I love makeup. Duh.
Now, for those of you on other continents, South Africa does not have Sephora, Ulta, or AFTERBeauty. We can’t order big brands online because they either don’t ship to South Africa or the shipping is so expensive, it’s not worth entrusting the South African Post Office with it. So what did I do during my year in Sweden? I bulk bought cosmetics and makeup and spent way too much money at Sephora in Gothenburg. I found many products that are completely overrated but eventually settled on my go-tos and special occasion items that I’ll probably buy again the next time I go across the pond.
This goes without saying. I love Riri and I love Fenty Beauty. These are my favourite Fenty products that I’ll buy again and again.
Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Primer: Even though Fenty has a mattifying primer, this is universal primer for when my skin is oily or needs a little bit of moisture. It’s truly shine-stopping and smoothing. It makes for easy foundation application – especially with fellow Fenty products and Nars foundations – and lasts for as long as your foundation does without breaking up from underneath.
Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation: With a buildable, medium to full coverage and coming in 50 shades, the foundation truly is groundbreaking and one of my many loves in makeup and in life. From first application to the time I wash it off, it stays and doesn’t transfer much during the day. It’s worth every damn cent. I love how it feels on my skin – it’s velvety and as light as you want depending on how much you build it up. Also, IT’S IN MY SKIN SHADE!
Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Concealer: Perfectly complementing the foundation, I didn’t need to search for my shade because they directly correlate. It’s lightweight – almost like a mousse but not quite – and brightening. It’s magic for erasing bad days and bad decisions.
Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Powder Foundation: I keep this in my handbag and could not believe that a powder foundation could be so stunning. This is perfect for those oily days when I feel like a samoosa factory. With its own applicator or a brush or Beauty Blender, the finish is non-cakey, matte, and flawless.
Pro Filt’r Instant Retouch Powder: It’s superfine, weightless, and a loose setting powder that is not only colour-matching but also sheer at the same time (what?!). I found that it extended my makeup wear and set my under eyes almost as well as the Laura Mercier powder (more on that later). It smells like nutmeg and feels like fairy dust.
Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Blush: I was dubious because it’s a cream blush but it’s surprisingly non-greasy and melts into my cheeks as if it’s a natural wash of colour.
Cheeks Out Freestyle Cream Bronzer: After the disaster that was my “Why are you brown?” debacle on the bus earlier last year that resulted in my old bronzer meeting an undignified end, I found this bronzer that pretty much blesses the skin and (for me, at least) makes it look like I’ve been getting sun, sleep, enough water, and plenty of good sex. Exaggeration, you say? Nah. Trust me on this one.
Killawatt Freestyle Highlighter: Let’s put it this way – if Fenty was a religion, these highlighters would be the body of Christ. Aside from being lightweight and all-day wearing, the fact that it’s a hybrid powder-cream means it blends effortlessly and gives an ultra-fine shine and brightness. My favourite shade is definitely the shade Trophy Wife, which is bold, gold, and unapologetic AF.
Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminiser: The one lip gloss that feels like heaven instead of a sticky mess. It’s moisturising, plumping, conditioning, and non-sticky. You can wear it super shiny or matte it down with a lipstick ombre.
Flyliner Longwear Liquid Eyeliner: I want to have babies with this eyeliner. The colour is super saturated with a matte finish, water-resistant, and has a flex tip. The triangle shape of the pen itself makes a winged liner effortless. It’s pretty fly, as the name suggests.
What It Dew Makeup Refreshing Spray: This. Is. Magic. In. A. Bottle. I’m never using another setting spray again. That’s all.
2. Huda Beauty The Overachiever Concealer
Even though Huda Kattan is a brown woman, her colour range is sometimes not all that flattering to dark skin so this is the only products of hers I actually like. And I don’t even use it as a concealer; I use it as a contour cream. It’s so good, I bought three to stockpile. It blends easily and goes well with all of my foundations, and is subtle enough to be natural or buildable for me to look like Angelina Jolie on a fat day.
3. NARS Cosmetics
The entire brand is built on this French guy’s love of sex, apparently. So every colour in their range is risqué and kind of sexy. So yes, of course I had to get in on it all. I mean, come on. The blush is called “Orgasm”.
Natural Radiant Longwear Foundation: Even though there are only 34 shades here, I managed to find one that fit my winter face perfectly. The range of undertones is what won me over, honestly. And it feels like spreading melted Lindor on my skin. Don’t ask me why I know what that feels like.
Radiant Creamy Concealer: A winner as well. It’s brightening, almost full coverage, and long-lasting. There’s not much else I can say.
Velvet Matte Lip Pencil: Nope. Not just a lip pencil. A lipstick in pencil form that goes from a liner to an actual lipstick depending on which angle you use it. It lasts all freaking day. Like, really. It’s so smooth you can even use it under your eye, though I wouldn’t suggest it because I stabbed myself with it and it wasn’t nice.
4. Too Faced
After the company fired one of the co-founders for being transphobic, I felt like I could get behind Too Faced. Despite the name, the brand is quite transparent about how their products are made, how and from where the ingredients are sourced, and who benefits from their special launches. I like this.
Hangover Primer: This is for the really bad days. And I do mean it’s a lifesaver. Especially when you wake up the morning after too much wine and singing Incomplete by the Backstreet Boys into a spatula at your housemate’s birthday party and then have lunch with the girls the next day. Yep, this happened. Don’t judge me. The primer saved my skin.
Born This Way Natural Finish Foundation: So good I also bought three of these. It helped that Sephora had a sale on my shade and the Nordics have a thing about not selling out on darker shades. I wonder why? Slightly darker than my usual shades, I loved this for those summer days after coming back from swimming at a lake in the sun all day.
Born This Way Super Coverage Concealer: It truly is super coverage so I never needed to touch up. Actually, it’s more like a foundation that has the lightness of a concealer and all I can say is they slaughtered some virgins at the altar of science to make this stuff.
Better Than Sex Eyeliner: I don’t usually like waterproof eyeliners but this is seriously beautiful. Just like the Fenty Flyliner, it’s hyper-pigmented and flexible but that tip is super bendy so you can get any shape you want on your eyelid. And although I like the mascara, which is everyone’s favourite, this one takes it for me out of all the Too Faced products.
5. Tarte Cosmetics
Everyone here knows I find it ridiculous how brands that have been around for years have such limited AF shade ranges. Tarte has unfortunately been one of those brands that never has enough for people of colour. But when they do, boy, do they deliver!
Amazonian clay full coverage foundation: The texture is my favourite thing. It’s oil-free, vegan, matte and liquid. In one. And it’s super full coverage, blends gorgeously, and plays SO well with my current skincare. (If you use Dr Jart+ moisturisers, this foundation is magic with them.) It’s long-wearing but not transfer-proof. Should I have a nap in the middle of the day, my pillowcast is covered in makeup.
Shape Tape™ Ultra Creamy Concealer: There’s a reason this is a worldwide bestseller and they can never stop making it because I think there will be riots. It’s perfection in a bottle and hides every mistake I’ve ever made in life.
Tarteist™ Pro Remix Amazonian Clay Palette: This pallete is all about the pigment. It’s rich, vibrant, and 20-shades of glitteriness. The colours are perfect for darker skin and I love very single colour. Even the dirtiest-looking greens piqued my interest and looked amazing.
6. Buxom Plumpline™ Lip Liner: If anyone can send me a tonne of these in the colour Stakeout, you’ll be my bestest friend in the whole widest world. Glides on easily, has a brush to feather it out nicely, and stays the whole day.
7. Make Up Forever Matte Velvet Skin Compact: So I usually don’t like Make Up Forever’s anything but this is full coverage, blurring, and has a nice matte finish that doesn’t make your skin look flat. What I like the most is that it breathes. The brand claims it doesn’t cake, flake, or fade but that’s a lie. It’s good for short days where you need to pop out for a few hours rather than a full day of wearing. It’s a good foundation for on-the-go application in the car and whatnot. It does transfer quite badly onto my mask.
8. Anastasia Beverly Hills Soft Glam II Mini Eyeshadow Palette: I love it. It’s got both warm and cool tones and neutral shades and is packaged in a travel size. I found it the perfect combination of matte, satin, and metallic finishes that are so intensely pigmented that you don’t need to pack it on the brush. Even though there’s a little more fallout than I’d like, they’re easy to blend for natural and glam looks.
9. Laura Mercier Translucent Loose Setting Powder: My absolute favourite powder of all time. It’s lightweight, blends effortlessly, lasts about 16 or so hours, and looks natural. The best thing about it is that it maintains the colour of your foundation and prevents cracking, flaking, fading, or transferring as much as possible (considering the foundation). Perfect for oily skin, like mine.
Should you want to order any of these online, be aware that parallel imports are super expensive and are probably not worth the price. That being said, don’t order from Fenty Beauty online because it may never arrive and there is zero customer support. Blame LVMH, who don’t care about their customers.