The Shape of beauty awards: from face cleansers to feel-good fragrances, here are this year’s award winners
The cosmetics counter can be a puzzling place: Deciding what’s worth spending your money on can involve a lot of costly experimentation. That’s why–for the second consecutive year–we’ve done the trial and error for you. More than 10,000 readers, plus Shape staffers and beauty experts from our editorial advisory board weighed in on nearly 300 products across 22 categories. The products were rated on how each looks, smells, feels, the science behind the ingredients and, of course, how well each performed. Read on to see which earned rave reviews; in most categories this includes both a mass brand (available in drugstores and mass-market retailers) and a prestige brand (found in department stores, upscale beauty markets and online).
Neutrogena MicroMist Tanning Sunless Spray ($12; at drugstores) “Anyone who hates to apply self-tanners will love this easy-to-use product. You’re done in under a minute and it dries in less than five,” raved one tester. This product has several advantages over old-style self-tanners. The spray enables you to reach every body part and eliminates the need to rub it in (meaning you won’t get annoying streaks or telltale stained palms). And the consensus among testers: “The color looked completely natural.”
Lancome Flash Bronzer Airbrush ($28; at department stores and lancome-usa.com) Thanks to the addition of vitamin E and gentle skin-sloughing alpha-hydroxy acids, skin gets prepped, smoothed, moisturized and tanned all in one step with this self-tanner. And it’s “fast drying,” said testers, who claimed that they got dressed almost immediately after spritzing this on.
2. SUN CARE
Banana Boat Surf SPF 30 AquaShield [H.sub.2]O ($7; at drugstores) This unique water-in-silicone formula creates a water-resistant bond with your skin that can last up to eight hours. In addition to how well it protected, this lotion was a winner for its “pleasant, not-too-strong scent.”
Estee Lauder Sun Performance Sun Care SPF 30 Multi-Protection Sun Lotion for Face ($22) and Body ($22; both at department stores and esteelauder.com) Blocking the sun is one part of the sun-protection equation. But this lotion goes a step further, adding antioxidant vitamins C and E to bolster skin’s defenses, plus an ingredient called Melanase to help prevent the dark spots that can be caused by sun exposure. “It’s lightweight, so it absorbed quickly into my skin without leaving a greasy residue,” one tester said.
3. FACIAL CLEANSERS
St. Ives Apricot Radiance Deep Cleaning Cream Cleanser ($4; at drugstores) Thanks to its natural jojoba exfoliating microbeads mixed into a creamy wash, this cleanser gets rid of dirt, makeup and oil without leaving skin feeling dry. Testers loved how it felt. “I could use this every day without my skin getting irritated,” said one. Voters also loved its “fabulous fruit smell.”
Chanel Precision Systeme Hydratation La Creme Nourishing Cleansing Gel-Cream ($35; at department stores and chanel.com) Many women shy away from a cream cleanser thinking that it will leave them looking like an oil slick. But this unique cleanser solves that problem. “The consistency is good for all skin types because it cleanses thoroughly without stripping the skin,” explained dermatologist and advisory board member Jeanine B. Downie, M.D. This cleanser packs a moisturizing cocktail of vitamin [B.sub.5], sodium hyaluronate and camellia oil.
4. FACIAL EXFOLIATORS
L’Oreal ReFinish Micro-Dermabrasion Kit ($25; at drugstores) This skin-brightening treatment was a unanimous favorite with testers, who loved its ease of use and how quickly it delivered results. With this kit, step one is a gentle exfoliator that evens out skin tone and reduces fine lines with aluminum oxide crystals. Step two (a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15) protects a just-exfoliated face. “My skin looked immediately brighter and smoother,” wrote one tester.
Origins Modern Friction ($35; at department stores and origins.com) This facial exfoliator uses smooth rice granules mixed into a creamy paste to gently slough off dead, dull skin. “It feels and smells good and has a wonderful mix of ingredients,” said dermatologist and advisory board member Ruth Tedaldi, M.D. Testers raved: “I kept touching my face afterward because it felt so smooth!” said one.
5. EYE CARE
Nivea Visage Q10 Advanced Wrinkle Reducer Eye Creme SPF 4 ($11; at drugstores) The ideal eye cream does more than add moisture; it should baby delicate undereye skin and help make wrinkles less noticeable. Testers loved this product because it does all that and more. One of the key ingredients, coenzyme Q10, makes fine lines look less obvious and helps prevent new ones from appearing. It was also a winner for its texture, which was deemed “perfect, just the right amount of moisture without being too creamy.”
Clinique Advanced Stop Signs Eye SPF 15 ($31; at department stores and clinique.com) Eye creams that include high-protection sunscreen are hard to come by, so testers were thrilled that this one packs a potent SPF 15 into a formula gentle enough for this sensitive area. Others fell for the brightening effect of the silica (which immediately makes undereye skin look lighter) and the acetyl glucosamine (an ingredient that lessens dark circles). “I’ll never leave the house without this on,” said one tester.
6. FACIAL MOISTURIZERS
Olay Complete Multi-Radiance Daily Illuminating UV Lotion ($13.49; at drugstores) Several testers reported “instantly more luminous skin” when they tried this lotion, the result of peach-colored mica particles that work to reflect light and create the illusion of flawless skin. In addition, skin is nourished with vitamins E, [B.sub.3] and [B.sub.5] to hydrate and a broad-spectrum SPF 15 sunscreen.
Clinique Superdefense Triple Action Moisturizer SPF 25 ($39.50; at department stores and clinique.com) Who has time to use a battery of products before heading out the door in the morning? Not Shape readers, which is why so many of you loved this fragrance-free multitasking cream, available for all skin types. It moisturizes, boosts skin’s defenses with antioxidant vitamins E and C, calms irritation, helps skin cells repair environmental damage and protects against the sun’s rays with SPF 25.
CoverGirl Outlast Liquid Makeup ($9; at drugstores) “I’ve always been a bit of a foundation snob, assuming a drugstore brand would be unnatural-looking,” wrote one tester. “But was I surprised! This exceeded all my expectations.” Not only did this product perform well–evening out skin and staying put all day long–but testers also praised the clever two-in-one packaging. One side holds a smoothing primer with SPF 14, the other side houses the foundation.
Clinique Superbalanced Compact Makeup SPF 20 ($26.50; at department stores and clinique.com) “It evened out my complexion and protected my skin from the sun with one easy swipe of the makeup sponge,” said one tester. Of course, we also loved it for how well it stayed on all day, thanks to its oil-absorbing ingredients silica and coconut acid. And Downie praised the high SPF and the fact that it comes “in a wide range of natural-looking shades.”
Almay Nearly Naked Touch-Pad Liquid Blush ($9.79; at drugstores) The inventive package has an anti-bacterial touch pad that lets you get just the right amount of sheer color onto your finger and your cheeks–no brushes, sponges or blotting required. And testers loved the natural-looking results: “It was easy to build up to just the right shade,” said one.
Clinique True Bronze Pressed Powder Bronzer ($23.50; at department stores and clinique.com) Dust this natural-looking powder where the sun would normally strike (your cheeks, the bridge of your nose, your forehead and your jawline), or use it as a blush alternative to give cheeks a glow. “Who needs the sun or self-tanners when you can easily brush this on any time or anywhere?” said one tester.
Neutrogena Lip Nutrition ($8; at drugstores) This rich balm comes in six yummy flavors, including brand-new passion fruit and honey (shown below), which testers really ate up. But while they were seduced by its scents, testers also fell in love with its conditioning benefits (thanks to jojoba and aloe ingredients) plus just a hint of color. “It’s perfect for days when you don’t want to look made-up but still want subtle hydrating lip color,” wrote a tester.
M.A.C Tinted Lip Conditioner Stick SPF 15 ($14; 800-387-6707, maccosmetics.com) “It looks like lipstick, but doesn’t feel like one,” wrote one tester. “My lips felt instantly softer and more moisturized,” said another. But what everyone really loved was that it served a dual purpose of protecting lips while making them look great. It’s available in seven shades.
10. EYE SHADOW
RevIon ColorStay 12 Hour Eyeshadow ($4.29 for singles, $7 for quads; at drugstores) According to our testers, this “velvety” eye color “really did stay put all day long–without creasing or flaking off.” And everyone loved the great range of colors that can be purchased individually or in palettelike quads that include both sparkly shades for night and neutrals for day.
Bare Escentuals i.d. bareMinerals Well-Rested Eyeshadow ($12; sephora.com) When you can’t get eight hours of sleep (e.g., every night!), this shadow (made from 100 percent crushed minerals) can actually help you look like you’ve still had your beauty rest. The secret is the sheer white shade that brightens eyes: Dab on to inner eye corners and along your brow bone for extra luminosity. “My eyes looked more radiant instantly,” raved one tester.
11. SHAMPOO AND CONDITIONER
Pantene Pro-V Blonde/Brunette/Red Expressions Shampoo and Conditioner ($6.49 each; at drugstores) “After using them, my hair felt extra silky,” said one tester. While not designed to change hair color, they will help keep dyed hair from fading too fast. The formulas pack Pantene’s conditioning pro-vitamin cocktail (a mix of vitamins A, B and E), plus a botanical boost for each hair shade: cherry bark for redheads (shown below), fennel for brunettes and chamomile for blondes.
Aveda Pure Abundance Volumizing Shampoo and Volumizing Clay Conditioner ($14 each; at Aveda stores, Concept salons and aveda.com) “These products lived up to their name,” raved several testers. The shampoo cleanses fine hair with organic coconut and babassu oils and contains calendula, honey and marshmallow to give life to limp strands. And the secret ingredient in the conditioner–kaolin clay–attaches to hair’s cuticle to pump up its volume. Readers also loved it for its aroma: in this case, its “yummy peppermint and jasmine” smell.
12. HAIR STYLING
Garnier Fructis Sleek & Shine Weightless Anti-Frizz Serum ($6; at drugstores) “My hair looked silky, moisturized and soft, plus it was a lot more manageable,” raved one tester. That’s thanks to the combination of hydrating vitamins, fruit acids, silicone and avocado and apricot oils–which also account for its “fresh scent.”
Paul Mitchell Super Skinny Serum ($16; at select salons and paulmitchell.com) This innovative serum actually tightens the diameter of each strand by penetrating the hair shaft and displacing water. That means hair dries faster, looks shinier and stays smoother. “It got rid of my frizz but didn’t feel gooey or sticky like other products I’ve used,” reported one tester with hard-to-manage locks.
13. HAIR COLOR
Clairol Herbal Essences HighLights ($10; at drugstores) These kits were hands-down favorites with our testers. The reason? “No ammonia smell,” “excellent gray coverage” and “great color right from the start.” That’s not always the case with do-it-yourself hair color, but this one has a secret weapon: A continuous conditioning gloss (shown below) is mixed into the color to feed strands and keep them healthy between treatments. The product earned extra points for providing an additional bottle of conditioner–enough for six weekly treatments.
14. MOOD-BOOSTING SCENTS
The Healing Garden In Bloom ($11 for 0.5 ounce; at drugstores) Boasting something called Biorhythm technology, The Healing Garden has found a way to combine a bouquet full of scents into a heady–but still subtle–combination of rose, orchid, jasmine, fern and amber that testers called “a light, flowery fragrance that doesn’t overpower.”
Calvin Klein Eternity Moment ($45 for 1.7 ounces; at Macy’s department stores and sephora.com) Testers deemed this “a perfect nighttime scent,” with its sultry, feminine mix of “fresh-squeezed” floral fragrances. The bouquet is formed by a blend of lychee, guava, pomegranate, peony and passionflower, plus a sexy undercurrent of musk and rosewood.
Olay Regenerist Continuous Night Recovery ($19; at drugstores) This cream infuses skin with the nutrients it needs to hydrate and renew skin cells while you snooze. Testers loved that it made them look “well rested,” and one reported that it “minimized the fine lines that have started showing.”
Estee Lauder Perfectionist [CP+] with Poly-Collagen Peptides Correcting Serum for Lines/Wrinkles/Age Spots ($55; at department stores and esteelauder.com) Some serious science went into this serum’s formula: It packs Flexible Elastomer Technology, which acts like a virtual liquid bandage to immobilize wrinkles, Poly-Collagen Peptides to pump up the skin’s natural collagen production and an antioxidant blend that neutralizes free radicals. Testers saw the results in action. “After just a week of twice-daily use, my face looked fabulous,” said one.
16. TEETH WHITENERS
Crest Whitestrips Premium Plus ($40 for a 10-day supply; at drugstores) Testers found this to be “an affordable option that actually whitens.” And it works gently, according to Tedaldi, who liked that the strips were “not too harsh, which spares the gums.” You get a 10-day supply of strips to use on both your upper and lower teeth (just leave them on for 30 minutes, twice a day) and a promise that your teeth will look whiter for up to 18 months. “I was so surprised that even after just three days I had a whiter smile,” raved a tester.
Supersmile Quikee ($16; supersmile.com and sephora.com) This won’t overhaul your smile, but keeping one handy (it’s small enough to tuck inside your purse) will help maintain other whitening effects. After you eat or drink–especially something staining like coffee or red wine–just put a drop in your mouth and rub it over your teeth with your tongue. “Every time I use it I feel like I’m doing something great for my mouth–and my breath,” wrote one tester.
17. HAIR REMOVAL
Gillette Venus Vibrance razor ($12; at drugstores) According to Gillette, the Venus is already the world’s best-selling women’s razor (not to mention that it won our award last year), so you’d think they’d leave well enough alone. But no. The newest version–which also was the hands-down favorite with readers and testers–actually vibrates while you shave. Powered by an AAA battery, the vibration works gently to exfoliate skin while the moisture-enhanced blades do their thing. “I’ve been told that I have the world’s softest legs when I use it,” said one tester.
Secret Platinum & Olay Conditioners ($4.29; at drugstores) This one won top points with readers and testers: “It kept me totally dry, but caused no irritation under my arms,” said one tester. The difference is that Secret solid has joined forces with Olay conditioners (ProVitamins [B.sub.5] and E, as well as petrolatum), resulting in a unique formula that works hard at stopping sweat, while keeping skin soft.
19. BODY-FIRMING LOTIONS
Aveeno Daily Firming Moisturizing Lotion ($8; at drugstores) “I’ve been plagued by cellulite my entire adult life, but after using this product for a few weeks, my skin really looks smoother,” said one tester. The secret: soy and oatmeal to soften and smooth plus a mineral peptide complex that helps restore skin’s youthful look.
Clarins Total Body Lift ($55; at Macy’s department stores and gloss.com) This lotion touts a mix of caffeine and plant extracts to tighten and tone cellulite-prone skin. And according to testers, it really works. “It temporarily plumped up the skin on my thighs and rear,” said one. “Instead of wearing a sarong, I actually felt confident enough to walk around the beach in a bikini!”
20. BODY MOISTURIZERS
Jergens Natural Glow Daily Moisturizer ($6; at drugstores) “This stuff is ingenious!” raved a tester, echoing the feelings of many who loved this self-tanning alternative. The fact that it left “no mess” and “no streaks” made this unique double-duty lotion an instant favorite. It’s a perfect everyday moisturizer with the added bonus of giving skin a slowly developing hint of color.
Aveda Caribbean Therapy Body Creme ($26; at Aveda stores, Concept salons and aveda.com) This luxurious supermoisturizer with its yummy island scent was dubbed a “beach vacation in a tube.” The mix of mango and cocoa butter, plus additional moisturizers derived from coconut, make this rich cream extra emollient, while essential oils of amyris, bay, lime and vetiver give it its heady fragrance.
21. BODY CLEANSERS/SCRUBS
Dove Massage Body Wash ($4; at drugstores) “Maybe it’s the fact that ‘massage’ is in this product’s name, but I honestly felt more relaxed after using it,” wrote one tester. That’s thanks to the aromatherapy beads that release skin-nourishing essential oils like tangerine-peel oil while you shower.
Shiseido Body Creator Aromatic Salt Scrub ($35; at department stores and 800-723-2889) “Simply the most fabulous scrub I’ve ever used,” said a tester, summing up how many felt about this nongreasy, mineral-rich body scrub. Its combination of ingredients–including large-grain salts, natural clay and Shiseido’s signature spicy lemon fragrance mix (with essences of citrus, pepper, tarragon and fennel)–work to whisk away dry, dull skin.
22. DERMATOLOGIST BRANDS
Murad Firm and Tone Serum ($65; murad.com) Maybe it’s the doctor-brand pedigree or the combination of unique ingredients (circulation-stimulating botanicals like cat’s-claw, horse-chestnut-tree extract and cayenne pepper), but testers claimed visible results when using this serum to firm. “It temporarily tightened the dimples on my thighs and made me bold enough to bare my legs–even at the beach,” said one tester.
Sally Wadyka is a freelance writer based in Jackson Hole, Wyo., who has spent the last 15 years testing beauty products.
RELATED ARTICLE: OUR ADVISORY BOARD
These three Shape advisers, from left, weighed in on the best products of the year.
Mary Bemis is a board member of the International Spa Association, founder of insidersguidetospas.com and a founding editor of American Spa magazine.
Jeanine B. Downie, M.D., director of Image Dermatology in Montclair, N.J., is the co-author of Beautiful Skin of Color (ReganBooks of HarperCollins, 2004).
Ruth Tedaldi, M.D., founder of Dermatology Partners Inc. in Wellesley, Mass., is a member of the New England Dermatological Society and Massachusetts Medical Society.
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