Our Favorite Products: May 2021 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, photographed, and anthropomorphized before we have the opportunity to get sick of them and move on to something new. This month, we’re… wait, can we just sit down and take a break really quickly? Maybe have a drink of water? Stick our heads in the fridge for a sec? It is hot! At least in New York. Luckily, we’ve altered our routines in anticipation of the heat and all the unideal rashy, bumpy, cloggy skin conditions that come with spiking temperatures. Find that thing you've maybe been looking for too? Below.

A Serum That Absorbed Its Twin In The Womb

“Layering products, I’ve come to believe, is a hoax. I know the whole adage is lightest to thickest so that the thinnest ingredients can permeate (or whatever) before you go onto your heavier moisturizers and whatnot. But after many quarantined months of going HAM on skincare products and not seeing...any results, I’ve finally come around to less is more. You get a serum and a moisturizer and that’s it! Sorry I don’t make the rules! The only problem is that sometimes it is very hard to choose WHICH serum makes it onto my face each night (now that it’s not all of them at once). The kind folks over at Skinceuticals have since released a very convenient twofer serum that incorporates both salicylic acid and vitamin C (oil-free, bless) into one superpower step that handles my clogged pores and skin tone clarity without layering. The classic hot dog water smell is still there but after a long hiatus from it…I think I kind of like it? It is summer, after all.”
—Emily Ferber

A Peel That Erases Bad Habits

“I’ve been cheating left and right on my skincare routine since the start of the pandemic. And since I’ve been a lot less regimented with my daily acids and niacinamide use, there’s a lot less room for error and my skin churns up pimples at record speed. But no one can actually see that I’ve been slipping because, without fail, my Paula’s Choice peel always (and instantly) clears me up. It’s like that memory eraser device from Men in Black, essentially erasing days of erratic skincare use. And it should! Inside is the power couple of exfoliants working in concert with one another: 25-percent AHA to smooth and clear up the top of my skin, and 2-percent salicylic acid to dip deeper and clear out my pores. Definitely my reactive ‘oh shit I need to fix this’ solution instead of a proactive, ‘let me set my skin up for success’ solve. I’m cool with that.”
—Ashley Weatherford

A Tasteful Body Shimmer

"I used to always steer away from any kind of body shimmers at the fear of looking like Edward Cullen in sunlight. But after spending last summer indoors, this summer I am fully leaning into every sort of gloss/shimmer/shine I can get my hands on to feel alive. (A major difference between me and Mr. Cullen, I suppose.) Recently, I'm getting a lot of joy from this Summer Fridays Pool Time Glowing Body Oil. It’s hydrating without being too sticky, shimmery without glaring shine, and easy to blend without leaving any leftover residue on my hands. (I can have nice towels again!) You might even say it's like a vampire with a heart of gold: unexpected, but a fan-favorite."
—Bianca Garcia

An SPF That Thinks Redness Should Be Canceled

“After I got Fraxel, I remember telling people that my skin looked more… opaque. Which is not quite the right word, because I wasn’t walking around with the face of a barreleye fish before. I just didn’t really know how to articulate what I was seeing, or rather, what I wasn’t. Because I couldn’t see the natural flush of my cheeks or the patches of lingering irritation where I’d broken out three weeks ago, I was perceiving the change in my skin as greater opacity. [Insert shrug emoji here.] And every time I use Dr. Jart’s Cicapair color corrector, I feel exactly how I did a week after a Fraxel session. The disappearing green pigments cancel out any ruddiness and tones down the redness of errant healing zits without actually adding coverage. (Like, it doesn’t do anything for my teeny freckles or shadowed undereyes. And you know how sometimes putting on base makeup makes you want to add blush and bronzer for more life and dimension? I never struggle with that wearing only color corrector.) In fact, I don’t see a need for tinted moisturizer at all now that I found this. I can’t believe I was late to the Cicapair game.”
—Ali Oshinsky

A Hands-Free Whole Body Treatment

“I come from a family of sweat-ers. My dad, brother, sisters, all of us are always ready to perspire at even a hint of humidity in the air. I sweat the most on my back and chest, which unfortunately means I sometimes break out in those areas. I thought I’d mostly made my peace with this, but then a few things happened that made me need to find a solution. 1) Sweat season. The weather in NYC is positively steamy, currently a too-hot-to-wear-anything 90 degrees, at 95-percent humidity. And 2) as the brilliant writer Mary H.K. Choi recently tweeted: “Who else is delighted to discover that they want to dress sluttier than they have in years?” UM, YES. After over a year of throwing on oversized sweats and comfy tees, I am also now gripped with the overwhelming urge to wear the skimpiest, shortest, strappiest clothes that I can get away with, bacne be damned. So I did some research, decided to try Paula’s Choice Clear Acne Body Spray, and after a couple of weeks of use...it’s actually working. It’s got 2-percent salicylic acid, which seems to hit the sweet spot of being effective at clearing breakouts without making my skin feel irritated or itchy. The spray bottle also makes it super easy to use—I just spritz it on post shower where I need to and let it dry while I do my hair and makeup. Now bring on all the tiny tanks, low-cut sundresses, and backless tops! Hot vax summer!!”
—Leaya Lee

A Teen-Friendly Toner For Sensitive Adults

“Retinoids and exfoliating acids do the same thing. But… they don’t really do the same thing, you know? No? Well well, let me back up! Imagine a conveyor belt that brings new skin cells to the surface, and then imagine pressing the “faster” button a couple times—that’s retinoids. Acids, on the other hand, dissolve dead skin and grime from the top down, like you’re removing a stain on a wooden table. That key difference is why you’re totally cool to use retinoids and acids together in your routine. The catch is, both tend to be drying. I’ve been using .025-percent tretinoin cream every night for a couple months now, and the oily roughness around my nose and chin was telling me I could bring an acid back into the fold. The Heroine toner from PSA Skin, Gen-Z little sister brand to Allies of Skin, seemed like a good place to start: it uses lactic and mandelic acids (two gentle AHAs, the latter of which also has antibacterial properties), and tons of hydrating, soothing stuff too. Which is probably why it feels more like an essence—dewy, a little tacky, and not particularly tingly. A couple weeks after working this stuff into my routine my boyfriend commented that my skin looked, quite possibly, the most glowy it ever has. A retinoid and acid success story if there ever was one.”

Shop all our May 2021 Monthly Favorites:

Photo via ITG