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  • Writer's picture Miryam Van Horn


Ah 2021! You’re here! There has never been another time when the whole world was ready to put the past year in the rear view mirror. So, 2020, you are officially done and we are ready for a new year of hope and renewal. Though we still have COVID looming over our heads, the future is looking more hopeful.

Before I put 2020 in the past though, I wanted to share my favorite products that I kept reaching for over and over again this past year. For the first time ever…here are the WINKy AWARDS!!!


I started every morning prep with this soothing mist from Pacifica. This Rosewater Hydra Mist preps the skin for moisturizer and primer. It boosts the skin with added moisture for a more smooth application of foundation. It makes a huge difference in allowing your skin to drink in moisturizer. This was a first-time trying an item from Hard Candy and I was incredibly surprised with Hard Candy Hydrating Primer .

Specifically, I love that it hydrates and enhances foundation wearing power. This primer has been popularly labeled as a “dupe” for the Milk Hydrating Gripping primer and I am all in on that claim. Pick one up at your local Wal Mart for and see for yourself. On the other hand (the high-end side), if I am needing some extra smoothing or have a long day ahead, Tatcha Silk Canvas Primer is gorgeous! (I opt to pick up a mini version $22 instead of the full size $52). Of course, you can get a similar primer from E.L.F for only $8. Both, however, offer a silky balmy texture that smooths fine lines and texture on the skin. I find that Tatcha's primer is slightly better at keeping makeup fresh and blurring a bit more. There is lighter version of this primer for those who want a more liquid consistency instead and is also offered as a mini at Sephora.


I tried many foundations in 2020 and you may be surprised to read my top two winners. Indeed, foundation is my most favorite category. As a pro makeup artist, I specialize in perfecting a flawless complexion. So it’s no wonder that I love this category the most. Among all the high-end brands I have tried, Laura Mercier’s Flawless Fusion Foundation still is my go-to. This foundation is gorgeous and smooths like no other. It has wonderful staying power and blurs imperfections like a champ. On a more affordable end, L’Oreal’s Infallible 24 hr Fresh Wear Foundation continues to check off all the boxes. Not only does it have extraordinary staying power, but the overall finish is natural with amazing full coverage without looking cakey. It really does deliver on a flawless finish!


Like all other influencers the E.L.F Hydrating Camo Concealer was my favorite of 2020 by far. I no longer reach for Tarte’s Shape Tape. Although Tarte’s shape tape is still a fabulous concealer for coverage, if I can save $18 and grab my concealer on a Target run - that’s a winner for me!

Setting Powder/Finishing Powder

Okay, I am currently building an obsession over setting/finishing powders. Since I have very textured skin, especially around my nose, I am ultra paranoid on blurring this frustrating and most embarrassing feature. Ultra-fine is the name of the game and I find that Fenty makes one of the best in setting without getting cakey and looking heavy. Since our current COVID masking mandate is nowhere at its end, I have also found that Charlotte Tillbury’s Finishing Powder is the very best at blurring AND keeping my makeup fully in place. By pinching a velour powder puff, I pat this powder into place and smooth with a fine brush (lightly touching the skin) to flawlessly blend onto skin.


While strobing seemed to take a backseat in 2020, highlighting was still very much part of the looks and launches across the board. When it comes to highlighting I prefer a natural glow that softens skin instead of a shining beam off the cheek. For this, I always grab Essence’s Nude Highlighter to achieve that glow-within look. I believe it should be the one highlighter everyone should own. It also leaves the skin with "wet-look" type of highlight that is everything.


We saw many new cosmetic lines launches this year from celebrity makeup artists. From Patrick Ta and Patrick Starr to Mario Dedivanovic (Kim K's personal makeup artist). But I don't think anyone made quite a splash such as Selena Gomez's new makeup line Rare Beauty. Among her beautiful line, one item stood out than the rest. The Soft Pinch Liquid Blush is a gorgeous and blendable blush that, indeed, gives your cheeks a soft glow of color. Selena's line is also quite affordable compared to typical Sephora price tags. Cream blushers were a hit in 2020 and one that really surprised me was Milk Cream Blusher. I was always a bit weary to try cream blushers for the simple reason that it would cake up or were difficult to blend.

Enter Milk Makeup’s Cream Blusher for a new & improved formula that makes application quick and easy. Milk has the pretties shades (I tried Werk - a dusty rose) . Simply take a bit color onto your fingertip and pat to blend. Voila! The finish is beautifully dewy and fresh!


When it comes to complexion products, bronzer is my thing. It is the one category I search for the latest releases. I use bronzers different shades not only for that sun kissed look, but also for contouring. On my vanity I grab Benefit’s Hoola Bronzer for a deep contour shade and E.L.F’s Primer-Infused Bronzer to blend out into temples and jawline. In addition, I also recommend E.L.F’s Bronzer Palette for a one-stop shop of different shades for different needs. There are tons of bronzers that I have used for years, but these are the ones I am currently gravitating to.


Before discovering E.L.F Ultra Precise Brow Pencil, I was a die hard for Dior’s Brow Styler. I still do highly recommend Dior’s near $30 brow pencil, but for an everyday, practical (and yet still amazing) the E.L.F Ultra Precise Brow Pencil is best for only $5. Its fine point makes it ridiculously simple to outline your brow, fill and shape. Finish off with the brand’s WOW Brow Gel to set in place ($4!) and you’ll be believer of this fine drug store brand.

Eyeshadow Palette

Considering we had bare minimum plans for going out in 2020, the use of large palettes took a backseat for many of us. Still, a little refresher in our eyeshadow wardrobe kept me “entertained” in creating new eye looks - even though I was only going to my kitchen for dinner. There was nothing more surprising than E.L.F. Bite Size Shadow Quads. The pigment is impressive for this $3 palette and the shade collections are stellar. Everything from neutrals, chocolates, or pops of color such as Acai You & Hot Jalapeno made for an easy pick-me-up during these troubling times. If you are an eye shadow palette enthusiasts, then search your local drugstore for Profusion’s Sienna Palette. With minimal fall out and yummy shades to explore, it’s a fantastic shadow palette for only $11. On the more luxe end, Huda Beauty Desert Dusk Eyeshadow Palette is sinfully gooood, but prepare to pay a hefty price at $65. Nevertheless, it gets a WINKy Award for it’s beautiful butter formula that makes blending a cinch.


I didn't try anything new this year by ways of eyeliner. However, I will say that eyeliner is another item I don’t purchase frequently or expensive. For daily wear, I tend to purchase L'Oreal pencils or Infalliable Flash Cat Eye Waterproof Liquid Liner gives a deep dark black ink and comes with a nifty cap that doubles as a stencil for creating a perfect cat eye. Another great buy is Wet N' Wild's Mega last Breakup Proof Liquid Liner for only $6. It just does the job. Period. If you don't mind going luxe though, Dior's Waterproof Stylo Pencil is one of my most favorite of all time. It holds up extremely well, even on the inner eye rim.


As a makeup artist deciding on a mascara to finish off the eye look is almost as important as choosing a good foundation. The best mascaras can take your look to the next level. From a luxe perspective, I love Dior’s Iconic Overcurl Mascara ranks on top. But, again, at $29 I find it hard to spend when a $5 does the job. Meet Essence Princess Mascara in Volume. While there are many to choose from in the Princess line, I love the curved brush that gives my lashes a little flirty, butterfly look. Speaking of butterflies, another great mascara is L’Oreal’s Bambi Eye Mascara in Extra Noir. A popular item with influencers, this formula does give great length and volume and separates nicely. Alas, if you are yearning for lush lashes, Lancome’s Monsieur Big Volumizing Mascara is a winner!


Ahhhh! My obsession. Lipstick, gloss, balm – all of it. I am a sucker for all. Of. It. Alright, let us begin..

There is one category I refuse to purchase high-end. Lip liners. I don’t believe in purchasing a $30 lip liner no matter how good the shade, the formula or the brand. So when it comes to shopping for one I look toward NYX, ColourPop, Maybelline and Milani for creamy, vibrant and lasting color.

In lipstick land, my ultimate favorites are creamy with a rainbow of shades to choose from and excellent staying power. It was difficult to choose just one triumphant shade/brand, alas, my first WINKy Award goes to Colourpop Lippie Stix for gorgeous array of shades, beautiful pigment and application. Plus the wearability is undeniably comfortable and lasting. Similarly, L’Oreal Rouge Signature Matte Lip Ink gets a WINKy Award for amazing pigment saturation, luxe-feel and a small price tag. On the high-end, Dose of Colors Liquid Matte was my go-to for their stunning nude shades, but was a bit too drying for my lips for an all day wear. Above all brands though, Charlotte Tillbury’s Pillow Talk certainly had one of the best-selling lip color stories and with good reason. Her lipsticks are creamy matte without drying. Plus, the shades are very complimentary with all skin tones.

Asking to choose my favorite gloss is like asking to find the best diamond among diamonds. Certainly, there is one I treasure and make sure not to misplace. Bow down (dahling) to Miss Charlotte Tilbury for her fabulous Charlotte Tillbury Collagen Lip Bath in Glow, or Walk of No Shame. The formula leaves lip lines glazed and smoothed and with a great balance between sparkle, shine and hydration. What makes this gloss is particularly special is the way it blurs lip lines and drenches in peptides to help increase lip volume for a more beautiful pout.

Setting Spray

Lastly, setting spray is a must and feels so good as a final mist on the skin. If my makeup routine is looking powdery or needs like an extra hydration boost, I reach for Mac Fix Plus+. In my opinion, everyone should have a bottle of this in their arsenal. Its absolute magic in a bottle! A spray of this and your makeup settles and melts right onto your skin. A final mist of Milani’s “Make it Last” is hands down effective and affordable. On the higher end, any of Urban Decay’s popular setting sprays: All Nighter Setting Spray in Ultra Matte, Deslick (oil-controlling), Pollution Protection Environmental Defense or Ultra Glow for a glow boost.

I hope you were able to pull some helpful recommendations to try this coming year. In building a list of winners, I always strive to give drugstore options as well. In many, many cases drugstore brands perform just as well as luxe brands if not better at times. I enjoy exploring these makeup brands so I can best inform buyers and let you make a decision that best works for you.

Do you have any favorites that did not receive a WINKy Award? Please share what is on your list and why it's a favorite. You can also send me questions at


**All recommendations written in this blog are solely the opinion of the author and in no way is sponsored or monetarily rewarded for these mentions. All items are purchased by the owner of this site and are not gifted in any way. **

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