Half the fun of skin care is what the product comes in.
“Shelfies” or photos of shelves lined with pretty glass jars with minimalist black and white labels and colorful, intricate bottles have taken over my Instagram feed. While these posts show off the products that look as good as they work, there also are the unsung heroes in our routines.
You know the ones — we hide them in drawers, shove them in the medicine cabinet, throw them into cosmetic bags — anything we can to get them out of sight.
Last year, beauty blog Into the Gloss detailed their favorites of these kind of products, dubbed “Bottom Drawer” beauty (a play on the blog’s iconic Top Shelf feature detailing people’s top products.) I got inspired to dig out some of my own. Here’s my favorite products. They may not be pretty but they get the job done.
Weleda Skin Food (original tube)
Weleda Skin Food is amazing. Made with viola tricolor, calendula and chamomile in a rich base of oils and beeswax, it can be used as a moisturizer; a spot treatment for rough, dry patches; a makeup primer; a hydrating mask; and hand cream; or an eye cream. It also smells like an orange grove and feels like a creamy dream. This may be the least “ugly” in the bunch but, like most aluminum tubes, it goes through lots of wear-and-tear including bending, cracking and some product squeezing out the sides. The new tubes correct these issues and are made of 17% recycled materials with a mess-free flip-top cap. I’ll savor every last drop of the one I have, though. Even if I just keep it buried in my makeup bag.
Oil-free Makeup Remover
I wear lots of eye makeup and I have never found a product that works as good the Beauty 360 Gentle Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover (CVS’s version of Neutrogena Oil-Free Eye Makeup Remover) It removes heavy eye shadow, eyelash glue and even GLITTER. My eyes are pretty sensitive and I have never had an adverse reaction from this. The original version is fine but the generic version is more affordable and you can usually find bottles with a “50% more free” label on them. The latter is great for your wallet but not for your latest highly curated post.
Noble Formula 2% Pyrithione Zinc Argan Oil bar
While many breakouts are caused by bacteria there are some that are caused by an overgrowth of a fungus we all have on our skin known as malassezia. About two years ago, I noticed tiny, flesh colored bumps all along my forehead and cheeks that would not go away no matter what I did. I stumbled upon Noble Formula 2% Pyrithione Zinc Argan Oil bar on the SkincareAddiction Reddit, which has antifungal properties and is made with olive and argan oil and oatmeal.
After one use, I saw immediate improvement in the texture on my forehead and the bumps went away completely after a week of use. I’ll use this after my typical cleansing steps about once a week for maintenance. In between, I keep it hidden away in my medicine cabinet because it’s lumpy texture and beige color are just not my aesthetic.
Nothing gives off more sterile and doctor’s office vibes like a bottle of hydrogen peroxide. Besides the odd cut or irritated piercing, I never had much use for peroxide until I picked up a shaving hack online.
I swipe peroxide on a cotton round and run it over (completely dry) skin after shaving to stop razor burn. In addition to always exfoliating prior, using a new, sharp razor and moisturizing immediately after the peroxide dries, it has been a game-changer. I haven’t had any bumps or redness since I incorporated it.
Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash
“Chestne” and “Bacne,” or chest and back acne, is something most of us deal with but rarely speak about.
Acne treatments don’t have cute packaging but Neutrogena Body Clear Body Wash is an OG as far as body breakouts are concerned. It’s is made with 2% salicylic acid, a beta hydroxy acid (BHA,) that gently exfoliates and penetrates to dissolve oil in pores and keep skin clear. There’s still a trick to it, though. The skin on our backs and chests is thicker than that on our faces. In order for the active ingredient in the body wash to penetrate, you have to let it sit for at least 5-10 minutes before rinsing. Also, wash and conditioner you hair BEFORE you wash your body and, then, clip it up. This will help you avoid hair products clogging your pores as you rinse them out.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT