborns with atopic eczema-prone skin.
Available at various drug stores, $33 (balm) and $26 (cream)
10. Glycolic Fix Night Pads Extreme by Nip + Fab
Nip + FabIt's not easy to find a drugstore source for quality AHA products, and this is not only fabulous but easy to use, with pre-moistened pads that hold just the right amount of product per application. Start off slowly—once or twice a week—then increase to three or four times a week as your skin becomes accustomed to this five per cent concentration of glycolic acid. You'll be rewarded with glowing, even skin with improved texture. Remember, this will also make your skin photosensitive so it's crucial you wear sunscreen during the day... even in cloudy conditions. The only minor downside is the scent, which is reminiscent of lemon disinfectant.
Available at Shoppers Drug Mart and Pharma Prix, $14.95
11. 101 Ointment Multipurpose Superbalm by Lano
LanoThis Australian cult beauty brand shot to fame with Lanolips, a lanolin-based lip balm. Finally available in Canada with a wider range of products, their 101 Ointment—listed on Sephora's website as the Multipurpose Superbalm—has been my winter saviour. Lanolin is a natural wax found in wool that protects a sheep's coat, providing extreme hydration. The 101 Ointment is a super-dense balm that's a super-pain to squeeze out so warm it up first in a pocket or by massaging the tube. It's worth the effort. I started off by spot treating on cuticles, lips and around the nose, but quickly graduated to tapping on a thin layer as a protective moisture barrier over my entire face whenever I went outside this winter.
Available at Sephora, $23
12. Nourish & Moisture + Coconut Milk Weightless Oil Mist by Maui Moisture
Maui MoistureI don't have particularly frizzy hair. Or at least that's what I thought before I used this product. Without changing anything else in my routine, it noticeably smoothed my hair and made it more polished even when I just air dried after washing. My hair is also susceptible to anything heavy or overly rich but this product—despite containing guava oil and mango butter—truly was weightless. To avoid using too much, I'd suggest spraying this product onto hands and then distributing onto damp hair.
Available at various drugstores, $10.99