Best of Beauty 2005
A Special Report
By Paula Begoun
From Avon to Lancome, Neutrogena, Z. Bigatti, and on and on, hundreds of new skin-care,
makeup, and hair-care products hit the shelves in 2005 and were reviewed in the past year’s
Cosmetics Counter Update (and then often included in my online free Beauty Bulletin). Here I
have selected only the products that meet my exacting, rigorous criteria, and based on in-
depth research have been shown to be the best of the best. The products that make my year-
end list exemplify the amazing strides the field of cosmetics chemistry combined with other
sciences continues to make. It is a thrilling time to be a cosmetics consumer, but making sure
the products you buy meet current standards for advanced, superior formulations is not easy.
While there are better products than ever before, there are still far too many that are either
poorly formulated, absurdly overpriced, labeled with misleading and overexaggerated claims,
or even worse, a combination thereof. Those armed with the knowledge to separate fact from
fiction can keep their budgets intact and truly make a difference in their appearance (yes,
meaning, dare I say it, wrinkles or blemishes will be less evident and less likely to occur)—now
that’s money well spent!
Among my top choices are foundations, concealers, and powders that are setting new
standards of excellence, and, even more exciting, state-of-the-art moisturizers (lotions,
creams, and serums) that allow skin to behave in a healthier, ―younger‖ manner. An
increasing amount of sunscreens have elegant and silky aesthetics to encourage daily
compliance, and we’re seeing more anti-blemish products that contain effective ingredients and have a genuine chance of working (rather than making matter worse). Finally, some
hairstyling products are a cut above the rest—these are beauty breakthroughs everyone should know about!
Before you read through the 2005 winners, please note this list is strictly about great formulations and, in the case of makeup products, impressive textures and application. An
item’s inclusion on this list does NOT mean I found even a fraction of the companies’ claims about their products true or how the products were marketed the least bit valid.
Note: Fewer moisturizers appear on this year’s list because packaging became part of the
criteria for inclusion. Antioxidants, cell-communicating ingredients, and anti-irritants
decompose and deteriorate with exposure to air or light, so products containing these types of
ingredients that came in jars or clear packaging could not be included in the ―Best of the
Best,‖ even if the formulation itself was outstanding.
One More Note: For more information about how I rate products please refer to the Learn
section of my web site at www.CosmeticsCop.com.
The Best Skin-Care Products of 2005
Anthony Logistics for Men
The lowdown: This men’s skin- and hair-care line has, like most lines aimed at men, more
than its share of needlessly irritating products. However, the product below shows what they
can accomplish when they focus on gentle, effective treatment rather than marketing claims.
Nighttime Acne Treatment ($30 for 1.6 ounces) contains 2% salicylic acid (BHA) and—
surprise!—has an effective pH (3.6), meaning it will indeed be able to exfoliate skin and help
dislodge blackheads and heal blemishes. This is an excellent BHA product for normal to oily
skin, but if you’re battling multiple blemishes you should be aware that one of the main ingredients in this product is cornstarch, which is a food-based ingredient that can potentially
cause an increase in the bacteria responsible for blemishes. If your main concern is
blackheads (which are unrelated to bacteria), this 2% BHA option is worth considering.
Burt’s Bees The lowdown: I admit to not being a fan of this natural product line, primarily because of the
many irritating plant extracts used in almost every product they sell. Just because an
ingredient has a natural source doesn’t automatically make it good for skin, and many of these
ingredients are extremely problematic. Unless an ingredient has substantiated benefit for skin,
throwing it into a product is a serious drawback. So imagine my surprise when I came across
this incredibly well-formulated, rather simple hand cream for dry skin and had nothing but
positive comments. How about more of the same, Burt? Put your bees to work creating more
non-irritating, effective products like the one below and I’ll be glad spread the news!
Shea Butter Hand Repair Cream ($11 for 3.18 ounces) contains several outstanding ingredients to provide swift relief to dry skin (on the hands or elsewhere), including emollient
plant oils, beeswax, and soothing plant extracts. That makes it a great emollient for very dry
areas on the body, especially during winter months!
Clinique The lowdown: Clinique continues to produce some of the most exceptional moisturizers you’ll
find at the department store, and you can add the products below to their list of impressive
achievements. That unjustly famous yellow lotion (Dramatically Different Moisturizer—if there
was ever an oxymoron in the cosmetics industry, this is it) is still around, and probably will be
for decades to come, but it’s reassuring that more often than not, Clinique’s latest
developments exceed my expectations.
Active White Lab Solutions Daily Moisturizer ($35 for 1.5 ounces) won’t fade sun-induced
skin discolorations, although the mica it contains will help ―brighten‖ skin. This powerhouse
formula is an outstanding choice for normal to slightly oily or slightly dry skin, and contains
mostly water, silicones, slip agent, water-binding agents, anti-irritant, antioxidants, plant
extracts, film-forming agents, and preservatives. It is fragrance-free and does not contain any
Repairwear Deep Wrinkle Concentrate for Face and Eye ($52 for 1.4 ounces) is an anti-
aging product many baby-boomer consumers will take seriously. However, despite somewhat
misleading claims, this product is as state-of-the-art as it gets, with a remarkably elegant
formula. Just as advanced as most of Clinique’s Repairwear products that aren’t packaged in
jars, this serum includes effective and abundant antioxidants, water-binding agents, cell-
communicating ingredients, potent anti-irritants, fatty acids, plant oil, and smoothing film-
forming agents. It really is a brilliant formula that has the potential to significantly improve the
health and appearance of skin. Will it vanquish wrinkles? No. But it will help skin to create an
improved, smoothed appearance and some wrinkles will look less noticeable, but no plastic
surgeons need worry about their job security. The serum texture makes this a suitable product
for oily skin looking to benefit from topical antioxidants without making skin feel slick or too
DDF The lowdown: DDF (Doctor’s Dermatologic Formula) is a skin-care line from dermatologist Dr. Howard Sobel. The company offers several worthwhile serums and moisturizers, and their
angle is definitely geared toward providing consumers with anti-aging skin care. His latest
creation is the ultra-overpriced RMX line, which uses frozen growth factor proteins in an effort
to ―train‖ cells to look younger. Look for a review of those products (with one of the most expensive moisturizers ever launched) in an upcoming issue of my free online Beauty Bulletin.
C3 Plus Serum ($60 for 0.5 ounce) is an excellent product if you’re looking for a serum that
combines the antioxidant benefits of vitamin C with the skin-enhancing benefits of peptides.
Packaged in an airtight opaque bottle to keep the antioxidants stable, C3 Plus Serum also
contains a nice complement of ingredients that mimic the structure of skin, making it
worthwhile for someone with oily or blemish-prone skin who wants an antioxidant-rich product.
Traditionally, ascorbic acid (the form of vitamin C in this product) has been considered difficult
to stabilize. However, new, placebo-controlled research shows that a 3% concentration of
ascorbic acid (which this product contains) in an emulsion can produce positive results in skin
within a short period of time. This means that, although the ascorbic acid will break down
faster than more stable forms of vitamin C, some immediate efficacy is obtained when the
formulation is correct (Source: Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, July–August 2004, pages
200–206). Assuming that your skin-care routine includes an effective sunscreen—without this
essential step, applying all the antioxidants in the world to your skin would be for naught—this
is a good product to consider, especially if you’d like to see what the vitamin C and peptides
combination can do for your skin.
Dove The lowdown: Dove has made some wonderfully positive strides within the last two years,
going from ordinary, extremely standard body-care products and bar cleansers to offering a
fairly comprehensive, surprisingly advanced lineup of options. These products are big on
antioxidants, which is great, but what’s less encouraging is their predominantly jar packaging. Such fortified products deserve opaque tubes and bottles so consumers can reap the most
benefit from the inclusion of these air- and light-sensitive ingredients. The products below
represent Dove’s excellent formulas, packaged sensibly.
Fresh Radiance Anti-Aging Moisturizer SPF 15 ($9.99 for 1.7 ounces) is a lightweight
moisturizing lotion with an in-part zinc oxide sunscreen, providing necessary complete UVA
protection. It is appropriate for those with normal to slightly dry or slightly oily skin; those
prone to blemishes should consider this cautiously because zinc oxide has the potential to clog
pores. The lotion base is an elegant combination of ingredients that mimic the structure of
skin and antioxidants, making this another smart offering from Dove, and one that eclipses
similar products from L’Oreal and, in many instances, Neutrogena. The opaque packaging
helps keep the antioxidants stable.
Cool Moisture Lotion ($5.99 for 8.5 ounces) may make you think twice because the ―cool‖
portion of a product name usually means it includes an ingredient that makes skin tingle with
irritation from menthol or peppermint, assuredly a no-no for keeping skin healthy. But that’s not the case here, and this remains still another outstanding moisturizer from Dove.
Considering the price per ounce, this is one of the best body-lotion bargains around, and is
recommended for all but very dry skin (which would need a richer, more emollient product).
Intensive Firming Cream ($7.99 for 6.7 ounces) is similar to, but more emollient than, the Cool Moisture Lotion above. It is an excellent choice for dry to very dry skin from the neck
down, and contains many state-of-the-art ingredients, including peptides, several antioxidants,
anti-irritant plant extracts, and ingredients that mimic the structure of skin. What it cannot do
is firm skin, even in a minor way. However, its elegant formula bests just about every
department-store body lotion, and it will give dry skin what it needs to look and feel better.
That alone makes Dove’s inflated skin-firming claims almost forgivable.
Intensive Firming Lotion ($5.99 for 6.7 ounces) is nearly identical to the Intensive Firming Cream above, and the same review applies. Why this product costs less is just marketing
caprice, because the two formulas don’t reflect a difference. If anything, this version should be
priced higher than the Cream version because it contains slightly more silicone, a rather
expensive raw material.
Intensive Nourishing Lotion ($5.99 for 6.7 ounces) is, with a few minor differences, nearly identical to the Intensive Firming Lotion above, and the same review applies. Intensive
Nourishing Lotion contains panthenol in place of the collagen in the Firming Lotion. Both are
good ingredients that mimic the structure of skin, but topically applied collagen cannot add to
the collagen within skin.
Estee Lauder The lowdown: If this prodigious line would only rethink its reliance on jar packaging, their
state-of-the-art formulas would almost be unparalleled in the industry. Yet, despite the fact
that Estee Lauder repeatedly demonstrates their expertise at creating incredibly well-
formulated moisturizers, treatment products, and serums, their packaging is too often
substandard. Compared to competitors, such as Lancome, they are decades ahead. Lauder’s
cleansers, makeup removers, and toners are decent, but if you’re going to invest money in
their skin-care products, it’s the non-jar packaged moisturizers (with and without sunscreen)
that deserve your attention.
Future Perfect Anti-Wrinkle Radiance Lotion SPF 15 for Normal/Combination Skin
($65 for 1.7 ounces) is a very good moisturizing lotion with an in-part avobenzone sunscreen
for complete UVA protection. It is well-suited to the texture preferences of those with normal
to oily skin. What is more cosmetics puffery than legitimately good news for skin is Lauder’s
claim that this product is ―futuristic‖ and that its Cell Vector technology helps re-ignite skin’s
ability to fight the signs of aging. As I reported in the March–April 2005 issue of Cosmetics
Counter Update, which reviewed the cream versions of this product, the technology is more a
marketing concept than an intriguing formulary advantage. It turns out this product’s one-two
punch of broad-spectrum sunscreen protection and a wide complement of antioxidants, anti-
irritants, and ingredients that mimic the structure of skin is what’s really worth getting excited
about. By the way, the radiance you’ll get from this product is from the subtle amount of
shimmer it imparts, not from ―Cell Vector‖ technology, a term Lauder’s marketing team coined.
Among the three Future Perfect products, this version is the only one whose packaging will
help keep its many antioxidants stable.
Idealist Refinishing Eye Serum ($48 for 0.5 ounce) is the complement to Lauder’s top-
selling Idealist Skin Refinisher ($73 for 1.7 ounces). The Eye Serum is similar to the original
Idealist product, but the formula is updated to capitalize on the latest skin-care ingredients.
Included in this water- and silicone-based gel-cream are long-proven emollients (petrolatum),
several antioxidants (the packaging will keep them stable), ingredients that mimic the
structure of skin, and anti-irritants. It won’t minimize puffiness or significantly brighten the
eye area, but it will protect skin and help it function more normally. This would be even better
without the fragrance, but that’s a minor complaint for such a thoughtfully formulated product.
By the way, this can be used anywhere on the face—there is nothing in this product that makes it unique for the eye area.
Laura Mercier The lowdown: Until the product below was launched, Laura Mercier’s skin care wasn’t
extraordinary or worth the extra expense. Her namesake line excels in the arena of makeup,
but the serum below proves she is making good on her claim that makeup only looks as good
as the skin it’s used on!
Multi-Vitamin Serum ($65 for two 0.6-ounce vials) is a two-part product consisting of water-based Phase 1 and silicone-based Phase 2. Both phases contain ingredients that will smooth and hydrate skin, and both contain several antioxidants, though Phase 2 has slightly more.
From a formulary standpoint, there was no need for this product to be split into two phases. I
suppose Mercier simply wanted her serum to seem different and more scientific, and so
consumers are directed to mix several drops from both phases before applying it to the skin. If
the mixing step doesn’t bother you, this is a very well-formulated, antioxidant-rich serum that is recommended for all but blemish-prone skin. Its packaging ensures the antioxidants will
remain stable during use. The firming sensation you get from this product comes from the
film-forming agent used in Phase 1, which can temporarily make skin feel tauter and look
smoother. This product does not contain fragrance, but does contain a small amount of orange
oil, which imparts a scent (and may cause irritation, the only misstep in an otherwise superb
product). For a cosmetics line that is primarily about makeup, this is one of the more
sophisticated antioxidant products around!
M.A.C. The lowdown: M.A.C.’s skin care is at best described as ordinary, the emphasis and
innovation for this line is clearly tied to its formidable makeup collection. The Prep + Prime
range offers some respectable, albeit extraneous products, but the lip option below is
especially noteworthy because it really works to solve a common, frustrating problem.
Prep + Prime Lip ($14 for 0.05 ounce) is a base that is applied before lipstick to facilitate application and prevent it from feathering into lines around the mouth. Guess what? It works!
The silicone- and wax-based stick forms a great barrier to keep color in place, in a way similar
to long-discontinued products such as The Body Shop’s No Wander and Coty’s Stop It! As good as this product is, keep in mind it won’t prevent greasy, slippery lip glosses from
migrating into lines around the mouth. It works best with moderately creamy or satin matte
lipstick formulas, of which M.A.C. has plenty!
Neutrogena The lowdown: Neutrogena continues to launch new products at a rapid-fire pace, but,
regrettably, many of their latest options suffer due to jar packaging or too many irritating
ingredients (the company still loves to use menthol and its derivatives in many of their anti-
acne/clear skin products despite the fact this ingredient is ineffective and problematic for that
condition). Their Advanced Solutions line, for all its dermatologist posturing, isn’t nearly as
advanced as competing products such as Olay Regenerist, Clinique Repairwear, or the
―targeted solutions‖ from Estee Lauder. Still, the product below proves they are capable of
hitting a home run and offers what I hope is a sign of things to come!
Visibly Firm Lift Serum Active Copper ($18.99 for 1 ounce). It’s puzzling that this product
was not included in the Neutrogena Advanced Solutions line because unlike most of those
products, its formulation really is advanced! You probably already know this serum won’t firm
or lift skin anywhere, but don’t let that overshadow the fact that this is an excellent water-
based moisturizer for normal to slightly dry skin. It contains mostly water, slip agent, several
silicones, emollient, glycerin, copper peptide, antioxidants, soothing agent, film-forming agent,
and fragrance. It will make skin feel silky without looking greasy and works well under
foundation to enhance skin’s appearance.
Nu Skin The lowdown: Claiming that their products contain ―all of the good, none of the bad‖ doesn’t
explain dozens of questionable ingredients in their products, many that aren’t remotely close
to being natural or without concerns. But Nu Skin has still created devotees worldwide utilizing
a person-to-person marketing strategy to develop loyal customers, similar to Amway. They
appear to be making some positive changes, including stable packaging and better
formulations with some of their latest launches.
Tru Face Essence ($135.90 for 60 capsules). Despite some over-the-top claims, this product is an excellent way to create silky smooth skin while also providing a good dose of
antioxidants, including green tea, vitamins A and E, and evening primrose oil. The buzz
ingredient is ethoxyheptyl bicuclooctanona, also known as ethocyn. You may recall that this
ingredient was the backbone of the Chantal Ethocyn skin-care line (of short-lived success,
because their products obviously didn’t live up to a fraction of the company’s claims). Despite
all manner of antiwrinkle claims for ethocyn, there never was and still isn’t substantiated
evidence that ethocyn has any notable benefit for skin—though it does seem to be a good water-binding agent. Tru Face Essence is best for normal to very dry skin, and the capsule
dosing system keeps the light- and air-sensitive ingredients stable prior to use.
The lowdown: I am exceptionally proud of the new skin-care products I launched this past
year, and also very excited about what’s in store for 2006. As I continue to fine-tune existing
products and launch new, state-of-the-art options, I want to assure you that I will continue to
adapt my line to respond to the latest, substantiated research concerning what is needed to
take the absolute best care of your skin at every age.
Skin Recovery Toner ($12.95 for 6 ounces) is designed for normal to very dry skin and contains multiple essential ingredients to address the needs of these skin types, including
exceptional plant oils, ingredients that mimic the structure of skin, potent antioxidants, and
unique anti-irritants. It leaves skin feeling hydrated and silky smooth, and is suitable for
someone with sensitive skin, including those with rosacea or eczema.
Skin Balancing Toner ($12.95 for 6 ounces) is an innovative toner for normal to oily or combination skin. This formula is excellent for stabilizing and reinforcing skin’s intercellular
matrix (ingredients that mimic the structure of skin) while eliminating mild dryness and flaking.
Skin Balancing Toner’s cell-communicating ingredients can, in theory, help keep normal to oily
skin balanced so the oily areas do not get worse and it doesn’t contain irritants that lead to
reddened or blemished skin. This is a personal favorite that is now a staple of my morning and
evening skin-care routine.
2% Beta Hydroxy Acid Gel ($15.95 for 4 ounces) is a formulation that was created as a direct response to customers who love my 1% Beta Hydroxy Acid Gel but asked for a stronger
version. Like all of my BHA products, this formula is pH-correct, so the salicylic acid exfoliates
skin and helps clear the pore’s pathway to the surface, dislodging stubborn blackheads and
preventing blemishes. In addition, BHA has antibacterial properties, another advantage to
reducing breakouts, and it also contains soothing anti-irritants. Both my 1% and 2% Beta
Hydroxy Acid Gels have a nearly weightless texture and a soft, nearly imperceptible finish on
pHisoderm The lowdown: Found in most major drugstores, this small skin-care line’s products won’t
knock your socks off. Still, pHisoderm remains a good option for cleansers and also happens to
sell one of the gentlest topical scrubs around for those not yet ready to explore exfoliation via
AHA or BHA products or who want something different than a washcloth (which is my personal
favorite way to ―scrub‖—mechanically exfoliate—the face).
pH20 Anytime Nurturing Scrub with Gentle Microbeads ($5.95 for 5 ounces) is a creamy
formula that not only is value-priced, but also has the ability to exfoliate skin while rinsing
cleanly, making it a great choice for all but very oily skin. It is thankfully free of irritants such
as peppermint and menthol, although it does contain fragrance.
Pond’s The lowdown: Pond’s launched several new products last year, and most of them were truly
disappointing. Owned by Unilever, the same company responsible for the Dove brand’s buzz-
worthy skin-care products, Pond’s latest still includes a drying bar cleanser, toner with
irritating alcohol, rather harsh detergent cleansing agents, menthol, and fragrant irritants such
as coriander oil. They’re a good line to shop for eye makeup remover, cleansing cloths, and
AHA products, but, other than the stellar product below, the rest of the line should avoided.
When in doubt, look to the Dove line for a comparable product—chances are it won’t contain
the problematic ingredients that keep Pond’s from being a stronger contender at the drugstore.
Radiance Restored Age-Defying Skin Brightening SPF 15 Moisturizer ($10.99 for 1.7
ounces) has a superior formula with several antioxidants in suitably protective packaging. This
in-part zinc oxide sunscreen is outstanding for normal to dry skin. Its silicone, glycerin, and
triglyceride base contains almost a dozen antioxidants and ingredients that mimic the
structure of healthy skin. This product does contain mica, which imparts a subtle shimmer to
Rodan + Fields The lowdown: Physicians Katie Rodan and Kathy Fields are known to many from their
appearances on infomercials for their successful ProActiv line. In 2004, Rodan + Fields became
part of the Estee Lauder group, unquestionably a financial and marketing windfall for any
cosmetics company. As a result, their product line expanded, their prices went up, and their
packaging became far more sophisticated and upscale. This new namesake line involves
therapeutic approaches for those suffering from a variety of skin conditions, and claims to
work for anti-aging, skin discolorations, and anti-acne. Lots of consumers believe that
dermatologist-developed products will be the answer for their skin-care woes, but do use
caution. After reviewing dozens of so-called doctor-designed product lines, including this one,
I can tell you there are no miracles to be found, and often there are some problematic
products to steer clear of. Lastly, many of these lines are quite comparable to other product
lines without the physician headliner credentials.
Reverse Step 2 Prepare: Skin Lightening Toner ($35 for 4.2 ounces) is an alcohol-free toner that contains 2% hydroquinone, an excellent, time-proven ingredient to lighten sun- or
hormone-induced pigment discolorations. In addition, it comes in opaque packaging that
keeps the ingredients stable, and contains the antioxidant vitamin C and beneficial plant
extracts. Lemon and arnica extract have no place in a product like this (or any product, for
that matter), but the amounts are negligible. The tiny amount of salicylic acid (less than 0.5%)
will provide minimal exfoliation even though this product’s pH would allow it to do so. It
remains an excellent option to address the skin lightening needs of those with normal to very
Skinceuticals The lowdown: Sold primarily in dermatologist’s offices and upscale spas, this successful
(2004 sales figures topped $35 million) doctor-designed line has some good solid science
behind it, not to mention some very effective, state-of-the-art foundations. In particular, their
sunscreens, vitamin C products, and several moisturizers are highly recommended, assuming
your skin care budget is generous.
Skinceuticals was purchased by L’Oreal in May 2005, and I sincerely hope they will allow this
line to keep producing outstanding products backed by substantiated research rather than
marketing razzle-dazzle. It’s a pricey line, but one worth pursuing if you choose to spend more
than is needed for elegant, advanced skin-care products.
C E Ferulic ($122 for 1 ounce) comes complete with all manner of anti-aging claims, but the
only ones you can bank on with this product (based on a significant amount of research) are
its ability to reduce free radicals and defend skin against oxidative stress. It reportedly
contains 15% L-ascorbic acid, a form of vitamin C considered an excellent antioxidant and
anti-inflammatory agent (Sources: Experimental Dermatology, June 2003, pages 237–244;
and Bioelectrochemistry and Bioenergetics, May 1999, pages 453–461). Because L-ascorbic acid is stable only in low-pH formulations (Source: Dermatologic Surgery, February 2001, pages 137–142), the good news is that this product’s pH of 3 is low enough to allow this form
of vitamin C to be effective. Also present in this water-based antioxidant serum are vitamin E
and ferulic acid. Vitamin E, appearing here as alpha tocopherol, also has a well-established
reputation as an effective antioxidant (Sources: Radiation Research, July 2005, pages 63–72;
Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, December 2004, pages 443–447; and Journal of
Investigative Dermatology, February 2005, pages 304–307).
Ferulic acid is relatively new to the skin-care scene, but earlier research suggests that it
provides antioxidant and sun-protective benefits to skin while enhancing the stability of topical
applications of vitamin E (Sources: International Journal of Pharmaceutics, April 10, 2000, pages 39–47; and Free Radical Biology and Medicine, October 1992, pages 435–448). As
research into this and similar compounds (such as caffeic and ellagic acid) continues, I suspect
we will see more antioxidant-based products enhanced with them, which is great news for
keeping skin healthy and protecting it from further damage.
C E Ferulic is suitable for all skin types. Its brown-glass packaging helps keep its high level of
antioxidants stable, although an airless pump applicator would have been better than the
dropper tip, because that requires you to remove the cover with each use, exposing the
oxygen-sensitive antioxidants to air.
The lowdown: This spa-influenced line, available at Target and on Drugstore.com, is big on
gimmicky products and even bigger on unfounded claims. Still, there’s a silver lining to every
cloud, and the moisturizer below represents that, not to mention a pattern this entire line
should have followed.
Anti-Aging Moisture Day Lotion ($18.95 for 1.7 ounces) is inappropriate for daytime use
because it does not include sunscreen, but is an option if paired with a foundation containing
sunscreen. This formulation is impressive because it omits the fragrant oils common to other
Spa Sciences products and includes more antioxidants. In addition, it has airless packaging
that helps keep the antioxidants stable. It also contains greater amounts of water-binding
agents and lacks the questionable ingredient acetyl hexapeptide-3. If you have normal to dry
skin and prefer a fragrance-free moisturizer with a lightweight lotion texture, this is highly
The lowdown: Stridex is a familiar name to anyone who has shopped drugstores for anti-
acne products. Lamentably, most of their products continue the trend of combining active
ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid with irritants like alcohol and menthol. I
was pleasantly surprised to find the tide appears to be turning with the product below, and
hope the line breaks tradition and starts giving acne sufferers what they really need to treat
blemishes. Then again, I’ve been waiting to see more of that for years, and it’s more than a
bit appalling that it hasn’t happened!
Benzoyl Peroxide Powder Pads ($6.49 for 28 pads) are a unique new option to disinfect
blemish-prone skin. Featuring an effective concentration of 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and free of
typical irritating ingredients found in lots of acne products such as alcohol, witch hazel, or
peppermint, these larger-than-usual, nonabrasive pads are recommended for all skin types
battling acne. These pads contain a mild detergent cleansing agent, so unless your skin is very
oily or you have makeup to remove, they will gently cleanse skin while disinfecting, and they
do not need to be rinsed.
The lowdown: For putting together a customized makeup wardrobe, the McEvoy line and its
collection of palettes and planners is almost without peer. The skin-care products were
reformulated and although some improvements were made, there were proportionately more
missteps. Perhaps the third time will be the charm for McEvoy’s skin care, but for now, this
line remains one to shop primarily for makeup and, in particular, outstanding brushes.
Oil Control Paper ($13) features a roll of thin tissue paper (a great absorbent material) wound on a plastic spool and packaged in a Saran Wrap-style container. You flip open the top
and pull out the amount of paper you need, then tear it off using the cap’s serrated edge. This
is a clever alternative to packaging single-size sheets, and these papers (which do not contain
powder or other additives) do their job, soaking up excess oil and leaving skin smooth and
shine-free. The case is small enough to fit into most handbags, making on-the-go touch-ups a
The Best Makeup Products of 2005
Aveda The lowdown: Although known for their vast hair-care collection, Aveda is not a line to gloss
over when shopping for makeup (though you will want to bypass their skin-care products
which are often fraught with irritating "essential oils"). Last year most of Aveda's foundations,
tinted moisturizer, concealer, and powders were reformulated with mostly positive results.
Unlike many other lines, Aveda’s makeup tends to contain a higher-than-usual amount of
antioxidants, and they know what they’re doing when it comes to effective, broad-spectrum
Inner Light Tinted Moisture SPF 15 ($25) is a replacement for Aveda’s former Moisture Plus Tint SPF 15, and it has basically stayed the same (and that’s good news). Minor updates
include the addition of minerals and an antioxidant. The product still has a titanium dioxide
sunscreen and a smooth, creamy texture that hydrates while leaving a satin finish. It is
suitable for normal to dry skin and offers sheer coverage and a hint of color. Six shades are
available and they are all quite good. Sienna is slightly peach for tan skin tones, but it is
almost too sheer to matter. Burl is an excellent shade for dark (but not very dark) skin,
conveying deep color without turning ashy.
BeneFit The lowdown: Rather than focus on compelling formulas that match current state-of-the-art
standards, most of BeneFit’s items attract attention by virtue of cute or clever names and the
line’s overall irreverent fun. Shopping for and using skin care and makeup can indeed be fun,
but it’s no laughing matter when the products being considered are a woeful combination of
mediocre and expensive. The concealer below is a notable exception, as are BeneFit’s latest
foundation and their longstanding, long-wearing cream eyeshadows.
Lyin’ Eyes Concealer ($18) is the clever name for this click-pen concealer that you apply
with a built-in synthetic brush. Each of the three skin-like shades applies with ease and
provides medium coverage while setting to a smooth, non-cakey matte finish. It does a great
job of convincingly concealing minor flaws without looking like you’ve got something to hide—
and that’s the truth!
Bobbi Brown The lowdown: This popular, well-distributed line has lost none of its touch for creating
beautifully wearable color palettes. I am consistently impressed with the shade selection
Brown presents. The mix of nudes, neutrals, brights, and deeper tones for women of color is
commendable, and that goes for the sheer cream blush below, too. Owned by the Estee
Lauder Companies, Bobbi Brown remains an excellent line to shop for basics such as
foundation, blush, and eyeshadows, and there are a few innovative products too, along with
several thoughtfully-coordinated palettes and cosmetic travel kits. An added bonus is their
counter personnel who tend to be adept at discussing makeup rather than going on and on
about marketing claims.
Pot Rouge for Lips and Cheeks ($22) looks greasier than it is. You may be surprised how easily it applies because there’s no heavy feel and it’s free of excess slip. Its semi-moist finish
makes it great for dry skin, but not the best for solo use on the lips or if you have an uneven
skin texture or breakouts. If you opt to use this as timesaving lip-and-cheek makeup, you may
want to follow up with a lip gloss, particularly if your lips are routinely dry or chapped. This is
one of the better creamy blushes to hit the scene, and is recommended over Stila’s similar,
but slightly too greasy, Convertible Color ($20).
Chanel The lowdown: In recent years Chanel’s skin-care formulas have taken a backseat to their mostly outstanding makeup offerings. It’s not that the skin-care products are terrible, but for the money, you’d be better off having your credit card imprinted at the Estee Lauder or
Clinique counters, at least if state-of-the-art products are a priority. Chanel makeup is a
different story. Their foundations, concealers, powders, blushes, lipsticks, and lip glosses
compete strongly with top choices from Bobbi Brown, M.A.C., Lancome, Dior, and Clarins. I’ve
also noticed that, at least on the west coast, Chanel’s sales staff has become more casual and
less imposing, though it could be I caught the right people on their better days!
Purete Mat Shine Control Powder SPF 15 ($42). Looking for a smooth-as-silk pressed powder that helps absorb excess oil? Check. A powder that doesn’t look cakey or thick on skin?
Check. How about an in-part titanium dioxide sunscreen for enhanced sun protection? Check.
It’s all here, and all at a premium price. Chanel has crafted a wonderfully light-textured, talc-
based pressed powder with broad-spectrum sunscreen, and three of the four available shades
are outstanding. The darkest shade, Warm Rose, is OK, but may be too peach for some
medium skin tones. This is highly recommended for normal to oily skin, but only if your
budget allows for such a splurge. If not, no worries: Cover Girl, Neutrogena, and Paula’s
Choice offer equally good pressed powders with sunscreen for one-third of Chanel’s price.
Vitalumiere Satin Smoothing Compact Makeup SPF 15 ($55) is sold as being
―exceptionally creamy,‖ and that’s an accurate description for this rich, compact-type
foundation. Complete with a titanium dioxide sunscreen, this is an excellent foundation for dry
to very dry skin that needs only sheer to light coverage. It moisturizes without feeling thick or
greasy and leaves skin with a radiant finish that, if you truly have dry skin, needn’t be set with
powder. All but two of the nine shades are attractive options for fair to medium skin tones.
Avoid Cool Beige (slightly peach) and Natural Beige (slightly pink) unless you will be applying
this so minimally that an off shade is irrelevant. Just keep in mind that sheer application of a
sunscreen means you will not be getting a reliable amount of sun protection.
Clinique The lowdown: When it comes to makeup, Clinique wins high marks for its bountiful selection
of everything from foundations and concealers to blushes, all manner of pencils, and mascaras
(their High Impact Mascara is a personal favorite of mine). This past year didn’t necessarily raise the bar for Clinique, but since most of the makeup they offer remains highly
recommended, maintaining the status quo is anything but ordinary!
Colour Surge Eye Shadows (Velvet, Soft Shimmer, and Duos, $13.50 – $17.50) marks the
first time Clinique’s eyeshadows have what they’ve been missing for years:
good pigment concentration, an enviable smooth texture, and easy application that blends
expertly. Their former shadows tended to go on very sheer and had a texture that was too
flyaway and powdery, hindering decent application. This new formula solves those problems
and offers an attractive palette of shades, including a few matte and almost-matte (meaning
negligible shine) options; check out Buttermilk, Bewitched, and Crushed Plum. The Soft
Shimmer shadows have the same texture and application traits as the Velvet formula, except
that each shade has shine. These sublimely silky colors blend beautifully, and although the
shine (shimmer) isn’t what I consider ―soft,‖ the finish is appropriate for daytime makeup if
you have unwrinkled eyelids and a smooth underbrow area. The Eye Shadow Duos present
some beautiful color combinations, but each pair is shiny, so they’re not for the wrinkled eye
Colour Surge Impossibly Glossy ($14.50) seems daring by Clinique’s standards because most of their previous gloss products have been remarkably sheer. Not this one. Take the
―Colour Surge‖ name seriously—these tube glosses are pigment-rich, offering near-full
coverage and a shimmer-infused glossy finish that’s moist rather than sticky. The decadent
colors are all beautiful (actually, they’re sexy) and work well alone or paired with a lipstick for