Not Your Basic Beauty Awards

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If we told you that picking the winners in this year’s Beauty Innovator Awards was a monumental task, would you believe us or whip out your tiny violins? We know, we know: There are plenty of jobs that are a whole lot tougher and less enjoyable than swiping on mascara. But in the realm of beauty, sifting through 25 categories with 100-plus hair, skin, makeup, and nail offerings is just about as arduous as it comes, save for Fraxel — because that ish HURTS.

But our nine fearless judges selflessly sacrificed their faces and free time to try each and every last product and determine which one deserves to be called the champion. There were plenty of, shall we say, passionate feelings, but in the end a winner for each category was crowned. Without further ado, we present to you the well-deserved winners of the Refinery29 Beauty Innovator Awards.

PHOTOGRAPHED BY NADYA WASYLKO; GIFS BY SAM CANNON; STYLED BY BETHIE GIRMAI; HAIR BY ELOISE CHEUNG USING JOHN MASTERS ORGANICS; MAKEUP BY MISUZU MIYAKE @ ARTMIX CREATIVE USING CHANEL LES BEIGES; MANICURE BY HOLLY FALCONE USING FLOSS GLOSS; MODELED BY CACIA ZOO; MODELED BY CLEMENTINE DESSEAUX AT MUSE NYC; MODELED BY ITCHEL COKER; MODELED BY MARGIE ASHCROFT; MODELED BY GABBY RICHARDSON; MODELED BY JERZA MATTHEWS.

People

Hairstylist Whose Instagram We Can’t Stop Stalking

Lacy Redway

While there are plenty of insanely talented hairstylists out there, sadly many of them don’t know how to work with all hair textures. And then, there’s Lacy Redway. A hair savant since the tender age of 14, Redway spent her formative years braiding at a Black hair salon, then moved on to NYC to assist some of the biggest names in the biz at the time. Now, Redway is a superstar in her own right, working with everyone from Uzo Aduba and Danielle Brooks to Olivia Palermo and Lady Gaga.

She made it very easy for the judges to love her — her down-to-earth attitude and easygoing nature lighten the mood of everyone she works with and earn her all of the respect. Said fellow stylist Ess, “The best. This girl is just killing the game, and she is UNREAL talented. Not to mention, the happiest, cutest girl alive.”
Makeup Artist We Most Want To Touch Our Faces

Robin Black

Her website may be Beauty Is Boring, but Black is anything but. An accomplished photographer and makeup artist with an eye for unique faces and a playful sensibility, Black can easily switch from high-fashion editorial, to cool-girl style, to completely bonkers in a beautiful way. “She’s genuinely innovative — one of the few artists who successfully marries wearability with innovation,” said Whitefield-Madrano.

Ess, who works with Black frequently, had mad love for her beauty partner-in-crime. “I LOVE Robin, and she's the true definition of a creative genius. She doesn't rip off other artists — she creates and is so original.” Gushed McIntyre, “I can get lost on her site, looking at all the amazing ways she uses makeup to tell a story. My dream would be to just sit in her studio and let her go nuts with makeup. I would treasure those photos for eternity.”
Social Media Supernovas

Jessica Matlin & Jennifer Goldstein, Fat Mascara Podcast

We had a lot of contention surrounding many of the categories — but this wasn’t one of them. Matlin and Goldstein hold the unique honor of being the only winners who garnered a unanimous vote by our panel. The two beauty editors (Matlin works at Teen Vogue and Goldstein at Marie Claire) have an insatiable interest in beauty, access to the coolest names in the industry, all of the knowledge, and seem to be having a blast every time we tune in. Their joy and curiosity are infectious.

Said McIntyre, “Knowing these two in person, I can wholeheartedly say that they not only know their shit, they cover some of the most interesting topics in beauty with some of the best guests. And you can tell they are having a good time, which makes it impossible not to smile when you listen in.” Added Whitefield-Madrano, “They're everything I love about the beauty world: playful, whip-smart, trustworthy, appropriately skeptical, questioning. A must-listen.” Martin put it a little more mysteriously, “These two are giving the world access into the underbelly of beauty that no one else has successfully done before.”
Innovator Of The Year

Pat McGrath

Our most prestigious award goes to the person or brand who has managed to delight, excite, amaze, and generally kick some major ass in 2016. And while the field of contenders was one of the most talented yet, it was the incomparable, indefatigable, downright genius Pat McGrath who took home the honor.

Always an innovator, McGrath took us all by surprise this year with the launch of Pat McGrath Labs, super limited-edition products that dropped like a secret Beyoncé album or a new iPhone. Gold 001, Phantom 002, Skin Fetish 003, Lust 004, and the just launched (as in, today) Metamorphosis 005 all hit the internet to great fanfare, then immediately sold out. Kylie Lip Kits have nothing on these guys in terms of lust-worthiness.

Gushed Ess, “[Innovator] of the year? Try of the decade. This woman is just unreal. She has paved the way for so many, and she's having the best time doing it.” Added McIntyre, “She’s already one of the (if not THE) leading creative minds in the industry — and way nicer and more charming than anyone as talented as her has any right to be. She just keeps getting better every year. I’m anxiously awaiting products 006 and beyond, just to see what she’ll dream up next. And anyone that packages her products in a bag full of sequins is automatically my favorite person.” Obviously.