What are simply the best of the best beauty products of the year? The 14 winners of the 35th annual Prix d’Excellence awards—out of thousands of products in contention, tested by 25 international beauty journalists—include outstanding clean hair formulas, comforting face masks, eco-friendly lipsticks, skin-renewing serums, and more. Read, play, enjoy!
It took a monumental six years to develop and launch Aveda’s new vegan range (Intensive Strengthening Masque shown, $44) dedicated to damaged hair. It was worth the wait. Active plant ingredients (sacha inchi, avocado, green tea) smooth and prevent breakage, delivering hair that feels truly baby soft as a result.
A pioneer in research on nighttime skin repair, Estée Lauder uses the latest science—the company’s discovery of a molecule that’s essential to skin’s natural repair system—to design a unique complex for its reformulated cult serum ($105.) The magic? It helps skin stimulate its own cell renewal and collagen production, ensuring plump, firm skin every morning.
No question: For its makeup debut, luxury house Hermès made lipstick (here in Rose Mexique, $67) as covetable as its enamel bracelets and iconic bags—and no detail was spared. The collection offers a wide range of refillable lipstick shades, delicately infused with a lovely sandalwood and angelica scent created by in-house perfumer Christine Nagel, and housed in lacquer and brushed-metal tubes. Objets d’art, really. A true take on modern luxury.
A real skin comforter, this creamy balm ($55) nourishes, hydrates, and soothes skin that craves calm and radiance. On the ingredients list: white camellia, which offers superior moisturization, and blue ginger to replenish skin with powerful antioxidants.
Inspired by peels performed at the dermatologist’s office, these supercharged ampoules ($42) get the job done at home, leading to renewed skin in record time. Thanks to 10 percent glycolic acid (the active of choice for exfoliating dead skin and speeding cell renewal), along with soothing moisturizing agents, glowy, smooth-to-the-touch skin is yours for the taking. (This new formula is currently available to buy only through international websites.)
This collection of skin boosters (Lines Away Serum shown, $88) has you covered 24/7; there are three for day, one for night, plus four highly targeted serums created to protect against the environmental realities of urban life. Formulated with both active botanicals (Moroccan plants, cactus flower, mallow, iris extract, prickly pear) and proven dermatologist favorites (hyaluronic and glycolic acids, as well as peptides), these blends will leave your skin feeling recharged, while fine lines, dullness, dehydration, and loss of firmness are kept at bay.
Our eyes—constantly exposed to screens and doing all the emotive work above our masks—no doubt deserve a high-performance treatment to care for them. Enter this fresh formula ($89), which highlights a duo of active ingredients (organic harungana extract and Cassie flower wax) chosen for their lifting and smoothing properties. In product testing, most users saw brighter, smoother results in just one minute, an amazing achievement accomplished with a formula of 94 percent natural ingredients.
With a curved microbristle brush that grabs every tiny lash (even the lower babies at the corners) and a supremely lightweight gel formula, this mascara ($26)seems to effortlessly lift, lengthen, and fatten up lashes. It wears well too: Lashes stay perky, and there’s no sign of flaking or smudging, even after a full day.
There are many things to love about this eye treatment ($90): Its velvety, almost-whipped texture spreads easily around the delicate eye area (lids and under eyes), making gentle massage a cinch, while peptides and hyaluronic acid go to work to help hydrate and smooth away fine lines. It may surprise you at first, but you’ll grow to love the peachy-pearly tint, which leaves eyes looking instantly more awake—and creates a subtle sheen on cheeks and brow bones over makeup.
The latest in this brand’s cult-favorite repair line is an intensely nourishing weekly mask ($28) that hydrates hair damaged by hot tools, chemicals, and styling. With rose-hip-seed extract, meadowfoam-seed oil, plus a patented ingredient, this mask—when used weekly—reintroduces healthy moisture and shine. Apply it to damp, clean hair for 10 minutes and you’ll immediately feel the results: soft strands that are easy to style.
The Japanese concept of starting over, or shinsei, translates to “new birth”—and it’s a fitting inspiration for this complexion-renewing formula ($88). A fermented proprietary complex of Uji green tea, Akita rice, and Okinawa Mozuku algae imbues the skin with AHAs like lactic acid that promote cell turnover and improve texture; hyaluronic acid and squalane punch up skin’s hydration and bounce. Our skin’s future is bright.
For fine or thinning hair, this foam ($150) works both immediately and in the long term to help create a healthy, dense head of hair. After just one use, fine hair appears fuller, without feeling weighed down. After a month of daily use, the ingredients in this foam, which help combat breakage, bolster stronger, longer results overall.
For the ultimate sculpted brow, this wax ($23) tames even the unruliest hairs and leaves them looking feathery and refined. With a simple swipe, the clear gel provides unparalleled hold and gives brows a boost in volume for a dramatically full one-step soap-brow look. Its effects can last all day, even against humidity.
Trends in contouring are ever evolving, and this innovative formula ($26) sets the bar sky-high for sculpting in 2021. The weightless balm is blendable enough to create subtle angles on clean skin yet totally buildable, for more defined, lifted features. And if its melty texture almost feels like skincare, that’s because it is: Hyaluronic acid, vitamin E, and meadowfoam seed oil hydrate your complexion while you wear it.
This story appears in the Summer 2021 issue of Marie Claire.
Photos by Jeffrey Westbrook