The Best Makeup Products of 2012
Every year, hundreds of beauty products cross our desks, and 2012 was no different. And every year, there are duds and there are standouts. The products here—squeezable mascara tubes, a roll-on concealer—stand firmly in the latter camp. These are our picks for the best makeup products of the year for eyes, face, and lips.
The Best New Eye Makeup
If you have a shadow of a doubt about how to shade your lids, the Revlon PhotoReady Primer + Shadow can help. The kit’s clever swipes show you what color goes where. And along the bottom are a crease-preventing powder primer and a shimmery topcoat. In eight shade combinations.
To buy: $10 at drugstores.
Lay It on Thick
No matter what mascara lives in your makeup bag, Essence Volumizing Lash Powder can take it to the next level. Apply your mascara; then, while it’s wet, brush on a bit of the ultra-thickening fiber-infused powder. Finish with one last coat of mascara for eye-popping results.
To buy: $3.50, ulta.com.
The evidence is clear: The Mark Drama Case Eye Shadow and Liner Palette was fall’s most appealing compact. Slide open the top of the case horizontally to uncover six full-size shimmery shadows, then vertically to expose four powder liners and a brush.
To buy: $18, meetmark.com.
Down the Tube
Most mascaras are mysterious things: Who knows how much is really left in there? Make-Up Designory Black Cream Mascara comes in a squeezable container (pictured clip not necessary) that lets you get at every last bit of the creamy, but not clumpy, formula, cutting waste—and frustration.
To buy: $14, mudshop.com.
Blades of Glory
Be honest—your makeup bag probably isn’t a sterile environment, which is a problem when it comes to eye pencils. Prevent infection by sharpening before you line with Becca Cosmetics Anti-Bacterial Pencil Sharpener. The blades are treated with an antibacterial solution that sanitizes pencils with every twist. The sharpener, effective for up to two years after the initial use, fits either standard or jumbo liners and can create sharp or round points.
To buy: $10 to $12, beccacosmetics.com.
Vive la Résistance!
Even if your favorite mascara isn’t waterproof, you can now take it for a swim. Brush on Anastasia Beverly Hills Lash Genius, a colorless topcoat that renders any formula instantly waterproof. Or apply it on its own to give lashes subtle definition and shine.
To buy: $21, sephora.com.
Finally, a mascara that will see you through thick and thin. For a dramatic effect, gently squeeze the soft center of LashControl Squeeze Mascara as you pull out the wand to dispense a healthy dose of the thickening formula. For a lighter look, squeeze harder: Less mascara will end up on the brush—and your lashes.
To buy: $20, lashcontrol.com.
Shed Your Baggage
Aestheticians have long touted the benefits of effleurage, a gentle massage stroke that, when used under the eyes, can help deflate bags. Consider Soap & Glory You Won’t Believe Your Eyes Serum the high-tech version in a tube. It has a roller-ball applicator that cools skin and a yeast derivative that helps depuff bags. All that’s missing is the spa.
To buy: $25, sephora.com.
Turn any powder shadow into liner in the blink of an eye with Aveda Color Options Eye Shadow Transformer (shown on the eye shadow here). Just squeeze a few drops of this oil- and paraben-free liquid onto the shadow, then use a firm-tipped brush to dot the now creamy color along your lash lines.
To buy: $25, aveda.com.
Get two mascaras for the price—and the makeup-bag space—of one. Flirt! Agent Lash Mascara has two caps built into the tube. Unscrew the bottom cap and pull the wand through to create ultra-flush fringe. Do the same with the upper cap to deliver lash-defining benefits. In four shades.
To buy: $16, kohls.com.
Kohl eyeliner has come a long way since the days of Cleopatra. Daliia Ayurvedic Couture Herbal Kohl Liner offers a tapered tip for goofproof application, is made from natural ingredients (so you can line the inner rims of your eyes), and has a handy mirror built into its top. Available in five shades.
To buy: $28, amazon.com.
Give ’Em the (Cat-) Eye
Any makeup artist will tell you that when it comes to expert application, a proper tool is the name of the game. Revlon ColorStay Crème Gel Eye Liner provides just that: Each pot of color (available in black, brown, charcoal, and plum) has a tiny built-in brush that fits into the cap for tidy storage—and gives you a flawless cat-eye every time.
To buy: $10 at drugstores.
Leader of the Packs
You can pass on the peas. The polymer-coated beads in the TheraPearl Eye-ssential Mask retain heat or chill for 20 minutes—generally the acceptable amount of time for easing mild pain. Microwave for 15 seconds and position over eyes to soothe tension. Use the pack chilled to treat headaches and puffiness.
To buy: $13, therapearl.com.
The Best New Facial Makeup
Spray foundation creates a beautiful, even finish, but some neatniks are reluctant to pull the trigger. Aero Minerale Makeup Mist Foundation is a lightweight mineral formula that’s mess-free: A quick spritz and you get sheer yet complete coverage. It won’t smear on clothing but rinses off with soap and water. In 10 shades.
To buy: $15, walgreens.com.
Talk about having you covered. Physicians Formula Youthful Wear Cosmeceutical Youth-Boosting Concealer comes with a correcting cream at one end, a cover-up stick at the other, and a roller ball in the cap that blends the formula seamlessly into skin. What’s more, both concealers contain moisturizing ingredients to help lessen the appearance of lines. In two shades.
To buy: $13 at drugstores.
A new alternative to setting powder, Skinn Cosmetics Plasma Flawless Finish leaves the old-fashioned stuff in the dust. This unpigmented, weightless product relies on silicone and oils, such as rose hip, to diminish shine, blur pores, and seal in makeup. Smooth it on with the sponge that’s stowed in the case.
To buy: $30, store.skinn.com.
Here’s a bright concept: If you can’t see your pimple, you won’t mess with it. Sonya Dakar NutraSphere Blemish Buster is both a potent salicylic acid treatment and a concealer that blends seamlessly into any skin tone, so you can avoid temptation all day.
To buy: $29, sonyadakarskinclinic.com.
If self-tanning isn’t your thing but you can’t make peace with pallor, smooth on The Body Shop Honey Bronze Shimmering Dry Oil for a warm, flattering—but temporary—gleam, plus a dose of moisturizing honey. (Don’t let the word oil scare you. This one sinks in instantly.)
To buy: $22, thebodyshop-usa.com.
Consider it blush for dummies. Almay Wake-Up Blush + Highlighter comes in a compact with highlighting powder in the top half and a blush on the bottom. Stroke the angled brush across both colors, then apply to cheekbones. The contoured bristles ensure perfect product placement.
To buy: $10 at drugstores.
Oil-blotting papers remove grease, but they can take off makeup, too. The Sephora Shimmer Sheet Set has three sets of 30 papers each. One set contains traditional blotters; the other two are tinted and leave behind a thin veil of colors so you’re never left barefaced.
To buy: $16, sephora.com.
Bronzers and self-tanners can mask pasty skin, but only when skillfully applied—therein lies the rub. So try a brush: Spray di Solé Liquid Bronzer, a bronzer and tanner in one, comes with its own. Pump the liquid onto the brush, then work it into your face or body. The color builds with each application for a lasting glow.
To buy: $50, spraydisole.com.
The cosmetic equivalent of Photoshop, Talika Skin Retouch is a clear fluid infused with light-reflecting pigments that blur imperfections, such as redness and large pores, much like a soft-focus lens does. You can wear it on its own or under powder makeup, and the brush-on tip makes applications a snap.
To buy: $49, nordstrom.com.
Love the light coverage of mineral makeup but hate the mess? Clarins Skin Illusion Loose Powder Foundation has a brush that’s stored in the container to prevent powdery residue from accumulating in your makeup bag. In eight shades.
To buy: $40, macys.com.
The miraculous (and compact) BeneFit Perk-Up Artist palette is the next best thing to getting 40 winks: The yellow shade conceals veiny lids, the peach covers dark circles, and the pink highlights the inner corners of your eyes, so you appear more awake.
To buy: $30, benefitcosmetics.com.
Some makeup-setting sprays are drippy, but Merle Norman Expert Touch Finishing Spray is an ultralight way to preserve your masterpiece. The fine mist is barely detectable on skin, dries quickly, and does indeed lock in color all day.
To buy: $16, merlenorman.com for stores.
The Best New Lipsticks and Glosses
Lips to Flip Over
It’s one of the oldest makeup-artist tricks: To get a lipstick color that’s just right for you, mix a couple of different tones together. CoverGirl BlastFlipstick gives you two complementary shades—a cream formula at one end, a shimmer at the other—so you can experiment to your heart’s (and pout’s) content. Available in 13 duos.
To buy: $9, ulta.com.
Kiss a Little Longer
If you dream of a lip gloss that really lasts, you’ll take a shine to Yves Saint Laurent Rouge Pur Couture Glossy Stain. Brush on the intensely pigmented gloss, resist the urge to pucker for a minute while the color sets, and then you’ll be good to go for hours—through snacking or smooching. Available in 20 shades.
To buy: $32, sephora.com.
Beauty junkies who want a lighter handbag but can’t bear to winnow their stash should check out this slim pick. L’Occitane Pivoine Delicate Eau de Toilette and Lip Gloss Duo houses a suits-all sheer pink lip gloss and a rose-and-peony–laced roll-on perfume in one tidy little tube.
To buy: $24, usa.loccitane.com.
Love the look of gloss but not the fact that once it wears off you’re back to square one? Maybelline New York SuperStay 10HR Stain Gloss offers high shine and very rich pigments, so when the gloss loses its luster, a matte stained finish is left behind. In 10 shades.
To buy: $9 at drugstores.