Beauty Awards: This year's best make-up buys




Drum roll please. We are delighted to present the products that have impressed us enough to bestow a podium place in our annual Velvet Beauty Awards. This month we share our magnificent make-up winners and commendations – and the big reveal on skincare is coming your way in the next issue. You’re welcome

One for All: Nude Lipstick

Winner: Pat McGrath Mattetrance in FemmeBot, £36, patmcgrath.com

The first British make-up artist to be made a Dame, in the 2021 New Year’s Honours, it’s little surprise Pat McGrath’s Mattetrance lipstick is best in class. A velvety true-matte with unrivalled pigmentation and staying power, it’s also super-comfy to wear; far from drying lips, like many mattes can, it soothes and smoothes. AR

Highly Commended: Chantecaille Lip Veil in Tamboti, £42, Space NK

A light formula which glides effortlessly onto lips, delivering both a pretty flush of colour and a lustrous sheen, Chantecaille’s Veil lippy doubles as a balm thanks to moisturising baobab oil. Plus it’s sold in support of elephant conservation charity Space for Giants - nice. AR

Highly Commended: Hourglass Femme Nude Lip Stylo in No. 1, £31, Space NK and John Lewis & Partners

If you’re a fan of a classic satin finish, Femme Nude is hard, if not impossible, to beat. Designed to give lips a plumped and polished look, the texture is soft and silky, the colour intense and long-wearing, and the twist-up stylo applicator precise and speedy to use. AR

Feeling Flush: Natural-look Blusher

Winner: Trinny London Lip2Cheek in Lady J, £25, trinnylondon.com

Creamy enough to blend and build seamlessly and sufficiently matte to look totally natural, pat this impressively pigmented formula onto your cheek apples, feathering up and out, for instant rosiness. It’s lovely on lips, too, and a little goes a really long way: a single pot has seen me through a full year of Zooms. AR

Highly Commended: Paul & Joe Gel Blush in Lumiere Douce, £19, beautybay.com

Thanks to a formula which is just shy of 80% water, this gel literally slides onto skin and, deliciously cooling, dries to leave a light, supple and slightly lustrous layer of colour. Perfect for spring/summer, as well as being very pretty it’s resistant both to perspiration and settling in pores - ingenious. AR

Highly Commended: Honest Crème Cheek Blush in Rose Pink, £16, Boots

Jessica Alba’s brand is known for formulas which are both squeaky clean and genuinely high-performance and this blush is a case in point. Its creamy texture melts onto skin and produces a healthy glow so convincing, you *might* have just returned from a run. I love its versatility, too: it builds brilliantly, so you can vacillate between sheer flush and saturated colour. AR

Lash Out: All-rounder Mascara

Winner: Hourglass Unlocked Instant Extensions, £29, John Lewis & Partners

A film-forming formula sheathes each individual lash, lifting, separating, plumping and elongating as it goes, giving that luscious look you’d usually expect from extensions. It doesn’t flake or smudge *at all*, yet when you come to remove it, it slides off in a residue-less flash. It’s also vegan, cruelty-free and a proportion of proceeds funds animal rights. Unbeatable. AR

Highly Commended: Eyeko Black Magic Cocoa Edit, £19, eyeko.co.uk

If you’re after lashes that look naturally fabulous, ie like yours, but a longer, lusher and lifted version, the Cocoa Edit of Eyeko’s cult Black Magic mascara is for you. Infused with shea butter and keratin, it conditions as it adds volume and curl and the deep brown shade is universally flattering. AR

Highly Commended: Sisley So Stretch in Deep Blue, £46.50, sisley-paris.co.uk

Loved for its ability to do your lashes good while also making them look good - it pairs softening castor oil, body-building B5 and growth-boosting arginine with the power to elongate, separate and sculpt - Sisley’s So Stretch has been relaunched in three new intense shades. If you want to give a nod to the comeback of coloured lashes without going full Cyndi Lauper, Deep Blue’s the one to go for. AR

All Eyes: Perfect Palette

Winner: Huda Beauty New Nude Palette, £56, cultbeauty.co.uk

Containing 18 shadows in suits-all shades, spanning buttery mattes, duo-chromatic shimmers, dance-floor glitters, a pretty pressed pearl, a base and a concealer, this palette has it all. With colours ranging from classic nudes to deep plum, there are endless looks, professional to party, under a single, slim, handbag-friendly lid. Pigmentation and payoff are, as you’d expect from Huda, second to none. AR

Highly Commended: Pixi + Tina Yong Tones & Textures Palette, £22, pixibeauty.co.uk

A collab with acclaimed MUA Tina Yong, this is a nudes palette with an on-trend twist thanks to the addition of a soft sea-foam green and a shimmery peacock-feather teal, an elegant nod to this year’s blue eyeshadow revival. The shadows are a dream to blend, deliver great colour and last well and, with 25 shades across silky mattes and refracting metallics, you get a lot for your money. AR

Highly Commended: Beauty Pie Gorgeous Cool Neutrals Palette, £35 or £10.97 for members, beautypie.com

Beauty Pie’s palettes have been my day-to-day go-to for a couple of years now. Not only are they stonking value - the subscription service famously provides members with luxe products at bargainous prices - the colour curation is unrivalled: unlike so many palettes, there’s not a pan you won’t empty. They’re creamy and colour-rich, too. AR

Get in Line: Foolproof Liner

Winner: KVD Vegan Beauty Tattoo Liner in Trooper Black, £18, Debenhams and Boots

Billed as the Holy Grail of eyeliners, Tattoo Liner is exactly that. The brush tip is both dexterous and precise, making application a breeze; it’s packed with pigment, so it comes out blackest black; it dries swiftly and won’t budge or smudge till you apply a remover pad. If you like to wing your liner, you won’t find better. AR

Highly Commended: Eyeko Black Magic Liquid Liner, £16, eyeko.co.uk

As accurate as a pen nib and free-flowing as a watercolour brush, the Black Magic liner is inspired by the art of calligraphy. Creating smooth, colour-dense lines with a single swipe, it’s long lasting and, its vegan formula enriched with B5, kind to skin and lashes. AR

Highly Commended: Illamasqua Precision Gel in Infinity, £21, illamasqua.com

Think gel liner is too finicky to apply? Precision Gel will convert you. The texture is thicker and creamier than the norm, making it much better behaved both on the brush and your skin, and the combination of intense colour and an unshifting, water-resistant formula gives high-impact results. AR

Let There Be Light: Flawless Finish

Winner: Benefit High Beam Satiny Pink Complexion Highlighter £15.50, Boots and John Lewis & Partners

Gently caress cheek and brow bones with this baby pink, luminescent cream for an instant dewy glow or add a pearly drop to moisturiser and skin will be radiant. Particularly fetching on fresh-faced skin too and an artful dab on shoulder blades come summer works beautifully. A wonderfully adaptable pot of light. LM

Highly Commended: Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Finish, £35, John Lewis & Partners

This smoothing effect finishing powder banishes pores and imperfections, adds a soft focus to real life and brightens the complexion. It’s a wonder. LM

Highly Commended: Honest Beauty Magic Balm Stick, £20, cultbeauty.co.uk

Light-bouncing pigments create shimmer while moisturising fruit oils soften and shine. The IRL equivalent of a seriously flattering SnapChat filter, apply this balm to high points of the face, including lips, and your skin looks instantly dewy. Gorgeous. AR

All Primed: Eyeshadow Undercoat

Highly Commended: Tom Ford Emotionless Eye Primer, £32, tomford.co.uk

A quick-drying and long-wearing base for eyeshadows to lock them in place and prevent smudging and creases. This clever primer creates a fetching blurring soft-focus and second-skin finish that helps to add allure to your peepers. LM

Highly Commended: Rimmel London Magnifies Eye Primer, £4.99, Boots and Superdrug

A winner for helping keep eyeshadow looking fresh and vibrant all day or night. Great price for an effective product that applies well with brush or blender and helps to make eyeshadow colours pop. LM

Highly Commended: P.Louise Base, £10, plouise.co.uk

If you suffer with watery eyes - raise your hands, fellow lens wearers - this base is your new bestie. As well as being a brilliant lid primer, expertly intensifying and fixing shadows, it can be used to carve brows, cut creases and brighten under-eyes - all without budging. Kim K’s a fan. AR

Instant Pop: Eyeshadow Stick

Winner: No7 Shade and Define, £8, Boots

Coming in seven gorgeous colours, this soft, creamy and long-wearing stick glides on to create lines of all shapes and sizes. Creates a smokey eye in moments and Impressionist eye art is made easy using brushes or fingertips. A pointed tip makes lining eyes effortless yet effective. LM

Highly Commended: By Terry Cream Eyeshadow Pen, £29, Space NK

An eyeliner, illuminator and eyeshadow all in one. Creamy texture glides over and under the eye for instant and iridescent glamour. Great to line eyes top and bottom for a softer look than pencil liner. LM

Highly Commended: The Body Shop Eye Colour Stick Shimmer Finish, £8, The Body Shop

Enriched with babassu oil and beeswax, the shimmer finish comes in four shades that combine beautifully for day and night. Long-lasting, waterproof and vegetarian, these sticks are just lovely. LM

Base Notes: Foundation

Winner: Charlotte Tilbury Light Wonder, £34, John Lewis & Partners

Light, luminescent, comes with SPF15 and creates a natural finish. It’s like your skin but much better looking. Really fabulous. LM

Highly Commended: Laura Mercier Flawless Radiance Perfecting Foundation, £36, John Lewis & Partners

Moisture-rich with Vitamin C to boost skin luminosity, Laura Mercier’s weightless foundation formulas are legendary. Fabulous coverage without feeling too heavy on the face, this glow-enhancing classic is a keeper. LM

Highly Commended: Max Factor Miracle Second Skin, £12.99, Boots and Superdrug

Affordable and effective, this moisture-rich complex creates a light and healthy finish that includes an SPF20. This is a skincare meets make-up product so nourishes your skin while making it look good. LM

Magic Trick: Blemish Banisher

Winner: Trinny London BFF Eye Serum Concealer, £26, trinnylondon.com

Simply the best under eye product EVER, the non-crease formula is buildable, looks like skin but conceals beautifully. Bravo. LM

Highly Commended: Trinny London Miracle Blur, £26, trinnylondon.com

Infused with collagen and elastin, this translucent cream does exactly what it says on the pot: miraculously blurs imperfections, most impressively creases and crumples. Apply a little for fine lines, be more generous for deeper wrinkles, and pow! You’ve just lost five years. AR

Highly Commended: Erborian CC Water, £39, lookfantastic.com

Wave goodbye to grey skin with this wee magic wand. Suspended in a super-hydrating gel formula, teeny pigment bubbles pop as you smooth it onto your skin, bouncing light and giving a (perfectly matched) tint of colour. No surprise one of these little beauties sells every 90 seconds. It’s a tube of instant wellness. AR

Yours but Better: Brow Colour

Winner: Huda Beauty Bombs Brows Microshade Pencil, £15, cultbeauty.co.uk

This is a new tool on the beauty block and delivers convincing micro bladed-look brows with an ultra-fine tip to apply the creamy crow shade and a spoolie brush to blend. The pentagon shape of the pencil supports a good grip that is helpful while applying the artistry. LM

Highly Commended: Benefit Brow Micro Filling Pen, £22.50, Boots and John Lewis & Partners

Create micro-fine hair-like strokes to build brows and even fill in gaps. It’s easy to use and comes in four convincing shades. Creates a convincing look quickly so great if you require groomed brows before rushing somewhere. LM

Highly Commended: Max Factor’s Brow Revival, £9.99, Boots

A treatment that boosts brows with a blend of oils and vitamin E as well as a waterproof in a smudge-proof formula to create fuller looking brows. The small brush makes application a cinch to build to desired look – natural or dramatic. Easy yet effective. LM


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