In the world of beauty, there is a constant deluge of novelty, but real innovation is surprisingly uncommon. Beauty journalists develop a focussed and essential disloyalty the longer they spend in the job – no matter how good something might be, we are fuelled by the hunt for something better. In an industry that spends as much or more constructing appealing narratives around products as it does researching and developing them, it is our job to sift through the ample chaff that is launched each year, find the standout products that are worth your time and money, and share them with readers. To honour the end of this strange, fascinating decade, here are my 19 top beauty launches of 2019.
19. Drunk Elephant Slaai Makeup Melting Butter Cleanser with Bamboo Booster (€33 at Space NK)
This rich balm melts every trace of even the most stubborn makeup, including waterproof mascara. Add the bamboo exfoliator to the balm when skin feels bunged up and in need of a gentle scrub.
18. Glossier Futuredew Oil Serum Hybrid (€26 at glossier.com)
Apply this after your usual skincare, but before makeup for immensely glowy 'Instagram skin'.
17. Westman Atelier Eye Love You Mascara (€66 at The Marvel Room, Brown Thomas)
This is the most expensive mascara I have tried, but I have to admit that it is excellent. With intense pigment, excellent volume and instant length make it hard to beat.
16. Avene Hydrance Aqua Gel (€30 at Boots)
This ultra-hydrating non-congesting gel cream is a multi-tasking standout. It works beautifully under makeup, and you can apply a thick layer at night as a plumping sleep mask.
15. Gucci Lipsticks (from €41.61 at harrods.com)
Gucci relaunched its lipstick collection this year with over fifty shades, and advertised them using images of imperfect, and therefore real, mouths. The formulas are excellent and the shade range is vast. Harrods in London is the exclusive stockist, but you can buy online from their website.
14. PS Naturals Balm to Oil Cleanser (€3.50 at Penneys stores nationwide)
This natural vegan range from triumph is full of lovely, simple basics. A good balm cleanser is my favourite for melting away makeup without compromising the skin, and this one is unbeatably affordable at €3.50)
13. Cerave SA Smoothing Cleanser (€12.50 at pharmacies nationwide)
This cleanser is as effective on face as body. The salicylic acid in it works on clogged pores as well as keratosis pilaris (the chicken-skin texture on the back of arms) and won’t irritate the skin.
12. Chanel Les Beiges Eau de Teint Water Fresh Tint (€60 at Arnotts)
The beauty industry hadn’t seen anything like this watercolour gel skin tint before it launched earlier this year. It can be worn alone or under makeup for fresh, healthy looking skin that looks nothing like makeup.
11. Charlotte Tilbury Hot Lips 2 Lipsticks (from €35 at counters nationwide)
A celebrity-inspired lipstick collection with all of the slightly over-the-top brilliance of the Charlotte Tilbury brand, these are comfortable, intensely pigmented, and beautifully packaged.
10. Lixir Skin Good Skin Day Shaker (€43 at fetchbeauty.com)
This made waves when it launched earlier in the year for its instant tautening, good skin effect. Apply it last thing before makeup.
9. Josh Wood Shade Shot Gloss (€19.99 at Boots)
Anything that stretches the time between colour touch-ups is invaluable. These glosses are essentially at-home toning masks, correcting unwanted undertones and instantly brightening and balancing your colour.
8. The Ordinary Squalane Cleanser (€18.20 for 150ml)
This cleanser is beautiful. Functional, silky, non-congesting and affordable, people love it so much that the brand made it in this larger size.
7. Victoria Beckham Beauty Cell Rejuvenating Priming Moisturiser (£92 at victoriabeckhambeauty.com)
Beckham's collaboration with world-renowned stem cell and biomedical scientist, Augustinus Bader. Beckham's priming moisturiser combines the reparative heft of Bader's skincare with an illuminating finish that looks spectacular under makeup.
6. Kerastase K Water in-salon treatment (from €8-€10 in selected salons nationwide)
A miraculous glossing treatment for hair, you add this in-salon treatment at the backwash after cutting or colour. It takes instantly, smoothing and plumping tears and cracks in the hair shaft, creating intense and doesn’t weigh hair down.
5. Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Longwear Foundation (€40 at charlottetilbury.com)
Available in 44 shades, this full coverage base really does leave skin flawless. There’s a shade for every possible skintone, and it sits nicely on both oily and drier skin.
4. L’Oreal Paris True Match Liquid Foundation (€14.99 at pharmacies nationwide)
This foundation isn’t new, but had a huge overhaul this year. It now comes in 40 shades which is unusually vast for a mass beauty brand. The coverage is great, the finish a natural not-quite-matte that has a bit of radiance to it. A smart buy.
3. The Skingredients Skincare Range (from €25 at theskinnerd.com)
Jennifer Rock, aka The Skin Nerd, launched her excellent Irish skincare line this year and it has unsurprisingly proved very popular. It's straightforward products that keep their promises using good ingredients – foolproof.
2. Clinique Even Better Refresh Hydrating and Repairing Makeup (€36 at Brown Thomas)
When I ran into Sali Hughes at a work event last Spring, her always perfect skin was the most perfect I'd ever seen it. She cited this foundation as the reason. It is the most shade inclusive offering Clinique has ever produced, with a dewy finish and very impressive coverage. An excellent winter foundation.
1. Chanel Baume Essentiel Multi-Use Glow Stick (€42 at Brown Thomas)
A glowing creamy highlight in a stick, this is an iconic product that launched last summer but will be around for a long time to come. It makes everyone’s skin look better, and takes zero skill to apply.