Top Makeup Favorites that Surprised Me This Year

The Best Makeup Products from 2023
Makeup Favorites of 2023

While my blog tends to focus mostly on fashion, travel, and home content, I’m huge fan of all things skincare and makeup. Every morning, you’ll find me watching beauty-related YouTube videos as I get ready to learn about the hottest new product drops, tips, tricks, and reviews. Today, I wanted to round-up my current premium makeup favorites.

Looking for my drugstore picks and more affordable beauty finds? If so, check out this blog post about my drugstore makeup must-haves. Also, expect a lot more beauty, makeup, and skincare content on the blog in the months and year ahead. Keep me posted in the comment section if you’d like to see any specific product or brand review.

Current Makeup Favorites

In the past, I’ve stayed pretty loyal to brands and specific products. Once I find something I like, I tend to stick with it, you know? However, 2023 had more beauty launches than ever before, and I found myself investing in countless new premium makeup products. I’m SO glad that I did (although my bank account may say otherwise – haha). Additionally, I tested a bunch of new brands – finding hidden gems and viral staples that will be added to my beauty rotation in the year ahead.

Style Charade Makeup Favorites

BK Beauty Makeup Brushes

Overall, makeup brushes are one of the most important investments you can make. After all, they are critical to delivering a flawless makeup application. Plus, makeup brushes can be quite expensive, so you really want to purchase ones that will stand the test of time. While I’ve come to love several makeup brush brands over the years, including rephyr (still my fave powder bronzer brush), Anisa Beauty (incredible foundation and concealer brush set), and Hourglass (literally all of them), one brand stood out above them all – BK Beauty.

Friends, trust me – these brushes are everything. First, I love they’re made from 100% cruelty-free, vegan bristles. Furthermore, they’re all designed by a pro makeup artist, Lisa J. This Texas-based MUA knows her stuff, and she’s used her extensive knowledge of the beauty industry and background at MAC Cosmetics to design a line of makeup brushes to suit all skin types and makeup application needs. Be sure to checkout her YouTube channel for reviews and advice.

Jennifer Lake Makeup

Out of the core line, I recommend the Essentials Face and Essentials Eyes sets. These two sets have everything you need for each makeup application step. I also really love their 106 foundation brush, which is a part of the Luxury Set. Frankly, I’d recommend doing a one-off purchase of the 106 foundation brush to add to your kit. What makes the 106 Round Foundation different than the 101 Contoured Foundation Brush is the shape, of course, and it also has more densely packed bristles. Plus, the 106 may be denoted as a foundation brush, but it’s also fantastic for cream and liquid blush or bronzer application.

Pro tip: keep an eye out for BK Beauty discount codes throughout the year, especially around their company’s birthday and Black Friday/Cyber Monday, where you can score up to 20-30% off.

Additionally, I love BK Beauty’s collaborations with fellow makeup creators, including Angie Hot & Flashy and Nikki La Rose. The Angie Hot & Flashy 7-Piece Brush collection is especially fantastic (although to be fair – I haven’t tried Nikki’s yet!). My favorite BK Beauty brush is Angie’s Concealer Brush, which it out of this world. The bristles are SO soft, and the shape of the brush helps you get close to the lash line. She calls it a “kitten paw,” which is a perfect description as it’s shaped to get into your crease and other hard to reach places around the eye. Huge fan!

I love these brushes so much that my plan is to invest in a Luxury Set for the lake home. It’ll be the perfect one-stop shop for all of my makeup needs when we spend time there. My other investment will be the Angie Hot & Flashy Travel Brush Set to pack in my suitcase. To be honest, I’m just waiting for the next discount code to do so!

Lastly, be sure to check out Nikki’s YouTube Live featuring advice on how to clean your makeup brushes. Her advice is fantastic (who knew this specific Dawn Dish Soap was the best option along with this peppermint bar soap for more pesky brushes with liquid build-up)? As a pro makeup artist, I trust her feedback on ways to keep your brushes clean and sanitary. Check out my blog post too where I share additional makeup brush cleaning tips. My plan is to update that post soon with some learnings from Nikki.

BK Beauty Makeup Brush Set


MERIT Beauty

Since I mostly focus on fashion and style content, most beauty brands tend to overlook me for any type of product testing or gifting. Listen, I get it, but it truly means the world to me when companies think of me to test their products. This year, MERIT was one of them, and I am forever grateful to their team. Plus, their line is superb!

MERIT Flush Balm

MERIT Flush Balm (shown in Stockholm)


My favorite product from the collection? Their Flush Balms (in any color). As someone who adores cream and liquid products, the MERIT Flush Balm is easy to blend, lightweight, and available in countless hues. My favorite colors are Stockholm and Cheeky, but you honestly can’t go wrong with any of them. Highly recommended!

Another personal favorite is the Bronze Balm in Quince or Clay (depending on the season), which delivers a flawless application every time. Sometimes bronzers can be too orange or dark, but both provide the perfect shades for a sun-kissed glow.

Makeup Favorites: Best Mascaras

Two mascaras completely “wow’d” me this year – the Tower 28 MakeWaves Lengthening + Volumizing Mascara and thrive Causmetics Liquid Lash Extensions Mascaras. For the past few years, I’ve used the Lancôme Monsieur Big Volumizing Mascara for my top lashes and Lancôme Lash Idôle Lash-Lifting & Volumizing Waterproof Mascara for my bottom lashes. Both are fantastic, and I will still use those in my rotation.

However, I completely fell head over heels for the Tower 28 MakeWaves Lengthening + Volumizing Mascara in Jet Black. So what makes this mascara better than the rest? Beyond the longevity of the formula, I especially adore the applicator, which perfectly grips and separates your lashes to give more volume. It’s worth every penny in my opinion.

Additionally, I finally got a chance to try thrive Causmetics’s Liquid Lash Extensions Mascara. This mascara went viral for good reason, as the formula is superb – it doesn’t flake or make your eyes feel uncomfortable in any way and dramatically lengthens your lashes from root to tip. Plus, it has been both dermatologist and ophthalmologist tested and approved, so it’s perfect for sensitive eyes and safe for contact lens wearers. Love that! You truly can’t go wrong with either of these mascaras.

My pro tip: Invest in this $6 makeup brush holder to dry your brushes vs. just on a towel. Drying them upside down ensures all of the water is out and doesn’t go into the barrel of the brush where the glue is applied. Plus, you don’t want water build-up inside the brush or bristles (think mold. Gross).

Lancome Monsieur Big Mascara

Lancôme Monsier

Lancome Idole Mascara

Lancôme Idole

Tower 28 Mascara

Tower 28

Thrive Causemetics Liquid Extensions Mascara

thrive Causmetics

Makeup Favorites: Best Highlighter

You need to have been sleeping under a rock not to hear about these magical highlighters, lol. As someone who has religiously used Dior’s BACKSTAGE Glow Face Palette (in Universal) to highlight, Rare Beauty’s Positive Light Silky Touch Highlighters easily took over the top spot this year. Sure, the Dior palette is versatile for various uses on the face and eyes, Rare Beauty’s formula tops it for bold application and longevity.

My personal favorite shade is Exhilarate, which is a champagne gold followed closely by Mesmerize (a rose bronze). Frankly, it just depends on my mood on which one I use, but they are both buttery soft and apply like a dream. Keep in mind, these are BLINDING highlighters that you can see from space haha. Therefore, you need to apply with caution and apply it with the right brush (or use your finger to apply to the inner corner of your eye).

Selena – you really did that! 🙂 Beyond good.

Makeup Favorites – Best Foundations

It’s truly hard to pick a favorite foundation! As someone who struggles with hyperpigmentation and acne scars, foundation is one of my most important steps to covering up skin flaws. I take them very seriously! 🙂 Three foundations took over my rotation this year (depending on the type of coverage I was seeking and for specific occasions).

Makeup Favorites Best Foundation

For everyday looks, my go-to was the NARS Light Reflecting Foundation. I’ve raved about this product a ton in the past, and the love affair continues! The formula makes your skin look flawless while not being too cakey. It’s a medium coverage foundation that’s easy to build. I get so many compliments when I wear this foundation – not because it’s easy to see with the eye. It just gives a slight luminosity to the skin without looking wet or greasy.

For slightly more coverage, my go-to was the HausLabs by Lady Gaga Triclone Skin Tech Medium Coverage Foundation with Fermented Arnica. Who knew so many singers would come out with successful beauty lines and products, lol? Sephora says it’s a “medium coverage, weightless, clean foundation with fermented arnica that helps reduce redness and protects from environmental stress.” Frankly, I think it’s more medium to full coverage, and easy to adjust depending on what you’re looking for. I especially love the shade range, which is wonderful for all skin tones and types.

Last but certainly not least, I adore the Hourglass Ambient Soft Glow Foundation, which I use for more formal occasions or when I know I’m going to have a long day of work. This is a weightless liquid foundation that provides buildable medium coverage with a light-diffusing effect for up to 16 hours. Friends, I can attest to the 16 hours, lol. The formula truly stays on your skin (especially when it’s set with the correct primer and powder). Overall, this foundation is my tried and true for when I need it to last all day.

Honorable Mention: Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation. A total classic and staple in your makeup kit. I only use it on special occasions due to the price point, but it’s a perfect amount of coverage. Think your skin but better.

NARS Light Reflecting Foundation


Haus Labs Foundation

Haus Labs

Hourglass Cosmetics Ambient Soft Glow Foundation

Hourglass Cosmetics

Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk Foundation

Giorgio Armani

Makeup Favorites: Best Concealer

Dethroaning my NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer was the Natasha Denona Hy-Glam Brightening & Hydrating Medium to Full Coverage Crease Proof Serum Concealer. Wow, just wow. It’s just THAT good (check out the other customer ratings and reviews for further proof). Think full-performance formula with skincare properties and hydrates, smooths, and medium coverage.

I sincerely can’t say enough good things about this concealer as a new makeup favorite. I wear shade N1 to brighten and shade N2 for a perfect shade match to my skin to cover dark spots.

Natasha Denona Serum Concealer


Patrick Ta Major Dimensions III Palette

2023 was the year of eyeshadow palette launches. In fact, my eyeshadow palette collection has grown to 10 palettes this year, which is pretty insane for me. 🙂 But out of all of the launches, my #1 was the Patrick Ta Major Dimensions III Matte Eyeshadow Palette. Where do I even start? The formula is positively remarkable – highly pigmented and extremely blendable. Plus, the palette offers both cool and warm tones, and even two cream shadows (black and brown), which are perfect for eyeliner (just make sure to set it with eyeshadow so they don’t budge).

This palette is an absolute must for any makeup lover. I love it so much that I plan to purchase a second one for our lake home. It’s an essential for everyday looks and more formal occasions. In fact, if you only buy one thing from this entire list, this palette is my #1 recommendation. You will not regret it!

Natasha Denona I Need a Nude Palette

Another favorite eyeshadow palette this year was the Natasha Denona I Need a Nude palette. This palette broke the Internet, and it’s easy to see why! Talk about perfection. Unlike the Patrick Ta palette, Natasha’s includes of mix of both matte, shimmers, sparkling foils, wet-effects, and the pressed powder formulas are free of parabens, mineral oils, and cruelty-free. Overall, this product is something I pack when I travel as it’s a one-step shop, cool-toned palette with 15 neutral shades. I can easily style it for everyday looks or for more glam occasions.

Here’s the catch – the nearly $70 price tag is not for the faint of heart. Therefore, I recommend waiting for a sale or discount code. I purchased mine during the Sephora VIB Sale and received 20% off for being a Rouge member. The palette is also sold at Ulta, which always has great coupons.

Natasha Denona Eyeshadow Palette


Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray

Look no further than Charlotte Tilbury’s Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray to lock in your makeup all day. Wowza. This formula is so good, and I love the fact it’s an alcohol- and oil-free spray. Friends – your makeup will last all day without fading, melting, or setting into fine lines or wrinkles. As someone who works extremely long days, this product is an absolute must and one of my most-used items. In general, I love Charlotte Tilbury and I’ve been honored to work with the brand in the past.

Charlotte has countless products I adore, including her iconic Hollywood Flawless Filter and Airbrush Flawless Finish Setting Powder (which is always in my handbag for touch-ups throughout the day) to name a few. It’s easy to see how Charlotte makes the makeup favorites list year after year.

In other exciting news, ULTA just announced they’re launching Charlotte Tilbury online and in-stores in 2024. Game changer!

Urban Decay 24/7 Inks Easy Ergonomic Liquid Eyeliner Pen

While I don’t use eyeliner often, Urban Decay’s 24/7 Inks Easy Ergonomic Liquid Eyeliner Pen is a fool-proof way to create a cat eye or to tight line. Trust me, I’m horrible when it comes to applying eyeliner, and this pen works every single time. Plus, the ergonomic design makes it easy to hold and comfortable during application. The formula glides on like a dream, and it’s not overly wet or runny. Additionally, the color lasts all day. If I can do it, you can do it! 🙂

Ravie Beauty Effortless Lips

Last but certainly not least, Allie Glines, one of my favorite beauty YouTubers, released her first ever makeup line – Ravie Beauty. Do you follow Allie? If not, I highly recommend subscribing to her YouTube channel and watching her videos. A few months ago, she launched the first product of the collection – Effortless Lips, which comes in three shades. The sheer, buildable formula is unlike anything I have in my collection. It’s incredibly hydrating and perfect for Chicago winters. Plus, it gives just a hint of shine. So good!

Ravie Beauty Effortless Lips Dahlia


Ravie Beauty Effortless Lips Tulip


Ravie Beauty Effortless Lips Lily


Ravie Beauty Floral Denim Bag

Makeup Bag

Makeup Favorites – In Closing

There we have it – these were my top 2023 makeup favorites. Every single item is tried and true, and I give them my highest recommendation! Overall, there are still so many products I’m dying to try, including Rare Beauty’s Laminate Brow Gel, this Dior foundation, Danessa Myricks Yummy Skin Blurring Balm Powder Flushed – Matte Color for Cheek & Lip, Jones Road Lip Pencil and Miracle Balm, Tower 28 Serum Concealer, and the LYS Bronzer Stick.

Last but not least, the Givenchy Prisme Libre Loose Setting and Finishing Powder. Every single YouTuber I watch and adore has raved about this product. At this point, it feels like a mortal beauty sin not to purchase it after so many rave reviews, lol. But I digress… 🙂

What are your makeup favorites right now? Let me know if the comments below about the products that wow’d you this year and why. I’m excited to see your list!

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