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Best of the best: Allure's Breakthrough Beauty Awards

Oct. 4, 2012 at 9:04 AM ET

Looking for the very best products to solve the trickiest of beauty issues? Allure magazine has you covered: the beauty bible's editors and experts went through hundreds of new products to award a select few their prestigious "Allure Beauty Seal" for the most innovative solutions to common beauty problems.

From hair to skin fixes, discover which items made the cut:

Allure /
Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup is with almost nothing but pigment, which allows for a more uniform layer of color.

Giorgio Armani Maestro Fusion Makeup, $62

An ocean breeze. Four-ply cashmere. Robert Pattinson. There are plenty of things we want to feel against our skin, but foundation isn't one of them. The challenge for cosmetic chemists has always been that the pigments and optical fillers required to even out discoloration have to be suspended in something-usually an oil-and-water emulsion-that distributes them onto skin. Giorgio Armani's innovators developed a new kind of base that is packed with almost nothing but pigment, so your face feels bare but looks flawless.

How it works: The concept is as clever as it is simple: Use ingredients that disappear after they're smoothed on the skin so only the pigment remains. Since water and powder both add weight, Armani chemists instead looked at 10,000 different oils before settling on five. A few drops of the light fluid allows the pigments to create a uniform layer of color; three of the more volatile oils evaporate quickly, and two are left behind. One contains a sunscreen that protects skin, and the other includes white lotus extract, which has free-radical-busting antioxidant properties.

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Eau Thermale Avène Antirougeurs Fort Relief Concentrate for Chronic Redness, $46

There are more than 16 million Rosacea sufferers in the U.S. and there's little to do to prevent flare-ups of hot, prickly skin, flushing, and acne-like bumps till now.

Avène scientists found a powerful new molecule in the ruscus plant (a common anti-inflammatory) that addresses the causes of rosacea-the first topical product to do so effectively.

How it works: The saponin-enriched ruscus extract does 2 things. First it decreases the VEGF protein to prevent blood vessels to form beneath the skin's surface. SEcond, it helps constrict the vessels that are there. Over time, fewer are able to form and the skin doesn't break down as much. The company research claims that 12 weeks of nightly use reduced redness by 50 percent in Type 1 Rosacea sufferers.

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RoC Retinol Max Wrinkle Resurfacing System, $26.99

RoC scientists paired their wrinkle-smoothing retinol with something called "bioelectricity resurfacing technology" and the result is producing more anti-aging improvements in the skin than 3 doctor-administered glycolic acide peels, all without the irritation.

How it works: The retinol cream goes on first, boosting cell turnover, collagen and elastic. Next, a resurfacing serum with zinc and copper boosts the skin's bioelectricity (small electrical pulses that tell the cells when to repair the skin). In a clinical study, all women using the RoC products had smoother skin texture,

97 percent saw softened crow's-feet, 58 percent had smoother forehead wrinkles, and 88 percent saw more even pigmentation.

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YSL Vernis À Lèvres Glossy Stain, $32

Plenty of R&D money has been sent to find a lip color that shines, colors and stays without reapplication. A few years ago, some crazy chemists at the YSL labs decided to go for broke: They began tinkering with a formula that would deliver the color of a lipstick, the endurance of a stain, and the high shine of a gloss. And by golly, we have a winner.

How it works: When applied... it's magical. A blend of water, pigments, and the polymer ethylcellulose (commonly used to give candy and pills their shiny coating) forms a base on the lips. The water evaporates, leaving the pigments and then tiny drops of silicone rise to the surface to create the reflective finish. Finally, droplets of oil emerge in the film and form a honeycomb-like protective layer so the color and shine won't budge for a full six hours.

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Sally Hansen Salon InstaGel Strips, $29.99

With the ease of their nail-polish stickers and the hard-core strength and shine of a salon gel manicure.. you have "instagel". The system gives you a gel manicure that won't chip or fade for 14 days.

How it works: Each strip has a special base that's layered with actual enamel just like real polish. All you have to do is position, press and buff. Then things get really interesting: The company has a new gel topcoat that, when painted on and dried under the included LED light for 30 seconds, triggers a chemical reaction and forms a clear, durable webbing over the polish, making it at least ten times stronger than regular nail lacquer. Even better, unlike gel manicures in the salon, these strips can be removed lickety-split-without drying acetone.

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CoverGirl LashBlast Clump Crusher Mascara, $8.95

True story: As much as we love our mascara, one un-lucky editor at Allure stopped wearing it altogether because she couldn't find a formula that didn't clump. That is, until we gave her this new CoverGirl mascara with a brush designed to prevent clump formation entirely.

How it works: Regular mascaras need ingredients to build volume so they inevitably will create clumps. The CoverGirl team came up with a solution: They measured the size of the average visible mascara clump (it's 325 microns, if you were wondering) and arranged the bristles so close together that clumps couldn't form. "You can swipe it on repeatedly to build the necessary volume without ever worrying about the mess.

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Pantene AgeDefy Advanced Thickening Treatment, $18.99

Fact of life... by the time we're in our 40s, our hair changes from the shiny, resilient mane to duller, thinner hair more prone to breakage. The thinning is alarming.

So Pantene combines skin-care ingredients with hair-strengthening polymers to thicken individual strands from within, so the hair you have looks and feels younger.

How it works:The chemists had one goal: to make the thin strands thick again. Easier said than done. They ended up using caffeine, niacinamide, and panthenol-that could penetrate the hair cuticle and cortex, making the strands significantly stronger and more supple. They also added a silicone polymer and an acrylate polymer that connect along the cuticle layer to strengthen and thicken strands.

A study published in the British Journal of Dermatology reported that the treatment increases the diameter of individual hairs significantly, creating the illusion of 6,500 more strands. Clinical testing also showed that with daily use (the treatment is applied root to tip, on wet or dry hair), the hair continues to grow stronger after a month.

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Coolway Flatiron System, $150

Everyone knows flatirons will do damage to hair over time as they hit 450 degrees as they style your hair. Coolway scientists created a heat-styling system that achieves the same silky, smooth results as a regular flatiron, without going over 299 degrees-or causing nearly as much damage.

How it works: Coolway engineers though if they could boost the amount of water inside the hair then the proteins responsible for hair strength and structure won't get as damaged. But how? Well the scientist was inspired by golf courses, where a wetting agent lowers the surface tension of water, allowing it to spread more easily-is added to sprinkler systems so the water saturates the ground more evenly, rather than pooling in random spots. Coolway's prestyling spray follows the same principle, using an amino acid blend that allows water to penetrate the cortex of the hair more deeply and evenly. Next, they figured out the max amount of heat your hair could take with the least damage that will still straighten and smooth your hair. This is the result. Coolway's own study shows hair was strengthened by more than 300 percent, it reduced breakage by 75 percent and reduced frizz by more than 50 percent.

For the full beauty awards list, visit Allure.com.

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