*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, you’ll find a few running themes: there are 2 Victoria Beckham products, 4 products under 20 bucks, and at least 3 holy grails. From a mascara that hits every lash, to a serum that brings down mystery zits fast, to a sunscreen that you can pile on, find your next ultra satisfying purchase below. *
I... found my holy grail mascara this month: Victoria Beckham Future Lash. I love a really natural mascara that lengthens, defines, and separates my lashes. The goal is baby lashes: fluttery and soft. And I don't want to have to use a makeup remover or makeup wipe to take it off. In the past I've loved using Lash Slick and Covergirl Clump Crusher, but Kackie’s Youtube video reviewing the best tubing mascaras sold me on trying something new. She deemed Victoria Beckham’s the best middle ground between volumizing and lengthening. The tube is glass, heavy, and luxe, and the brush itself is very small, thin, rounded, and precise: literally my dream applicator. The formula is black and matte, and, obviously, it’s tubing. All I have to do is apply warm water, and the lash tubes literally glide right off still in their pointy lash shapes. It will definitely flake if you rub your eyes, because the tubes break up, but if i don't touch my eyes I completely forget it’s there. But it builds if you want to, is really lengthening, is slightly volumizing. 10/10.
—Sam Sonntag, Senior Design Manager
They say the eyes are the windows of the soul. If that’s the case, I want those babies bright and well lit! After the devastation of learning my favorite eye cream was being discontinued, I was on the hunt for the next best thing. That’s how I discovered The Inkey List’s Brighten-i Eye Cream. Standing in the Sephora, I was intrigued not only by the price ($10, it’s a steal y’all) but also the unique ingredient callouts. It combines skincare (an ingredient called Brightenyl that’s apparently four times more potent than Vitamin C) and cosmetic (microscopic peachy pearlescent pigments) components to target dark circles and brighten the under-eye area. I’ve been using it for about three weeks, and can literally see the difference in my undereye area. it’s just the best lightweight brightening eye cream! Plus it’s vegan, geared for all skin types, and comes with a metal applicator that glides on perfectly. What started as curiosity is now a guaranteed repurchase.
—Berto Morales-Brown, gTeam Editor
I'm a big fan of Japanese sunscreens, and more specifically Rohto’s. I’ve tried a lot of them before (they're all great) but last time I was at oo35mm in Chinatown I picked up The Skin Aqua UV Super Moisture Essence Gold SPF 50+. It checked all my boxes: powerful UV filters (the ones you can’t find in the USA), high UVA/B protection, no added fragrance, with a non-drying, non-greasy finish. It’s a dreamy lotion-gel that spreads easily and, despite a little alcohol in the formula, doesn’t dehydrate my oily, acne-prone skin. Actually, feels hydrating—it leaves a lightweight sheen that helps me embrace a little glow. I can apply it liberally, as all sunscreens should be applied, using the two-finger rule because it leaves no white cast on my medium skin tone and costs less than $15. Seriously, it’s a great bang for your buck—I can even cut the tube open to get all the product out once it’s nearing its end. It’s the first chemical sunscreen I’ve tried that doesn’t irritate my eyes. Moving forward, I will always have a backup bottle on my top shelf.
—Tiffany Pham, Analyst, Global Supply Management
Lightweight facial oils are the workhorse of transitional skincare. The weather in New York has been a mixed bag, but an oil? Good for all of it. On t-shirt days I’ll press it into damp skin for a sheer sheen of moisture; if I’m layering a sweater and soft blazer on my body, I’ll layer my oil on top of a cream for extra insulation on my face. The one I’ve been returning to over and over lately is this one, from Le Prunier. Mostly because it’s so neutral. Every other oil I have right now has some active element (enzymes, retinoids, bakuchiol) which is cool but less versatile. What is inside is plum seed oil. Nothing else! It’s naturally high in protective antioxidants, and even though it’s full of nourishing fatty acids, it also has a really low comedogenicity rating. (Read: it’s unlikely to clog your pores.) If anything, though, buy this oil because it smells like straight up marzipan. Did you know plums and almonds are closely related? Each time I apply, I make sure to take a long, calming inhale in my palms. Maybe that’s the reason I’ve figured out how to work it into my routine so often.
Neutrogena's Rapid Clear Stubborn Acne Spot Gel took two hours to get rid of a bout of cystic acne I'd been dealing with for months. Seriously. Months! These nightmare pimples dominated my summer: I tried everything, including steroid shots from my dermatologist, and nothing worked to bring them down. A week ago I bought this tube from my local pharmacy in total desperation. The maximum strength packaging had “stubborn acne” written on it and promised to “reduce size and redness in just 2 hours”. But even though we’re talking 10-percent benzoyl peroxide here, it doesn’t feel like a max strength acne gel at all. It’s creamy and soothing, and the 1oz squeeze tube has so much more product than you’ll ever need. I applied a thin layer (anything more than that is too drying and/or results in a white crustiness that’s difficult to rub off) and waited. I have NO IDEA why this worked and other products didn’t. None. I have stared at the ingredients over and over again trying to figure it out, and honestly just think Neutrogena may have made a deal with the devil. After two applications, I looked in the mirror expecting to see more acne and I saw my skin again instead. I cried.
—Melodie Bonnano, gTeam Editor
Ouai x Byredo's latest collab is as fantastic as I expected. Technically you’re purchasing Byredo's iconic Mojave Ghost fragrance for 26 bucks. A mega steal! Though this sandalwood-scented leave-in is more than just a pretty face. I'm picky about products, constantly reading ingredients, and I was hesitant to swap Ouai’s into my well-established hair routine. (I’m a loyalist!) Unlike the leave-in conditioners I’d been using in my (2c/3a) curly hair, this one comes in a spray bottle, which... actually makes styling easier. I spray all over, then use a detangling flexi brush for better distribution. It’s also SLS/SLES and cruelty-free, and contains vitamin E, which leaves my hair soft and manageable. And I've been getting so many compliments! This is the best leave-in conditioner for those who care about scent AND style.
—Adamarie Laboy, UX Researcher
I love a facial mist in the middle of the workday. After a long stretch of meetings, I’ll reset with a little spritz and feel ready to go again. Am I saying I've found bugs in my code because I took a second to spray my face and take a breath? I'm not not saying that! My current favorite is the Youth to the People Adaptogen Soothe + Hydrate Activated Mist. I have sensitive skin, so I love that this spray is gentle and includes soothing ingredients to reduce redness. But it’s also powerful in that it gives me real hydration from the shea butter and hyaluronic acid. It’s honestly amazing that they pack that stuff in, because the mist itself is super fine and settles really gently on my skin. I love it! In fact, I think it’s about time for another spray right now!
—Courtney Bohrer, Senior Engineer
Against all odds, it’s been a banner year for lip products. My latest obsession is this gloss from Victoria Beckham Beauty. There are two kinds of glosses in my book—cushiony, thick-as-nail-gels glosses, and thin, super glossy, lip oil-adjacent ones. VB’s sits in the latter camp, although I’m partial to either kind, depending on the day. The thing about Posh Gloss is that it’s perfect in every way. It’s not sticky at all, instead feeling more balm-like than anything. But you wouldn’t know it by the way it wears—glassy, crystal clear, ultra glossy shine. It’s also super comfortable and everything I would love in a gloss anyway, but somehow better. If VB doesn’t come back with a few tint variations of this gloss, I will riot.
—Ashley Weatherford, Senior Editor
I’m queen of the frizz, as evidenced by the crown of two-to-three inch broken hairs that sits atop my head. The situation is this: 2b waves in some places, 3a curls in others, very fine and tangly all over. Curly products I’ve tried in the past have weighed my hair down or mysteriously stopped working after a month (my research tells me this might be due to silicones creating a coating on curls that makes them feel soft, but doesn’t actually let moisture in). I’ve never been loyal to a shampoo and conditioner before, but I’m happy to report that I’ve officially made my first repurchase of Bread Beauty’s Hair Wash (they call it a co-wash meats gentle cleanser) and Hair Mask (I use it as conditioner in the shower). They’re both silicone-free and sulfate-free, the shampoo lathers the slightest bit and smells like fruit loops, the conditioner has the texture of thick buttercream icing and smells like bread. It’s packaged in a piping bag-type thing that really makes you feel like you’re decorating your head like a cake, and sometimes I slick my hair back into a bun and sneakily wear it all day.
—Amanda Keffer, Senior Copywriter
Photo via ITG