Sarah’s Beauty Favourites 2019

Hello again! Happy New Year!

Our hiatus has finally reached an end, and Pragmatic Beauty is getting back on track with new posts about skincare, cosmetics, and lifestyle for the year 2020. Sara and I had a very busy 2019, some of which we’ll probably be talking about here. But I thought it would be nice to get the year started the same way we have since we launched in 2017 – with beauty favourites from the previous year!

With how busy the year got, I struggled to think of all the new products that I tried. I initially thought that I had simply maintained my routines from the previous year, but as it turns out, I made some significant changes to my skincare and added some new products to my make-up collection.

Let’s get started!


Cerave Foaming and Hydrating Facial Cleanser

After years of relying on Fresh Soy Face Cleanser, I can’t believe that I made the switch to a different cleanser this year. I kept seeing Cerave in YouTube videos, and I purchased my first bottle on-sale thinking, what that heck? The worst thing that happens is I go back to Fresh, which I know works for my skin.

I haven’t gone back to Fresh. Cerave cleansers, of which I have now tried two – both hydrating (which is a cream cleanser) and foaming – are wonderful. I like the foaming more with my current cleansing balm, but the cream cleanser was wonderfully gentle and moisturizing for my skin. I love the price point on these, the fact that they’re dermatologist recommended, and that they are more readily available than Fresh or other high-end cleansers.

Naked Kitty Cleansing Balm

I’m not being hyperbolic when I say that this is one of the best cleansing balms I’ve ever used. The formula works well at protecting the natural oils in my skin, but it’s hardy enough to breakdown even my heaviest make-up, including waterproof mascara. I find I need a foaming cleanser to fully wash the balm off, but it’s well worth it. I’m especially loving this cleansing balm now that it’s winter and my skin needs all the moisture that it can get.

The Ordinary Granactive Retinoid Emulsion

I was reluctant to try anti-aging products after watching an episode of Timothy Caulfield’s A User’s Guide to Cheating Death, which suggests that the best anti-aging treatments for skin involve SPF, not smoking, and genetics. However, I was testing out the Ordinary’s skincare products earlier in the year and decided to include this one in my order.

I love it. The Ordinary’s Retinoid Emulsion leaves my skin feeling hydrated and smooth. I have noticed that some of the fine lines on my forehead are less visible with regular use. As with any product containing retinol, it’s important to only apply this product at night and wear sunscreen during the day (retinoids make the skin more photosensitive and susceptible to burning).


Head’s up – most of the products on this list are eyeshadow palettes! 2019 saw me hitting pan with one of my old faithfuls and falling in love with new products. I’ll start with my new standard:

Urban Decay Naked Reloaded

My go-to neutral palette for the past few years has been the Urban Decay Gwen Stefani palette, and while it has held up to numerous trips and near daily applications, I finally hit pan on several of the shadows and felt it was time to seek out a new cool-toned neutral palette. The Naked Reloaded palette had just dropped, and I thought I would give it a shot based on its price point and its shade range. It has now become one of my standard travel palettes, not to mention the palette I used almost exclusively while moving this past fall. The shade range gives a lot of options for looks. I like that the two outermost shades come in larger pans as they’ll be used more often (I’m already hitting pan on one of the shades though, so they’re not quite big enough). I do still believe every neutral palette should come with a black eyeshadow and dislike that this one doesn’t, but that’s really my only criticism. I love this palette.

Melt Gemini

I wanted this palette so badly in 2017 that I ordered a dupe from Colour Pop and thought that would sufficient. It wasn’t. I wanted this palette. I love this palette. I love the shade range, I love how buildable it is. Most of all, I love the quality of Melt eyeshadows. The mattes blend beautifully. The metallics are buttery and smooth, yielding very little fallout. And the colour story on this palette, the warm browns and golds, the rich greens, and the black eyeshadow right in the centre: this palette won’t be for everybody, but it is definitely for me.

Melt Vida and Muerte

Released together as part of the Amor Eterno collection, I initially only had my eyes on the Muerte palette. I thought that the cool, jewel tones, the rich burgundies and stunning teals were perfect additions for my collection. Once I received that palette, however, I was reminded of why I fell in love with Melt’s Gemini palette. The packaging is amazing, and I don’t care about packaging. These are huge pans of colour, and every shadow is formulated to perfection. I felt compelled to order the Vida palette as well. And I regret nothing. The Vida palette is just as well-constructed. I wore these shadows over the holidays. They will transition easily from day to night, from winter to summer. There’s so much variety in terms of the looks that they can create. They’re not for everybody, but they are definitely for me.

Anastacia DIPBROW Gel

After years of pencilling in my brows, I finally switched to brow gel, and I love it so much. The application process with Anastacia DIPBROW is so much faster and natural-looking. It takes the guess work out of filling in my brows, saving time on my routine in the morning. It’s also been a really good way for me to minimize my make-up routine. It’s so easy to throw some of this on with some mascara just to bring some colour into my brows on days when I don’t want to wear a full face of make-up.

Fenty Sun Stalk’r Instant Warmth Bronzer

It’s so hard to find bronzer for pale skin, but if any company was going to do it, it was going to be Fenty, and they did it. The Sun Stalk’r Bronzer is a great formula. It blends beautifully on the skin. And the shade range is such that even people paler than me can get great contouring on their faces. I have relied on this powder since purchasing, and I will be replacing it when I finally hit pan – which I haven’t yet! And that’s with almost daily use!


Amika Perk-Up Dry Shampoo

My mission to find the best dry shampoo, something that doesn’t have an overwhelming smell, that doesn’t clump on the hair, and that looks and feels totally natural finally came to an end last summer with Amika Perk-Up Dry Shampoo. I only have a little bottle of it, but it is a phenomenal formula, because I’m still working my way through that same bottle since this summer. It’s amazing. It doesn’t weigh down my fine hair, and I can still run my fingers through my locks as if they were just washed.

That wraps it up for my 10 beauty favs in 2019! What were some of your favourite products from the past year? Is there anything you won’t buy again?

Happy New Year!

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