Beauty Awards: This year's best makeup buys




It’s time for part two of Velvet’s annual Beauty Awards and we’re putting makeup in the spotlight. Lisa Millard and Alice Ryan share their best buys of the year

Lip Colour

WINNER: Sisley Phyto-Rouge Shine, £40, sisley-paris.com/en-GB

Combining the colour of a lipstick, the shine of a gloss and the comfort of a balm, this new-formula lippy from Sisley does it all. Coming in 12 shades, neutrals through bolds, and two finishes, shiny and iridescent, Petal - on the pinky side of nude without the blue undertone - is my suits-all recommendation for spring/summer. The French beauty brand’s signature Hydrobooster complex (containing hyaluronic acid and konjac glucomannan microspheres) makes the formula meltingly lovely to apply and moisturisingly lovely to wear, too. For such a silkily textured product, it also has impressive lasting power and, nice touch, is refillable. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Jones Road Cool Gloss, £20, jonesroadbeauty.com

For anyone who hit their teens in the Nineties, lip gloss can be triggering: I lost count of the number of times I ate my hair, due to it being permanently adhered to the slick on my lips. Cool Gloss, though? Totally different beast. Devised by the ever-brilliant Bobbi Brown - who founded Jones Road “on the philosophy that the world doesn’t need more beauty products. It needs better beauty products. Clean, strategic, high-grade formulations” - it delivers a grown-up, polished-looking shine without any of that gloopiness; contains shea butter, Vitamin E and peppermint oil to moisturise, soothe, protect and perk; and comes in 11 colours, one for every mood and occasion. Pink Gold Shimmer is my go-to for instant glow. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: L'Oreal Paris Colour Riche Satin in C’est Dimanche, £8.99, Boots stores and boots.com

There are few days when I am without lipstick. When my daughter was in special care for a few days after her birth, a friend knew she was getting better when they noticed I was wearing lipstick once more. A little colour definition makes a big difference to my otherwise pasty face and I prefer a colour close to nature and a formula that hangs in there despite coffee, water and food coming its way as I am lazy on the touch-ups. L’Oreal is a firm favourite, and this classic brand stays the distance without drying out – Vitamin E and argan help on that front. This rich caramel shade has a tint of pink and looks quite as nature intended. LM

Mascara

WINNER: ICONIC London Enrich & Elevate Mascara, £22, iconiclondoninc.com

MASCARA Iconic London Enrich & Elevate Mascara (55986545)
MASCARA Iconic London Enrich & Elevate Mascara (55986545)

I’m pinning my colours to the mast: launched in March, this is the best new mascara to come out in years. It does it all: lifts, curls, elongates, plumps, defines. If, like me, you shy away from lash curlers (I’ve nipped flesh one too many times), the curvaceous wand is a game-changer, gripping and lifting each hair from the root as it coats, resulting in eyes that look immediately wider and more awake. The formula is loaded with pigment for maximum impact but, because hero ingredient carnauba wax forms a film, the colour stays put, no lid transfer or under-eye smudging. It also contains Symlash, an active growth agent, to boost lash loveliness over time. And if you want a false-lash look? Just layer it up. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Mii Feature Length Lash Lover, £15.50, Cambridge Country Club, Bourn, Cambridge, and miicosmetics.com

MASCARA Mii Feature Length Lash Lover (55986574)
MASCARA Mii Feature Length Lash Lover (55986574)

I’m not blessed with long lashes so mascara is a must. That said, I don’t go for the Bambi-eyed lashes that sit well with pretty young things, favouring a lengthening and volumising formula with a light touch. The Mii wand does this artfully, creating convincingly long lashes that look natural and don’t flake. Enriched with coconut oil and aloe vera, the mascara makes its mark after just one swipe but is also buildable for occasions demanding drama. LM

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara in Black, £27, Pure Source, Bridge Street, Cambridge and puresourceonline.com

Having struggled to find a mascara that wouldn’t irritate my eyes in the wake of a contact lens reaction which left them super-sensitive and watery, Limitless Lash proved a game-changer. Formulated with 99% natural ingredients - including ‘queen of waxes’ carnauba, loved for its lightweight film-forming skills, and soothing, conditioning shea butter - it’s buildable, flake-free, low-to-no-smudge and suitable for sensitive eyes. The wand is nifty, too: use the shorter side to curl and add volume and the longer to lift, lengthen and separate. AR

Eyeliner

WINNER: Lottie London AM to PM Retractable Eyeliner, £4.95, asos.com and lottie.london

LINER Lottie London AM To PM Retractable Eyeliner (55986536)
LINER Lottie London AM To PM Retractable Eyeliner (55986536)

If you’ve ever fallen down the rabbit hole of TikTok makeup videos - they are addictive, be warned - the likelihood is you’ve seen Lottie London’s AM to PM in action. A next-generation kohl, it’s almost buttery in texture, literally gliding onto lids and along lashes, yet produces the smudge-free lines you might expect from a liquid or gel (it comes with a wee sharpener, so you can readily restore the pencil’s point). It’s also vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free and an absolute snip at £4.95. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Sisley Phyto-Khol Perfect Eyeliner, £37.40, sisley-paris.com/en-GB

LINER Sisley Phyto-Khol Perfect eye liner (55986572)
LINER Sisley Phyto-Khol Perfect eye liner (55986572)

I have been using this eye pencil for many years because it is the perfect consistency to draw a defining line that is amenable to soft edges and a satisfactory smudge. As my hair has turned silvery grey, my eyes have started to disappear and need a helping hand. No expert in make-up application, and always running short of time, this beeswax and wild rose-infused khol glides on softly and the smudge-tip is an easy hack to creating a smoky eye in a matter of minutes. LM

HIGHLY COMMENDED: NUDESTIX Magnetic Luminous Eye Colour, £20, cultbeauty.co.uk

LINER NUDESTIX Magnetic Eye in Burnish (55986537)
LINER NUDESTIX Magnetic Eye in Burnish (55986537)

NUDESTIX is known for creating truly multipurpose products - its Nudies All Over Face Colour, designed for use on cheeks, lips and eyes too, can create a full-face look in a single stick - and the (vegan, cruelty-free, paraben-free) Magnetic Luminous Eye Colour is no exception. Sufficiently pigmented and unshifting to use as a liner, which is my personal preference, it’s also malleable enough to be buffed out as eyeshadow and, thanks to its clings-to-skin formula, makes for a brilliant shadow base. There are lots of colours to choose from, as well as a matte option, but Burnish, a warm and subtly shimmery gold, is my pick for universally flattering shade. AR

Eye Palette

WINNER: KVD Vegan Beauty Planet Fanatic Fully Recyclable Wet/Dry Eyeshadow Palette, £38, select Boots stores and boots.com

PALETTE KVD Vegan Beauty Planet Fanatic Wet & Dry (55986550)
PALETTE KVD Vegan Beauty Planet Fanatic Wet & Dry (55986550)

There are countless reasons to love this palette. From creamy Fault Line, perfect for bouncing light from dark sockets, to the mossy metallic Biophilia, which (especially when wet) lends itself to be used as a liner, all 14 shadows manage to be both exciting to play with and genuinely wearable - no unloved pans here to be left untouched. As always with KVD Vegan Beauty products, pigments and payoff are unrivalled. And, something of a beauty breakthrough, the palette’s case is deliberately pared down to ensure it’s fully and readily recyclable - nice. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: HUDA Beauty Rose Quartz Eyeshadow Palette, £58, select Boots stores and boots.com

PALETTE HUDA Beauty Rose Quartz Palette (55986549)
PALETTE HUDA Beauty Rose Quartz Palette (55986549)

As you’d expect from a brand belonging to a cult makeup artist, HUDA Beauty products are always high-performance, with the eye palettes a standout thanks to top quality pigments and cute and clever colour and finish combos. Inspired by Huda Kattan’s favourite crystal, Rose Quartz is my pick of all palettes for the spring/summer season. Containing eight velvety mattes, three high-shine metallics, three soft-shine metallics, three shimmering marble creams and one ‘crushed stone’ pearl-gloss hybrid, it spans nudes, pinks, golds, chocolate browns and aubergine purples, ideal to take you from sunny days to balmy nights. . . AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Milani Gilded Nude Palette, £28.25, select Boots stores and boots.com

PALETTE Milani Gilded Nude (55986551)
PALETTE Milani Gilded Nude (55986551)

Known for formulating the kind of go-to products that everyone wants in their makeup kit, Milani’s Gilded Nude palette is a case in point. One of the most user-friendly palettes I’ve found, the hyper-pigmented shadows are buttery to apply yet unshifting to wear, and the shades are, to a pan, eminently wearable. Named after everyday life experiences - from Weekender and People Watching (cool matte nudes) through to Detox (a full-on glitterball silver) - the colours mix-and-match effortlessly to take you from office to home to out-out. AR

Brow Product

WINNER: ICONIC London Triple Precision Brow Definer, £22, iconiclondoninc.com

BROW ICONIC London Triple Precision Brow Definer (55986531)
BROW ICONIC London Triple Precision Brow Definer (55986531)

ICONIC London is having a good year in our Beauty Awards and this product alone demonstrates why. An all-in-one for brows, it comprises a fine-tip pen (for drawing in missing hairs, a must for victims of Nineties over-plucking who, like me, have been left with patchy growth), a soft pencil (for adding colour and shape) and a spoolie (for grooming). Not only is the concept clever and the design compact, the pen and pencil are both best in class, delivering exactly what they promise with ease and impressive effect. There’s a shade for every hair colour/skin tone combo, too. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Eyeko Brow Gel, £18, eyeko.co.uk

BROW Eyeko Brow Gel (55986565)
BROW Eyeko Brow Gel (55986565)

Perfect for defining and tidying the appearance of brows when time is short, this gel is enriched with nutrients (keratin, ginkgo biloba and proteins) to condition brows and make them look healthy. Simply apply in short and upwards strokes that follow the natural form of the brows and the effect is very pleasing. My brows are a little sparce due to an underactive thyroid, but greatly helped by this brow gel that allows my face to be framed by natural-looking brows. Once again, this is a product that does a lot in a very short time. LM

HIGHLY COMMENDED: L’Oreal Skinny Definer Brow Artist, £7.99, Boots and Superdrug stores and boots.com

BROW L'Oreal Skinny Definer Brow Artist (55986566)
BROW L'Oreal Skinny Definer Brow Artist (55986566)

The tiny tip on this Skinny Definer is great for drawing in eyebrows that look just like the real thing and don’t smudge. It’s also excellent for slightly changing the line of a brow – adding an alluring arch where none exist – but still looking au natural. The brush can be used to sweep over the lines to blend with existing brows and the overall effect is very realistic. LM

Blush

WINNER: ICONIC London Silk Glow Duo, £30.00, iconiclondoninc.com

We all have those days when stress/lack of sleep/a flux in hormones shows in our skin. That’s when the Silk Glow Duo truly comes into its own: I defy anyone to swish this pearlescent blush/highlighter over cheeks, brow, chin and nose-tip and not look and feel immediately lighter and brighter for it. The fact you’ve got blush and highlighter in one palette is handy - use them solo or layered for a real glow boost - but it’s the formula that genuinely sets the Silk Glow Duo, available in Rose or Coral, apart: a gel-powder, it delivers the smooth finish and staying power of a liquid with the weightlessness and light-touch finish of a powder. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Beauty Pie Supercheek Cream Blush in Coral Pink, £9.90, beautypie.com

BLUSH Beauty Pie Supercheek Cream Blush (55986564)
BLUSH Beauty Pie Supercheek Cream Blush (55986564)

Lightweight and creamy, this blusher blends beautifully and creates a silky but matte finish. A little goes a long way and it is easy to build if you prefer a stronger flush of colour. Coral looks good on all skin tones and I prefer a coral or apricot blush to pinks any day of the week – when my skin is winter pale, pink looks a little geisha. Coral sits better whatever the season – warming for winter and sultry for summer. LM

HIGHLY COMMENDED: OPV Beauty Born to Shine Blush Palette, £29, opvbeauty.com

BLUSH OPV Born to Shine Palette (55986530)
BLUSH OPV Born to Shine Palette (55986530)

Founded on a desire “to make the world a kinder place”, all OPV Beauty products promise to be both cruelty free and truly inclusive, with each and every powder, pigment and palette made for people of *all* skin tones and ethnicities. The Born to Shine Blush Palette is a calling-card example, containing six pans which encompass a colour (rose and coral through to copper and plum) and finish (three mattes, three shimmers) to suit everyone. Brushing silkily onto skin and lending themselves to layering - so you can use the shades you might not choose to wear solo to add depth or sheen - the payoff is unrivalled. AR

Highlighter

WINNER: RMS Beauty Living Luminizer, £36, Pure Source, Bridge Street, Cambridge and puresourceonline.com

HIGHLIGHTER RMS Beauty Living Luminizer (55986535)
HIGHLIGHTER RMS Beauty Living Luminizer (55986535)

Billed as the ‘ultimate illuminator’, this little pot of light absolutely lives up to the hype. Blended with organic oils to nourish skin behind the scenes, it’s not at all glittery or greasy (which, the downfall of so many formulas, can be instantly ageing for anyone over the age of about 25). Tap it onto high points of the face - and along collarbones and shoulders, too, if the outfit/occasion calls for it - for an instant, youthful and, crucially, natural-looking glow. RMS Beauty also has good eco and ethical credentials, always worth a bonus point. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Freshly Cosmetics Iridescent Glow Liquid Highlighter, £15, freshlycosmetics.com/en

HIGHLIGHTER Freshly Cosmetics Iridescent Glow Liquid Highlighter in Cotton Candy (55986534)
HIGHLIGHTER Freshly Cosmetics Iridescent Glow Liquid Highlighter in Cotton Candy (55986534)

Combining microfine mineral micas, which strike the perfect balance between glitter and sheen, with a flush of natural pigment, which gives a healthy-looking undertone, this liquid highlighter is a winner no matter your age, skin tone or style. A subtle sweep keeps the look fresh and elegant; a slightly heavier hand and you’ve got dance-floor drama. The formula doses skin with hyaluronic acid, so you get a bonus moisture boost. And, if you’re not familiar with Freshly, the Spanish brand has good green credentials, too. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Morphe High Impact in Spark, £14, uk.morphe.com

HIGHLIGHTER Morphe High Impact in Spark (55986571)
HIGHLIGHTER Morphe High Impact in Spark (55986571)

There is lots to love about this shimmering golden-ink highlighter. It leaves a mesmerisingly glisteny, lustrous glow in its wake and makes cheekbones pop. Use to highlight prominent areas of the face – brow bone and eyelid, cupid’s bow and the centre of chin – and even shoulder blades come summer when the dazzling highlighter will enhance sun-kissed skin beautifully. LM

Skin Tint

WINNER: Morphe Glowstunner Hydrating Tinted Moisturiser SPF30, £18, uk.morphe.com

SKIN TINT Morphe Glowstunner Hydrating Tinted Moisturiser SPF30 (55986575)
SKIN TINT Morphe Glowstunner Hydrating Tinted Moisturiser SPF30 (55986575)

Benefitting from skin-perfecting ingredients including hyaluronic acid, AHAs and antioxidants, this hydrating tinted moisturiser also contains an SPF30. Lovely to use, and ideal for anyone who likes a light touch on skin, the formula is buildable – apply with fingers if you are in a rush, a sponge for a sheer shimmer or foundation brush for stronger coverage. And there are 15 sheer tints to choose from so a colour for every skin tone. Ideal in the summer when foundations feel too heavy, the Glowstunner looks like your skin – but better. LM

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Ilia Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 30, £46, Pure Source, Bridge Street, Cambridge and puresourceonline.com

SKIN TINT ILIA Super Serum Tint (55986555)
SKIN TINT ILIA Super Serum Tint (55986555)

Delivering skincare benefits and SPF protection along with a lovely, light-coverage tint, Super Serum is a great go-to for anyone wanting to give skin a boost without going as far as foundation. Seamless to apply, it has that elusive ‘second skin’ look and feel; coming in 30 shades, it’s a cinch to colour match and, thanks to the nourishing formula, blissfully comfy to wear. Plant-based squalene hydrates, niacinamide evens tone and smooths texture and hyaluronic acids soften fine lines, while zinc oxide shields skin from UVA, B and C, blue light and pollution. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Erborian CC Water, £18, select Boots stores and boots.com

SKIN TINT Erborian CC Water (55986554)
SKIN TINT Erborian CC Water (55986554)

When a product prompts your husband to comment, without fail, every time you wear it - ‘You look lovely! Got your magic cream on, have you?’ - you know it’s got superpowers. Loaded with hyaluronic acid and K-beauty staple Centella Asiatica, to plump and firm respectively, it’s a feather-light yet seriously hydrating suspension of teeny pigment capsules, which appear white until they pop on application, tuning seamlessly into your skin tone. Rather than covering it up, CC Water works *with* your skin: the result is an evened-out complexion and subtly dewy finish. AR

Foundation

WINNER: Mii Flawless Face Base, £19.95, miicosmetics.com

FOUNDATION Mii Flawless Face Base (55986570)
FOUNDATION Mii Flawless Face Base (55986570)

I love this foundation. Really. It is light and hydrating and creates perfectly matched coverage that makes skin look natural, healthy and glowing. Green tea, peach flower and grape seed extract makes it moisture-rich and helps the feather-light cream (you won’t know you are wearing it, honestly) so easy to apply. Light-diffusing particles help to cover imperfections leaving skin balanced and looking like it has been air-brushed. Expect people to tell you how well you look. A lot. LM

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Sisley Phyto-teint Nude Second-skin Foundation, £68, sisley-paris.co.uk

FOUNDATION Sisley Phyto-teint Nude Second-skin Foundation (55986533)
FOUNDATION Sisley Phyto-teint Nude Second-skin Foundation (55986533)

I’m always nervous about foundation; an early foray, which left me looking masked and with a tideline along my jaw, left its mark. But Sisley’s Second-skin has won me over and the clue is in the name. Water as opposed to oil based, it’s brilliantly fluid to apply and light as air to wear; you barely know it’s there. Yet, thanks to a nifty combination of light-diffusing microspheres and perfectly matched pigments - it comes in 18 shades, spanning light to dark, cool through warm - it evens tone and, slightly satin in finish, leaves your complexion dewy. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Illamasqua Beyond Foundation, £33, illamasqua.com

FOUNDATION Illamasqua Beyond Foundation (55986569)
FOUNDATION Illamasqua Beyond Foundation (55986569)

An ultra-lightweight foundation that cleverly creates good coverage (say farewell to undereye shadows, uneven skintone and redness)with a convincing but subtle dewy glow. Ingredients include hyaluronic acid and Vitamin E to keep skin hydrated but the foundation, which is light and comfortable to wear, manages to stay fresh rather than looking oily. This brand is vegan which ticks another good box. When I inspect my skin in daylight wearing my reading glasses (always a harsh test) the foundation is not visible – I just look like my skin is having a very good day. LM

Concealer:

WINNER: RMS Beauty ‘Un’ Cover-up, £34, Pure Source, Bridge Street, Cambridge and puresourceonline.com

CONCEALER RMS Beauty 'Un' Cover-up (55986532)
CONCEALER RMS Beauty 'Un' Cover-up (55986532)

This could be the concealer Holy Grail, people. Whatever the imperfection you want to blur - chunky pores, spots, age spots, eyebags - tap this (green and clean) beauty on with the tip of a finger and you’re away. My skin is very fair and thus super-prone to scarring - a single pimple will leave a red shadow behind it for weeks and weeks - and ‘Un’ Cover-up vanishes every blotch. Plus, thanks to moisturising jojoba and coconut oils, which help the pigment melt onto skin, I can brush it under my eyes without any caking or creasing in the lines. It’s a real all-rounder. AR

HIGHLY COMMENDED: NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, £25, SpaceNK, Trinity Street, Cambridge, and narscosmetics.co.uk

CONCEALER NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (55986568)
CONCEALER NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer (55986568)

A firm favourite with makeup artists for its luminous and luxurious formula, and rightly so, this creamy concealer creates a perfect finish and makes anything you regard as unsightly just disappear. Light diffusing technology creates a luminosity which transforms tired and dull skin and cleverly blurs imperfections. Marvellous for covering red patches, the vitamin E, grape seed extract and magnolia bark extract make sure the concealer moisturises and stays fresh all day and night. It’s not cheap, but you won’t be disappointed. LM

HIGHLY COMMENDED: Elf Hydrating Camo Concealer, £6, Superdrug stores

CONCEALER Elf Hydrating Camo Concealer (55986567)
CONCEALER Elf Hydrating Camo Concealer (55986567)

Currently a TikTok favourite for its concealing, easy-blend, long-lasting qualities, the Camo Concealer has a good skin-like finish and conceals everything you throw at it. Highly pigmented and hydrating, the formula does not create tell-tale creases or catch dry skin patches and reflects the light to lift shadows under eyes and hide blemishes. Affordable too, the helpful Elf is celebrated as a good alternative to some of the more expensive brands while doing just as good a job at concealing. LM


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