As you probably know from over-excessive documentation, I have been reworking my skincare regimen for 2021 and will write a full post after I’ve lived with it for a few months, but I wanted to cut in with some of my recent beauty discoveries that I can honestly report back on after a few weeks of use…
+Ilia Limitless Lash Mascara. I was frankly dubious of Ilia after my underwhelming experience with their skin tint, but I gave their mascara a try after a few Magpie readers recommended it. I am a serious mascara junkie — it’s definitely my desert island beauty product, along with SPF. I would rather have acne on display than no mascara. It just makes me feel “done.” Because of this, I feel I have tried nearly ever mascara on the planet and am a fairly harsh grader in this product category — and I was VERY impressed with Ilia. I usually prefer a dramatic, inky, volume-building mascara (I wear Armani most days), but this is wonderful for low-key, more natural-looking “morning lashes.” It is absolutely incredible at separating, lengthening, and curling — but not volumizing. I have now started wearing this most days and then adding a few swipes of Armani in the evening. Is it so strange that I do this despite the fact that I am always at home? I have no idea, but it makes me feel happy to glam it up just a touch come five o’clock. At any rate, the Ilia is a keeper and I’d strongly recommend for anyone, but especially someone looking for something natural-looking (and clean!)
+Westman Atelier Lit Up Highlight Stick. Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes. Yes. Yes! This is similar to RMS Beauty’s Living Luminizer but — in my opinion — a better formula in that it is much easier to apply (and also more handily sold in an easier-to-use applicator). This stick is totally colorless and invisible but gives you that gleaming, glowing Gwyneth skin you know you want without appearing to have done anything but drink forty gallons of water to achieve it. I swipe this on daily on my cheeks, brow bone, and cupid’s bow — it is low-key enough to wear during the day without looking like you’re headed to a disco ball, believe me. Just the kind of under-the-radar boost you need to make yourself feel like a glowing goddess in the dead of January. I swipe the stick directly onto my skin, even over the top of blush/eyeshadow. The stick does pick up a little bit of the makeup on your skin but I just swipe it off after and it hasn’t been an issue. VERY INTO THIS PRODUCT.
+Westman Atelier Baby Cheeks Blush Stick in Dou Dou. After using this, I think I’m realizing that I’m just not that crazy about cream blushes — or perhaps just not adept enough at applying them. I want to like them but I find them very difficult to apply without appearing slightly clownish. I wore Tata Harper’s volumizing lip and cheek stain (also a cream blush situation) prior to this and struggled with the same issue; powder blushes are much easier for me to control, build in intensity, and blend. That said. I love the color and formula of this W.A. product — it is much easier to blend into skin than Tata’s is, and the color is SO gorgeous and sophisticated. I feel like I’ve just gone on a long promenade in the chilly London air (can you tell I’ve been watching “Bridgerton”?) when I apply this. I just started using one of my Artis brushes to help with the blending and I think it is helping me out — I will continue to use and report back as I improve in skill!
+LuvScrub. My curiosity was piqued after several Magpies raved about this body exfoliating tool. I mean, it’s a mesh wash cloth! And people were literally crazy about it! However, I now totally get it and can’t wait to tuck it into gifts for girlfriends this year. It’s beauty is in its length — you can extend it and use along your back sort of like you might a towel when drying off to really scrub the entirety of your back! And it lathers up beautifully! And it polishes your skin (especially my shoulders and decolletage for some reason?) to a high, fine, gleaming shine. It is unbelievable! Very into this product. Will never use a loofah again.
+Amope Electronic Foot File. A good utility tool to keep in the closet when your feet are really dry or callused, though I have to be honest and say that I am a little scared of it. The instructions tell you not to run it over any part of your foot for more than a few seconds and I’ve been skittish around it ever since, imagining myself letting it linger too long and then burning through my toe. Haha. I do think it works well, though — much better than any cream could! — at truly exfoliating and polishing. My feet were so smooth after each use, and then I moisturize heavily. Thanks to the reader who recommended this — did not even know it existed!
+Essie Gel Couture Nail Polish. The name is a misnomer, as this is NOT a gel polish (i.e., you do not use one of those UV lights — you just apply it like a normal polish), but it lasts much longer than any nail polish I’ve ever used at home before. I am now hooked on doing my nails at home after a manicure hiatus since the start of quarantine in March. Let me backtrack and say that my mother has gotten her nails done at 10 A.M. on Friday mornings for as long as I can remember. “This is something I do for myself once a week,” I remember her saying with the slightest of sniffs even when I was only seven and blinking in confusion at the vague concept that my mother might need to actually care for herself at some point between shuttling around, nurturing, and feeding her many children. She went to a fancy salon, too, and saw the same technician, Gloria, for nearly 25 years (maybe longer, even), until Gloria retired and moved away. The salon smelled like warm laundered towels and Gloria scoffed at the unseemly idea of cutting cuticles (“push back only”). When I would sit in the leather chair alongside my mother on the occasion I’d shadow her there, I would watch Gloria elegantly and carefully varnish my mother’s nails while chatting about children and grand-children over the roar of hair blow dryers. Then my mother would practically skip across the street to her parked car, her fingers lifted up in front of her in the universal gesture for “I HAVE WET NAILS,” as the salon’s street was zoned for one hour of paid parking, the meter maids in Northwest D.C. were surprisingly vigilant, and her appointments always abutted against the time limit. Then we’d sit in the car and she’d continue to dry her nails, keeping a steely eye out for meter maids. There was something about this ritual that stuck — the escape and elegance of it all. So, since the age of 20, I have gotten my nails done once a week, too, almost always in fire engine red or white-pink and rarely at salons as fancy as my mother’s. (I keep trying for the dark colors I find so chic on other women, but then I look at my hands and they do not feel like my own and it scares me.) Strangely, giving myself a manicure using the Essie polish returned to me an element of my former self, a vestige of my mother. I am hooked.
+Clarins Double Serum. OK. OK. I should wait until I’ve been using this for a full couple of weeks (as I am trying to do with the rest of my skincare regimen) but I have to rave about this product after only a few weeks of use. This serum is MAGIC. I have used and liked several serums and oils, but this I think is proving to be my favorite. It is a dream to apply (and smells like botanical heaven), and it leaves my skin so hydrated, happy, bright, and smooth! I feel like I’ve just basted a turkey or something — is that the weirdest analogy?! My skin just GLISTENS after this. It is wonderful. I’d put it above the Ole Henriksen Truth Serum and probably also Vintner’s Daughter. They all achieve similar outcomes, but I prefer the consistency and glistening, hydrating effect of the Clarins. (It is so much easier to apply than any other serum I’ve tried — it is not as runny/oily as V.D., and it does not disappear as quickly as the Ole Henriksen, which I always felt I had to apply a few pumps of because it would evaporate by the time you’d dab it on your forehead. You can really feel Clarins absorbing into your skin but it glides all over your face with just the two designated pumps. I just LOVE it!!! Love!
+O-Cedar Sponges. This is not a new discovery but I just reordered a pack and have to say — a small thing, but these are simply the best dish sponges. They are thicker and, well, spongier than the standard Scotch Brites and I find them more effective. I randomly switched back to Scotch Brites a few weeks ago because I’d run out and immediately regretted the decision. Super tiny adjustment but these are where it’s at.
+Unfussy, unbranded mop cloths. This is nothing exciting but we bought a huge pack of these to decrease the number of paper towels we use and they are such a random Godsend! They are ULTRA absorbent, a great size for wiping up quick spills and drying dishes and glasses, and very soft. I read about these on a random Reddit thread and I’m so glad we gave them a go. We still keep prettier kitchen towels out for decor/drying hands, but these are SO handy for those of you who cook a lot at home.
+Tracksmith running gear. I invested in a few new pieces from Tracksmith and I am seriously in love with their merino base layer tops. Where have I been living and how was I running in the cold without these?! I can’t believe how lightweight yet warm they are. I can wear one of these under my New Balance jacket in temps in the low 30s and still feel perfectly warm — sometimes even hot by the end of my run. I am tempted to order more already. I also ordered a pair of their tights but had to exchange for a different size. I’m normally an XS in everything but the pair I got were uncomfortably tight at the waistband (which has a thick band of elastic stitched into it). I re-checked the size chart and I am doubting that the S will fit well, but we shall see. I am thinking the brand might be ideally suited toward a true runner’s body — long, lean, sinewy! — but will report back. If the pants don’t work, no sweat. I’ll order more of their merino tops!
For enquiring minds, the skincare regimen I’m testing currently…
A.M. Rinse face with water (I have often applied an overnight mask/product the night before). Cleanse with Living Libations cleanser. Note that this stuff is very hard to find at the moment because Kourtney Kardashian just shared that she uses it and now it’s the HOT HOT. It’s sold out most everywhere in the full size, but you can find a travel size (good for testing purposes) here. I wet a square of Shiseido facial cotton (so so good), apply two pumps of the cleanser, and then run all over my face. Then I re-wet the same square of cotton and run over my face again. Then I apply a topical vitamin c and follow with the Clarins serum, then sunscreen, then eye cream, and, finally, moisturizer.
P.M. Wash face with Tata Harper regenerating face wash. I use Almay makeup removing pads on my eyes (or Bobbi Brown makeup remover mascara is being stubborn). I still love those Billie wipes but find I use them less frequently than daily with this skincare routine — I now like them for after my runs in the morning or if I’m doing my makeup over in the evenings. They are serum-infused, so I don’t think they are worth it just for eye makeup removal. Then I alternate between applying one item: a retinoid, glycolic acid pads, a gentle and hydrating mask, or nothing at all.
P.P.S. My favorite beauty buys of 2020.
P.P.P.S. How do you define self-care? (Such interesting comments on this post.)