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Beauty bonanza: Try these top picks for 2006

From moisturizers to self-tanners, concealers to compacts, the editors of In Style magazine share this year's  "Best Beauty Buys."

For most, the arrival of spring is determined by a day in March. For Washingtonians, it’s the bloom of the cherry trees. At In Style, it’s the release of our annual 163 Best Beauty Buys, a ritual that we have celebrated for 11 years running.

We’re often asked how we select the best in makeup, skin, hair and body from the thousands of available products. The process begins in the fall, when our 20-plus reporters hit the ground running, interviewing leading experts across the country from dermatologists to aestheticians, from celebrity makeup artists to hairstylists. Our beauty editors cull the lists, and call in hundreds-upon-hundreds of products. From there, the In Style offices become a test laboratory, where we try out the various lotions and potions and lather our tresses to assure that the products perform as they purport to do. 

Now, the votes have been tallied. The results are in. Here is our latest roundup of the top product picks — from moisturizers to self-tanners, concealers to compacts. Eighty-percent of our select "Today" show products are priced under $25 (most are under $15) and a good number of them have tremendous buzz for also being brand new. You’re sure to find great deals on quality goods to update your makeup bag and medicine cabinet. So get ready for spring, tear out our take-it-with-you shopping guide from the April issue and treat yourself to a Best Beauty Buy makeover!


Editor’s Pick Hair Accessory: T3 Tourmaline Professional Ionic Wet or Dry Iron. Want to style your hair like the professionals do? In our time-crunched world this innovative iron actually dries hair at the same time that it straightens. The tourmaline-infused ceramic plates carry a negative ionic charge, which helps breakdown water and smooth out frizz as water evaporates. Start with a small section of wet hair so that the width does not exceed the length of the plates, swipe iron steadily and slowly from scalp to ends, and resulting hair should be dry, straight and shiny. (Drying and straightening time will naturally depend on texture and length of hair and intensity of curl; for denser curls, additional swipes may be necessary.) Worried about fried and damaged hair after repeated use? T3 actually infuses moisture, hair color and natural oils to the shaft, thus producing healthy smooth locks no matter what your hair type. The bottom line? You save time — not to mention the quality and shine of your hair. $200; 877-737-4672 or


Inexpensive Liquid Foundation: L’Oreal Paris True Match Super-Blendable Makeup. Finding a foundation that matches the texture and tone of your skin can truly leave you perplexed in front of the beauty displays. True Match, developed by L’Oreal Paris in the Spring of 2004, attempts to make the search a far easier one, with a formulation that provides flawless coverage, contains micro fine particles to smooth out imperfections and nourishes skin with Vitamins B and E. Offering incredibly “even, realistic coverage, this formula mixes well with moisturizers,” for a sheer, subtle look, says makeup artist Don Malot of Los Angeles. It’s also available in a spectrum of 24 shades that you can test and sample at in-store kiosks, thus taking all the guesswork out of picking the right one. $10/1 oz.; at drugstores.

Editor’s Pick Concealer: Revlon Skinlights Illusion Wand. We’re always on the hunt for the perfect concealer, and this one by Revlon is also ultra convenient: toss into your purse for touchups throughout the day. This skin-illuminating pen contains rose quartz, mother-of-pearl and topaz to reflect light away from dark under eye circles, hide fine lines and brighten skin. Silicone technology makes for a lightweight formula that is easy to apply, especially with a brush applicator tip that can target even the smallest of flaws. And why not also combat further skin damage with the added benefit of SPF 12 UVA/UVB protection? Available in a choice of three shades — Luminous Touch, Light Touch and Medium Touch. $9; at drugstores.

Inexpensive Bronzer: Physicians Formula Virtual Face Powder in Bronzer. In search of that instant glow without booking a trip to the islands? This bronzer by Physicians Formula is the number one seller of all drugstore brands, and with good reason. The rich concentration of multi-reflective pigments made with the finest Italian talk for an ultra-smooth finish, makes your skin radiantly bronzed. A “fresh from Tahiti” sun-kissed look is what you’ll achieve with this luminous oil-free bronzer, says Carmindy, a N.Y.C. makeup artist. Adds pro Paul G. Blakes: “It’s hypoallergenic, sheer and shimmery.” $11; at

Editor’s Pick Eye and Lip Compact: Pat McGrath Cover Girl Custom Compact Collection. Take a color cue from celebrity makeup artist Pat McGrath who sets the seasonal trends with her work on the fashion runways, with her new collaboration through Cover Girl. McGrath wrote step-by-step application instructions and chose the initial fashion colors in these four-pod compacts, but the key word here is custom. You can add or refill the magnetized compacts with whatever combination of lip color, lip gloss and eye shadow that suits your fancy. “With seven shades of lip gloss, 21 of lip color and 14 gorgeous eye shadows, just think of the possibilities!” enthuses McGrath. $6.50, ($3.50 for individual pots of color); at Target and Wal-Mart.

Editor’s Pick Mascara:  Max Factor Lash Perfection Mascara. No need to spend a fortune on what 50% of women claim is their most essential cosmetic, and in this case of Max Factor’s brand new release, it’s all about the brush. With a high-tech, patent-pending iFX brush that allows you to get more mascara on each lash without any clumping or flakes, this product truly lives up to its name. It’s even easy to coat those hard-to-reach lower and corner lashes. One swipe and lashes look long and perfectly defined — no lash comb required. Hypoallergenic, so suitable for sensitive eyes. Available in four colors: rich black, black brown, soft black, deep blue. $8/.13 oz.; at drugstores.

Long-Wearing Lip Color: MAC Pro Longwear. Depending on the number of coats you apply, “it can look like a gloss or a lipstick — and it stays on all day and night,” says Carmindy, who like other professionals values this double-sided lipstick for its versatility as well as its staying power. Like many of the newer longer-wearing lip colors, it comes with a slick glossy top coat to keep lips moist. Not to mention that the color won’t smudge, run or feather and lasts all day. But the real selling point is the shade selection: With 27 colors covering the gamut from subtle nudes to bold reds (the natural lip and bold red lip are hot spring trends), it’s easy to find a flattering hue. $20/.28 oz.; 800-387-6707 or


Facial Moisturizer: Aveeno Positively Smooth with Natural Soy. Packed with skin-smoothing soy, this affordable oil-free moisturizer contains no potentially irritating fragrances or artificial dyes, says N.Y.C. dermatologist Robert Buka. It improves skin tone, leaving it smooth and soft and even, and in clinical trials has shown to reduce the appearance of unwanted hair in as little as two weeks. $14/4 oz.; at drugstores.

Editor’s Pick Anti-Aging Treatment: Elizabeth Arden/Allergan Dermatology Prevage Anti-Aging Treatment. When Prevage MD launched a year ago, dermatologists raved that idebenone, an antioxidant and the active ingredient, could improve fine lines, sun damage and rough skin. The downside? It was bright yellow and thick. Now that the cream has been reintroduced this December 2005 as Prevage by Elizabeth Arden, it goes on as lightly and smoothly as silk and absorbs in seconds. In a recent study, idebenone received an Environmental Protection Factor (EPF) of 95 — higher than other common antioxidants tested. This translates to a super-powered antioxidant that can retard the signs of aging and restore your skin’s vitality. Massage a pea-sized amount into face and neck 1 to 2 times daily, and expect to see results in as early as one week. $150/1.7 oz; at department stores or for more information.

Do-It-Yourself Exfoliating Kit: L'Oreal Paris Refinish Micro-Dermabrasion. With a flurry of at-home skin treatments flooding the market, L’Oreal Paris Refinish truly stands out for ease and performance. Dermatologists laud that it helps fade sunspots, reduce fine lines and pore size and even out skin’s texture, which improves almost immediately, says David McDaniels, a dermatologist in Virginia Beach, VA. The foolproof, two-step kit has an aluminum oxide scrub and a calming, vitamin E-based cream with SPF 15. Apply Refinish 2-3 times a week, and enjoy immediate results in skin texture. $25/2 oz.; at drugstores.


Editor’s Pick Sunless Tanning: Estee Lauder Go Tan Sunless Towelettes – for face & body. Individually wrapped in convenient foil packets and pre-moistened with just the right amount of self-tanner, these single-use towelettes deliver a foolproof, fast-acting tan — ideal for travel or for adding a hint of bronze from head-to-toe. The color looks even and natural on almost any skin tone. $28 for 10 body towelettes, $23 for 10 face and décolletage towelettes;

Shimmer Lotion: Jergens Soft Shimmer Radiance Moisturizer. Last year it was the Jergens Natural Glow self-tanning lotion that stores couldn’t keep in stock, and the spring release of this new shimmer lotion is proving to create a similar stir. Pros love this light, subtly reflective formulation because it spreads evenly and doesn’t rub off on clothes. Plus, one whiff of the scent and you are immediately transported to a breezy day at the beach. “It sinks into skin instead of sitting on top, so it looks natural,” says makeup artist Jeannia Robinette, who has used it on Penelope Cruz. You’ll have that Hollywood, red-carpet glow in no time. $5/10 oz.; at drugstores.

For more on the great products from Best Beauty Buys, go to .