Honest Beauty Reviews: Prequel Gleanser, t3 Airebrush, + More.

By: Jen Shoop

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I’ve been focusing recently on my hair health. I’m trying to grow my hair out longer and feel it looks dry and thin — I can’t tell whether that’s age or the cold winter, or some caustic combination of the two. Anyhow, I am on a hair-strengthening campaign, and have lined up a suite of products to combat the situation. I’m impressed with my new regimen — see photo below. I’m desperately overdue for highlights but there have been logistical issues getting to see my guy (snow days, travel, etc). If you can overlook the roots, I think my hair is looking sleek, shiny, and hydrated. The handfeel has changed significantly — it feels much softer and silkier.

Side note: I’m wearing the Brylie pants again above (!) and noticed they are selling out super fast in my color, but are still available in a great army green here and brown or black here. These feel so “right” for this fashion moment — sort of cribbing the horseshoe style but much more wearable. Great for petites — run TTS. I paired with one of my Leset short sleeved pointelle tees (more sizes here), but I just noticed J. Crew released a rival style for less, too. The sweater is Sezane and nearly sold out! One of my favorite knits this season — goes with everything!

Anyhow, sharing thoughts on all my hair strengthening finds below, plus a few other recent beauty/skincare/cosmetic products I’ve been testing.

+Mielle rosemary hair oil and Anablue treatment oil. I apply a few droppers of each all over my head and then massage into scalp and brush through my hair, adding a tad extra to the ends. I do this first thing in the morning before I’m going to go for a run/exercise and then pull back in a ponytail/bun so it can soak in for a good two hours before I shower it all out. Honestly, it’s difficult for me to tell you which one is pulling the most weight here, but I believe these oils are the reason my hair feels much softer and shinier lately — it really helps with the condition of the strands. The price is right with the Mielle, too! I shared a little snap of this product on Instagram and a girlfriend wrote me to say: “I swear Mielle + Nutrafol + Nioxin the past few months have made a HUGE difference in my hair growth and fullness.” And, let me tell you — this girlfriend has absolutely gorgeous hair — dark, full, thick, always perfectly blown out. I’ve heard about Nutrafol before but am not big on taking supplements. Nioxin was new to me, though, and I added it to my “test next” list, which brings me to —

+Vegamour Gro Shampoo and Conditioner. I’ve been alternating between this and my tried-and-true Roz Foundations Shampoo and Conditioner. I like the Vegamour lather and the fact that it leaves no build-up in hair (my concern with using these kinds of growth-targeting shampoos/conditioners), but I cannot stand the scent! It smells like a citrus gummy bear? I can’t wait to mask the scent with other products afterward. (I may be alone in this.) I do think it’s helping with the fullness factor — maybe not specifically helping my hair grow in more quickly but I do feel like when I’ve used this, my hair looks immediately more voluminous versus flat. I think I will continue to use for the coming weeks to give it a true college try and then contemplate Nioxin.

+T3 Airebrush. I was over the moon when t3 sent me their Airebrush. I was skeptical that it could knock my Revlon 1-Step off its pedestal (it’s been my favorite hot hair tool for four years or so now), but after using multiple times, I do think it’s superior. It’s higher-powered (so it dries hair more quickly) and I think the different settings are crucial. I was circumspect about their suggestion of “sealing” the hair by running the cold air setting over your hair after fully drying with heat, but I swear this helps with achieving polish / finish? Hair looks smooth and sleek after I run it through the cold air setting to finish. But most importantly, I find the T3 is better at maintaining tension in the strands while using to dry — and I think tension is the key to a good and lasting blowout, and why professionals are able to achieve it and I am not (hard to pull on your own hair at the right angles). I believe the t3 grips hair better so you are able to get more tension and therefore a smoother result. Big fan — I already demoted by Revlon 1-Step; she lives in the guest bathroom now. However, I do think I am going to buy myself the Dyson AirWrap in the coming months — I’ve marked it as a treat for myself if I achieve a personal goal. I’ve mentioned this a few times, but several girlfriends on my recent trip to Tulum swore up and down it was worth every penny. I remember one saying she carries her on the plane because it’s too valuable to her to part with (e.g., if checked baggage was lost) for even a few days. I also polled Magpies on Instagram last weekend for a good curling iron, and 90% of you said to just get the Dyson — you won’t need a curling iron after. N.B.: you can buy these refurbished — I’ve heard this is a great way to get the product at a discount.

+Roz Root Spray. I continue to chase volume (I have very fine, straight hair), but Roz’s new root spray has been VERY helpful. I don’t have the full pompadour I seek but it really does help at the crown of the head in particular, and — the most important thing for me — is invisible. I mean, it just disappears! Normally volumizing products (especially mousses) make my hair stiff or crispy or greasy but this stuff goes on invisibly! Writing this out, I’m wondering if I’ve not been using enough. Going to try with a heavier hand and see if that gets me closer to my vision of root volume. I believe my code MAGPIE15 still gets you 15% off.

+Prequel Gleanser. I’m neutral on this cleanser, which is described as follows: “non-stripping glycerin cleanser for the face and body formulated with 50% glycerin, inulin, and a unique aquaporin-stimulating active to boost skin suppleness.” This had been SO hyped to me, and has even sold out in the past (I was on a waitlist!). Here are the pros: an ample size and a reasonable price. Definitely better than your run of the mill drugstore cleanser but not much more expensive. Does a good job lathering. I find it hard to wash fully off my face, and usually need to wet a face towel and wipe it off after I’ve already been rinsing it over the sink for a good 15 seconds. I will continue to use because it’s not offensive or anything, but I am currently grieving the absence of the Motif cleanser. I love that one and the Youth to the People one, though they’re very different from one another. I think the Motif one is ideal for winter (creamy, moisturizing, mild exfoliation) and YTTP gives you that squeaky clean feeling you crave in summer or after a workout.

+True Botanicals Chebula Serum + Chebula Extreme Cream. I love love love the cream which they claim is “one of the ONLY moisturizers in the world that is made without any pore-clogging waxes.” This appealed to me, as I am acne prone in the winter when I’m layering all of these serums, etc, onto one another. It has a thick consistency that needs to be worked into skin (versus Augustinus Bader, which seems to evaporate into the skin), but it has this immediate softening, hydrating result that just feels good. Chebula, I’ve learned, is an antioxidant that “targets five signs of aging.” I’ll take it. A really good winter cream. The serum is nice, too – I can’t say it stands out to me as accomplishing anything much more notable than Vintner’s Daughter or Clarins or a few of my other favorite serums. It seems to brighten skin and leave it glossy. VD I find more hydrating and Clarins really enhances the texture of my skin, by contrast. I continue to think Clarins is the best option for a generalist serum that really makes a difference in the brightness, texture, happiness of your skin.

+Elemis Cleansing Balm. I’ve reviewed this many times over the years, but I truly love this makeup-melting balm. It is my favorite end-of-night luxury — it feels like you’re melting your day right off your face, and I love the botanical scent. I use this to melt all my daytime makeup off, then cleanse, then apply a nighttime moisturizer or cream.

+Tower28 Mascara. I think I reviewed this already but OMG, you guys! This $20 mascara is the best! It’s displaced prestige beauty brand rivals 2-3x its price. I use this daily. Gives you really full, long, separated lashes — I LOVE love love.

+First Aid Beauty Facial Radiance Pads. I’ve been obsessed with these! I will wipe them over my face after I cleanse in the morning or if I’m reapplying makeup before going out. I like the way the textured side feels like it’s scrubbing everything off. Skin looks refreshed afterward.

+Lumify Eye Drops. I read that this is a Red Carpet / makeup expert’s secret. Instantly remove all signs of redness for a brighter, healthier overall look. I think it helps, especially after low-sleep nights.

Beauty items I’m eyeing/testing next…

+Bobbi Brown skin corrector stick. I think Courtney Grow recommended this, and rarely has she led me astray in the past.

+Kimiko brow gel.

+BeYou caffeine eye cream. An $18 award-winner!

+Hourglass concealer brush. Have heard this is the absolute best for applying undereye — ideal shape.

+Trish McEvoy Instant Eye Lift. Trish’s bestselling product! People love this stuff!

What else are you loving in your beauty routine these days?

P.S. Doen launches its spring collection today at 9 AM EST and there are some goodies involved. Currently in my cart (not from the spring collection, but already on the site): this white midi skirt. I love the way they’ve styled it with ivory/taupe/white knits in the photos. Made me think differently about some of the white in my closet as we continue in the February chill.

P.P.S. Wise words from a friend: “I feel like objects of devotion are important in these times — like something you can wear around your neck or keep in your pocket to touch as a reminder that life is happening, you will feel things, and you will survive, you know?” More here.

P.P.P.S. Pouring from the center, not the rim.

You can sign up for my Magpie newsletter here — I send out a Magpie Digest each Friday with the week’s highlights (quotes, comments, finds) and a Magpie Diary with loose and roaming thoughts each Sunday.

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14 thoughts on “Honest Beauty Reviews: Prequel Gleanser, t3 Airebrush, + More.

    1. Hi! I’m so glad – you will love it. I use always in the morning and maybe 1/2 the time in the evening depending on how my skin feels. Sometimes I really just want to go to bed with squeaky clean skin. Other times, I need the hydration!


  1. This is a great roundup – I’m eyeing the Tower28 mascara myself (hoping to find a holy grail mascara that is easy, not too $$$, and doesn’t clump!). Re: hair, I’m also on a bit of a hair journey as I feel like I’ve had a lot of shedding and dryness since the pandemic (I don’t think pandemic+grad school was a good mix for me, either). I use good products and eat well, am thankfully healthy, but I’m not quite sure what it is. Several of my girlfriends in the DMV area are also experiencing this (especially the dryness) that a few of us are thinking of playing scientist and experimenting with a shower filter. May be worth looking into if you don’t already have one (or if you do, all ears for recommendations!!)

    1. Oh interesting! I hadn’t thought of that. I agree that stress and age and season of the year are playing a role but hadn’t thought larger. I actually have heard of a solution for shower water — Jolie. I can’t remember where I read about it, but here it is:

      Let me know if you or a girlfriend test this or another product! I’m intrigued!


  2. Hello! I was wondering you have used the U BEAUTY SUPER INTENSIVE FACE OIL that is pictured above? Anxious to hear your thoughts! On another note, anyone interested in using NIOXIN SCALP and HAIR TREATMENT, you can use MINOXIDIL (brand name ROGAIN) for a fraction of the cost. Most major drugstore chains offer a generic version of MINOXIDIL as well as Costco. It is safe to use the 5% marketed for male use. BTW, it works!!

    1. Hi Michele! I’m in the process of testing it (I just received my bottle last week!). Early reviews: I’m impressed. It is fairly rich/oily, though – I find I have to really let it absorb for awhile before applying makeup, etc.

      Full review coming in a few weeks but those are my early thoughts!

      And thanks for the intel on Nioxin / minoxidil.


      1. I am so terribly sorry to hear of the loss of Tilly. I have been through the grieving of pets and so my heart goes out to ypu and your family. I hope memories of Tilly will soon bring smiles to your faces.

  3. With the Gleanser, I find using it in the shower to be my best bet, as I agree the sink method is challenging. It works wonderfully in the steamy shower and I feel clean, but not stripped.

  4. I have baby fine hair that lacks volume. I’m also striving for hair growth and fullness. Adding the Nioxin to my cart now! Thank you for this recommendation. I’ve heard great things about Nutrifol as well, but I too am not keen on taking supplements. A few things that have recently made a big difference for me is the Vayose hairbrush (a total impulse purchase from an Instagram ad), which eliminates the need for daily washing, and the Bumble & Bumble Dry Spun Thickening Spray which gives lots and lots of volume that stays. What I also love is the Raw Sugar Kids Strawberry Oatmilk Conditioning Detangler from Target. It’s designed for children, but works great on my ultra fine hair without weighing it down and allowing me to comb through with ease and avoid pulling. The scent is very subtle and not cloyingly sweet.

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