Our Favorite Products: February 2021 Edition


Glossier HQ is closed, which is the current reason team ITG’s desks are so quiet and person-less. But even when the office was hustlin’ and bustlin’, it was unlikely you’d find any of us sitting in our assigned seats. Somewhere between 10AM and the rest of the day, we’d all migrate into the beauty closet to slam on our laptops, open jars, pump pumps, and talk out our gripes and successes with the products we’ve been trying. After a full year away from each other, we’ve really come to miss that! So for this installment of Monthly Favorites, we decided to try something new. With less spontaneity but just as much fun, we all hopped on Zoom to catch each other up on our latest can’t live withouts. Below, a transcription of the ensuing conversation:

Ashley Weatherford, Senior Editor: All right. Let’s start this thing. Something I’ve been loving recently is this Paula’s Choice 20% Niacinamide Treatment.

Ali Oshinsky, Associate Editor: What do you like about it?

AW: Well, I've tried other niacinamides, and I never thought I’d ever consider this ingredient a holy grail. But most other serums have 5 or 10% niacinamide, and this one has 20.

Emily Ferber, Editor-at-Large: Hang on... Ali, aren’t you the one who told me you don’t need that much niacinamide?

AO: Oh, you definitely don’t. I’m pretty sure it’s been clinically tested to be effective at 3%.

AW: But my philosophy with this stuff is, honestly, bring it on. If I see a big percentage, I assume that product is medical-grade. And I just finally feel like I am experiencing the amazing results that I've read about niacinamide for the past two years. Particularly, I think that my pores look a lot smaller, even though I know the niacinamide is not literally making them smaller. My skin just feels like a smoother canvas overall. I also have just been really lax on my skincare over the past month, and falling asleep in my makeup…

EF: For the readers at home, my draw has dropped. I’m asking to see birthmarks. I do not trust that this is the Ashley Weatherford I have known and loved for seven years.

AW: Well, it started when I went on vacation earlier this month.

AO: To clarify, the vacation that was just you taking time off and sitting at home.

AW: Yes! That’s why I had time to do a full face! I’ve been putting on Make Up For Ever foundation, and sometimes I don’t feel like washing my face, and this Paula’s Choice stuff has been saving me from actually looking like I’m being horrible to my skin. Highly recommend.

EF: All right Ashley, what else have you been liking?

AW: You know I love my foot peels. That was another vacation activity. I’ve been doing Baby Foot forever, and I wanted to try something new so I used this one from Starskin. I will say, with Babyfoot the skin comes off in chunks, and with the Starskin it comes off in smaller flakes. Which I think is better.

AO: Is the process the same as Babyfoot too?

AW: Yeah. You get the little plastic socks with the acid inside. They’re a little more structurally sound than Babyfoot—with the Babyfoot the socks are super big and you have to tie around your ankles to keep them on. With this, I felt like I could walk around my apartment a little bit more safely, which is important because I also had to keep the bags on for longer than I would Babyfoot. It was really hard to walk around with Babyfoot on, and for that reason alone I feel like the Starskin is better.

Shop Ashley’s February favorites:

AO: Respectfully, I am trying to hold onto the calluses on my feet. I earned those calluses.

EF: I always say, for my feet, the rougher the better.

AW: Wait, what?

EF: It protects you from your shoes!

AO: I’m going next. Clara Leonard, a hairstylist ITG works with for a lot of shoots, cut like 10 inches off my hair last month. My products have really changed since. Now I don’t use conditioner at all anymore. I actually wanted to ask what you guys think about that. Some hairstylists, like Jon Reyman at Spoke & Weal, have told me I should never be using conditioner on my hair because it’s so fine and straight, and others say I should be using it if I want my hair to be healthy as it grows out.

EF: I don’t think there are any rules. As long as your hair isn’t falling out, you’re fine.

AO: OK. I appreciate the validation there, because I really wasn’t sure. Anyway, I have been back on my mousse game, which usually feels like enough moisture.

AW: I'm not a mousse person. What do you get from that?

AO: My hair is so straight that at this length, if I just use nothing, I end up looking a little Lord Farquaad-y. It’s also easy for a straight bob to look too cute—like, it naturally flips a bit and ends up looking very baby. So a mousse just makes my air dry a little cooler.

AW: Are there certain things you look for in a mousse? Like, are there ones that feel lighter, or more moisturizing?

AO: Well, right now I’m using the Air Dry Foam from Ouai, which is very light and airy. Most mousses are… creamier?

EF: It’s like full fat dairy versus two percent.

AW: I really don't understand mousse because, to me, mousse is drying.

EF: No, everything that Ali is doing is making sense. Because conditioners, in my opinion, are primarily for the detangle. Like, getting that slip back in your hair after you wash it.

AO: I never even brush my hair anymore. I can pretty much just comb it out with my fingers.

EF: If your hair doesn't feel brittle and you don't have an issue detangling, then mousse should be able to give you some of that slip and also a bit more volume, a bit more wave.

AO: Another thing that’s changed, and I really don’t know why these things are related so please let me know if you figure it out, is that with short hair, I like the way a cat eye looks on my face again. I’ve been using the Makeup by Mario liner to do it, which I’m kind of obsessed with.

AW: Why do you like it?

AO: Other felt tip liners I’ve used haven’t given me as much wiggle—like, they’re a little stiffer—and I think this one’s so good because it has an extra long tip. The tip is gigantic.

EF: Gosh, Ali, you’re killing us here.

AO: Ugh, I knew you were going to say that as the words were coming out of my mouth. I just don’t know how else to describe it! Basically the extra length gives me the flexibility I like in a brush tip, and also makes it easy to draw super straight, precise lines.

AW: I’m Googling this thing right now.

Shop Ali’s February favorites:

EF: I have a product I want to talk about and it is the Act + Acre shampoo.

AO: I think about Act + Acre’s ads all the time. Ashley showed them to me once, and they really are compelling.

AW: Have you seen them Emily? They basically show traditional hair products, which are thick, next to the Act + Acre formulas which are so nice and smooth and runny. And the bottom line is that one causes buildup and the other doesn’t.

EF: The shampoo really does rinse out easily, but that's not why I like it. To be honest, [Act + Acre founder] Helen Reavey is a dear, and there is something I’m really enjoying about using products that friends of mine make. It makes me feel closer to them. Obviously I can't always do it because some of my friends make products that don’t work for me. But this really does. Helen really gets how I want my hair to look.

AO: Which is?

EF: Not curly. I don't really have a lot of patience for hairstylists who want to talk to me about wearing my hair curly because I don't want to wear it that way. Now, it's not on the same level as the politics surrounding Black hair, but I do feel like there’s an open season on Jewish girls with curly hair to be like “You should love your curls!” I appreciate someone who gets that I like the way I wear my hair and doesn’t want to give me unsolicited advice.

AO: Ha! I have this argument with my roommate, who's a Jewish girl with curly hair, every other day. I want her to wear her hair curly and she just doesn’t like how it looks on her.

EF: Using that as a segue, I have coarse, dry hair, which makes me a good candidate for a more conditioning shampoo or a cleansing conditioner. But I don’t feel like conditioning shampoos really get my hair clean enough. I’ve always said that the right face cleanser leaves me feeling clean but still moisturized, and I feel like Act + Acre’s shampoo is the epitome of that for hair. I like that it still gives me a good lather, and I can tell that my I’ve gotten a good clean. But my hair feels like I co-washed it, which is good.

AW: It’s like the Milky Jelly of shampoo. Or like a Lait-U maybe?

EF: Right. It’s just never stripping. Another thing I do with this shampoo is I always wash my hair twice.

AO: Literally lather, rinse, repeat.

EF: Yes. That I learned from going to Drybar for so many years. No one had ever double cleansed my hair until I went to Drybar—they always ask you whether you want one or two shampoos, and I discovered my hair really needs two cleanses. It's not super long, but I have a lot of it.

AW: Do you use the Act + Acre conditioner too?

EF: No—I’m very loyal to my Davines conditioners. Love works really well, but I never liked the smell of it. Ali told me to use Momo, and that works almost as well and smells amazing. It’s kind of like a woody, creamy, sandalwood scent. It’s beautiful. It smells so good.

AO: I discovered it because I once stayed in a hotel that had it in the shower. I took all the little bottles home.

EF: My other product is Bioderma. Just my regular, pink capped Bioderma in a big bottle.

AO: How are you using it?

EF: I'm not cleansing in the morning, but I use the Bioderma to just refresh my skin before I put on creams for the day. And I also use it at night because I’ve gone oil free, and I still need something to take off my makeup and SPF.

AO: Bioderma is really so good at taking off makeup.

EF: There's a reason we were talking about Bioderma and only Bioderma for a decade. There are just things that work and can't be beat! Sometimes it is not about the new. Sometimes it is about the industry best. I am so sick of being so focused on new products.

Shop Emily’s February favorites:

AO: That feels like a perfect note to end on.

EF: This was so much fun.

AW: Let’s meet again to do it next month!

This conversation has been edited and condensed.

Photo via ITG.