Our Favorite Products: May 2020 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 getting harder, better, faster, stronger—with our routines, anyway. Gone are the days of getting used to quarantine! It’s been two months, and our home bathrooms are officially single-service spas replete with all the extras. From a mask that perfects the at-home facial, to a shortcut to luxe scent, to a hairbrush that defies all logic, here’s how we’ve been upgrading.

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“Here’s my issue with regular incense: there’s just too much of it. Well, too much for the four walls of my Brooklyn apartment at least. If I burn an entire stick in one sitting I’ll be trapped in a smoke cloud, and the ash tends to get everywhere, persnickety cleaning efforts be damned. So it was lucky for me that a few months ago, as he finally got to the last box from our move, my husband unearthed a packet of very cool matches—incense matches. Each one is like a microdose of incense, quickly filling our living room with a blast of fragrance, and then retreating before the scent or the smoke overwhelms. Our variety pack has scents like rain, coconut, patchouli, jasmine…15 in total, and I’ve begun to rotate them as part of my new evening routine. After dinner, when we’ve moved from the kitchen to the couch, I’ll turn on the TV and light a match. The scent cuts through the dinner smells and signals my brain to relax. In that regard it does the work my evening commute home would normally do, but it’s easier on my feet and smells a hell of a lot better.” —Ashley Weatherford

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“Now is the time, it seems, to really get into the groove of your at-home facial. Sink your teeth into it. Set aside a recurring day of the week—then set aside at least an hour during that day. Pick something soothing to listen to; may I suggest Community on Netflix? My routine has many steps and gadgets, but the cornerstone of the whole experience rests on this mask. It’s one of those serious-on-the-brink-of-too-serious products, where if you’re not careful, you could really overdo it. Which is why it’s so gosh-darn good. Salicylic acid plus fruit enzymes plus eco-friendly physical exfoliation team up to give you skin so smooth and so bright you’ll think you’re sheltering at home with your aesthetician. Afterwards, your products will sink in like they’ve never sunk in before. My very paste-like moisturizer of the moment was nearly gone (disappeared into my pores!) when I applied after a shower with this bad boy. It takes everything in my being not to use it more than once a week. With great power, they say…” —Emily Ferber

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“The more I wear this lip gloss, the more I realize a shiny lip is to me what wigs are to The Real Housewives of Atlanta, or what a glass of wine is to Sonja Morgan. It’s the quickest way for me to feel more like myself, and it never fails to lift my whole vibe up a notch. And because it makes my whole face look more alive, Glossier’s Lip Gloss in Holographic has been making quite the virtual impression. I’ve swiped it on for Zoom coffee dates, dotted it on my lips for FaceTime calls with my mom, and even caught myself applying it before a therapy sesh. It’s been nice to use offscreen too, on weekend evenings, while I’m cooking for one. It still leaves a smudge on my wine glass, and it still leaves my lips feeling cushioned and overall, comfy. Some things never change.” —Utibe Mbagwu

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“The story of the Manta brush is a nice one: when hairdresser Tim Binnington’s wife was recovering from chemotherapy treatment, he wished there was a brush gentle enough to handle her extra-fragile strands. The solution he came up with was this handle-free flexi-brush that looks and feels so different from everything I’ve ever encountered. First, it’s made of silicone—no hard back here, and actually, the brand recommends bending it back and forth when you get it to mold to the shape to your hand. It’s heat resistant up to 176 degrees Fahrenheit, unusual for a plastic brush. And the sensation of actually using the Manta is a little like saying ‘Go go gadget hairbrush’ and sprouting smooth spikes on your palm. It can move any way a hand can move, which lends it a funny sense of actually finger combing, not using a brush. I can feel knots before ripping through them, plus cupping my hand a little fits the Manta perfectly against my scalp, so I can coddle it into producing the strong, bountiful hairs I want. It’s easy to use, easy to clean, easy to travel with… One of those brilliantly obvious innovations that makes you think, ‘Huh, why did this take so long?’” —Ali Oshinsky

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“I know. I know. Foundation? In these times?! Yes, indeed—foundation, perhaps now more than ever. My journey to this product is the culmination of two things: the breakout from hell and all the time I’ve spent cleaning out my personal beauty stash. The breakout I covered last month, along with the products that pulled me out of its stern grip. We’re bump-free now, but we’re not out of the PIH woods yet. I found a bottle of the Aqua Foundation in my bedside table and gave a pump to the backside of my hand to check if the goo was still good (it was). With a quick sweep of my favorite Chanel 2-in-1 Foundation Brush, my complexion went from an irritated pinkish, to calm and even. Unlike many foundations I’ve tried, it’s got good enough coverage for you to eschew concealer, but not so much coverage that you’re spending your morning rebuilding the contours of your face with various other shades. It dries down to an imperceptible finish. And just like that, I’m wearing foundation everyday. In quarantine. Who would have guessed?” —EF

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“I’m not a fan of night creams—a feeling cemented by the fact that I have oily skin, and that most ‘day creams’ are too heavy for me, let alone a night thing. So perhaps The Inkey List had me in mind when they named this guy a night treatment instead of a cream, because it’s got all of the good hydrators in the mix, but none of the heaviness. The texture is not bouncy, but more like, gee…snail mucin? Dense but not thick, slightly slippery but not oleaginous. The ingredients make up the VIP list of Club Moisturize—glycerin, hyaluronic acid, jojoba oil, ceramides, and cholesterol are all inside. It really sinks into my skin without suffocating my pores, and I’ve been waking up with a face that feels soft and healthy, and not one that’s coated in a moisturizing film. But maybe the best part is the cost: $15! A dream product, at a dream price. Sweet dreams for real.” —AW

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“I used to layer my fragrances, sometimes within reason, other times with no direction at all. It was a part of my routine I loved! But all this time inside has made me rethink it. There hasn’t been an occasion that feels worthy enough for a spritz layer cake, and because of that, my body has experienced a total scent reset—a pheromonal blank slate, if you will. Now anything I spray is amplified, hearty, and exactly as it’s supposed to smell. Instead of spraying myself in a rushed cloud of eau de parfum, I spend a couple moments each morning dotting my pulse points while sitting on my couch. And I’ve noticed things about my perfumes I hadn’t before. Maison Margiela’s Replica Jazz Club has a tart bitterness that reminds me of burnt orange peels, but once it dries down, there’s a powdery softness that’s SO endearing. I get why it’s a cult fave, and I’m happy that I found the bandwagon. It also earns extra points for carrying the warm, fuzzy memory of snatching it during a white elephant party last year (which feels like a decade ago) and being too basic for Luka Sabbat. The latter probably means it’s perfect for me.” —UM

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“You know how people say, ‘I love that on you, but I could never pull it off’? It’s something I’ve never subscribed to. Through the transitive property, anything you wear with confidence, or at least courage of conviction, is going to look good. (See: bloggers, peacockers outside NYFW, et al.) Anything, that is, except brown lipstick. That stuff looks flat out bad on me! My natural lip color is really pink, and anything brown or even brown-leaning just leeches all the color from my face. I still like how it looks on other people, which is why I can’t help myself from stealing a swipe whenever I see Gen G in Cake or Leo in a friend’s bag. But what I never knew I needed was Dr. Pawpaw’s Tinted Multipurpose Balm in Rich Mocha. Have you ever seen a tinted balm this color?! Straight from the tube I’d call it a true brown, with no orange or peachy tendencies. And on my lips, it works how those universal modulating foundations (they never really work) are supposed to: the natural pink of my lips shines through enough to give me a brown that actually fits me. A coat on top of brighter lipsticks undoes them in the best way, and also works as a subtle eye gloss. A world of opportunity’s been opened, for just $8.” —AO

Photos via ITG