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making faces :: the sixth annual shrunken head awards for achievement in beauty

yes, my lovelies, it is once again for the official more like space shrunken head awards! after thinking that i was horribly late in getting to these last year, i find myself running even farther behind this year... honestly, i picked up certain products so late in the year that i felt i didn't have enough time to test them until recently, and to reflect on what had come my way throughout the year.

in case you're wondering why i should associate a shrunken head with beauty, i refer you to the explanation i gave a couple of years back:

if you're not familiar with the shrunken heads, it's a tradition that i inaugurated in honour of the fact that beauty is fleeting [all the more reason to remember it] and reflecting on the year in beauty is also a way to preserve it. [get it? preserve? why are you backing away from me like that?]

2016 was a bit of an odd year for me, and for my makeup collection. as time goes on, and i am unsuccessful in my attempts to clone myself, i am forced to face the fact that there are only so many cosmetic products one girl can wear in a lifetime. that doesn't mean that i don't love looking at all the pretties, just that i can't give them all space in my home. [you should see me around cats. cats are way harder to resist than makeup.] the strangest thing for me was the fact that i saw a lot of seasonal colour collections that i liked, but couldn't justify buying from most them, because there wasn't anything that was so startlingly original that i felt i couldn't duplicate it myself.

but that doesn't mean that there wasn't a lot of playing going on! so, without further ado, let's get to the shrunken heads!!

category one :: formulas

best new complexion product [liquid, gel or cream] :: joe fresh illuminating primer
i'm late on the bandwagon for this brand, because it was only in the fall that pharmacies in my neighbourhood started carrying it, but damn i'm impressed thus far. and nothing has impressed me more than this pearly liquid primer that, for once, doesn't emphasise my pores or make my skin look greasy or make my foundation slide around. i took a chance on it, but even i'm surprised at how well that gamble paid off. expect to be seeing more about it on the blog.

honourable mention :: bite beauty multisticks
no, i haven't reviewed them yet and yes, it was hard to pick a place to put them, but they deserve some mention. multitasking products are apparently in, and while most people are thinking of that in terms of skin care, bite has some other ideas.

best new complexion product [powder, loose or pressed] :: becca shimmering skin perfector luminous blush
a beautiful, radiant combination of colour and sheen, these blushes really function as a blush and highlighter at once [although that doesn't stop becca from suggesting you pair them with their luminous skin finishers, for extra wattage].

best new eye product :: marc jacobs velvet noir major volume mascara
i might have covered it in what i termed a series of 'boring reviews', but to me, the appearance of a new mascara that adds volume, darkens my platinum lashes and doesn't flake or smudge is far from boring. i've already repurchased it multiple times and that looks likely to continue.

best new lip product :: bite beauty amuse bouche lipsticks
i was nervous about the discontinuation of the luminous creme lipsticks and its replacement with an entirely different formula, but bite hit this one out of the park for me. they kept what i liked about the luminous creme lipsticks and made them better. sometimes change is good.

honourable mention :: guerlain la petite robe noire lipsticks
i feel like guerlain misfired on their marketing with this one. the imagery and personality of the sub-brand was clearly directed at younger buyers, but they seemed to miss the point that younger buyers are the ones that are rushing to buy the heaviest, most matte liquid lipsticks they can find. these lipsticks have a much greater potential with customers who want makeup to be carefree and comfortable, not cutesy.

category two :: collections

best spring collection :: mac 'flamingo park'
flamingoes are awesome. pink is flattering on every complexion if you hit the right shade. it's not complicated, or entirely original, but mac did a great job with a basic concept.

best summer collection :: bite beauty 'sweet and savoury'
who says collections need to be big to be impressive? not bite. no sooner had they launched their new 'amuse bouche' lipsticks when they did a capsule summer collection of six shades- three deep and vampy, three misty and cool, all of them reminiscent of the sky and the garden during a summer rainshower.

best fall collection :: chanel 'rouge no. 1'
red and gold aren't exactly the most original shades for makeup, but i really liked chanel's earthy take on it. the entire collection was anchored by a palette of golden browns and ochre, with a deep clay red. the red lips and burnished eyes drew me in, even though i've basically had to swear off red lipsticks forever, unless i'm able to grow another head.

best holiday collection :: nars + sara moon
nars' artist collections are always so exciting and this year had some really beautiful items in it. the colour collection portion could, perhaps, have dealt with a greater sense of direction or theme, but it was still creative miles ahead of other brands.

category three :: best of the best [individual items]

best eyeshadow [single] :: anastasia 'legend'
i'm not 100% sure if this eyeshadow is really new or just new to me. it was only this year that the brand launched its full collection at sephora, which means it was basically the first time since their rebirth as the most trendy, cutting edge brand on the planet that i got to actually buy a product not intended  for my brows. is the hype around the brand justified? no. they have good and bad products, like everyone else. but there aren't many brands who have their finger on the pulse of what younger beauty consumers want like this. their eyeshadows are fun, and they come in a range of finishes to suit all customers, but i particularly loved this one. it's very brightening, but not as frosty as something like mac 'nylon', which tends to make my eyes look puffy and tired. fantastic payoff, long-lasting and the sort of staple that every woman should have in her collection, but not in the least bit ordinary.

best eyeshadow [palette] :: viseart theory 'minx'
this is a brand in great form at the moment, and it was actually hard to pick one palette from the others as being "the best". but the stunning apricot-and-copper/ matte-to-metallic 'minx' warmed my heart as well as my countenance. so much love for this one.

best blush :: becca 'camelia'
quite possibly the perfect shimmery blush. it's bold, but can be blended out, there are elements of warm and cool in the pink, with a golden sheen. ok, so it won't be perfect for very cool-toned people. it's still an incredibly beautiful, useful shade in a fantastic formula.

best bronzer/ highlighter :: hourglass ambient strobe powder 'incandescent'
if you are a cool-toned girl, this icy peach-pink could be your new paramour. it's not a really metallic finish, which can be problematic for pores, but it definitely brightens the skin and makes you look like you haven't been locked indoors for a hundred years. even if you have.

best lip gloss :: ...
i'm not gonna lie. i didn't try a lot of glosses this year and the ones that i did try... meh. i had really high hopes for anastasia, but when i tried one, it faded incredibly quickly and bled halfway around my face. i'm a lipstick girl for a reason, i guess.

best lipstick :: nars audacious lipstick 'kate'
you're not seriously going to act like you didn't see this one coming. i've already established that nars audacious formula is one of my favourites, and that i love purple. how could a purple nars audacious lipstick called 'kate' not be the best cosmetic thing that happened to me all year? ok, the fact is that, even if you subtracted the name from the equation, this is a wonderful and surprisingly wearable shade of purple. the name is just what pushed it over the edge.

honourable mention :: bite beauty 'kale'
it's pretty obvious that offbeat lipstick shades are having a moment, but no one made them look as beautiful and surprisingly wearable as this. 'kale' is super-deep, so that its sparkling green depths only really become visible under light. i think it's clear already that i love the amuse bouche formula, but this is a step above, even so. [and no, this has nothing to do with the fact that the lipstick's name is awfully close to 'kate'.]

category four :: the big one 

there are some significant changes afoot in beauty. some might see it as a type of deja vu, but i don't think it's that simple. years ago, 'prestige' brands like guerlain and chanel did a fine business selling classic shades to middle and upper class women in department stores. then you had a disruption from mac, along with makeup forever and a couple of others, who came from the professional community. they brought the shock of the runway to the masses and all of a sudden, everyone was their own makeup artist.

although the biggest, oldest brands may not have abandoned their roots, they did notice, and they upped their game in terms of formulas, while broadening the colour spectrum available.

now, however, it seems that things have gone back a little. guerlain, chanel, armani, and others are putting out collections that are pretty but not original. dior has tried to compete on the cutting edge, but their efforts in that direction seem like afterthoughts. 'pro' brands like mac and mufe are looking for inspiration in their eccentric past, but truly, the trail is being blazed by much smaller niche brands who are able to hang their hat on some key products.

[brand of the year] :: bite beauty



up until now, winners in this category [nars, yves st. laurent and armani since the categories for the shrunken heads were firmly established] have all been brands who showed a talent for doing many things very well. but that's not the case this year. you don't have to be all things to all people in order to be the best, and no one exemplified that more than bite. from the ballsy decision to reinvent their primary product to the introduction of a multifunctional one that no one expected, to their newfound ability to identify colours that others miss in the lipstick spectrum, i feel like they showed other brands how things should be done this year. [i'm hoping that they have plans to come out with a lip gloss line worthy of their name, since the one they have now is nice, but nothing special.]

and that's the awards show, folks. next year, maybe i'll do some sort of red carpet and we can host a whole gathering of shrunken heads, all adorned in their finest hats and crowns... but with the world in the state that it is, who knows if the planet will even exist next year? until then, remember to preserve beauty in all its forms, because we need that.

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