The best of 2011 beauty

It’s taken me a week into the new year, but I’m finally ready to talk about my favorite products of the last year. 2011 was a big year for me in terms of branching out and trying new things. I joined Birchbox and Julep Maven and started taking more chances on drugstore makeup instead of sticking to high-end brands. I got over my fear of red lipstick (more on that another time) and rediscovered glitter. I tried a ton of new products, some with better results than others. This list includes most of my favorite new products from 2011. I should qualify the “new” — for the most part, I tried to limit the list to products that were actually new in 2011, but a few strays may have snuck on. It’s possible some of these pre-date 2011 somewhat. But they were at least new to me in 2011. I’m looking forward to what 2012 will bring!

Bath & body

The Body Shop Candied Ginger scrub and body butter

I included Candied Ginger in my November favorites, but it wasn’t until I packed the scrub and body butter on a trip to the North Slope oilfields that I really began to appreciate the awesomeness of this moisturizing duo. Holiday scents are 50% off at The Body Shop while supplies last, so if you’re on the fence about this one, I encourage you to go for it. Unless you hate having soft, smooth, gingery-smelling skin, in which case you should definitely skip it.

LUSH Lust soap

We spent a weekend in Las Vegas in December, and when I made my customary pilgrimage to the LUSH in Mandalay Bay, they sent me off with a good-sized sample of this sparkling, jasmine-scented soap. One use and I was sorry I hadn’t bought the entire brick. It smells spectacular, sweet and floral, and I really like the shimmer, although I know that could be a turnoff for some. I never thought I’d love another LUSH soap as much as I love Sexy Peel (which is a very different soap), but Lust might have taken the top spot.


Julep Facial for Hands Glycolic Hand Scrub

I started using Julep’s hand scrub after it arrived in my very first Julep Maven shipment, and it didn’t take me long to get hooked. I am not exaggerating when I tell you that after I’d been using this hand scrub for a week or so, people started commenting — unprovoked — about how soft and smooth my hands felt, and it was an easy pick for my October favorites. The price tag ($32) hurts, but the results are amazing.

OPI Mermaid’s Tears

I liked the entire OPI Pirates of the Caribbean collection, but Mermaid’s Tears was the only one that I really felt the need to own. I love blues and greens, and there’s something about this particular shade — this might sound weird, but I find it calming. (On the other hand, maybe it doesn’t sound so weird.) Mermaid’s Tears has earned a place in my all-time favorite nail polish colors.

Wet N Wild Behind Closed Doors

I gushed about Behind Closed Doors, a limited-edition Halloween polish, back in September, and my love for this squishy red-on-black glitter hasn’t decreased. This is one of those polishes that never fails to attract compliments.

Zoya Gemma

I just started getting into Zoya polishes in 2011; as far as I know, there’s nowhere to buy them in Anchorage, so I get mine online. A couple have also come in Birchbox shipments. Gemma, from the Intimate collection, isn’t usually the kind of color I’d go for; generally I stick to the extremes (plain creme or total glitterbomb), but Gemma has an unusual sort of violet duochrome shimmer over olive green. It’s super unique and I love it.

If you like Zoya products (or if even if you haven’t tried the brand but think you might like to), I recommend you set up an account on the Zoya/Art of Beauty website, and follow Zoya on Twitter and Facebook. They occasionally do member promotions, including some great buy-two-get-two-free events, and they don’t gouge you on shipping (even to Alaska). Now through Jan. 9, you can try two bottles of Zoya free (you pay shipping) with the code ZOYA2012.


L’Oréal MagicSmooth Soufflé makeup

One of my beauty resolutions for 2011 was to find a foundation I actually like. This is That Foundation. MagicSmooth Soufflé has been my new best friend since September and we are still going strong. It’s smooth and even and — better yet — affordable. While I’m sure I’ll keep shopping around a bit on the side (I like to have a backup since I have a track record of falling in love with foundations just before they get discontinued), I know I’ll keep coming back to this one for the foreseeable future.

Maybelline Master Drama by Eye Studio eyeliner

This is one of those products that lives up to its Internet buzz. I’ve used a lot of eyeliners and spent a lot of money along the way, with mixed results. This is absolutely the best value eyeliner pencil I’ve ever bought. The quality is just as good as a Stila SmudgeStick but at about half the price. The Eye Studio Master Drama cream pencil has quickly become a staple of my routine. I run this along my upper waterline every morning and it stays all day. Love it.

Urban Decay Supercurl Curling Mascara

I’ve been using (and consistently loving) Maybelline’s Volum’ Express The Falsies mascara since 2010 and had no plans to supplement my mascara routine with anything else, but then I bought the new Urban Decay Book of Shadows palette at Alaska’s new Sephora, and it came with a small tube of Supercurl. I’ve never felt the need to curl my lashes (I had an eyelash curler once because it came with a brush set, and I ended up throwing it out), but I have to say this mascara is a winner, and it really does have an immediate, visible curling effect. (Tip: Apply the brush to the outside/top of your lashes, not the side closest to your eye, and twirl it like you would roll a round brush through your hair.) The formula is great, too — not at all clumpy or flaky. I had mixed feelings about the new Book of Shadows palette on the whole — the whole iPod speaker thing was kind of gimmicky, and the QR codes leading to the tutorial videos were too small for my old phone to read, although I haven’t tried them again since I got the 4s, and the construction of the drawer holding the actual shadows was flawed, but the actual products were great.

Milani Lip Flash pencil in Photo Flash and Kat Von D Foiled Love lipstick in Adora

As I mentioned at the top, I really got into red lipstick this year, and while I stick to creme shades for everyday, when we go out I like to add a little something extra. These two lip products are reds that work with my coloring and add a little something extra. Milani Lip Flash looks more obviously glittery, although the effect is elegant and not at all teenybopper when it’s actually on the lips. Kat Von D Foiled Love really does have a smooth, foiled look that’s unique among the lip products I’ve used. I like both for evening with a dark neutral smokey eye.

Left: Milani Lip Flash in Photo Flash
Right: Kat Von D Foiled Love in Adora

Revlon ColorBurst Lip Butter

What can be said about Revlon’s Lip Butters that hasn’t been said by me and every other beauty blogger in America? They’re awesome. And as I mentioned in my full review, they’re a great gateway drug if you’re interested in experimenting with red lipstick but don’t know where to start. I’m sure these are on just about every 2011 favorites list, but I’m jumping on the bandwagon anyway. They’ve earned their buzz and their place at the top for 2011.

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