Welcome to 2015 — the fourth year of the Epic Beauty Awards!
Check out the latest winners in natural beauty! Over the last year, I have tested dozens of products (and listened to all my amazing readers) from each category to bring you the very best in makeup, skin care, body care, and hair care.
FTC Notice: Some products have been given to Epic Beauty Guide to review at some point in the past, but this in no way favors the product to win an Epic Beauty Award. All products have been originally purchased or repurchased by me. Affiliate links and links to my reader-requested curated shop (Epic Beauty Bar) are used when they are available, which supports Epic Beauty Guide as a free resource for everyone, and in no way effects the winner selection. Thank you for your support! Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, article suggestions, product suggestions, etc. 😉
Did I overlook a great product or category? Leave a comment so I know what to add for next year. Enjoy!
The lovely Elizabeth of Beauty Bets said it best: “One part magical, multivitamin serum…one part powder mineral makeup, this weird-in-a-good-way gel-like foundation melts into skin and manages to perfect skin with just a couple of drops.” Win win win! The ingredients are wonderful for all skin types, even those that are prone to acne or clogged pores.
Check out beautiful Lilly of Genuine Glow and her stellar before and after.
This is the first natural concealer I’ve found that is formulated specifically for dark circles, even those bluish/purple ones caused by vein show-through. The little clear pot has a mirror in the lid, a richly opaque pigment, and incredible texture that makes for a seamless, matte finish.
This is a super effective makeup primer that rivals top department store primers. This light cream emulsion has a slightly golden glow that makes skin beautifully luminous. It doesn’t look greasy or shiny at all, and helps to control oil production. Those with dry skin might want to apply a moisturizer under this primer, or use a similar glowing primer with more hydration like Vapour Stratus. Beautiful under any foundation, BB cream, or tinted moisturizer.
Here’s a good look at the primer before and after blending, from Nessie at Keep Calm and Think Green.
For the second year in a row, these gorgeous eyeshadows have captured many of our hearts. Long-lasting, refillable, and entirely made of of natural and gentle ingredients – they are little dreams in a silver case. Use with a primer for an all-day, crease-free look. Plus they come in over 10 beautiful colors.
Eyebrow artist extraordinaire Marco Ochoa created the first natural, 100% nontoxic eyebrow waxes that last all day, don’t smear or flake, and don’t fade or change colors. They come in four beautiful, natural looking shades. I use Marilyn with the EcoBrow Defining Brush ($23) to slightly darken and define the shape of my naturally thicker brows.
Amazing brows, right?
Whether you have sensitive eyes or a desire for awesome lashes that the drugstore brands give you, then just put on one coat of this mascara from W3LL. It’s non-irritating to even the most sensitive eyes, doesn’t flake, crumble, or smudge, and makes lashes thick and full.
Below is what W3LL Expressionist looks like on my top eyelashes (applied to top lashes only — check out the difference between my bottom and top lashes).
I first heard about KM lipsticks a little over a year ago. Hailing from New Zealand, these tubes of beauty are richly pigmented, have a beautiful color payoff, are slightly plumping (yay!), and super hydrating. There are over 16 gorgeous colors from which to choose.
Check out some of these beautiful Karen Murrell swatches below from BeautySwatch.
ILIA Lip Gloss, $24
Another beautiful selection of lip colors with stellar ingredients that look lovely and pigmented when applied. I also love that they aren’t shimmery – just beautifully glossy and hydrating. Heartbeat and The Butterfly and I are my favorites.
I love applying this gorgeous, inky black eyeliner to the waterline and setting with matte black eyeshadow – looks amazing with a gorgeous smokey eye.
Alima Pure Bronzer, $20
Alima has done an amazing job with their natural mineral powder bronzers. They have the perfect matte shades for contouring and gorgeous shimmery bronze shades for a glow, and the perfect light bronze shade for pale skin. They look great on all skin colors and types. You can’t go wrong.
I love multi-use makeup sticks, and this one from Vapour takes the prize for being super nourishing for the skin and richly pigmented. The creamy texture glides on easily and lasts all day, and I love all the gorgeous colors from which to choose.
New for 2014, this black compact is filled with what can only be the golden light of sunset captured and transformed into a radiant cream. Most highlighters are white, but this rose/yellow gold beauty highlights skin with a sunkissed and dewy glow. The color is perfect on all skin tones and can be applied light or heavy. And for those sensitive to the coconut oil and beeswax found in many natural cosmetics, you’ll be happy to know that this highlighter doesn’t contain either one of them.
By far one of the most innovative nail polishes to hit the natural beauty market. Not only is it free of the five major caustic chemicals present in almost all nail polishes, but it’s also long-lasting with a gorgeous range of classic and unique colors. My RGB manicures last 1–2 weeks without any chips and without any extra special care.
Sigma Beauty Brushes, $14 and up
Year after year, Sigma has won best brushes for their excellent quality and reasonable prices. They clean up well and don’t shed much, if at all. Plus there are a lot of great comparisons online showing MAC brushes versus Sigma so it’s easy to convert the brush numbers.
WINNERS! SKIN CARE
For the second year in a row, this gentle cleansing oil and makeup remover has proven how easy and enjoyable it can be to wash one’s face. This smells like the tropics and removes makeup and excess oil (sebum) with zero effort. This is the perfect first step in a nightly double-cleansing routine. (P.S. If you’re not double cleansing nightly with an oil cleanser followed by a gel, foam, or cream cleanser, then you must try it – it leaves your face truly clear of makeup and debris, and when you use the right products it’s a nourishing, not stripping, ritual.)
This gel-like cleanser has flown under the radar, yet is one favorite beauty potion that isn’t going to be staying a secret for much longer. This is a wondrously silky, hydrating, gently exfoliating cleanser and it’s the perfect pH for cleansing without disturbing our skin’s naturally acidic skin barrier. Many natural cleansers are far too alkaline, and can leave the skin feeling and looking dry. Use this after an emulsifying oil cleanser (see above) for a complexion that has never before felt so good right after washing.
This toner popped on the scene in November 2014 and quickly stole the show as the best toner of the year. It has the same watery texture of any toner, yet behaves more like an essence (a popular type of Korean skin care) or watery serum due to its concentrated skin nourishing properties. Not only is it perfectly on the acidic side (which is incredible for bringing balance back to our naturally acidic skin, as washing can leave our skin alkaline and feeling stripped or dry), it instantly soothes and calms, and provides luscious hydrating and radiance to the complexion. A must-have for all skin types, especially those with acne, dry patches, and redness.
If you have whiteheads, blackheads, or cystic acne of any type, you NEED this. Even though this is a powerful skin clearing treatment, it doesn’t aggravate or dry the skin –it is absolute perfection in a bottle. Whether you just want to get rid of the blackheads on your nose, or a recurring breakout issue, this silky off-white serum is the solution.
A cult favorite and perhaps the best scrub I’ve ever used for achieving smooth, radiant, super calm skin. There are very close contenders, yet I keep coming back to this organic Ayurvedic exfoliant. This scrub/mini-mask is in the form of a super fine, gentle powder that can be mixed with water, yogurt, or honey depending on your skin’s needs. Rich in minerals, anti-inflammatories, and antioxidants, Ubtan Radiance brings forth incredible results in just 2 minutes (gently massage it on, then let it rest on your skin 2–3 minutes for a quick, rejuvenating mask).
This mask is an absolute staple in my beauty cabinet, and in many of yours already too! This mask cleanses, balances, exfoliates, calms, and heals all in one, and yet does not irritate or dry out the skin. It works by bringing circulation and heat to the skin to speed healing, and is formulated with sensitive skin in mind (May has some of the most sensitive, reactive skin ever and she keeps it calm and gorgeous with her creations). Definitely a huge favorite among my amazing readers. Since May launched The Honey Mud, she inspired us to mix these two skin miracles together – and lo and behold, the combination proved to be brilliant. Try the magic combo if your skin is feeling particularly irritated, dry, sensitive, or blemished.
Oh-my-smoothness! For the second year in a row, this hydrating beauty has taken the prize. This mask is super moisturizing and can be left on for longer periods of time or as an overnight sleeping mask atop your normal skin care products. Amazing for dry skin, difficult dry patches, and re-balancing super oily skin (overproduction of sebum means your skin is calling for hydration – help it out!).
A favorite of mine for years, this lightweight cream absorbs quickly, brightens the under eye area, and helps thicken thin under eye skin. Keep it in the fridge for soothing and reducing puffy eyes (also prolongs the life of this amazing cream).
I love face creams that don’t contain a ton of essential oils or herbals, as that can cause or exacerbate allergies and really isn’t necessary when you can always layer other concentrated serums or essences as needed. To me, a face cream ought to be gentle, simple, “seal” in the skin care products used prior to the cream, and hold moisture to the skin, and this cream does all the above perfectly. It is truly wonderful for all skin types, even those prone to acne and dermatitis.
MUN No. 1 Aknari Brightening Youth Serum (formerly Nighttime Dream Youth Serum), $95
Oh MUN, seriously, I could write you a love poem. It would take an act of Zeus to knock No. 1 Aknari off its winner’s podium. This is an anti-aging serum, super healing oil, and stellar moisturizer all in one, and is seriously suited for all skin types. I can’t get enough of it (and neither can many of my readers, who send in their glowing feedback regularly). Check out my full review of MUN here.
This is one of the few face oils that is truly suited for oily and acne-prone skin. The combination of oil balancing, acne fighting, and calming ingredients do wonders for those with excess sebum and an acne issue they wish to resolve. The high amounts of vitamin E and linoleic acid prevent pustules, whiteheads, and blackheads for a clear complexion. It also has a wonderful finish, not shiny or greasy, and acts as a lovely primer under foundation due to the broccoli seed oil, which has a similar composition as silicone but without any potential pore-clogging. Just a drop or two will cover your entire face, thus the bottle lasts for months.
I love this entire line of skin care, and this mist is another amazing product in the lineup and a must-have for airplane travel. It is fantastic after applying moisturizer, before moisturizer, for setting makeup, adding moisture to super dry skin, misting skin in the dry air of a plane, etc. The mist smells lovely and does a great job of holding moisture to the skin, along with imparting calming and anti-aging properties.
A zinc-only sunblock with extracts of neem, licorice, and vitamin E that prevents blemishes and brightens the skin. It’s also one of the rare sunblocks that won’t break out even the most sensitive, acne-prone types. Zero irritation, no dryness, and existing blemishes heal faster.
This is the only natural retinoid serum I have found that is properly formulated and works fantastically. It won’t act as fast as a prescription retinoid, but give it 8–12 weeks like any OTC retinol and you will see a big difference. This light serum erases fine lines, softens wrinkles, helps restore skin barrier function, and prevents further aging. I’ve loved this serum for a few years now – see my full review here.
CELSUS Scar Cream, $19
This scar cream works miracles. When I originally discovered it a few years ago, it removed years-old freckle-like blemish marks in only 1.5 weeks. It’s gotten incredible feedback from my amazing readers, and it’s quickly become the go-to favorite for getting rid of post-acne marks and scarring.
Osmia has done it again with this protective and healing blend of tamanu, vitamin E, and Manuka honey. Antibacterial, moisturizing, and long-lasting, this balm will stay put, keeping moisture in and damaging stressors out. Use this on lips or on any seriously cracked skin (fingers, nose, etc.).
WINNERS! BODY CARE
This inexpensive soap bar has won several years in a row for simply being the best damn bar soap ever. It is gentle, hydrating, and prevents blemishes (and can be used for both face and body). This unassuming bar is a superstar.
This is the best lotion I’ve ever used, hands down. I was never a big lotion person because, as I discovered, I just hadn’t met “The One” yet. If you’re looking for a soothing, non-greasy lotion that you can use post-shaving or when you’re dry, super dry, or sunburned, then look no further. This miraculous lotion was formulated for the most sensitive skin (including those with compromised skin due to cancer) and also helps heal eczema and dermatitis.
Packaged in deep violet, UV-blocking MIRON glass, this body oil is loaded with high-quality, skin nourishing oils such as avocado, argan, and camellia seed oils – there are no cheap filler oils in this beauty. It has a delicious light vanilla scent, and medium weight texture that absorbs quickly and doesn’t leave you feeling greasy. Anyone who wants glowing, super soft skin all over needs to apply this right out of the shower while skin is still slightly damp.
EcoTan Winter Skin, $30
Compared to other sunless tanners, this leaves a completely natural, build-able tan with no orange tint, no stinky smells, and no streaking. It’s effortless to apply, just like a normal body lotion, and smells of roses. When it starts to fade in a few days, it fades like a normal tan would, not in those weird patchy streaks or pixelated bits that others self tanners create. You can reapply this as often as you’d like for a safe, year round golden tan.
I am obsessed with this mitt and still haven’t found any manual scrub that works better. When used according to the directions, you can actually see all the dead skin rolling off your body. No scrub has ever given me the incredibly smooth, soft skin that this mitt delivers. Make sure your skin has been softened by warm or hot water in the shower or bath for about 10 minutes, then step out of the shower stream or dry off a bit, then use the mitt. Using it on wet skin won’t give you the awesome results.
Still the most effective natural deodorant I have ever used. Just swipe a little bit from the jar and swipe it on your underarms with your finger. Easy! Lasts all day without any weird odors.
WINNERS! HAIR CARE
This shampoo is excellent for all hair types, and I like to rotate this with a few other awesome natural shampoos from Acure and Giovanni for my fine, curly hair. Rahua shampoos never dry out the hair, smell lovely, and are made with gentle, natural and organic ingredients. I also like that they are very slightly foaming, so it’s not like rubbing a solid lump of cream on your head like some other natural shampoos.
Another win for Rahua, this conditioner has been a staple in my shower for over five years because of its amazing moisturizing and strengthening ingredients. Plus it moisturizes the hair beautifully and doesn’t weigh it down (even fine hair!).
The best treatment for dry, breakage-prone, frizz-prone hair comes in this white tub. Rich in B vitamins, silk, and deeply moisturizing rosehip and avocado oils, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better deep conditioner, even from a straight oil treatment.
Yarok Feed Your Hold, $19
One of the few all natural hair spray out there without any harsh drying ingredients or lung-collapsing smells. It offers a light to medium hold and is easy to wash out so you don’t get crazy product build-up.
What are your favorites? Leave a comment!