One of the major perks of being a beauty editor is the abundance of products at my disposal. I’ve slathered my face in serums that cost more than a steak dinner, adorned my curls with the most luxe oils, and played with just about every liquid eyeliner there is. While I consider myself a humble queen who doesn’t rely too heavily on external validation, I am human and certainly take notice when certain features of mine rack up compliments. And when I post selfies to my Instagram Stories, or even sometimes when I’m out walking the dog, the areas that seem to attract the most praise from friends, family, and passersby are my skin, eyebrows, and nails.
As someone who’s got more beauty products than I can even fit in my house (I had to build out a whole organizational setup just to house them all), I do sometimes get product ADD. But I guess I’m passionate enough about soft skin, bushy eyebrows, and pretty nails to have cultivated go-to routines around those areas, stacked with products that keep my interest despite all the shiny distractions. Interested in the reveal? Keep reading for the 20 products that deserve all the credit.
As someone who used to regularly fall asleep with my makeup on (cringe!), my cleansing ritual is now among the most important pieces of my skincare routine and is, as far as I’m concerned, the main reason my skin is as clear and soft as it is now. But not any cleanser could have gotten me to this place. This IS Clinical one is pricey but worth every penny. From the slippery, serum-like texture to the soft yet ultraclean feeling it leaves behind, it’s just perfect. I recently recommended it to a friend who was having a maskne issue, and it cleared her skin right up within a few days of use. I’m a sucker for tingly feels, and this balm delivers that as it melts away makeup, sunscreen, and any other grime holding me back from a soft, clean mug. I’m super picky about physical exfoliators. There aren’t many I’ll use and even fewer that have made it into my regular rotation. This skin polish tops my list because it combines physical and chemical exfoliation in a thick paste of tiny, pure minerals and pumpkin and pomegranate enzymes. It warms up slightly as you buff it, which is another comforting element that I love. My skin is so bright and soft after I use it. I’m also hopelessly devoted to this pulsating silicone face scrubber by Foreo. I love silicone brushes in general, but this electric one sends a pretty intense vibration into my face that leaves my skin feeling so deeply cleansed but never roughed up or irritated. I just move it in small circles all over my face with my favorite cleanser. I love this tiny one because it fits nicely in my hand and can slide right into the tough-to-clean spots, like the area around my nose, with ease. I gifted my future sister-in-law the larger Foreo Luna 3 ($169) for Christmas a few years back, and she constantly tells me how much she loves it. Before you come at me in my DMs about this, the answer is yes—this tiny bottle of serum is worth $166. I’ve tried so many vitamin C serums (I was well acquainted way before it became a trending product due to my constant battle with hyperpigmentation), and this one simply can’t be beaten. Sure, there are cheaper options that get the job done, but one thing that also amazes me about this one is how long the bottle lasts. The jury’s still out on whether the ingredients are as potent after opening and closing the bottle so many times, though. I’m extremely cautious about the mix of ingredients being used on my face at any given time, but one thing I’ll never give up is this weekly Resurfacing Peel. It’s a two-step treatment, which Dr. Gross himself has told me is super important for making sure that the acids are properly neutralized. Step one is chock-full of lactic and glycolic acids and enzymes, and step two contains calming centella asiatica, green tea extract, and colloidal oatmeal. If you know me, or at least follow me on Instagram, then you’ve heard me shout out these cooling, hydrating masks over and over again. Seriously, there is nothing in my routine that feels like as much of a treat as these. Any fine lines on my face are instantly plumped up after I wear this goo for 20 minutes or so. My all-time favorite trick for infusing tons of yummy moisture (both of those words make me cringe, too, but stay with me) into my skin is layering this facial oil underneath a sleeping mask and letting them work their magic together overnight. No matter what my skin is going through—whether it be seasonal dryness or irritation from a new product—this combination makes a huge difference by morning. I always do this the night before I’m going to be photographed because my skin is just so dang soft, calm, and plump the next day. This has been my favorite sleeping mask for years. If you don’t know, this kind of mask is basically just a super-thick moisturizer that you don’t necessarily even have to rinse off if you don’t want to. But when layered on top of oil, it creates a soft, nurturing cocoon on my skin that makes it amazingly soft. I also love that it doesn’t have any synthetic fragrance added, so although I don’t get a charming whiff of fruit or mint or whatever the scent of the moment is, I can rest assured that there’s zero chance of the irritation that fragrance can sometimes cause. Oh, and I shave my face. Those in denial will call it dermaplaning, but I’m woman enough to admit that my goal for using these little babies is hair removal. The smooth, glowy skin that appears as a result is just an added bonus. I have naturally thick brows, so honestly, I can get away with not filling them in at all if I just use this brow wax from Patrick Ta. It essentially plasters your brows to your face, giving them that feathery, laminated look in just a minute or two. It takes a bit of practice to get the method down, but once you do, you’re golden. I’m a big proponent of brow pens. They’re the best product to use if you like to create individual, hair-like strokes throughout your brows, as opposed to shading with a pencil or powder. The key is to use ultra-light pressure so you’re not accidentally depositing too much ink that looks like aggressive pen marks instead of whispy hairs. I feel like no one talks about highlighting underneath the brows anymore. Sure, it can look wild if you go too hard, but in my opinion, adding a touch of highlight under the tail of the brows makes your face look so much more “done,” if you will. Not to mention that if your brows are wildly overgrown, like mine have gotten more than once over the last few months, you can literally cover any rogue hairs with this highlighter to disguise them. If it looks too bright on its own, just tone it down with a bit of eye shadow that matches your skin tone. Like I mentioned above, I have naturally thick eyebrows, and over the years, I’ve gotten more and more comfortable with a more low-maintenance shape that lets me go months between grooming appointments. Call it quarantine crazies, but I’ve now waxed my own eyebrows twice this year, and this strip-free set makes it so easy. I’m beyond conservative and only take off very few hairs at a time (in fact, I use a cuticle pusher to apply the wax instead of the big sticks in this kit), but I love how much cleaner the results are when I wax rather than tweeze. This plug-in wax warmer is another item that’s made my at-home waxing setup feel like the real deal. It evenly melts the wax in about 15 minutes and gets it to the perfect temperature, so I don’t have to worry about burning myself. I am a nail freak. Visiting the nail shop was one of my favorite activities back when that was allowed, and I’d always come in with nail-art inspiration from my favorite Instagram accounts, like @nailjob and @unistella_kr. But even before quarantine made nail shop visits all but impossible, I’d started caring for my nails from home, and this set from Olive and June made the transition seamless. Although I’m less adventurous with carrying out nail art on my own, everything in this kit from the cleanup brush to the Poppy brush stabilizer makes for a neat, professional-looking manicure. Plus, the brand drops the most fire colors every season. I’ve never had a problem growing long nails, but an issue I do run into is that my nails are pretty weak and start to break super drastically once they hit a certain length. This has been a lifelong struggle, which has, no doubt, been exacerbated by years of wearing hard gel nail polish and sometimes tearing it off of my nails instead of letting a professional remove it more gently. Over the last few months, I’ve been working on strengthening my nails, and this trio of treatments has made a tremendous difference. There’s a ridge filler that makes the surface of my nails nice and smooth, a strengthener that infuses my nails with nutrients to keep them healthy and strong, and cuticle oil to condition the entire nail bed. The more than 12,000 five-star Amazon reviews aren’t lying about this one. It works so incredibly well at encouraging long, strong nails. Even if I have to hack my nails down to nubs due to a dramatic break, after a few weeks of concentrating this cream into my cuticles and nails, they’re back to a super-pretty length. To me, a popping manicure is nothing without soft hands to go along with it. This newish hand cream from Glossier is the one. I’m someone who applies hand cream all day, every day, especially now that my already obsessive handwashing has gotten even more intense. This is one of those creams that makes you want an excuse to put it on. It smells so good, too. Look, even luxurious women like myself have to do dishes sometimes. Life is unfair that way! Aside from being low-key annoying, chores like this can wreak havoc on a fresh manicure. Wearing gloves whenever I need to deal with dish soap and scalding water not only keeps my hands and cuticles from drying out, but it also helps keep my paint job intact. Gloves are a no-frills solution for the queens who have to bust some suds now and again. Up next, The Most Elite Celeb Beauty Experts Just Approved These 16 Items for Your Vanity