Allure, the beauty authority magazine, recently unveiled their Best of Beauty winners, featuring top products from every category — hair, skin, makeup, you name it. I got a chance to talk with Deputy/Beauty Director, Amy Keller Laird this morning about some of her favorites from the list! Interesting side note: I used to work with Amy years ago at Shop Etc. magazine (RIP), and she always had an open door policy when it came to my beauty questions — one of the coolest gals in the industry by far! Read on as she dishes on some of her favorites and even some never-to-be-forgotten beauty secrets from Jennifer Aniston’s stylist and Beyoncé ‘s makeup artist!:
BATF: What’s the behind-the-scenes “Best of Beauty” process like?
Amy Keller Laird: The whole process takes about half a year. We send out a very detailed form to all the companies, asking them to submit what they consider to be the best of the best. We also ask for specific products to test from what they’ve sent us that we also consider to be the best. Then we have a team of interns who basically log in everything for every single category separately. Since we had about 190 products last year, we need everything to be organized. The beauty department definitely tests every category that pertains to them and then the regular staff fill in the holes. After about six months, everyone gets a tally sheet of all the products they tested (they can also write in their favorites if it wasn’t on the list). We tally them up and those are the winners. Of course, there is back and forth discussion depending on the category — things like fragrance always elicit passionate discussion because it’s a very personal thing, so we try to find something that appeals to everybody.
BATF: You’re constantly testing so many products, how do you decipher which one really works the best for you?
AKL: Part of it is after you’ve been doing it for so long and you try something and you immediately have that delight and that sense of Oh My God, this is different — you love the smell, you love the way it looks and how it works. There’s that immediate gratification payoff and you just keep returning to it. It’s one of those things, like this curl cream I found from Shu Uemura, their Cotton Uzu for defining my waves. After discovering it, I just never want to try the new products for when they come in, but you know, I have to, it’s part of my job. But that’s kind of when you know that product is a winner — when you don’t even want to try anything else.
BATF: Are there any products which consistently seem to make it on the list?
AKL: There are definitely brands and products that do win over and over. That’s the cool thing about Best of Beauty, it doesn’t always have to be new products. Olay and Pantene are some of the brands that always consistently won both in Readers and Editor’s choice. Even things like deodorants, Secret always comes on top for both categories as well.
BATF: Are there any specific products from those lines that you personally love?
AKL: Personally, I love the Olay Definity line. When that foaming moisturizer first came out I thought it was the coolest. It pumps out like a mousse and is just so smooth on your skin. Another product that has won a number of times is the Olay Definity Eye Illuminator Illuminating Eye Treatment. It has this amazing velvety texture and a blend of mica that immediately brightens the area. It also has those long-term ingredients like niacinamide that’s working overtime. It has won Allure‘s Breakthrough Award which is the Holy Grail of Best of Beauty. Not only does it have the technology there that determines what’s a breakthrough product, but it shows that it’s something new and unique, and people just really love it. There’s not a lot of products that overlap like that. Pantene happens to have another one of those products: their Flat to Volume Shampoo. Pantene did all this research on the four different hair structures and found specific ingredients that work just for fine hair, so there was something very interesting going on technologically. Everyone with fine hair in the office really felt like it gave them volume.
BATF: As a mother, I’m sure you’re even more short on time – what product has been a God-send?
AKL: Anything that’s a time saver that I can just sweep on and off. I don’t wear foundation so I’m always looking for a great tinted moisturizer that can do double duty — you know, something that has moisturizer, SPF, and a little bit of a tint. I like MAC’s Studio Moisture Tint SPF 15. The cool thing about it I feel like with tinted moisturizer you’re either sacrificing a bit of hydration for color, or one kind of comes off and one doesn’t work that well, but this one just blends really well.
BATF: What’s the best way to transition a skincare regimen for Spring?
AKL: I would say go a little bit lighter on moisturizer and switch from a heavy cream cleanser to a lighter lotion or gel cleanser. The new liquid sunscreens are great for spring, like La Roche Posay‘s, because they really work and are actually hydrating but the formula is so fluid and light that it doesn’t feel heavy on your skin at all. Exfoliating is also key – it’s like spring cleaning. It’s time to shed those dead skin cells.
BATF: What beauty advice have you received in the past that you’ve never forgotten?
AKL: For the best defined waves, Chris McMillan [Jennifer Aniston’s hair stylist] told us at Allure that once you put your product in your hair, don’t touch your hair again until it’s dry. I always think of that everytime I put product in my hair and I have that urge to touch it again. But it’s totally true, I have much less frizz when I follow his advice. Another tip I was given when I was on a photoshoot once years ago with Mally Roncal, and it’s the most simple thing, but it’s to use a black liner and only line the inner rim of your lower lashes and nowhere else. It requires no skill at all and gives you instant definition.