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're feeling sensitive, lazy, and yet... a little opulent? Half a year of staying homebound and our routines have taken on the unique dual tasks of keeping our skin clear and our moods buoyant. Success is easier hoped for than done! Here are the products that did it.
“Nowadays, everyone wants to be able to say they’re a multi-hyphenate. Even your beauty products! But the facts are the facts, and just because you can use something on your eyes, lips, and cheeks doesn’t mean it’s necessarily been made to perform on all three areas. (Shades that work as shadow and blush tend to read chalky on lips, waxy creams meant to stay put on lids don’t blend well on cheeks, and juicy glosses feel sticky when used across the face. Plus, is anyone else concerned about cross-contamination via lipstick tube?) However, Rituel de Fille’s Color Nectar Pigment Balm is special, a true triple threat with a lightweight, sheer-yet-bright formula that reminds me of watercolor paint. And so joyful! My favorite way to use them is three at a time, draping warm, cheerful sunrises across my lids and cheekbones—but if you’re only going to buy one, the versatilists should go for Bloodflower, a cherry glaze that’s good all over (when I'm not going out, I like to buff it down from the apples of my cheeks to my jawline for a Marie Antoinette-esque flush) and those looking for something truly unique should try Wasp, a wearable yellow that instantly brightens my blue eyes and reads as shiny, not shimmery, gold on darker skin tones.” —Ali Oshinsky
"Before Differin made a splash in drugstores everywhere by offering derm-grade retinol over the counter, there was Clean & Clear doing the lord’s work with prescription-strength benzoyl peroxide. I picked this Persa 10 Gel up for $8 a month ago because I was willing to do anything to quell the surge of breakouts still plaguing my forehead (what is it about quarantine that made all my skincare stop working the way it’s supposed to?). Now, for papule acne, BP hits different. It might not be for everyone, but if you’re not too sensitive to the ingredient, it’ll kill the acne infection stone cold dead. Which is particularly helpful if you suspect your breakout is jumping from pore to pore and not letting up any time soon. And for $8! I mean, who can say no? Use sparingly and it won’t let you down." —Emily Ferber
“I’ve never been much of a manicure person, likely because I wasn’t allowed to get them until I turned 18, and by then the allure had mostly waned away. But when I do decide to wear nail polish, the colors I choose are often garish—canary yellows, orange-reds—as if to declare to the world, ‘Yes I am wearing nail polish, and what about it?’ It’s all fun and games until a week and a half passes, and my nails, once full and vibrant with color, are covered in specks of polish past. They’ll stay there for days until I diligently chip away the rest or work up the nerve to remove them á la acetone, which rarely happens. These days, my nail polish shame has been averted with Smith and Cult’s Glass Souls, a chunky, shimmery silver nail polish. It hits the glitter polish sweet spot with a mix of big, small, and mid-sized sparkles that cover the nail, but don’t pile on top of each other. Its clear base makes my nails look natural enough, until the sun hits and illuminates a lip gloss effect. What I love the most, though, is that the polish can chip and still look good. There’s no rush to touch up, and no need to hide the shimmer that remains.” —Utibe Mbagwu
“I have my guard up against every new lotion or potion because things my skin was once fine with it’s now, evidently, not. Case in point: two weeks ago I reacted poorly to something (Was it my failed reintroduction of P50? A few drops of facial self tanner?) and my face erupted in small red bumps. After the reaction calmed, I was left with red and brown-ish dots I knew wouldn’t resolve themselves quite as quickly. Which is why I reached for this gel from Topicals, a new brand that offers high-powered solutions specifically for sensitized skin, to help speed up the fading process. Its ingredient list reads like a who’s who of brightening (tranexamic, kojic, and azelaic acids, arbutin, and niacinamide all make appearances). But I was hopeful the buffer of balmy lipids and soothing centella could strike a deal with my skin—we won’t irritate you further, and you’ll clear up on schedule. Not only did my skin react wonderfully to it, I also noticed a visible difference in my spots from just one overnight use. Four days in, and everything I wanted to fade is gone. I won’t be using this as an everyday treatment, but for short bursts of targeted brightening, it’s my new ol’ reliable.” —AO
“I’ve been on the hunt for a darker fragrance that’s not super cloying all summer. Something mysterious that warms up to heat, that’s sensual enough to make Pat McGrath proud. Not too woody or smoky—that can be too overpowering when you’re just sitting alone on your couch and the AC isn’t cooperating. Leather drew me in because of the name: no-frills, like those oddly specific Demeter fragrances, with the promise of an approachable edginess. Once I spray it, the fragrance settles in a spicy way, but it’s definitely herbal and verdant, which keeps it smelling clean. It’s a scent I’d want to apply in body lotion form post-shower on vacation in… any location at this point in my summer of sheltering in place. Smells luxurious, but in the easiest way possible.” —UM
"Even though a good face oil never lets me down, I haven’t always been the most faithful follower. Perhaps some Freudian explanation will give us some insight, but until that analysis is written, all I’ll say is this: Lesse Ritual Serum has brought peace back to my evening routine. The small brand only makes three products, all organically inclined, simple on the ingredient lists, and geared toward sensitive and temperamental skin. The Ritual Serum is indeed a face oil and two drops dutifully warmed in the palms and PRESSED, never rubbed, into the face brings balance to my skin's oil production come morning. Yes, even when used over moisturizer. Double yes, even when used in the summer. Face oil, we don’t deserve you—but we are so very lucky to have you." —EF
Photos via ITG