Surprising Beauty Hits of 2016
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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.
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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

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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171 Comments

  1. 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.

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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!)

  4. 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!

  5. 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 !

  6. 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.

  7. 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)..

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

  9. 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,..

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

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

  14. 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!

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

  16. 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.

  17. 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

  18. 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!!

  19. 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!!

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

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

  22. 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

  23. 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

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

  25. 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.

  26. 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.

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

  28. 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.

  29. 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.

  30. 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!

  31. 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.

  32. 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.

  33. 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

  34. 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

  35. 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.

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

  37. 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. 😉

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

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

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

  41. 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.

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

  43. 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!

  44. 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!

  45. 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.

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

  47. 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!

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

  49. 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.

  50. 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! 🙂

  51. 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!

  52. 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 ❤

  53. 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!

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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)

  58. 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!

  59. 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.

  60. 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!

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

  62. 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 🙂

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

  64. 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!

  65. 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.

  66. 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.

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

  68. 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!

  69. 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?❤️

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

  71. 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.

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

  72. 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

  73. 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

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

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