As much as I would love to try and fall head over heels for every single beauty product I receive, it would be physically impossible. I mean, if I quit my job this second, moved to Antarctica, and brought my current hoard of products along, I’d still be more than set for life. Of course, that’s certainly not happening anytime soon (although after 2020, who can know what the future holds!), so I recruit my friends and family to test all of the products that currently runneth over my apartment. Even my 73-year-old dad has been coerced into the process once or twice!
My angel of a roommate, Steph Limiti, always gets first dibs—a responsibility that has grown exponentially since COVID. You see, pre-pandemic, all of my packages were sent to the office and any extras I didn’t want to immediately test or take home were stowed in the WWW Beauty closet. Well, R.I.P., because over a year later, that sucker probably has two inches of dust on it and not a single new formula to its name. Instead, every last inch of my apartment has taken over in the interim.
My roommate, Steph, could be annoyed by the fact that jars, bottles, tubes, and tinctures inhabit the majority of our floor space, but again, she’s an angel and has blessedly accepted the Sephora status of our apartment. The silver lining? She has access to—and gets to test—her fill of exciting beauty products, and all I ask in return is her unfiltered reviews and thoughts. Better yet, since she’s the content manager for Who What Wear’s sister skincare brand, Versed, she totally knows a good beauty product from a bad one and offers an informed, fresh perspective. She’s been at this at-home review thing for just over a year (we were still relatively new roomies when COVID hit), so I thought it would be fun to do a quick dive into her current beauty wardrobe. Below, she’s sharing the holy-grail products (out of literally hundreds) that she’s become absolutely obsessed with and why she loves them. Keep scrolling!
Keeping my routine as sustainable and eco-friendly as possible is important to me, so I nixed single-use makeup remover wipes years ago. But cleansing balms often break out my acne-prone skin while micellar water can leave me feeling squeaky clean (and not in a good way). Hands down, this micellar cleanser far exceeds its job description. Its milky texture keeps my skin feeling baby-soft, replenishing hydration levels in a snap without any oil or greasiness.
I’ll just get this one out of the way right now: I am genetically blessed in the under-eye area and don’t often deal with the dark circles and bags many of my friends sulk over. But that doesn’t mean I’m not hyperfocused on aging. While I can’t exactly tell if it’s preventing any impending crow’s feet or not, this eye cream is one of the few that seems to deliver an instant boost in brightness and hydration, and unlike many other retinol products, doesn’t irritate my skin.
I love smoothing this jelly-like mask on my skin during my PM routine, particularly because its light, rosy scent practically sends me straight into dreamland. It’s hydrating and plumping yes, but it also delivers good-for-skin ingredients like hyaluronic acid and aloe leaf extract without any sulfates or parabens. Pro tip: Pair this with its matching rose-filled toner for an extra burst of moisture.
At this point, I’ve tried serums, treatments, and exfoliators with price tags so high they made my eyes pop, and yet this $16 liquid peel has delivered the most impressive results by far. Its smell is a bit medicinal, I’ll admit, but by morning time, my skin tone is more even and my breakouts appear significantly calmer. There’s no stinging or tingling involved, either.
My super-thirsty skin simply drinks up this super moisturizing cream. Its non-comedogenic ingredients are ideal for my breakouts, and honestly, it feels like a much more affordable dupe to the iconic La Mer (and yes, I’ve tested and trialed that one, too).
It seems like celebrities come out with beauty brands left and right, and while I don’t pay much mind to most of them (I find myself taking on this “stay in your lane” mentality that’s probably harshly judgmental), Halsey’s line is an exception. This frosty-pink gloss gives me major 2000s lip vibes, and I am here for it.
Bronzer is one of those products I don’t enjoy leaving the house without, particularly because my naturally pale skin is basically an open invitation to those “You look tired” comments (news flash: I probably am!). Unfortunately, many bronzer powders on the market are formulated with talc, and as someone who is largely committed to clean beauty, it’s hard to find something that I feel good about brushing on. Ilia’s NightLite bronzer takes the cake: It’s a natural, never orange glow that’s vegan, fragrance-free, and cruelty-free too.
My acne-prone skin is peppered with hyperpigmentation and redness, so if I’m applying concealer, I’m looking for something full coverage. This has easily become my go-to, particularly because it looks natural, doesn’t crease, and simply lasts and lasts, even when I forgo setting spray.
I’ll be honest: As someone who has solely relied on their trusty Urban Decay Naked eye shadow palette for probably longer than she should, I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this multitasking palette as much as I do. The colors compliment my skin tone and eye color perfectly, but probably my favorite part is the how-to-apply guide on the back of the palette. Eye shadow isn’t my forte, necessarily, so I thoroughly appreciated being instructed where to apply what.
There’s nothing I love more than a drugstore beauty find, and in my experience, eyebrow products don’t often deserve the highly marked-up prices they typically have. Not only does this eyebrow kit come to a total of $11, but just a dab and a brush are really all you need to get that full, bushy eyebrow look.
This quite literal pot of gold has worked major magic on a year where haircuts were few and far between. While certainly a splurge, this gold mask infused with argan oil and peptides immediately repairs my dry, brittle strands.
My naturally wavy, frizzy hair and traditional hair dryers don’t exactly get along. When I’m craving a blowout, though, this is the alternative that works for me. I like using the lowest setting and curling the ends to add volume. It leaves my hair so smooth, I don’t even need to go over it with a straightener afterward.
Philip B has done it again. I love spritzing this conditioning spray on my ends while they’re air drying to eliminate frizz and detangle pesky knots, although admittedly, its delicious scent is what really keeps me reaching for this bottle again and again.
I’m such a sucker for packaging, which gives me all the more reason to stow this adorable hair masque on my shower shelf. It’s a conditioning mask that will give you softer, healthier hair before you can even finish reading the adorable story printed on the front of its bottle.
I have very oily, thin hair which means skipping wash days is not really an option. I’ve dabbled in dry shampoo for years and nothing has ever seemed to make the slightest difference without leaving a cakey residue on my scalp. The only product that ever actually worked for me was baby powder, which, again, is not ideal given it's formulated with talc. Discovering this dry shampoo has been a complete game-changer, allowing me to extend my hairstyle for much longer than I normally could.
I’m not one for overly fragrant body products but this one is just subtle enough to make my list. It’s citrusy without being overpowering and gives bathtime a bit of a luxurious, spa-like feel (so much so that even my boyfriend enjoys using it).
Perhaps it’s because this deodorant’s scent reminds me of my inclination towards essential oils (I consider my diffuser an, ahem, essential part of my routine) or maybe it simply smells really, really good, but Native’s natural deodorant in a lavender-and-rose scent is definitely one to be restocked.
There’s no one I trust more than Erin when it comes to perfume—sweet-smelling goodness practically wafts through the apartment whenever she’s home. So when she recommended spritzing on this bottle, I immediately knew it could be The One. It was, of course, but its stunning bottle is reason enough to keep this one on my vanity.
Between the clean packaging and vegan ingredients, there isn’t much not to love about Nécessaire. I’ve used the brand’s body wash and other products before, but its exfoliator takes the cake. I especially love how it includes salicylic acid and chemical exfoliants to prevent body acne—a win-win in my book.