The five best makeup buys of 2018

Rachel Marie Walsh takes a look back at 2018’s makeup launches.

The five best makeup buys of 2018

Rachel Marie Walsh takes a look back at 2018’s makeup launches.

Rihanna wears her own Fenty by Rihanna ‘Flyliner’ Liquid Eyeliner.

Rihanna wears her own Fenty by Rihanna ‘Flyliner’ Liquid Eyeliner.

This year in makeup was a mix of natural enhancement, light-play and colour ‘pops’. Skin is still very in but obviously cannot look like it has spots, lines, pores, etc., so the ‘filter foundation’ trend grew, making us feel like we are wearing nothing while hiding everything. Lighter than tinted moisturiser and even serum foundation, these silicone and shimmer-rich mixes are the closest we’ve come to second-skin makeup.

Blush continues to trump bronzer as both a sculptor and enhancer of the face. As the contouring craze recedes in the rearview mirror (though I suspect many of us still do some in real life), fine powder and especially cream cheek-colours sit better with the healthy, ‘clean beauty’ trend that so influences skincare.

Mascaras got innovative this year, mainly wand-wise as YSL made a double-tiered hook brush to effect false lashes and Chanel managed the first 3D-printed brush.

In pharmacies, L’Oréal Paris impressed with the curling, every-last-lash-capturing bristles of their Unlimited Bendable Mascara, €14.99, but Revlon’s Volumazing Mascara, €12.49, totally trounced every other budget mascara launch this year in my book, it is just so glamorous and long-wearing.

2018 was overwhelmingly a year of the lip. Perhaps the suffragette centenary needed a ‘power’ feature or fashion’s love of an isolated colour ‘pop’ is orally fixated but it really was all about that pout. Extensive collections from every major luxury brand (including a rather excessive roll-out of Dior reds for autumn), dominated counters like tiny arsenals of carnauba and beeswax. In the early 2000s Leonard Lauder suggested lipstick as an economic indicator (increased consumer focus on this small luxury highlighting conservative household-spending in the face of recession), but I think social media has corrupted this, if it was ever useful. There is a greater choice of colour, formula and finish than anyone needs.

It sounds nanny-ish but I think we need to advocate more protection as launch numbers increase. Lips’ fine skin makes their collagen, ceramides and other naturally-produced goodies particularly vulnerable and subjecting them to a trend-carousel of drying, potentially irritating formulas does little good for your personal brand of beauty. I persist in trying everything regardless.

Here are my five favourite buys of the year:


Stila Stay All Day Concealer, €14.25: Concealer is often an attempt to solve multiple problems: how do you hide every kind of facial flaw — circles, marks, spots — without fading, slipping or caking? The success of an individual cover-up can be subjective (your skin type and individual problems do affect your choices), and there is often truth to the claim you cannot have it all: a concealer is either for brightening under-eyes or hiding blemishes. I still think Stila’s latest is transcendent. The formula is oil-free but creamy and encourages skin repair with vitamins A, C and E. The 16-shade range is natural enough to make a patch-up imperceptible when you find your perfect match. Most importantly, it is full-coverage and lasts on any part of the face.


Nars Climax Mascara, €25: I am not sure if it’s François Nars age or plain good taste but he seems to have a fondness for seventies lashes that manifests in mascara. I love the fluttery effects of NARS Audacious Mascara, €26, still but Climax is fabulous. The volume is its most noticeable feature, imparted with a chunky brush and very tenacious. The formula is smudge-proof and glossy, with a couple of conditioners thrown in.


Buxom PillowPout Creamy Plumping Lip Powder, €17: The name of this product is confusing (how can a cream-to-powder formula fatten your lips?), but the liquid itself is a pretty take on the Korean lip-powder trend. Heaps of lip colour-powders have come out this year, as though matte just cannot get matte enough.

These formulas are extremely pigment heavy (Urban Decay Lo Fi Mousse, €22, for example, all powder and silicone) and often so drying I find them tough to recommend. Buxom’s strayed from the script a bit by putting plant butters and waxes in the base here, so it is a demi-matte. The colour is still totally opaque, though, and the feel and finish are so nice you won’t care about a little shine. Plus, it is as plumping as any true-matte, duck- pout stuff I’ve ever tried.


Revlon PhotoReady Foundation InstaFilter, €18.99: This is the perfect no-fuss foundation, topped with its own blending sponge and easy to even out. The medium-to-full coverage cuts your need for concealer, provided one of the 16 shades is your match.

Flaw-blurring pigment sets (and really, really keeps a hold of you) to a finish that makes you photo-ready all day.


Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Flyliner, €19.76 at “You see how much thicker it makes your lashes look?” said Francesca, the Fenty Beauty artist who showed me this liner in ‘Cuz I’m Black’ onyx. And it really does. There is much contributing to Rihanna’s beauty success beyond her name and visage. Her staff is noticeably happy and well-supported (not the case at every counter). Many have met her and rave about her no-ego, hands-on approach. You can watch her applying a ‘Fenty Face’ via Instagram and the products are just as easy to use at home. Flyliner does most of the work of a feline eye for you and the consistent, long-wearing colour is impossible to ignore.

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