We love all our "babies." We really do. But when we considered what we (and you!) were particularly thankful for this year, these beauty products really shined. In each category, they stood apart not only for being good at what they do, but for going the extra mile to get the job done, beyond expectations. Between our reviews and yours, these beautifiers were all winners, thank goodness. This Thanksgiving, 13 is a very lucky number indeed.
1. CLEANSER & MASK
Red Flower Sea Cleanser and Masque ($42 in the shop) - Marta's favorite cleanser is light and creamy and does double duty as a mask as well, boosting our pleasure in this ultra-economical skincare basic. The algae in Red Flower Sea Cleanser and Masque may give it marine antioxidant properties worthy of its name, but Marta thinks the heavy hitters here are astringent juniper, as well healing sunflower and three powerhouse types of mushrooms that lend powerful anti-aging, immunity-buoying properties.
Marta says: "I love the all natural ingredients, the way it makes my skin feel and that it does double duty as a mask. Whether rinsed immediately or left on for a few moments, Red Flower’s cleanser is calming and moisturizing."
See the full review of Red Flower Sea Cleanser and Masque here
2. TINTED BLEMISH BALM (BB)
Amarte Natural Finish BB Cream ($57) - Amarte Natural Finish BB Cream is a complexion-enhancing beauty balm that hydrates and protects skin, reducing the appearance of imperfections as it nourishes. It provides SPF 36 sun protection and comes in two light-natural tone tints to further even out skin tone. The cream's Elemental Sulfur has anti-acne properties and is also effective in relieving rosacea and other forms of dermatitis that -- combined with it's tremendous, pore-protecting moisturizing ingredients -- really does the trick to clarify all types of skin. Our reviewer, Nina, couldn't have been more thrilled Amarte BB Cream gave her (in the words of her sister: "the immaculately even skin of a 12-year-old."
Nina says: "Amarte gave me a flawless, even complexion and a dewy natural glow, the likes of which you only see on kids and Photoshopped celebrities."
See the full review of Amarte Natural Finish BB Cream here
3. COLOR CORRECTING (CC) CREAM
Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream ($39) - Thank goodness for scientific advances in skincare. The next generation of all-in-one skincare + makeup creams to follow the blemish balm (BB cream; see above) is the color corrector cream (CC cream). Whereas a BB cream is primer, sunscreen, skin brightener and anti-ager all in one, a CC cream adds color correction to the multitasking list. CC creams provide an even deeper level of coverage, protection, hydration and skin-nourishing ingredients than their predecessor BB cream. The Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream tends to work better than the Amarte BB Cream on darker skin tones.
Nisha says: "I really enjoy wearing Juice Beauty’s CC cream. Moreover, Juice Beauty’s Stem Cellular Repair CC cream is in a category of its own. As the only organic CC cream on the market, there’s a lot to like in the formulation, which contains a multitude of skin beneficial ingredients at an outstanding price point."
See the full review of Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Repair CC Cream here
4. EXFOLIATING LOTION
Arcona Pumpkin Lotion 10% ($35) - A great exfoliating lotion is essential to give our skin the sort of jump-start necessary as it dulls and loosens with age. Arcona Pumpkin Lotion is not only seasonally well-timed with our thankful, Thanksgiving spirit, it's actually infused with hard-working pumpkin extracts and 10% glycolic acid to help improve elasticity, exfoliate and brighten skin.
Ann says: "Pumpkin Lotion gets right to work on shrinking pores, diminishing age spots and even lessening body creases and wrinkles. My forearms got quite a bit of sun this summer, and I was less than diligent about applying sunscreen. As as a result, I had quite a bit of freckling, dryness and hyperpigmentation (it made me feel old). This treatment felt like I was taking an eraser to my arms. My knees look plumper and my chest is smoother."
See the full review of Arcona Pumpkin Lotion 10% here
5. VITAMIN C SERUM
Medik8 CE-Thione Rechargeable Vitamin C Serum ($150 in the shop) - Medik8 CE-Thione Rechargeable Vitamin C Serum is a potent, highly stable vitamin C serum that helps protect the skin against free radicals, which are the main cause of photo-aging, while minimizing the appearance of dark spots for brighter skin tone, as well as improved texture and firmness. Our reviewer Becky was particularly intrigued by Medik8's trademarked formula which, according to the company "is 'recharged' by having two antioxidant 'allies' in solution with it: Vitamin E and L-Glutathione which then regenerate the Vitamin C molecule when it is used up, delivering an incredible potency." And she was ultimately thankful this serum delivered real results.
Becky says: "My skin was brighter, and seemed plumped almost from the first application. I love immediate gratification! I never experienced any irritation, even when mistakenly using too much."
See the full review of Medik8 CE-Thione Rechargeable Vitamin C Serum here
6. BRIGHTENING SERUM
La Vie Celeste Éclairage Restorative Serum ($98.50 in the shop) - It's no secret that we're very grateful for all of La Vie Celeste founder, Teri Dourmashkin's deeply-effective and lovingly created products (see Marta's interview with Teri here). This serum is a prime example of how hard Teri works to "get it right." She spent all of 2012 tweaking and adjusting her earlier version of the Restorative Serum and the brightening, clarifying results are truly impressive. La Vie Celeste Éclairage Restorative Serum manages to effectively lighten without using hydroquinone, a nasty crutch many lighteners lean on.
Marta says: "I can say that my experience with Éclairage Restorative Serum was extremely positive and it lived up to its mission of brightening, taking down a freckle or two and even firming. This is due to one of La Vie Celeste’s favorite ingredients, caprooyl tetrapeptide-3 (also known as ChroNoline) and a peptide that may help reverse and prevent sagging skin. A couple of my other favorite ingredients are here as well, the free radical blockers milk thistle and ferulic acid."
See the full review of La Vie Celeste Éclairage Restorative Serum here
7. ECZEMA/ITCHY SKIN
CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray ($34) - CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray provides hydrating moisture while calming and soothing flushed, sensitive skin. A multitasking formula, it brings instant, cooling relief to itching, burning, irritated, and inflamed skin caused by sun exposure, rosacea, eczema, rashes, laser treatments, chemical peels, shaving, waxing, minor burns, and radiation treatments.
Terri says: "Rescue and relief sums it up. That’s exactly what this remarkable product gave me."
See the full review of CV Skinlabs Rescue + Relief Spray, including Terri's amazing before & after pics here
8. SKIN BRUSHING DEVICE
Ultra Clear Facial Brush ($86) - Our very own Ultra Clear by Truth In Aging is a facial cleansing system that is uniquely powerful and very gentle. Because it has 1800 micro vibrations per second it is extremely effective while still kind to sensitive and/or mature skin. The rapidly rotating brush heads refines pores, clarifies the complexion and stimulates healthy skin. Ultra Clear is the foundation of beautiful skin, and if this isn't something to be thankful for, what is? Don't just take it from us: dry brushing is reportedly part of Cindy Crawford's daily regimen. Marta herself is convinced that brushing is an indispensible tool, and this device meets all her desired results.
Says Marta: "My personal Holy Grail has always been a great brush at a good price that is especially suited to mature skin – effective exfoliation that is also super kind. After much testing, I settled on the Ultra Clear Facial Cleansing System."
See the full review of Ultra Clear Facial Brush here
9. FINISHING POWDER
W3LL People Realist X - Featured in many top beauty magazines, W3LL People Realist X is a translucent finishing powder designed to mattify the skin. And if you, like Marta, are prone to excessively shiny skin, you must get your hands on this light powder, which eliminates any unwanted glistening without being heavy or caking or containing any undesirable ingredients.
Marta says: "W3LL People Realist X works so well for me, I can hardly believe it. It leaves my complexion looking matte but silky. All shine is dissipated, but I still somehow look polished. Quite surprising and impressive. I love it so much that I carry it around with me for touch ups."
See the full review of W3LL People Realist X here
10. ULTRASONIC LED ANTI-AGING DEVICE
Ultra Renew Plus ($159) - Ultra Renew PLUS is an at-home, ultrasonic, LED and galvanic device that delivers the very best (and Marta's favorite) anti-aging treatment for firming the skin. The three modes of Ultra Renew PLUS can be used at the same time for maximum efficiency and effectiveness, or separately.
Amber says: "If you're on the fence about whether to purchase this device, hop off and buy it. I'm astonished at how much better my skin is...in every way. Thank you Marta for developing this site and this product--it's genius :)"
See the full review of Ultra Renew Plus here
11. EYE SERUM
Mukti Age Defence Eye Serum ($91) - Our reviewer, Gunilla, had an interesting experience testing this eye serum. She had a reaction, likely, to the pomegranate in the serum (not uncommon) when she used it around her eyes, but was pleasantly surprised to find that it worked wonders on the lines around her forehead, brow area and on her neck. Other reviewers voiced their praises for this impressive eye serum with a great ingredient list including argirelene and CoEnzyme Q10.
Kathy says: "I've always been self conscious about the wrinkles around my eyes (crows feet etc). I'm against injectables and have been searching for a natural alternative. I came across this website and your age defence collection a few months ago and I cannot express my happiness enough for this particular product! I've constantly been using this product for 4 months morning and night and can actually see the wrinkles around my eyes have reduced more than 50%. I am now a huge Mukti fan and tell all my friends about your company! About to purchase the whole age defence collectionI"
See the full review of Mukti Age Defence Eye Serum here
12. SKIN TIGHTENING ANTI-AGING COMPLEX
Astara Age Defying Complex ($85) - Astara Age Defying Complex restructures skin's elasticity with niacin, ginkgo biloba and royal jelly to improve clarity and texture. Not that celebrities are always the best judge of quality, but many swear by this skin tightening anti-aging serum. More importantly, our TIA reviewers think it's a truly remarkable product.
Gunilla says: "I'll come right out and say it: This product is amazing! In my opinion, it ranks right up there with the best serums I've ever used!"
See the full review of Astara Age Defying Complex here
13. MICRODERMABRASION DEVICE
Riiviva Microdermabrasion Device ($299) - Riiviva Microderm Device is an at-home microdermabrasion kit equipped with medical-grade, diamond-tip technology. The kit comes with three tips for your face (fine, medium and coarse), 50 filters, tweezers, a charger, and a black velvet carrying case. Both of our TIA reviewers (not to mention the reviews you gave in the comments) gave this device two happy thumbs up, pointing out that while it may seem costly at first, the savings over pricier salon treatments are ultimately huge.
Says Kim: "After using the Riiviva, the thought of at-home microdermabrasion is no longer intimidating and seems totally logical! With definite noticeable results, the Riiviva gets two thumbs up from me."
See the full review of Riiviva Microdermabrasion Device here