Thursday, December 31st, 2009

2009 Editor’s Choice Awards — Roundup

It’s been a long ride! All of the products trialed in the past few years, plus the numerous ones just in 2009 alone. I’m really pleased with the categories and winners this year — I really feel like I’m starting to get a good idea of how and what the awards should mean and look like, after three years of doing them now. I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my favorites, and I very much look forward to compiling and publishing the results of the Readers’ Choice Awards once voting closes (tonight, the 31st, at midnight PST!).

Commentary

  • Brands with the Most Awards in 2009: MAC Cosmetics (7), Chanel (6), Guerlain (6), Neutrogena (6)
  • Total Brands Recognized:  32 (High-end), 29 (Budget), 61 (total)
  • Total Award Categories: 64
  • Total Winners: 116

Breaking Tradition: For two years in a row, I chose MAC Cosmetics as brand of the year, MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation as best foundation, and MAC Plushlash Mascara for best mascara. Three times lucky wasn’t in the card — Guerlain beat out MAC as best brand and their Parure Gold foundation topped my foundation charts this year. I’ve found a new mascara favorite in Chanel Exceptionnel.

New two-time winners (winners in both 2008 & 2009): Clarisonic as Best Beauty Tool, Kate Somerville Oil-Free Moisturizer as Best Daytime Moisturizer, Lancome Bi-Facil as Best Makeup Remover, Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner for Best Pencil Eyeliner

Previous two-time winners (winners in both 2007 and 2008): MAC Cosmetics for Best Brand, MAC Studio Fix Fluid Foundation for Best Foundation, MAC Plushlash Mascara for Best Mascara

Previous Awards: If you’re curious, you can check out my picks for 2008 here and here. 2007 didn’t have official Editor’s Choice Awards, but I did include my picks for every Readers’ Choice category, view those here.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the Editor’s Choice Awards this year!

Too many categories or were more, specific categories helpful? Did you like the breakdown of high-end and budget winners?

P.S. – Readers’ Choice Awards voting ends December 31st, 2009 at 11:59 PST.  I’ll be doing my best to compile as quickly as possible, and hopefully I’ll have the first set of results out sometime on the 1st!

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

2009 Editor’s Choice Awards — Part 6 — Hair Care

I think it’s important to give you quick background on my hair, because of course, that’s what I test and review based on — my hair and my experience! My hair has been shoulder-length or longer for the majority of the year. I very rarely style it or use heat on it (e.g. hair dryer, irons, curlers, etc.), and I haven’t colored my hair in three or four years (maybe more).  This leads to very fuss-free, pretty healthy hair (that could really use a hair cut) with no split ends or dryness.

Each award is broken down into a best high-end winner and budget-friendly winner. For each award, the winning brand/product gets a brief description of why, and where appropriate, a link to any in-depth review.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts and your favorites!

Part 6 focuses on my favorite hair care products — from shampoo to conditioner to flat irons. These were not restricted to new products in 2009; any brand, any product, from any time can win.

Best Shampoo (High-end): LiQWD Volumizing Shampoo

LiQWD Volumizing Shampoo ($32.00) was love at first wash. OH MY GOODNESS! Look, I’m not the biggest hair expert, and I’ll always be the first to tell you that. Shampoo is shampoo to me — my hair is not fussy or particular. I’ve never had a shampoo cause my hair to fall out, get tangled, look like garbage, etc. I really, really love this stuff. I just feel like it really cleans and gives my hair this beautiful shine and healthy look to it. Ever since I started using it, I also can get away with washing my hair every two days — if I want to. (Normally, I wash every other day.) The Volumizing Conditioner is also worth a mention, too!

Best Shampoo (Budget): Aussie Moist Shampoo

Aussie Moist Shampoo ($4.29) which really helps keep hair from getting dried out and looking very healthy. My hair always feels really soft and smooth after using this!

Best Clarifying Shampoo: Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo

Suave Daily Clarifying Shampoo for Normal to Oily Hair ($3.49) is a must in any household, because it’s great for ensuring you get all the bits of residue left behind by styling products. I don’t use too many styling products, so I don’t always need a clarifying shampoo, which is why I love how affordable this one is. Even though Suave calls it “Daily,” I’d recommend it more for once a week or less usage. There’s no high-end/budget here — only one winner. I haven’t found a high-end product that does as good of a job removing build-up as this that’s worth an award.

Best Conditioner (High-end): Oscar Blandi Pronto Wet Instant Volumizing Conditioner

Oscar Blandi Pronto Wet Instant Volumizing Conditioner ($24.00) is a lemony-citrus sulfate-free conditioner that gave me soft, detangled locks in no time flat. Like I’ve mentioned before, my hair isn’t too fussy, but I really found myself liking the way this conditioner worked on my hair (I will also mention I liked the matching shampoo, too). One of the things I really liked about the conditioner was it made my hair seem lighter–hair stylists are always telling me “you have enough hair for two people!”–so lighter is good. You can read my full review here.

Best Conditioner (Budget): Neutrogena Triple Moisture Daily Deep Conditioner

Neutrogena Triple Moisture Daily Deep Conditioner ($6.19) really helps give hair a healthy dose of moisture and keeping it silky smooth post-shower. This is a very, very moisturizing shampoo — perfect for hair that gets colored or styled on a regular basis.

Check out Best Dry Shampoo, Hair Dryer, Flat Iron, and Curling Iron! Continue reading →

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

2009 Editor’s Choice Awards — Part 5 — Skincare & Bodycare

Just a quick note about skincare:  skincare is very individual. What works on my skin may not work on yours, and what works on your skin may not work on mine!  These awards are completely based on my experience with these products.  All products have been tested on my skin for no less than two weeks but typically four to six weeks.

My skin is acne-prone, sensitive around the eyes and above the lip, normal-to-dry (drier in the winter), and I’m 23 – so I don’t have too many (hopefully not, at least) signs of aging.

Each award is broken down into a best high-end winner and budget-friendly winner. For each award, the winning brand/product gets a brief description of why, and where appropriate, a link to any in-depth review.

Share your favorites in the comments!

Part 5 focuses on my favorite skincare and body care products — from daily cleansers to evening creams to scrubs. These were not restricted to new products in 2009; any brand, any product, from any time can win.

Best Facial Cleanser (High-end): Chanel Exfoliating Mousse

Chanel Exfoliating Mousse ($45.00) is an easy, lightweight cleanser that lathers and foams just a smidgen with the lightest micro-exfoliating beads/particles. This is a product I just keep coming back to, despite trying other cleansers since I originally reviewed it. I’d also like to comment on just how much product you get for your $45 — this isn’t a cleanser you’ll be replacing every month or two. This is easily four months or more worth of product! My skin always feels clean (but not tight) and refreshed after using this. You can read my full review here.

Best Facial Cleanser (Budget): Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser ($7.99) is the world’s best cleanser to go to whenever my skin is out of wack. Whenever I feel like nothing’s working, I turn back to Cetaphil. It’s gentle, soothing, and great for my skin, even when it’s sensitive.

Best Daily Facial Exfoliator (High-end): Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser

Kiehl’s Rare Earth Deep Pore Daily Cleanser ($22.50) is a gentle cleanser that softly exfoliates and can be used on a daily basis. I love the lightness of this cleanser. It’s almost like a milky cleanser, because even though it lathers up, it’s not a traditional foaming lather. It’s very cleansing, and I’ve really enjoyed using it. (I tend to use this in the morning, since I keep it in my shower!) You can read my full review here.

Best Daily Facial Exfoliator (Budget): Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub

Aveeno Skin Brightening Daily Scrub ($7.49) is a soothing cleanser with rounded exfoliating beads that leave skin feeling soft and clean. I love that it’s from Aveeno, which is one of my favorite brands for reliable, no frills, no fuss – just results products.

Check out Best Foaming Cleanser, Gel Cleanser, Makeup Remover, Wipes, Exfoliator, Cleansing Oil, Moisturizers, Creams, and many more! Continue reading →

Thursday, December 31st, 2009

2009 Editor’s Choice Awards — Part 4 — Lips, Nails, & Tools

Each award is broken down into a best high-end winner and budget-friendly winner. For each award, the winning brand/product gets a brief description of why, and where appropriate, a link to any in-depth review. These awards are given out by me based on my personal experience with the products. Readers’ Choice Awards are completely separate :)

I’d love to hear your thoughts — what are your favorites?  Tell me in the comments!

Part 4 focuses on my favorite products to use on the lips, nails, and the best tools — from lipstick to nail lacquer to brushes. These were not restricted to new products in 2009; any brand, any product, from any time can win.

Best Lipgloss (High-end): Guerlain KissKiss Gloss

Guerlain KissKiss Gloss ($29.00) has this amazing smooth texture and ridiculous sparkle. It’s like shimmering, glittering goodness on the lips. I love the shade range, and I find these glosses easy to wear and feel like jelly on the lips. They’re non-sticky in texture, but they do have a sweet fragrance for a scent (which I know is a point of contention for some!). I also find this to be one of the few glosses I can wear alone and still feel like my lips are moisturized at the end of the day. I highly recommend Crystal Pearl, Amethyst Pearl, Fraise a Croquer, and Rose Florida. I will say that finding a good gloss isn’t as hard as you’d think — Guerlain is my #1, but it’s followed closely by Chanel Glossimers and YSL Golden Gloss. The packaging of KissKiss Gloss is lovely, as well – like you feel as if you’re getting something luxe. You can read my full review here.

Best Lipgloss (Budget): NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss

NYX Mega Shine Lip Gloss ($5.00) come in an extensive range of shades – from clear to gold to red to brown. If you’ve ever wanted to try a certain shade, NYX probably has it. It’s a great non-sticky lipgloss that has a very smooth finish and lots of sparkle and glossy sheen. They’re not the longest wearing gloss (about two hours), but they feel really good and many shades are quite pigmented for such a budget-friendly lip gloss. You can read my full review here.

Best Lipstick (High-end): Chanel Rouge Allure Laque

Chanel Rouge Allure Laque ($32.00) are like liquid lipstick, except completely made out of awesomeness. They’re creamy and moisturizing while they still cling to lips. I’ll tell you right now that Dragon is my favorite shade out of the bunch with Santal close behind. I recommend that everyone, at the very least (!), visit their local Chanel counter just to try it out. You can read my full review here.

Best Lipstick (Budget): Maybelline Color Sensational

Maybelline ColorSensational Lipcolor ($8.29) are smooth, creamy lipsticks that go on evenly and look fantastic. They have a lot of wearable shades, and the packaging feels and looks pretty nice for a budget brand. They have kind of a synthetic sweet scent, but it’s not too strong and not noticeable once you’ve applied the color.

Check out the winners for Best Lip Treatment, Lip Balm, Nail Lacquer (plus Base and Top Coats), Brushes, and Tool! Continue reading →

Wednesday, December 30th, 2009

2009 Editor’s Choice Awards — Part 3 — The Cheeks & Face

Each award is broken down into a best high-end winner and budget-friendly winner. For each award, the winning brand/product gets a brief description of why, and where appropriate, a link to any in-depth review. These awards are given out by me based on my personal experience with the products. Readers’ Choice Awards are completely separate :)

What were your favorites?  Would love to hear them — tell me in the comments!

Part 3 focuses on my favorite products to use on the cheeks and face — from blush to foundation to primer. These were not restricted to new products in 2009; any brand, any product, from any time can win.

Best Cheek/Face Highlighter (High-end): Dior DiorSkin Shimmer

Dior DiorSkin Shimmer ($43.00) are beautiful highlighters that just add a subtle sheen to skin that’s glow-y and natural. It’s not glitter, it’s not even quite shimmer — it’s so smooth and refined. I love these over blush or even alone for a very natural, soft look. They’re like instant wake-ups for the face — I have every single shade to date (which, lucky for my bank account, isn’t too many), but I love Amber Diamond and Rose Diamond the most. You can read my full review here or see one of my favorites, Amber Diamond, in action here.

Best Cheek/Face Highlighter (Budget): Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips

Physicians Formula Shimmer Strips ($7.00) are fun, affordable shimmery strips of colors that help add sheen and shimmer to your cheek bones. I like that there are a lot of different versions to choose from, though I am partial to Healthy Glow myself.

Best Everyday Blush (High-end): Benefit Sugarbomb

Benefit Cosmetics Sugarbomb ($28.00) is one of my newest finds and now my best friend. It has the lovely texture and subtle shimmer of my favorite Dior DiorSkin Shimmers but with more color punch (Skin Shimmers are designed to be highlighters, so they’re not supposed to have a ton of color, FYI!). Sugarbomb is that great mix of peach, pink, and GLOW! This is a product I could easily wear everyday (and I wear it so often!). You can see me wearing it in these looks or read my full review here.

Best Everyday Blush (Budget): Milani Luminous Blush

Milani Luminous Blush ($3.49) is a pretty peachy-pink with light shimmer. If you haven’t already heard, Luminous has been a long-time affordable version of the famous NARS Orgasm Blush. It’s not so peach that it’s overly warm, but it’s not so pink that it gets too cool. Love that it works on both warm and cool skin tones.

Best Cream Blush (High-end): MAC Blushcreme

MAC Blushcreme ($18.50) is one of my favorite products to use in the summer, because it layers really well under powder (blush or just setting powder). Blushcremes are creamy, soft, and look very natural on the skin, because it’s almost as if they just melt into the skin. I love, love Posey and Liliscent.

Best Cream Blush (Budget): Revlon Cream Blush

Revlon Cream Blush ($10.00) are easy-to-use creamy, smooth blushes that add just a subtle hint of color to cheeks. The end result is very natural, yet you’ll notice you have more color on your cheeks. The compact is kind of cute, with a little pop-out mirror for on-the-go application. (Personally, I use a stippling brush with creamy blushes, so it’s not actually so practical for me!) One piece of advice, though, what you see in the pan is not quite what you get — so don’t let the color in the pan intimidate you!

Best Powder Blush (High-end): Guerlain Blush 4 Eclat

Guerlain ‘Blush 4 Eclats’ Sculpting Blush ($49.00) is a four-colored blush available in six different variations. They’re ridiculously smooth, soft powder blushes that look natural and have just a subtle sheen that translates to a natural glow kind of look.

Best Powder Blush (Budget): CoverGirl Cheekers Blush

CoverGirl Cheekers Blush ($4.50) are single-shade powder blushes that come in a variety of shades ranging from pink to peach to plum. Colors go subtly and have a tendency to be soft shades rather than deep and intense, lending themselves to a very natural look.

There’s more — best in bronzers, primers, concealers, powders, foundations, and tinted moisturizers… Continue reading →

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

2009 Editor’s Choice Awards — Part 2 — The Eyes

Each award is broken down into a best high-end winner and budget-friendly winner. For each award, the winning brand/product gets a brief description of why, and where appropriate, a link to any in-depth review. These awards are given out by me based on my personal experience with the products. Readers’ Choice Awards are completely separate :)

I would LOVE to hear what you think about my picks — any of these your favorites, too?  The very opposite of your favorite?  Tell me in the comments!

Part 2 focuses on my favorite products to use on the eyes — from eyeshadow to eyeliner to mascara. These were not restricted to new products in 2009; any brand, any product, from any time can win.

Best Pencil Eyeliner (High-end): Urban Decay 24/7 Eyeliner

Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil ($17.00) are soft, smooth, and come in a variety of colors. They’re vibrant with rich pigmentation, and they glide on so smoothly. I love how long-wearing they are on my lower lash line. The color range and the softness of the pencil itself really make this one a huge winner in my book. You can read my full review here.

Best Pencil Eyeliner (Budget): L’Oreal HiP Chrome Eyeliner

L’Oreal HiP Color Chrome Eyeliner ($10.00) are some of the richest eyeliners I’ve tried. Black Shock is easily one of the deepest blacks I’ve come across in a pencil form. I love the metallic finish of these, and I find them to be very much like Urban Decay’s 24/7 Liners. I do hope to see more of these from L’Oreal HiP in the upcoming year. You can read my full review here.

Best Gel Eyeliner (High-end): MAC Fluidline

MAC Fluidline ($15.00) is an excellent gel eyeliner that is easy to work with, doesn’t budge or smudge throughout the day, and has a decent color selection. (They used to have more, and MAC used to regularly release limited edition shades, but it’s been a minute since that’s happened.) I just find Fluidline to be the best of both worlds — smooth and creamy without being too wet nor too dry that it creates drag.

Best Gel Eyeliner (Budget): Sonia Kashuk Gel Eyeliner

Sonia Kashuk Dramatically Defining Long-wear Gel Eyeliner ($8.99) are a great budget-friendly alternative for grabbing yourself a gel eyeliner. They’re creamy, long-lasting, and easy to use. The only downside is that there are only three shades available (a vibrant blue, cocoa brown, and black). You can read my full review here.

Best Liquid Eyeliner (High-end): MAC Penultimate

MAC Penultimate Eye Liner ($16.50) is an easy-use liquid liner in a felt-tip pen delivery system. The pointed felt tip edge really helps to make it easier to use, stabilize, and get a rich, even line across the upper lash line. You can read my full review here and see me use it in a look here.

Best Liquid Eyeliner (Budget): Wet ‘n’ Wild MegaLiner Liquid Liner

Wet ‘n’ Wild MegaLiner Liquid Eyeliner ($2.99) are easily some of the better liquid liners on the market, but they’re also ridiculously affordable. If you’ve ever wanted to try your hand at liquid liner, I totally recommend grabbing a few MegaLiners to play with. The Turquoise shade has always been one of my favorites!

Check out the Best & Worst Mascaras, Best Eyeshadows, False Eyelashes, Bases, and Palettes! Continue reading →