Friday, January 01, 2016

2015 In Beauty


Happy New Year!

I didn't write an end-of-the-year beauty post last year (I did publish a perfume one). I wasn't feeling it. I was also questioning my place in the beauty blogging world, unsure if in a world of Kardashian imitators I still had anything to contribute. But 2015 taught me a lesson or two and affirmed to me that there's a growing audience that doesn't look at the world through an Instagram filter and my ten years of independent and unaffiliated beauty blogging do  amount to something.  That, and the support of true friends and regular reader is what kept me going and brought us to this moment. I coordinated this "Best in Beauty 2015" with Jessica of Tinsel Creation. It often feels like we're the last ones standing when it comes to old-school beauty blogging, so it fits, and it's a pleasure.

Here's the beauty year that was through my eyes:

Favorite Trend
2015 brought Asian beauty into the mainstream. You can now get a variety of incredible products on Amazon and even from Sephora. Korean brand TonyMoly has an actual store in NYC, and everyone seems to have incorporated sheet masks into their routines. Snail goo is relatively cheap and easy to source, Laneige products are are Target, and I'm in heaven.

Least Favorite Trend
Instagram brows. Instagram skin. Instagram eye makeup. Instagram sponsored posts.
Instagram everything.
This app started as a wacky way to post your lunch and raindrops on your commute to work through a filter that looked like your dad's 1970s camera. Now it's a way to promote stuff, to filter your skin into a wax figure level, and the eyebrows. Don't let me start on the eyebrows.

Still making up my mind on this trend
Strobing. I'm all for highlighting. I've always preferred highlighting to extreme contouring on my own face, because it works better for me. But strobing, or extreme highlighting, is sometimes taken to such a level I'm not sure one would enjoy looking at these photos two years from now. I want to glow, not look radioactive, and there's a difference.

Best ad campaign, heartwarming moment, uplifting collection
I didn't expect to be in tears over anything MAC, but MACnificent Me featuring my friend Tresor and a group of other unique and deserving individuals touched me like no other. The lipstick was fabulous as well.

Couldn't Stop Buying
Palettes. Especially eye shadow palettes. Palettes were everywhere, especially in the last quarter of the year gearing up to the holiday season. So many colors, so many textures, so much irresistible beauty. Among the best ones (maybe THE best ones) are the four Viseart palettes I now own (I've added the Dark Mattes and Satin Nudes to my collection). I was good and took full advantage of various sales, so it took the sting of the price, but I have to tell you, even at $75-80 a pop it's hard to do better than this French brand.

My First Dabbling
Indie American brands that produce standout colors and textures at affordable prices and are still made in the USA. Colourpop and Makeup Geek are still learning and growing, but the handful of items I bought and started testing have impressed me greatly. And have I mentioned that they manufacture here in the US?

Nails
This year I abandoned the idea of DIY nails and signed my life over to a local salon. They gel manicure has been a sanity and nail saving as I haven't had a broken nail since last May. No more chips or flakes, and getting my pedis professionally done got my back to send me a thank you card.

Best Foundation Discovery
Everyone was doing foundation in dropper form, be it in an actual serum texture or as a pure pigment (Cover FX. And, yes, I still owe you an "all the foundation I've tried this year" post). But the one I really really loved? The $80 Japanese Albion Gel Mask foundation I discovered through Lisa Eldridge. Best finish ever.

Most Disappointing Beauty Book
Speaking of Lisa Eldridge, the long anticipation to her book, Face Paint, about the history of makeup culminated in a sense of letdown. The book itself is gorgeous, the information fascinating, but it needed a firm hand in editing and tightening the writing. Lisa's videos are enriching yet succinct. I wish the same could have been said about her book.

Most Satisfying Beauty Book
Long time in the making (wasn't it announced around five years ago?), Dita von Teese's beauty book, is far more practical and a lot less eccentric than you'd think. Dita knows beauty and this book has definitely delivered.

Favorite Lipstick
Unlike with palettes and eyeliners, I did my best to curb my lipstick shopping this year and use up the sea of reds and plums already in my possession. Success was moderate at best, but this is the one lipstick I'm thrilled to have purchased: Sophia Loren No.1 Lipstick by Dolce & Gabbana.

Eternal Wisdom
If you were around the first time something was on trend, it's best to think carefully partaking in it again. That's all I'm going to say about brown matte lips.


If you've already visited Tinsel Creation for Jessica's list and want a roll down memory lane (more like a drunken tumble), here are my previous year-end posts, starting with 2006:

Beauty:
2006 (including perfume)
2007 (including perfume)
2008
2009 (including perfume)
2011
2012
2013

Perfume:
2008
2010
2011
2012 Part A
2012 Part B
2013- Mine
2013- The Husband's
2014

Image: Joseph Kuhn Regnier, Illustration from ‘The Works of Hippocrates’, 1934

33 comments:

  1. I can't agree more about terrible Instagram Make-Up trend as well as Lisa's book. I got the book and could hardly read it although I really liked the idea. I am a fan of hers too, too bad it didn't work with the book as expected.

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    1. Sara, I know! Lisa is so good about everything she does that I expected the book to be impeccable. I have a feeling there was no budget left for a good editor.

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  2. I like to read articles plus ....I do not have a mobile that takes Instagram...read .. its old and will be in my bag until either it or me die! LOL
    If I have to get a new phone I really don't think I would read/look at Instagram - like some Youtube beauty people - its all about the "flog" of products and I do not follow them.
    Strobing .... like I need that! Its been temps of over 100f and I have my "own" strobing going on! LOL
    Once again ....Happy 2016 and I want you to know I really look forward to your posts!!!

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    1. Thank you, my sweet friend! And I agree: Strobing in August NYC humidity is the most ridiculous idea.

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  3. Hah! We both said similar thing about Korean beauty and the eyebrow trend. Happy New Year, Gaia!!

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    1. As always, even with different choices we have such similar sensibilities. <3

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  4. I knew I had found perfection when I handed off my tube of TF Drake to my daughter once my D&G Sophia arrived! My new passion is Japanese makeup brands-but I agree- finding Laneige at Target has been great. Your reviews on the palettes are always so welcomed- have you seen the ones on Natasha Denona's website? Ahhhh!
    And although I am restricted as to wearing perfume due to asthma, I eagerly read EVERYTHING you write about scents with a passion I never thought I'd have. You have taught me soooo much. Thank You Thank You!

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    1. It's me who needs to thank you for reading even the perfume posts.
      I'm curious about Natasha Denona, and since my sister lives in Israel I think I'll send her on a scouting mission.

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  5. I seldom comment, but did want you to know that your blog is the only beauty blog I still read, and one of only two perfume blogs that I will spend time on. When I seek out critique, I do not wish to receive infomercials. Please soldier on with your wonderful blog!

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    1. Thank you, Heather. It's becoming harder and harder to find blogs and channels that are not some kind of infomercials or advertorial or native advertising and all that stuff. One thing I can promise is that I'll shut this blog down before I go that route.

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  6. Gaia, I always love reading your blog. Very few are anywhere near as well-written, and I like your taste and style! Thank you for the good work. I've purchased a few things that I really like based on your recommendation (Kiko stick eyeshadow comes immediatel to mind -- wonderful product!).

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    1. Thank you! And I have more Kiko colors to post about :)

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  7. The beauty of your blog is the intelligent and emotional connection that you allow yourself to make. Whether it is cat pics, letting us watch your learning curve on taking makeup photos, showing us your quirky palette holders, choosing THE MOST perfect photos for posts (love those vintage Vogue) or just zeroing in on how you precisely feel about these products you bring into your home. I don't have an Instagram or Pinterest account. I do love D+G Sophia lipstick, Vincent Longo Pro-Waterproof Cacao eye pencil, Le Metier Peau Vierge et al, Viseart neutral matte palette and countless perfumes that you have been the blind buy tie-breaker on so many times. I started for the perfumes and enjoy everything else. I love how real you are without apology.

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    1. PT, this comment is the greatest compliment I could have hoped for. I do put a lot of myself out there, even when I'm simply talking about a product. I don't think I could have done it any other way (and stay sane).

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  8. Hurray for old-school beauty blogging! Seriously, it's getting hard to find actual reviews with real opinions anymore. I didn't know about Tinsel Creation, so I'll be checking out her blog ASAP.

    I haven't bought a large palette in years (usually sticking to duos/trios/quads), but the Viseart, plus the beautiful Ciate palettes recently featured on your blog, have me reconsidering my buying habits.

    I didn't know that Makeup Geek and Colourpop were made in the USA. Hmm, there's something else I might want to try out.

    Dita's book is now on my Amazon wish list. And Sophia's lipstick is on my makeup wish list.

    See? Your blog reminds me why makeup and beauty are fun. I'm glad you're still blogging!

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    1. Thank you, Bettina, and I'm thrilled to introduce you to Jessica who is a long-time friend and a fabulous lady, blogger, and cat person.

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  9. I've enjoyed your blog tremendously for a few years now, although this is my first comment. One of my favorite trends of 2015 is that we got to see your face more often! It's nice to see how you use makeup, in addition to your swatches. I have no interest in seeing people who end up looking like mannequins - I want to see people look like themselves, with a little flair. I'm looking forward to more of your posts in 2016. Happy New Year!

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    1. Thank you, Pamela. I'm going to do my best to post at least one makeup look a week.I can't promise a huge variety of styles, because I'm showing the makeup the way I actually wear it, so no black lipsticks or pink eyeliner, just the real me.

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  10. Yours, Gaia, is the only beauty blog I will ever read. It's real. It's truth. It's wisdom. Thank you. And please don't concern yourself with the Kardashian horrors of make-up and the instagram crap. Most of us don't, it's lightweight chatter.

    The matte brown lipstick of the 90s? I did that...never again! :-)

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    1. Abigail!!!! I missed you. Thank you for still reading and for saying hello.

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  11. I don't have an Instagram account, so I have no idea what Instagram brows or strobing is. My guess is that it's no big deal that I'm missing out. Even though I didn't buy anything from the collection MAC MACnificent Me was really a very touching campaign. If we could all find the humanity and beauty in every single person around us, the world would truly be a better place. Thanks for your honest and thoughtful beauty and fragrance blog. Wishing you a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful new year.

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    1. Happy new year, Tatiana. I have a much-neglected Instagram account that I simply can't be bothered using. I never thought to post there anything more than cat pictures, but I prefer Facebook for that.

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  12. Great list, Gaia, and fun to read. I also love the Asian beauty trend and am glad to see products becoming more readily available in the US. I've long admired Japan for its superlative skincare and makeup and now I can also indulge in Korean beauty. This is a trend that deserves all the plaudits it's been receiving. As for trends I'm completely over, those horrible Instagram brows have got to be number one with Groucho Marx brows a close second. I love makeup and agree that, as an artistic expression, any makeup look is fine, but some people seem to think these completely unnatural, heavy-looking, over-drawn brows are OK to wear in real life. And speaking of unnatural, I'm also really tired of the extreme Kardashian contouring. It's a special effect, but in real life it looks exactly like what it is--a bunch of light and dark colors painted on the face. In real life, it's not going to create the look of chiseled cheekbones, a cleaner jawline, a narrower nose or anything else that isn't part of your natural physiognomy. It just makes the face look dirty.

    In the world of beauty books, I was terribly disappointed in Lisa's book. The writing was all over the place and the redundancy drove me crazy. The only reason it sold as well as it did was because of Lisa's fans who would buy anything Lisa put out. Such a shame! Dita's book, on the other hand, is a delight. Even though it was written over a number of years, it's pretty solid. And gosh darn it, I just like Dita :-)

    Eternal wisdom: "Today I see beauty everywhere I go, in every face, in every single soul. . ." Kevyn Aucoin. Given today's concern with promoting diversity and acceptance, his quote is most appropriate.

    Happy New Year everyone!

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    1. Dear Eileen, your thoughtful comments are a gift: always positive and encouraging. Thank you for reading and bringing the sunshine with you.

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  13. Gaia, which color of Albion gel mask did you get and with what Chanel, Armani or Aucoin color did it compare? Hard to figure the swatch colors.

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    1. PT, I got 060 and it's such a perfect match for me. You can see some photos of me wearing it here:
      http://www.thenonblonde.com/2015/10/fotd-evening-look-featuring-colourpop.html
      I haven't bought a Chanel or an Armani foundation in ages, so I'm not sure about matching them, except that I used to be Beige 040 in Chanel. I use KA SSE in SX10, Guerlain LdP in Beige 03, and I have no good match in NARS. My MAC shade is slightly lighter than NC35, but in F&B my best match is C3, often with a drop of white mixed in.

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  14. I have always appreciated the authenticity of your blog and the honesty and the content of your reviews. Your least favorite trend of Instagram everything is the same as mine as well as contouring for me, as I do not wish to look like a mannequin with a drawn on exaggerated Kardashian type face that looks unintentionally drag queen inspired.

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    1. Thank you, Anon! There's only one part of my face that I can contour without looking ridiculous, and that's the lower third of my nose. Even that requires an extremely meticulous and lengthy blending that the result is usually not worth it. I have a big nose. If I can live with it so can the universe.

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  15. Dear Gaia
    I started to read your blog for the perfume reviews. I think your taste is refined and bold at the same time and very inspiring. But I also enjoy your make up reviews and rely on your independent advice. I guess it can be quite frustrating to put so much effort in a blog not knowing for sure what are your audience's expectations.My guess is that very few of us are remotely interested in the fabricated so-called celebrities and are looking instead up to you for wise advice on making the most of our physical assets and beauty budget.
    Oh, and did I mention that your writing is superb ?

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  16. Wonderful 2015 list! And thanks even more for the links to your previous year-end favorites. I began reading your blog in 2007, so it was a bit of a walk down memory lane for me to read your posts. I was particularly struck by your 2009 comment on perfume: the year that the IFRA restrictions really began impacting the fragrance universe. Yes, there are still good perfumes out there, and thank god there are independent perfumers who are using IFRA-banned ingredients. But you were right: that was a devastating blow to perfumistas--and perfumes--everywhere. On the plus side: YOU! You're still writing a phenomenal, independent blog, and for that I'm quite grateful.

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  17. I sincerely love your blog - it is so rare to see honest opinions about anything on blogs anymore. I feel like most other blogs are one big sponsored post. I love the vintage photos and the descriptions of perfumes on your blog are nothing short of poetic. One question - where do you buy the Albion foundation? I am very interested in trying it. Thanks and please keep the blog going!!!!

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  18. Thank you for continuing to provide such great information with integrity and genuineness. Yours is the only beauty blog I read as I too am not interested in infomercials or Instagram horrors. I love your personal touch (and cat photos!).

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  19. I love your honest opinions and personal touch (and cat photos!). Yours is the only beauty blog I read as I am not interested in infomercials or Instagram horrors. Thank you for continuing to be a voice of integrity!

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