I always want to do one of those beauty year-in-review posts at the end of each year, but there usually ends up being so much stuff that my post is a mile long and I never end up finishing it. This year I finally narrowed it down to my most favorite favorites. I tried to stick with only things that were released in 2011, but a few of them are ones that I didn't discover until 2011.
Without further ado, here are my most favorite things from 2011:
Rescue Beauty Lounge Piu Mosso. This whole collection was nice, but Piu Mosso was the standout shade for me. Blackened blue with red-orange shimmer. Subtle and very dark but with a shocking surprise when the light hits it just right.
Orly Seagurl, Nite Owl and Fowl Play from the Birds of a Feather Collection. Another collection that was mostly pretty good, but with three really, really good colors. Three colors that are unique in my collection. There are others that are similar, but nothing that's an exact replica of these three shades.
Nicole by OPI Kardashian Colors collection If you know me, you'll know that I despise reality shows with a passion and that I couldn't care less about celebrity endorsements, so me falling in love with this collection was a shock. I just can't deny it, this was truly a great collection. My picks: Disco Dolls, Follow Me On Glitter, Kim-pletely in Love, It's All About the Glam, Kourt is Red-y For A Pedi, Kendall on the Katwalk, Wear Something Spar-Kylie.
Chanel Peridot. For me this is as much about the color as it is the precedent it sets. Peridot is a fantastic color for sure, but think about this. An expensive, high end, globally revered and well-respected brand released a green-based duochrome. What was once generally considered "weird," "ugly," and "inappropriate" by the mainstream female polish consumer is now stylish and desirable. The same thing happened with Black Satin. What people once called me a freak for wearing suddenly became the hottest nail polish color of the year. And if Chanel is doing duochrome, you know that other brands will follow.
Nails Inc. Special Effects 3D Glitter in Bloomsbury Square. This is just freakin' awesome. All there is to it.
China Glaze Some Like it Haute. Same for this one. I know there are other similar colors, but this one is the best for me. Best formula, best application, most fire and sparkle. I can always trust China Glaze to make a good glitter.
Essence Prismatic White. This is one of only a handful of Essence colors I own. I am completely obsessed with this shade, and none of the similar white-based multichrome shades I own even compare to this. The best.
Illamasqua Hemlock. A nude/neutral with insane green duochrome?! And an opaque one at that! I love this one almost as much as I love Essence Prismatic white.
OPI Excuse Moi!. I was expecting to love this entire collection, but I was actually pretty disappointed with how sheer the glitters ended up being. This one was the exception; nice and opaque, not chunky, and very sparkly. The shimmer colors from the OPI Muppets collection were fantastic, but this one is my top pick from the collection.
Speciallitá Hits no Olimpo collection. I don't really know much about Brazilian nail polish brands, but I do know that Speciallitá makes some top-notch holographics. And not just in gold, silver, blue and pastel pink. The do red, black, orange (!!!) and dark purple, colors rarely seen in most holographic collections.
Butter London Holiday Dressing Table Duo - Tart with a Heart and The Black Knight. The first Butter London product I've bought in years and it surprised the hell out of me. The bottle, brush and formula is totally different from what I remember, plus this color combination is out of this world.
Color Club Scent-suous Holiday Scented Nail Polish Collection. The best smelling scented polishes I've ever used, hands down. The colors aren't particularly interesting or unique, but they smell amazing. Gingerbread! Cinnamon! Evergreen! Huge appreciation to Color Club for not doing all bizarre candy fruit scents.
Zoya Smoke and Mirrors Collection. Pretty much my ideal fall collection. I loved all the shades except for the two frosty ones. The formula and application were great and the colors were unique while still being traditionally fall. Good balance of vampy dark cremes and colorful, edgy shimmers.
The Painted Nail by Nubar Spring/Summer 2011 collection. Don't know what else to say about this collection except IT ROCKS. Brightly colored duochrome glass fleck polishes with a unique white glitter topcoat. I even liked the pink one.
OPI and Serena Williams Glam Slam US duo. This set also comes with a bright red-coral glass fleck polish. Both shades are gorgeous and unique. Two of the prettiest colors I've seen from OPI in years.
Nicole by OPI Holiday 2011 Glitter Collection. Nicole ditched the ironically named "Perfect Stroke" brush and apologized by releasing a set of intensely fabulous glitters. The glitters are smooth, opaque and pretty much flawless. They're incredibly fine and contain a mixture of colors that gives them depth. These really are some standout glitters and I'd really recommend checking them out if you're sick of thick, chunky glitter.
OPI Nice Stems! Collection. A shocker. A collection of all pinks that this pink-hater actually loved. There was glitter, glass fleck, and even pearl, and all of them were beautiful.
Misa Surreal Escape Collection. After being disappointed by the flood of bland collections from Misa, this one came out of left field and surprised the pants off of me. Speckled shimmers? Duochromes with glitter?? That's more like the Misa I fell in love with years ago. Bonus points for the sci-fi theme. Good job, Misa. Really great colors.
Zoya Gems and Jewels Collection. Two words: bar glitter.
Nails Inc. becoming available at Sephora. Before, Nails Inc. was mostly inaccessible for me because it could only be ordered from overseas. Now that it's available at Sephora, American polish fans like myself can purchase it with ease. I've tried a handful of shades from them and now I'm a huge fan. Great colors and formula.
All the new magnetic polishes! This was the only one of my nail polish wishes that hadn't yet been granted, but here we are in 2012 and we finally have access to a good variety of magnetic polishes. There's the LCN ones with the magnet you purchase separately, there's the Layla Magneffect line with lots of different shades, there's the Nails Inc ones with the easiest magnet to use, and now I'm hearing that China Glaze has a magnetic collection on the horizon. It's a good time to be a polish junkie.
China Glaze Let It Snow! Collection. Glitter. Green. Great formula. All around awesome.
Sparitual Wilde Collection. For me, the two most interesting colors in this collection were Howl and Sacred Ground. I've seen a lot of polish in my lifetime, but these two colors just made me stop and go "wow."
Deborah Lippmann Summer 2011 Collection. A yellow jelly that actually looks good. A one-coat opaque orange creme. A dusty unique blue. I wasn't expecting much from this collection based on the promo pictures, but once they were on my nails I changed my mind. These were great. The colors themselves weren't unique (except the blue), but the finishes really impressed me.
Rescue Beauty Lounge Iconoclast. My pictures rarely do justice to Rescue Beauty Lounge's creations. This looks like a plain black/silver shimmer here, but in real life you'll notice that it has very fine rainbow-colored particles, not just plain silver. Plus, the formula was divine.
Essie Spring 2011 Collection. Like I've said before, any collection that can make a pink that I love deserves a mention. This was a really good collection, though. It had some nice pastels, some of my favorites that I've ever used, but it also had this sheer pink-red shimmer called Kisses and Bisses that you could layer over any color to make it even better.
Wet n Wild Buffy the Violet Slayer. You need this. I mean it. You really need this one. It may chip quickly, but it is one of the most insane purples you will ever own. Plus, you won't even need to spend over $2 on it. It's a win-win.
Milani Lip Flash Pencils. One of the best drugstore lip products out there. They're super pigmented, brightly colored, sparkly, shiny and CHEAP. Cheap as in inexpensive, that is. These are better than most high-end, over $20 lip products I've used. I can't say enough good things about them. The combination of intense color and long-wearing metallic finish puts these over the top for me. Best of the best.
LORAC Tan-Talizer Baked Bronzer. This just looks so good on me that I can't leave it off my list. It's perfect for my skin color and it gives me a glow that doesn't accentuate my pores or any rough areas on my skin. It doesn't make me break out like a MAC Mineralize Skinfinish. It's not flaky, chunky or glittery. It blends into a smooth, glowy, rosy-bronze that never makes me look muddy, dirty, tan or like I have glittery Rosacea.
Stila Make Me Blush set. This is so cute that I can't bring myself to use it. I'm not joking. I haven't even touched this. But it still makes it onto my favorites list because it's so pretty and I love it so much that I'm content just to look at it. It makes me smile when I see it. And it was pretty inexpensive.
Wet n Wild Color Icon palettes. 2011 has been a weird time for makeup. The high end brands are declining in quality while the drugstore brands are improving by leaps and bounds. These Wet n Wild palettes are evidence of that. The colors are so soft, pigmented and easy to blend that I find myself wearing these more than I wear a lot of my more expensive brands. Comfort Zone is my favorite of the three new eight-pan palettes, but the three pan ones are the same great quality. They can look a little frosty, and the purples don't have much pigment to them, but for $5 I really can't complain much about these.
LORAC Multidimensional Beauty Collection. The makeup in this kit was great, but the bag is amazing. I normally don't keep the makeup bags that come in kits or as gifts-with-purchase, but this one is just too awesome not to keep. The Ulta-exclusive Multiplex 3D gloss that came with this kit was a must-have for me (blue glitter!) and the eyeshadows were extremely soft and creamy for pressed powder shadows. Plus, they were iridescent.
Physicians Formula Happy Booster collection. These are the useable versions of the Stila Make Me Blush. These are even better because they're scented and there's no overspray that disappears after the first few uses. They're not very pigmented, but that's good for someone like me who isn't a pro at applying blush. The translucent face powder version of this is very nice as well. Bonus points for being available at drugstores, coming with coupons and not being limited edition.
Stila Stay All Day Liquid Eyeliner Fall 2011 Shades- Alloy and Moss. I have never liked felt-tip liquid liner pens until I used these. They're easy to apply, make a crisp line and come in a few very wearable colors. I have all the shades, but these two are my favorites. Both are excellent for dark brown eyes like mine and both are unique in my collection. They have a matte finish that I really like, and they're a lot more opaque than I thought they would be.
LORAC Close Up: Real Life To Red Carpet Kit. It's not necessarily the entire kit that's my favorite, it's the eyeshadow trio that comes with it. It's called LORAC-Star (get it?) and it makes the easiest, most foolproof, flattering taupe smoky eye ever. I don't even need a brush to apply it perfectly. It blends like a dream, has a luminous shimmer finish and goes with practically any blush or lip color. It takes literally two minutes to apply and blend and it looks like you spent a lot more time and effort on it than you actually did. I've used it so much that I think I may hit pan soon. The black liner that comes with this is super nice too because it has a brush tip instead of being a felt pen-style liner. I like the blush a lot as well, but the shadow trio has become a holy grail product for me.
Urban Decay Stardust Sparkling Lipgloss. These are awesome. They're glittery-sparkly without having actual big glitter pieces and they're completely smooth, not gritty like you might expect from something so sparkly. All the shades have a bit of a color shift to them and none of them look frosty white on my lips. The tubes have rubberized caps and a satisfying 'click' when you close them. They smell like vanilla mint and have a slight cooling effect. I absolutely adore these and I really hope they do more shades. I want a purple in this formula! And a red. And orange.
Boscia Luminizing Black Mask. It looks silly, but it works. It actually does everything it promises. For me, at least. I know everyone's skin reacts differently to things, but I'm totally impressed with how well this works for me.
Hourglass Film Noir Full Spectrum Mascara. This may not have been released in 2011, but I only learned about it a couple months ago. I wasn't expecting much from it because I heard it was a lengthening formula, but it was way more than that. It's the first high end mascara that I've been impressed with since Benefit BadGal Lash. It lengthens, defines, curls, and most importantly, adds volume. Not as much volume as my beloved Lash Blast, but enough that when combined with its other benefits, it becomes a perfect mascara. It doesn't flake or smudge on me, and while Hourglass says that it's not a tubing mascara, it removes like one for me. Little lash-shaped stretchy tubes that only come off in hot water.
Milani Limited Edition Haute Flash Full Coverage Shimmer Lipgloss. These are similar to the Lip Flash pencils, but they're a liquid. They're essentially a drugstore dupe of MAC's Dare To Wear lipglass formula. They're highly pigmented, have a glass-fleck style round chunky shimmer, are brightly colored, have a bit of shine and last for a very long time. They can feel drying after a while, but there are few other products I can think of that give me such a bold, colorful duochrome sparkle look as these. Plus, they were half the price of the MAC versions. They were limited edition, but they were so incredibly good that I really hope Milani brings them back, and in more colors.
OPI Avojuice Skin Quencher Hand and Body Lotion in Vanilla Snowflake. I've always liked OPI Avojuice for when I want a light hand lotion that absorbs quickly, but this new Vanilla Snowflake scent is making me reach for it more than my other hand lotions. It's not heavy-duty, but it does do a great job of moisturizing. The scent is a light, creamy vanilla, like vanilla ice cream or buttercream frosting. The scent lingers on my hands all day and it smells awesome.
Cover Girl Lash Blast Luxe in Black Royale. My favorite Lash Blast mascara, but with blue sparkles in it! It has a few flaws, but I think it's pretty cool and I plan on trying all the shades eventually.
Make Up For Ever Aqua Liner Liquid Liner in #10 Iridescent Red. Ever since Urban Decay discontinued my beloved Gash liquid liner, I've been on the lookout for a replacement red liquid liner. This one from Make Up For Ever is great. It's very red and it's waterproof.
Tarte Smooth Operator Amazonian Clay Illuminating Serum. Makes my skin look great when mixed with foundation. It both soothes dry areas and absorbs oil on shiny areas at the same time.
Models Own Beetlejuice Collection. Duochrome goodness. Hopefully another sign that more duochrome/multichrome shades are coming soon.
...And that's my list. Hopefully I didn't leave out anything, but I have this horrible feeling like I'm forgetting something.
I'd also like to know what your favorite new releases of 2011 were. I'd love it if you'd share your favorites with me!