My 2011 Favorite Beauty Picks

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Happy New Year!  It's time for my annual best of segment where I show my favorite beauty products from the previous year.  Since I test all kinds of cosmetics, spa products, hair stuff and more for the show, I like to look back and report back to you what items were my winners.  This list includes products that I not only put to the test, but added to my own regular arsenal of beauty stuff that I continue to purchase and use because the items worked so well.  Here are my top picks from 2011:

*Best Multi-Purpose Product -- Goody Doublewear Head Wrap/Necklace -- Talk about a great multi-tasking product, this new item from Goody doubles as a pretty headband and a stylish necklace, so you get more bang for your beauty buck.  Sold at Walgreens for $5.49.

*Best Face Cream -- First Aid Beauty 5-in-1 face cream SPF 30-- 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 this column and 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 during those travel bumps that can result in spilled stuff.  Sold at Sephora for $38.

*Best Quick Fix Product -- Dermablend Quick-Fix Concealer -- Our show makeup artist, Karen Hall and Broadway actors that have appeared on our "Your Life A to Z" show have also told me that this line truly covers every type of blemish you can imagine.  I like that this comes in a cover stick because it is a cinch to quickly cover up a blemish in an instant.  Dermablend sells at Ulta Beauty locations for $22.00.

*Best Hair Quick Fix Product -- Salon Grafix Invisible Dry Spray Shampoo -- When I want to get out the door quickly and I don't have time to shampoo and blow out my hair, I have found that using this dry shampoo saves me a full hour of washing, blow drying and styling.  With a couple of quick sprays, the product soaks up excess oil, removes product build-up, smells good and preserves hair color.  I especially like the SG Salon brand because it doesn't leave any white powder residue behind like some other dry shampoos do.  Sells at Ulta for $6.99 for a 4 oz. can.

*Best Base -- CoverGirl NaturalLuxe Liquid Silk Foundation -- This is my most recent find that I love!  Sold at Walgreens for $12.99, this base is lightweight, goes on smoothly with good coverage and is infused with jojoba extract and cucumber water, which also gives it a nice light cucumber scent.  My only complaint is that it doesn't last long, but I'll keep buying it because I really like it.

*Best Flawless Finish Tool -- Studio 35 Beauty Cosmetic Wedges  -- I have tried to live without using foundation sponges and I've tried other brands and I always come back to the type made by Studio 35.  In my opinion, no other brand comes close.  Studio 35's wedges are bigger, making applying, smudging and fixing makeup easier and this brand is latex-free and contains Vitamin E.  I buy mine at Walgreens for $2.99 for a pack of 32 wedges.  When I run out and try to apply my base without this sponge, I see a difference that I don't like.  Using the Studio 35 brand gives me a flawless finish every time.

*Best Powder -- Sally Hansen Natural Beauty Inspired By Carmindy Truly Translucent Loose Powder --For a shine-less and smooth complexion with a quick application, this is my favorite powder.  This ultra-fine loose powder with micronized color provides skin-perfecting coverage with a seamless, naturally translucent finish. Plus it comes with a unique sponge-in-tip applicator that delivers powder-to-skin adherence with no mess. Emollient papaya extract helps restore suppleness while bamboo powder helps absorb oil.  $12.95 in drug stores.

*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 Walgreens for $16.99.

*Best Product Enhancement -- Q-tips Precision Tips – – I had to laugh when a friend of mine saw these and stated that Q-tips finally got it together and created tapered ends!  This does make sense because these new Q-tips can be used to touch up lip liner and eyebrows, erase nail polish that runs on to cuticles and more.  Plus the back of the box shows multiple household uses that include cleaning jewelry, painting and a variety of other helpful ideas.  Thank you Q-tips!  I buy mine for $2.79 at Walgreens.

*Best Mascara -- Cover Girl Lash Perfection Volumizing Mascara -- My Walgreen's beauty expert, Bianca, told me about this stuff and it works wonders.  I'm usually a fan of a big fat wand, but this thin wand really builds lashes and the small size works nicely for the bottom lashes, too. Plus it is hypoallergenic and is easier to remove than a lot of other mascaras that I have tried.  $7.49 at Walgreens.

Did you like my picks?  Did I miss something fabulous from 2011?  Share your favorites here in the comments section and remember to check out my website at for more beauty news, recipes, pet pics and more. Happy New Year!