The best new makeup products of 2016 – for that classic pin-up look

Reviews of 4 of the best new makeup products in 2016 - Benefit Ka-Brow! in 04, Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in Bang Bang, Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation in 0.5 and Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara
It’s quite unusual for me to love a product so much it usurps something else in my makeup bag these days – but this year I’ve replaced not one item, but four! All four are very key products that I think are essential for that red-lipped, flawless pin-up look – aka what I aim for with my everyday make-up, but you just can’t argue with a classic!
All four are brand new products that launched this year, so I figured you might not yet have had chance to try them yourselves… So without further ado, let me tell you what you need to get your mitts on and why!


Reviews of 4 of the best new makeup products in 2016 - Benefit Ka-Brow! in 04, Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick in Bang Bang, Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation in 0.5 and Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara
Benefit Ka-Brow! (in 04-medium)
Let’s start with that vital part of any pin-up’s look – a well-defined brow. Brows are something I neglected for years – you don’t have to look too far back on this blog to work out why I’m kicking myself about this now; they make all the difference to a made-up face. I’ve been experimenting with products ever since and to be honest, it’s one area of my make-up where I’m not all that fussy. I used an Urban Decay powder for a while, then a Soap and Glory felt-tip and then I joined the big girls and invested in the famous Anastasia Beverly Hills Dipbrow pomade. And while I did like the latter, I could only really seem to get it to apply as all or nothing. I quite like having a ‘gradient’ where the inner brow is a bit lighter, because I think it looks more natural, especially as I have naturally thick brows so I quite want to avoid the two-slugs-on-a-plate look.
And that’s the first reason I love this product so much – it’s got all the staying power and punch of the ABH, but it’s a lot more buildable and you can get a nice gradient with it (as you can see in the top photo). The second reason I love it is the packaging – but not just because I’m superficial, because it has a mini brow brush in the lid! I hated applying my ABH – I bought an ABH brush to do this and I just didn’t think a lot of it and it rolled around in my make-up bag picking up dirt and laughing at me (it did!). Not this one – the genius of a brush stored securely in a lid is it stays out of harm’s way. If all this doesn’t convince you, I’ve been using this daily for months and I can barely see that I’ve made a dent so I honestly think it’s going to last well over a year by this point. It’s not the cheapest, but it sure does offer value for money. In fact, I really don’t have any down sides to this product other than the brush might not last as long as the product, but so far so good!
Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick (in Bang Bang)
Ah, the neverending (and, in my case, well documented) search for the perfect red lipstick. I recently came to the conclusion that the only way I was going to get a long-lasting, kiss-proof, completely matte lip was to go over to the liquid side. I’ve bought so many of these since that I’m going to be writing a whole post about them for you soon, but – spoiler alert – this one is one of my favourites. Every brand has been getting on board with liquid mattes recently, but very few are doing a great job of them as far as I’m concerned. There’s nothing to worry about with Smashbox though – this is an excellent liquid lipstick.
It lasts, it doesn’t bleed, it dries completely matte, it’s comfortable and it’s a perfect bright red shade. I wear this lipstick all the time now and I can’t express my love for it enough. Now, my colouring is a little on the pale and yellow side, so it might be this specific shade isn’t for you, but don’t worry! There’s a cooler, darker red called Bawse that’s more along the lines of Russian Red and I’m sure would be up a lot of your streets’. So while I wouldn’t drop this amount of money on just any old lipstick – for this one, please believe me, if you want a bold matte lip you just can’t go wrong.
Urban Decay All Nighter Foundation (in 0.5)
If there’s something I loathe, it’s trying new foundations. I want to love it, really I do, but it’s always an expensive waste of time for me. And yet, I’m constantly on the hunt for The One. What I’m always looking for is a matte finish, medium-full coverage formula that can slightly control my oily skin (I’m not unrealistic – I know I’ll end up looking like a shine ball eventually). So if this isn’t what you look for, feel free to skip to the next product! You wouldn’t believe how difficult it has been to find a foundation that does these simple things, despite tonnes of them claiming to. Actually, I wore Estee Lauder’s iconic Double Wear for years… and then they changed the formula and it was too dark for me and not as good coverage anymore. I was heartbroken and have been looking for its match ever since. Revlon’s ColorStay was close – but it broke me out horrendously.
Years and lots of miserably shiny, spotty skin later, Urban Decay finally answered my prayers! I’ve never worn one of their foundations before, but when I heard their new one was going to be matte full coverage, I had to give it a try. I’m so glad I did because it’s up there with the old Double Wear for me – it’s easily as full coverage and it’s actually pale too. It gives a lovely soft matte finish that actually does cover most of my blemishes pretty darn well without concealer – it’s incredibly pigmented. In fact, in terms of coverage, I’d say it’s better than Double Wear, without being cakey (on me at least). I had a bit of a struggle finding my shade so what I’ll say is this: 1) this does oxidise about a shade on me (and on many others from what I’ve read), so you’ll probably need the one a shade lighter than you think you do 2) totally ignore Urban Decay’s colour advice (supposedly shades alternate between cool and warm tones) – technically, I’m wearing a pink toned shade, but I’m pretty warm toned and all my best foundations are yellow based, so I’m pretty confident this one is too and UD don’t know what they’re talking about.
Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara (in 01)
Lancome are hands down my favourite mascara brand, but for some reason I got totally suckered by a QVC ad for Benefit’s Roller Lash and tried to convince myself I liked that one for a while. And then I finally realised it just wasn’t a match for a good Lancome mascara, but especially not this one. This mascara is Epic. Photos aren’t doing justice to what it’s capable of and how good it looks in real life (but see below as I’ve tried to capture it a bit). In a few strokes your lashes can double in size and it doesn’t go clumpy either. Not only that, it really holds a curl too.
There’s a few make-up products I really believe you get what you pay for and mascara is definitely one of them. I’ve bought so many over the years, from the cheapest to the most pricey and the drugstore types just don’t cut it for me. Compared to this mascara, you’ll honestly wonder how they can get away with half the claims they make. Another expensive product, but another one totally worth the investment. My regular Grandiose lasted months too, so I’m hoping I’m going to get similar out of this tube…
Lancome Grandiose Extreme Mascara on lashes
So there you have it, my top makeup launches of the year! Have you tried and do you love any of these?



  1. December 20, 2016 / 9:15 am

    The packaging for the Grandoise mascara is gorgeous, I'm such a sucker for that sort of thing! And your lashes do look fantastic, so this is one I am keen to try when I get through my UD Better Than Sex which is my current favourite.
    I would love to give the UD All Nighter a shot after I run out of the UD I currently use – the advice about the colour is very handy. As if picking the right shade wasn't stressful enough!!!

    • December 21, 2016 / 12:16 pm

      Yes it's the rose isn't it <3 I would seriously recommend trying to get two samples out of a makeup counter of the UD foundation (which is what I did, although I did go back another day for the second one), because it could be my skin, but I have read a lot on line that the oxidising is a common problem of the lighter shades in particular…

  2. December 20, 2016 / 10:31 am

    Thank you! I'm always grateful for makeup tips (I'm so lazy..!). I have the Urban Decay All Nighter setting spray, which is fantastic, so I can believe the foundation is good too. The product I'm most interested in is the mascara though – I've been using an okay one (Bourjois sensitive), which is alright for everyday, but doesn't have enough POW for evenings. I was tempted to go back to the Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill but might try this Lancome one instead.

    Your makeup looks gorgeous, by the way, you're very skilled. xx

    • December 21, 2016 / 12:17 pm

      I'm pretty lazy too, I just spend a lot of money on makeup… I actually think that spray is pretty awful – well, in that it does absolutely NOTHING for me, apart from make me a bit shinier. So by that standard the foundation is hopefully outstanding 😉
      And thank you, although I have a lot to learn where makeup is concerned… xx

  3. December 20, 2016 / 1:05 pm

    Your make-up always looks so gorgeous, you do such a great job! Thanks for sharing these products, love the packaging too. I recently got to use a beautiful Lancome eyeshadow palette and mascara on a friend whilst doing her make-up,I would love to eventually purchase some myself it was so lovely! I love pretty things in beautiful packaging haha x

    • December 21, 2016 / 12:18 pm

      I'm not very imaginative with it, I just got good at what I like to do I think!! Lancome eyeshadows are lovely too, for sure, although not my favourites. I'm pondering a whole other post on this subject, but I'm still very much learning… x

  4. December 20, 2016 / 3:13 pm

    I am definitly a believer in investing in good quality makeup products. The cheap stuff is a false economy, it always looks rubbish on and doesn't last, no thank you! Your makeup looks polished and perfect as usual, thank you for the recomendations, I love trying something new, especially in a pretty package!

    • December 21, 2016 / 12:19 pm

      My stance is that some products the cheaper versions are fine, but there's others that it really is a waste of money and you should invest in the better stuff. Lipstick is one of those key areas for me, as is mascara! Foundation I've found good drugstore versions, but then they give me spots… so maybe it's not that good after all!

  5. December 23, 2016 / 2:02 am

    I think I'm due a trip to Sephora – I need a nice new foundation in my life. I like Urban Decay, although I've also been thinking about one from Makeup Forever that I thought wore really nicely when I got a little sample of it.
    And brows make _such_ a difference, don't they? Mine are basically invisible, so I've been drawing them on daily for years now. I really like the Anastasia Brow Pomade, but I might have to give the Benefit a try when I run out of that.

  6. December 28, 2016 / 10:14 am

    I have the Lancome Doll Eyes mascara and that one isn't worth the money. It's very heavily perfumed and doesn't give particularly long lashes, but I might try out the Grandiose. Even my Doll Eyes stays in place perfectly (as it should since it's waterproof) and if it wasn't the lack of length/volume and the strong smell, it would be a very good mascara.

    I don't think the other products are available where I live, but they'd be interesting to try out as well. Especially the lipstick sounds very promising even though I already have many good red lipsticks, but like you, I'd love to find a perfect one 🙂

    • January 4, 2017 / 1:21 pm

      I'd agree actually, that one isn't the best of the bunch. Grandiose blows it out of the water!

      I have so many tips for lipsticks coming up this year 😀

  7. January 6, 2017 / 8:40 am

    Oooh, I should check out that brow stuff. Mine only grow for about 1-1.5 inches – they stop above my pupil – and while it doesn't bother me on a day to day basis, I look really weird in the photos I had done at work. I like gel products, so that one looks like a winner. Thanks for the advice!

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