Twenty-twenty has been theme park–level wild, and the highs and lows of
our beauty routines feel like a roller coaster. I’ve talked to so many people about their quarantine experience with respect to beauty, and the responses have been all over the spectrum. Most people I know have barely touched their makeup bag (or they’re leaning heavily into eye makeup), many people have had some “crisis” relating to their hair (whether it’s stress-induced strand loss, foot-long roots, or at-home cut nightmares), and there’s also been a lot happening with our skin—the good, the not so good, and everything in between.
After surveying all of
my beauty-loving co-workers, it became pretty obvious that while we’ve put certain products on hold since March, we’ve been blowing through others at record-breaking speed. Because we’ve collectively accumulated tons of product empties since quarantine began, we decided to put all of our testing to good use by sharing 30 must-have items we’ve used every last drop of (and whether or not we’ll be repurchasing). Keep scrolling to find out which beauty products we’ve used and loved most.
Full disclosure, it took a hot second for me to get used to this exfoliator from Nécessaire. Even though I’m thoroughly obsessed with the brand’s Body Serum, Body Lotion, and Body Wash, this exfoliator isn’t your average body scrub, which threw me off at first, but now I’m decidedly hooked on it. I have it in the Eucalyptus scent, and I love that it makes my shower smell like a spa even though I reside on the stuffy third floor of an L.A. apartment building. It’s meant to be used once weekly and features two methods of exfoliation. Yes, you get that satisfying physical exfoliation from bamboo charcoal and pumice, but where the real magic happens is the base. It’s boosted with strategic exfoliating acids such as glycolic, lactic, and salicylic and hydrating marula oil to buff away all the dead stuff while still keeping your skin feeling moisturized and balanced. I’m going to be repurchasing because unlike so many body scrubs I’ve tried, this never leaves my skin red, dry, or looking like I was just attacked by a cat. I’m going to try the Sandalwood version next.
I wasn’t kidding when I said I’m infatuated with all things Nécessaire, and I go through a bottle of its fragrance-free body lotion every couple of months or so. I’m so picky with the lotions, butters, and oils I apply post-shower, and I love how easily and quickly this one absorbs into my skin while still leaving a healthy, moisturized glow behind. I’ll probably repurchase because I do love this formula so much, but I just received Dr, Jart+’s new Ceramidin Body Lotion ($25) and will be working my way through that first.
Renée Rouleau’s holy-grail Triple Berry Smoothing Peel is truly irreplaceable within my beauty routine. I use it anywhere between one to three times a week (depending on how my bump-prone skin is behaving), and there is simply not another mask or at-home peel on the market like it. It smells (and looks) amazing thanks to its roster of juicy berries, but the glow and velvety-smooth finish you reap after every application are what keeps me coming back again and again and again. I probably go through three to four of these each year. (And yes, I’ve been using this product since I became a beauty editor over three years ago.)
I almost always use the zit-banishing, antibacterial mask after I use the berry peel, so running out of both formulas at roughly the same time is inevitable. I always come back to this mask because it does truly keep current and future breakouts at bay without sucking the moisture, radiance, or life out of my skin.
This is the face mist that made me believe in face mists. I’m almost all the way through my second bottle since celebrity facialist Melanie Grant put me on to it last February pre-quarantine. It’s hydrating, and it really does make my pores look tighter and more refined while also boosting plumpness and luminosity. I like to spray it all over my face and neck right after I get out of the shower when my skin is still a bit damp. Now that I know it’s magic, my morning skincare routine wouldn’t be the same, and I can’t live without it!
Ah, another IS Clinical obsession because, yes, I have many! I discovered this amazing serum at the same time as the Copper Firming Mist, and I don’t think it’s any coincidence my skin has been on an upward swing ever since. I just received my third bottle because I’m so in love with how this makes my complexion look and feel (dewy, supple, hydrated, and calm) that I pretty much apply it every day, morning and night. It has hyaluronic acid in addition to other strategic ingredients like Centella Asiatica, vitamin B5, kojic acid, and soothing menthol, which are all especially healing and beneficial for people like me who struggle with acne or sensitivity.
I started using these pads every other night or so when I copied Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s acne skin routine to the T for a story. They have some serious bite to them, and while I used every last one and I think they do help clear acne, I also felt like they had a little too much vim and vigor for my complexion to handle. I debated reordering and using them just a few times a week to discourage new bumps, but then I received Peter Thomas Roth’s new Pro Strength Exfoliating Super Peel ($88) tonic, and I cannot believe how effective it is for blemish-prone skin. I’ve only been using it for one week (at night), and my skin has reached record-level smoothness and clarity with zero dryness or irritation. I have a feeling it’s going to be one of my best beauty discoveries of 2020.
This has been the year of hand cream. Not only are we using it at a record pace, but also it seems like every single beauty brand has launched its own version. I’ve tried lots (like 20), and Glossier’s adorably packaged formula is my favorite. I’m addicted to the smell, which is a riff on its beloved perfume, Glossier You ($60), and it leaves my hands soft and silky without too much grease, stickiness, or residue. I’m on my second container.
I can’t get enough of this cleanser, and I just reordered a new bottle because I know I’m getting down to the bottom of the barrel. I can’t go a day without it! It’s gentle, it’s hydrating, it has a calming (yet mild) scent, and it’s the perfect, easy-on-the-skin face wash that gets the job done efficiently and sets my face up for my more active toners and serums. I stay clear of cleansers that are too harsh because they’re always too much in combination with the rest of my skin regimen. This one is practically perfect in every way.
I’ve always struggled with sleep and a touch of insomnia, but 2020 has been next-level—not only falling asleep but staying asleep as well. I’m still experimenting with ways to cope with the latter, but these tasty mint-chocolate chews from Goop have been significantly helpful with the former. Depending on the time of night and how much caffeine I sucked down during the day, I’ll take one or two, and I’m always super sleepy and ready to hit the hay about 30 minutes afterward no matter what. I have also been experimenting with these THC- and CBN-spiked gummies from Kiva, and I’ve found one gummy and one chew seems to be a magic ticket for falling asleep faster and staying asleep longer.
I’m a huge Sakara fan. Not only do I order its five-day meal plan twice a month, but I also regularly use and snack on the best-selling items from its Clean Boutique. That said, I definitely go through its Metabolism Super Powder the fastest, and I’m so happy to know the brand just added a monthly subscription option. (I’ve probably reordered three to five times by now, so this will be so helpful.) I wrote a full, in-depth, personal review on this product here when it first launched, but in summary, it keeps me bloat-free, regular, and more energetic. The yummy chocolate flavor is also so delicious, and I typically blend a packet into my hot coffee in the morning for a makeshift, dreamy mocha situation or into my daily smoothie.
I’m almost always wearing at least one coat of some kind of self-tanning formula. I’ve never been one to sit out in the sun, but I love to give my naturally super-fair skin an extra dose of glow and color. I’ve tried every formula and brand on the market (that’s a fact, not an exaggeration), and Tanologist is my current go-to that I’ve been recommending to everyone. Not only are the formulas super affordable, but they’re also cruelty-free, organic, vegan, hydrating, clear (no transfer!), relatively odorless, and noncomedogenic. I was having major issues with lots of self-tanners breaking me out on my chest and back, and Tanologist has completely fixed that. I love the express formulas—both the waters and the mousses—and I’ve found this medium-toned mousse is my best match. You’ll get a darker, deeper tan the longer you leave it on, and I’ve found letting it marinate for about six hours is my magic number. I also appreciate that it lasts about a full week and fades evenly. I’m hooked!
I think I’ve had a total of two professional manicures this year, and at-home jobs have been where it’s at. I’m pretty much an exclusive Olive & June girl these days (polish, tools, everything), but I go through these remover pots especially fast. (I’m the kind of person who can’t ever have bare or chipped nails, so I have a weekly regimen.) These pots are not only completely spill- and mess-proof, but they also make the chore of removing nail polish much faster and significantly less tedious.
I am in love with this sunscreen. I’ve tried many clean sunscreens, and while I like a lot of them fine, this one is leaps and bounds better for a smooth application that is more like putting on your favorite light moisturizer. I swear the texture is almost whipped-feeling. Also, a lot of sunscreens that get the clean stamp of approval at places like Sephora still have problematic ingredients like octinoxate and homosalate, which this sunscreen avoids. And while Versed is on the very affordable end of clean sunscreens, that doesn’t stop me from cutting open the bottle to get the last drop. My thrifty mom would be so proud.
If your skin is feeling dry, almost every beauty editor and dermatologist would recommend a hyaluronic serum, and Barbara Sturm’s version is the luxury gold standard in the category. Though this bottle is relatively petite, I found just a drop or two spreads really far, so I’ve been able to stretch the bottle for months. And if you’re curious about the power of a hyaluronic serum, and Sturm’s formulation specifically, I recently accidentally put it to the ultimate test: I used a product that was way too harsh for my skin, which resulted in a chemical burn. My skin looked like I was wearing a red mask, and it felt like sandpaper to the touch. It was hyaluronic serum to the rescue, and the moisturizing product nursed my poor red skin back to health in about half the time I thought it would take.
I could wax poetic about how much I love this oil. First, this deeply intoxicating scent—it’s warm and musky but somehow still feels light. It’s also really moisturizing without that slippery feeling that most oil-based products tend to leave behind. Although I use this mostly as a body moisturizer, it can multitask as a face and hair oil, makeup remover, after-shave, and even a natural insect repellent! Needless to say, this has a permanent spot in my routine.
I decided when quarantine began that I would use the time as an opportunity to make the switch to natural deodorant. Aside from a few roll-on buys that work more like traditional sweat-blockers, I also ordered this Aēsop herbal deodorant spray to use on days when I don’t really leave the house or exercise heavily. Who knew there would be a lot of those! Four months later, and it’s nearly finished, but I’ll definitely be repurchasing soon. I love the scent, and it really does the trick.
I never knew how much I needed a sunscreen spray for my face until I tried this one from Coola. Technically, it’s a makeup-setting spray, but I primarily use it to reapply SPF at the beach when my hands are too sandy to touch my face (makeup or no makeup!). Besides being convenient, this sunscreen doesn’t actually smell like sunscreen. I’ve spent more time in the sun over the last few months than I should probably admit, so I’m already on my second bottle.
I received a sample of this hydrating serum in my last Sephora haul, and I can’t explain how impressed I was by it. To be fair, my expectations weren’t particularly high because I typically stay away from rose-scented skincare, which makes me feel like I’m putting perfume on my face. Not the case here! I loved the subtle floral scent, and I found the serum itself was quite hydrating. Since I only had a sample I finished it in less than a week, but I would 100% buy in the future.
I’ve been hooked on this stuff since January and just had to reorder my second bottle. It’s pricey, but it does last a good three months. It has truly changed the overall tone and texture of my skin. It’s formulated with tons of antioxidants, vitamins C and E, and retinol, and it does everything from minimizing the appearance of pores to brightening dark spots, and I just love it so much.
You’re probably sick of me writing about this product, but it’s just that good. I don’t even know how many I’ve had to replenish, but I just placed an order because I can’t imagine going a day without it. It’s made with over 22 active ingredients, all of which help fight signs of aging. It just gives my complexion a dewy glow, and the scent is so calming. I like to apply a few drops into the palms of my hands and press them into my skin for a few seconds and repeat, pushing and pressing until I’ve covered my entire face.
Hi, I have an expensive-skincare problem. Please don’t judge me. Somehow, my most expensive items always seem to run out within a two-week window of each other, and it sucks. Honestly, I hate that I love this stuff so much because it’s pricey, but it’s so worth it. (Your face is worth it!) It’s a patented formula (hence the price tag) with a blend of 15% pure vitamin C, which brightens skin; 1% vitamin E, which replenishes skin lipids; and 0.5% ferulic acid, which is a plant-based antioxidant that basically enhances the benefits of vitamins C and E.
I’ve been taking these yummy orange-flavored vegan gummies for over a year now, and I do think they help give my complexion a subtle glow. (They’re made with hyaluronic acid and vitamin C.) But honestly, it’s hard to really know because I use a lot of good skincare too. But I don’t want to stop because I am happy with how my complexion currently looks, so who knows what it’d look like if I stopped?
This is my go-to coconut oil, and I have to reorder it every six-ish weeks. I use it every morning as soon as I’m out of the shower when my skin is still damp. My skin is always so soft and smooth, and I swear it’s because of this (and dry brushing).
I’ve been rotating between Supergoop!’s Unseen Sunscreen and Glowscreen every day of quarantine. Yes, I have really tried to be good at wearing sunscreen every day even when I don’t leave the house! I think I’ve had an 85% success rate of remembering. Anyway, I squeezed this one to the last drop and then some. It’s so weightless and goes on with a smooth, matte finish, so it doesn’t really feel like I’m wearing much. The tube can last you a long time, too, which is an economical bonus!
While this isn’t exactly empty just yet, it’s getting dangerously close to it! I’ve basically been using five products religiously throughout quarantine, and Versed’s Weekend Glow is one of them. I apply it after washing my face in the morning and at night. I love that the toner brightens and clears my skin but doesn’t have that stinging feeling. It’s also really good at erasing annoying blemishes and dark spots. I had one on my forehead a few weeks ago, and it’s completely gone now!
I’ve tried plenty of other hair oils and always come back to this lightweight, affordable one. I have tons of little baby hairs at my hairline, and I live in a very humid part of the country, but Ghost Oil calms everything down in seconds.
I fully realize that paying $50 for a hand cream is kind of wild, but it’s Augustinus Bader! They don’t make the prices high for nothing. With my very frequent handwashing, my hands were in bad shape earlier this year, but this vitamin-packed cream took years off of them. A little goes a long way, which makes the price more palatable.
I needed a good, no-frills, lightweight moisturizer for summer, and Shani Darden’s proved to be gold. It makes a great makeup primer, and I always apply it after using an acid or peel since my skin is dry, and it noticeably reduces redness. I’ll definitely continue to use it year-round.
Up next: August Was Our Best Month Yet for Beauty Discoveries—Meet Our Newfound Treasures