By now, you've probably surmised that we test-drive a lot of beauty products here at Who What Wear HQ. From nail polish and makeup to hair and skincare, we're eyebrow-deep in all things new, exciting, and, yes, wish list–worthy. That said, due to the number of products we come in contact with, we've also transformed into the nitpickiest of beauty consumers. Within seconds, we can tell if a new hair oil is too heavy, and we're quick to ignore a serum that yields disappointing results.
The good news? We're far more often impressed than unimpressed after trying out a new product, and usually, we simply can't wait to spread the word to all of our fellow beauty junkies (aka you). Therefore, we've decided gushing over our latest fave products should become a monthly ritual, and every 30 days or so, you can expect a full report detailing the highlighters, hair wands, and overnight skincare saviors we've become quickly addicted to.
For the most part, we'll be covering buzzworthy launches (as those typically take up most of the action atop our product-filled desks), but we won't dismiss new-to-us products, either. Because hey, sometimes our best discoveries are found on a friend's vanity or on someone's face at the bar—true story. Ahead, the best beauty products we tried in May! Grab your game face and wallet. You'll be needing both.
Erin Jahns, Beauty Editor
I have so many things to say about this exciting new launch from Sakara Life. But I guess I'll start here. First, you should know that I'm a die-hard Sakara fan. I've pretty much adopted Sakara as a lifestyle, and I literally throw almost every dollar I earn their way (which I'm 100% fine with due to how much I believe in their mission and the inner- and outer-beautifying powers of their meal programs and products). I'm incredibly nitpicky when it comes to the supplements I take, and for the most part, I've sworn off everything except a few key bottles I keep stocked in my fridge and pantry. So you can imagine the incandescent glee I experienced when I found out the brand was debuting a curated supplement pack featuring six pills—superfood multivitamins (there are two per pack), a complete probiotic blend, a macro minerals capsule, an algae omega capsule, and an adaptogenic B-complex.
Of course, these supplements aren't your average supplements—they abide by each and every one of Sakara's nutritional pillars. They're clean, plant-based, vegan-friendly, medical-grade, doctor-formulated, and designed to fill any nutritional gaps you may have due to normal wear and tear. (Think stress, diet, and lifestyle.) I've been taking my pack daily in the morning with breakfast for a few weeks now and am obsessed. I swear my skin has been clearer, my sleep has been better, and I have more energy. (That said, I've also been doing Sakara's Healthy Body Project—a four-week-long limited-edition meal program, so it's no surprise I've felt like Wonder Woman the past couple of weeks!) I love pairing these pills with other items from their Clean Boutique—especially the hot pink Beauty Super Bars ($29) and ceramide-spiked (very delicious) Beauty Chocolates ($45). If you're interested in learning even more about Sakara Rx: The Foundation, read this article Sarah Yang, managing editor of THE/THIRTY, wrote.
I recently tried out the acne-clearing skincare routine Rosie Huntington-Whiteley swears by, and while there were definitely some hits and some misses, I'm forever changed due to the discovery of these acne-blasting pads created by renowned dermatologist Zein Obagi, MD. They're not for the faint of heart and have a pretty intense tingle and cooling sensation, but after just one application (post-cleanser, pre-moisturizer) I swear 50% of my bumps and spots had either A) completely disappeared or B) significantly flattened out. The ingredients are noncomedogenic, and bacteria-clearing salicylic acid is the star player. (I would recommend trying them a few nights per week and gradually building up to nightly use as your skin's stamina increases.)
Fun fact: I actually do wear other nail polish brands apart from Olive & June. It's just that nothing else can compare lately! I've made my way through every single drool-inducing shade from its new Summer Collection, and I seemed to love each more than the last (which, believe me, is saying something). Twist my arm, but this stunning shade of royal purple called Bold & Unshaken has to be my favorite.
Ilia is one of my favorite beauty brands, and it's really been on it with its launches lately. (I'm still not over its Super Serum Skin Tint SPF 40.) Anyway, my latest favorite is the new Nightlite Bronzing Powder. It's a talc-free, creamy matte situation that looks SO natural, blends effortlessly, and is buildable so you can really choose your level of glow or contour. (Because yes, it does both!)
I'm so in love with Versed's new tinted lip oils. They're the perfect summer lip product—ultra-hydrating; nontoxic; boosted with juicy additions like jojoba, sunflower, and camellia seed oils; and packed with color that settles beautifully into the natural tone of the lips. I'm not a huge gloss person, but I love the subtle shine the formula imparts. All three colors are lovely, but Ruby is my favorite right now.
Hand creams continue to rock my world (and vanity) right now. Last month, it was Glossier's new formula, and this month it's Augustinus Bader's. I received a lab sample pre-launch, and even though I've been applying it every night, a little goes a long way, so I'm still working my way through this tiny sample! Once I run out, I'll definitely invest in the full-size $50 version since it should last a long, long while. It features the same cult-loved stem-cell technology as every AB product, and it basically leaves a silky finish that makes me feel like I'm wearing velvet gloves.
As a rule, I'm not a sheet-mask person. However, if it's a 111Skin sheet mask, I break that rule. They're expensive, but they're also the masks celebrity makeup artists prep their A-list clients with, and they're strategically formulated by renowned plastic surgeon Yannis Alexandrides, MD. Recently, the brand came out with a few new formulas, but this de-puffing number has been the most relaxing addition to my at-home beauty routine. The hydrogel base makes sure the mask sticks to your face (no slipping or dripping here!), and the formula is designed to trigger circulation, energize the look of the skin, and diminish puff and dullness. It delivers on all fronts and definitely makes my skin look more toned and my round face more svelte.
This spring has had some really great fragrance launches, and I've been getting out of my normal scent comfort zone to experiment while at home. Recently, chic, clean, and sustainably sourced perfume brand Ellis Brooklyn sent me its two new summer fragrances, and they're divine. (I'm obsessed with the clever sweet-versus-salty dichotomy.) That said, if I had to play favorites, I think I'm salty! I'm a sucker for any scent with violet in it (my nose has a carnal instinct for spotting it within any fragrance), and the fact that this perfume blends into a creamy, salt-frothed melding of ylang-ylang, Tahitian tiaré, magnolia, musk, sandalwood, and vegan Ambergris, makes it THE scent of the summer for me.
If you're into warm and sweet scents, however, you're going to flip for Sweet Eau de Parfum ($105), which features pear, ambrette, bergamot, violet, orris, heliotrope, marshmallow, white amber, and cashmere.
I have about 99 bottles of purple shampoo under my bathroom sink, in my shower, and in the trunk of my car right now (just the typical beauty-editor storage issues), so even though Oribe's purple formula for blondes isn't new, per se, I only just got around to trying it. By far, it's one of the best concoctions I've tried (no, not all purples shampoos and conditioners are created equally), and since I can't see my colorist Cass Kaeding right now to retouch my bleach-blonde strands, I've been using this duo almost exclusively. At this point, I'd probably bleed the stuff, but it's keeping my color superbly brass-free, and the fine, damage-prone texture of my strands soft, shiny, and full, which is everything I want from my shampoo and conditioner.
Courtney Higgs, Associate Beauty Editor
So I'm not exactly a clean-beauty devotee. As a beauty editor, I'm well aware of the bounty of nontoxic products available now, but I still use a number of products that call in medical-grade actives and safe synthetics that I can't see myself severing ties with just yet. Juice Beauty is a clean brand I love, though, because its formulations are super effective. Its newest product, the Prebiotix Instant Flash Facial, is one of the best resurfacing facials I've tried in a long time. It has tartaric acid and white willow bark to exfoliate and remove dead skin cells and impurities and a bio-fermented complex to support the skin's microbiome.
Rihanna's trusted makeup artist Priscilla Ono recently taught me how to leverage this one product to create a perfectly bronzed makeup look in just a few steps. This multi-use stick can be swept over the eyes, cheeks, and even lips to add an extra touch of glow anywhere you need it. It's one of the products I've been using to wake my face up when I need to show my face on a Zoom call, and I'm certain that it will be a staple all summer long.
I'm an outspoken Olive & June stan, but the brand's most recent collection of colors is something truly special. It's partnered with beauty activist Nabela Noor to develop a bright, fun-loving range dedicated to inspiring self-love and uninhibited expression. My favorite shade, Wild & Free, is a peachy tone that's at once vibrant and chic and lifts my mood so much whenever I glance down at my perfect at-home manicure.
Nicole Akhtarzad Eshaghpour, Senior Market Editor
I figured now is a better time than ever to make the switch to more natural deodorant options, so based on several recommendations, I looked to Lavanila. I've been using its Sport Luxe deodorant daily coupled with its detox mask every week or so, and I've been so happy with how well it works I'll probably never go back to my old, traditional antiperspirants.
I like to pride myself on being immune to the charms of Instagram-famous products and fashion items, but in the case of these Artis brushes, I simply couldn't help but try one out. Honestly, it's as amazing as it looked on my feed (and all over my IG stories). I got the #6 size so I could use it for foundation (instead of my fingers, which was probably a terrible method to begin with), and while I've been wearing less makeup during this time, I've found it's also lovely for applying moisturizer. I think I will be snagging a couple more for smaller areas such as under the eye soon.
Allyson Payer, Senior Editor
I've had my eye on J.Hannah nail polishes for so long I honestly don't know what took me so long to buy some. But now that they've touched my nails, I want every color. They're very opaque, which makes them super easy to apply yourself, and all of the colors are so cool it took me longer than it should've to decide on just two. I bought Saltillo, which is the perfect muted coral for summer, and Miso, which is the most unusual nail color I've ever owned, but it's surprisingly easy to wear. I'd describe it as a greenish beige. Just trust me—it's worth it.
I'd heard great things about Tower 28, and I finally got my hands on two of its most popular products. The new brand specializes in nontoxic cosmetics and skincare for sensitive skin, and I tried two of its best sellers. BeachPlease Luminous Tinted Balm in Golden Hour (which just restocked) is a creamy orange-tinted balm for cheeks and lips. The consistency is perfect and is so easy to blend into the skin, which makes it look incredibly natural and glowy. My skin is pretty fair, so I was skeptical, but this shade is gorgeous. On the lips, it leaves the prettiest slightly matte stain. I'll be wearing it all summer—that's for sure.
I also tried Bronzino Illuminating Bronzer in West Coast (which is sold out everywhere but is available for preorder on Revolve, and the darker shade, Best Coast is still in stock). I've tried lots of bronzers in my day but none have given such a natural lit-from-within glow. As recommended on the package, I blended it into my temples and under my cheekbones, and it made me look healthy and awake.
Kristen Nichols, Managing Editor
I'm skincare-obsessed and usually get facials at least once a month. Since I haven't been able to recently, I've been making a point to carve out extra time for skin treatments at home. One of the best new additions to my regimen is the GloPro micro-needling tool. The device is finished with surgical needles that create small punctures in your skin, which I promise is gentle enough for home use. This causes a natural rejuvenation process, resulting in smoother skin texture and minimized lines. Plus, unlike most micro-needling tools, it has the added benefit of an LED red light to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. After just a week of use, I noticed that my skin was plumper. After a month, some fine lines on my face began to soften. I've been raving about it so much that my mom just ordered one for herself.
Lauren Eggertsen, Senior Fashion Editor
I recently started taking Neem supplements to help get rid of my perioral dermatitis. Before trying any antibiotics or steroid creams, I wanted to test natural supplements that could maybe cure the annoying skin issue internally first. Since perioral dermatitis can be caused by a variety of factors that come from within, such as pH levels, gut health, and more, this seemed like a reasonable tactic. Neem is an herb that is known to help with skin and overall immune system health. I am pleased to say that after taking Neem twice a day for even just under two weeks, my skin has never looked better. I will still get random flare-ups here and there but nothing like how it used to be. Plus, my overall skin tone is much more even and—dare I say?—glowing.
Kat Collings, Editor in Chief
I try to keep my makeup bag filled with mostly clean products, so I was curious to try Lawless, which promises to be a makeup person's makeup (aka has the performance and pigmentation of non-clean favorites) without any of the toxic ingredients. After trying out some of the products, my go-to has become The Little One Eyeshadow Palette. I'm someone who finds giant eye palettes intimidating, so I love the size of this mini guy stocked with very approachable shades. I used a little bit of the bottom left color and applied with my fingers for an easy daytime look. I love how it's subtle but ties into my lip color (Noto Botanics Lip Stain in Ono Ono $19) for a sunset-inspired makeup look.
My father, who is a health and supplement nut, has been touting the benefits of liposomal vitamin C for as long as I can remember for helping the immune system. Why? Liposomal vitamin C has a higher absorption rate in the body than standard vitamin C taken orally, studies show. Cut to our current situation in a pandemic, and while vitamin C's effectiveness in helping ease cases of COVID-19 is still being tested, in an article published in the Chinese Journal of Infection Diseases, the Shanghai Medical Association endorsed the use of high-dose vitamin C as a treatment for hospitalized people with COVID-19. You can read more about vitamin C and COVID-19 here.
I tried to buy some liposomal vitamin C and found the normally easy-to-find supplement was sold out everywhere. I even tried to buy some off of a strange-looking site and was relieved when I was promptly refunded when it turned out it wasn't actually available. It seems other people had the same idea I did! Thankfully, Trilogia just launched a version that is readily available. You can take the liquid vitamin C "straight down the hatch" like my dad, which I find totally palatable, or mix it into a juice or smoothie. Having the bottle ready in my fridge gives me a little peace of mind during this uncertain time, and the chic design doesn't hurt either
Judith Jones, Market Editor
My love for sustainable skincare brand Circumference NYC continues. This month, I've been obsessing over its Vital C Antioxidant Day Serum. While I've never really used serum in my daily skincare routine, this one has been an absolute game changer. It's jam-packed with antioxidants, hyaluronic acid, and leaf extracts which provides a glowing radiance. I layer three to four drops on my cleansed skin and layer on my normal moisturizer and sunscreen over it. It not only visibly brightens my skin and evens out my complexion, but it also protects my skin from harmful pollution. I can't recommend it enough.