The Allure Best of Beauty Awards Turn 25 This Year — Editor’s Letter

The first-ever Best of Beauty Awards was launched five years into a great experiment that was an all-beauty, all-the-time magazine called Allure. It was 1996, an election year, and the introduction to the inaugural Best of Beauty winners list referenced Bob Dole, Bill Clinton, and the power of the voting process. “We field-tested amber waves of lipstick, purple mountains of nail polish, and fruited plains of fragrance,” we wrote. “Now we’re talking America the beautiful.” Winners were categorized into the “Moist Wanted” (Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion, Prescriptives Flight Cream) and “Tautest of the Town” (Chanel Firming Eye Cream, Biotherm Cellulite Smoothing Concentrate). Chanel Vamp and Crème de la Mer were honored; so were Cetaphil and Vaseline (those latter two are also 2021 winners). 

Innovation has flourished in these 25 years, but the alchemy that makes a beauty product a winner has largely stayed the same. “America the beautiful,” however, looks very different. Once-rigid standards of the sizes and shapes, the colors and contours of what make a person beautiful have crumbled — for good, with any luck. 

There’s never been a better, freer, more wonderful time to love beauty and try on its many forms. But as a consumer, there’s also never been a more overwhelming one. A billion (give or take) new products arrive on the scene daily and how do you choose the best among billions? After a quarter century, Allure has it down to a process of swatching and slathering and so, so many spreadsheets (we only hire candidates with advanced degrees in eyeliner and Excel). We’ve tasked ourselves with cutting through the clutter and confusion to lead you to the products that deliver — the ones that don’t just do what they say they’ll do, but do it better than anything else. 

This is my sixth year helming the Best of Beauty process and I can tell you this: Allure’s testing is rigorous and regimented, and ultimately comes down to the expertise of our staff — the adults, children, and furry creatures (check out this year’s first-ever pets category!) who spend months lathering and blending and swiping. And then rinsing. And repeating. We take our jobs and our responsibility to you (and your wallets) extremely seriously. We’re excited for the innovations that the next 25 years may bring, and however America the beautiful continues to evolve, so will we. The curious, committed, conscientious team behind Best of Beauty is, if I may say so, one in a billion.

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Now enjoy Sophia Bush’s 10-minute routine:

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