The Best New Beauty Products of December 2009

Tried and tested.
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Michelle Villett
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Tried and tested.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: one of the best parts of a career in beauty is getting the opportunity to test a whack of different products every month. (It's a trade-off, of course. While I rarely need to visit Sephora, my landlady—for some reason—STILL won't accept lip gloss in lieu of rent cheques. Strange!)

So let's get started. This month, I...

And here's my 100 percent honest, no B.S. review of each:

Balmshell Lip Gloss

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balmshell.com

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My thoughts? It IS a pretty great lip gloss. You get shine without that goopy feeling, and I love how moisturized my lips feel. The fact that it's paraben-free is another bonus. My only hesitation is the gimmicky, almost Sex And The City-style branding, packaging and product names. It all feels a bit dated—like it could be straight outta 2004—but maybe that's because I'm so beyond over that TV show! One TV show I'm not over, however, is Dragon's Den—LOVE. IT. I missed the Balmshell episode where the founders pitched their business to get more money for marketing and advertising... but it sounds like the dragons had similar feedback about the brand messaging.

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e.l.f. Cosmetics

Anyway, let's talk about e.l.f. Can you believe the prices? Everything is under $12.99. I think that's incredible value—and the packaging looks great too. I love the liquid eyeshadows (not that much different from ones YSL came out with a few years ago), mascara, and eyeshadow. Skip the eyelash curler though—that's one beauty tool you should never skimp on. (Shu Uemura's version is the original cult favourite and still the best.)

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NeoStrata Skin Renewal Peel Solution

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Dermaglow's Radiance Glycolic 10% Gentle Peel Solution

Skin Renewal Peel Solution

If you're in the market for a gentle peel (something you could use once or twice a week, as I mentioned here), this is a good choice. I found it slightly more tingly than Dermaglow's version, but it didn't leave my skin red or irritated. In fact, it was baby soft!

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Rare El'ements

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Lilou Organics

LuckyScent

The Nature of Beauty

There are three products: a shampoo, conditioner and a "pre-shampoo treatment." I didn't try the latter, but I did use the shampoo and conditioner. Both were fantastically luxurious and extremely moisturizing. In fact, they were so moisturizing that they just didn't work for my hair type—as much as I REALLY, REALLY wanted them to. I love this line, but it's not for people with stick-straight hair—normally, I can get away with washing my hair every other day, but with this line, I needed a shampoo the very next day. I'd recommend it for anyone with dry, curly and/or coarse hair. You'll have MUCH better luck with it than I did.

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The Soap Girl Cranberry Citrus Sugar Scrub and Solid Body Butter

The Soap Girl

I tried a couple of products from the Cranberry Citrus line: the Solid Body Butter ($15) and the Sugar Scrub ($28). First, the good things: I love the texture of this scrub. It's not too oily and doesn't leave an oil slick behind in the tub. It melts into your skin after a minute or so of scrubbing, so you're left beautifully moisturized—you could even skip lotion. I also love the packaging—simple but pretty. What I didn't like so much? The Body Butter comes in a tube just like a deodorant stick... and while I appreciate the idea, it's still an odd feeling trying to coat your body with moisture that way. And finally, the scent: I didn't love it. (Too sweet, almost chemical-smelling... although I know this is a natural line.) I prefer more botanical scents, so maybe Sarah will be inspired to create something a bit more authentic in a future product batch.

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Zuii Organics

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After testing a number of the products, I think this is a range that I'd cherry-pick from. The Powder Foundation is great—although it's not high coverage, it's natural-looking and I felt quite secure in the knowledge that it wouldn't clog my pores! I also liked the Lip Tint: nice and shiny, with organic rose, beeswax and aloe vera for moisture. The Blush is highly pigmented so you need to be very light-handed, but it's a good, talc-free option. Biggest disappointments were the Liquid Foundation and the Lipstick. With the former, I loved the texture and coverage, but the scent was just odd, and I wouldn't use it for that reason alone. And the Lipstick, while a pretty colour, was incredibly drying—not at all like the "creamy formula" that's promised.

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What do you think? Have you tried any of the brands I reviewed this month?