2021 was a very utilitarian year for me, because it was the hardest year for me–I am fortunate enough that my hardest/worst year on-record is by no means that bad, it’s just relative to what I’ve experienced thus far. Mellan, my heart-dog, passed away on January 12th, 2021, which set the tone for the year and dictated a lot of my beauty rituals and routines.

I teared up frequently throughout the year over his passing, with some days being better than others, and there were even times where a week or two would go by with almost no tears at all (perhaps just a sob-fest randomly in the evening). Nonetheless, it’s taken me awhile to get to the point where I am more consistent about not tearing up significantly during the day.

As a result, in order to still test eye makeup, I applied everything noticeably above the upper lash line, leaving a very blank space between my upper lashes and where the eyeshadow began so that if I did tear up, I didn’t breakdown the makeup I was testing. This really made makeup functional but not that fun. It’s been many years since I really wore whatever I wanted without regard for what I needed to review, but I very, very rarely bothered to do makeup “just for me” in 2021.

A lot of the must-haves I discovered in 2020 didn’t actually end up getting incorporated or used much in 2021, so my 2021 list looks a lot like my 2020 list. Here’s hoping that 2022 might be a better year for me in makeup.

Keep in mind that these are products that I really enjoyed using enough to 1) remember they exist, 2) put them in a more accessible area, and 3) use again but in my world, using the same product more than a handful of times is a feat, so my threshold for “must-have” is by no means something I have to use everyday (not possible!).

You might want to check out the new must-haves I discovered in 2020 along with must-haves that remained favorites in 2020, which gives you an idea of how these all-time favorites have evolved. This post is a reflection of how those newer must-haves were incorporated into my routine in 2021 along with any my long-time must-haves as listed in 2020 continued to be used in 2021.  I’d love to hear about your own staple products in the past year and how that compared to prior year; what stood the test of yet another year?

Here are some things that changed:

I finally let go of some products, whether because I moved on or it felt like it was time to replace and I didn’t want to repurchase (because I do like playing with new things and have plenty of new and not-so-new-but-not-yet-old things to enjoy, too!). These included: Giorgio Armani Luce, Milk Makeup Blitzed, and Charlotte Tilbury Light (2).

Must-Haves that Stayed Favorites in 2021

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