Best Buys of 2016 (Makeup, Hair, Skincare + More)

Last year, one of my most popular posts was this one on my Best Buys of 2015, so I thought it would be fun to keep the tradition going and share my Best Buys of 2016. You’ll see that there are a few of the same products that made the list both years… but there are also a lot of new ones! 2016 was a year of makeup experimentation for me. I tried a TON of different makeup, hair and skincare, threw some away in the process, but also found my holy grail, all-time-favorite products. All of these have my 100% stamp of approval. 
Let’s start with makeup & skincare!
Best Lip Balm: Dior’s Creme de Rose Smoothing, Plumping Lip Balm was my favorite lip balm of 2016. I blogged about this lip balm in my night routine post, I’ve been using it for the past six months and absolutely love it. The scent is so feminine and very calming, and the formula is really smoothing – it also has SPF 10 in it so it’s a good option to wear under your day-to-day lipstick. 

Best Primer: Smashbox’s Photo Finish Primer wins again for the best primer! I did test out some new primers this year that I really loved, however I keep going back to Smashbox. In particular, the formula of the Photo Finish Primer is really good because it reduces shine in photos – I’ll take it! 

Best Foundations: I had two favorites this year. Over the summer I was obsessed with using It Cosmetics CC+ Cream with SPF 50. The medium shade is the perfect shade for my skin during the summer months, it’s pretty full-coverage AND has loads of sunscreen since you’ll undoubtedly be outside more during the summer. For the past several months I’ve been using L’oreal’s Infallible Pro-Glo Foundation in shade #207. The bottle claims that it offers an all-day glow – for up to 24 hours. It actually does last a long time (for me it lasts 12 hours until I wash my face). It’s very liquid-y, so I apply it straight onto my face and then blend it in with this foundation brush. It seriously looks FLAWLESS on your skin and it only costs $11.99 which is amazing compared to department store foundations!

Best Bronzers: BareMineral’s Sheer Sun Bronzing Serum seriously saved my life this year. Okay, not my life, but it did save my pale face! I mix it right into my liquid foundation and blend on my face for full coverage bronze. It makes me look sun kissed when I can really be as white as a ghost 🙂 Another year-long favorite was Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer. The brush it comes with is really convenient, I use it for contouring my cheekbones, around my forehead and nose. It’s the PERFECT bronzer for contouring. 

Best Mascara Primer: L’Oreal sent me this mascara primer in a PR package this year, and I ended up loving it and have since used and re-bought four or five more tubes of it. If you’re not using a primer before your mascara, you need to get on it – it makes such a difference!!!

Best Mascara: For the second year in a row, Too Faced’s Better than Sex Mascara takes the gold medal for mascara. I’ve tried switching mascara brands and I just CAN’T. Nothing beats this! 

Best Makeup Palette: It Cosmetics’ Complexion Perfection Palette is a staple in my makeup bag. It contains a gorgeous pink blush, highlighter, bronzer and setting powder. I use every powder except the bronzer (I use my trusty Hoola Bronzer instead). I could rave about each powder for days – the blush is gorgeous and the highlighter is BRILLIANT and so pigmented. 

Best Setting Powder: It Cosmetics wins again! Their Bye Bye Pores Poreless Finish Airbush Powder was my go-to this year. I tried out a few other powders but ended up deciding that the Bye Bye Pores was better. Not only does it really make your skin look and feel airbrushed, it eliminates all shine for hours – which is a lifesaver for photos!

Best Brush Cleaner: This Sigma Brush Cleaning Glove is the easiest method I’ve ever found for cleaning your makeup brushes. I put this on my left hand and clean my brushes at sink with a little bit of dish soap – the grooves in the glove really get out every bit of makeup debris in the bristles.  

Best Brushes: Sigma Beauty is unrivaled with the quality of their brushes. Believe it or not, a high-quality makeup brush can make a HUGE difference in how your makeup looks on your skin. Even though they’re pricey, they can last you for years if you take good care of them!  

Best Face Wash: Y’all are probably sick of hearing me rave about this bareMinerals face wash but it is hands down my favorite facial cleanser I’ve ever used. It stopped my breakouts! Read more about it in this blog post

Best Corrective Treatment: I heard TONS of good things about Sunday Riley’s Good Genes treatment, so I started working it into my nighttime skin routine about a month ago. This stuff is amazing – it plumps your skin, brightens and fills in lines – I use it two nights in a row, then switch to a retinol, then continue for two nights in a row. 

Best Retinol: My dermatologist recommended Avenue’s RetrinAl 0.1 Intensive Cream and I’ve been using it every since. If you don’t know much about retinoids, read this article or just do a simple google search on them. My dermatologist said that she recommends it for all women in their late 20s – it’s the one product that all dermatologists use themselves and it TRULY helps with the aging process. I use the RetrinAl every third night!  

Best Face Mask: Without a doubt, GlamGlow makes the best face masks on the market. This one is really good to use overnight!  

Best Moisturizer: Similar to the face wash, I’ve probably overtalked about this moisturizer.  I really do attribute my clearer skin to both the wash and moisturizer! The bareMinerals moisturizer is really light on my skin, doesn’t leave a greasy residue, but I wake up with perfectly hydrated skin. I use it every. single. night. 🙂 


Best Shampoo and Conditioner: I have gone through four sets of this shampoo and conditioner (you may remember it from my blog post on hair care from a while back). I am obsessed with this stuff!!! It’s pricey, yes, but I’ve seriously never found a shampoo or conditioner that works better on long hair. 

Best Treatment for Damaged Hair: The Aveda Damage Remedy Hair Repair is a lifesaver. If you have time, read some of the reviews on this product – people RAVE about this stuff and I can see why. I apply it after I shower and after towel drying my hair – it works double duty as a heat protectant which is so important for preventing split ends when you use heat products on your hair! 

Best Hair Oil: I have been using this hair oil for YEARS and I don’t know if I’ll ever stop! Sometimes I use it on wet hair to make it more manageable and other times I use it when my hair is dry to make it look silky and smooth. I’ve tried other hair oils and nothing compares! 

Best Curling Wand: You guys probably know by now how much I love my T3 curling wand (many of these products I have blogged about over and over). I use the 1″ straight barrel on my hair in pretty much every single blog post – the curls last for DAYS. Just a warning, it does get very hot! One of my friends in Winston-Salem bought it and loved it, but it accidentally burned through a plastic toilet seat!! (lol) So be careful! 

Best Hair Dryer: T3 also makes an insane Featherweight Hair Dryer. By insane, I mean amazing! This dryer works really fast and also makes my hair feel softer – whenever my friends use it this is the first thing they say afterward. 

Best Hair Brush: You can get a Wet Brush from Target, Sally’s Beauty Supply or pretty much any drugstore. I love this brush because you can use it on wet hair without damaging your hair. 

Best Hair Clips: Still lovin’ my Conair Hair Clips! My mom used these all while I was growing up, and now I use them too (and I’ve been notorious to wear them around town, even though they aren’t “pretty” haha). Their main purpose is to section off your hair while you’re blow-drying, straightening or curling your hair. I have fifty of them laying around my house at all times!

Jeans: This one is a repeat winner: AG jeans are hands down my favorite jeans to wear. They don’t stretch, fit me perfectly and I love the different washes they come in. I bought them in denim, white and black in 2016. 
Shoes: This one might surprise you! My favorite shoes to wear this year have actually been… UGGs! No, this is not sponsored or anything, I seriously wear my UGGs every single day when it gets cold out. I wear them to pure barre, to the grocery store, to Target, even out to dinner. I’ve never found a more comfortable shoe, and I love the look of them too. This pair has been my favorite. 

Steamer:  My friend Krista sent me this PureSteam Fabric Steamer when I moved into my new apartment in Winston. It was seriously the best gift ever – this little thing comes with me one very single trip and gets used multiple times per week (sometimes multiple times per day). Steaming is SO MUCH easier/quicker/better than ironing your clothes. I steam every outfit before I take blog photos, so this product has been a lifesaver.
Diffuser: I bought this diffuser from Whole Foods over the summer and use it pretty much every day and night. It produces cool steam (there’s no heating involved), so there’s no risk of burns or fire. I can’t even explain how much I love this thing! I use a mix of essential oils during the day, and lavender or “calming sleep” oil during the night. It makes me whole apartment smell fresh and clean and also helps my emotional health. 
Luggage: Definitely my best luggage purchase would have to be this Delsey Chatelet luggage set. They’re incredibly easy to roll, durable and come with an integrated TSA-Approved lock. I have both the large one and the 28″ carry-on. Aside from the logical reasons, they’re also beautiful! I’ve literally had someone chase me down in the airport to ask where it was from! 
Crock Pot: I’m LOLing because of how adult-ish I sound right now (ha ha), but I have gotten SO much use out of my crock pot this year. I love how you can put in all the ingredients in the morning, and then by nighttime, voila! You have an amazing meal that’s ready to eat. For a couple of my favorite crock pot recipes, check out this blog post.
Do you have any products from 2016 that really stood out as your favorites? I would love to know! Let me know in the comments if you have one you think I should try 🙂


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  1. Love these picks! I definitely need to be shopping some of the after new years sales! 🙂

  2. Anonymous

    I just purchased the IT Cosmetics CC Cream and the Too Faced Mascara. I am obsessed with the BareMinerals cleanser and moisturizer as well. It has saved my skin!!

    Mel |

  3. Oo I want to try out that mascara primer! Sounds so perfect!

  4. Oh the wet brush has changed my life! I have so much hair and it helps with the tangles sooooo much! I also love pretty much everything else you have on the list.

    Life is just Rosie

    • I love my Wet Brush as well! I have very thin, delicate hair due to medical treatments and medications. I have raved about my brush and told my daughters to buy them for their thick curly hair. At Sallys at least online you can order Wet Brushes AND combs for any hair type. I can use mine on my dry hair as well. !

  5. While reading this post I realize how much I trust your judgement of products. I have loaded carts in multiple apps after this blog post!! Love following you!! Thank you for all that you do for your readers!!

  6. Thanks for sharing, Caitlin! There are so many things on this list that I want to try.

    Katie |

  7. Nice selection dear 😉

  8. Love your picks. I use quick a few of these products.

  9. I love reading these best of round ups and currently trying to narrow mine down as well. I got that mascara in a makeup set for Christmas so hopefully I end up loving the mascara myself.

    Jackie | fashionxfairytale |

  10. That Loreal foundation was everything to me this year! I couldn't go a day without it! 🙂
    XO Janina ❤

  11. I loved this post! You should definitely continue these throughout the year. I need to look up that good genes moisturizer!

  12. Have you tried the It Cosmetics superhero mascara? Seriously my holy grail! I've also loved the Too Faced Born This Way foundation and I tried one from Milani that I really like for an affordable option. I own many of the other products you listed and can attest that yes, they are great!!

  13. I swear by that CC cream too. Its been such a game changer!

  14. Which Alterna shampoo and conditioner do you use? This post says the Light purple recovery ones and your last hair care post shows the dark purple moisture ones. I'm confused…. Thank you

    • I have used both! Right now i'm using the light purple instant recovery shampoo & conditioner… it really depends on the condition of your hair!

    • Thanks!

  15. Love your list! Many things to try and many things I have like the mascara and the Delsey luggage!! Can't get enough of those two!!

  16. Love all your picks! I would have to agree that Delsey makes great luggage and I have that steamer and love how it's so portable and small you can take everywhere!!


  17. Love this post! It's always so helpful to see a post where so much time has gone into testing out the products and seeing which ones actually stand the test of time.

    After hearing you rave about the face wash so many times I think I am going to try it, eek. I have acne-prone skin so I am always hesitant to switch but fingers crossed!!

    My favorite product of the year was a gift I got last Christmas, it is the Lipstick Queen "Frog Prince" lipstick. It is legit GREEN in the tube but goes on clear and reacts with your pH levels to create the perfect rosy shade for you. It is so moisturizing and soft on my lips and the color it creates is divine – like "your lips but better"! I use it like chapstick lol.

  18. I love the Hoola bronzer! It has made contouring so much easier for me!


  19. I'll have to try some of those! Although I swear by my Rodan & Fields skincare!

  20. Thanks for another great post! How long does one bottle of the retinal and good genes last you usually?

  21. Thanks for another great post! How long does one bottle of Retinal and good genes last you usually?

    • I'm not actually sure because I'm still on my first bottle of both! However, I only use a teeny tiny bit of each product every night so I think they would last a really long time! Maybe 5 months!?

  22. Quick question- do you use the Aveda Damage Repair at the same time as the Moroccan oil? I guess, my question is what's your process with those 2 products? Thank you!

    • Yes I do! I don't use the Aveda Damage Repair every single time I wash my hair… I'd say about 3-4 times a month. But I do use the Moroccan Oil every single time I was my hair. When I use both, I apply the Aveda Damage Repair on my hair and then brush it out and towel dry it. Then I apply the Moroccan Oil JUST to the ends of my hair. I hope that helps! 🙂

  23. Hi, Cait!! I love your blog 🙂 Thank you for sharing your favorite products from 2016. Last night, I bought L'Oreal True Match Lumi (a highlighter) Do you use any kind of highlighter? Thanks!

    • Yes I do use a highlighter! I use the one that comes in the It Cosmetics Complexion Perfection palette (I linked it and talked about it in this blog post). I absolutely LOVE it, it's highly pigmented and looks gorgeous on the cheekbones. I haven't tried the True Match Lumi so I'm not sure how it compares!

  24. I love these picks! I'm such a fan of bareminerals oil-obsessed face wash too! It's unreal!!
    xx Tess | Sequins are the New Black

  25. This post was so fun to read! I need to bite the bullet and buy that curling wand!

  26. Crock Pots are seriously a busy girl's dream for cooking! I did take your advice and purchase the Aveda damage ready a couple months ago and it's AMAZING! Love this post!

    Top Knots & Sweatpants

  27. Great post! My favourite one is the Hola bronzer, a must have product!

    N, xoxo.

  28. Love your blogs!! Would love to know your go to "every day" lip colors….. I'm trying a few products thanks to your blog and comments- I just ordered from Nordstroms: Aveda Repair + Morrocan Light Oil (thin/fine hair) — I had just purchased new make up but once I'm out I'm revisting your list to purchase! I do swear by Laura Mercier Radiance Primer 🙂

  29. Which sigma blush brush do you like?

  30. Great picks! I am always on the lookout for fun new products to try – especially when other people use and love them!

  31. These products all sound awesome! I've been looking for a steamer for a while so I may need to try out the one you recommended!


  32. I am in the market for a new shampoo and conditioner. I had my mind made up on the Oribe brand but I may have to try Alterna instead. Have you ever tried Oribe? I've read great reviews.

  33. I have seen the It Cosmetics CC cream everywhere! It is definitely a sign I need to try it! I also want to try the Better than Sex mascara…that has been everywhere too! Great post! I love how you included a lot of categories!

    Cat //

  34. Buy the ALTERNA Shampoo and conditioner at Ulta. If you buy both when there is a 5x the points sale (there is one right now) you'll earn 500 reward points which equals a $50 gift card to spend on anything at Ulta!!!! Xoxo

  35. I just tried the It Cosmetics foundation today & I really, really love it but I think I'll love it even more in the winter months. It blends so well and sits so nicely on my skin-you just can't beat it!

    xoxo, SS

    Southern And Style

  36. These are such amazing products! Nice choices!
    Cloudie x

  37. I took your advice and purchased the retinol product – the exact one! You mentioned you put it on every 3rd night – do you put it on right after you wash your face? Also – do you use the Bare Minerals moisturizer on top of that? Or do you skip the moisturizer on retinol nights? Thank you!!! Vanessa

    • Yes I put it on right after I wash my face! I usually wait a few minutes for it to dry and then use the bareMinerals moisturizer afterward. I use that moisturizer every single night! 🙂

  38. Great post! Thanks for the tips & recommendations. I have one question – do you use an eye cream/gel/treatment? It's a must for me…it's such a delicate area and I'm curious if you use something specific to treat your under eye and lid or if you use your face moisturizer there as well. Thanks again!

  39. Love your blogs!! Thank you for sharing your favorite products from 2016. Last night, I bought L'Oreal True Match Lumi.I did take your advice and purchase the Aveda damage ready a couple months ago and it's AMAZING! Love this post!

  40. Brilliant post about hair skin care! I can't wait to follow all those tips. Do you know BBW Escorts in London? If not you may check now. It would be helpful.