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Our Beauty Writer Reveals Her Very Favorite Products

Head to toe, we've got you covered.

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photo collage of beauty editors favorite beauty products
Ethel Staff
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As someone who has written about beauty for decades, I’ve gotten to test-drive a lot of products. I’m also constantly checking in with dermatologists, beauty experts and readers' suggestions while also scrutinizing friends’ faces for products that work.

So here’s my list. From skincare to haircare to splurge-worthy tools, these are a few of my very favorite things — plus a few other options.

I am pale. So very pale that in elementary school I was called into the nurse’s office for “looking sickly." My mother used to pinch my cheeks — a 30-second remedy at best.

Over the years, I’ve tried all kinds of blush powders and creams, but nothing compares to Jones Road Miracle Balm from makeup guru Bobbi Brown for $38. It’s a highlighter and skin tone corrector that comes in 12 colors and delivers a natural-looking glow. A friend asked recently if I’d just come back from the Caribbean. Other options for a sun-kissed glow are any of the silky powders from CoverGirl — most under $10 — and Ulta’s Too Cheeky Lip and Cheek Color.

Next up, I’m a fan of sweet almond oil, which is rich in Vitamin E, magnesium and fatty acids, and has been used for centuries in Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine to moisturize and treat skin diseases such as eczema.

Lightweight and with many brands fragrance-free, this natural oil also helps maintain elasticity and you won’t believe how baby-soft your face will feel. (It's also soothing as an all-body treatment.) You can then rub some sparingly into your hair and this versatile potion tames the frizzies and nourishes dry locks — perfect protection from the hot summer rays. Sweet almond oil, available online from multiple sources, has helped my skin look better than some of those over-hyped hundred-dollar serums. Look for brands that are produced without GMOs.

Recently I noticed that my beautiful friend Lauren Sydney, a media presentation coach, had an extra glow. Her secret? Nurse Jamie Beauty Stamp for $50, she told me. Unlike other roller-type devices, this unique micro-exfoliation tool creates what can be described as “mini-highways” on the face. This makes penetration of serums and creams more effective. After about three weeks, you’ll likely start to see a glow, one that doesn’t go away when you wash off your makeup.

Other tools I like include kathy ireland® Breeze2 Airbrush Skin Device Only. I’m usually wary of celeb-sanctioned products, but this handheld system endorsed by the former supermodel uses a variety of different ultra-fine mists — including one that boosts hydration, another that plumps skin, a blemish fighter and three others to condition skin— works. The airbrush mist system allows for deeper penetration of the serums and it’s more efficient than traditional rub on techniques as it allows for easy, quick and complete coverage of the face, neck and jawline. The Solawave 4-in-1 Advanced Skincare Wand with Red Light Therapy used for three minutes three times a week helps reduce the appearance of wrinkles, fine lines and dark circles.

These tools can be pricey — but they are splurges that last and far more economical than repeated glow treatments you’d get with an esthetician.

I started moisturizing my face in my 20s. But, it wasn’t until three decades later when crepey skin started to, well, creep up my arms, that I realized I needed to moisturize my whole body. Listen, nothing’s going to get rid of the crepe, but all-body moisturizers will help with hydration and some elasticity. Gold Bond’s Age Renew Retinol Overnight Body & Face Lotion is unscented and very affordable (13 ounces for about $17). For the same silky effect with a scent, try Olay’s Collagen Firming & Hydrating Body Lotion, also cost-saving at under $12 for a 17-ounce bottle. For a splurge, L’Occitane Shea Butter Ultra Rich Body Cream is another favorite, super creamy and very gentle on sensitive skin.

During the pandemic, I was desperate to find a product to cover up my roots. To the rescue came hairstylist Tina Montalbano, who goes by “Heart," who recommended COLOR WOW Root Cover-Up. Unlike those products that just sit on the hair and look phony, COLOR WOW, priced at $35 covers the incoming gray, touches up highlights and is very natural looking. Runners up: Madison Reed Root Touch Up and Clairol Nice ‘n Easy Root Touch Up, which comes in 27 colors.

Lastly, here's a marvelous face mask! On the very first morning that our foster son Massama — a then college student and part-time model — stayed at our house he emerged from the bathroom with his face covered in green caked goop. “Seaweed mask,” he explained, as he quickly fled to the refuge of his bedroom. Massama whips up his own do-it-yourself concoction, though you can find lots of recipes on the web, to custom-design your own seaweed mask.

Yes, it’s messier than sheet masks, but seaweed is a proven hydrating ingredient in skincare products and I love the way my skin looks after I wash off the green, nourishing goop — dewy and refreshed. Though I prefer my seaweed mask to come out of a jar or tube, a range of such products and prices are also available online. One caveat: Be sure to put on your glasses and peep into your magnifying mirror after you think you’ve washed off the mask — I always find a couple of green globs that I missed.

What beauty product do you absolutely swear by? Let us know in the comments below.

Photo: Courtesy Ulta (5); Courtesy Jones Road Beauty.

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