It’s also the year I learned how to treat a blind pimple (yes! There is a way…) and found the anyone-can-use brow product and the $3 lipstick that’s received more compliments than my $53 one.
See? It’s not all doom and gloom. Here are the biggest beauty lessons I’ve learned this year…
1. ‘Cheap’ is absolutely not synonymous with ‘crap’.
Two of my most-loved products this year cost less than a tenner. Combined. The brand you can pick up at Coles, Mode Cosmetics, does a mean matte lip cream (I picked a fire-engine red shade with the apt name ‘Hottie’) for $3.
It might not be quite as moisturising as your high-end brands, but it’s super pigmented, lasts, and it’s cruelty-free, which I think we can all agree more than makes up for it.
The second is Designer Brands Kohl Eye Pencil in Black Brown for $5.99. It’s creamy, long-lasting, Aussie-made, vegan-certified and cruelty free.
It distributes smooottthllyyy so you don’t feel like you’re stabbing and dragging at your eyelid attempting to get the colour on. Plus, it has a gorgeous creamy consistency and strong pigment.
Like every good story, this one comes with a moral: You do not always need to spend a tonne on beauty products for them to work. Promise.
2. There IS a way to deal with blind pimples.
Pimples suck at the best of times, but I’ll take the ready-to-pop variety over a blind pimple any day. The blind ones hurt, they boil up and can take days and days to either transform into a regular spot or retreat back into their lair.
The worst thing about it is you’ve just got to wait it out - you can’t get angry and pop it, you can’t disguise it. Or can you?
Mamamia’s writer Brittany Stewart interviewed Dr Karen Koh, an Adelaide-based dermatologist and ACD spokesperson, and it turns out we are NOT powerless! There is a way to tackle blind pimples and it involves your freezer.
"It's best to use a cold compress. The idea is that you're trying to reduce inflammation so put something cold on it - like ice wrapped in cloth - to try and bring it down that way," she says.
3. If you’re over the age of 22, it’s time to stop using exfoliating scrubs on your face.
There’s this terrible misconception sneaking into the bathroom cabinets of women all over the country, and it’s that exfoliating is done only by rubbing scrubs into your face. It’s lies, all lies.
Yes, exfoliators have upgraded since you you were 15, and too much vigorous scrubbing is now considered to do your skin more damage than good.
Enter active ingredients that slough away dead skin cells in a gentle, effective way to make your skin feel smooth and glowy and loved.
These wonder ingredients fall under the Alpha Hydroxy Acid and Beta Hydroxy Acid umbrella and include - but aren’t limited to - glycolic acid, lactic acid and salicylic acid, as well as a host of natural variations.
These usually come packaged in mask, cream or pad form (where the product is soaked in and just needs to be swiped over your face). All it involves is applying it as per the instructions to the areas of your face that need de-gunking (I stick to my problem spots - chin, lower cheeks and nose) and let it do its magic.
In the shower I use Saya AHA Exfoliant, $32, because it uses a combo of AHAs from natural sources (Bilberry, Sugar Cane, Sugar Maple, Orange and Lemon). Just pop the product on for 30 seconds after you’ve cleansed your face, then wash it off. It’s like the two-minute noodle option of the chemical exfoliator world.
Dermalogica Daily resurfacer, $105 (for 35 pouches), is also a dummy-proof option. Containing AHAs, BHAs and enzymes, you use a little pouch that fits on your finger to distribute it over your face.
I always wake up in the morning with smooth, brighter skin after using this.
4. There’s only one brow product you actually need.
Chances are you’ve walked past the aisle stacked with eyebrow gels, highlighters, creams, waxes, pencils and stains and felt your heart begin to beat a little quicker in your chest. Me too.
It’s the year our eyebrows took centre stage and anything less than ‘on fleek’ is unacceptable.
Image: Supplied. The 'Before' shot.
If the task of doing your brows is akin to stumbling around in the dark, drunk and blindfolded, I have the solution.
Benefit’s Gimme Brow, $39, is a tinted volumising eyebrow gel that contains teeny tiny microfibres that stick onto your skin and hairs giving you a full, defined look without giving you that 'painted on' effect.
It’s subtle and the gel is gentle yet firm, keeping unruly hairs at bay all day.
5. There is a ‘right time’ of the day to moisturise.
Drum roll, please… it’s after your shower.
Doesn’t matter if you’re firmly Team Morning or Team Night when it comes to your daily tub, just slather on some lotion straight afterwards to better hydrate your skin.
"Moisturise immediately after coming out of the shower. Don’t give your skin time to get dry. Seal the moisture in as soon as you have towelled off,” Dr Natasha Cook of Darlinghurst Dermatology told me earlier this year. (Post continues after gallery.)
6. Mini perfumes are the cheat’s way to a varied scent-drobe.
I don’t know anyone who doesn’t want to smell decent. I also don’t know anyone who can afford to splurge on an array of delicious fragrances.
The solution? Mini-me perfumes. They’re all your favourite scents in miniature form. You can smell delectably different every day of the week for less. Plus, they’re perfect for keeping in your clutch, handbag or travel-case (hey holidays, I see you).
I love Estee Lauder Modern Muse Coffret, $60, which contains Modern Muse Le Rouge, Modern Muse, Modern Muse Chic and Modern Muse Gloss in mini form.
And Clean Reserve Travel Spray Layering Collection, $45, available from Sephora US, has some delicious, fresh scents that aren't too sweet or girlie.
To read more from Edwina Carr Barraclough, you can follow her on Facebook here.