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. This month we entered summer, although it… didn't really feel like it all the time. Still, as they do every year, our moisturizers got lighter and our scents got brighter, and we once again took our battle stances against itchy, sweaty scalps. It sure feels like summer in our bathrooms! Here are the products that led the charge.
“My skin went haywire in June. Sticking with zit metaphors, the stress of the previous few weeks had come to a head—it was showing on my face. For the first time in so long I got under-the-skin cysts! Among other things. I wanted them to stop, but even though I knew all the things I should and shouldn’t be doing, it just felt out of my control. Anyway, then Krave’s Great Barrier Relief came into my life, and it was almost like that feeling of serendipitously making a new friend just when you really need one. The creamy green serum said there, there to my struggling skin, or more specifically my moisture barrier, which I didn’t even realize was in need of support! It just goes to show that yes, even in the summer, even when you’re not assaulting your face with AHAs, BHAs, and scrubs, a strong moisture barrier makes the difference for happier skin. Inside the bottle, you’ll find ceramides, NMF, a plant-based cholesterol alternative, squalane, rosehip oil...but no added fragrance (that means no essential oils too), even though it smells like maple brown sugar oatmeal. Essentially, my skin has coping skills now, and we are both feeling A LOT better.” —Ali Oshinsky
“After taking down my box braids, my next step is always to restore my sensitive scalp and parched strands to their former glory. That means throwing as much hydration into my hair routine as possible: a moisturizing deep conditioner, a jelly leave-in conditioner, and a spray bottle full of water to spritz whenever I need it. But to set myself up for success, I also need a shampoo that cleanses without stripping my hair. I reached for Venn’s Synbiotic Polyamine Shampoo purely because of its ingredient list. Stocked with conditioning antioxidants, it checked all the boxes for setting up a deeply nourishing cleanse. But days after I used it, I noticed a difference in how comfortable my scalp felt. I didn’t find the soft, sensitive to touch areas I usually feel on my scalp post-braids. And I didn’t need to apply a hair oil to my scalp to prevent itchiness...there just wasn’t any. That’s likely because of the shampoo’s microbiome balancing qualities. With a low pH and a bunch of naturally occurring probiotics and prebiotics, I sense it’s working overtime to keep my scalp from going haywire.” —Utibe Mbagwu
“I've got a lot of pet peeves in skincare, and aside from the stuff that breaks me out, products that leave me sticky and shiny also fall high on that list. Beyond the fact that a gluey serum is straight up uncomfortable, I hate to exacerbate the look of my five-head. But a girl's got to moisturize, and in the summer months I prefer to do so with a serum in lieu of a cream. Lately that's been Klur's Immersion Serum Concentrate for me—it's filled with all the good stuff. Leading the list is soothing green tea water and aloe, followed by hydrator-extraordinaire hyaluronic acid, and then pore-clearing niacinamide. In fact, if you've got oily skin in general, I'd call this the perfect summer moisturizer that isn't a cream. It dries immediately to a skin-finish that feels like nothing? But it's doing something, because my skin looks damn good. Smooth, plump, and glowy (oh yeah, it's got vitamin C too). To boot it's organic and fragrance-free, and the amber Boston round bottle is a cabinet showstopper for sure.” —Ashley Weatherford
“Liha’s Idan Oil is made through a process called enfleurage. It works like this: flowers are submerged in an odorless fat until their natural fragrance oils completely dissolve into it. You remove the flowers, and repeat the process until you have a highly fragranced oil mixture. Liha’s enfleurage oil uses coconut oil, which isn’t quite odorless, to capture the fragrance of tuberose. Its headiness mingles with the oil's milky, tropical base to create something that smells almost exactly like a hot summer twilight. You know that smell—you’re covered in a day’s worth of sunscreen just as the sun is setting, walking down a street lined with blooming bushes headed back (to your car? your apartment?) from someplace great. Because it solidifies in my air conditioned bathroom, I need to run the bottle under hot water to make it usable—but the hot water also makes the oil hot, so every time I use it it’s like a hot oil massage. It’s lovely to use, lovely to wear, and lovely when I’m softer from head to toe days later.” —AO
“Along with curl pattern, porosity, and length, here's another way to talk curly hair: days. If you have curly hair, you know… Day one post-wash is not the same as day two, or day three or four. It's around the day three or four mark when my curls get really poofy. Before Living Proof's Instant De-frizzer came into my life I might have re-wet my curls and applied a leave-in, or maybe worked in a quick co-wash, but all of that takes time! And I'd just rather not. So there's this guy...which is considered a 'dry conditioner,' whatever that means. It's kind of like the lightest oil imaginable, dispersed through an aerosol so only the smallest amount lands on your hair. What this does is smooth everything without drenching and weighing my hair down. I spray, smooth my curls with my hands, and then the strands that had separated into a frizzy cluster are now glossy and slick once more. It tacks on at least half a week until I need to run my hair under the shower again, especially if I use it a few times—once every other day. I'm not saying this spray moves mountains or anything, but four more days where I don't have to worry about washing, detangling, moisturizing, and preserving what's happening on top of my head? Worth its weight in gold.” —AW
“The thing with vitamin C serums is that I rarely use them long enough to see them work. I’ll find a promising one, go steady with it for two weeks, and then without fail, discover tiny bumps on my cheeks—a sure sign of dermatitis and a cry for help from my sensitized skin. But it’s sunscreen season, and as I’ve gotten into mineral ones, I wanted to find a vitamin C serum that would pair nicely to maximize the UV protection. Hyper Clear has given me a seamless vitamin C serum experience: the serum comes in a pump for starters, so there’s less chance of surprise oxidization (one of the top five worst feelings in the world by far). And its lightweight gel format settles into my skin without stickiness. I haven’t given a second thought to skincare pilling while using it, which is a great feat considering how long and sticky the days can be. But best of all, I’ve seen improvement in the overall radiance of my skin—everything I want, and nothing less.” —UM
Photos via ITG