Everyone needs a pick-me-up, and my go-to ways to self-soothe always involve beauty.
Coming up on a year into the coronavirus pandemic and smack-dab in the middle of winter in Northeast Pennsylvania, I’ve turned to my self-care practices and the makeup, skin care and hair products that make me feel happy. Wintertime is notoriously hard on skin and hair thanks to its dryness and frigid temperatures, so we obviously need a little extra care. However, our makeup creativity suffers, too. We’re so concerned with keeping ourselves hydrated and protected that we don’t play with color, texture and glitter as much in our makeup looks. It’s too early into 2021 for a beauty rut, though, and I’m determined to shake it up.
I’m also always testing out new stuff, so these are some of the products giving me a little extra life right now. Try them out to help yourself take on the world or to unwind after a long day (or year).
Wishful Yo Glow Enzyme Scrub
I never thought I’d be here recommending something that’s considered a “scrub,” but there’s a lot of things I do now that I wouldn’t have imagined doing a year ago. I’m a firm believer in using chemical exfoliants rather than manual ones since the latter can contain particles with jagged edges that backfire and make skin look worse. This is one-of-a-kind, though, created by beauty guru turned brand owner Huda Kattan.
Pineapple and papaya enzymes, another form of chemical exfoliant, gently dissolve the “glue” holding your dead skin cells together. There are fine pieces of cellulose dispersed throughout the product that slough off your remaining dead skin without scratching or pulling, and it also uses an AHA/BHA blend for extra punch. Everything is suspended in a rich base of glycerin and sweet almond oil, which helps with skin softness and hydration. My skin feels so soft and smooth since I incorporated this into my routine, and it’s definitely helped curb any maskne. This scrub won’t take off your makeup, however, so use it as a treatment rather than a cleanser. ($39; hudabeauty.com)
Ouai Detox shampoo
I’ve always been a dry shampoo gal, but when I do wash my hair, sometimes a regular shampoo doesn’t cut it. I also use a clarifying shampoo every other week to help lift that buildup on my scalp, which, if left untreated, can cause itchiness, dry skin, scalp irritation and even hair loss. This shampoo is made with apple cider vinegar and cuts through dry shampoo as well as sweat, oil, deposits from hard water, hairspray and other product residue. It also never leaves my hair feeling like dried-out straw like some clarifying shampoos do. It just feels soft, clean and refreshed. I also will follow with a mask or treatment, since I feel they can more easily penetrate the hair follicle once all the gunk is cleared away. ($30; theouai.com)
Slayfire Cosmetics Glitter Gel
Every now and then, you need a little sparkle on your eyes, especially when half of your face is covered. I was so in love with Glossier Play Glitter Gelees, the most perfect glitter gels that never moved until I took off my makeup. Unfortunately, Glossier discontinued this product as well as the rest of the Glossier Play line because of concerns over the glitter causing pollution and harming marine life. (Think about it: when you wash your face, where does that glitter go?)
I was on the search for new glitters with an eco-friendly mission and found Slayfire through makeup artist Harriet Hadfield (@harrymakesitup). The glitters come in a range of colors (neon green to traditional silver), and the consistency ranges from superfine to chunky. They’re biodegradable, too, so no need to worry about it washing down the drain. The glitters are perfect to wear on their own to dress up a Tuesday or to top off an intricate eye look. ($12 and up; slayfirecosmetics.com)
Fenty Skin Instant Reset Overnight Recovery Gel-Cream
After absolutely killing the makeup game, Rihanna launched Fenty Skin in the fall. Every product in the line works great, but I have been loving this gel-cream. I swear it’s like a green juice for your face to help skin bounce back while you sleep in a consistency that’s light and airy but moisturizes like a heavy cream. It’s packed with niacinamide for overall skin texture and tone improvement; hyaluronic acid for hydration; and a ton of botanical oils and fruit extracts to plump, firm, smooth and help skin retain moisture. I apply it as the last step of my skin care routine at night, and my skin looks refreshed, hydrated and bouncy, even when I’m feeling less than rested. It also comes in recyclable and refillable packaging with a genius compartment to store its spatula. Rihanna is a national treasure. ($40; fentybeauty.com/fentyskin)
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