Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Top Beauty Picks For 2012

Happy New Year!
Picking out the best beauty products of the year is even more complicated than doing the same for perfume (which actually required a second post in 2012). Last year I couldn't even be bothered to go through my notes, files, and older reviews to come up with a list, but this time I decided to keep things short and sweet and not to bother with release dates. I'll just list the products I added to my routine in 2012, and  loved/used most often.

vintage skin care ad

Skin Care:
I tested and experimented more than was good for me (and had the chemical burn to show for it), but three things made the most difference for my skin:
1. Best Face Forward Natural Serum Oil - I don't ever want to be without it.
2. Paula's Choice Resist series, and especially the Retinol Serum (which can be used over the BFF oil).
3. Dr. Jart+ Water Fuse Sleeping Mask- This clear mask fights dryness like nothing else.

Color Cosmetics:
1. Tom Ford blushes. Despite my initial resentment towards the branding and marketing I couldn't ignore the exquisite texture and finish of Tom Ford blushes. I bought two: Love Lust and Wicked, and now hope for more. Add to that the wonderful Tom Ford cheek brush and you're all set.
2. Dior Grege eye shadow quint. Many palettes and eye shadow sets competed for attention and storage space. It's hard, but if I had to choose just one it'd be this set of elegant neutrals.
3. More Dior: the resurrection of the Diorific lipstick range. I love everything about it, from the packaging to the revamped formula.
4. YSL Effet Faux Cils Long-Wear Cream Eyeliners might have been released in late 2011, but they've dominated the scene in 2012. I've been collecting them.
5. Serge Lutens Compact Foundation. Like nothing else I know.

Nail Polish:
Dior makes an appearance again with the colors from Le Grand Bal holiday 2012 collection. I also bought and loved several of the re-releases from Rescue Beauty Lounge. I promise to show and review them soon.

Favorite Multiple Item Release:
1. Ellis Faas added seven new shades to her Creamy Eyes range. All of them are exceptional and inspiring, with E117 (navy blue) being my favorite.
2. Shiseido Lacquer Rouge- Velvet finish liquid lipsticks were one of the biggest trends of 2012. Shiseido's nearly perfect formula and range of flattering colors made Lacquer Rouge a favorite.

Most Fascinating Collection:
While not all the items in NARS Andy Warhol Collection for Holiday 2012 were of excellent and even quality, the collection itself from concept to packaging was nothing short of stunning. There's no doubt that NARS took it too far in terms of size and distribution (too many items, too many store exclusives), it was wonderful to see a company do something so ambitious and cohesive.

Makeup Brushes
Quality and performance of makeup brushes has finally become an important topic of conversation for cosmetics aficionados. Several big companies redesigned their existing lines (Chanel in 2011, YSL and Dior in 2012 and lately even Sephora),  and Tom Ford set a new standard for luxury brushes. Japanese brush maker Hakuhodo increased the number of products offered online and has gained a cult favorite status. Hakuhodo Kokutan is probably my favorite brush range from the company that's been my chosen indulgence for some years now, and I admit I cannot get enough. In 2012 I also added a bunch of other Japanese brushes to my collection, Suqqu and Chikuhodo. I adore both and wish they were easier to obtain online and in the USA.

Which brings us to my beauty dreams. After all, two of my biggest fragrance wishes came true in 2012 as Dior Collection Privee arrived at Bergdorf Goodman and Serge Lutens exclusive bell jars became available at Barneys and online. So, why not dream big when it comes to beauty?
1. Suqqu. If I could get only one luxury Japanese cosmetics brand to open a counter in NYC it would be Suqqu. Yes, we can jump through a hoops and /or pay a substantial markup to import the makeup and brushes from either Japan or the UK; however, the privilege to visit a counter, play with the treasures in person and get a makeover from a specialist  is priceless.
2. A direct online channel to purchase Chikuhodo brushes. Don't they realize there's a hungry market here?
3. Shu Umeura. Baby, come back! I'm willing to forgive the awful Dora the Explorer collection if I can get a Shu makeup artist to do my makeup again.
4. A local brick-and-mortar store that stocks French pharmacy/drugstore products. We can get just about everything online, but one of the main draws of French pharmacies are availability. They can be found on every street corner in Paris, so for the French there's no need to plan ahead and  stock up on Bioderma.

What were your favorite beauty discoveries in 2012? What are your beauty wishes?

Wishing you a happy New Year, full of happiness, health, love, and kittens (if you want them).


  1. the shu collection palettes were actually great! and you can get chikuhodo from kohlindo.se. they ship worldwide.

  2. You liked Z2, then? Hooray!

  3. Hi Gaia, I recently purchased Chikuhodo brushes from Kohlindo which is an online shop based in Sweden. I used Google Translate to translate the site into English -- it did an excellent job. Prices shown on the website are in Swedish krona (SEK) and are reduced 20% for those of us in the US as we do not have to pay VAT. Shipping to the US was $19 and was pretty quick. You can email Malin, ask questions, order brushes and pay through Paypal -- she is very nice to deal with. I know others have purchased online through the US based now-eproject but price and shipping quotes I received from them were higher than what I paid at Kohlindo. Thanks, Gaia for helping me on a question i had some time ago on Hakuhodo brushes -- I really love the S133!

  4. I've read that for now e-project brushes seem to ship directly from Chikuhodo Japan while Kohlindo is a reseller that's why there are often brushes out of stock. But indeed, for non-europeans the brushes are several dollars cheaper unless you pay custom taxes.
    But at least we have some choice now and an easier access to chikuhodo brushes

  5. Re: out of stock issue. I just let Malin know which brushes I wanted and she notified me when they were in stock. I have even asked her if she could order brushes that I saw on the Chikuhodo Japan site that were not on her site and she was able to bring them in for me. There is no minimum purchase whereas now e-project quoted me a minimum purchase of $200 and a shipping fee of $35 for US delivery back in October. I am not affiliated with Kohlindo in any way, just so very pleased to have access to Chikuhodo brushes which complement my huge collection of Hakuhodo brushes!

  6. Thanks for the great list! I am already buying some recommended items starting with the first three in skin care. I was already a Paula's Choice fan but haven't ever tried her retinal serum.

  7. Great list (I just ordered the BFF oil and it's on backorder!). I second Suqqu opening a US outlet although living in the Rockies stranded from either coast, I still wouldn't be able to play with them in person. I like the idea of it though and of course having you be our virtual shopper/style advisor. My personal beauty wish? Access to Addiction by Ayako cosmetics. Since Dolly Leo shut down, there are no reasonable (30-40% markups?!) online sources for US beautyphiles. Your occasional snarky comments and astute observations brighten my day when I'm having a downer. Thank you Gaia! PS-Vichy 3-in-1 solution Micellaire is avail. at Walgreens around $17 for 200 ml. That and Koh Gen Doh's Cleansing Spa Water (avail. at Sephora) are readily avail. alternatives to Bioderma.

  8. For anyone looking for BFF, the link above isn't working--the page is now at http://blueskywaters.com/bff.html, it appears. Just ordered a sample :)


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