2010S best of beauty

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Hard to believe that another year is wrapping up and with the year's end, comes my annual favorite finds segment.  Every December I look back at the many products that I tested for this column.  Then I compile a list of what continued to impress me all year long.  Take a look to see the items that I loved then and still love now.  To see the stuff that stood the test of time, watch the segment and read below for details on why it made my best of list and how to get one yourself.  Here are my top twelve picks from head to toe.

Best hair tool:  Solano Power to Prevent hair dryer
Having never spent more than $40 on a blow dryer, I was doubtful that paying four times that would really make a difference.  But this dryer did blow me away, no pun intended!  With 1875 watts of power, the Solano dried my hair fast and evenly.  The three temperature settings and a cold shot button to set the style worked wonders on my mane.

I was also impressed to report that Solano had partnered with Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC), a nonprofit organization that supports women battling the disease with a variety of programs and services.  Solano created the pink hair dryer as a symbol of support for breast cancer patients and the company makes an annual donation to LBBC.  The dryer was only to be available at solanopower.com through the end of October, but it appears that you can still order it.  When I checked the site, it was offered.  And if not, I would buy any of the Solano hair dryers again.  Put the Solano brand under your Rachel recommends file for sure!

Best hair spray:  Big Sexy Hair Spray & Stay
Although this line has been out for a while, I never tried it until I did a segment on pink products that give back to breast cancer research.  True to its fun name, when I styled my hair big and sexy, the brand kept the promise of keeping the style in place.  This is my new favorite hair spray and I have tried a lot of different brands, especially since hair spray is one of the very first beauty products that I tried as a teen and continue to use daily more than any other beauty item.  I found my tall can at Great Clips for just under 18 bucks.

Best splurge eye cream:  DDF Advanced Eye Firming Concentrate
DDF Advanced Eye Firming Concentrate is pricey at $88 for a jar of eye cream.  However it does work well under my eyes, which tend to sport dark circles a lot since I became a mother 13 years ago!  I also like the interesting ingredients like Turmeric.  As a beauty ingredient, turmeric contains Curcumin which is a powerhouse antioxidant that hydrates and firms skin.  For me the DDF Advanced Eye Firming Concentrate reduced puffiness and was very soothing to my skin.  My neighbor also tried a jar and had similar impressive results.  For these reasons, I include this eye cream, but under the best splurge category.  The eye cream is sold at Sephora and Ulta Beauty stores.

Best eye roller:  Vichy Aqualia Thermal Eye Roll On
Paraben-free and fragrance-free, this eye roller touts unique ingredients like horse chestnut for circulation and a plant extract called Escin.  Vichy Aqualia Thermal Eye Roll On sells for $26.50 at CVS and at www.vichyusa.com, however I have seen other eye roll brands that sell for less.  Since Vichy is the #1 skincare brand in European pharmacies, it costs a bit more.  And it is that reason that this goes in the Rachel recommends file, so I will pay a bit more for this brand.

Best mascara:  Japan's Fiberwig
Imju is one of the leading beauty brands in Japan and I found a lot of buzz on-line about their mascara called Fiberwig.  Sold at Sephora for $24, the mascara is made to create false eyelash-like results.   So, I purchased a tube and the Sephora beauty consultant told me that she loves this stuff.  I agree and I loved my lashes.  I was also pleasantly surprised by how easily the stuff came off that night.  Fiberwig is unique because it has brush-on fiber extensions that dramatically lengthen lashes with a conditioning oil that keeps lashes from clumping.  In my opinion, this is the only mascara that I have found that rivals fake lashes.

Best facial wash:  Nutriganics Foaming Facial Wash
While shopping at The Body Shop recently, a sign that said "First Signs of Aging product line" got my attention.  At 43 years old, I am definitely seeing those signs and lines.  The Body Shop consultant told me that the Nutriganics line is very popular with customers, so I bought the starter set to try it out.  For $35, the starter set includes a toner, night cream, day cream and my favorite item, the foaming facial wash.

With a pleasant light scent and mousse consistency, it feels so good on my tired face at night.  And it is very gentle on my super sensitive skin.  After doing some research on the product, I learned that organic babassu oil from Brazil is used in the product to smooth and revitalize skin.  To soften skin, an organic mallow flower from Switzerland and sugar from Paraguay are also included in the facial wash.  When my starter size runs out, I will return to the Body Shop to purchase a full size 14 oz. facial wash that sells for $14.00.

Best full cover foundation:  Dermablend
Our show makeup artist, Karen Hall, recommends this line and the small, flat packaging also makes it a cinch for traveling.  Packaged in a cake form, it won’t leak or spill in transit.  It covers redness, acne and other skin imperfections better than any other foundation that I know of.  Several Broadway performers have told me that they agree that this brand is the best for a flawless finish.  Dermablend sells at Ulta Beauty locations for $33.00

Best daily face cream:  First Aid Beauty 5-in-1 face cream
Not only is this a terrific multi-purpose product, but it is also fragrance-free with no parabens, harsh chemicals or colorants and is allergy tested and safe for sensitive skin.  This anti-aging cream offers UVA/UVB protection, uneven skin tone correction and more.  I tried it for my column a few months ago and I kept right on using it daily.  I found it to be very gentle on my sensitive skin.  And with help from my foundation, it also corrected my uneven skin tone.  Plus the pump applicator prevents leakage and disperses just the right amount.  Sold at Sephora for $38.

Best makeup setter & wake your face stuff:  La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water Spray
Living in the desert can really dry out skin, so I am a big fan of facial spray mists.  Travel sized and filled with mineral rich spring water from France, the mist delivered to your face is refreshing and moisturizing and has anti-aging benefits.  LaRoche spring water mist is sold at www.dermstore.com for $8.50 for the travel size and for $10.90 for the 5.1 oz size.  Plus this cool site has free shipping!  This line is also sold at CVS stores.

Best all over body line for sensitive skin sufferers:  The Seaweed Bath Co.
My last find of the year is my favorite find.  While reading an article about ideas to treat Eczema, which my daughter has occasional bouts with, I stumbled upon a review of a product line called The Seaweed Bath Co.  I was intrigued so I put some of the products to the test.  Both me and my little girl responded well to the all natural, paraben free and dye free items that include a seaweed powder bath, body wash, hand butter, foot butter and more.  Founder Adam Grossman suffers from severe psoriasis and discovered that brown seaweed from extended time in the ocean helped his skin dramatically, so he went to work creating a line that would help others.  Like the name implies, seaweed is the key ingredient in his line which is rich in essential and non-essential amino acids which is very moisturizing to dry skin.  Although this line is not sold in Arizona stores, items can be ordered at their website at seaweedbathco.com.

Best cheap nail polish:  E.L.F.
I first heard about E.L.F., which stands for Eyes, Lips, Face from several reputable fashion magazines, so I put some of their products to the test.  Everything in this line sells for a buck and I was pleasantly surprised to see that it worked just fine.  I tried the French manicure nail polish kit which sells for $3 because you get three polishes in the kit.  It worked and lasted about as long as the much more expensive brands!  Find E.L.F. products at www.eyeslipsface.com or Target.

Best home pedicure tool:  Pedi-Scrub Foot Buffer
After testing this one for a segment, I now regularly keep a Pedi-Scrub foot buffer by my bath.  With Glycerin, olive oil, shea butter and tea tree oil, the ingredients are good and the sponge does an excellent job of exfoliating and moisturizing.  Plus the process feels really good on tired feet.  Using this several times a week has definitely made a difference transforming my heels from rough to soft and smooth.  Each sponge sells for around $5 at drug stores and beauty stores.  I get a good amount of usage out of each one that advertises over 20 washes per package.  I would say that is about right.

That completes my list of my top twelve beauty wins for 2010.  Here's hoping that my segments and columns have helped you save money, look great and feel good.  I look forward to researching more skin solutions, hair helpers, flattering fashions and more beauty buys in the new year.  Until then, enjoy a safe and happy holiday season!