Our best beauty products of January 2017

Luna Mystica oil!
Epicuren have turned in some amazing skincare items. Their luxury splurge? Luna Mystica oil!

Full disclosure: Monsters & Critics received free samples of the products mentioned in this article for review. However, the opinions expressed are independent and our own.

It’s 2017, and we’re kicking off the year with our monthly feature about the best beauty products you need to know about.

Keep your favorite go-to eyeliner wet and sharp, as squiggly- or precision-lined eyes, and “blurry” deeply hued lips (a rich red or burgundy blotted and then diffused with a Q-Tip) are quite fashionable right now.

Lips also are tres chic if you use nude gloss and then highlight cheeks and eyes with the same product for a minimalist creamy glow.

The application is the key of course! Be light-handed until you feel comfortable with the look and how you feel with lipgloss on an eyelid.

Remember Isabella Rosselini’s blue eyeshadow in the classic Lynch film Blue Velvet? Totally in style right at the moment.

Smoky eyes? Yup, if you use some brighter tones, more hued orange, and pink colors.

And for the real fashionistas, ringing your lids top and bottom with metallics is another hot look, but realistically it’s not for everyone. Like most of us.

Beauty trends aside, it all is predicated on great skin. Whether you are a man or a woman, you need to feel good about your hair, teeth, and skin.

It all comes down to a maintenance routine: Exfoliation, protection, enhancement and hydration. Keep it all in balance and you will never be caught in what beauty editors call a “beauty emergency”.

If you’re concerned about the safety of any skincare or makeup products, please do what we do — look for products with fewer ingredients in the deck, and be on the lookout for potentially harmful chemicals and allergens and endocrine disrupters, such as parabens and phthalates.

The companies we found this month, from Britain to New Zealand and the USA, were true blue finds in every sense. They offered some of the best formulations in each category in the beauty market. Take us shopping with you!

Here are the best beauty products we found in January 2017…


Palladio Fifty-Fifty Cat-Eye Liquid Liner and Smoky Kajal Liner all-in-one
Made in Germany

Why we love it: Palladio is a company that mass produces yet still respects the consumer and uses quality ingredients and safe formulations.

This is a genius invention, a two-sided black liner — precision pen liquid and a kohl kajal that is shaped to expertly line eyes with that fringe of black velvet. So very smart! Lasts a long time too.

Palladio ‘I’m Glowing’ Creamy Stick Luminator

Why we love it: Swivel it up, for $8 each you can find three colors for a highlight. One goal: make you look luminous. We adore VIP, Limelight, and Stunner. Affordable, great ingredient deck and super easy to use and transport in a bag.

Tartan + Twine makeup bags

Why we love it: Pursuant to the above “bag” mention, you need a really nice new makeup bag. You know you do.

This is one of our favorites for the case design and the materials. Check out the Tartan + Twine Elysian Grey Beauty Case at $20.00.

It features one large, open compartment that’s ideal for travel toiletries and makeup. It also looks beautiful on bathroom countertops.

Hard Candy Wish For A Kiss Lip Gloss Collection

Why we love it: Under 5 bucks, Hard Candy’s set is a fashion roundup with all the trend colors without the ridiculous prices.

Let’s be real, blue lipgloss is not going to last until 2018. Treat yourself to the perfect lip gloss set in six fashionable shades of fierce effects.

Mix and match any one of the glosses to create a variety of stylish looks. Best part? Not tested on animals.

HydroPeptide Power Lift cream

Why we love it: HydroPeptide is one of our favorite skincare companies. This new cream has it all: Multi-Performance Peptides, Pineapple Ceramide, and even Chilean Boldo Tree Extract, that just sounds very hard to find.

This cream is not greasy at all and firms and leaves a fantastic feel to the skin.  It targets all the aging concerns with peptides, antioxidants such as buddleja, echinacea, white tea, and rosemary, plus Vitamins B5, B6, C and E help protect the skin and skin brighteners.

We love this cream. It’s more costly (around $98) than the average product in its category but it really works well.

Take note — it is far superior to anything we have used in creams that cost more than double from luxury skincare lines like La Mer, La Prairie or Sisley.

Has zero gluten, artificial fragrance, parabens, phenoxyethanol, PEGs, phthalate and sulfates.

After cleansing, apply a pea-sized amount to entire face and neck. Meant for the night but you can use in the daytime too. You will thank us.

Snowberry New Radiance Skin serum (1 ounce)
Made in New Zealand

Why we love it: For the money, Snowberry Serum is a botanically loaded pump-delivery skin serum that works beautifully under moisturizers or solo for the oiliest of skins.

At around $36 for the bottle, it does the work that serums do at four and five times the price. The clear gel is thick, penetrates fast and has a firming after feel.

Loaded with copper peptide and sodium hyaluronic acid — two key ingredients that bind water to the skin at a deeper layer — this hydrating secret weapon from down under is worth your time. Men will love it too, post-shave.

Carbon-zero certified, no parabens, sulfates, silicones, volatile alcohols, petrochemicals, propylene or butylene glycols, DEA or MEA ingredients means those with sensitivities to any chemicals will find a friend in this effective and affordable skin saving serum.

Epicuren Micro-Derm Ultra Refining Scrub 2.5 ounces TSA size approved
Made in the USA

Why we love it: This Epicuren Micro-Derm Ultra Refining Scrub is no-BS “get it done” exfoliation tough stuff.

We mix it into a creamier lotion cleanser to take the scrubby edge off but those times you want a thorough deep cleanse, here’s your friend.

Problem skins and people prone to ingrown hairs and bumps will love this item. Refine and smooth your skin with the bamboo micro-crystals that naturally exfoliate and scrub away free radicals.

This formula is around $78 for a 2.5-ounce tube, and it leaves your skin polished, honed and visibly renewed.

The ingredient deck is loaded with sunflower oil, jojoba oil, grapeseed, bamboo powder, green tea extract, sugar cane extract, lemon, apple, orange, and lemongrass oils that reduce the skin’s natural moisture barrier and hydrate deeply.

Epicuren Micro-Derm Ultra-Refining Scrub is okay for use on dry skins, but heed my warning, mix it a bit with a mushier cleanser!

Great for normal, combination and oily skin types and features a vegan, cruelty-free formulation.  The entire Epicuren line is brilliant in my opinion.

7th Heaven Face Paks-Exfoliator & Masque, Creamy Coconut, Dead Sea Mud Pac- in 20 gram portable packettes for travel
Made in the U.K.

Why we love it: Leave it to the British to capture the very best of PETA-approved cruelty-free wholesome and natural beauty ingredients that target specific issues, dehydration, deep cleansing and exfoliation, in clever “take with you” 7th Heaven packettes.

These are perfect for anyone heading out, either to the gym, a weekender or across the country.

The price point is $1.99 a pack and they are found everywhere, from WalMart to Kroger grocery stores.

Make sure to try the Creamy Coconut mask after any skiing or winter sports, hiking or anything where your skin is exposed and needs TLC.

The exfoliator is brilliant (made with lava, grated orange peel and dead sea salt) about once or twice a week for a deep scrub and the Dead Sea Pac is wonderful to try while soaking in a hot bath.

A sensory splurge for very little money. Great find!

Epicuren Soothe Dermal Repair Balm (1 oz) jar with pop-up dispenser top

Why we love it:  Epicuren Dermal Repair Balm is a miracle cream for sensitive and fragile or dry skin, not for oily skins or people prone to breaking out from rich skincare.

It’s genius in what it does. Just press down on the top of the jar the cream comes out of the hole in the middle.

Epicuren Dermal Repair Balm lightweight gel cream is more of a barrier cream and is an extremely hydrating balm that nourishes and moisturizes your skin with natural ingredients such as Sea Whip Extract, Shea Butter, and Stearyl Glycyrrhetinate which is a soluble oil extracted from licorice root.

Chemical peel recently? This balm is great for that new baby skin and has soothing qualities in order to protect and help repair your skin.

This balm also contains properties that work to balance the skin’s complexion for a more flawless, even skin tone.

This balm can be used alone, or even in combination with one of your favorite products.

Epicuren Dermal Repair Mist 2 ounces TSA size friendly ultra-light toner spray on the go

Why we love it: This Epicuren Dermal Repair Mist is a perfect product to take with you everywhere. An ultra-light toner spray on the go (2 ounces), it’s perfect for after the gym or for travel.

It’s a lightweight toner with essential vitamins that soothes and provide reduce any sign of irritation or inflammation.

Can be used during the day or night. The ingredient deck is a deep botanical dive of natural extracts like lavender, Cordyceps (mushroom) extract, Bergamot, Trametes versicolor (mushroom), Rosewood, Jasmine, Peach, Coriander, Vanilla and many more natural extracts combined in a soothing spray.

Cerumworks Retinol by Dermworx
CerumWORX Night Serum Retinol + Resveratrol 60 capsules
Dermworx CerumWORX Day Serum 60 capsules


Why we love it:  There’s a lot to love about this unusual day and night serum. The portability, you can take as many as you need of the capsules for a trip, eliminating hefty jars.

The results? The Duo 2 – Pack of Day CerumWORX Vitamin C 10% combined with CerumWORX Night Retinol 0.075% leaves your skin visibly changed. The results are pretty dramatic.

Daily prevention combined with nightly restoration.  CerumWorx Vitamin C 10% + Peptides is a stable, effective and convenient antioxidant therapy for improving the skin.

CerumWORX Night Serum with Retinol and Resveratrol contains retinol with advanced antioxidants in a single use capsule.

Each dose is metered to cover the entire face. Encapsulating the serum cream gel allows full potency to stay intact until the capsule is opened and dispensed on the skin.

The ingredient deck is loaded with botanicals and the product works beautifully as an AM-PM punch for skin that needs a reboot.

emerginC Vitality mask 1.7 ounces

Why we love it: emerginC Vitality mask is a useful and effective mask to have on hand for any big event or night out when you wish to look your best.

A buttery feeling mask, just apply on clean skin for 10-15 minutes about 2x a week.

The SRP is $50 and contains pure botanicals for the most hydrating and calming effects.

Made in the USA with sustainable energy, too.  Other ingredients include coenzyme Q10 and Alpha-Lipoic Acid,  all of which are ideal for red, sensitive, and dry skin.

Dermalogica Power Rescue Masque Trio
Made in the USA

Why we love it: Dermalogica is one of the top skincare companies for a great reason. No nonsense packaging and the best skincare experts and doctors work together to make exacting skin care solutions for whatever ails you.

Their trio of masques is an affordable way to dive into this line ($59, a $96 value) delivers three TSA-friendly sized on the go tubes — a charcoal rescue masque, a multivitamin power recovery masque and their skin hydrating masque.

The last one is loaded with hyaluronic acid and is truly a skin plumping miracle worker.

Multivitamin is a repairing masque, perfect for after anything outdoors and the Charcoal masque is a deep cleanser, spot treatment and overall skin brightener that also draws on the skin for the really oil built up areas like the t-zone.

Smart, smaller tubes to travel and made in smart sizes to stay fresh.

Splurge Specialty

Luna Mystica | Exquisite Body Oil 4 ounces

Luna Mystica
Why we love it:
 Luna Mystica is a mysterious and divine concoction, end stop. Brilliant for those living in cold, super dry climates as a cleanser in-between shower days after dry brushing.

Jasmine-honey, cocoa oil, Apricot oil avocado oil, Camelia Seed oil, and Jojoba seed oil, with added Grape Seed oil, Rosehip fruit oil, and Almond, radish and Evening Primrose oils are the main focus of the ingredient deck too.

Luna Mystica is a herbaceous exquisite body oil pump delivery which has a gorgeous smoky quartz crystal inside the bottle.

The SRP is $124 — but know that this is a very healthy alternative to perfumes. This fine body oil is hand-crafted to nourish devitalized skin and awaken senses subtly.

Rich and supple, a light yet deeply moisturizing oil is energetically infused with smoky quartz crystals, so you get highly unusual and compelling aromas of deep cocoa, sweet grapefruit, and savory sage that are unisex.

Sexy, skin loving and from Epicuren so it’s smart too. Try this as a winter skin conditioner after dry brushing on those days you skip a shower.

They recommend that anyone drinking, or pregnant or lactating women, not use this oil.


Brushcraft by Artis – assorted makeup brushes

Why we love it: Minimalism and sleek design, these Brushcraft tools are a lower price point than the Artis line and feature many of the same benefits.

We loved the ergonomic design of the handle, a bit more manageable and easier to use, made with NuFibre which is completely vegan and cruelty free.

We got to try out the BrushCraft Oval 6 meant for foundation, contouring, and cheek color.

Made with 60,000 individual fibers it makes applying any cosmetic a fast and precise exercise.

We also fell in love with the BrushCraft Linear 1 which is designed to line and blend color at the lashline easier.

Made with a thin row of fibers aligned perfectly like a mini toothbrush that was smashed flat, it applies eyeshadow or liner brilliantly.

Great for filling in and perfecting brows too.

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