10 Beauty Products That Surprised Me in 2016

Surprising Beauty Hits of 2016

Earlier this week I talked about my 12 Favourite Products of 2016, but there were some definite runners up that really impressed me last year, and some of them are downright surprising! Keep reading to find out which 10 products I found myself loving, just not quite enough to take 1st place for one reason or another.
Affiliate Links, *PR Samples

The Anastasia Modern Rennaissance Palette Sephora • Cult Beauty

I know this was a huge hit amongst beauty lovers this year, but when it launched I just didn’t see the hype. Then my lovely friend Kate of MrsLanGlam sent it to my before the holidays as a gift and it was love at first use! This would have made it into first place had I not discovered it so late in the year.

Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation* • Sephora • FeelUnique

Tailwind Visual Marketing Suite

Famed and loved by many, I always just assumed I would hate this because I have dry skin. Turns out I really freaking love it and it wears beautifully! Similarly to the palette mentioned above, had I not discovered it so late in the year, it would have been mentioned in my first place favourites for 2016.

Artis Brush Oval 8* • Net-A-Porter

This has become my brush of choice for Double Wear Foundation! It smooths the product over my face super fast, incredibly even and leaves an airbrushed finish. I really thought this would be all gimmick, and completely eat my words regarding it!

Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Fragrance* • Sephora • Nordstrom

This was a summer love for me and I can’t even explain the scent other than sunscreen, salt air, wind-swept flowers and beach set sunsets. I know, that explanation is a load of bullshit, but it’s where my mind goes when I wear it…I’m shocked I even could love another fragrance given my many year love affair with Chanel’s Chance Eau Tendre.

MAC BurgundyX 9 Shadow Palette* • MACCosmetics • Nordstrom

Another surprise hit here (can you sense the theme yet?) In the past couple of years MAC shadow quality has been dodgy, but these all perform gorgeously and it’s such a fabulous palette to travel with. I love the depth of shade choices; It’s always my grab for when I need a quick, put together look.

Dior Diorshow Pro Liner* • Sephora • FeelUnique 

I’ve not heard anything about these online and it surprises me a bit given how much I love them. I love the slanted edge and the formula is creamy and pigmented and then sets all day long! My favourite shade is Pro Mahogany, which is actually a gorgeous purple-plum.

Too Faced Love Flush Blush in Love Hangover* • Sephora • TooFaced

I really veered out of my blush comfort zone in 2016, and discovered that this blush formula performs really well in terms of pigmentation, performance and finish. My only hangup is that I wish there were a few more shades/finishes, which is what kept it from being my first favourite of the year.

Essence Pure Nude Highlighter* • Ulta • Amazon

If you had told me that one of my favourite highlighters of the year would come from the drugstore I would have said you were sadly mistaken. Turns out that this luminous powder lacks any sparkle or glitter and wears so gorgeously for an everyday glow!

Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation* • Sephora • Cult Beauty

Every time I wear this, someone tells me I have beautiful skin. It buffs in so nicely and has a radiant, even finish to the skin that I love. Unlike most serum style foundations, this doesn’t feel greasy, thin or silicone heavy, it’s just lovely, lightweight liquid that feels great.

L’Oreal Le Palette Nude* • Amazon

I stupidly forgot to photograph this palette, but it really blew me away this year. For a drugstore shadow palette, it is extraordinary and far surpasses some of the luxury palettes I tried in 2016! If I had gotten it in my hands earlier in the year I no doubt would have gotten more use from me.

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Some of the products mentioned in this post may have been provided for consideration. These products may be linked using an affiliate link, which provides me with a small commission in return for providing readers with honest and authentic reviews. The earnings from affiliate links are what keep GirlLovesGloss.com running! You can read my full disclaimer here.

Charlotte Tilbury CA


Girl Loves Gloss

Jaime Pickering | 30-something, makeup hoarding (I prefer to call it "collecting"), classic rock loving, jeans and t-shirt girl - who just happens to love a little gloss from time to time.
  • Laurie Nykaza

    The last thing I bought was a Smashbox Eyebrow Pencil and liner they were great!

  • lmurley2000

    the Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation surprised me the most

  • DonRobb

    Pure Argan Oil is amazing for many things

  • Sara Cehennemden

    I’ve been surprised with Maybelline gel eyeliner, I love his texture 🙂

  • Caryn Coates

    The Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer really surprised me

  • Petra Kos

    Dragon Lipsticks from Ebay! 😀

  • Tina Ivanisevic

    Dear Klairs rich moist soothing cream

  • Teresa A. Thompson

    I have been using pevonia serum and it has really surprised me. My skin feels amazing.

  • Nichole Mckee

    I’ve bought my teenage daughter quite a few Ulta products because of our budget and quite surprisingly they are pretty good. Eyeshadows and liners to nail polishes and eyebrow kits.

  • Jolie

    The Bioderma micellar water surprised me. It’s so good that it’s the only product I use to remove my makeup. Love it all the way 🙂

  • Maren McConnell

    I got a couple Ulta-brand shower gels that surprised me in how good they smell, given the price. (Though not the pumpkin one- yuck!)

  • Sarah

    The Maybelline blushed nudes palette surprised me this year. I picked it up half price, it was super cheap so I wasn’t expecting much but it’s lovely!

  • jemrah

    I don’t have a particular product that surprised me, but I am always happy when I hear of an affordable product gets rave reviews , Essence for example !

  • latanya t

    the silicone makeup applicator

  • Stephanie

    China Glaze nail polish in the shade “Wanderlust” surprised me instantly and recently. Looks like nothing it does in the bottle. Thought it was a neutral muted pink. Turns out the be a vibrant pearly pink instead and I loved it.

  • Michelle Castagne

    The Maybelline Instant Age Rewind Concealer surprised me how works it worked.

  • Johanna Frändén

    Nars sheer glow foundation have surprised me recently.. I bought it on a wim, because I found a great colormatch (can’t be so picky when you have a super fair complexion) and I loved it instantly, great coverage, nice finish and longwearing! I didn’t expect it at all.. since the name, sheer and glow.. is not something that appeal to me 😅 (I have and very oily t-zone and uneven skin tone so I prefer a matte foundation with medium to high coverage)..

  • Spa Mm

    Pixi glowtonic has surprised me! So great 🙂

  • Tina Renee Barker

    Nails Inc. Soft Metals nail polish trio. I got it as a Christmas present and was pleasantly surprised at the lovely metallic shades.

  • Damla_annabell_lee

    Artis Brush Oval 8 of course! 🙂

  • Shilpa Shetty

    Maybelline Dream Lumi Touch Concealer really shocked me,.. I got it as a gift from one of my fav blogger. Initially I felt it will not work on my pigmented skin and dark under eye area… But I was shocked after the first usage,.. I’m in love with them,.. Nice concealer,..

  • Zoey

    The Anastasia Modern Renaissance palette surprised me too! I didn’t think I’d be able to pull the red tones off, but they’re so pretty!

  • Jennifer L.

    Essence Pure Nude Highlighter has surprised me. I love how well it works.

  • Jen

    I bought some Dior Healthy Glow Awakening Blush around the middle of 2016 and I still use it almost every time I do my makeup. It has been my perfect blush.

  • Kat

    Loved the Smashbox Camera Ready Concealer a lot!!

  • Jessica O

    L’Oreal Lumi Magique Foundation! I couldn’t believe how smooth the application was, went on like Magique and I’ve found foundation that actually matches my skin.

  • Ericka Bissell

    Love this

  • Mahdi Martin

    Tarte Shape Tape has surprised me recently. I never thought I would find a concealer that actually conceals.

  • shirleye

    Maybeline products surprise me, I like them.

  • I think the product that surprised me the most in 2016 was the Minnie Mouse Sephora Collection Lipstick. I was expecting it to be a bust but it was AMAZING!

  • Avisha Beeharreea

    I still stand on the Illamasqua face primer, its the best primer ever used! Suit my skin very much! Def a keeper <3

  • Raine Dawson

    I was most surprised by round/paddle brushes in general, it was my 1st time trying them. I have a fairly cheap set but I need a good foundation one so I’m definitely going to save for the Artis based on your recommendation. They save so much time as opposed to using a beauty blender. I also absolutely fell in love with the Pixi Glow Tonic.

  • susanmcneill6

    Buter LONDON nail laquer. LOVE it!

  • lk

    One product I tried for the first time is elf primer…I really liked it.

  • Juliee Fitze

    I bought a cover up from Maybeline that surprised me on how well it works.

  • Solo

    Essence Pure Nude Highlighter has surprised me too

  • Mia

    Benefit Eyebrow Pencil, want to try all their products !

  • Nourax

    The biggest surprise for me so far is the maybelline fit me foundation, so cheap and great coverage

  • Em

    I finally tried the beauty blender this summer (I had bought one about two years ago and never used it) and was very pleasantly surprised

  • Leslie Crosbie

    Sad to admit but I haven’t had an opportunity to try any new products this year due to financial limitations of being a single mom BUT I want to try all 10 above!!

  • Samantha Scarlett

    Dior mascara surprised me!

  • Robyn B.

    The Artis Brush Oval 8 surprises me the most.

  • Emily T

    WOW I’ve shied away from essence highlighter but now I will be making a drugstore trip for sure!

  • Angela Mason

    I really would love to try that Artis Brush Oval 8! Thank you for the info! It will come in handy! Have a wonderful day!!

  • Beth M.

    The beauty product that has surprised me lately is the whole “Flower” line by Drew Barrymore! Really good products

  • lee showron

    love the eye shadow and the different
    tones used.

  • Stephanie Phelps

    Smashbox Camera Ready Concealer really made a difference to me and I don’t try a lot of new things!

  • Andreea Cristi

    Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation is my favorite

  • Maria Elena Fratangeli

    Younique 3D fiberlash mascara has really surprised me it works so well I don’t have to wear false lashes anymore I just can’t live with out it

  • Heli Deel

    Lancôme Teint Miracle … is the one that suprised me i have been using the korean versions and i love this one as a daily product

  • Miriam.M

    MAC BurgundyX 9 Shadow Palette was also my biggest surprise when i got it. its such an amazing palette to be honest.

  • Shirley S

    The Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation was my biggest surprise recently. I loved it!

  • I swear by the oval 8 too! I also love modern renaissance and essence highlighter. Such a great list!


  • Bonny McDevitt

    Smashbox Camera Ready Concealer was a hit for me!

  • Adrien Beatty

    It would be the Dior Diorshow Pro Liner*. I find it a tad difficult to find an eyeliner that doesnt smudge and often result to eyeshadow as a liner. This was an awesome product to showcase.

  • Erica Ellul

    Great post.
    I’ve recently bought the Boots face masks. They are cheap so I wasn’t expecting much, but they surprised me with their quality. The sheet masks (all 4 varieties) are very dense and leave my face soft and supple. Also, they smell wonderful. I’ve already ordered 4 more! Would totally recommend.

  • Ashleigh Swope

    Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation is really amazing for coverage, I definitely recommend it for those with combo skin!

  • dianna1

    for me it was Essence Pure Nude Highlighter* with no bling shiny add to it– Now its perfect.

  • Eg Kaufman

    LipSence has surprised me.

  • Madeleine

    Some really good picks! I have been liking the new Loreal Pro Glow foundation myself! 🙂


    The Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation did not sound like I would like, it but you did like it for dry skin, this surprised me.

  • The Artis Brush looks awesome. It is great on hair, too.

  • Deb Esling

    The product that I’m really loving is Renu28 by ASEA. It has been minimizing my wrinkles, and it’s great for “upset” skin … though I do always have to use a good moisturizer after using the Renu product.

  • nicolthepickle

    I really liked the Essence gel nail polish. The colours are really nice and they stay on super well.

  • Lisa Narciso

    I was surprised with Palmers cocoa butter stretch mark cream. I just had my first baby on January 5th. I used the cream all throughout my pregnancy. Rubbing it on my belly and hips. I had no stretch marks after delivery! Not sure if I just gotblucky or if that stuff reslly works, but it surprised me!

  • Diana Shenderovich

    i`m surprised about Dior pro liner.would love to try

  • karenboblett

    I was surprised the other day when the liquid lipstick I bought by Loreal stayed on as the others haven’t but it still cakes somewhat so I put a touch of vaseline over it to keep it from drying out.

  • Annmarie Weeks

    I’m surprised about the Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation! Will have to try it now!

  • The makeup revolution neutrals vs new-trals palette surprised me

  • lyn21

    Maybelline Fit Me concealer was my biggest surprise recently.

  • Jessica Lodge

    I feel like whenever I wear foundation it doesn’t make my face look any more even or better. I might have to check out the Stila Aqua glow serum foundation and see if it works for me.

  • I think my biggest surprise are the liquid lipsticks of Makeup Revolution

  • Myzchel

    I just love Maybelline Fit Me concealer.

  • Cindy Conner Bowling

    I am impressed by the Tarte Tartiest Pro Palette.

  • julie_bolduc

    I think it would be the L’Oreal 24 hr matte infallible foundation

  • angela

    The Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation surprised me because I didn’t even know foundation came in a serum!! It doesn’t settle into fine lines and it smooths on to a nice finish that blends great

  • Tamra M Gibson

    I’m with u the pro liner is really impressive. My daughter let me use hers. I’m hoping to get me the same when money gets a little better

  • Marissa Cooper

    A beauty product that has surprised me recently is Great Lash’s mascara. I used it over a decade ago and have just recently started reusing it.

  • Jeanne Coulombe

    The Stila auqu glow foundation looKS awesome

  • Ashley B.

    Makeup Forever concealer!!

  • denise low

    I like the roller lash mascara

  • Sam Dorne

    The ELF eyelash primer – it really does lengthen eyelashes to the point they almost look like you have on fake lashes

  • Paula P.

    I discovered Face Atelier foundation ultra skin which is perfect for me:)

  • ahlam charai

    I love Brow sculpting fibre gel from GOSH, it’s Fabulous!

  • monica b

    I finally tried the real technique complexion sponge! I love it just as much as the beauty blender!

  • Alex Nikolaidou

    Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation surprised me too!! I loved it!

  • I finally broke down and bought the Matte Revolution Lipsticks from Charlotte Tilbury last year and love them! I honestly was a bit surprised they lived up to the hype. 😉

  • lisa

    I’m surprised but GLAD to hear that Essence highlighter made it! I have the eye brow gel, and am pleased myself! !

  • Nataly

    Liked the Helena Rubinstein Queen Lash mascara last year. Excellent.:)

  • Patricia Brousseau Caradonna

    The Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation* really surprises me. I didn’t realize I could get a serum foundation.

  • Valeria Beccari

    I’ve finally tried out the Naked Palette! It has such nice pigmentated eyeshadows, totally different from what I had recently bought.

  • Cristina Popescu

    Elisabet Arden lipstick from Sephora

  • Melissa S

    L’Oreal Brow stylist definer has been the biggest surprise to me this year. I didn’t expect it to work as well as it does for me.

  • Tina F

    For me it would be the L’Oreal 24 hr matte infallible foundation

  • Amy R

    I wish the renaissance palette had worked for me 🙂

  • Essence pure nude highlighter is my favourite too, Kylie lip kits are amazing!!!!

  • 💫 Angela M.💫

    I’m amazed by Sleek solstice highlighting palette, so good!

  • amypugmire

    One product I am loving and was surprised by was the HELLO FAB COCONUT SKIN SMOOTHIE PRIMING MOISTURIZER. It smells and works great!

  • Starla

    So many amazing products. I am still dying to try some Artis brushes ! Also that Essence hilighter looks so pretty! Lately I have been loving the MegaGlo™ Highlighting Powder by Wet n Wild… I was shocked that it works so well!

  • Anastasiya

    i was surprised by mac velvet teddy! <3

  • Hadzera Duharkić

    I love this essence highlighter <3

  • Shelly Barber

    I’m so thrilled by the burgundy eye shadow by Mac. Muave and burgundy have always been some of my favorite colors and this pallete really compliments my skintone. Beautiful!

  • Christy Peeples DuBois

    One product that surprising helped my extremely oily skin with clogged pores is the Mario Badescu Silver Powder and costing only $12 is unbelievable to be so beneficial. I’ve only tried two products from this line but both are effective.

  • Melissa Hilton

    i was extremely surprised by how well the nyc conturing kit from target was amazing!

  • Mary W

    I tried Besame classic lipsticks and absolutely love the deep rich red colors. I will definitely be buying more Besame products!

  • GJordan

    I finally tried the Kylie lipkits and really liked them

  • Millin Gujral

    Love the reviews! Very helpful 💋

  • To be honest, I just tried the Estee Lauder Double Wear Foundation yesterday and I loved it! I instantly purchased it of course, and I know that everybody has been using this but as a late discovery, I absolutely love it – I didn’t think it would be worth the hype, yet it is!

  • christina07

    The SmashboxStudio Skin 15 Hour Wear Foundation, I find this foundation to be outstanding.

  • Kate S

    I recently bought a mattifying cream from Balea, really cheap, but I’m amazed by how good it is!

  • favgreen

    The Tom Ford Soleil Blanc Fragrance sounds lovely! I’m going to check it out…Thankyou for this list.
    Rhonda W G.

  • Paol Trenny

    The product that surprised most recently is the BUTTER LONDON Glazen Eye Gloss because I do not usually like these types of eye makeup on me.

  • Irena Matković

    I love Brow sculpting fibre gel from GOSH, it’s amazing!

  • Gladys M

    One Life Hyaluronic Serum – I tried it out based on product reviews and am now a fan of how my face has lost some of the fine lines. I am addicted! 🙂

  • Mary Maria

    Artis Brush Oval, the best!!

  • lihi hershenboim

    definitely L’Oreal’s 24 hour matte infallible foundation! the perfect foundation for me

  • chchachii

    I love that you included an Essence product on this list because I was recently surprised by how high-quality their concealer is, for only a few dollars!

  • Lorena

    The roller lash mascara!

  • Lisa Brown

    The Artis Brush Oval 8.

  • Anastasia

    I love the Hourglass Surreal Light Ambient Lighting Edit Palette

  • Susan Pertierra

    The Jane Iredale So Bronze 3 and Rose Dawn Bronzers are amazing!

  • Rajeeva Jayaratne

    The Artis Brush Oval 8.

  • Anne C

    The Anastasia Brow DIp was a pleasant surprise for me. It is so easy to use and lasts all day!

  • Katrina

    My favorite surprise last year was Dior Diorshow Pro Liner! I can’t live without a good eyeliner and always try something new and that was a real joy to use ❤

  • Kayla Klontz

    Too faced black mascara, just started using it last month.

  • Susanti

    kylie lipkits

  • Isabelle

    The mac sweet peach palette surprised me I thought I wanted the copper one with whisper of guilt but the sweet peach had better colors for my skin tone and now I wish I had gotten backups!

  • K Davis

    You gave me some great ideas to check out. I received some Two-faced cosmetics for Christmas, and I’ve been really pleased with them. They were a new product for me.

  • sissy kat

    Colourpop ultra satin lip in wink!

  • Judy Thomas

    I am surprised at the good quality but low prices of the MAC make up.

  • I love the Anastasia cosmetics and they always impress me. As for something that surprised me, I recently bought a really cheap Wet n Wild mascara at the 99 cent store and it really does a great job of making my lashes long and it doesn’t clump at all.

  • yasmine

    So want these

  • Coline T.

    Covergirl Ready Set Gorgeous foundation surprised me this week 🙂

  • Ida Engström

    love this post

  • Sonja

    Due to some budget restrictions I was surprised at how good some of the less known brands in my country are. I’ve been using an eye-shadow palette with colors similar to the MAC BurgundyX 9 and I’m amazed.

  • sassy

    I was really surprised with bhcosmetics brushes (their vegan line to be precise-brushes v1,v2 & v3)-they are sooo good & pretty & cheap (and better than some of my higher end brushes)…..Also I was blown away by Laura Geller’s blush in Tropical hues (pigmented,soft,bleandable & just amazing)

  • TT

    Bobbi Brown bronzer in natural – as someone with a cool toned pale skin, I was surprised to find a bronzer that doesn’t pull orange on me and looks great!

  • Bianca Rogoveanu

    Kevyn Aucoin’s The Sensual Skin Enhancer

  • inkchick

    Marc Jacob’s lip pencils. I never knew a lip pencil could be so creamy and perfect. I never want to use anything else. They are absolutely amazing.

  • Brenda Disimone

    the oval 8 brush it blends so good

  • bilqees bano

    I just love Dior lipsticks recently.

  • Thassila Borges

    I need to try them!

  • Jane Does

    OH the Stila Aqua Glow Serum Foundation is so good!!

  • alicia szemon

    I have been wanting the modern renaissance palette so bad!

  • nelle

    Garnier Visibly brighter Argun Nut Exfoliating scrub, I have combo skin and I did not think something this would work for my skin and be gentle enough for me to use everyday, but I was pleasently surprised at how it changed my skin for the better!

  • Trillina Palemi

    Too Faced Love Flush Blush in Love Hangover

  • Kim Pincombe-Cole

    ColourPop lip colors (mattes & satins) surprised me this past year. The quality for the price can’t be beat.

  • Nerea

    I was surprised by Gosh Copenhagen Mineral Powder 😀 It has very light and silky texture, so perfect and give me a matt but natural finish 🙂

  • Lulu

    I was surprised Korean skin care is pretty good! Laneige water bank products are super moisturizing.

  • Laura Azevedo

    Wet n Wild products surprised me this year, because they’re cheap and i never tought i would be so good

  • Elizabeth

    I recently tried Smashbox Always On Liquid Lipstick and love it!!!

  • Shang J.

    Colourpop Ultra Satins surprised me the most. I wasn’t expecting the formula to be so amazing. My fave liquid lipsticks so far!

  • Mary

    I was surprised by how good the cover fx custom drops are! Totally changed the makeup game.

  • Jess Z

    I was actually surprised by a different ABH product! The stick foundation! It’s not the absolute best formula per se because it’s kind of difficult to blend out, but so many other attributes to it! I have difficulty finding the right shade for my skin tone, and I was able to given the many options, and it’s super long lasting!

  • Meegan

    I was really surprised and loved IT Cosmetics Superhero Mascara!

  • Kristin

    I just got the new Bobbi Brown Wine eye palette and was surprised by how much I liked the metallic colors and how daytime appropriate they were.

  • Wendy Browne

    I resisted using a beauty blender sponge forever since I already used wedges. I was given a blender and tried it wet to smooth the stick foundation that I usually use a stippling brush with. I was surprised by how much easier it was to smooth the nasal and eye areas with the damp blender.

  • stephanie landeros

    I was really surprised at how much I love the sweet peach palette. The colors are amazing and they blend so well!

  • Judy

    Due to an extreme budget I’ve had to put myself in I’ve been really surprised at the essence line. I really like the lip oil!

  • Jennifer Christina Santana

    I’ve actually swatched all of the colors in the ABH Modern Renaissance Palette & I love the fact that the colors are so pigmented so it’s definitely on my to-buy list😊❤️

  • Paulina Rios

    A friend recently gave me a covergirl lipstick with Katy Perry and I must say I was surprised, I really like it.

  • dorofte alexandra

    Essence Pure Nude Highlighter

  • Heather ツ

    The ELF Flawless Finish Foundation is a product that really surprised me recently.

  • Toni C

    I was pregnant for the majority of 2016 so I was makeup free. But in 2017 I’m really looking forward to trying a new look and routine to match my new life as a mother. Thanks for the reviews, it gives me a great place to start.

  • Hi! The kielh’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate to regenerate skin at night. It’s wonderful!

  • Estee Lauder Double Wear is my current favourite foundation. I’ve always wanted to try the Stila foundation but I don’t think it would work on my oily skin.

    Blush & Pearls by Angela

    • You never know – I thought Double Wear would be horrendous on my dry skin and I ended up LOVING it!

  • I’ve been thinking about the Modern Renaissance palette a lot lately ever since my coworker got it and I swatched hers! It’s so incredibly buttery and pigmented. I wish I’d never seen it now haha

  • kate_winford

    The Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette surprised me too! I wasn’t going to buy it (I held out for a long time) and it has been my favorite since the first day I used it!!

    Kate | katelovesmakeup.com

    • I honestly probably never would have bought it because the bright red/pink threw me off – turns out it’s actually super wearable!