The year’s best beauty products: here’s what shape editors, beauty pros, and almost 5,000 readers say are tops in makeup, skin, and hair care now
1. Facial Cleansers
St. Ives Protective Cleanser ($7; at drugstores) Morning multitasking has never been easier. When you wash off this extra-creamy cleanser, it leaves behind a protective layer of SPF 10 sunscreen. (The sunscreen is packed into microscopic capsules that cling to skin.) Testers feared it would have a filmy feel but were pleasantly surprised by the lack of residue. “The product rinses well and made my skin feel clean and soft–not at all greasy,” says Mary Bemis, a spa expert and Shape editorial advisory board member.
Origins Organics Foaming Face Wash ($25; origins .com) Among the things you won’t get in this “silky” face wash: parabens (chemical preservatives that can cause irritation) or any animal ingredients. What you will get: a mix of organic oils, including clove, pink grapefruit, lemon, lavender, and patchouli, which testers called “invigorating and effective.” “It dissolved my makeup without and need for scrubbing,” said one.
2. Facial Exfoliators
L’Oreal Paris Advanced Revitalift Micro-Dermabrasion Kit ($25; at drugstores) Skin looking dull? Dead skin cells are most likely to blame. When these cells don’t slough off every 28 days like they’re supposed to, they clump together on the surface of your skin, making your complexion appear less than luminous. To the rescue: this easy-to-use kit, which features an exfoliating scrub and soothing post-treatment moisturizer with SPF 15 and vitamin E (shown below). Testers said the combo left their skin “supersmooth and bright.”
Philosophy the Microdelivery Exfoliating Wash ($25; philosophy.com) “Regular exfoliation is the key to fresh, youthful-looking skin, but you need to do it gently or you risk irritation,” says Darrell S. Rigel, M.D., a dermatologist and Shape editorial advisory board member. And that’s exactly why testers (including Rigel) were drawn to this mild exfoliator you can safely use daily. In addition to crushed sea fossils (to slough of dead cells), it also contains omega-6 fatty acids, which help skin retain moisture. Testers claimed their “skin had never glowed this much” and that, after several weeks of use, their face became so soft, their makeup went on smoother and looked better.
3. Facial Moisturizers
Olay Definity Night Restorative Sleep Cream made me look like I was really getting my beauty sleep,” said one tester. In fact, all testers felt they woke up to fresher, brighter, more even skin. The “rich but not greasy” night cream has a potent antiaging mix of the vitamin complex niacin (to lighten dark spots and diminish fine lines), glucosamine (to strengthen skin’s moisture barrier), and glycerin (to hydrate). “In combination, these ingredients are a highly effective way to improve your complexion,” says Rigel. “It’s a very good product at a very reasonable price.”
Shiseido the Skincare Tinted Moisture Protection SPF 20 ($36; sca.shiseido.com for stores) Testers got more than they’d hoped for in this cream: dewy, well-hydrated skin; sun protection; plus a completely natural-looking glow. The yuzu seed extract (which comes from an Asian citrus fruit) helps jump-start the production of hyaluronic acid, the natural humectant that helps bind moisture to skin. Jeanine Dowine, M.D., a dermatologist and Shape editorial advisory board member, praises it for “complementing darker skin too.”
4. Body Cleansers
Dove Supreme Cream Oil Body Wash in Sleek Satin ($5; walgreen.com) “My skin felt so smooth when I got out of the shower, I didn’t even need lotion!” exclaimed one happy tester. This luxurious wash not only delivers great lather, it’s also super-moisturizing, thanks to high levels of soybean oil.
Sephora Body Wash in Tangerine Grapefruit ($12; sephora.com) If your morning shower isn’t waking you up enough, try adding this body wash to your daily routine. Testers couldn’t say enough about the uplifting scent. “It smells like a glass of fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice,” said one. “Using it after my morning workout made me feel doubly refreshed.”
5. Body Moisturizers
Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion With Sunscreen
($7; at drugstores) You wouldn’t head out the door in the morning without putting moisturizer and sunscreen on your face, so why shouldn’t you treat your body the same way? This lightweight, hydrating body lotion makes it simple by combining soothing, moisturizing oatmeal with a powerful hit of UVA and UVB protection (it has an SPF of 15). Testers also consistently noted that the formula “absorbed fast and wasn’t at all greasy.”
Kiehl’s Creme de Corps Light-Weight Body Lotion
($27; kiehls.com) “This is simply a great product,” says Ruth Tedaldi, M.D., a dermatologist and Shape editorial advisory board member. “It’s a wonderful daily moisturizer you can slather on all over after your morning shower to seal in hydration and ensure you’re protected from the sun with SPF 30.” Testers took favorably to how soft the comforting jojoba butter, olive fruit oil, and sesame seed oil left their bodies. “My skin didn’t revert back to its usual dry state!” said one.
6. Body Firming
Nivea Good-Bye Cellulite ($13; walgreens.com) This non-sticky gel/cream contains L-carnitine, an amino acid said to rev up your metabolism. “After spreading it on twice a day for two weeks, my skin was visibly tighter, smoother, and worthy of showing off,” said one Shape editor.
Chanel Body Excellence Firming and Refining Serum
($120; chanel.com) Testers found that their “problem areas turned into no problem at all” with this new smoothing and tightening serum, which relies on glycolic acid and the amino acid L-arginine to make dimpling less pronounced, without causing irritation. “Glycolic acid is a powerful exfoliator that definitely improves the surface of the skin,” says Downie.
7. Eye Care
Burt’s Bees Naturally Ageless Line Smoothing Eye Creme ($25; burtsbees.com) “I’ve always thought the botanicals in natural products couldn’t be as effective as synthetic ingredients, but this cream changed my mind,” said a tester. Composed of antioxidant-rich pomegranate (to fight free radical damage), magnolia (to reduce dark circles), para cress plant (to diminish lines), horse chestnut (to reduce puffiness), and moisturizing olive and evening primrose oils, this cream leaves under-eye skin soft, plump, and radiant.
Elizabeth Arden Prevage Eye Anti-Aging Moisturizing Treatment ($98; shop. elizabetharden.com) This supercharged eye cream, which contains idebenone, a potent antioxidant, gave one of our testers “noticeably smoother skin virtually overnight.”
8. Dermatologist Brands
Patricia Wexler M.D. Dermatology Intensive 3-in-1 Eye Cream ($33; bathandbodyworks.com) A peptide complex is responsible for giving this concentrated cream its firming and fine-line-fighting capabilities. “Peptides help stimulate the production of new collagen, and over time that can make under-eye creases and darkness less obvious,” says Tedaldi.
DDF Mesojection Healthy Cell Serum ($80; ddf.com) This serum has the potent antioxidants acai berry and scavenol to fight free radical damage, a glycol complex to brighten and resurface skin, and humectants to moisturize. “It hydrates for hours,” said a Shape editor.
9 Antiaging Treatments
Olay Regenerist 14 Day Skin Intervention ($26; drugstore.com) Our testers were thrilled with the results of this kit, kit, which promises younger-looking skin in two weeks. “By day 10, my skin was smoother and brighter, and some of my fine lines had definitely vanished,” said one. The system includes 14 vials you break open and apply nightly. The first week’s vials feature a peptide complex designed to regenerate cells and improve skin’s moisture barrier; week two’s vials contain more of the same, plus micro powders to help fill in fine lines. “My friends kept asking me if I’d had something done because my skin was so luminous!” said a Shape editor.
Clinique Zero Gravity Repairwear Lift ($53; clinique.com) With repeated sun exposure and natural biological aging, collagen, the substance that helps keep your face plump and taut, begins to break down, giving you saggy-looking skin (the result of gravity). But this night cream helps restore your skin with a combination of plumping peptides, exfoliating retinol, and free radical-fighting antioxidants. “Retinoids [like retinol or prescription Retin A] have a proven track record for stimulating collagen production,” says Downie.
10 Sun Protection
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Dry-Touch Sunblock SPF 85 ($11; walgreens.com) While there isn’t a single sunscreen out there that can shield you from every damaging UV ray, this one–with a whopping SPF of 85 — comes about as close as possible. “This is without a doubt the best sunscreen on the market for the price,” raves Tedaldi. “Who says SPF 85 is a waste? I think it’s fantastic! The higher the number, the longer it takes you to get red in the sun,” she says. And since your face is constantly exposed to UV rays (both indoors and out), there’s no better place to wear something with such powerful protection. Testers loved it because it “absorbed well” and felt light “despite the high SPF.”
Lancome Bienfait Multi-Vital Glow SPF 15 Sunscreen ($46; lancome-usa.com) This all-in-one product protects (with SPF plus antioxidant vitamins E and C), nourishes (with essential minerals zinc, copper, and magnesium), adds intense moisture (with hydrating fatty acids), and imparts a gorgeous glow when used for several days in a row. “Not only did my dry skin completely drink it up, but after having it on for a few hours, I got a nice trace of bronze color,” said one tester. “Talk about instant gratification!”
Jergens Natural Glow Express Body Moisturizer ($8; at drugstores) If you still find yourself cringing at the thought of self-tanners for fear of streaking, dark splotches, missed patches, or looking a little orange, this daily moisturizer is made for you. Even the most timid testers were thrilled with the natural color that built up so gradually, no one would ever suspect it came from a bottle. “There’s a reason so many women consider this product a must-have: The result is really subtle, and the application is basically goof-proof,” says Bemis.
Clarins Delicious Self Tanning Cream ($40; us.clarins.com) Die-hard self-tanners deemed this tinter fast-acting and sweet-smelling. “Within minutes I had a totally realistic-looking tan,” said one. “It actually smelled good too, like chocolate,” said another. The secret ingredients? No surprise there–pure cocoa, cocoa bean, and cocoa butter, which not only give the cream its aroma but also help soothe, nourish, and protect skin (the polyphenols in the cocoa have an antioxidant effect).
Secret Clinical Strength Hypoallergenic Anti-Perspirant/Deodorant ($7; drugstore.com)
Our testers really put this product through its paces–a long walk through the city on a steamy summer day, a rigorous Spinning class, a stress-inducing business presentation–before declaring it a hands-down winner. It contains the maximum amount of aluminum zirconium trichlorohydrex GLY (a sweat-stopping ingredient) you can find over the counter. “This is a good nonprescription product for serious sweaters,” says Rigel.
13. Shampoo and Conditioner
Aveda Smooth Infusion Shampoo and Conditioner ($20 each; aveda.com) Testers loved that this duo left their hair softer, smoother, and more manageable. “Together they tamed my worst case of the frizzies,” said one tester. Both lightweight formulas contain an infusion of organic aloe, maize, and guar bean, which work synergistically to seal cuticles and de-fuzz frazzled hair strand by strand.
Garnier Fructis Shine Burst Fortifying Shampoo and Conditioner ($7 each; at drugstores) Often, shine-enhancing products will give your hair some gleam, but because they contain waxes, they’ll also weigh it down. This cleaning and conditioning pair takes a different approach, relying on cyclodextrin, a lightweight, sugar-based substance, to magnify the shine you have rather than coat your strands with heavier sheen-boosting ingredients. Both also have a blend of vitamins B (3) and B(6) plus fructose and glucose to nourish even the most parched hair. “The creamy formulas gave my dry, curly hair the extra hydration it so desperately needed,” noted a “Shape editor.
14 Hair Styling
Aussie Opposites Attract Strong Hold & Touchable Feel Spray Gel ($3; at drugstores) Strong hold is not normally synonymous with soft, touchable hair–unless, of course, you’re using this spray gel. “My hair looked incredibly smooth after styling,” said one tester. “But it never felt stiff or crunchy.” Designed to work on all hair types (oily, dry, or normal) and textures (curly or straight), this gel also features nourishing botanicals, like mango extract, that keep tresses healthy and strong.
Tresemme Touchable Curls Shaping Milk ($4; at drugstores) Our curly haired testers responded passionately to this lightweight cream styler, which gives natural curls better definition and also keeps frizz to a minimum, even on high-humidity days. “It helped me get full, healthy, absolutely flawless corkscrews,” said one. “I could finger-style my hair into place in the morning and not have to worry about it again for the rest of the day,” said another.
Biolage Styling Shine Endure Spritz ($14; biolage.com for salons) Think of this finishing spray as a two-in-one product: It shields hair from the damaging effects of heat stylers and prevents future fraying and split ends with special polymers that adhere to and strengthen hair. Testers loved that it upped their sheen quotient and held their styles all day. “I sprayed it on in the morning, and by dinner my hair was just as shiny.”
15 Hair Color
Best Color: Clairol Perfect 10 by Nice’n Easy
($12; at drugstores) Even apprehensive first-time colorists were surprised by the ease and efficacy of this at-home coloring kit. “I thought I’d make a gigantic mess trying to do this myself, but the coloring cream wasn’t at all watery or drippy,” said one tester. And due to a high-tech formula that contains fast-acting lightening molecules, your new hue is ready in just 10 minutes. “The color I got looked exactly like the model’s on the box,” said a Shape editor.
Best Glaze: John Frieda Luminous Color Glaze Clear Shine ($10; at drugstores) This no-hassle glaze infuses hair with incredible shine and gives any color (natural or chemically enhanced) a boost. Since it’s free of ammonia, dye, and peroxide–which can be damaging to strands if used too often–it’s safe to massage in every day in the shower or leave in for 20 minutes once a week as an intensive mask.
16 Hair Removal
Best Razor: Gillette Venus Embrace razor ($10; at drugstores) For five years running, Shape readers and editors have chosen a Gillette Venus razor as their favorite shaver. “I’ve been using and loving the original Venus since it came out, but this is a huge improvement,” said one tester. What’s new: The latest Venus features five blades that adjust themselves individually as you shave so they maintain contact with skin at all times, even over awkward-to-reach areas, like ankles, knees, and your bikini line.
Best Depilatory: Nair Shower Power Exfoliating With Skin Renewal Micro-Beads ($7; at drugstores) “I’ve never been a big fan of depilatories, but this one finally converted me,” said one tester, impressed by how smooth and hair-free her legs got in a matter of minutes. Just slather on the extra-thick formula in the shower (amazingly, it won’t wash off), then, after five minutes, remove it with the exfoliating sponge in the package. “I loved not having to sit around with my legs covered in sticky stuff,” said a tester. And the results seemed to last for days. “I could get away with using it just once or twice a week,” said another tester.
Best Shave Gel: Skintimate Signature Scents Moisturizing Shave Gel in Flirty Mango ($3; at drugstores) To get a close shave, experts agree you need both a good razor and shaving cream or gel. “An emollient formula like this one, with olive butter and vitamin E, plumps up the hair, making it softer and easier to cut. Plus, it helps the razor glide easily over skin, minimizing the potential for nicks,” says Downie. Testers also appreciated this gel’s “fruit salad-like” scent.
17 Mood-Boosting Fragrances
Celine Dion Sensational Eau de Toilette ($32; jcpenney.com) Testers couldn’t stop spritzing on this “light, spring-like scent,” which many described as suitable for day or night–as well as for any occasion. The luxurious but not overwhelming floral-fruity blend includes notes of pear, plum, and apple. “It smelled sophisticated but not like something my grandma would have worn,” said one tester.
Covet Sarah Jessica Parker Eau de Parfum Spray
($52; nordstrom.com) “Even though it isn’t heavy, this fragrance lasts and lasts,” noted a tester. The seductive aroma features a spicy mix of crushed geranium leaves, Sicilian lemon, and French lavender blended with sweet chocolate, magnolia, amber, and musk. “And the bottle is so gorgeous, you’re happy to display it on your dresser,” added one Shape editor.
18 Hand, Foot, and Nail Care
Ahava Dermud Intensive Nourishing Hand Cream ($25; ahavaus.com) Dry, irritated skin is no match for the mineral-rich mud from the Dead Sea in this ultra-luxurious hand cream. “My normally cracked hands got softer and smoother than they had been for years,” said one Shape editor, who also commented that, for such a thick formula, the cream sunk in very quickly. “This product can even help soothe serious skin irritations, like dermatitis and psoriasis,” says Bemis,
OPI Manicure Pedicure Green Tea Scrub ($15; opi.com for stores) Testers described this mani-pedi scrub as a “15-second mini spa treatment you can do in the shower.” Formulated with a combo of exfoliating, natural sugar crystals; fruit-derived alpha hydroxy acids; and antioxidant green tea, the scrub earned praise for “instantly softening heels.”
Sally Hansen Color Fast Dry Quick Nail Color Pen ($8; at drugstores) Testers labeled this polish “perfect for your purse.” The unique magic marker design makes it possible to touch up chips and smudges in just seconds. Best of all, the vibrant color dried quickly. “It’s the ultimate fast fix for a woman on the go,” said a tester.
19 Foundation Neutrogena Mineral Sheers Powder Foundation ($13; at drugstores) “Mineral makeup is often less irritating than more chemical formulas, which is why it’s so popular among people with sensitive or very allergic skin,” says Rigel. In addition to being gentle, though, it offers real coverage. “It made my skin completely even without looking mask-like,” said one tester. The sheer formula also contains soy and antioxidants to help smooth and protect skin, as well as an SPF of 20.
Stila Oil-Free Sheer Color Tinted Moisturizer SPF 30 ($36; stilacosmetics.com) Testers unanimously loved this nongreasy formula, which covered flaws without appearing too heavy. And because it’s available in eight shades, testers of all hues were able to find a match. “I’m biracial, and I usually have trouble getting a color that looks natural, but not this time,” said one tester.
20 Eye Makeup
CoverGirl LashBlast Waterproof Mascara ($8; drugstore.com) “I truly loved this mascara!” exclaimed one tester mascara!” exclaimed one tester, who said it gave her “long, thick, fat lashes.” The lightweight, waterproof formula didn’t clump or feel stiff (a frequent complaint about waterproof mascaras). Testers also confirmed that the mascara really delivered on its promise to add volume.
Estee Lauder Double Wear Zero-Smudge Lengthening Mascara ($20; esteelauder.com) This mascara was deemed ideal for everyday use, lengthening and not budging for hours, thanks to a unique lash-extending brush and flake-free formula. “It made my lashes stand out so much, I barely needed any other eye makeup,” said one Shape editor.
Chanel Inimitable Waterproof Mascara Multi-Dimensionnel ($28; chanel.com) Designed for all-out glamour, this waterproof formula delivers faux-like effects that last for hours. “It never felt heavy,” reported one Shape editor, “yet it was easy to remove.”
21 Lip Color Revlon Renewist LipColor ($9; at drugstores) The fact that this lipstick both looks good and is good for lips made it a favorite among our testers. Available in 24 eye-catching shades, it’s packed with pro-collagen to boost moisture and reduce lip lines, plus it has an SPF of 15. “I chose it for the color, but I was happy knowing the SPF would keep my lips protected from sun damage,” said one tester. “It had the perfect creamy texture,” said another.
Bare Escentuals Bare Minerals 100% Natural LibColor ($15; bareescentuals.com) This nourishing, all-natural lip color gets its rich tones from minerals. The range of 16 shades drew raves from testers, who found them all wearable. Infused with sesame, macadamia, and coconut oils, the hydrating lipsticks left testers’ lips soft for hours. “I never needed to reach for my lip balm!” said one.
Physicians Formula Organic Wear 100% Natural Origin Bronzer ($14; at drugstores) This bronzer contains a healthy combination of organic rice silk (to absorb shine) and jojoba seed oil (a natural skin softener), and it’s formulated without potentially irritating synthetic colors, fragrances, parabens, or preservatives. “It’s suitable for people with all kinds of skin,” says Downie, “not just sensitive types.”
Victoria’s Secret Very Sexy Makeup Mosaic Blush ($18; victoriassecret.com) Why choose just one shade of blush when you can get five in one sleek compact? This well-coordinated mix (there are six combinations to suit all skin tones) blends as you brush it on to leave behind a natural-looking flush with just the slightest hint of shimmer. “I don’t usually wear makeup because it feels heavy on my skin, but I could barely even tell I had powder on my skin,” said a tester.
23 Tooth Care Colgate Total Advanced Whitening Toothpaste ($4; at drugstores) What good are white teeth if your mouth isn’t healthy? This toothpaste not only brightens teeth, it also fights germs, plaque, and tartar. “My teeth felt the way they do after a professional cleaning,” said one tester. Many also mentioned the peppermint taste. “It totally erased the taste of the onion bagel I had at lunch from my palate,” said a Shape editor.
Supersmile Whitening Oral Rinse ($14; supersmile.com) The oral care line that started a whitening revolution has done it again. Testers raved about how clean and fresh this minty, alcohol-free pre-rinse made their mouths feel. “I thought this was just like any other mouthwash until people started asking me if I just had my teeth whitened,” said one tester. “Now I won’t go a night without using it before brushing!”
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FOUNDATION SHOULD BE INVISIBLE ON SKIN
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