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. In June we were oddly obsessed with moisturizing (go figure). The whole month we loaded up on hydrating butters and feel-good masks. It’s bound to be a very comfortable summer.
“I love this thing. It's cute, it's small, it's clear, it leaves zero residue. It's a sunscreen I don't have to think about. I use other sunscreens over my whole face or my body, but this is the SPF I use to touch up—the only way I'll follow the whole impractical 'apply again after two hours, going in water, after you breathe' stuff. I put it exactly on the places I hate getting burnt—the bridge of my nose, top of my cheeks, ears, and the back of my neck—and I blend out from there. If I'm on a long, sunny car ride I'll throw it on the sun-facing arm to avoid a weird tan. Writing this made me realize I want to buy a bunch and give them to friends and family. I really think it's something you need in the summer.”
"Shea butter and I go way back—it’s a beauty relationship that’s lasted almost an entire decade of going natural. Since graduating from using coconut oil on my hair, I often reach for shea butter (only the raw, unprocessed stuff!) to seal in moisture and style braid-outs. It’s lovely for my hair, but when conversations shift to using raw shea butter on your body, internally, I make this face. Its natural state is hard as a rock, and each time I get a $5 tub from the beauty supply store, it takes so long to carve out a chunk and smooth it between my palms before I work it into my hair...I can’t imagine doing that process 10 times over for my entire body! Then came Hanahana Beauty Whipped Shea Butter. Is it weird to say that I get excited to use it? The texture is the most satisfying and fluffy butter format I’ve ever tried, and since it’s chock full of more moisturizing butters and sweet-smelling oils, applying it is essentially aromatherapy. I don’t think I’ve ever felt so fresh after putting on a body butter. Very happy to be a shea butter baby, all around."
“My summer look is cold fruit, dresses that don’t touch my body, glossy lips and freckles. So many freckles! I swear, as soon as the calendar strikes June, my cheeks explode in a constellation of them. For times when I want even more, I’ve been using Freck. It’s easier to maneuver than a brow pen, which is what I’ve used to draw on freckles in the past. The consistency is similar to a liquid liner, and you can control how much of it you use for each dot. Then, you just tap them with your finger to blend. It only comes in one color, but how quickly and how much you dab them determines how dark the pigment will dry. The result is irregular, natural looking freckles that stay on all day and don’t smudge (because freckles don’t smudge). I like to dot it right on top of the ones I already have, but you could use them to equal effect just drawing them on randomly, or on top of foundation. My only qualm is that it isn't bigger! Here’s to a freckly summer.”
"As a person with eyes, and as a black person especially, I’ve never been a fan of physical sunscreens. What’s to love? All of them, even the fanciest, cutting-edge, holy grail ones cover my face in gray. I’ve tried them all—tinted, not tinted, his favorite, her favorite—bad, bad, bad. Except for this baby. It’s tinted, which helps a little, but it also really sinks into my skin. The “sinking in” part makes all the difference. No gray cast to be seen, and no grainy texture to be felt. Why don’t all sunscreens do this? Is it that hard? I’m just sorry that I forgot to bring it into the office for ‘favorite products’ picture day."
"Confession: I assigned this story because my feet are... never ready? At least not since I was pregnant and had a baby over two years ago. I just haven't made time to get a pedicure (I gave up on manicures a long time ago). At first, I was ashamed of my unvarnished and un-pedicured feet. I wore close-toed shoes. And then it got too hot and I just let them out. It was fine! No one recoiled in horror. But last week my favorite maternity brand Hatch teamed up with tenoverten to create a trio of non-toxic nail polishes that are pregnancy and postpartum safe. The colors are also lovely. The end of this story is, now I have summer-ready toes."
“I started using tretinoin about a month ago. It’s great news! While I was leaving my derm’s office, I texted Emily Ferber, tretinoin veteran, to see how cautious I should be with my .025-percent prescription. I knew all the facts—that it worked on the cellular level to speed up cell turnover, that it would clear up the last lingering PIH marks from my recent birth control switch, that I should be extra diligent about SPF, and that it might have side effects like purging and flaking. After calming my nerves, Emily added, “Remember, it’s not technically an exfoliant, so once you’re used to it you can phase in your glycolic.” Which is exactly why I’ve started working in this Glytone serum. It has glycolic acid, sure, but I’m more interested in azelaic acid, which studies have shown helps tretinoin work better. Its anti-inflammatory properties have been helping reduce dryness, too.”
“DS & Durga has the most incredible candles. Spirit Lamp is a longtime favorite, Big Sur After Rain I've had for months now and burn so carefully, because it brings me such joy. This is my other favorite—it's a clean, steely smell that kind of sucks any other existing smell out of a room in the best way. It's good for me because it’s almost the antithesis of all the burning smoky, heavy, woodsy, spicy things I’m usually burning. After a hot summer day in the city, you just want to pretend everything is struck clean and wet and cold.”
"What makes a good body lotion? It depends on the season. In the winter you need something embarrassingly thick and a little greasy. You can’t do the same in the summer—too many silk and linen dresses in the line of fire. But you can’t not use lotion, especially since you’re showing more elbows and knees than any other part of the year. That’s why Flamingo’s Body Lotion is so perfect. Believe me, I’m just as surprised as you are that a brand that started as a men’s shaving company, and then expanded into a women’s shaving sub-brand, has a non-essential shaving product that’s truly spectacular, but here we are. It absorbs quickly and evenly, without that terrible greasy feel. And it lasts long! This is no sad, thin hotel lotion situation. I know body lotion isn’t the most exciting element of beauty, but when it works, it works. And boy, does this."
"Ramping up my Retin-A prescription has required me to make extra steps in my nighttime routine, which means slathering on any kind of hydrating product within arms reach so my face isn’t a parched disaster come morning. For a time, that meant applying a gel essence, a hyaluronic acid serum, a moisturizer AND a face oil before I called it a night. (And fingers crossed all that that moisture wouldn’t be sucked into my pillow before 6 AM!) I’m still shocked how much I can pare back because of Santa Maria Novella’s Idralia Sleeping Mask. Three dabs of the rich moisturizer on my face, and any tightness dissipates. The cherry on top: my face is just as soft the next morning as it is the night I applied it. That rarely happens for me! I’m sure it’s because this sleeping mask seems to be engineered to give as much moisture to your face as physically possible—just check the ingredients. It gives my face a plushness that I've only read about in fairytales and reviews of products that never worked for me. This one does."
"I never cared much about body wash. I used whatever happened to be around: some giant Olay bottle, something from Trader Joe's, some weird very '90s healthfood store body wash I steal from my husband. Then Nick Axelrod graciously sent over the body wash from his line Necessaire and I felt sad for my body. I had been depriving it of relaxing sandalwood spa smells, luxurious suds, vitamins, and a balanced pH level. Now I know."
Photographed by Tom Newton.