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2012 High-End Beauty Brand of the Year

Guerlain is victorious once again–having won Brand of the Year in 2009 last–because of well-edited, interesting collections and launches of innovative new products.  When I think about brand of the year, I think about the products that are most memorable, the ones that I continued to use outside of testing, products I know I’ll return to.  This year, Guerlain has consistently put out new favorites.  You have Wulong (beautiful, glowy highlighter/finishing powder), Rouge G L’Extrait (Orgueil in particular), Turandot (an autumnal eyeshadow quad), Liu (holiday palette), lovely blush duos, more shades of Rouge G, and Shine Automatique.  Guerlain delivers soft, divine textures paired with rich hues and luminous finishes, and they so often do it in beautiful, elegant packaging, too.

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2012 Budget Beauty Brand of the Year

L’Oreal takes top honors this year, with the release of fantastic products such as their Infallible Eyeshadows and Colour Riche Nail Lacquers, in addition to their existing range.  But these two new formulas really clinched the win this year, because they weren’t just memorable, but truly fantastic products that captivated the beauty community at large.  L’Oreal also has excellent core products, like their Lineur Intense, along with much of the L’Oreal HIP range.

2012 Best High-End Niche Brand of the Year

Le Metier de Beaute is a luxury line that is, luxury-priced, so it tends to fly under the radar, and while it seems to have popped up on more people’s radars this year, it still seems like a quiet, niche brand to me.  I feel like when Le Metier de Beaute launches a new shade or formula, they’ve done so with every intention of having perfected it already.  They have stellar textures in their eyeshadows, glosses, blushes, and cream blushes.  Even their nail polish is divine to use–very pigmented, beautiful fluidity, and great wear.  Some of my favorite products include Echo blush, Papaya Creme Lipgloss, and their eyeshadows.

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2012 Best Budget Niche Brand of the Year

This year, Fyrinnae, which is a brand that is already highly appreciated and lauded for its original colors and formulas, plus for its ever-famous Pixie Epoxy primer, they launched pressed eyeshadows.  Ahh–if you, like me, still much prefer your pressed over loose in eye color (I love loose eye colors, but I very rarely reach for them!), this was such a welcomed release.  It was particularly impressive how well they managed to translate the loose color to the pressed form. You could tell that a lot of care went into the rollout of the pressed eyeshadows.  Fyrinnae also makes an assortment of intriguing, not-your-everyday lip colors in the form of Lip Lustres.  One facet of Fyrinnae that is really nice the options to purchase sample sizes of many of their products, which enables you to try an assortment and only commit fully to your favorites.

2012 Most Underrated High-End Brand

Burberry is a brand that continually delivers impressive, near-perfect (and sometimes perfect) products, formulas, and shades, and yet, I don’t hear the name Burberry often enough.  I think the higher price point, combined with the somewhat limited distribution (or at least, in-store distribution) has contributed to that, but so often I hear from readers who’ve caved and purchased a Burberry Beauty product and then fallen in love.  The texture of their powders is heavenly; so soft, finely-milled, and smooth.  Their lipsticks are long-wearing, comfortable, and rich in color (and there is also a sheerer range, for those who prefer less color coverage). A few of my favorite products from the past year have been Earthy (natural blusher) and their Lip Velvets (matte lipsticks).

2012 Most Underrated Budget Brand

Drugstore brands have been doing some BIG! and INCREDIBLE! things in the past couple of years, and lately, Milani’s been creating amazing products but isn’t getting enough credit for them.  In 2012, Milani released incredible cream shadow pencils and intensely pigmented powder eyeshadows that were quite fantastic. And they’re two types of products that aren’t always done as superbly as Milani managed to do at mass.