Our Favorite Products: February 2020 Edition


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 and anthropomorphized before we have the opportunity to get sick of them and move on to something new. This month, our favorite products are a little slippery: you might think they're one thing, but they turn out to be another. Like a blush that's also a lipstick. Or a sunscreen that's also a primer. With so much going on in February, it was nice to streamline.

The Cutest Lip Stain Ever

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The whole idea with a lip stain is that you throw it on and your lips stay, er, stained all day. But this K-beauty tint (the catch-all term for Korean lip products that aren't traditional lipsticks) is so cute, you'll want to keep it in your bag, pocket, clutched fist, etc. just to play show and tell. The show: from fake French winery Chateau Labiotte comes a teeny tiny wine bottle that's a favorite of American Girl dolls aged 21 and over. The tell: once you twist off the cap, you're met with a doe-foot applicator and a silky stain that's easy to blend and doesn't taste bitter or feel drying. Merlot Burgundy is the best shade, because although it looks purple-y pink online, in real life it's more of a sophisticated sheer brick. If the packaging didn't sell you, the wear will. —Ali Oshinsky

An Old Favorite That Still Beats Out The New Crowd

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Coconut oil? Yes, coconut oil. Hear me out. When it comes to slapping it on your face I say run for the hills—breakout city. But your hair is not your skin, and therefore a totally different story. Intellectually I know this, but I was recently given some empirical evidence a week ago as I was taking out my braids. I had jumbo braids, which aren’t the hardest braids to unravel, but they still take at least one episode of Love Is Blind to get through. Knots and tangles make the process even longer, but only if you don’t have the proper detangling equipment on hand. I thought I’d forgotten this key product, but then I remembered, ‘oh yeah, I have coconut oil.’ A little bit rubbed on top of a knot is like waving a magic wand over a tangled necklace: the chaos is removed and you’re left with a smooth, unobstructed chunk of hair. It greases strands like WD-40 slicks up a stubborn keyhole. And it also conditions so much. When I got done with my braids I put a little more coconut oil in my hair and left it that way for a few more hours. Then I shampooed and conditioned as normal, but my hair felt like it had undergone something a bit more, like a deep conditioning hair mask. It was all because of the coconut oil I had put on before, which stopped my hair from drying out when I shampooed, and went on to support my conditioner’s efforts even more. I can’t believe I stopped using this? Madness, I say. —Ashley Weatherford

An Uncomplicated Eyeshadow

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My approach to eyeshadow is: no biggie. I choose a single shade, swipe it over my lids, and go on with my life. The shades themselves may vary, but the technique is always the same, and the eyeshadows I return to are the ones I often forget are there until someone else reminds me. But I like them because they stay put, they don’t crease in the hood of my eyes, and they keep their pigment. In my time working in beauty, I can’t say that many powder eyeshadows consistently hit all those marks, which is why I’m so taken by Glossier’s Skywash. Its brick-y, terracotta shade is one of my favorite makeup shades across categories because it’s neutral enough. I’ve been a years-long fan of Loreal’s Colour Riche Eyeshadow in Acro-Matte for this very reason—but it’s in a crumbled state and I’m ready for an uncomplicated eyeshadow. Skywash is doing it for me! —Utibe Mbagwu

A Multipurpose Product That Doesn't Sacrifice Performance

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Love a multipurpose product. Less stuff to take up space in my bathroom, or my bag. But a lot of them are only available in pots, and the germaphobe in me is against sticking my finger in something that will make its way to my mouth. And then there’s the matter of color payoff, and I find that a lot of multipurpose products fall short of this too. So it’s with great pleasure that I tell you Ilia’s Color Haze is kind of the perfect 2-in-1 find. It’s not crazy expensive, the colors are pretty, and the color payoff is high. On my lips it dries to a stain, and on my cheeks the color looks natural and baked in. I’m a big fan of Before Today and Waking Up, two nudes with a side of pink. The tube’s angled metal tip makes it easier to apply and the cooling effect is fun, I guess? Not sure, but the colors, man. You’re going to love. —AW

A Sunscreen You Can Trick Yourself Into Thinking Is A Primer

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Wearing sunscreen under makeup (which, you should!) is tricky. If I choose one too chalky, I'll get a gray cast. If the formula's wrong, it'll start to pill once I try to blend in my foundation. If I choose one too matte, my face will feel increasingly crepe-y as the day progresses, and my makep will settle into those lines. But I’m happy to report that Dr. Loretta’s version has helped my goal to make sunscreen a 365-days-a-year commitment a lot easier. No matter what I layer with, there are no pills, no gray cast, and always a hydrated finish. It’s not a pure mineral sunscreen (in fact, it’s a chemical-mineral combination) which I'm fine with. Especially when it's also chock full of antioxidants that could potentially protect skin from the adverse effects of living in a city like New York—a lot of blue light exposure, and a lot of pollution. But let's be real, I use it for the finish. —UM

A Cleanser That Ticks All The Boxes

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I have strong feelings about what I want a cleanser to do (clean without stripping, mainly) but there are lots of simple cleansers that get the job done, and I'm not passionate about any of them. It wasn't until three months into using the oil cleanser from Wonder Valley that I realized I was giving one cleanser in my stash preferential treatment. The brand is better known for making olive oil, so it makes sense that oilve oil made its way into the cleanser's ingredient list. But I'm more stuck on its enigmatically perfect texture: it comes out of a pump, feels like you mixed a shower gel 50-50 with honey, emulsifies into a milk when you add water, and leaves my skin just as smooth as a traditional oil cleanser. Plus, there's a TON of it—like I said, I've had the bottle since December, and even with regular use I haven't even hit the halfway mark. If you're a foaming gel user who, deep down, knows they should probably be using something less stripping, hello! This was made for you. —AO

Photos via ITG