theNotice’s favourite products of 2013 | New Year, New Loves… but here are my favourites from the last one

Laura Mercier Artist Palette for Eyes 2013

Laura Mercier Artist Palette

First off: sorry again for the radio silence. I had hoped to get a few more posts up before the end of the year (Laura Mercier Artist Palette, Osmia Organics Honey-Myrrh Lip Repair, and Marc Jacobs Showstopper Lip Gel), but, well — you know how it is. I was hardly the only person who got sick this winter, so for all of you who are still battling colds and the flu: I hope you feel better soon! 

(And for all of you who haven’t gotten sick yet: you are the worst. Yes, you. I can’t even believe your gall, coming over here, all — sturdy. And vertical. And lucid; how terribly unfair!)

theNotice’s must-have products of 2013

These are the ones that I reached for again and again in 2013. They weren’t just the ones that I tried, tested, and loved — they were the ones that I used on a regular basis, even when I had other things (prettier, shinier, newer things) that I really should have been testing instead. They’re the apple of my eye, not the cream of the crop — I’ve chosen them based on both quality and how well they fit into my life.

Senna Cosmetics Ultra Last Eyeliner - Ultra Black, Brown

Senna Cosmetics Ultra Last Eyeliners

To start off, the Senna Cosmetics Ultra Last Eyeliner in Ultra Black. I’ve tried a lot of black eyeliners in my time (I think at last count I had over twenty in my stash), but this one really is the best. I push black liner into my upper lashline every morning–it really wakes my face up–and this one has wear time like nobody’s business. It’s not totally bulletproof, but it’s very pigmented, very black, and wears better than any other black pencil eyeliner I’ve ever tried, whether it’s on my waterline, in my lashline, or on the lid.

The other eye product that I can’t live without is the Dejavu Fiberwig Extra Long Mascara — a long-time favourite of mine. It never drops a curl, flakes, or smudges, and removes so easily with warm water. That said, it gives a very natural, lengthening lash, with great separation: if I want more volume, I need to layer it overtop another mascara. (See honourable mentions).

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

Real Techniques Expert Face Brush

Next up is the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush, which makes blending out cream products both fast and easy. At a crazy-cheap $9 USD, it’s dense and soft, and has completely ousted the Sephora/Shiseido flat-top brush as my favourite brush for foundation or concealer. This is my only “best of 2013” tool or face product — there isn’t anything else that both I use every single day and adore. (Canucks can order online at Farleyco, with free expedited shipping over $50.)

I don’t have anywhere better in this review to put a fragrance, so: Serge Lutens Chergui, I still adore you. Chergui is such a beauty — amazing for the winter, and sexy in a very cozy way, without using vanilla as a shortcut-to-sexiness crutch. (Ugh, vanilla). loves this; it’s the only scent that he tells me smells “really good,” eyes dilated, every single time I wear it. I’m actually cheating on Serge with Etsy dupes (there’s just something about the warmth and depth of Chergui that makes it seem more appropriate as an oil), but must-have status is applied to both the dupes & the original!

Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15 review

Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15 from this very old post, plus buckets of Photoshop. I am equal parts proud and horrified at myself.

Finally, a bit of skincare. I discovered the Mario Badescu Buffering Lotion this year during the worst breakout of my life (I tried sunflower oil and my skin lost it), and haven’t looked back since. It’s amazing at treating cystic acne in particular, and still incredible at treating everything else — whether that means preventing them from coming to a head altogether or encouraging my skin to clean up shop without ever needing to “purge”.

I’m still loving the Bobbi Brown Lip Balm SPF 15, which hydrates my lips like no other, and the Marcelle Essentials Cleansing Milk, which removes makeup & pollutants without drying. They were holy grail products for me last year, and continue to be — with skin as dry as mine, I can’t imagine life without them.

(Okay, that’s a lie. I can imagine it, and it’s horrible. If you have dry skin, you need these.)

The honourable mentions

Osmia Organics perfume concentrate review Juniper Fire

To keep this at a moderate length: here is, simply, a list of the other products that I really loved this year. They’re all ones that I was still really impressed with, and that I would absolutely take on a desert island with me, but for one reason or another, they weren’t as essential for me. In most cases, it was simply because I don’t wear a lot of colour on a daily basis, or because they were only really suited to one or two seasons of the year!

Note: brands are a where-to-buy; product names link to reviews. 


Annabelle Smoothie Eyeshadow Pencils

Makeup (basics)

  • Annabelle Expandable Mascara – beautiful for everyday; if tubing formulas didn’t exist, I would live off this stuff.
  • Annabelle Smoothie Eyeshadow Pencil in Licoriche – through my lashline and brows, when I wanted something less bulletproof than the Senna
  • Giorgio Armani Eyes to Kill Mascara – amazing, but only a hair better than Annabelle’s. If you can get your hands on Expandable, I don’t really see the need to spend $30+ on a tube of Armani.
  • Marcelle Face Powder in Translucent (loose) – this is very, very good, but their old pressed powders used to be even better!
  • NYX Mosaic Powder in 01 Highlighter – beautifully subtle when worn and so pretty in the pan.
  • theBalm timeBalm concealer – I used this every single day, but it’s not without its flaws.

Clarins Spring 2013 Iris Blossom quad

Makeup (colour)

  • Clarins Eye Quartet Mineral Palettes – they’re not for everyone, but damn. That mix of finishes!
  • Clinique Chubby Sticks – the originals, of course!
  • Fresh Sugar Tinted Lip Treatment SPF 15 in Rosé – a not-quite-perfect-but-still-pretty-good handbag staple
  • Sephora + Pantone Light Storm Liquid Shadow in Smoky Grape – for its duochrome finish and brilliantly longwearing formula.

Fresh Sugar lip balm review


  • Mario Badescu Drying Lotion – great nighttime treatment for bringing non-cystic acne to a head
  • Nivea Creme (German) – no longer perfect (my skin is getting drier as time progresses), but still the best thing I’ve ever found.

And last but not least, my favourite ad of the year…

Tom Ford Skincare and Grooming

from this Tom Ford post

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  • Vanessa

    Did you review nyx mosaic? I'd new interested. :-)

  • stephanie

    The LM palette looks nice! And i hope i get a chance to try the Sugar lipbalms one day :)
    xx Stephanie

  • Lily @ChloeAsh

    Real Techniques Expert Face Brush is awesome! Great picks you have here Rae :-)

    My recent post My First Diptyque Candle Experience

  • Ana Leote

    Great post!

  • Lots and lots of great favorites, Rae-whale! I love Sugar Rose too… mine's sadly all gone now :(
    My recent post Winter Flush: Tarte LipSurgence Skintuitive Tint

  • This Laura Mercier palette looks stunning! Also, I see you've included Clarins palette, gorgeous, love it! <3

    My recent post MAC pigment Naked (review, photos, swatches)

  • stephanie

    can’t wait to go to the US in september and go sephore OMG I AM GONNA HOARD!!!

  • That clarins quad!! AHH SO PRETTY!! Great post :)
    My recent post Baby Skin Instant Pore Eraser Review

  • Haha, yeah, that ad! Oh to the em gee… :-) Great selection, you really picked some great products.
    My recent post Make-up tutorial | Get the perfect black smokey eyes in 5 easy steps

    • Thanks! And hah, yeah :P It was definitely not expected from Tom Ford — but, in retrospect, it makes perfect sense. <3!

  • Jennifer

    Hey rae! do you know if Senna has any stockists in Canada? Shipping is more expensive than the eyeliner :$

  • Bonnie

    Would you mind posting the Chergui dupes you like? I tried searching with no luck. Thanks!

    • I'm afraid I can't recommend any, Bonnie — the reason I didn't list them in the post was that I'm not 100% happy with the one I've recently bought, and the one that I LOVE was discontinued.

      This is the one that I'm wearing right now, and for the price, it's good — but it's not half as incredible as the first dupe I tried. CBD do one as well, which I think I'll try next — but at $20 for 0.33 oz, I might just buy the original instead & transfer it into a glass roll-on.

  • murt

    Just curious about what made the RT expert facebrush overtake the sephora flat topped brush? I'm not sure but I think I remember a while ago that you had mentioned the RT brush eats foundation a bit.

    • I haven't reviewed it yet, and I don't find that it, so it probably wasn't me! I use my Expert Face Brush with a cream concealer (timeBalm), and it keeps the product pretty much on the surface of the brush — I actually lose more product to my fingertips ;)

      I prefer the shape of it (domed instead of cylindrical, which I feel gives better edges), but the big pull for me is just the size. It's about the same thickness, but 1 1/2 to 2x the width, so I find I can finish blending through everything much more quickly. If you already have the Sephora/Dior/Shiseido brush, the RT isn't a must-have, but it might make the job quicker. That said, I don't use it with liquid foundations, and it may well "eat" more product than the others!

      Hope that answers your question :)

  • annabelle807

    Hi Rae!

    Thanks for the recs, I'm always looking for a good eyeliner to try out! Unfortunately, I don't think I'll be getting the Senna eyeliner because shipping to Canada is so expensive :( Have you tried out the Waterliner eyeliners by the Em Michelle Phan line? I know that's not available for shipping to Canada yet, but I would love to hear your thoughts on it, it's supposed to be incredibly budge-proof as well!



    • Hi Annabelle,

      Sorry, I haven't given them a try (and have no plans to)! Another Rae has a great review of them, though — you can find it here at the RAEviewer. ;) I did a little searching for you, and from what I can see, their ingredients seem most similar to the NARS Larger Than Life eyeliners — if those work well for you, the em one may as well.

      Again, sorry I couldn't be more of a help. I really wish Senna had a Canadian distributor that I could direct you to! :(


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  • BooBooNinja

    Hi Rae! I've been curious about the difference between the Real Techniques Expert Face Brush and the RT Buffing Brush. I think you have both… am I right? The EFB seems so much more dense and shorter than the BB. Does the EFB pull at your skin more than the BB? I have the BB but wonder if I should try the EFB. Then again, I don't wear foundation. Yet.

    • I think I found the buffing brush to be rough by comparison, and a bit too splayed. I'll double-check and get back to you in a few days, okay? :)

    • Okay, so: I used the RT Buffing Brush again this morning to refresh my thoughts on it, and while I thought it did a really good job (just as fast, just as blended, etc.), it just wasn't as nice of an experience. What I love about the EFB is that it gets the job done fast and feels really lush and full while doing it — which the BB doesn't quite pull off.

      That said, I've heard that the newer brushes aren't quite as plush as the older ones, so perhaps the difference is even less now? If I had to pick one to use forever, it would be the EFB by a mile, but if I already had the BB, I probably wouldn't bother picking up the BB (even though it's pretty cheap).

      Unless it was on sale and I was in need of a pick-me-up, in which case I'd definitely be able to justify owning both :p

      • BooBooNinja

        Thanks, Rae. You're so nice to re-review it for me. I may get it… now you've put in my mind it'd make a good pick-me-up. :) I didn't know the quality of the RT brushes had gone down. That's a bummer and unexpected for a new brand. I've heard MAC brushes sold today aren't near as good as the ones from >5 years ago. You'd think RT would give it a couple years, at least, before mucking with the quality.

        • It's the least I could do — you always make my comment threads worth reading :D

          I get pretty bummed when someone drops the quality of an item, but from what I hear, the newer ones are still really good. I haven't read a ton of accounts about the change, though, which almost makes me hopeful that the rumours are just that — rumours. Who knows, maybe they accidentally ran a bad couple of batches before realizing they needed to sharpen their blades or something! (Touch wood.)

          PS: Have you seen the new Silicone Liner Brush? I don't have it, but I think I neeeeed.

          • BooBooNinja

            Cheers! *clink* A glass of wine/beer/hot chocolate/tea to you, no, *with* you. I enjoy your conversation. Speaking of which, I never commented on your Tom Ford advertising post, nor your "There's more than one of everything"* post. I wanted to, and had both tabs open for months, but I couldn't come up with anything interesting to say. My response was more like nods, gack-faces, big smiles, "hmmm…interesting", and unformed thoughts. The latter being something like "hey, now there are more THINGZ to buy. Cool! No! Not cool!" The point of this babble being — I particularly like those two posts, as they stray from beauty product/release/launch posts that lots of blogs depend on. (Though those posts are good too.) The TF post made me think of beauty differently. Grouping and giving your opinion on different brands' products is a new and refreshing way of discussing what's available. That was probably my favourite theNotice post of the year. Oh, I like the typical favourites posts as well. So keep writing those. Please.

            * I spent several minutes in your archives trying to find that post. Dang you — why must you make me look at good photography, great skin and beauty, and interesting articles? :@ <– [disclaimer: I don't know if this is the appropriate emoticon. They appear as miniature fairy-sized smiley/grumpy faces on my computer screen. I wonder if they appear as single pixels on my smart phone.]

          • :D *clink*

            Thank you for your thoughts on TF! I do mainly do reviews, because they're easy and that's what most people want to read, but I really enjoy writing thinking-posts every now and again instead — it means a lot to me that you read the post and it actually helped re-frame one of the ways you look at beauty.

            I'll keep writing both types; promise :) And I think the smileys appear as such on both phones and computers! It's an IntenseDebate thing — equally silly and fairy-sized everywhere.

  • glambunctious

    ZOMG, thank you so much for ending this amazing post with that hilairs advertisement!! Fist bumps 'cross the continent. B)

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