The budget mascara that beats designer brands. The serum that offers the results of a luxury rival at a fraction of the price.
And the £300 hairdryer that — believe it or not — really is worth saving up for.
In an effort to find the all-time must-haves for your make-up bag, this year we launched the first-ever Inspire Beauty Awards — and today, I’m proud to reveal our inaugural winners.
As a beauty columnist for the Mail for more than ten years, I and my fellow judges — model Marie Helvin, make-up guru Mary Greenwell and celebrity dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting — worked hard to whittle down our best buys for the shortlist, ranging from cult classics to some of this year’s biggest launches.
But it was you who made the final choice and, if your favourite wasn’t there, you let us know. Over the past few weeks, more than 10,000 individual votes were cast across the 16 categories by post and online, providing fascinating insights into what’s happening in beauty where it matters most: inside your bathroom cabinets and on your dressing tables.
Over 10,000 readers voted on their favourite beauty cosmetics and gadgets as part of Inspire’s first beauty awards
Your choices reveal the trends that are changing the face of beauty — the rise of supermarket skincare and make-up, the boom in ‘beauty while you sleep’ products and the proliferation of high-tech gadgets.
But, most importantly, our winners demonstrate the enduring appeal of products that will — regardless of price tag or packaging — deliver results.
When you find something you like, you’re loyal, often buying several items from a brand.
‘Clinique products have been a lifesaver, fabulous!’ wrote one reader on her voting slip, nominating the brand in the foundation, concealer, blusher, cleanser, night and day creams and serum categories.
In fact, Clinique saw its products nominated in nine categories. Clearly, you love the department store stalwarts, with Clarins and Estee Lauder also appearing multiple times.
So, TO the winners. I was delighted so many of you agree with me that Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup (£32.50, counters nationwide) deserves to be our winning foundation.
Its consistency is ideal for mature skin in particular, as it’s not too drying, while the finish is neither matte nor glowy. You can trust this product to give you amazing coverage.
Your nominations in this category showed that tinted moisturiser is also hugely popular as a base, ranging from the pricier Laura Mercier, to cheaper options by Nivea and Garnier.
Winning cosmetics included budget mascara from Maybelline and the cult classic Estee Lauder Double Wear Stay-In-Place Makeup
If, as you age, you have dark spots or pigmentation, your base will likely need to be backed up by a concealer. You chose Laura Mercier Secret Camouflage (£27, John Lewis) as our winner here — this thick, almost solid cream is great for dark shadows.
Some of you love to use Yves Saint Laurent Touche Eclat (£25.50, Boots) as a concealer, even though it’s designed to be an illuminator to brighten skin.
But I agree that this can be an effective concealer under the eyes: I use this pen every day for that purpose, but never for blemishes, as its brightening effect would only draw attention to them.
In the mascara category, Maybelline Lash Sensational (£8.99, Boots) pipped its expensive rivals to the post. Over time, our eyelashes get sparser, so we’re looking for a mascara that both thickens and lengthens — and this one does. You’re not so keen on waterproof formulas, which can be hard to remove.
Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Colour (pictured) won the best lipstick for its moisturising ability
The winning lipstick is Bobbi Brown Luxe Lip Colour (£27, bobbibrown.co.uk), which offers vibrant colour.
I love the fact that it’s so moisturising — as we age, we don’t want anything too drying, especially in winter when lips can get parched.
Understandably, you tend to prefer a glossy look to a matte finish, which can make lips look flaky.
Bobbi Brown also won the blusher category with Pot Rouge (£22, bobbibrown. co.uk), a creamy pot of colour that looks as good on cheeks as it does on lips.
This winner typified a wider trend revealed by your voting patterns: you love multi- purpose products. Many of you prefer to use lipstick as a blush, and its appeal is clear — unlike a powder blush, a creamy formula won’t sit in fine lines.
The winning eye shadow is surely a future standard: the Urban Decay Naked Palette (£39.50, urbandecay.co.uk).
The universally flattering colours available from Urban Decay (pictured) won best eye shadow
The neutral shades of the original ‘classic’ palette are universally flattering. However, many of you prefer to buy separate shadows, rather than a palette, so that you can be certain every colour you own suits you.
Skincare did hold some surprises. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish (£16 for a starter kit, lizearle.com) is your winning cleanser, launched more than 20 years ago. It’s easy to use and suits most skin types.
Crucially, the way in which it’s applied — you massage on the cream, then wipe it off with a warm, damp cloth — makes cleansing a relaxing experience.
Less predictably, your own product picks showed that the newer micellar waters, containing tiny, bubble-like molecules called micelles that lift away grime, are increasingly popular. But favourites such as Ponds Cold Cream Cleanser (£3.25, Boots) still hold a place in your hearts — one fan noted her ‘great skin at 80 [is] very reasonable to maintain!’
And you like a bargain: Wright’s Traditional Soap (80p, Tesco) made it into this category — known for its old-fashioned coal tar scent, its been going strong since 1860.
Weleda Skin Food (pictured) won best night cream for it’s combination of plant extracts
Weleda Skin Food (£10.95, weleda.co.uk) is the winning night cream, pointing to your enthusiasm for a multi-tasking marvel.
Packed with plant extracts, this moisturiser can be used as a day or night cream, while supermodel Marie Helvin uses it on her face, elbows and knees.
There’s a reason people have been going back to it since its release in 1926.
Of the brands you chose, well-established Olay proved popular (try Olay Regenerist Regenerating Moisturiser Night Cream, now £14.33, Boots).
The voting here also showed a major trend: the rise of super- market skincare. Your choices included Aldi’s Lacura Caviar Illumination Night Cream (£6.99), Lidl’s CIEN Q10 Anti-Wrinkle Night Cream (£1.69) and — from another major grocer — M&S Formula Absolute Ultimate Sleep Cream (£22, Marks & Spencer). You’re getting used to picking up beauty items with the food shop.
Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré (£13, Boots) was the winning day cream. Very light, this cream is easily absorbed and leaves skin looking plumped up.
Avon won the best serum category for their Anew Ultimate Supreme Dual Elixir (pictured)
The serum category was scooped by Avon Anew Ultimate Supreme Dual Elixir (£28, avon.uk.com).
Launched last year, its replenishing oils and anti-ageing ingredients promise noticeably younger-looking skin in just two weeks.
Ren Wake Wonderful Night-Time Facial (£32, Marks & Spencer) is your winning face mask, with a gently exfoliating effect that will let you wake up looking brighter.
Night-time beauty products — mists, masks and creams that work as you sleep — are becoming a real trend.
John Frieda Frizz Ease Extra Strength Serum (£6.99, Superdrug) is the winning hair hero. This frizz-reducing serum frizz was ground-breaking when it launched in the Nineties — and it still delivers.
Your votes also reveal how much you love purple shampoo, sometimes called silver shampoo, to brighten grey or white hair and keep blonde hair looking lighter.
Relying on the idea that purple tones will counteract any yellow in hair, the L’Oreal Professionnel Silver Shampoo and John Frieda Sheer Blonde Tone-Correcting range are both popular.
The Body Shop Body Butter (£15, thebodyshop.com) is our winning body moisturiser: an effective, silky cream.
The Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer (pictured) won best beauty gadget for is ability to cut drying time in half
You are open to the idea that beauty starts from the inside — one reader cleverly couples her Oil Of Evening Primrose Moisturising Cream (£2.89, Boots) with a daily evening primrose oil capsule.
OPI Nail Lacquer (£13.50, John Lewis) is the winning nail varnish. With a great choice of colours, this range is easy to apply.
But if you’re loyal to products that keep performing year after year, you’re not shy of technology, either. The Dyson Supersonic Hairdryer, our winning beauty gadget, launched in 2016 as Dyson expanded into the world of beauty products (£299.99, dyson.co.uk).
For me, this cuts the drying time in half, so it’s an investment.
The Clarisonic Mia Fit (£170, clarisonic.co.uk), the travel-sized version of the popular vibrating beauty brush, was our runner-up here. Facial cleansing brushes have revolutionised the beauty world — and with good reason.
For some, they can be too abrasive, but a brush will leave your skin super-clean.
And an honourable mention from the reader who nominated her ‘hairdressers, Man and Clive’, as her hair heroes!
I was thrilled you agreed that my perfume of choice, the famous Clarins Eau Dynamisante (from £45, counters nationwide), should be our fragrance winner. I came across this little red bottle when it launched 30 years ago and it still appears on my bathroom shelf.
Our inaugural beauty award winners will, I hope, prove just as enduring on yours.
INSPIRE BEAUTY AWARD JUDGES
Supermodel Marie Helvin (pictured), 65, knows the top make-up artists’ secrets. She looks great both on and off camera and knows which products can help you, too.
A make-up artist for more than 30 years, Mary Greenwell (pictured) has worked with some of the world’s most beautiful and famous women — including Princess Diana
Dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting (pictured) treats the rich and famous at her Harley Street clinic. In her 40s, she specialises in anti-ageing and acne and knows the skin products that really work
As the Mail’s Beauty Editor for more than ten years, Elsa McAlonan (pictured), 59, tests everything from Chanel foundation to Sainsbury’s eye shadow to give readers insight