As the weather turns our quarantine situation from shelter-in-place to swelter-in-place, we’re carefully editing our beauty routines, opting for lower and lower maintenance formulas in the name of cutting back on regimen fatigue. When temps get closer to triple digits, even the most devoted among us can’t be bothered to adhere to multi-step regimens (save for SPF, of course). It’s just too hot to spend so much time on our hair, meticulously paint our nails, and layer on four different skincare treatments. Instead, we find ourselves reaching for small products that offer a big impact. From a minty face wash that quite literally cools you down to an aluminum-free deodorant that actually gets the job done, keep reading — our editors are divulging their bare-minimum, must-have products to sweat it out in style.
I'm OutsideTM | Forest Bathing in a Bottle
Who: Joslyn Winkfield, Creative Lead, Digital
Why: These days, I have a newfound gratitude for the small pleasures in life, and I am especially into discovering new methods of thoughtfulness to add to my day. I’ve always known that spending even short amounts of time in nature has tons of health benefits, mental and physical. And now that being outside — whether it be on a walk in our own neighborhoods, or exploring a trail in the woods — is one of the safer activities we can do, I was introduced to the Japanese art of forest bathing. Basically, it’s a therapeutic technique where one disconnects from their world (cell phones off!) to spend quality time in nature, and preferably a forest. This could mean going for a walk, doing yoga, meditation or even breathing exercises to destress and recenter, all of which should be done in a natural, unpopulated outdoor setting. In my case, however, I generally don’t have time during the week and am stuck in my home office. So when I’m Outside sent me this face and body mist, I was able to transport myself to the outdoors and get that same mood and energy boost if I was out for a stroll. They’ve replicated forest air with phytoncides, sunshine with vitamin D, and even immunity activators in the form of microalgae and fulvic acid into a convenient spray. A quick spritz and a deep breath of mint, pine and cypress makes me feel refreshed during a busy day at work, and also adds another level of relaxation in a hot shower.
NaturAllTM Club Flaxseed Gel Edge Control with Yogurt
Why: It’s been a pretty intense summer of heat and humidity, and my curls always tend to remind me that I’m hot, sweaty, and that my strands are in need of a better hold. I’ve tried my fair share of edge control products and I must say, they’re not all created equal. Some go on smooth and perfect, only to lift at the first gust of sticky air. So on my yearly hunt to find one for summer, I was hoping to find a formula that worked — and, also to support a black-owned brand.
When I came across this flaxseed based formula from NaturAll, I assumed it would be the same deal — nicely smoothed edges that would eventually puff back to their natural state within minutes of sweating. I was so happy to be wrong in this case. Using an edge brush, I smoothed this on to the slides of my slicked-back bun and those baby hairs were locked in place, without feeling hard or crunchy. After setting my hair in a silk scarf for 15 minutes, nothing thereated to curl up all day. It’s safe to say I’m obsessed. And, after several frantic searches for it (only to find it in my mother’s bathroom!), I decided more than one jar per household was necessary.
Peace Out® Skincare Salicylic Acid Acne Treatment Serum
Why: I suppose I should be grateful that my plight of adult acne now only tends to resurface during PMS, but the fact that it still dares to make an appearance calls for preventative and post treatment. I’ve raved about Peace Out Skincare’s healing acne dots in the past, so when the brand launched its first-ever topical (non-sticker!) treatment, I snatched it up immediately. Packed with 2% salicylic acid, pore-clearing zinc, and oil-absorbing, brightening niacinamide, the serum allows me to apply a generous layer to my problem areas before and during any flare-ups. Et voila: my bumps and redness reduce significantly overnight and are usually gone in a day or two. After using it for approximately two weeks, some of the hyperpigmentation I developed from any spots has faded quite a bit, which is always a bonus.
Although salicylic acid is considered safe to use while nursing, be sure to avoid applying it to areas on your body that baby may come into direct contact with or inadvertently ingest it
Bare HandsTM The Dry Gloss Manicure Kit
Who: Emily Orofino, Senior Beauty Editor
Why: The pandemic has made many of my friends realize an obscure fact about our relationships on video conference calls — this is the first time they’re seeing my fingernails without polish! While I was keeping up with my weekly DIY manicures a few months ago, my urge to do so has ceased since discovering this easy-to-use lacquer-free kit from Bare Hands. In just 15 minutes a week, the set gives me the shiniest nails (naturally) of my life.
The set comes wrapped in a petite leather roll, which contains just a few items: orangewood sticks (for pushing back cuticles), a cuticle oil (packaged conveniently in a little click pen), and the brand’s signature tool, the Moonstone. This unique glass half-moon features a subtly abrasive texture on one side thanks to a blend of minerals, which you’re meant to use like a buffing block. Instead of the tedious experience of working your way through all four sides of a block, though, the Moonstone buffs the surface of your nail to a high-gloss finish with just one step. I also don’t find that the Moonstone makes my nail feel thinner or weaker, like most traditional buffers. It’s extremely satisfying and simple to use once you get the hang of it, and it quickly makes me feel put together and polished (sans lacquer!), which is all I can ask for during these tempestuous times.
Urban Decay® All-Nighter Ultra Glow Setting Spray
Why: If you’re a makeup fan, you know that setting spray is absolutely essential in warm weather to prevent any meltdowns. Urban Decay’s original makeup setting spray is known for its exceptional longwear claims (it helps makeup stay on for up to 16 hours, even in thick humidity), but it also offers a matte finish. While this is ideal for many complexions, especially in summer months, the dewy look has surged in popularity lately, and until now, you couldn’t have skin that looked radiant and hydrated and makeup that lasted. That’s why Urban Decay is launching this new spin on its cult classic formula: It delivers that 16-hour longwear claim as well as hyaluronic acid and agave extract for skin that looks glowy and feels comfortable all day.
Victoria Beckham® Beauty Bitten Lip Tint in Chérie
Why: My lips are naturally quite unpigmented, so I can’t get enough of this new stain from Victoria Beckham Beauty for a very specific reason: It helps my lips look healthy, fresh, and natural. For me, the baby pink hue is the ultimate “your lips but better” color, and I’ve been wearing it nonstop. I’ve found that wearing this is the difference between appearing washed out and tired versus looking quickly put-together, so I’m not giving it up anytime soon.
Charlotte Tilbury® Airbrush Bronzer in Medium
Why: I am always reluctant to test new bronzers as my fair neutral skin tone doesn’t seem to play well with most hues (typically, formulas look orange or muddy on me). So, I first tried the lightest shade from this range of four hues. Fair proved to be so subtle that it was invisible on my skin (a major first for me!), but after trying Medium, I was officially hooked. The consistency of the bronzing powder is so micro-fine that it’s nearly impossible to overdo your application (another first). The shade is golden without being orange, and looks just like real skin and not makeup. I like to concentrate on the areas of my face where the sun would actually hit — my nose, forehead, chin, and tops of cheeks — that is, if I didn’t wear so much SPF.
Payot® Pâte Gris Jour Papiers Matifiants Emergency Anti-Shine Sheets
Why: I love a blotting paper in the summer — who doesn’t? But I’m particularly hooked on these from cult-favorite French brand Payot. They soak up the oiliest splotches on my face without disrupting any makeup, and are easy to slip in even the slimmest pants pocket. Plus, you get so many of them: Each packet holds 50 sheets, and there’s 10 packets in every order, so I’ve been reveling in my wealth of 500 blotting papers and handing them out to all my greasy friends when I am able. FYI, products from this company have historically been hard to find stateside — until this year, as Payot has finally made its debut in the United States.
M-61TM Hydraboost Collagen + Peptide Water Cream
Who: Thia Laurain, Senior Social Media Editor
Why: My skin is dry 365 days a year. While I love layering rich creams and face oils in the colder months, I often have a difficult time finding a summer moisturizer that is light enough for sticky New York City summers, yet truly quenches my parched skin. This silky, refreshing water cream from M-61 has become my summer savior. The lightweight gel-cream texture instantly absorbs into skin, while plant-based collagen, vitamin B5, and a powerful bio-peptide work to hydrate, firm, and smooth skin from the inside out. Bonus: the clean, completely fragrance-free formula is perfect for sensitive skin, and has only soothed — not stoked — several errant eczema flare-ups that have popped up throughout the summer.
R+Co® DREAMHOUSETM Cold-Pressed Watermelon Wave Spray
Why: Try this multitasking hair mist for its moisturizing, wave-enhancing, and environmental protection properties — buy it (again, and again, and again) for its dreamy, smoky, desert sunset scent. (Seriously. I want to bathe in this stuff, it smells so good.) The aroma in question is called “Stars Align.” The tobacco leaf, palo santo, and waterlily-infused fragrance is the signature scent of all R+Co products made in collaboration with Ashley Streicher — celebrity hairstylist, sister of brow guru Kristie Streicher, and haver of excellent olfactory taste. But the addictive fragrance isn’t the only reason to try this wave spray. Key ingredients in this little spray bottle have benefits that work on both dry and damp hair, such as UV protection from turmeric root, wave-enhancing power from jackfruit, and moisture from watermelon seed oil. This mist is so multipurpose, easy-to-use, and deliciously scented that I find myself spritzing it on almost every day.
Hourglass® Unlocked Instant Extensions Mascara
Why: I will shamelessly admit that I live for drama. The opera, an avant-garde runway look, a petty celebrity quarrel? I am here for it. But my favorite type of drama is the kind that happens to my lashes — particularly, when I swipe on two (yes, exactly two) coats of this Hourglass mascara. I am very selective when it comes to mascara, and this fresh new formula makes my lashes look exactly how I like them best: feathery, long, defined, and inky black. There is no clumping or lumpiness to the formula whatsoever. Instead, it leaves my lashes fanned out and perfectly smooth from root-to-tip for 12+ hours in sweltering summer humidity. I can also attest that this mascara stays completely smudge- and flake-free all day long, only to easily wash off in tiny tubes (!) with a few splashes of water. It’s all the drama I crave, and none of the kind I don’t want. (Here’s looking at you, raccoon eyes!)
sundaysTM Cs. 01 Antibacterial Cuticle Serum
Why: Over the last few months, I have perfected the art of the at-home manicure. While I’ve always been steady-handed with a polish brush, my DIY manicures never felt — or looked — truly professional. The end result always seemed like it was missing something… turns out, that “something” was cuticle oil. A few drops of this lightly-scented, all-natural cuticle serum on my freshly-polished fingers, and my DIY gel manicure looks like I just left the salon. I love that this particular formula is completely clean, chock full of skin-strengthening vitamins, and is naturally antimicrobial (perfect for hangnails and minor cuts), thanks to an infusion of myrrh oil. Even when my nails are au naturel, a few drops massaged into the cuticles and nail beds do wonders for keeping them looking healthy and fresh.
PRIORI® UNVEILED Flexible LED Light Therapy Mask
Who: Madisen Theobald, Senior Social Media Editor
Why: I have been waiting for the day that I could walk around my house with a portable LED mask. I’m not being melodramatic here — I actually have. I am a big fan of LED devices and have tried many. Some needed to be worn while I was horizontal (so I’d fall asleep with them on), and some tools were handheld but had to be powered by electricity, so I couldn’t get very far from an outlet. Because of these issues, I’ve found that light therapy can get time-consuming and even boring very quickly, but that isn’t the case with the PRIORI UNVEILED Flexible LED Light Therapy Mask.
This innovative mask’s wavelengths of light can help reduce fine lines and wrinkles and improve tissue oxygenation. I pop it on, slip the portable remote (which controls the mask's red light) into my pocket, and carry on with my day while stimulating collagen and elastin production. I usually wear the mask on video conference calls, while cleaning, or even eating lunch! I tested the UNVEILED mask every day with some medical-grade skincare for a week, and I noticed a visible improvement in my complexion, including changes to texture and even some redness on my cheeks from acne scarring. Not only is this beneficial treatment so easy to add to my daily routine, but it’s a fun, innovative way of taking care of your skin with no strings attached — quite literally.
boscia® Cryosea® Firming Icy-Cold Cleanser
Why: This fresh new cleanser from Boscia quickly became one of the reasons I’m excited to get out of bed in the morning. I gently massage the menthol-infused cleanser onto my dampened face to create a lather. After a few seconds, I start to feel a mild cooling sensation that is working its way into my pores for a deep clean. The cold-as-ice cleanser was formulated with alpha-hydroxy acids which work together to resurface and firm my face for a refreshed, bouncy complexion. It wakes up my face and my skin, making this cleanser worthy of being my summer staple.
NYX Professional Makeup® Epic Wear Liner Sticks
Why: This summer, I have seen some amazing, uber-colorful eye makeup looks on social media. My “saved” folder on Instagram proves that I’ve been itching to do some myself, and so I enlisted the help of the new smudge-proof NYX Epic Wear Liner Sticks. These fun, poppy liner pencils are powerfully pigmented and deliver 36 hours of waterproof and fade-proof color, which is perfect for a summer eye look and makes them a fabulous alternative to eyeshadow in the heat of summer. My personal favorites of the 24 shades are Periwinkle and Ice Blue (I am super into cool tones on eyelids this season). My go-to technique for using these unexpected shades? I love to glide the tip of the pencil about halfway along my lash line, then create a thick, graphic wing.
Philip B® CBD Scalp + Body Oil
Who: Priscilla De Castro, Visuals Editor
Why: I have been feeling some heavy “tech neck” aches, especially since I spend over eight hours a day on my laptop and phone, sitting in an uncomfortable position. So, after reading about all the soothing benefits of CBD oil, I decided it was time to experience them for myself. Philip B’s new CBD-infused scalp and body oil is vegan, cruelty-free, and THC-free, and contains 100mg of CBD to help relieve pain and inflammation. I have been starting and ending my workdays by massaging my neck with a full dropper’s worth of oil, and after a week, I can definitely feel the improvement!
L’Occitane® The Incredible Deodorant Recipe in Verbena
Why: NYC summers are hot and humid, meaning it’s the perfect time to test a new deodorant! Anytime I try a different formula, I make sure it's aluminum-free (which means no harsh chemicals), and it has to have a pleasant scent that isn't too overwhelming. With L’Occitane’s product, so far, so good. The freshly-fragranced balm is packaged in a small tin and comes with an applicator, but I prefer applying it under my armpits, on my neck, and on my feet using my fingers. When I wore this while running errands on a hot day, I found that this product definitely works to combat bad odors — because not only did I notice that I still smelled good, but my boyfriend even commented on it. He was surprised to learn that the scent he loved was my deodorant!
Urban Decay® Lash FreakTM Mascara
Who: Sophie Wirt, Beauty Editor
Why: In high school, I knew a girl who’d separate her lashes, painstakingly, with a sewing needle. Personally, I don’t care whether my mascara looks piled on — the bolder the better! — and if there are a few clumps along the way, so be it. “Clumpy" gets a bad rap, so I won’t use it to describe this mascara — but I will say this formula would have presented a challenge for my highschool pal. Similar to Too Faced’s® Better Than SexTM or Lash Hero from IT Cosmetics®, Lash Freak is heavy on pigment and heft. One point of difference is its unique, bifurcated brush head. Initially, I assumed the design was gimmicky; I quickly learned, though, that two rows of comblike bristles are better than one, allowing you to get to the very root of your lashes. The formula is wet, and takes a moment to fully dry — but once it does, the payoff is an inky onyx that remains flake-free throughout the day.
Kérastase® Blond Absolue Cicaflash Intense Fortifying Treatment
Why: I recently bleached my own hair (I know, I know). I’ve inevitably done some damage — that’s just the nature of bleach — but this treatment turns my tresses so silky, you’d hardly know it. Upon first glance, the formula looks and feels like your typical conditioner. But, unlike your typical conditioner, it contains two targeted, concentrated ingredients blended specifically for bleached hair. Hyaluronic acid, a moisture-loving substance often found in skincare, deeply hydrates and prevents breakage, while edelweiss flower extract delivers that immediate, buttery softness. When I imagine my parched, thirsty strands slurping this stuff up, I feel better about putting them through the harrowing, at-home bleaching process.
Laneige® Cream Skin Mist
Why: While most face mists feel lovely upon spritzing, many leave my skin feeling somehow tighter and drier. Some cursory internet searching suggests evaporation is the reason for this phenomenon; when a water-based mist dries, it can rob your skin of moisture. After laying off face mists for a while, this oil-based mist piqued my interest; presumably, an oil-based formula would “lock in” moisture instead of wicking it away. Meadowfoam oil, which touts antioxidants in addition to its skin-softening qualities, is the starring ingredient. Immediately, the (surprisingly) lightweight mist leaves my skin with a soft, subtle glow. It also works over makeup for a midday refresh — though, honestly, I’ve found that a few spritzes in the morning are all I need to keep my skin feeling supple all day.
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