2009 Editor's Choice Awards -- Part 3 -- The Cheeks & Face

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…

Best Bronzer (High-end): Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel

Chanel Soleil Tan de Chanel ($50.00) is a subtly shimmered bronzing powder that goes on natural and doesn’t turn orange. It’s just very easy to use and feels and looks lightweight. I’m not a huge fan of bronzer, period, but Chanel made me give bronzer another chance this year.

Best Bronzer (Budget): Rimmel Natural Bronzer

Rimmel Natural Bronzer ($6.00) is a smooth, mostly matte bronzer that works well on a variety of skin tones (though on the palest skin tones, you may find it to appear orange if you don’t use a light hand). It’s soft and looks very natural on skin.

Best Primer (Face) (High-end): Korres Silicone-Free Primer

Korres Face Primer ($28.00) is an amazing primer that doesn’t use silicone as a base ingredient, so those who are breakout-prone with silicone primers may enjoy this one in particular. It’s a very lightweight primer that goes on quickly, dries down, and looks matte. It’s actually something you can wear alone or underneath foundation. My mom even loves the way it makes her skin feel and look (and she’s not into makeup).  You can read my full review here.

Best Primer (Face) (Budget): None

No picks from me this year, because I have yet to come across a budget primer that’s really knocked me off my feet. I wouldn’t want to choose a winner that’s more winner-by-default, you know?

Best Concealer (High-end): Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer

Eve Pearl Salmon Concealer ($35.00) is a very creamy and emollient concealer that works really well to camouflage those nasty under eye circles. This concealer really does conceal with a vengeance, because it’s a very thick, creamy product that fully covers whatever you need it to cover.

Best Concealer (Budget): L’Oreal Visible Lift Under Eye

L’Oreal Visible Lift Under Eye Concealer ($11.95) comes in a handy click-type dispenser and applies easily to the under eye area. One of my favorite high-end concealers is the famous YSL Touche Eclat, but with the click-type delivery system, it goes bad quick — which makes it a very expensive product over the long run, just because you have to replace it often. Visible Lift is very similar to Touche Eclat, but it’s much more affordable!

Best Foundation (High-end): Guerlain Parure Gold

Guerlain Parure Gold Fluid Foundation ($78.00) is an excellent lightweight, medium-coverage liquid foundation that makes skin look smoother, softer, and very natural. It has a subtle dewiness to it, but trust me, that’s not code for oiliness. (I very rarely like any foundation that’s “dewy,” because it just looks like I’m oily!) It’s so comfortable to wear; you don’t feel it on at all. You can read my full review here.

Best Foundation (Budget): Revlon ColorStay

Revlon ColorStay Liquid Foundation ($12.99) is a natural-looking liquid foundation that feels lightweight and provides medium coverage. It looks really good on, but there are a few areas where it could be improved (primarily, scent — has kind of a cheap, chemical scent). It’s one of the better drugstore foundations I’ve tried in the past few years, though, because ultimately, it looks natural and gives good coverage without being too heavy and lasts for hours!

Best Loose Powder (High-end): Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder

Laura Mercier Loose Setting Powder ($34.00) is a lightweight loose powder that is perfect for setting makeup. It helps keep makeup in place for hours on end, and I fully recommend the Translucent “shade.” I found it truly was translucent and never made me look powdery or chalky.

Best Loose Powder (Budget): Neutrogena Healthy Skin Loose Powder

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Loose Powder ($12.19) is an incredibly lightweight loose powder that helps to set your makeup. It helps keep oil at bay (at least, for longer) and your makeup in place while you wear it. I wish they had a translucent version, but they have three shades — fair, light, and medium.

Best Tinted Moisturizer (High-end): Korres Tinted Moisturizer

Korres Watermelon Lightweight Tinted Moisturiser SPF 30 ($28.00) is a lightweight, light to medium coverage tinted moisturizer. What I like about it is you can layer it for more buildable coverage, which isn’t something you can always do with a tinted moisturizer. It’s also water-resistant and holds up through the summer heat. It has a very matte appearance, which is also really great for warmer months. I only wish they’d put out more shades.

Best Tinted Moisturizer (Budget): Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer Tinted Moisturizer

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Enhancer Tinted Moisturizer ($11.49) is an affordable tinted moisturizer that holds up well during the summer and leaves skin looking naturally dewy. It also contains SPF 20, which is a nice bonus. I know it also has “retinol treatment” in it, but I couldn’t tell you if it’s effective or not. For the price tag, I can’t imagine it packs the potency of Retin-A or anything like that, though!

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Thought you’d choose the Dior Skin shimmers. 😉 They are great. I also love Bobbi Brown’s Rose and Nude shimmer bricks, and MSFs a lot too. And of course Guerlain Meteorites. My favourite blushes are from Mac, but I’ve yet to try Guerlain’s blushes and also need to try the foundation!

As for budget face primers, I would thoroughly recommend Avon’s Magix face perfector (not the tinted version, but the one in the tube), it works really well and feels lovely when applied.

I know, shocker! LOL! I like Guerlain’s Meteorites, too (very comparable to Skin Shimmers), though even though they’re fun to look at, I think I will always be more of a pressed product fan, ha!

Avon’s Magix Face was decent from what I remember from testing it earlier this year, but it didn’t strike me was award-winning. I’ll have to give it another chance!

After a through testing and researching process, I decided to buy Smashbox sheer focus tinted moisturizer in Luminious and I love it! It is perfect for winter, rich but not heavy and it has enough coverage (sheer to medium) for me, evens out my skin tone and gives me a healthy, natural glow. For 1.7 fl, it is $30, not bad. Have you tried that before Christine? What did you think?

Nice! I think that is one of the nominees for Tinted Moisturizers on the Readers’ Choice Awards. I haven’t tried that one yet (which is kind of like “well, how can you pick winners if you haven’t tried them all?” vs. “how is possible to try them ALL?”) – but I will certainly make note of it and see if I can try it out in time for next year’s awards. 🙂

There are way too many products out there and it is almost impossible for you to try them all so no worries 🙂 Thank you and cannot wait to hear your review on it 🙂 Happy New Year btw!

Which is why it’s so great to have readers chime in with their favorites (plus the Readers’ Choice Awards) AND having them yearly, in case new favorites emerge as each year passes. 🙂

Happy new year!

Hi Christine, thank you for these! I had a lot of fun reading them! I do have one thing I was hoping you’d consider:

I feel like a lot of these categories need a “mid-range” classification. There are many foundations, for example, that fall in price between the Revlon ColorStay and the Guerlain Parure Gold ($30-50 vs. $12.99 or $78.00), but these non-drugstore brands are being grouped under the “high-end” category. I feel like there’s still a substantial enough difference between brands like MAC, Stila, and Benefit and brands like Guerlain, Chanel, Chantecaille, and so on for the mid-range brands to need their own category. That way they don’t have to compete with wonderful and luxurious products from Guerlain! 🙂

Hey Alice,

First, a few comments above, someone else suggested this and I wrote my response – not that I expected you to read through everyone else’s comments, but just to say that you may want to read my responses there as well as the one I’m going to write for you as well, just to round it out.

I guess it, ultimately, depends on your view of mid-range vs. high-end vs. budget. At the same time, what is mid-range? The price difference between MAC and Benefit is still significant enough – $14 lipstick vs. $18 lipstick; $14.50 eyeshadow vs. $19 eyeshadow. I totally understand that $78 for a foundation is pretty hefty overall, but one of my concerns about further breaking down things by price is that you start losing perspective on what’s really good. I don’t want people to see three or four or five “best” or “winners,” because then it’s like, “Well, which one IS the best?” It starts getting less competitive in each category if you have say only 5-6 brands competing in mid-range. At the same time, if you break out MAC, Stila, Benefit from Chanel and Chantecaille… well, you’d probably breakout Chantecaille from Chanel — just like La Prairie, Cle de Peau, and Rock & Republic are significantly higher in price compared to Chanel, Dior, etc. – but then the concern is you’re only getting a few brands competing against each other, rather than twenty or thirty or fifty brands having to really blow away all the rest to win.

I completely understand your concern, though, I just think it might get a little confusing to have three or more winners per category. (I was actually worried that even just having high-end vs. budget was going to be rough.) I did try to think of budget as being more like the budget-friendly alternative of the high-end version, but I did also try to keep my budget-friendly alternatives *truly* budget-friendly (so instead of giving you a $50 alternative to a $78 foundation, I gave you a $13 alternative).

My timeless problem with the budget brands,especially for the face/cheek products is that they don’t show up on my skin tone or the foundation/TM/concealers are too orange or have very limited shade options.

I think you personally have tested more products than the team of Allure beauty editors. Great Job!

It’s tough to find really standout drugstore products sometimes, and I think one of my personal issues with drugstore items is you often have to fork over the money before you get to try it — at least when I go to a makeup counter, I can try out before I purchase, so I have some idea what pigmentation to expect. Even though here in the U.S., return policies are generous, it’s still a hassle!

That’s the truth and there have been marketing studies to suggest that most people do not make returns, regardless of store policy, because of the effort and hassle. I think this is another reason why little effort has been made for sampling of product, for it interferes with guaranteed sales of “buy it to try it”.

Btw, I like the fact you didn’t declare a winner in the budget primer category. I like that you don’t cater to press samples. I noticed many of your choices are things you purchased yourself.

I never thought of it that way, but I could see why drugstores haven’t made as much of a push towards making samples readily available now that you point that out!

I felt like any product that wins an award – even if say I still prefer the high-end over the budget item or vice versa – has to *be* a winner. There can’t be any winner by default, because that’s not really a winner.

I appreciate all of the support from brands and PR over the years, but I like what I like, LOL. If I like it, I like it, if I didn’t like it, I’m not going to fret over if a brand is upset by that – if they can’t appreciate my honesty, then I feel like they don’t understand the point of blogging and why it’s become so popular!

Hi Christine,
Thank you so much for making this! Today I bought Benefit Sugarbomb and I LOVE IT! I have cheeks that are naturally very pigmented (they are always pink unless I cover it up with concealer) and it makes it hard to find blush. Blushes either make my cheeks look unnaturally pink, or they don’t show up. Sugarbomb made them glow while giving them a hint of light pink. This was my first buy from Benefit and now I want to see what else they offer!

WOO! So glad you’ve found a blush that works for you with your more pigmented cheeks 😀

I personally love their Creaseless Cream Eyeshadows & Velvet Eyeshadows!

Very interesting picks. My fav drugstore tinted moisturizer is Olay Definity with the super cool swirled packaging. It moisturizes my dry areas without overwhelming my oily areas, has SPF, and the light shade is perfect for a me but better look. But, it costs around $30 which puts it into the same price range with department store/Sephora choices. I’d been using Laura Mercier so I guess I’m still saving but I don’t really think of this as your typical drugstore bargain.

I was really hoping to find a budget primer here! I’m thinking about just skipping the primer all together but I must admit my HD foundation looks a lot better with my HD primer under it!

I tried, but I just didn’t find anything that was really, really fantastic. Rimmel Fix & Perfect was about as close as I came, but it was okay to good, but not great.

I know some use Monistat Chafing Gel as a primer, but yeah, I just can’t get into that, LOL.

I’ve been considering getting Sugarbomb for the longest time, but I can’t make myself take the plunge. Do you think it’d work on darker skintones, like NC50?

It’s probably going to show up very, very lightly and more shimmer than color. If you can check it out in store, I’d recommend doing that first!

I am in the process of compiling my 2010 product wishlist, and wanted your opinion about Dior’s DiorSkin Shimmer…..I am very FAIR with blue undertones….do you recommend Amber or Rose Diamond??

Thanks for these AWESOME recommendations…..

I love the Revlon Colorstay, best foundation I’ve tried in the past year I’ve been wearing makeup. It does smell pretty funky but it’s something that doesn’t annoy me anymore. I guess I got used to it. Plus with so many BOGO sales it’s really, really cheap.

Hey Christine!! I just love your site! Ive asked you questions on here before but I forgot where so I have no idea what you wrote back lol. I must say I ran out and bought the Milani Blush in Luminous and its amazing! I love it. Im wondering how different it is from Nars because if Orgasm is better I need to go out and buy it now lol. I wanted to buy the Korres tinted moisturizer but its only in three shades and that really turned me off to it since neither one looked quite right on me.

I was also wondering if you could tell me what in your oppinion is a great matte foundation and if i can wear loose powder on top of my moisturizer so that it doesnt look to oily… You can probably tell im a novice lol. Thanks a TON for your help C and sorry for the rambling!

Leidy R.

Hey Leidy,

I think NARS might be a smidgen peachier, but they’re pretty similar 🙂

Kiehl’s has a few more shades, and Laura Mercier’s is always a popular favorite (though I haven’t tried it, so I can’t vouch for it yet).

I like MAC Studio Fix Fluid or Make Up For Ever Mat+ Velvet for a matte foundation. You can wear loose powder over your moisturizer for sure 🙂

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