Don't forget to check the beauty sale pages at Macy's here and
Nordstrom here for new beauty deals plus free shipping!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Cheapie Awards 2012: The Winners

Another year has come and gone and it's time once again to look back and see what made my Best Of list for 2012, otherwise known as the Cheapie Awards! For those new to the Cheapie Awards, this is my time to share what I think were the best new affordable beauty products of the year. For 2012, we saw more affordable products hit the drugstores than probably ever before, and this list is my way of sharing what I absolutely loved, used often and repurchased throughout the year.

Criteria for the Cheapie Awards: 
  • The product must be affordable (mass-market level price category)
  • The product must have been released in 2012 (If a product debuted near the end of 2012, it was considered a 2013 release and therefore not eligible for the 2012 Cheapie Awards)
  • The product must not be limited edition (limited edition products have their own category)

Note: If you notice some "missing" categories such as Best Face Primer, Best Eye Cream, etc., that simply means that I did not encounter a product in 2012 that I felt strongly enough to award.

Without further ado, the winners...

Best New Lipstick
NYX Matte Lipstick in Whipped Caviar (full review)
Retail: $6, 0.14 oz

Debuting toward the end of 2011 and therefore considered a 2012 release, I was late to the party with these lipsticks and tried my first one in the fall of 2012. But oh how I adore this lipstick. It's one of those "any time, any place, any occasion" types of lip colors with a creamy feel, perfect pigmentation and fantastic staying power.

Best New Lipgloss
Revlon ColorBurst Lipgloss in Sunbaked (full review)
Retail: $7, 0.2 oz)

Originally released in a limited edition Summer collection, Sunbaked was actually a new addition to the permanent ColorBurst gloss line in 2012 and I absolutely fell in love at first swipe. Looking back at my review, I feel just as strongly about this color now as I did back then. Perfection.

Best New Lip Stain
Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains in Romantic and Smitten (full review
Retail: $8.50, 0.095 oz.
After writing my review of these balm stains back in May, I fell even more deeply in love with the shades Romantic and Smitten. Smitten "makes your lips look like candy" according to my boyfriend, and Romantic is a shade that has a permanent place in my purse. I can apply it without looking in the mirror, and it never fails to give my lips a beautiful wash of long-lasting color right when I need it.

Best New Eyeshadow
Maybelline Color Tattoo 24HR Eyeshadow, various shades (full review)
Retail: $7, 0.14 oz

Originally released near the end of 2011 and therefore considered a 2012 release, I know I'm not alone in my love for these versatile little pots of color. Not only are they great for a quick wash of color applied with your finger or a brush, you can also use them as eyeshadow base for powder shadows, and even as eyeliner applied with a liner brush. If you don't own one yet, some shades do have better pigmentation than others, so if one doesn't work for you, exchange it for another shade...I'm willing to bet you'll find at least one to fall in love with (if not several). 

Best New Jumbo Eye Pencil
Milani Shadow Eyez 12HR Eyeshadow Pencils (full review)
Retail: $6.99, 0.1 oz.

Quite possibly the best staying power of anything I put on my eyes in 2012. Great as eyeshadow, eyeshadow base, eyeliner and also as highlighter for the inside corners of the eyes, these pencils last on my super-oily skin longer than any other jumbo pencil I've used to date. If you can only buy one, make it Champagne Toast.

Best New Eyeliner
Milani Eye Tech Extreme Liquid Eye Liner in Blackest Black (full review)
Retail: $7.49, 0.033 oz

By now, everyone probably knows that my favorite eyeliner of all time is the Jordana FabuLiner in Black. Since Milani is the sister company to Jordana, it's probably no surprise that this liner formula is quite similar to the Jordana liner, but it has a more precise point and really enables you to get deep down between your lashes for detailed application. I used my sample up and promptly repurchased.

Best New Mascara
NYC Big Bold Mascara in Extra Black (full review)
Retail: $4.99, 0.27 oz.

What more can I say about this mascara that I didn't already mention in my review? If you love volume and lift and a little bit of "clumpage" to your mascaras, this might be a perfect fit for you. I have gone through three tubes since my initial review, and I'm now completely used to the giant brush (it does take a little bit of time to get adjusted to). This mascara never flakes or smudges on me, although it is not waterproof so it removes easily with my regular facial cleanser. This one has moved up to Holy Grail status for me.

Best New Foundation
CoverGirl Tone Rehab 2-in-1 Foundation|Base (full review)
Retail: around $13.99, 1.0 oz

This foundation is one that I have returned to again and again this year, which says a lot because I'm more of a powder foundation kind of gal. It lives up to all of its claims, provides beautiful coverage and a beautiful finish. It comes in a pump bottle, a little goes a long way and it even holds up to my super-oily skin like a champ.

Best New BB Cream
Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream SPF30 (full review)
Retail: $8.50, 1.0 oz

I wasn't wowed by any of the US BB creams that swept the drugstores in 2012, but that's only because they tend to be quite different than the original Asian BB creams. But if we look at these US drugstore versions for what they are: tinted moisturizers with some added skin benefits and SPF, my favorite of 2012 was the Maybelline version. I think the coverage is a bit better than the others I've tried, and I think the shade range is the most impressive.

Best New Powder
Neutrogena Shine Control Powder in Invisible 10 (info)
Retail: $10, 0.37 oz.

I actually have been using this setting powder for several months and have been meaning to review it (I promise a full review this year). Until then, let me just say that of any setting powder I've tried from the drugstore this year, this is the one that keeps my oily skin in check the longest. And what I really love about it is that it helps to control that sticky feeling that some of my BB creams and foundations tend to leave on my skin after they have interacted with the natural oils from my face. This is truly a wonder-product for me.

Best New Blush
Jordana Color Tint Blush Sticks Collection (full review)
Retail: $2.99, 0.21 oz.

Sometimes the best things really do come in small packages, and these little blush sticks pack some serious power. Not only are all of the shades in this range extremely wearable, but they're also extremely pigmented. Easy to work with, easy to blend and perfect for a makeup bag due to their small size. Definitely the most fun blush collection released this year, in my opinion, and one that deserves more attention considering its affordable price tag and range of wearable shades.

Best New Highlighter
Milani Illuminating Face Powder in Hermosa Rose (full review)
Retail: $9.49, 0.35 oz.

Since my review at the beginning of 2012, I cannot count how many times I have reached for Hermosa Rose to give my face some subtle warmth and sheen. If you're looking for lots of shimmer and sparkle in your highlighter, this one's not for you. But if you love a subtle sheen and a hint of warmth, I think you might fall in love with Hermosa Rose. It's an absolutely essential product in my makeup bag.

Best New Bronzer 
NYX Matte Bronzer Collection (full review)
Retail: $9, 0.33 oz

I love matte bronzers, and I love bronzers that are easy to wear. It doesn't get much better than the NYX Matte Bronzers (especially the shade Light, which has a touch of peach to it and works quite well with my skintone).

Best New Nail Color Collection (TIE)
Wet n Wild Megalast Nail Color (reformulated in 2012) (full review)
Retail: $1.99, 0.45 oz.

I have not met a shade in this collection that didn't work for me. A fantastic price point, a great selection of colors and a formula that performs with excellent wear time. Plus, a few dupes to boot. How can you not love this collection?

Jordana Glitters Specialty Nail Polish Collection (four-part review)
Retail: $2.99, 0.5 oz each

Jordana Glitters Specialty Nail Polishes feature a whopping 24 shades including dupes, near-dupes and beautiful glitter combinations. This was a such an impressive release from Jordana in 2012 that I really can't think of anything that tops it in terms of variety and the amount of combinations and possibilities that are offered at such an affordable price point.

Best New Body Lotion
Sebamed Moisturizing Body Lotion (full review)
Retail: $14.95, 13.5 oz.

Developed by dermatologists, cruelty-free and paraben-free, I first tried Sebamed Moisturizing Body Lotion at the very beginning of 2012 and even though I've  tried many, many body lotions since then, none have made such a positive impact on my skin. This lotion not only smells lovely (like vintage bar soap--clean with creamy floral notes), but it does an impeccable job at truly moisturizing my skin without leaving any type of residue or film behind. I've blown through three bottles of this lotion in 2012 and expect to blow through many more in the future.

Best New Lip Balm
Blistex Moisture Melt (full review)
Retail: $2, 0.35 oz

To tell you the truth, I never had much luck with Blistex lip products until Moisture Melt came into my life. 2012 saw a flood of new lip balms hit the drugstore, but this one made such an impact on me that I have to name it my pick for 2012. It smells and tastes like pink lemonade, it has cool little moisture beads in it, and it works beautifully to keep my lips soft and hydrated.

Best New Body Wash
Dial Hello Kitty Moisturizing Body Wash (full review)
Retail: $5.99, 16 oz.

I've been a Sanrio fan since the very beginning (literally: I was six in 1976, the year of Sanrio's birth). And I think this body wash perfectly encapsulates that "Sanrio smell". It's sort of a mix of citrus and other fruits, but with a slight clean note. I don't know how else to describe it but as "Sanrio-ish". I'm a big fan of the formula of Dial body washes so, in my eyes, this combo can't be beat.

Best New Shampoo/Conditioner
Herbal Essences Honey I'm Strong Strengthening Shampoo & Conditioner (info)
Retail: $4, 10.0 oz. each

I have not reviewed these products yet, but I have repurchased both the shampoo and conditioner three times in the last six months. Honey I'm Strong works extremely well for my hair, providing much-needed moisture and detangling without causing my fine hair to feel greasy or heavy. Both products are easy to use, rinse easily and make my hair look great when I wear it both wavy (natural) or straight. These products have become a staple in my shower over the past few months.

Best New Dry Shampoo
Dove Invigorating Dry Shampoo (full review)
Retail: $3.76, 5 oz

I'm a dry shampoo "collector" and this one is my favorite of 2012. It does a great job of absorbing the oils from my hair and, unlike a few other drugstore dry shampoos I've tried, this one gives my fine hair mega-volume, which is always a wonderful, much-welcomed bonus when it comes to dry shampoo.

Best New Facial Moisturizer
Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Day and Night Moisturizers (full review)
Retail: $19.99 each, 1.0 oz 

For my oily, very-less-than-perfect skin, I have yet to find a better product to help diminish the look of dark spots, fine lines and large pores. Also, these moisturizers don't break me out, and they don't add oil to my already-oily skin when worn underneath makeup. The best day and night moisturizers I tried all year.

Best New Facial Cleanser
Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser (full review)
Retail: $8.99, 12 oz.

Released last summer, this facial cleanser totally took me by surprise. It's one of the most gentle, yet effective, cleansers I've used in years. Whenever my skin is misbehaving, I reach for this product because I know it will cleanse my skin but not leave it feeling dry, tight or irritated. I can't recommend this one enough. PS: the value is unbelievable since you get a whopping 12 oz for $8.99 or less.

Best New Makeup Remover
Milani Instant Eye Makeup Remover (full review)
Retail: $5.99, 4.0 oz) 

The most gentle and effective eye makeup remove I used all year. I wish it were sold in stores (as opposed to online-only) and that's that's the only complaint I could ever have for it. 

Best New Fragrance
Bath & Body Works Pink Chiffon Fine Fragrance Mist (full review)
Retail: $14, 8.0 oz 

The fragrance equivalent of a cuddly pink sweater, Pink Chiffon is sweet, soft and uber-feminine. My go-to body mist in 2012 (after my review in January, I ended up purchasing two bottles of body mist and am now about to purchase my third). 

Best Limited Edition Collection of 2012 
Wet n Wild Where's The Party 8-Pan Eyeshadow Palette Collection (full post)
Retail: $4.99 each, 0.3 oz

I can think of no other limited edition collection released in 2012 that caused the same level of excitement and frenzy as when Wet n Wild re-released their all-matte palette along with two new 8-pan palettes. These palettes were beautiful and featured the same quality and pigmentation as the original 8-pans. 

Best New-To-Me Product of 2012 (TIE)
Badger Cuticle Care (full review)
Retail: $5.99, 0.75 oz

This product came out in 2008 I believe, but my first experience with it was this year. This balm has been a game-changer for my cuticles and I use it every single night.

TRESemme 24 Hour Body Finishing Spray (info)
Retail: $5.50, 7.7 oz

This product came out in 2009 but I only discovered it this year and I am going on my 4th can as of the time of this post. This is the best light-hold hairspray I have encountered to date at the drugstore. It revives my fine, naturally-wavy hair and manages to give it body and texture without ever making it look stiff or crunchy. I can even spray it on slightly damp hair, give my curls a few scrunches and I'm good to go for the entire day. In fact, whenever I use this finishing spray, I can wake up the next day and still see some ringlets in my hair (that never happens).

Readers' Choice for Best New Product of 2012
Revlon Just Bitten Kissable Balm Stains
Retail: $8.50, 0.095 oz. 

After almost two months of voting, this line from Revlon beat the competition with 1,821 votes (second place: Maybelline Color Tattoos with 1,576 votes). I don't think it's any surprise at this point that we both adore these jumbo pencils.


Most Commented Product Review
My Favorite Brush Cleaner: Dr. Bronner's Magic Soap (full review)

I never thought in a million years that I'd receive such tremendous feedback to my review of this product. In the weeks and months after my post, I heard from so many of you who ended up trying (and loving) this product for cleaning your brushes, and I'm so delighted to have introduced some of you to the magical powers of this product.

Most Commented Post (non-review)
My Beauty Memes (full post)

Oh yes, the beauty memes. It was the end of the summer, and I think we all needed some comic relief. I was thrilled that so many of you could relate to those memes I created--I think a new installment is in order for 2013!

Best Nail Art Look I attempted in 2012
Galaxy Nails (full tutorial)

This was probably the most fun I had with my nails all year, and the fact that Mr. G joined in the fun only made it that much more special.

Most Exciting Thing to Happen to Nouveau Cheap in 2012
Being featured on the Wet n Wild Beauty Ambassador Display at Walgreens (full post)

When I think back at the blog-related things that happened to me this year, the highlight absolutely has to be seeing my manicure on the Wet n Wild display at Walgreens. I still can't believe I was fortunate enough to have that opportunity, and it still feels like a dream whenever I look at the pictures.

Thanks so much for your continued support of this blog in 2012! This is the fourth year for the Cheapie Awards and I look forward to discovering 2013's winners together with you this year!

Some of the products featured in this post were given to Nouveau Cheap for editorial purposes, either directly from the manufacturer or from the agency that works on behalf of the manufacturer. All reviews on are the honest opinion of its author and editorial samples do not, in any way, affect the outcome of product reviews.


  1. how in the world did I miss the meme post LOL!

  2. I go through phases with Dr. Bronner's soaps, but right now I am loving them.

    Great post! The only thing I wasn't in love with was the Maybelline Dream Fresh BB Cream. It just didn't work for my skin.

  3. I look forward to this post every year! I can't wait to try several of the products you have recommended!

  4. The Revlon Balm Stains are probably my most disappointing purchase this year. They're like disappearing ink on me... five minutes tops, and all the color is gone. :( At least I got it in a 40% off sale, so it was only $3 something :)

  5. Hi G! I just discovered the Neutrogena oil control powder. Love it! I already went and got a back-up at Rite Aid this week so it was much cheaper (Oh and I snagged every single color of the new Neutrogena moisture color sticks because I'm in love with the plum color and they were only $5.39 each at the one Rite Aid that ha the display out already - sheesh the Rite Aid probably recognize me as the crazy make-up gal). But I digress.. And today I picked up the Blistex moisture melt too - haven't tried it yet but I would have never thought to buy it until I saw your review. :) How does the Milani eyeliner compare to the Physicians formula one that has the built-in serum? I LOVE how fine the tip makes such a fine line.. it looks as though the Milani liner may be the same. I wonder if it holds up as well because I have no problems with the PF liner. Thanks for all that you do! My husband laughs everytime I walk in the door with drugstore bags filled with goodies.. but I remind him that blogs like yours help me find the best products at the best price and in the long run I waste less money. ;-)

  6. He thinks it's cute that I research makeup. :) Your blog is the best research!

  7. Thank you so much for this list! I'm planning to build up my own make-up stash and this list is very helpful for me in doing that!

  8. You be doing your work.You definitely a makeup beauty guru ...well, in my eyes at least.You takes so much time out to put a blog together like this together.This is nice by the way... and,thanks!

  9. This is just like reading magazines like cosmogirl. except this blog beats all those girly magazines at the grocery stands, i've stopped reading those and the topics on these blogs are just more fun :)

  10. I think I must be the only person on the planet who doesn't like the Color Tattoo eyeshadows. They go on rather patchy on me. And they crease. Womp womp.

    1. They're like that for me too, I have the purple one and it's so bad it's not even funny. I can't get it on my eyelid no matter what I do, I've tried brushes, fingers, sponges, various primers, no primer, nothing works. I heard other shades are better but I'm so over those things.

    2. The purple one is the "bad" one, Spooki; every review I've read calls that one out as patchy, uneven, hard to apply, etc. Try other shades, I'm sure you'll have better luck.

  11. This is a great roundup for 2012. Keep doing what you do, G!

  12. This is a great read! I have tried several of these favorites of yours and they have become favorites of mine! I wish the Jordana blush sticks where available in stores. (If they are I have not seen them) I feel weird buying Jordana online for some reason...and IDK why! LOL! I can't wait to see what 2013 brings especially when you start showing spring nails!

  13. OH I was waiting for this post :D Awesome picks...Now I just need to add some to my list to check out!!

  14. Your reviews on several of these items led me to purchasing them! :)

  15. Thanks for the article. It was fun to see the choices and re-read your reviews. I'm going to look for "Sunbaked"!

  16. Is the Neutrogena Shine Control powder really all that? I tried the primer and it's pretty "meh". I need to find a new mattifying compact for my purse since all the Hard Candy ones are gone already!

  17. I've purchased many of these products because of your reviews.

  18. FYI: The Sebamed body lotion is on sale at for $10.69 plus you get 20% off beauty, personal care and fragrance by using the code PRETTY at checkout. (And yes, I did order the lotion on G.'s rec...)

  19. Picked up the NYC mascara yesterday: LOVE!! Thank you, thank you, thank you!! You are the BEST!!!!!!!

  20. Tried the NYC mascara for the first time today: LOVE!!! Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! Also bought the Tresseme Finishing Spray and Dove Dry Shampoo, can't wait to do my hair tomorrow : )

    Thanks for all you do and your wonderful blog - it is my absolute FAVORITE!!!!

  21. Picked up Neutrogena Rapid Tone Repair Day a few days ago based on your recommendation - I love it! I'll likely grab the night one as well :) Thinking about getting the Maybelline BB Cream as well.


  22. Yay! The Revlon Balm Stains made it! I still have mine, I believe it's the second one I have or the third and it's in Twilight! I use it with Raspberry Sorbet by Maybelline's Color Sensational glosses (got two during the summer CVS make up sale). And about the Wet N Wild polishes, so glad they also made it on the list, I bought so many of them from Wild Shine, the regular line, the Quick Dry, the Be Jeweled ones, Fantasymakers, and Pick Your Poison. I haven't used my Shimmer the Night Away pallet yet, I may have to sometime this week.

    Can't wait to see Drew Barrymore's line to come out, which you should do the most-look-forward to in years to come, which you seem to do new make up news for the next year at the end of the previous years, why not? And yay again!

  23. I have a question, G.: did any of these products become new holy grails for you?


I love and encourage comments here at Nouveau Cheap, and I do not censor comments unless they violate my comment policy, which you can view here.

Please refrain from comments that contain:
• Links to your own blog or website
• Advertisements or referral links

Thanks very much for your help in keeping this a spam-free zone.

© 2009- Nouveau Cheap. All rights reserved.