best makeup of 2017 & personal reflections on the year: full reviews


Hello! We are about to wrap up this year and begin a fresh, new year. The year 2017 has been one of self-reflection and growth for me. After years (and I mean, years) of contemplating whether or not to share my love for beauty and style, I decided to take the risk and start The Prudence Profile. It’s been so fulfilling and has led to wonderful opportunities to connect with like-minded people (more to come!). It’s a constant learning experience from the technical and logistical aspects of blogging (i.e. MUST CAPTURE THE GOLDEN HOUR) to learning about who I am in this highly-saturated creative world and staying true to my identity. Having grown in those areas, I am ramping up for an exciting 2018 with even more engaging lookbooks, reviews, and information. Would you do me a huge favor? Please comment or email me ideas of content that YOU want to learn about. I’d love to bring them into fruition and start a dialogue.

In the spirit of finishing up the year, I wanted to share my year-end Makeup Favorites of 2017. This is a curated collection of my top items in each makeup category; some have been favorites for years while others were new releases from this past year and have stolen my vanity. Read along to see my best of the best!


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Best Primer: L’Oreal Magic Lumi Primer | This drugstore primer is great to add a bit of luminosity and glow to tired, dull skin. I use this over my moisturizer and before I apply foundation. This primer has a pearlescent tone that blends into the skin without the whitecast, leaving behind a subtle sheen. During the dry or cold season, I typically avoid matte foundations, which can make my skin look extra dull and one-dimensional. This primer pairs well with matte foundations in those situations. I don’t find that it helps to hydrate or prolong my makeup, but it does not make my skin oily. For reference, I have normal to dry, sensitive skin. Those who have oily skin, avoid the T-zone and other areas that may typically get oily.

Best BB Cushion: Hera UV Mist Cushion Ultra Moisture | A BB cushion is still a great way to apply a light base for daily makeup and reapply on-the-go. This high-end Korean cushion is my favorite out of the different ones I have tried; it has an appealing scent that makes application a wonderfully glamorous experience. This particular one gives a dewy finish with light to light-medium coverage. In addition, it contains hyaluronic acid to retain moisture in the skin, camellia oil to soothe skin, and yarrow extract to improve skin texture by promoting cell turnover. Hera also has other types of cushions more suitable for other types of skin with different finishes (i.e. satin, matte, etc.). Because of the method of application, the product feels light on the skin. On me, it lasts for 4 hours before reapplication is necessary; I find this to be true for most Korean cushion foundations as they are marketed to be light and easy to reapply coverage/SPF throughout the day. Each cushion compact comes with a refill, which can also be purchased separately. Lastly, since this is a Korean brand, shade selection is limiting.

Best Foundation: Make Up Forever Ultra HD Foundation | This MUFE Ultra HD liquid foundation is what I use when I need to look particularly put-together, whether it’s for a night out, job interview, wedding, or special event. This foundation was formulated to be used on film and TV’s 4K technology to appear flawless. It has 40 shades to choose from including warm and cool undertones. It has a natural, satin finish with medium coverage. It covers light imperfections so apply concealer for targeted coverage. Based upon how it performs, I find that people with oily, normal, dry, or combination skin could use this; prepare the skin with the appropriate primer first. It doesn’t cling onto dry patches when the skincare routine is completed prior to. With a primer and setting spray, it lasts up to 10 hours with typical wearing down.

Best Setting Powder/Powder Foundation: MAC Mineralize Skinfinish Natural | Although this is technically a powder foundation, I use the Mac MSF Natural as an all-over face setting powder. Because of the baked powder formula, it is not too powdery and deposits just the right amount on the brush, which is ideal to prevent the face from looking cakey. The MSF come in various shades; I use Medium Golden, which just gives a hint of color when setting the face. I will use this powder especially if my foundation shade is just a bit too light.


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Best Contour: Kat Von D Shade + Light Face Contour Palette | This contour is a must-have when I do my makeup for special occasions. I’ll be the first to admit that I am just okay when it comes to my contouring skills. This palette makes it a little bit easier. The colors are perfect for my skin tone, and believe it or not, I find use for every single shade. I use the top middle banana-colored powder mixed with the top right peach powder to set my undereye concealer. I use the top left nude-pink powder to set eye primer or as a base eye color prior to eye shadow application or to set my whole face if I don’t have setting powder on hand. I use the cool-toned taupe (bottom left) for contour, the warm brown as a bronzer (bottom middle), and the tiniest bit of the dark brown (bottom right) to define the contour. All the powders are finely milled, soft and blend very well to create a natural appearance. The version shown here is older; current Shade + Light Palettes have pans that are refillable and each powder can be purchased separately.

Best Concealer: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer | This buildable concealer provides medium coverage in a convenient tube and doe foot applicator format. I apply it under the eyes to minimize dark circles and fine lines, buff it in with a beauty sponge, and dust my Kat Von D powders (mentioned above) to set it. As is true to with all concealers, I use a spare amount or else it will crease and create lines, and thus, making one look older. This concealer blend wells without separating, pilling up, or drying out my skin.


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Best Bronzer: Physician’s Formula Murumuru Butter Bronzer in Bronzer | Does this come as a surprise to anyone? I have been raving about the Physician’s Formula Butter Bronzer all year; it’s been featured in Affordable August: Best Drugstore Makeup and my No-Makeup Makeup Look. As evidenced by the photo above, I have made a considerable dent in this bronzer. In spite of using it every time I wear makeup, it has lasted pretty long. Recently, Physician’s Formula has come out with a few more shades. I use the color “Bronzer.” It is ultra lightweight and is the perfect tone to be used as both a contour and bronzer. It looks natural and blends well into the skin. It has a pina colada scent, which does not appeal to me but it fades upon application.

Best Blush: Urban Decay Afterglow 8-Hour Blush in Video | Full disclosure, Video is the only shade that I have in this blush formula. I love this color so much that it still takes the top spot. First of all, I love neutral colored blushes that dance between the line of blush and bronzer. This nude blush falls perfectly into this category. It can be worn with any makeup look whether it is dramatic or natural. If I don’t know what to choose, I will use Urban Decay’s Video.

Best Powder Highlighter: Laura Mercier Matte Radiance Baked Powder Compact in Highlight 01 (golden nude) | This is for those who are looking for a natural highlight that gives a sheen for youthful glow. The baked formula is lightweight and smooth on the skin and does not emphasize skin texture. This highlighter is great for people of all ages, including those who have mature skin or uneven texture/acne. It is buildable to increase the intensity.

Best Cream Highlighter: Ilia Illuminator in Cosmic Dancer | This highlighter is the stick version of the Laura Mercier one mentioned above. The shade “Cosmic Dancer” is a light gold that’s perfect for subtly complementing my warm-toned skin. Unlike other cream highlighters, this one is a bit drier, which I prefer. First, I warm the the product on the back of my hand and then I lightly dab it on my cheeks, bridge of my nose, and cupid’s bow. It does not move around on the skin. Plus, Ilia is a natural, clean beauty brand. The illuminator contains 72% organic ingredients and does not have an artificial preservatives.


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Best Lip Balm: Glossier Balm Dotcom in Original | I have mentioned the Balm Dotcom multiple times here on the blog. It’s been my daily lip balm for the past two years. It comes in various flavors with tints including Rose, Mint, Cherry, Birthday, but my favorite is still the Original, non-scented. This balm has a petroleum jelly texture and can be used all over the body, but I use it on just my lips. It does the job to nourish the lips daily, especially prior to application of matte or liquid lipsticks. The only thing I wish this had was SPF.

Best Setting Spray: Urban Decay All Nighter Long-Lasting Makeup Setting Spray |I always apply this setting spray as my final step whenever I am doing a full makeup look. This spray helps to meld the different products (blush, bronzer, contour, etc.) to minimize cakiness and to extend the wear of makeup. This does not affect my skin by making it dry or oily. Although I have not tried them, Urban Decay also has a line of primer sprays and setting sprays for different skin concerns. Honorable Mention: Mac Prep + Prime Fix+ is a multi-tasker that I also always have on hand as a refreshing spray, to prep the skin before foundation, as a finishing spray, and to foil eye shadows.


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Best Eyeshadow Palette (neutral): Kat Von D Shade + Light Eye Contour Palette and Tarte Tartelette Toasted Eye Palette | I couldn’t choose between the two so I am mentioning two for my best neutral eyeshadow palettes. Let me explain the differences between the two, and you can decide which one is more your style. The Shade + Light Eye Contour Palette is an all-matte palette that has all the neutral colors one needs in order to create many looks. The palette is organized into quads for neutral, cool, and warm-toned looks. The shadows are the exceptionally soft, blendable formula that Kat Von D is known for. This palette is great for traveling.

Yes, the warm eye shadow trend has been all the rage this year, and there are so many warm palettes on the market. I didn’t try out this trend until a couple months ago when I purchased the Tartelette Toasted. The palette has a good range of warm shadows that are easy for beginners or people who want to safely experiment with this trend. The orange and peach tones complement one another. With 7 mattes and 4 shimmers, there are several transition/crease and outer corner shades while offering a curation of lid options. The mattes are a bit powdery, but they blend well and are easy to work with. I provided a thorough review with all the pros and cons in this blog post, where I also discuss the Modern Renaissance palette.


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Best Eyeshadow Palette (colorful): Anastasia Beverly Hills Modern Renaissance Palette | This year I experimented more with color when it came to eye shadows. I have heard about so many positive reviews about the Anastasia Beverly Hills eye shadow formula, particularly the Modern Renaissance palette. After much contemplation, I picked it up and it’s become a 2017 favorite. The palette has a good balance between neutral shades and colorful punches of reds and oranges. There are 11 mattes and 3 shimmers. This palette has really pushed me from a creative standpoint. The shadows have a lot of kick-up, but each shade is pigmented and blend super well. A full review with swatches can be found here.


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Best Eye Pencil: Rimmel Kohl Kajal Waterproof Eye Liner in Nude | I use this liner in my waterline to brighten the eyes for a more awake appearance. I have only used the nude-pink shade. The pencil itself is soft and creamy and glides on without tugging; it stays put for about 4 hours before reapplication is necessary. Most importantly, it does not get in my eyes and cloud my vision.

Best Liquid Eye Liner: Kat Von D Tattoo Liner in Trooper | This liquid liner is the best brush tip liner that applies a clean line without dragging, is a saturated matte black, layers on top of eye shadow at full opacity, and does not transfer onto the eyelid.

Best Mascara: Kiss Me Heroine Make Mascara | This cult-favorite Japanese mascara helps to lengthen, volumize, and separate lashes without smudging. It comes in a traditional brush wand for easy application.


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Best Brow Gel: Benefit Cosmetics Gimme Brow | This is the original brow gel, and it’s still the top one. (Yes, Glossier Boy Brow is a VERY VERY CLOSE second). For everyday, I use a brow gel solely to quickly shape, fill-in, volumize, and set the brows. The Gimme Brow does all of the above and comes in six shades (I use Shade 03). The brush applicator is soft and just the right small size to load just enough product on the brows for a natural but groomed appearance. It leaves the

3.0brows still soft-to-the-touch (note: no crunchy brows) that lasts all day.

Best Brow Wax/Powder: Benefit Cosmetics Brow Zings Shape & Tame Kit | For a more defined brow, I use Benefit’s Brow Zings that come with a wax and powder along with a mini tweezer and duo-ended applicators. The picture shown above is the old packaging. Using a brow brush, I dip both sides to sculpt the brows and add more powder if needed. This duo is quite long-lasting as well.


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NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil (top to bottom): Train Bleu, Red Square, & Cruella


Best Lip Pencil: Mac Lip Liner in Stripdown | This lip liner is my perfect nude liner. I gravitate towards true nudes and brown nudes so the color “Stripdown” is the ideal match for 90% of my neutral lippies. The regular Mac lip pencil formula (not Pro Longwear) has a drier formula, but I actually enjoy it because it does not slide around or feather when worn on its own or when a lipstick or gloss to layered on top. I also use this lip pencil to deepen lipsticks that are too light on its own.

Best Lipstick: NARS Velvet Matte Lip Pencil | My favorite lipstick actually comes in a large lip pencil format. These NARS lip pencils have been a favorite of mine ever since I discovered them a couple years ago. The matte formula is not drying. The shades are fully saturated and smooth on the lips. Once applied, it does transfer but has good staying power. The applicator makes it simple to shape, line, and fill in the lips. When I use these, I can skip the lip pencil step. There is a diverse range of colors with limited edition shades available at certain retailers or in holiday kits, but some of my favorites include Dolce Vita (dusty rose), Cruella (scarlett red), and Train Bleu (deep aubergine).


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Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick (top to bottom): Stepping Out & Out Loud


Best Liquid Lipstick: Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipstick | The Smashbox Always On Matte Liquid Lipsticks are in the top 3 most comfortable long-lasting matte liquid lipsticks that I have tried. These have a mousse consistency, which is more viscous than their counterparts. However, a single thin layer is all that is needed for full saturation without patchiness. The applicator is a unique tear drop shape with a hole to retain product, which allows for precious application. It does transfer, but does not move outside of the lip lines and feels comfortable. Throughout the day and with eating, it slowly fades minus getting chunky or flaky. Also, Smashbox recently released more nude and brown shades to the already extensive color range.


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NARS Velvet Lip Glide (top to bottom): No. 675 (LE), Area, Stripped


Best Lipgloss: NARS Velvet Lip Glide | The best to way to describe the Velvet Lip Glides is a cream gloss. It is not like a typical gloss that is really shiny, but it does have a slight sheen when initially applied and it wears away to a stain. The finish of this product is as described, a velvety cream finish without sparkle or glitter. For a blotted lip effect, I will dot it on the lips and blend with my finger. The longevity of these are similar to a typical lip gloss except that they last a few hours longer once they become a lip stain. My favorite colors include Bound (rose pink) and No. 675 (terracotta, LE).


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Lancome Matte Shaker (left to right): Completely Nut, Beige Vintage, Red’y in 5


Best Lip Stain: Lancome Matte Shaker | The Lancome Matte Shakers were released early this year, and have quickly become one of my favorite lip products of the year. First, shake the product in these martini shaker bottles and the product dispenses onto the foam tip applicators. The colors vary in opacity with the reds/pinks/purples providing higher pigmentation and the nudes being more subtle. The stains are quite thin and light, like a watery cream. Infused with oil, they hydrate the lips and provides natural color which pairs well with undone makeup looks. These matte shakers are a great way to incorporate bold lip colors in a wearable way.

Those are my top makeup picks for 2017! It’s been a fun year of experimentation when it came to beauty and style. Let me know, what are your favorites of 2017? Happy New Year, everyone!


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