InStyle 2014 Best Beauty Buys Kahlana Barfield
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Our annual Best Beauty Buys is a mammoth undertaking that starts with 1,000+ products reviewed by 78 experts to bring you the 150 absolute best the beauty business has to offer. At the helm of this massive project is InStyle beauty director Kahlana Barfield, who is explaining all the details of the elaborate process below.

This sounds like an epic undertaking. Where do you begin?

Best Beauty Buys is such a massive project that we start 9 months in advance. We start in August and it runs in our May issue. We really start by interviewing a panel of celebrity dermatologists, makeup artists, manicurists, and hair stylists about their must have products. The products that they go to, the products that they keep in their kit, the products that they recommend to their clients, just whatever is really tried and true–what they rely on.

Can you talk us through the process?

So, once we get the results from the survey, we have a whole team of interns and assistants that are specifically dedicated to Best Beauty Buys. We tally the results and then we call in over 1,000 products, and that’s when we start our testing process.

People look forward to InStyle‘s Best Beauty Buys all year—why do you think it resonates so much with our readers?

It’s like the beauty bible. Everything is in there–the best of the best. We’re interviewing the top celebrity experts and they’re telling us what they really use. If you want to know what the best cleanser for oily skin is, it’s in there. You can rip it out, put it in your purse, frame it for a year, and you have everything.

Were there any new products that surprised you?

Of course you’re going to have those products that win year after year, those tried and true staples—like Elnett hairspray ($12 at ulta.com) but this year there were some surprises. Giorgio Armani’s Luminous Silk Foundation ($62 at giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com) has won consecutively for over a decade, and this year their new Maestro foundation ($64 at giorgioarmanibeauty-usa.com) won, so that was really surprising, but the formula’s amazing and people will love it.

What are your personal favorite go-to products from the list?

We have our Editors’ Picks section, and this is a section that allows us editors to talk about the products that we actually love. They’re new products that have launched over the last year. A personal favorite of mine that made it in this year’s list is Sarah Potempa’s Cordless Flatiron ($99 at ulta.com). I absolutely love it, it’s a genius product. You can put it in your purse for touch-ups on the go.

See all of the 2014 Best Beauty Buys now!