The makeup and scents that lifted my 2020

Sali Hughes
·2-min read

My favourite makeup picks of 2020 inevitably reside mostly above mask level. My thoughts on my favourite luxury eye palette, Vieve’s The Essentials (£43 for 10 x 3.1g), were well-documented in a recent column, but it bears repeating that this was the year’s best bumper eyeshadow lineup.

For lower-maintenance days, which in 2020 outnumbered my more effortful ones so many times over, I’ve been wowed by the unfeasibly cheap and useful elf Putty Eye Primer (£5 for 5.3g). These, though indeed useful as an underlay, are way more impressive as the easiest, longest-lasting, neither-thought-nor-much-dexterity-required single cream shadows, available for less than a bargain bottle of merlot. There have been countless forgotten Zooms when I’ve hastily smeared on the Clay or Sand colourway with my middle finger and felt instantly more presentable. I’ve said it before and haven’t wavered a bit: they are little marvels.

I hesitate to rave again about Hourglass’s Ambient Lighting Infinity Powder (£45 for 9.5g), as it really should come in a black skin version by now; but I’ve worn it most days, to set other makeup without chalkiness and to impart a soft pearlescence to (white or brown) skin. But for goodness sake, roll out a darker shade please and allow the love to be shared fairly.

Related: Sali Hughes’ favourite skincare products of 2020

My most worn mascara? Easy. Trish McEvoy’s High Volume (£22.50 for 5g) dropped through my letterbox a week after my column on the best tubing mascara and forced me to kick myself daily thereafter over the omission. It pushes lashes skywards, manages to add bulk at the roots without making clumps at the tips and sits perfectly still until bedtime. I wore it most often in 2020 with Rimmel’s Wonder’Full 24HR Brow Mascara (£7.99 for 5ml).

Perfume was my greatest cheerer-upper during a downbeat year, and I’ve been sure always to smell good even when feeling bad. My two most worn fragrances (by some distance) have been the not-new Glossier You (£45 for 50ml) and the quite-new Sunspel Oak Wood (at £90, it’s twice the price, but double the volume at 100ml). Both are elegant, soft and make for natural social distancers: they don’t invade anyone’s personal space and go as well with indoor tracksuits as with dog-walking jeans and jumpers.

What a year. When the country is finally vaccinated, I plan to roll naked in No5 and red lipstick.