Auxiliary beauty my 15 favorite beauty products of 2018

In the online makeup community, 2018 was characterized by a series of influencer scandals: Kat Von D’s anti-vaxx sentiments and trash-fire husband, Laura Lee’s racist tweets, and Jeffree Star’s…honestly, I’ve lost track of all the bullshit he got up to this year. Some people interpret that turbulence as an indication that consumers are finally losing faith in influencers and the hype they create. I’m not quite that optimistic. Everyone loves drama, but I’m not sure whether the downfall of individual influencers has caused most people to question the premises of influencer culture. I certainly hope 2018 has generated more skepticism toward sponsored YouTube infomercials by people who "love you guys sooo much," but I don’t think we can know that for sure until some more time has passed.

In terms of beauty trends, I’m struggling to pinpoint a particular aesthetic that characterized 2018. The year felt more transitional than anything else. The beauty industry seems to be leaving behind warm-toned eyeshadow, for instance, but it hasn’t completely embraced cool tones. We reached peak Instaglam well over a year ago, but brands continue to release new shades of blinding highlight and matte liquid lipstick. I can think of specific looks that inspired me (Rodarte’s Rococo-meets-’80s SS19 show was the aesthetic high point of 2018 for me), but most of those looks were one-off moments, not manifestations of larger trends.

Furthermore, it’s hard to describe the "2018 look" when the one constant of this year was a surfeit of choice. While compiling my best-of-2018 list, I noticed that only seven brands were represented, and that I tried only one new-to-me brand (Dose of Colors) in 2018. By contrast, each of the products on my 2017 list came from a different brand! I don’t think it’s any coincidence that I’ve become more brand-loyal as the number and output of beauty brands have increased. I simply don’t have the time, money, or inclination to keep up with the incessant deluge of new shit; I’d rather confine my purchases to brands I know and trust, and I’d wager I’m not alone in that.

I felt pretty neutral about the Glossier Lidstar liquid eyeshadows in the spring, but truly came to appreciate them during the summer, when the humidity index rose above 90% daily. I’d walk to work every weekday morning and arrive dripping with sweat, my hair so wet I’d have to wring it out in the bathroom sink. The Lidstars never budged, though! It’s really the formula in general that deserves a place on this list, but I rate Slip slightly higher than my other Lidstars (Cub, Fawn, and Lily) because it’s such a versatile shade: a slightly shimmery beige-pink that delivers a "my lids but better" look. My one big issue with the Lidstars is that the caps inevitably crack within a few weeks, which doesn’t affect the performance of the product but does nothing to dispel my general impression that Glossier makes their packaging as cheap as they can possibly get away with.

I’ve always gravitated toward lip gloss in neutral colors, but this clear gloss with tiny blue and pink sparkles was too cute to pass up. It reminded me of the holographic spacegirl Y2K aesthetic of my middle-school years. I’d never tried ColourPop’s gloss formula, so I was pleased to discover it was moisturizing, non-sticky, and relatively lightweight, with an almost undetectable lemon-lime scent. I was prepared for the shimmer to disappear on my lips, but it’s actually quite noticeable, though not full-on glittery. I love wearing this gloss on (almost-)no-makeup days when I want just a little sparkle somewhere on my face. It adds just a little… finesse.

In the middle of the year, Glossier released their fifth and sixth Cloud Paint shades: Dawn, a bright, slightly burnt orange, and Storm, a deep brownish rose. I was already a fan of the Cloud Paint formula, having tried Puff in 2017 and Haze at the beginning of 2018, so I ordered both new shades. I wore Dawn a few times in the summer for a sunburn-but-make-it-fashion look, but it was Storm that truly stole my heart. It’s deep enough for skin tones much darker than mine, but it works beautifully on my pale skin as well, whether applied lightly on the apples of my cheeks for a natural flush or more heavily under my cheekbones for an ’80s-inspired look. It blends out flawlessly (unlike Dawn, which is more pigmented and watery), and it never looks patchy or blotchy when layered. It harmonizes perfectly with the plum, mauve, and berry tones I wear year-round. I’ve worn Storm several times a week since I bought it six months ago, and I have yet to tire of it. Glossier seriously killed it this year (with one unfortunate exception).

I was going to write a paragraph about how 2018 was the Year of the Lip Gloss, with interesting shades and finishes popping up at every price point, and then I remembered that Bite’s Prismatic Pearl glosses came out almost two years ago, in February 2017. I don’t know how successful these glosses were at the time, but I don’t remember hearing much about them. It seems they were one of those products that appear so early in a trend that they’re forgotten by the time that trend reaches fruition. However, I’m reliably behind every trend, so here I am to give the Prismatic Pearl formula some well-deserved publicity. Rose Pearl is one of the most beautiful makeup products I’ve ever seen. That copper-fuchsia-chartreuse shift is absolutely magical, and it doesn’t disappear on my lips, but it also doesn’t make me look like I’m going to a rave in 1999. In fact, it looks semi-professional. How did Bite do that? The formula is nice, too: a little heavier than I prefer, but comfortable and pleasantly lemon-scented.