This Friday, ITG launches its edit of the best 25 products of the decade. But as the nature of “best of” lists go, cuts had to be made, leaving more than a few favorites on the cutting room floor. They’re off the list but not forgotten—here, they get a moment to shine. With Top 5, ITG editors make the case for their personal favorite products of the year. These are the game-changers that made the biggest difference in our daily routines from this past January to right now. Time will tell whether they’re the decade’s best. Until then, let’s get started.
Most of my 2019 was swallowed by wedding planning. Even for someone like me, who truly never was and never will be fussed by the whole thing, planning the most expensive party I’ll ever throw was a real time-suck. And being short on time was a good way for me to put a lot of things into perspective. Fewer after-work get-togethers and more quality couch time when I could get it. A focus on meaningful friendships and a pause on (nice-to-have) acquaintances. A streamlined morning routine. The latter got me to hone in on the products that really worked, and worked to make my life easier. And now, with my wedding and most of 2019 in the rearview mirror, I’m ready to share what really rattled my beauty antennae. My favorite products, starting with:
My guess is that 85-percent of cleansers are bad or just meh, so when I find a great one I feel compelled to shout about it from the rooftops—the people need to know! Mary Allan’s Elixir Noir is the best yet. It hits all the marks—it’s not fragrant so I know I’m not irritating my skin, it’s not too sudsy, but sudsy enough so it's easy to move around my face. And it really, really cleans. It’s the absolute best cleanser I can recommend for oily to evenly-balanced skin. The oil-fighting comes from the cleanser’s main ingredient, activated charcoal, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s drying. That’s because the formula’s grounded in aloe and a tiny amount of a few kinds of oils. It also has propolis, the ultimate overachiever in skincare—moisturizes, soothes, slows down oil production. If anything, it’s a cleanser that takes care of my skin as thoughtfully as a serum. Who’da thunk?
Lipstick stresses me out. I can wear it on my own fine, but my mind goes into instant panic mode the minute I start to talk to someone in person. Too many potential hazards to worry about—flakes, uneven application, an errant smudge of pigment that migrates to my teeth. The only thing that deflates my lipstick paranoia is Generation G. The buildability factor is its strongest pull—one swipe for a sheer lip, two for medium coverage, three or more for when I want to show off. And then there’s the finish. Honestly, there’s nothing else like it and I’m not saying that just because the folks who made it are within eyeview. Technically it’s matte, but it’s not “accentuate every line on your lips" matte and more like “looks like a cream without feeling creamy” matte. Does that make sense? I hardly understand it either, all I know is Zip is the only red I’ve worn that didn’t sound my self-conscious alarm, and Cake is the nude I swipe on as frequently (and easily) as Chapstick.
A comb “engineered” with superior teeth technology is really asking me to make fun of it. What kind of comb needs to be engineered in the first place? I’m no design genius and even I know that a comb is just a little more than, hmm... An elegant stick? That’s all to say I didn’t really take this comb seriously at first. There’s only so much you can do with cutting-edge teeth construction and revolutionary detangling tech. But almost a year later I am positive that this is the best comb I have ever owned. For one it’s still fully intact, which is already better than what I can say about my other combs that need to pay a visit to the comb dentist. The trick is that the teeth are flexible yet strong. Flexible so that they bend slightly when confronted with tangles, working with the knots instead of charging through and breaking off hair. But strong in that they don’t snap off while detangling. The teeth are also the perfect distance apart—any closer they’d ruin my curls, and any further away they wouldn’t comb very well. In the time of our lord Beyoncé it is absurd to think we're still improving combs, and yet here I am telling you just that.
No shade to Surratt Beauty, who always knows how to keep ‘em coming with the good stuff, but this is less like a foundation and more like the best tinted moisturizer you’ll ever try. Well, except that it doesn’t exactly moisturize, it’s just sheer, OK? It does to my face what Essie’s Ballet Slippers does to nails—smooths things over, doesn’t distract, looks like I’m wearing nothing at all (which is very different from looking bare-faced). It also feels like I’m wearing nothing—it’s extremely lightweight. But what I love most requires me to admit something that’s slightly embarrassing. Lately I’ve been really bad about washing my face at night, and oftentimes I go to bed wearing makeup. (Save your judgement for another time!) The good news is that my face hasn’t erupted in zits, and don’t you just love a foundation that plays well with your lifestyle, not the other way around?
Let 2019 be known as the year of new holy grail cleansers. Mary Allan on the face, and Bathing Culture for everywhere else. Glossier’s copy director told me about this wash over the summer, and then suddenly it was everywhere! I’ll be the first to tell you that it lives up to the hype. The ingredient list is short and simple, filled with all the stuff that would make you think it’s an oil wash—coconut oil, olive oil, sunflower oil, shea butter and aloe—but it’s not an oil wash, it’s more viscous than that. No need to worry about the delicate balancing act of making sure the formula lands on your body instead of the shower floor. Somehow it still lathers, and the smell, oooh. An incense-like aroma that’s subtle and not granola. All organic, all vegan, all cruelty-free, all good.
Curious what did make the cut? Here's this year's Top 25.
Photo via ITG.