2017: My Year in Makeup

I’d never enjoyed makeup as much as I did in 2017. As cliche as it sounds, the process of applying makeup is kind of my zen. As I learn more and feed on diverse sources of inspiration, my bank of happy makeup moments and memories keeps growing. This year, I’ve started following tons of inventive artists on Instagram, which helped me finally clear out any remaining preconceptions of what makeup “should” look like.


Re: the evolution of my personal style, I’ve embraced color, glitter, black eyeshadow, and monochromatic looks. Not that I want to throw away my brown Too Faced eyeshadow palettes, but now I’m more likely to pair them with brown lipsticks or glosses for a “sepia” effect, rather than do a “bright lip/neutral eye.” About that: I’ve lost interest in creating looks where lipstick is the only focal point, whether that means “nude” eyeshadows or no eye makeup at all. There better be something interesting happening on my eyes (at least some sparkly eyeliner or spidery lashes), otherwise I’d just go makeup-free.

2017 was also the year I finally started this blog (duh), which I’d been meaning to do since I first had opinions about makeup back in 2014. I don’t update the blog or my Instagram page as often as I would like, and this is because I have a real hard time with photos. However, in 2017 I managed to take a few makeup pictures that I would call my personal best. (Here is a post about my selfie struggles.)

Enough with the generalities–so what was my brand of the year?! I’d say Urban Decay. No, they do not have the best formulas, or the most inspiring promo pics. But of the major brands, Urban Decay have the biggest diversity of colors and textures for eyeshadows, lipsticks, and eyeliners, hence I kept being drawn to their Sephora stand.

As for the anti-brand of the year, that would undoubtedly be NARS, all because they jettisoned their cruelty-free status. Now, do I understand that all ostensibly cruelty-free products are made of ingredients that were tested on animals in times past? Yes. Am I aware that the beauty industry has other problems, such as poor working conditions? Yes. Do I understand why China mandates animal testing? Am I happy that Chinese customers now have access to NARS? Do I appreciate NARS’s role of pushing “arty” sensibilities into the mainstream? Yes, yes, yes. However: does NARS entering China mean that more beasts will be subjected to cosmetics testing? Yes. The cruelty-free movement has a lot of issues, “ifs,” and “buts,” however I do want that flame to keep going, because it is ultimately an expression of love for the Earth and its creatures. I believe that taking a general stance that “we the people” are in favor of animal welfare and want to reduce suffering, even in such a small area as cosmetics testing, would make us better.

That’s it! And now, on to my top 10 products (or product categories) of the year. Not all of those were 2017 releases, and some had been purchased in earlier years. But nevertheless, these are the goodies that have defined the “2017 in makeup” for me.

1. Urban Decay Moondust eyeshadow palette

Colorful glitters. To be piled on top of any eye look. Just use glitter glue or a fixing spray, or else the Moondusts are going to end up all over your face.

2. Urban Decay Naked Heat eyeshadow palette

Yes, everyone and their granny had already released their warm orange palettes by the time Naked Heat came out. But Heat is the best of them, and that’s because the colors are (pardon me) exquisitely balanced. As in, warm orange-ish eyeshadows might give me a sickly look, but that never happens with Heat. Those shades are just so… juicy and happy? The only problem with Heat is that some mattes kick up too much dandruff, which is annoying.

3. CANMAKE cream and gel blushes

The well-loved CANMAKE blushes were (unsurprisingly) the best purchases I made in Japan last year. I have three: 05 Sweet Apricot (thick apricot cream), CL01 Clear Red Heart (sheer red), and 04 Blood Cranberry (gel berry; the color of my natural flush.) I love those blushes because it’s super easy to spread them evenly over my Bare Minerals powder foundation and finishing powder. Pictured: 04 Blood Cranberry.

4. Burnt orange lipsticks: Smashbox Out Loud and Urban Decay Backseat

Burnt orange was my most loved lipstick color of the year. It’s one of those shades that for some reason, still remain rare, however I consider orange a beautiful day-to-day alternative to red, berry, or brown. Two examples that I like are Urban Decay Backseat, which has more of a brown undertone, and Smashbox Out Loud, a redder and rustier color. I usually pair those lipsticks with Naked Heat for monochromatic looks. Pictured: Out Loud in an ombre with the Jordana Rock’n’Rose lipliner.

5. Wet’n’Wild Catsuit liquid lipsticks

Of course I like them! Everybody likes them! There’s no reason to buy Kat Von D or TheBalm liquid lipsticks anymore–only their weird or complex colors, because Wet’n’Wild has all the basics covered at the same quality and for a fraction of the price. Pictured: Rebel Rose.

6. ColourPop eyeshadows

I am enjoying both of ColourPop’s major lines–the OG mousse shadows (SuperShock) as well as the newer powders, which can rival Anastasia’s Modern Renaissance or Naked Heat in terms of color payoff and slick texture. Pictured: Making Moves (powder; crease) and Muse (SuperShock; lid).

7. Kiko lipstick in 436 Cold Brown; and

8. Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pens


Who would have thought that the most unassuming, the most cheapo lipstick from a Kiko store in Moscow would end up being my perfect “fresh-from-the-grave zombie” shade?.. For the look above, I decided to go full goth and paired 436 Cold Brown with a black eye pencil: the Pixi Endless Silky Eye Pen in Black Noir. I have two of those “pens” (Black Noir and Black Cocoa), and they’re the most pigmented and malleable pencil eyeliners I have ever used.

9. Becca Lilac Geode highlighter


For everybody in the makeup world, 2017 was the year of weird highlighters, and I’ve also got a favorite in that category: Becca Lilac Geode. Is it pink? Gold? Green? Who knows? Who cares? It’s “my preciousssss” in any case.

10. Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb


No, I did not escape the “Fenty Beauty by Rihanna” craze, and I did purchase what seems to be the most popular product: the Gloss Bomb. (Not only for myself, but for my sister as well.) What? It’s a GREAT lip gloss, a honey beige with gold sparkles that works with any eye or cheek makeup. It’s not gunky in the slightest, feels like a lip balm, and creates an almost metallic finish. The only issue is the super strong peachy scent, so if you hate fragrance, stay away.


Sheer Lipstick Heaven: Lipstick Queen, Rouge Bunny Rouge, CANMAKE

Since this is my first proper blog post, time to confess which makeup rules I follow. The big one is “either a statement eye OR a statement lip, but not both.” In general, this rule makes sense with my face. I have prominent lips and eyes, and with both emphasized, the whole becomes too overwhelming. When I create bold eye looks, which is fairly often, I balance them out with sheer or nude lip products.

This post is about three of my favorites in the sheer lipstick category. I find that glossy lipsticks on the red to berry spectrum make my lips look especially juicy.


They might not look like much in swatches, but it’s not like we buy products just to swatch them, do we?

Lipstick Queen Medieval

I’ve had this tube since forever ago, hence it looks quite beat up. The lettering is bound to be worn down to mysterious runes.


Why the name Medieval? Lipstick Queen spins a macabre tale about actual medieval women defying church rules against lipstick and rubbing lemons on their lips to bring out a bloody tint. Um… sounds painful, no thanks. There are products on the market that mimic that kind of blushy effect, but fortunately, Medieval is much richer and oilier than those.


In the pic above, I’m wearing Medieval with a cranberry-ish eye look (TheBalm Meet Matt(e) Trimony palette) and the Milani Luminoso blush.

Of all the lipsticks I’m covering today, Medieval is the reddest. Depending on the lighting, it might show up as an airier version of tomato red, or as a nondescript my-lips-but-redder color. In my review of Medieval published on Instagram on 2015, I mentioned that the red pigment doesn’t apply evenly (i.e., it balls up). However, I haven’t had that problem in a while, probably because my lips are now in a better condition and there are no dry patches that would cause uneven application.

Rouge Bunny Rouge Relish of Heaven

The whole Rouge Bunny Rouge concept reminds me of the Japanese “Mori” fashion, girls dressing like dreamy woodland creatures. I want to listen to Alison Goldfrapp’s first album, Felt Mountain, when I put that stuff on my face. (Yea, I became a music fan in the late 1990s.) Everything about the UK-based brand is whimsical and delicate, down to the product names. The sheer lipstick range is called Succulence of Dew, and other shades have names such as Jasmine-Weighted Air and Perfume of his Gaze. That’s all right, Rouge Bunny Rouge, I forgive you for these naming conventions, because the products are pretty damn solid.


Relish of Heaven looks warmer in the tube than it does on the lips, at first I even took it for an orange red. In reality, it has more of a reddish berry tone. It feels less oily than Medieval, and creates a vinyl or jelly finish. It’s also quite pigmented and wears down to a noticeable stain. When jelly-like lipsticks or glosses are on the pigmented side, there is an expectation that they might slip and slide, but Relish of Heaven is satisfyingly grabby.


The look above also features warm eyeshadows from the Too Faced Semi-Sweet palette and a green eye pencil (Urban Decay Mars).

One thing I dislike about RBR lipsticks is that their tubes’ caps fly off like nobody’s business, and furthermore they don’t sit tight enough. I’ve had a few Wet’n’Wild lipsticks get moldy or smooshed due to craptastic caps, and I am worried for the fate of my RBRs, especially since they are not easily obtainable in the U.S.

CANMAKE 05 Dark Raspberry

If Rouge Bunny Rouge brings to mind the Mori style, Japanese drugstore brand CANMAKE is full-on princessy, as this lipstick’s packaging demonstrates.


Well, it’s not technically a lipstick, but a Jelly Gloss Stick, a lipstick/gloss hybrid. Of the three swatches above, Dark Raspberry is the most reflective. I’ve become enamored with wet, balmy finishes on my recent trip to Japan, where this kind of lip look is mainstream and heavily promoted by beauty magazines.


The Japanese lip look also goes great with the all-American Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance palette.

The Jelly Gloss Stick is so dainty and emollient, it literally starts to melt in the tube on contact with my lips. I’ve never had such a thing happen with any other lip product! (It hardens back after application.) Moreover, per Citrine’s Blog, the brand recommends twisting up just a little bit at a time, or else the lipstick might get destroyed. Should I also wrap it in a blankie and bring it a cup of hot chocolate, while I’m at it?

Oh well, I guess I’ll be gentle with this bad boy–in addition to being easy on the eyes, Dark Raspberry brings back sweet memories of Japan.


SWEET, SWEET memories. This is what my hubby and I ate in Tokyo.