Welcome to Our Favorite Products, a monthly feature in which ITG's editors discuss our favorite products. They're the best things we've tried all month long, reviewed, photographed, and anthropomorphized before we have the opportunity to get sick of them and move on to something new. We're mostly just grateful to have made it through January, but below are a bunch of healing products that should help with the rest of winter.
Finding a blush shade that suits your skin tone is one thing. But finding one that mimics your actual flush tone is tricky. In my years-long pursuit of this very thing, I've collected lots and lots of blush. Not one of them is quite right. There's always some indication—even if it is very slight—that I'm wearing blush and not simply blushing. But then I found this little sculptural rose powder in a matte coral-y shade. And it's an exact match for the red that appears in my skin when the heat in the office is turned up a little too high. I use a Chanel blush brush to tap it on the apples of my cheeks and across the bridge of my nose. My only concern is how much less cute it will look when the little rose stencil disappers. Now I'm blushing. —Anna Jube
Listen, up until four months ago I owned maybe three nail polishes. And then I got engaged. Big change—HUGE—in the nail department. Starting with an obsession with Essie Gel Couture (long-lasting, strengthening, really shiny), followed by a fixation on all the extra nail-adjacent dodads. This cuticle cream comes recommended straight from the hand god, Gelcream, herself. It's basically a cuticle eraser and moisturizer in one. It's not heavy-duty (I have a weekly cuticle gel for that), but it's good for everyday maintenance. Next stop: gel extensions inspired by Eva's. I'm a nail freak now! —Ashley Weatherford
We stan a lightweight moisturizer: One that gives you everything you need and nothing you don't. In my case it's about finding the product that gives me just enough moisture but not too much. In the summer I can just use a light serum, but this winter I've needed a bit more and this stuff has been answering the call. It sinks into your skin immediately, no greasiness whatsoever, and adds just a little glow. I also love the brand story—which is important. —Tom Newton
I’m not sure what compelled me to bring this toner home and try it out. In the past year, two things have been true: (1) I tend not to bring new products home with me—you know, for Marie Kondo reasons. And (2) acids freak me out. With my retinol on lock and an occasional resurfacing mask in the routine, I’m cautious to step it up too many notches and end up with out a face left to exfoliate. But who cares about the reasons why I DID decide to bring this guy home. All that matters is that I DID, and I LOVE it. Lactic acid had a big moment last year, but glycolic has always had my heart—it helps to bring moisture to the surface of your skin while it exfoliates. The toner has a free acid value around 6%, which is leaner than a lot of heavy-duty acids on the market, but more serious than what I’ve let myself enjoy recently. It tingles when you’re out of balance—which makes it very satisfying when it doesn’t tingle and you feel like you’ve been really responsible about your skincare. And just to hard sell you for a moment: My pores have not been this small since college. I kid you not. I already got a backup bottle just in case. —Emily Ferber
My Senegalese twists have been released from my scalp (!) which means I’m wearing my natural hair out and about, for now at least. Braid-outs are my thing, but during these perilous times of snow squalls and increasingly frigid temps I know I’m taking a huuuge hair breakage gamble trying channel Naptural85’s final form. I’m taking it easy—no heat, minimal absent-minded hair twirling, and putting on a silk scarf on if I’m within a 5 foot radius of a cotton-laden sleeping surface. Styling with Shea Moisture’s Curl Defining Smoothie, the lesser known (but just as valid!) cousin of the Curl Enhancing Smoothie, has also been amazing in keeping my hair above the breaking point. Layering it with shea butter on damp hair makes my braid-out feel soft for days, without too many humectants that shrink my braid-out length throughout the week. It’s even good for touch-ups, just on the tips of your strands if they’re feeling a little thirsty. Very good, highly recommend. —Utibe Mbagwu
You want to know what hurts? Getting attached to a moisturizer that costs more than your last one-way flight across the country. However painful it may be, this moisturizer has drastically improved the overall condition of my skin. My whole face is brighter, smoother, and less broken out than it's been in a long time. And now that my concealer blends on top of my skincare so well that it disappears altogether I appear at all times well rested no matter how much sleep I got. Pair that with my flawless blush (see above) and I can skip everything else altogether. —AJ
I'm trying this new thing where I don't wear concealer—triggered by the absolutely boring fact that I ran out. How long will it last? Who knows! But I'm having a good time experimenting with alternative ways to brighten up. Right now Fenty's setting powder in Banana is doing the job. It doesn't flatten my face like a lot of powders, and it's so finely milled that when I touch my face I just feel skin, not powder. This guy goes in the triangle area under my eyes and around my cheekbones, and sometimes when I'm feeling extra, it goes in the dip above my chin. It's like a highlighter without the actual highlight, you know what I mean? —AW
I've been using Thayer's Witch Hazel toner for a while, but when I ran out this last time around I decided to see how a fancier toner worked with my skin. One with more 'effects' and 'promises.' So here we are. This has a favorite ingredient of mine—Niacinamide. It's oil regulating and redness reducing. My skin agrees with it so much. The aromatherapy aspect of toner is important to me too. It's not crazy strong but first thing in the morning it's nice. I apply this following the Melanie Simon method—just pressing it in. So far so good. —TN
Good God does this vitamin C serum pack a punch. Thirty-five percent is nearly unprecedented, and this guy is waterless (read: hardworking and stable—hard to do with a vitamin C, let me tell you…). If you’re on the vitamin C train already, a few things will be familiar: the hot dog-water smell, mainly. But the serum itself is clear—similar to Joanna Vargas’ Rescue Serum and Melanic Simon’s Serum C—and feels silkier than it does sticky. Both benefits, but they’re nothing compared to the POW-turn-the-lights-on brilliance of your skin tone after a few weeks of using this. All my post-acne hyperpigmentation redness is relieved and I’m back to wearing literally no makeup. Like, none at all. Well, except Boy Brow. THAT is progress, my friends. —EF
When I tagged along with Tom to shoot Nam Vo’s Top Shelves this month, she told me, “If you want to be dewy dumpling, start using a Beautyblender.” After saying this, she very glamorously whirled me into her bathroom, and showed me how to use a Beautyblender the proper way: run it under some water, squeeze out the excess, and then—this is key—bounce and roll the sponge over the surface of your skin, because it’s the best way to push the product in while leaving a veil of moisture. And...she’s right! Smoothing the little sponge over your face in this way is amazing because you can control the amount and density of the coverage you want—options that I never imagined possible with the usual 3-finger application. Try it for yourself and let me know what you think! —UM
Photographed by Tom Newton.