Best of Beauty: Hall of Fame

Chanel No. 5
Photo: David Cook

Think of these beloved products as the Derek Jeters and Lindsey Vonns of the beauty world: Proven winners. Here, the 10 exceptional products that have racked up more awards than any others.

1. Chanel No. 5

17 Awards
In the summer of 1920, Gabrielle "Coco" Chanel asked perfumer Ernest Beaux to make a fragrance that would allow a woman to smell like a woman and not like a flower. "She was looking to define a new sense of modern feminine identity: overtly sexy, but with nothing dirty about it," says Tilar J. Mazzeo, author of The Secret of Chanel No. 5 (HarperCollins). Beaux reportedly based No. 5 on a perfume he'd concocted for the Russian market in 1914, called Rallet No. 1.

"It flopped, so when Coco tapped him, Beaux developed ten different adaptations of his original formula," says Mazzeo. "The fifth sample became Chanel No. 5." Five was also Coco's lucky number: She was a Leo, the fifth sign of the zodiac. Other elements were equally personal. The square-cut bottle may have been modeled after a flask carried by a former lover. Another theory has it based on the shape of the Place Vendôme, the area outside the Hotel Ritz, where Coco lived. She originally intended to share the scent with only 100 of her best clients, and it wasn't until 1921, when the perfume's immense popularity compelled Coco to sell it in her boutiques, that No. 5 went public. "It was the first floral perfume made to evoke a bouquet rather than a single bud," says Chanel master perfumer Jacques Polge. Today, Chanel No. 5 is the best-selling perfume in the world.

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Maybelline New York Great Lash Mascara
Photo: David Cook

2. Maybelline New York Great Lash Mascara

17 Awards
True believers in the adage "If it ain't broke," Maybelline has not changed the Great Lash formula in the 40 years since the mascara's inception. More remarkable still, someone in the U.S. buys one of these pink-and-green tubes every 1.7 seconds. The secret lies in the mascara's glossy blue-black pigments and wet consistency, says Debra Coleman-Nally, director of research and development for Maybelline New York. Makeup artist Troy Surratt adds, "Whether you want a natural, lash-tinted effect or a full-on glam look, this is one mascara that can do it all."

Lancôme Définicils High Definition Mascara
Photo: David Cook

3. Lancôme Définicils High Definition Mascara

16 Awards
To call Définicils impressive would be like saying Sinatra could carry a tune. This 20-year-old superstar is one of the top-selling formulas in the country and a makeup-artist favorite. "For length and definition, it can't be beat," says Surratt. "It emphasizes every single lash and really does not clump." As cosmetic chemist Ni'Kita Wilson explains, the brush and formula work together to add natural-looking length: "The brush's bristles have grooves along their sides, which catch and gently stretch the lashes while wrapping them in color."

Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion
Photo: David Cook

4. Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion

14 Awards
Originally known simply as Yellow Moisturizing Lotion, Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion was part of Clinique's 3-Step Skin Care System in 1968. New York City dermatologist Norman Orentreich created the product on his own in the early 1960s before eventually becoming a cofounder of Clinique. "It wasn't a quick or easy process," says dermatologist David Orentreich, Norman's son. "But through long-term trial and error, Dad created something ideal for a broad variety of skin conditions." Says cosmetic chemist Jim Hammer, "It's a simple oil-in-water emulsion designed to absorb quickly and hydrate well." The yellow tint that makes the moisturizer so recognizable today served a similar purpose back then: "My father chose yellow to distinguish it from prescription lotions of the day, which tended to be white," Orentreich says. It contains no SPF, antioxidants, or anti-aging ingredients— pretty standard for the '60s. Yet even in 2011, these omissions don't seem to bother the moisturizer's die-hard fans. "People who love this stuff really love it," says Francesca Fusco, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. "You can put pretty much anything over it—sunscreen, foundation, powder—without it pilling."

John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum Original Formula
Photo: David Cook

5. John Frieda Frizz-Ease Hair Serum Original Formula

12 Awards
In the early 1990s, glam gave way to grunge, Clinton supplanted Bush, and blowouts replaced big hair, ushering in a need for frizz control. "At the time, there were hundreds of products for adding body, but not one to tame frizz," says British hairstylist John Frieda. "Most people tried to contain their hair with gel simply because that's all they had, but it left them sticky." Working with a chemist and his business partner, a fuzzy-haired woman named Gail Federici, Frieda developed a silicone-based serum specifically to prevent frizz. "The very first formula our chemist delivered was spot-on," Frieda recalls. "We tested it on Gail and were blown away. So I gave samples to the stylists in my London salon, and soon we had customers trying to bribe us for our little bottles."

The serum instantly turned even fried hair glossy and smooth "by forming a light, humidity-proof sheath around each strand that held the cuticle flat, so it couldn't raise up and look fuzzy or dull," says Joseph Cincotta, a cosmetic chemist who has worked at John Frieda in the past. Since it had the potential to leave hair looking lank and dirty if misused—applying it to soaking-wet hair is key—Frieda and Federici appeared on morning talk shows and visited drugstores and malls around the country to teach women how to use it. "This got the word out," says Cincotta, "and made Frizz-Ease a phenomenon"—and poufy hair a thing of the past.

Tweezerman Slant Tweezer
Photo: David Cook

6. Tweezerman Slant Tweezer

11 Awards
One never knows when inspiration will strike, as Tweezerman founder Dal LaMagna will attest: "The idea for my first product, the Splinter Remover, came to me after an amorous adventure sunbathing on a roof deck in 1979," he says. As his girlfriend pried 32 slivers of wood from his backside with a pair of dull tweezers, he wished for a more precise instrument. Sometime later, while working at an electronics company, he spotted the tool that could've saved his butt: needlepoint tweezers used by assembly-line workers to pick up the tiniest components. LaMagna ordered 30 and began selling them to lumberyards and hardware stores. When a manicurist friend asked him for a similar, but safer, model that she could sell in her salon as a precision brow tweezer, LaMagna found a pair used by diamond handlers in the jewelry business.

"I actually didn't invent the first two products," he says. "I operated like a gypsy, taking things from one trade and introducing them to another." He packaged the tweezer in a clear plastic tube and slapped his name on it. (A salon worker started calling him "the tweezer man," and he immediately adopted the moniker.) Over the next year, he modified the design of the diamond tweezer to make it just as exacting, but not too sharp. In 1981, La Pluck—now known as the Slant—was born. "Its superthin tips can reach right into the skin and remove whole hairs," says Sania Vucetaj of Sania's Brow Bar in New York City. "Other tweezers with thicker edges break more hairs than they pull out." Splinters, too, we're guessing.

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Photo: David Cook

7. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

10 Awards
Like the scads of dermatologists who recommend it, Cetaphil abides by the spirit of the Hippocratic Oath: First, do no harm. "This is one cleanser that virtually everyone—even those with sensitive skin, rosacea, acne, and eczema—can use without worry of irritation," says David Bank, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Columbia-Presbyterian Hospital in New York City. A San Antonio–based pharmacist named Louis W. Schleuse first mixed up the soap- and fragrance-free formula in 1947. Initially, it was sold only by select pharmacists, but by the '60s, Cetaphil had won a healthy fan base of dermatologists and pediatricians—and their problem-skin patients. Demand grew, and supply followed: By 1980, every major drugstore in America stocked the cleanser. With only eight ingredients, "it takes a less-is-more approach," says Wilson. "Most importantly, it contains fatty alcohols, which coat the skin to prevent the detergents from drying it out." Just what the doctor ordered.

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Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-off Formula
Photo: David Cook

8. Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-off Formula

9 Awards
Powerful without being punishing, this fragrance-free facial scrub has won a Readers' Choice Award every year since 2004. Much of the credit goes to the polyethylene buffing beads that distinguished it when it came out in 1996. "At the time, most other scrubs were still using things like ground apricot kernels to polish the skin," says Hammer. Unlike those coarse materials, polyethylene beads smooth without scratching or inciting redness. Plus, "the scrub's creamy base makes it especially good for the winter months, when skin tends to be drier and more sensitive," says dermatologist Ranella Hirsch.

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 15
Photo: David Cook

9. Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream SPF 15

9 Awards
Neutrogena changed the face of beauty—and faces of women—in 1991 by discovering a way to stabilize retinol, a pure form of vitamin A known as much for its volatility as its line-smoothing prowess. "They combined the molecule with UV filters and several antioxidants to protect it from sunlight and air, and to keep it active," says Hammer. Without such defenses, retinol will quickly degrade. Other cosmetic companies were also producing over-the-counter vitamin-A creams at the time—some even years before Neutrogena—but most relied on less effective forms of the ingredient because they didn't break down as quickly. Neutrogena packed its retinol and stabilizing agents into a hydrating base and introduced it as Healthy Skin in 1997. Clinical studies showed the formula was capable of visibly improving sun damage, skin clarity, and pore size after just one week. "And over time, retinol can decrease fine lines and wrinkles, even out skin tone, fight acne, and increase collagen production," says Jeannette Graf, assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York City.

OPI Nail Laquer I’m Not Really a Waitress
Photo: David Cook

10. OPI Nail Laquer I’m Not Really a Waitress

9 Awards
In 1999, OPI cofounder Suzi Weiss-Fischmann set out to create a red polish that every woman could wear, and with I'm Not Really a Waitress, she nailed it. "It was one of the first reds with shimmer, which made it modern and glamorous," says manicurist Sheril Bailey. The reflective mica particles served a bigger purpose as well, softening the ruby-slipper shade so it didn't contrast too starkly with skin. "The shimmer catches the light and makes the color forgiving, helping it look genius on everyone," Bailey says. The polish's name, of course, was catchy, too. Says Weiss-Fischmann, "It was part of our Hollywood collection, and in Hollywood, almost every server will tell you, 'Oh, I'm not really a waitress—I'm an actress/singer/model.'" Fans have racked up quite a tab with this particular Waitress, buying more than 7 million bottles in the last 12 years.

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