Sunday, December 30, 2012

Selections from the 2012 Awards

Total Beauty recently announced the winners of their 2012 Beauty Awards! The award categories include Hair, Makeup, and Face & Body, and you're sure to have some of the winning products in your arsenal of beauty supplies. I always enjoy reading "Best Of" lists to see what I already have, and of course I often see products listed that are "new to me" and I add them to my ever-growing list of things to buy. Award Winners 2012

We rounded up more than 500 beauty products. And while our editors were testing products to choose the "Rising Star Editors' Picks" (selected from new products), we invited you guys -- the readers -- to name the "Readers' Choice" winners in March. Now it's (finally!) time to present the winners ... you can check them all out here.

I received a selection of five products that made it into the Winner's Circle, and three of the five are products that I've not used before. Here's a quick review of each item:

Kiehl's Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser - $19.50/5.0 fl. oz. tube

Years ago--I should say decades ago at this point, when I began taking a real interest in general skin care, I started exploring products beyond the drugstore shelves. In the 1980's, Kiehl's was among a select few at the time that offered more upscale natural skin care products. Their Creme de Corps body moisturizer was my first Kiehl's experience oh so many years ago, and I still use it in my rotation today. The Ultra Facial Oil-Free Cleanser offers gentle, yet thorough cleansing, and leaves my skin feeling very soft and hydrated. It controls my somewhat oily T-zone, is fragrance-free, and lathers up nicely. The tube is quite large and the "little goes a long way" saying is true, so this should last for quite some time.

Soap & Glory Super-Colour Sexy Mother Pucker Baby Doll Lip Plumping Gloss - $15.00/0.23 fl. oz.

Can you believe I've never tried anything from this line? It's a line I've read rave reviews about, so I was happy to see this product included. The shade I have is called Baby Doll, which is a light translucent pink. It doesn't add a lot of color, just enough to give my lips a slight natural flush look. The tingling that starts just after the application feels like little vibrations on my lips--bonus points for that fun factor! I've tried some lip plumpers that actually sting, but this one is rather enjoyable. It does seem to plump my lips up somewhat, and it definitely smooths them out. While this doesn't have a big color payoff, it's great for a more casual look. I find myself using it under matte lip sticks quite frequently, because it does such a good job of smoothing out my lips, since some matte shades seem to enhance every little line and flaw. It has a mild chocolate/raspberry flavor and scent, and it's somewhat sticky, but not unpleasant to me in the slightest. I'd love to hear any recommendations you have for other products from Soap & Glory, because I love this lip gloss.

Q-tips Precision Tips - $3.00/170 ct. box

Who hasn't used Q-tips in their beauty routine? I've used Q-tips for as long as I can remember to clean up nail polish around my cuticles, lip stick that went beyond my lips, eye shadow, mascara, eye liner...lots of great uses for Q-tips, no doubt about it. Their Precision Tips are something I started using a year or so ago, and they make clean up much easier with their precise tiny tips. I had been using another brand (Studio M) that my local Meijer store carries, but switched over to these when they started carrying them. They're less expensive than my previous brand, and they are of much better quality.

Wella Velvet Amplifier - $13.00/1.88 oz. bottle

Primer for your eyes, primer for your face, primer for your hair? Of course, why not. I actually picked some of this up last year from my hair salon, so this isn't a new product for me. This serum acts as a primer by smoothing out the hair's cuticle, and amplifies the effect of additional styling products you use. The result is easier manageability, smoother hair, less flyaways, added volume, and no stiff or sticky feeling. The formula is very similar to a silicone based face primer--silky and gel-like, only it has a lavender tint. Just a pump before blow drying is all you need. I made the mistake when I first bought this of using too much...I thought it worked so well, a little more would work even better, right? Wrong. That mistake made my hair look greasy, so stick with the recommended amount and you'll be fine.

Maybelline Volum'Express The Falsies Flared Mascara - $5.99/.31 fl. oz.

This mascara has potential, and the more I use it, the more it seems to give me a look I'm satisfied with. I'll admit the first time I used it, I wasn't impressed too much, but after working with it and getting used to the brush and the formula, it's definitely workable. It does have some good points, but there are also some things about this product that I'm not crazy about. Let's start with what I don't like about it. The scent is very strong, somewhat like roses, but I don't really care for it. While it does give me volume and it is buildable, it doesn't do a whole lot for my length. It sometimes requires the use of a lash comb after I'm all done using it, because the ends of some of my lashes clump together with this formula. Now for the better points. Blackest Black is the color I received, and it is very dark and pigmented, which is what I want for my lashes. I haven't noticed any flaking or smudging. For the record, I have the washable version, and there is also a waterproof version available. The brush is curved (Maybelline calls this a spoon curler brush) on one side and flat on the other side. You are instructed to use the spoon/curved side first, and then use the flat side to flare them outward. I am easily able to get all of my lashes coated with this brush, even the tinier ones in the inner corner of my eyes. The formula is what I would consider to be on the thinner side, and it doesn't leave my lashes too stiff. I don't really notice any flared effect, but I do like how my lashes look in the end. It's not my perfect mascara, but it's something I will reach for, I'm sure. I really wanted to see a flared look to my lashes though!

*Products featured were furnished for consideration.