Welcome, welcome, welcome to the first ever Best Tressed Beauty Awards. Here is my pick of the most amazing, can't-live-without-it products, from the foundations that keep my skin glowing to my favourite new launch celebrity fragrance.
As much as I would like to provide a category for every single beauty product on the market, for some there is simply too much choice.
I had hoped to include a Best Sun Protection category. I had chosen a winner (FYI, it was Lancome Soleil DNA Guard SPF 15) but have just found out it's being discontinued but will be replaced by a new exciting line, come April/May, cannot wait.
In the meantime, sit back, make a cup of tea, or heck, have a glass of champagne(these are beauty awards afterall) and read on to discover the hardest-working, most-deserving winners in beauty! Sx
Winner...Chanel Vitalumiere Aqua, £31 (0207 493 3836)
Why? I've been using this foundation for the last two weeks and I'm completeley hooked on its dewy finish and barely-there feel. This is a light coverage foundation so I wouldn't recommend for blemish-prone skin - it won't mask acne - but it's perfect for duller complexions, at any age. The glow comes from the base's light diffusing complex, which creates a radiant finish. Simply shake well before use to mix the formula and apply. But be warned, once you've Chanel'd, you'll never go back.
Best Budget Foundation
Winner...Max Factor Xperience Weightless Foundation, £9.99 (Boots)
Why? As Best Tressed followers will know, I've spoken of the virtues of this light-as-a-feather foundation before. No other budget foundation that I've tried this year has left my skin looking so luminous. It even fakes that enviable see-through quality of perfect, alabastre complexions. What's remarkable is how weightless it feels on the skin so it's a must if you hate wearing foundation.
Winner...Revlon Matte Lipstick, £7.29 (Boots)
Why? Aside from the fact that matte is where it's at, Revlon's colour range and creamy textures mean it's always first on my lip-list. Once blotted, the colour won't transfer too much and lasts all night. My fave shades are the vampy Wine Not and classic Really Red.
Winner...L'oreal Paris Volume Million Lashes Mascara, £10.99(Boots)
Why? This mascara is unbeatable in terms of lash separation. That's the main event, I guess. But as a much-welcome bonus, it also delivers coal-black colour, serious length and all-out curl. This mascara shows you really don't need to spend £30 when the results are this good for £10.99!
Best Smoky Eye
Winner...Bourjois Effet Smoky Pencil in Ultra Black, £5.49 (0800 269 836)
Why? As a devout wearer of the smoky eye, I cannot believe it's taken me so long to discover this gem. The double-ended pencil has creamy charcoal colour one end, and a brush the other. Now the reason this is such an effective pencil is because, rather than a typical sponge smudger (which just seems to buff colour away) it uses a super soft brush. Simply outline your eye (I love this worn under my lashes for a Daisy Lowe-esque look) and smudge with the brush.
Best Makeup Accessory
Winner...Shu Uemura Eyelash Curlers, £20 (spacenk.co.uk)
Why? I'd heard makeup artists, journalists and friends bang on about these curlers for years but it wasn't until I tried them that I totally got it. Yes, I've been through my fair share of cheaper lash curlers, from plastic to heated, but nothing does the job like these lightweight lash curlers.
Best Nail Polish
Winner...OPI Nail Lacquer in Over the Taupe, £10.50 (lenawhite.co.uk)
Why? Look at it. Just look at it! Do I really need to justify my choice any further? Oh well, if you must know, the brushes are the perfect size (3 strokes will cover the nail perfectly) and the formulas are easy to apply. Two coats of OPI and, as long as you're not gardening or redecorating, your mani will stay flawless for a good few days.
Winner...Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser, £13.25 100ml and two cloths (uk.lizearle.com)
Why? I've been using this cleanser for a couple of years now and I'm pretty sure I always will. Yes, other cleansers may come and go - a change is as good as a rest for skin, I suppose - but the thick, luxurious texture (it's like cleansing with your fave moisturiser), gentle, skin-sloughing muslin cloths and soft, smooth finish will always lure me back. As a footnote, this has proven a great cleanser for blemish-prone, oily skin. My complexion has never been as clear since swapping to this.
Winner...Clinique Turnaround Instant Facial, £31 (clinique.co.uk)
Why? This mask/scrub hybrid is satisfyingly abrasive, leaving skin facial-fresh. Chestnut extract works to buff the skin physically, while salicylic acid encourages the skin to shed dead skin and boost cell turnover for more even-toned, radiant skin. I always use this before a night out for a glowing complexion.
Best No Fuss Moisturiser
Winner...Johnson's Hydrating 24Hour Day Cream with SPF 15, £3.99 (Boots)
Why? I've been brought up with the idea that as long as you hydrate your skin, it doesn't matter if you use a £5 or a £50 moisturiser, and if I'm really honest, I still believe that today. With that in mind, Johnson's creamy moisturiser does exactly what it needs to. Some thick formulas cause my skin to breakout but since using this, my skin has been clear, soft and glowing. Even better, it has SPF 15 so you know you're covered.
Winner...Liz Earle Superskin Rollerball, £18.40 (uk.lizearle.com)
Why? The thought of putting oil on my combination skin never appealed to me. I took this rollerball home one night to try and instantly fell in love with it. I'm not going to lie - for those not used to applying facial oils, it will feel greasy - but no moisturiser has left my skin so glowing and plumped-looking come morning. It's my winter skin saviour!
Winner...Eucerin Hyaluron-Filler Concentrate, £29.99 for 6 5ml Ampoules (Boots)
Why? While, I have tried this on my skin (FYI, it's a non-greasy, silky-feeling serum that leaves skin ultra soft) I can't yet comment on its anti-aging benefits. My mum, however, loved this product. The filler uses Saponin, which has been found to boost the skin's own production of wrinkle-filling Hyaluronic Acid by 256%. The technology is really interesting - dermal fillers use special long-chain Hyaluronic Acid molecules to plump-out deep lines. However, when applied topically in creams these long-chain molecules stay on the surface of the skin and therefore have little effect on wrinkles. Having shortened the molecule chains, this clever serum is able to penetrate deeper into the skin. The Hyaluronic Acid molecules then bind water within the skin to provide an instant plumping effect. My mum's skin was definitely softer and smooth-looking.
Winner...Rituals Mousse au Hammam Shower Mousse, £7.90 (rituals.com)
Why? The thick, indulgent mousse changes to a creamy foam on contact with the skin, while nourishing Argan oil ensures skin stays soft post-shower. But the real seller is the fig scent. Even hours after my shower, E always comments on the smell of my skin.
Best Body Buffer
Winner...Darphin Nourishing Smoothing Body Scrub, £36 (0870 034 2566)
Why? If any product can make you feel as if you've been instantly transported to a spa, it's this one. Not only is the aromatic scent to-die-for, it's a scrub that actually feels like it's doing something to the skin, without being clumsily-abrasive. Most importantly, the exfoliators are supported by nourishing, hydrating ingredients to leave the skin smooth, luminous and silky-feeling.
Best Fake Tan
Winner...St Tropez Gradual Tan Everyday Body, £14.30 (st-tropez.com)
Why? Is it a moisturiser? Is it a tan? Well the answer is both. After many self tan mistakes, I much prefer the safety cushion-feeling of a gradual tan. Not only will this allow you to build up gorgeous, golden colour but the aloe vera formula leaves skin super-smooth.
Winner...James Brown London Richly Moisturising Shampoo, £6.12 (Boots.com)
Why? I always come back to this shampoo. It doesn't produce a great deal of lather but don't let that fool you. This shampoo is seriously deep-cleansing and the fresh scent whisks you straight to a Spring morning.
Winner...Kerastase Masque Chroma Reflect, £25.30 (lookfantastic.com)
Why? For a start, it smells like perfume (specifically, like Ralph Lauren Ralph EDT, which I used to wear at 16). The texture is thick and luxurious - you can almost feel it nourishing your hair. I have thick hair that tends to knot easily (perhaps because I prefer that unkempt, unbrushed look) but 5 minutes with this conditioner/masque and my hair is smooth and tangle-free.
Best Hair Colourant
Winner...John Frieda Precision Foam Colour, £9.99 (Boots)
Why? If you haven't switched to a foam colourant, then why not? The mess-free application makes colouring a much less stressful task. And if you had to pick one, I'd choose JF everytime. Call me a snob but there's something so much more luxurious and high-end about latex gloves in black. Aside from the aesthetics, the permanent colourant comes in 20 luscious shades and promises 100% grey coverage. Simply mix the developer and colourant then tilt (that's TILT, not shake) to mix and squeeze to dispense the foam. I chose 5R Medium Red Brown and I've never had so many compliments on my colour!
Winner...Lee Stafford Hair Growth Treatment, £6.99 (Boots)
Why? I cut my hair into a bob last year and while I loved the style, I never intended to keep it (long hair is just 'me'). When it reached this annoying mid-length, too long to be cute, too short to do anything interesting with, I started to use this treatment. That was 4 weeks ago and my hair must be at half an inch longer. Not that much, you might say but it is when you consider my hair has been trimmed in those 4 weeks! Full of hair-nourishing proteins, it encourages healthy hair from the root for thicker, quicker growth. FYI, it smells divine too!
Winner...Balenciaga Paris EDP, from £44 (houseoffraser.co.uk)
Why? Classic. Chic. Timeless. This is a light, almost minimalist fragrance, with violet top notes and a pure, woody base. I haven't experienced a scent like this in a while, where from the first spritz, it smacks of a future classic. It also transcends age - I would wear it, only my mum's whipped it.
Best Celebrity Fragrance
Winner...Beyonce Heat EDP, £29 50ml (Boots)
Why? I'm not afraid to say that I'm a bit of a celeb fragrance snob. Even SJP's lovely 'Lovely' wouldn't induce me to swap my Chanel 'Coco Mademoiselle' for a celebrity-endorsed fragrance. But I was VERY pleasantly surprised by B's debut perfume. It's unusual but familiar at the same time, with floral top notes of magnolia, neroli and red vanilla orchid, with a sensuous base of tonka bean and amber. I've worn it a few times now, and E's complimented me on it every single time. A winner with boys and girls alike!
Winner...Barry M Instant Nail Effects, £3.99 (barrym.com)
Why? Because no other product has caused such a buzz this year. This is the product I'm asked most about, and with good reason. Nail art is big news but not all of us are dexterously-adept enough to fiddle around with nail pens. A quick slick of Barry M's top coat and you have an instantly chic look for less than a fiver.
Congratulations to all the winners and thank you to all the fabulous PRs who send me such amazing products to paint, scrub and spritz - you've all made it incredibly difficult to pick just one winner for each category. I'd like to thank you all for your continued support of Best Tressed and I look forward to a new year of blog-worthy products! See you for next year's awards Best Tressers, Sx