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Top 25 beauty products for winter 2016

February 19, 2016
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By FAJO's team
Photography by / courtesy of each brand

Following the success of our Top 25 guide last summer, we listened to our readers’ requests and brought it back for winter 2016!

This time, our editorial team across Canada, Australia and the United States went even more in-depth — we tested 100 products from 25 brands.

Once again, 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.

Meet the Review Crew

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1. Burberry’s First Kiss Gloss Lip Balm

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Reviewed by: 
Hannah Yakobi, Editor-in-Chief (Toronto)

How many times did you try the product? 15+.

What did you like the most about it? I really liked its gloss/balm dual property. The Rose Blush shade was perfect for me, as it perfectly matched my natural lip colour. I also liked the packaging and cooling ceramic applicator—very sleek.

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

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? The moisture-infused formula hydrates the lips very well.

2. Elizabeth Arden’s Pro Hydrating Anti-Oxidant Spray

Hydrating Antioxidant Spray - Bottle

Reviewed by: 
Katherine Ellis, Executive Editor (Ottawa)

How many times did you try the product? At least three times a day, for four days.

What did you like the most about it? I get really dry skin during the winter months in Ottawa, so this product was perfect for me to test. I noticed a difference after I started applying this mist a few times a day. My skin and make-up looked smoother and I felt rejuvenated. It added a nice touch after finishing my make-up application in the morning.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? It took me a little while to figure out the appropriate distance to apply the mist. The first few tries, I had the mist a little too close to my face and neck.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? The hydrating properties of the product are perfect for those cold, dry winter months. Especially for my dry winter skin.

3. Burberry’s Brit Rhythm Cologne

burberry 1

Reviewed by: Marcus Kan, Artistic Director (Toronto)

How many times did you try the product? Three.

What did you like the most about it? The leather and wood notes add a very masculine touch and I totally feel like a rock star when I wear it.

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

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? This cologne is a perfect choice for winter because the scent lasts well on the skin, and carries rich and heavy notes.

4. Clarins’ Natural Glow Eye Palette

Natural Glow Eye Palette

Reviewed by: Kareen Mallon, Senior Photographer (Toronto)

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

What did you like the most about it? I’m an eye shadow gal and love testing out new colours, or adding new shades to my collection. I gave this eyeshadow palette a run for a week to see how it fit into my daily routine. The colour palette I tested was 03 Natural Glow. It provided five different shades of brown to blend and use. The container was cute and small, much like my little leather note pad, and came with an applicator wand for shading. Although these colours are standard brown tones, I enjoyed the ease of blending. I usually carry a larger brown palette on me, but this super compact and fun collection will become my new go-to.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The kit came with a visual applicator card, which showed two variations that could be achieved. I love to play and think they could have actually had more than just the two shown.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? Since this item is from a spring collection, I think the colours were a great choice for winter as it plays on the deep rich tones. These colours can be worn during any season and, with the five-shade option, they can be worn morning till night.

5. Estée Lauder’s Sumptuous Knockout Defining Lift and Fan Mascara

Sumptuous Knockout_Sumptuous Knockout Mascara and Wand_Expiry October 2017

Reviewed by: Tara West, Senior Photographer (Toronto)

How many times did you try the product? Daily, for four days.

What did you like the most about it? Estée Lauder’s Sumptuous Knockout Defining Lift and Fan Mascara does exactly that – defines and fans out your lashes nicely. No clumping or flaking involved with this one! Washes off well and swiftly, without any “raccoon effect” residue.

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

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? I am a bit of a mascara freak and when I can’t get permanent lashes done, I’m looking for the best mascara. This one certainly impressed me!

6. shu uemura’s Ultimate Remedy Hair Treatment

SHU_UltimateRemedyMasque

Reviewed by: Ada Yakobi, Senior Reporter (Montréal)

How many times did you try the product? I tried the product twice a week, and kept it on for 10 minutes during each wash.

What did you like the most about it? I absolutely loved the light and fresh scent of the mask, and the silky and non-greasy feeling that it gave my hair post rinsing.

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

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? Winter leaves your skin and hair dry and susceptible to much more damage than normal. This mask helps restore any initial damage to your hair, but also helps prevent further damage from the cold air and the dry heating you are constantly exposed to.

7. Moroccanoil’s Body Butter (Fleur d’oranger)


Reviewed by: Ada Yakobi, Senior Reporter (Montréal)

How many times did you try the product? I used it every day after my shower, for a week.

What did you like the most about it? I loved how fast the butter dried up on your skin post application, leaving your skin incredibly soft. The aromatherapy that accompanied the experience was also unforgettable, and left you smelling fresh for a while without even the need for perfume.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The only issue was that the box didn’t come with a scoop. This makes the application process a little more difficult and messy, especially if you have long nails, as it is hard to scoop out and the product gets stuck under your nails.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? My skin was left nice and smooth, which is extremely important and difficult to achieve in winter.

8. Smashbox’s L.A. Lights Blendable Lip and Cheek Color (Silver Lake Sunset)

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Reviewed by: Katherine Ellis, Executive Editor (Ottawa)

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

What did you like the most about it? I really liked the stick feature of the make-up — it was portable and easy to use. The colour (Silver Lake Sunset) was a nice warm tone and blended really nicely.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? Though I loved the colour, it felt more like a spring and summer tone, than a winter one.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? It is easy to use and portable (when I wanted to reapply cheek or lip colour, it was easy: I only had one product to pick out of my purse!).

9. Kérastase’s Parfum en Huile Chronologiste Hair Oil

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Reviewed by: Hannah Yakobi, Editor-in-Chief (Toronto)

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

What did you like the most about it? I loved the smell of this oil, and it lasted for several days following application. Most importantly, I have very thick, unruly hair, and it tends to get very “dull”-looking in winter. The oil gave it a beautiful shine.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? As with most oil-based hair products, applying too much can irritate your face if it comes in continued contact with hair. However, this can be avoided if the oil is applied in moderation.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? Everything in winter is dry, dry, dry. This product is a luxury rescue for the hair.

10. Vichy’s Aqualia Thermal Boosting Essence Water

VICHY-AQUALIA THERMAL BOOSTING ESSENCE_EWN

Reviewed by: Kareen Mallon, Senior Photographer (Toronto)

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

What did you like the most about it? I had the opportunity of testing out this product for a week and I loved it! Winter can be harsh on skin and can cause dryness, so for me this product-testing could not have come at a better time. I have extremely sensitive skin and both this product, as well as Aqualia Thermal Extrasensitive, are made for my skin type, which put me at ease to try them out. I used the Essence Water both in the morning and at night, and it left my skin hydrated and soft. I’m habitually a bad sleeper, and after the first application I looked more awake than normal!

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The only negative to Vichy products is that application/directions are not listed on the bottles, so you have to look them up online.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? This product was amazing for winter as it’s created specifically for hydrating, and adds glow to dry and damaged skin. Its application is light and refreshing on the skin after a long day.

11. L’Occitane’s Shea Face Soothing Fluid

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Reviewed by: Nadia MK, Senior Reporter (New York City)

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

What did you like the most about it? The thickness of the face cream, reminiscent of L’Occitane’s staple hand cream, was surprisingly fully absorbed by my skin in minutes … and didn’t leave any oily residue behind.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? For those who aren’t used to truly thick and heavy face creams, this might take some getting used to!

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? While I was initially taken aback by how thick and creamy the Soothing Fluid was, I was amazed by how much my skin was hungry for the moisture. Its key ingredient – shea – was all the nourishment by skin needed, and I felt protected from dryness while I was indoors, as well as the bitter cold as soon as I stepped outside.

12. Nuxe’s Réve de miel Face Wash

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Reviewed by: Jill Adams, Editorial Coordinator (Vancouver)

How many times did you try the product? 14 times, over the course of one week. Twice daily, once in the morning and at once night.

What did you like the most about it? I have very sensitive skin, especially when I change my cleansing regime, but this paraben-free cleanser surprised me with its gentleness. After one week of use, my pores looked smaller, and any blemishes or redness I had, faded. I didn’t experience any new irritation after using this product, which often happens when I experiment with new cleansers. The Nuxe face wash removed my make-up with ease and had a sweet, refreshing fragrance with notes of honey and sunflower oil, making it something I plan on adding into my daily routine.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The cleanser does sting if you get it in your eyes, but if you are careful and keep it away from your eyes then it won’t be a persisting problem.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? Since this product is particularly gentle and does not over expose your skin, it is great to use in the winter, and year round, in order to prevent damage to your skin. I would recommend following this cleanser with a moisturizer in order to prevent dry skin.

13. Laura Mercier’s Candleglow Soft Luminous Foundation

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Reviewed by: Nadia MK, Senior Reporter (New York City)

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

What did you like the most about it? The texture is light and soft. It left me with an incredibly youthful and dewy glow – my skin looked flawless! I also loved that even without a primer, this foundation sat pretty on top of my skin and didn’t sink into any minor wrinkles or fine lines, which kept me looking fresh and dewy all day.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? This foundation is low-to-medium coverage, while I usually prefer something with a little more coverage to cover some sun spots.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? Although this item is from a spring collection, it left my skin feeling hydrated all day long. When it’s especially dry outside, a big concern is making sure my foundation doesn’t look flakey or cakey – I’m a huge fan of the natural look and this was the perfect choice to take me from dry winter to fresh spring.

14. Arbonne Intelligence Rejuvenating Cream

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

How many times did you try the product? I used the cream six times ─ twice a day for three days.

What did you like the most about it? I am very picky about my skin care routine. In fact, I was nervous to deviate from my usual regime to test this moisturizer, but I’m glad I did. After three days, I’m in love. This product was versatile, making it a great choice for travel. I used it as a night cream, hand cream, lip treatment and make-up primer. A few other added bonuses: it’s non-greasy, gluten-free, parabean-free and vegan.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The container is bulky and a touch awkward to toss in your purse to take along to work or play.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? This cream instantly smoothed my dry, flakey, winter-damaged skin. My hands, face and neck were silky smooth all day. No really, for the entire day!

15. Elizabeth Arden’s Beautiful Color Moisturizing Lipstick (matte finish, Raspberry shade)

Matte Lipstick Raspberry.HR

Reviewed by: Nicole McLaren, Reporter (New York City)

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

What did you like the most about it? With New York City winters being more inclined towards rain than snow, I’ve been on the hunt for a lip colour that can withstand the weather without leaving me looking like I brunched with vampires. This Elizabeth Arden lipstick withstood the rain, tea and whisky that fuel my winter routine. I was so surprised that I didn’t need to constantly reapply it after lunch and before happy hour – it stayed on strong. And somehow kept my lips feeling moisturized without looking glossy.

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

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? The deep fuchsia colour is a classic, but the slight berry tint of the raspberry shade works especially well to brighten grey winter days. Adding a swipe of colour to my otherwise monotone noir wardrobe brought warmth to my complexion and my mood.

16. The Body Shop’s Drops of Youth Cream

Youth Cream

Reviewed by: Amalia Bentivoglio, Resident Stylist (Toronto)

How many times did you try the product? Twice a day, for four days.

What did you like the most about it? The way it felt on my skin and how it gave me a nice glow. It also made my skin feel firmer and tightened my pores.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? Nothing really, except for the scent. It’s actually a very light and lovely scent, it’s just a preference of mine to use unscented creams.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? I have a combination skin and usually need more hydration during winter. The cream absorbed beautifully onto my skin without making it oily in my T-zone.

17. Quo by Orly’s Color Amp’d Nail Polish (colour and seal coat)

orly

Reviewed by: Amalia Bentivoglio, Resident Stylist (Toronto)

How many times did you try the product? Once.

What did you like the most about it? The colour and the shine. It’s great and dries fairly quickly.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The first coat goes on a little streaky, but the second coat evens it right out.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? It’s a warm and gorgeous product. I tried quite a few colours but the Infamous shade goes especially well with a winter wardrobe.

18. GOSH’s Velvet Touch Matte Lipstick

GOSH Matte Lipstick - 005 Classic Red

Reviewed by: Janine Silver, Photographer (New York City)

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

What did you like the most about it? The colours are rich and wearable with a soft delicate scent. The formula glided smoothly over my slightly chapped lips and lasted for hours.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? With three different types of waxes (bee, carnauba and candelilla), I was hoping it would moisturize as well as a lip balm.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? Matte lipsticks tend to be drying, which isn’t great for already chapped winter lips. This lipstick’s hydrating properties will help over time. Plus, the rich hues in vibrant reds, raspberries and even pale pinks and nudes will warm up your cold weather style, and make a great addition to your beauty routine!

19. Colorescience Pro Sunforgettable Mineral Powder (SPF 50)

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Reviewed by: Lacey Ward, Social Media Editor (Toronto)

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

What did you like the most about it? It’s nice to have a different approach to a liquid sunscreen. I always try to wear an SPF on my face, but I usually find most to be too thick and greasy to wear under make-up. This product was a great way to integrate SPF into a daily beauty routine. This mineral powder is nice and light, has a slight tint to it, applies smoothly and evens out your skin tone with a natural look.

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

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? It’s important to wear SPF year-round, the sun isn’t only damaging in the summer. This would be a good choice for those days on the ski hill, or out and about in the city. It will be a go-to product for me in the summer as well!

20. Kérastase Chronologiste Revitalizing Shampoo

BAIN REVITALISANT

Reviewed by: Jill Adams, Editorial Coordinator (Vancouver)

How many times did you try the product? Three times, over the course of one week. I used it in combination with the Kérastase Chronologiste Exfoliating Care and on its own.

What did you like the most about it? After trying this shampoo once, I immediately worked it into my hair routine. My hair was shinier and felt like silk after the first use. As someone with thin hair, I only needed a very small amount of the lightweight formula to build up a good lather. The feminine scent, another thing I love about this product, reminds me more of a perfume than a shampoo. To top it off, the combination of the Kérastase Chronologiste products gave my typically pin-straight hair unexpected texture, resembling beach waves, when left to air dry — I look like I’ve just walked out of a salon each time I use these products.

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

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? To counter the drop in the air’s moisture during winter, your hair naturally requires some extra care. This shampoo is the perfect quick fix for dry hair that has lost its shine and can be used in combination with other products in the Kérastase Chronologiste line.

21. Dove Dry Deodorant Spray

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Reviewed by: Jill Adams, Editorial Coordinator (Vancouver)

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

What did you like the most about it? I love the aerosol aspect of this deodorant: the product goes on dry and the application was easy and fast. As someone who works out often, I was delighted that the fresh, neutral scent lasted all day without fading.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? I found that this deodorant left occasional white marks on clothing, particularly black clothing. However, this can be said about many spray deodorants and these marks were easy to wipe away.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? I think this dry spray is perfect for winter because on top of preventing odour, it moisturizes at the same time.

22. Redken’s Triple Take 32 Hair Spray

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Reviewed by: Chelsea Collinson, Hairstylist (Toronto)

How many times did you try the product? Twice

What did you like the most about it? This hair spray has great hold! It was strong without making the hair hard to work with or making it rock hard. It has a very even spray as well, which is great. It smells nice and the slender bottle makes it easy to pack in my kit. I used it to create Hollywood-style waves on a bride this past week and it held up beautifully. Would definitely have it as a staple in my hair kit.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? It has a very high pressure spray. If you needed to just use a little of the product, that makes it very difficult.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? I would definitely recommend it for winter. I’ve given my hair a good once over before heading out for the day and the spray kept it from getting frizzy/static. It didn’t make the hair overly dry or brittle either, which is great on those cold days.

23. John Frieda’s Hi-Impact Blonde Shampoo and Conditioner

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Reviewed by: Chelsea Collinson, Hairstylist (Toronto)

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

What did you like the most about it? I instantly felt my hair getting softer. It has a nice scent too, not overwhelming, and the packaging is very clean and simple. It’s nice to look at in my bathroom! Overall, I felt like it added a lot of moisture to my (currently) blonde hair.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? There wasn’t much information on the bottle about whether it was tested on animals or what the main ingredients were. I think that it also didn’t really make a huge difference to my hair colour.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? I would definitely recommend this product for winter. My hair has been incredibly soft, without being heavy like some other shampoos and conditioners that offer moisture.

24. Viva La Juicy Rose Perfume

Viva La Juicy Rose_50ML_Bottle_ribbon

Reviewed by: Katia Ostapets, Events Editor (Toronto/Melbourne)

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

What did you like the most about it? It’s the perfect mix of fruity and floral, so everywhere you go, you feel like there is a summer-scented bubble around you. It’s also light enough that you can wear it in daytime.

What did you like the least about it (if applicable)? The bottle design may not be for everyone, with all the sparkles, a pendant and a big pink bow.

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? I feel like every time I walked by and people got a whiff of the perfume they were instantly cheered from their winter blues.

25. Smashbox’s LA Lights Colour Stick (Hollywood & Highlight shade)

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Reviewed by: Katia Ostapets, Events Editor (Toronto/Melbourne)

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

What did you like the most about it? It reflects the light in a way that makes my face look sun-kissed. It was also handy to have the blending sponge attached on the bottom, as I was able to use the highlighter on the go. It worked even better if used on top of blush or a bronzer.

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

Why do you think this product is a good choice for winter? Wearing the Colour Stick reminded me of what my skin looks like in the summer!

Photo credits: Photo of Katia Ostapets, Ada Yakobi and Lacey Ward by Kareen Mallon; Marcus Kan by Mauricio J Calero; Nicole McLaren by Alex Mouganis.

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One Comment »

  • 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 further, and have […]

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