My 15 Favorite Beauty Products
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First of all, no, TLA isn’t turning into a beauty blog! That said, I get quite a few questions, through both social media and email, about what I use on my hair and skin so I thought it’d be useful to just write it up.
I think of my approach to beauty as pretty low maintenance. I don’t spend a lot of time on any particular regimen, but I do believe in investing in products that work. That doesn’t mean the most expensive on the shelf (there is no La Mer in my beauty cabinet, alas), but it does mean buying the best you can afford (which is, honestly, my general approach to life). If cheap hair products make your hair break off, did you really save money? If a cheap facewash makes your skin crack and peel, was it really worth the lower price? I’m inclined to say, “No.”
Because of where I live (the Seattle area), I also try to use local products whenever possible. The Pacific Northwest has a thriving small business community, and you can find most anything, including beauty products, made nearby. Locally made products don’t usually cost less than drug or department store products, but for me, the tradeoff is worth it in knowing I’m supporting my local small business community (which is something I’m much more invested in since becoming a small business owner myself). And as a consumer, it’s fantastic when you’re able to have a one-on-one conversation with the person who made your product. That’s just not an experience you can get with mass-produced items (though, of course, those have their place too).
Finally, because this blog post is about products I use specifically (and, even more pointedly, products I use most everyday), they will be tailored to my skintone and hair type. I feel like that should go without saying, but just in case there was any confusion, I’ve said it. Now, on to the list!
Skincare (Face & Body):
I use almost all local products for cleansing and moisturizing my skin, but if you see anything you like, you can order these online and have them sent to you. Dr. Jen’s House of Beauty (a.k.a. Atomic Cosmetics, a.k.a. Xerion Skin Science) was founded by the eponymous Dr. Jen, who has doctorates in both biophysics and biochemistry. After using her knowledge to assess the contents of her cosmetics bag, she was appalled at the list of ingredients and resolved to make something that was natural, toxin-free, and still effective. My skin feels so good since I’ve started using these products, and I notice a difference when I run out or have to use something else (such as the time my moisturizer exploded in my suitcase). While I’m listing all the things I use on a daily basis below, if you just want to start small, I’d try the calming cleanser and time rewind.
On a typical day, I start off with the calming facial cleanser or fruit scrub followed by the time rewind serum. At night, I use the calming facial cleanser (sometimes followed by the toner) and then the night cream. I use the Sweet Pea baby lotion on the rest of my body. I try to moisturize everything as soon as I’m dried off from the shower, as that really helps your skin to maintain moisture. During the winter, I switch to a more intensive moisturizer — the Pinkalicious body butter (only without color or the shimmer). Before now, I was never super passionate about my skincare products. I’ve always used a facial cleanser and a face lotion and a body lotion, but I was never excited about them until I started using this line.
For the actual cleansing of the body, I’m a fan of the local soap company Pirouette, specifically their Honey Jasmine bar soap. I think it’s important to start off your day with something that makes you feel good, and the scent of honey and jasmine feels like a luxurious indulgence before I get to work. I also find this soap to be more moisturizing and less “stripping” than other brands. I don’t think of myself as having exceptionally dry skin, but it will start to feel tight and stretched if I use too harsh a soap. That’s definitely more of an issue during the winter than the summer. Less frequently, I use Sara Happ’s Vanilla Bean Body Scrub. It’s good for just sloughing off those dead skin cells and making you feel reborn.
I am very particular about my hair products. I’ve tried so many different things from so many different companies, and a lot of them just don’t work for my hair. I’m also really sensitive to the scent of what’s on my hair all day and the texture. Moisturizing creams that smells like rancid milk or hair oils that never soak in and just stays slick and greasy for days? Nope. As of right now, my favorite shampoo and conditioner combo is by Loma Organics, which is also made in Washington.
Like many women with natural hair, I co-wash, which means I use a conditioner to “wash” my hair on a daily basis and a shampoo only every couple weeks or so. If you have curly, dry, kinky hair, co-washing helps with retaining moisture and keeping your hair soft and healthy.
To keep my scalp moisturized, I love Josie Maran Argan Oil. It’s intense enough to really make my scalp feel well oiled, but not so heavy and slick that I’m annoyed with my hair for the rest of the day. It also makes an excellent moisturizer. I tend to smear it on my face and body when I’m traveling, as it’s more intense than a lotion but not as thick as a body balm (wouldn’t do to be greasy at the airport after all).
My all-time favorite Sephora detangling comb was discontinued a couple of years ago (grrrrr…), but this one is an okay replacement. I prefer to finger comb my hair in the shower while it’s conditioning, and only intensely detangle a couple of days a week. That helps with avoiding breakage, which can be a huge problem for my hair texture. Fair warning: this is an intense comb. If your hair isn’t thick and curly and prone to ferocious tangles, you probably won’t like it.
I don’t have a leave-in treatment or deep conditioner as part of my 15 faves here, and that’s because I haven’t found one I’m in love with yet. I’m going through a tube of Tigi Time Extend Moisture Lotion, and it’s pretty good, but I don’t know if I like it enough to buy again. I also use Keratase’s Hair Masques to deep condition on occasion, but again, not falling head over heels for ’em. I’m always keeping an eye out for something better though, so if you have any recommendations, please let me know.
Finally, let’s talk makeup. I don’t wear makeup on a daily basis, and while I can put on a “full face,” it’s not my preferred look. If I need to toss on some makeup quickly, I just use a handful of products to even me out and call it a day.
This waterproof eye pencil is technically an eye liner, but I wear it like a shadow over the whole lid. It gives evenness and a bit of depth when worn alone, and makes a good base for powders when worn with other shadows. It also lasts all day, which is so important in the summer. I have this pencil in a few other colors like purple and turquoise, but I wear the brown most often by far.
If you’ve read any fashion magazine ever, you’ve probably heard of YSL Touche Éclat, but I didn’t believe the hype until I tried it myself. For me, a few strategic swipes is all it takes to look like I’m wearing tinted moisturizer or a light coverage foundation. It adds a little brightness and evenness to the complexion without the feeling of a face full of makeup. And it’s incredibly easy to apply – no extra brushes needed.
I wear this blush all the time. Summer… winter… the seasons in between. It’s so easy to apply (press your fingers in the blush, then press your fingers on your cheeks), and one pot lasts for ages. It also makes a good lip color in a pinch. Finally, if you happen to leave your blush at home, you can pick this up cheaply almost anywhere. I’ve tried a few blushes, but I always come back to using this one.
I had a hard time choosing my favorite lip product. I probably buy more lipstick/lip balm than anything else, and I rotate wearing them all (gotta have well moisturized lips). I have a couple of tubes of Chantecaille that I’m nursing as I think they’ve discontinued the color, and I’ve always liked Fresh Sugar’s lip balm. But I think I’m most enamored of Dior Lip Glow right now. It moisturizes well and adds subtle color and shine.
Unfortunately, I don’t really have a favorite mascara. I’ve tried a bunch (Smashbox Hyperlash is the one I have the fondest memories of), but none that’ve made me go, “This is it forever and ever.” But if you’ve got a fave mascara you think I should try, please do let me know.
I wanted a signature fragrance for years… and couldn’t find one. As a young adult around the age of 20/21, I wore Valentino Absolu (the one in the red bottle) and that was my first “real” perfume. It was a very mature scent, but I adored it. It was woodsy, musky, and sweet all at once against my skin. I’ve tried a few things since, but none of them have really felt like “me.” Until I find that signature scent, I wear C.O. Bigelow’s Vanilla Fragrance Oil on a daily basis. It’s one note, but it mixes with the natural scent of my skin to give me unique fragrance. It’s pretty potent stuff so you don’t need a lot, and I think the price is excellent (around $15.00).
And those are my 15 favorite beauty products! Were there any surprises for you? Anything you’d like to try? And are there certain beauty products you’re really loving right now?