Top 25 beauty products for summer 2015

August 12, 2015

The Review Crew

This summer, our editorial team tested 80+ products from 20+ brands.

Each product was rated on a scale of 1 (lowest) to 5 (highest). Only the products that we rated at 4 or above made it into the final Top 25 listed below.

Take a look at our favourite picks, ranging from fragrances and make-up to hair and body products. This is our Top 25, in no particular order.

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1. Elizabeth Arden’s Always Red Fragrance

Reviewed by: Hannah Yakobi, Editor-in-Chief

How many times did you try the product? I wore it daily for about two weeks.

What did you like the most about it? The bottle design was lovely. Its size made it easy to slip into a purse and carry around all day. The notes were fantastic! They included accents of red plum, blood orange and passion fruit, as well as pink freesia, velvet rose petals and cashmere woods.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The scent was a little bit strong upon application but became much lighter after about 10 minutes.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? It’s a lovely fragrance for both day and evening wear. Its notes make it a perfect fit for this season.

 2. Clarins’ Sunscreen Care Oil Spray

FINAL OIL SPRAY SPF 30

Reviewed by: Hannah Yakobi, Editor-in-Chief

How many times did you try the product? Six times.

What did you like the most about it? This is by far the best sunscreen I have ever used. It is a spectacular product, with SPF 30, water-resistant for 40 minutes, and suitable for both body and hair. It has an incredible floral scent, and is paraben, sulfate and phthalate-free. It is also formulated with organic Indonesian Nyamplung Oil.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? Since it’s an oil, it naturally leaves an oily feeling on your hands. Have a Kleenex at the ready, but the good news is that it can be wiped off the palms of your hands quite easily.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? Sun protection is important, especially during summer. This product is great for wear during long summer walks, at the beach or at the pool.

3. KISS’ InstaWave Automatic Curler

Reviewed by: Katherine Ellis, Executive Editor

How many times did you try the product? I tested the product three days in a row. One day to practice, and two days to see how long the curls would last for the day, and how long it would take to get ready.

What did you like the most about it? My hair is very long and thin, and naturally curly (on a good, hot and humid day). The curling iron, equipped with two-directional arrows which control the “InstaWave Curl Dial” curls, is designed to “catch” your hair and curl it automatically around the ceramic barrel.  For someone who has struggled with trying to get any type of curl (burning fingers more than once trying to wrap hair around the curling iron), this was a pretty neat trick.  It made it easy and created nicely shaped curls that lasted for most of the day.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The InstaWave Curl Dial (in the beginning). There were a few setbacks for someone who has not had much success with curling irons in the past: however, all of these disappeared with a little practice. 

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? This product is ideal for summer – you can drink your coffee in one hand and curl your hair in the other, creating sexy and soft waves!

4. Elizabeth Arden’s Beautiful Color Eye Shadow Quad (left)

Reviewed by: Katherine Ellis, Executive Editor

How many times did you try the product? I used it consistently for five days, testing out different layer and colour combinations.

What did you like the most about it? The eye shadow colours offered a range of looks, from daytime to nighttime. It was applied easily, was nice and smooth, and the colours were rich and vibrant.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? N/A

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? The colours offer a range for any setting. You can go for something softer during the day, and opt for more dramatic contouring at night.

5. Arbonne’s Liquid Sunshine Tinted Self-tanner

Arbonne_TintedSelfTanner

Reviewed by: Katia Ostapets, Events Editor

How many times did you try the product? Twice.

What did you like the most about it? The colour came on gradually and looked natural (not too brown or yellow), leaving room for repeat applications if a darker colour is desired. The smell was also pleasant and not overpowering.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? Even though I applied a very thin layer and rubbed it in, there were some dark streaks, especially on the legs. However, this is a typical issue with self-tanners and not indicative of this particular product. More practice with application would solve this.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? There is nothing like wearing a short white dress in the summer that shows off your beautifully tanned skin. Unfortunately, this often comes with the health risks associated with prolonged sun exposure (i.e. skin damage). Self-tanner gives you the same effect without the risks!

6. The Body Shop’s Virgin Mojito Body Butter

The Body Shop_Virgin Mojito Body Butter 200ml  (1)

Reviewed by: Kareen Mallon, Senior Photographer

How many times did you try the product? Five times during the course of the week. I used it every morning when getting ready for work.

What did you like the most about it? What I loved about this product was its amazing zesty smell. It’s as if I’ve stepped out of my apartment and onto the beach. The scent carried with me throughout most of the day and was invigorating.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The product itself is pretty thick and you have to work it into the skin or else it will leave a residue. After about 30 minutes, however, it sinks in and leaves your skin soft.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? This product is all about summer! If you want to surround yourself with the smell of crisp fresh mint that revitalizes the senses, this is the lotion for you.

7. Lise Watier’s Illuminating Face Gel

Lise Watier_LW_41502_BronzeLumieres_GelIlluminateurVisage

Reviewed by: Julia Eskins, Features Editor

How many times did you try the product? Four times.

What did you like the most about it? I am always looking for new ways to achieve a natural-looking glow and I loved the way this product complemented my skin tone. I applied the gel to my upper cheekbones and found it was incredibly lightweight and easy to blend. While I find many bronzing gels too shimmery and orange, the Illuminating Face Gel created a subtle iridescent glow with a beautiful pearly undertone.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? My only criticism would be the size of the bottle! This gel is great for day or evening, so I could see myself going through it rather quickly.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? Who doesn’t love an effortless dewy glow? This product is also very versatile because you can blend it with foundation, sunscreen or your daily moisturizer. You can use it sparingly to highlight and contour, or apply it generously to the face and décolleté. Surprisingly, it does not leave the skin feeling greasy, which is a major benefit on warm summer days!

8. Kerastase’s Bain Après-Soleil Shampoo

Kerastase_Soleil_PRO_BainApresSoleil_250ml

Reviewed by: Julia Eskins, Features Editor

How many times did you try the product? Six times.

What did you like the most about it? As someone who spends a lot of time outside in the summer, I was excited to try Kerastase’s Soleil line, which claims to protect the hair from the damaging effects of the sun. After each use, my hair felt softer, shinier and more vibrant— I even had a stranger compliment my hair texture one day (a first for me!). This shampoo did a fantastic job of taming my flyaways and moisturizing the strands root to tip, without leaving my fine hair feeling lank. With a refreshing jasmine scent, I now look forward to my morning showers and will continue using this shampoo all summer long.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? While I enjoyed this Kerastase shampoo, I find I needed to use quite a bit to get a good lather going. However, the repairing effects were well worth it!

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? It’s so important to protect and nourish your hair in the summer, especially if you spend time in the sun or chlorine pools. Unlike several repairing shampoos that can leave a heavy residue on your hair, the Bain Après-Soleil hydrated my hair without leaving it oily. Even after a day in the sun, my blonde hair looked radiant and healthy.

9. Vita Liberata’s Trystal Self-Tanning Bronzing Minerals

Trystal Minerals

Reviewed by: Julia Eskins, Features Editor

How many times did you try the product? Five times.

What did you like the most about it? Since this is the world’s first self-tanning infused mineral bronzer, I was really curious to try the Trystal3 Technology for myself. The first thing I noticed was how effective the soft Kabuki brush was for blending the loose mineral powder onto the face, neck and décolleté. I applied the bronzer to my cheekbones to achieve a contouring effect, and was pleasantly surprised by how sheer and smooth the powder went on; it almost made my skin look airbrushed. Interestingly, the crystal technology allows DHA to be activated, which leads to a tanning effect of the skin even after removing your make-up.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? N/A

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? If your goal is to achieve a flawless, natural glow for the summer, this product is a great choice. It also gives your skin a bronzed appearance that lasts for 3-7 days, so it’s a perfect alternative to tanning in the sun. My skin felt soft, smooth and clear, which could probably be credited to the oil-free mineral formula. The loose powder and large brush allowed for a smooth application, making the blending and contouring process virtually effortless.

10. Sibu Beauty’s Sea Buckthorn Cleansing Face and Body Bar

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Reviewed by: Jill Adams, Editorial Co-ordinator

How many times did you try the product? Over the course of a week, I used this product about 14 times. In the morning, when I showered, as a body wash. And in the evening, as a face wash.

What did you like the most about it? I loved how gentle this soap was; in only a week, my skin felt smoother and less dry. Any blemishes and redness on my face were also noticeably lessened. I try to keep my routines quite simple, so having something that I can use on my face and body that didn’t require multiple or complicated steps was another bonus for me. I’m also cautious about what ingredients are in the products I use, so my favourite thing about the cleansing bar was that it didn’t contain parabens, sulfates, gluten or artificial preservatives. I would definitely be interested in trying out other products from this line.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? N/A

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? Summer is typically a time when skin can become dry or irritated from sun exposure. The cleansing bar is a great choice this season because it moisturizes your skin and calms inflammation. The mix of citrus and oatmeal gives the bar a subtle, refreshing scent.

11. Essie’s ‘Gel-Setter’ Ultimate Wear & Shine Top Coat

ESSIE_CPD_GelSetter

Reviewed by: Violet MacLeod, Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief and Reporter

How many times did you try the product? Once.

What did you like the most about it? The thick glossy finish.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? As is typical with most top coats, the polish has a strong chemical odor. However, the smell vanishes after the polish is dry.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? This top coat makes your nails feel cushy and soft, while maintaining a solid, long-lasting seal that protects your summer polish. The flawless finish resembles a professional gel manicure. And the best part? This top coat can be used with any nail polish, regardless of the brand, making it perfect for adding a gel look to your existing favourites.

12. Essie’s 2015 summer collection, Summer Sneaks shade

essie_sunsetsneaks

Reviewed by: Violet MacLeod, Assistant to the Editor-in-Chief and Reporter

How many times did you try the product? Once.

What did you like the most about it? Fast drying, with no clumps, bumps or streaks.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? N/A.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? The essie 2015 summer collection has six new shades; my favourite was the Sunset Sneaks (crimson with orange undertones). If you’re on the run, it’s quick to apply. One coat gives your nails full, opaque coverage. It’s a bold, brilliant and unapologetic colour, making it the perfect standout shade for the summer season.

13. Arbonne’s Smoothed Over Lipstick in Guava

Arbonne Cosmetics_Lipstick_Guava

Reviewed by: Amy Pigeon, Make-Up Artist

How many times did you try the product? Five times.

What did you like the most about it? The smell was incredible! It smelled like strawberries. It was  also more moisturizing than any other sheer-formula lipstick I’ve tried before. Colour lasted quite a while for a sheer formula and didn’t cake up much at all.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? Colour payoff is not the best, but it usually isn’t with sheer formulas.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? It absolutely is. Sheer, moisturizing and semi-glossy formulas look amazing in the summer, especially with bright colours like Guava!

14. Moroccanoil Treatment

MoroccanOil - Oil Treatment_200ml_June2012_hires

Reviewed by: Ada Yakobi, Senior Reporter

How many times did you try the product? Seven times. My hair drank it like it’s water and absolutely loved it.

What did you like the most about it? Having long hair isn’t always easy, but the Moroccanoil Treatment left my hair frizz-free and as shiny as it would be if I had just left the hair salon. It also didn’t make my hair greasy, and smelled divine.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? It’s hard to wash the product off your hands after you apply it, but it’s worth the extra scrub.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? With the amount of humidity that we are faced with every day, Moroccanoil Treatment was the best way to avoid frizz. Ladies with curly hair will agree.

15. The Body Shop’s Dead Sea Salt Scrub (Resurfacing Body Scrub)

The Body Shop Spa of the World™ - Dead Sea Salt Scrub

Reviewed by: Trudie German, Health & Fitness Writer

How many times did you try the product? I used the product for a week to ensure it was given a fair chance.

What did you like the most about it? I really liked its scent; it had a little exotic aroma. The product said that the scrub “will transform your skin”. At the end of the week, my skin did, in fact, feel softer, as the sea salt removed the dead skin. Also, the fact that just a minute amount of sea salt was needed to be efficient was another bonus. For a busy girl like myself, having the spa feel and smell for a fraction of the cost in my shower, at my convenience is definitely worth the purchase. The size of the jar is also a bonus, as this should last me at least a year.

What did you least like about it (if applicable)? N/A.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? Considering summers are about short shorts, tank tops and flip flops, this product is definitely summer-approved. It softens those “rough” areas like the elbows, heels and knees.

16.  Pai’s BioAffinity Tonic

Pai

Reviewed by: Nicole McLaren, New York Columnist

How many times did you try the product? I used this spray as a final step after cleansing and toning in the evening and morning, for one week. I also used it a few afternoons as a refresher over my make-up; so, about 20 times in total.

What did you like the most about it? I’ve never used a facial product in a spray bottle before, but I found it to be very convenient! Especially as a mid-afternoon pick-me-up. I loved the fresh scent of rosemary — it was very soothing before bed.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? N/A.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? The light mist is refreshing — it was temping to spritz myself throughout the day! Also, the scent is wonderful.

17. Mont Blanc’s Legend Special Edition Fragrance

Mont Blanc Legend

Reviewed by: Marcus Kan, Artistic Director

How many times did you try the product? Four times.

What did you like the most about it? I was in love with the scent. It was very summery and refreshing. Also, the scent lasted on my skin for a very long time.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? N/A.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? I think it is a good choice for summer because the scent is very refreshing. It reminds me of the sunny days at the beach. Also, I love the dry down notes of this cologne (dry amber and sandal wood). It can easily replace all of the colognes I have in my collection for the summer.

18. The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil

The Body Shop_Tea Tree Oil 20ml

Reviewed by: Aleyah Solomon, Photographer

How many times did you try the product? I used it for several days in the morning and in the evening.

What did you like the most about it? Being a fan of the Tea Tree line at The Body Shop, I was excited to test out the oil. This specific oil is known to assist in acne and blemish issues, diminishing them over time. As someone who is lucky to not have these issues, I focused more on the soothing element of the oil. In this heat, after washing my face, I would then put a few drops on a cotton pad and rub it over my face. The result was very therapeutic.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? This oil will dry out your skin overtime, so I made sure not to skip my usual moisturizing routine post shower.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? This oil is amazing if you happen to have a burn or too much sun exposure. I will continue to use the oil, as well as the other products in this line!

19. Thierry Mugler’s Angel Eau Sucree Fragrance

Thierry Mugler_Angel Eau sucr+-¼e HD

Reviewed by: Valeria Safonova, Freelance Contributor

How many times did you try the product? Twice.

What did you like the most about it? The perfume has a great staying power and does not wear off throughout the day. It does not need to be re-applied again, which is perfect for days when you leave the house early and come back late.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The smell is quiet strong, so it may not be suitable for every day.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? This is a great product for going out on warm summer nights. It would be a perfect perfume for a night of dancing because the smell lasts for hours! Unlike the original Angel which has stronger hints of patchouli and bergamot, Eau Sucree is sweeter. Great choice for the summer!

20. L’Occitane Hand Cream

L'Occitane_Shea Butter Hand Cream

Reviewed by: Valeria Safonova, Freelance Contributor

How many times did you try the product? Five times.

What did you like the most about it? This cream is very rich and moisturizing, which makes it perfect for most dry areas of the body. It has a great smell too, which is quiet light and not too overpowering.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? N/A.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? This product was great for me because after a sunny vacation, my skin was prone to peeling and I needed an effective moisturizer. The cream consists of at least 20% Shea butter and contains extracts of almond and coconut oil, which makes it perfect for driest areas of the body. It is very rich and moisturizing, and I think it would be even more suitable for use during our harsh Canadian winters. This product deserves its great reputation.

21. I Am Juicy Couture Eau De Parfum

I am Juicy Couture

Reviewed by: Jennifer Hartley, Campaign Manager

How many times did you try the product? I enjoy spritzing on perfume for evenings out and on weekends. I tried this perfume five times.

What did you like the most about it? I really liked this perfume because the feminine scent lasted all day and wasn’t too strong or overpowering.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? N/A.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? I Am Juicy Couture’s aroma described summer perfectly with its light, sweet and floral fragrance.

22. Pür Minerals’ Secret Crush Palette

Pur Minerals_secret-crush-eye-shadow-palette--opencpt-300dpi

Reviewed by: Jennifer Hartley, Campaign Manager

How many times did you try the product? I tried this product seven times.

What did you like the most about it? These eye shadows were long-lasting and great for a natural look. The palette has a nice mix of glitter, matte and shimmer shades that would suit all skin tones.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The brush included with the palette was not very effective for applying the shadows, but it blended the colours nicely.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? The earthy shades that this palette offers are great for a fresh-faced summer look. They all have great pigmentation, so you don’t have to use much.

23. Garnier’s Ombrelle Ultra Light Advanced SPF 50 Weightless Body Lotion

Garnier_Ombrelle_Ultra Light Advanced_Bottle

Reviewed by: Liana Shlien, Freelance Contributor

How many times did you try the product? Twice.

What did you like the most about it? It absorbed very quickly and was very light.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? I needed to get used to applying the product more frequently throughout the day.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? Sunscreen has always been a summer (as well as year-round) essential to prevent burns, skin cancer and wrinkles.

24. Maybelline New York’s The Blushed Nudes Palette

Maybelline NYC_The Blushed Nudes Palette MNY (2)

Reviewed by: Liana Shlien, Freelance Contributor

How many times did you try the product? Four times.

What did you like the most about it? The colour selection. I was thrilled with all of the earthy shades offered in this budget-friendly compact.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? Not particularly long-lasting without a primer.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? The shades are natural with the right amount of subtle shimmer to complement many every day or night looks.

25. Schwarzkopf’s got2b Mind Blowing Fast Dry Hairspray

got2b_MBL_Hairspray_HR

Reviewed by: Anna Smirnova, Freelance Contributor

How many times did you try the product? Twice.

What did you like the most about it? I loved everything about this product. It dries instantaneously, but doesn’t leave the hair heavy or sticky, no matter how much hairspray I applied. It easily lasted through the day (the waves can last into the next day). It made my hair look very shiny and sleek. And one last thing – it smelled like candy.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? N/A

Why do you think this product is a good choice for summer? The summer time is here to be enjoyed, not spent doing your hair and worrying about it throughout the day. That’s why this hairspray was so perfect. It was easy to apply, dried very fast, fixed the hair for a long time, made it look shiny and made you forget about it for the whole day.

Photo of Hannah Yakobi by Kareen Mallon, Nicole McLaren by Alex Mouganis, Marcus Kan by Darrell Diljohn, Valeria Safonova by David Leyes.

By FAJO’s team
Photography by / courtesy of each brand

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3 Comments »

  • Andrea said:

    Please review Senegence International and Lipsense! !

  • Top 25 beauty products for winter 2016 | FAJO Magazine said:

    […] the success of our Top 25 guide last summer, we listened to our readers’ requests and brought it back for winter […]

  • FAJO Magazine said:

    […] previous iterations of the guide, conducted in 2015 and early 2016, we had picked our Top 25. This time around, we decided to narrow things down […]

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