Year in review: The top 10 biggest beauty moments of 2011

Today, we’re taking a look back at the year that was by counting down the top 10 beauty moments, developments, trends, and more. From Topshop to Tom Ford, they’re all inside!

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10. British invasion: Topshop’s makeup comes to Canada
Topshop finally came to Canada and with it, its adorably packaged makeup collection. Though a few items were available in Toronto prior to this year, the Bay’s selection serves up a much wider selection including the lip and cheek tint and complexion-enhancing highlighter and undereye concealer. Remind us to give Bonnie Brooks a bear hug.

9. Cult fave: Touche Èclat turns 20

Happy birthday to YSL’s Touche Èclat. The magic undereye concealer turned 20 this year. (“You don’t look a day over 10!”) Just as worthy of a celebration, Dermalogica’s hero product Daily Microfoliant turned 10. Though there was much less fanfare for that milestone, we feel just as indebted to the gentle exfoliating powder.

8. Angry birds: Tom Ford debuts a full makeup collection south of the border
Why must you torture us, Tom Ford? It’s bad enough that your makeup collection hasn’t landed here yet (with no confirmed drop date from your PR) but after having to deal with all U.S. beauty editors teasing us, tweeting pics of your beautiful cosmetic spread, we’re about ready to throw a cereal aisle tantrum. Set the date already!

7. Solar powers: The sunscreen debate rages on
The sunscreen debate continues to rage on, with arguments about required doses and sources of Vitamin D changing daily. Meanwhile, renegade dermatologists have been braving beauty titans by coming out about the potential dangers of chemical blocks, some even suggesting we should all get physical with zinc and titanium.  

6. Onscreen romance: Pat McGrath consults on The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
We weren’t surprised to hear that David Fincher reached out to Pat McGrath to consult on Rooney Mara’s look for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Hopefully this is the first of many more collaborations between our favourite makeup artists and filmmakers. But as excited as we are to see McGrath’s magic on the big screen, we’re still swooning over the brilliant yet subtle blue-collar beauty in The Fighter. Our beauty director Lesa Hannah was so obsessed; she tracked down and interviewed the head of the hair and makeup (Canadian Donald Mowat) departments for the film.

Photography by Peter Stigter

5. Skin savers: From BB Creams to dark spot correctors
Two skincare categories exploded this year: dark spot correctors, which aim to erase everything from sun damage to acne marks, thankfully using ingredients other than the previously touted (yet dangerous) hydroquinone. And a barrage of BB Creams (the double Bs stand for Beauty Balm or Blemish Balm), which are already huge in Asia. A new breed of over-achieving tinted moisturizer, they pack anti-aging, sun-protecting, acne-fighting and makeup-prepping ingredients all into one tube.

Louis Vuitton (left) and Proenza Schouler (right) Fall 2011 shot by Peter Stigter

4. Tail spin: The year of the pony
This was definitely the year of the ponytail. Worn high, low, tight, or loose, the democratic updo was all over the runways. Wishing we had invested in elastic band stocks rather than RIM shares right about now.

3. Power wash: Clarisonic scrubs like no other
If imitation is the highest form of flattery, Clarisonic should be feeling pretty good right now. Competitors have tried to knock off the hand-held electric face cleanser’s awesomeness (the founder is also behind the Sonicare Toothbrush), but diehard disciples of the church of Clarisonic will not be swayed. L’Oreal heard their praise and scooped up the company last month.

Photography by Jason Hudson

2. Designer drinks: The It fragrance replaces the It bag
This year, designer It bags took a back seat to the designer fragrance, with almost every house launching a scent—some for the first time, like DVF, Elie Saab, and Bottega Veneta. Others deviated from their usual blueprints: Prada created Candy, its first sweet scent, and Oscar de la Renta, launched Live in Love, the first perfume since the family reclaimed the brand in 2009.

1. Finger Puppets: The explosion of nail art
We know we’re not breaking any news here, but nails are still MAJOR. (It’s why we created our how-to runway nail vids and more recently Nail Corner.) Beauty companies have heard the roar, launching a barrage of N’art (nail art) inspired products to meet the insatiable demand. This year alone, Sephora signed editorial and backstage manicurist Sophy Robson, Sally Hansen launched press-on nail polish (next, they’ll team up with Alexander Wang on a lacquer offering), and CND did a capsule collection with Jason Wu.

And there’s more in store for 2012, such as the upcoming Nars nail polish collab with Thakoon. In between all the bright shades and magic-trick top coats like OPI’s Shatter varnish, there was a palette cleanser; taking cues from the barely-there nails on the Fall 2011 runway shows, skin-tone polishes like the ones Jenna Hipp created for RGB also had a moment.

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