What’s Your Latest, Greatest Product Buy?

There is no greater feeling that peeling the cellophane off of something new. It even feels good when it’s from a brand new $5 DVD from the bin at Best Buy. (Why yes, I still do buy DVDs! At $5, how can I afford not to?) Better, though, is the first time you lift that silly plastic sanitary seal off of a brand new mask. Ugh, it’s so delicious—that feeling. And the goo inside always looks so perfectly swirled. Almost a shame to mess it up.

I had that feeling this weekend when cracking open the new Kiehl’s Turmeric and Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Masque. “An ‘instant facial’ mask…” SOLD. (The rest says “…that invigorates skin and brightens appearance in minutes.”) It’s so creamy, it demands a brush for appropriately luxurious application; I’m partial to the one that comes with the Wei mask set. A brush is also useful because the exfoliating seeds are quite large, and it would be easy to get caught up in them if you apply with your hands.

The mask hardens in about 10 minutes or so, and there’s really no need to keep it on longer than that. The turmeric does quick work on generally fatigued skin. My post-post-Fashion-Week breakout finally seemed to hit the road after one go-’round with the stuff. Everyone tells me turmeric is amazing; I’m starting to see their point.

My routine with new products is a little bleak though. A week or two of absolute devotion, followed by sporadic flings when I’m bored of everything else on my shelf. Alas, time, age, whatever, is a cruel mistress.

But don’t let this end of my bleak note of product fatigue—what’ve you bought recently that you’re dying over? That has taken hold of your routine and made it shiny and new again? Leave me a good review; I’m going to need something else to try soon.

—Emily Ferber

Photo via ITG.

Moisturizing like it’s our job (because it kind of is?): Read all about the products that ITG loves here.

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Three Tips On Achieving Your Minimalist, Organized Home Fantasy

I haven’t read Marie Kondo’s Life Changing Magic Of Tidying Up, but I’ve heard enough people say “If it doesn’t bring you joy, throw it out” to pretend that I have. I desperately need to tidy up, but her approach worries me—if only because my mood changes! An example: My mom was sweet enough to buy me this silk Barneys Co-Op shirtdress when my high school boyfriend broke up with me (a long, long time ago), and for obvious reasons, I sort of hated it for awhile. First real heartbreak? Try and fix it with some clothing! Anyway, I didn’t wear it for six years, but now I love it. I wore it twice last week—once on the weekend so work people wouldn’t notice. Had I Marie Kondo’d in college, I’d have had to buy myself a new shirtdress at some point. That’s what I call money down the drain.

I’m also a bit distrustful of the situational joy that happens at places like the Container Store or Bed Bath & Beyond. Sure, the Elfa Shelving System seems perfect under the gleam of fluorescent lights and stacked with a rash of monochrome display books. But at home, it always feels decidedly unchic. You could say that true organization isn’t meant to be stylish, that it’s all about functionality. But if you did, I would assume you hadn’t met Jill Wenger, CEO of Totokaelo (pronounce TO-to-KYE-yoh, according to their email signature). Her newest store in New York is conveniently five minutes away from Glossier HQ and its minimalist, airy, clean aesthetic makes for a great place to display the newest Margiela boots I can’t get out of my head. If there was a woman I would want to instruct me on how to have a better-looking home, Jill would be that woman.

Of course, her approach isn’t that much different from how everyone else is feeling. I ask her, “So, how much stuff do I actually need?” and she responds “As little as possible!” I guess it doesn’t matter when all that stuff is Acne, Rachel Comey, etc.

Buy More To Keep Less

Jill’s rule of thumb for when to know if you’ve accumulated too much stuff: “My personal gauge is when I haven’t used or noticed something for a full season.” You want to keep things out (visible) but not cluttered. Jill uses “unique ceramics, bowls and containers collected over years of thrifting, antiquing and collecting. I use an assortment of miss-matched containers to store cutlery, writing utensils, everything one needs. My bathroom has a wooden-slab countertop that’s filled with perfume bottles and a mix of found objects and bowls for jewelry and cosmetics. I love using small sculptures to hang my necklaces on and vintage dishes for rings.” She recommends things like the Nousaku Black Clip Holder, Haley Anne Robinson’s Geometric Ring Holder, Kati Von Lehman’s Stoneware Mug, and Helen Levi’s Gilded Eye Bowl, all of which Totokaelo conveniently stocks. They’re all a bit heritage and definitely not a matching set, but the thing about taste is that everything goes together if you like each piece on its own. Look for things that could serve several purposes—like the Bedside Carafe Set. Use it to hydrate, or use it as a vase in a pinch. And for drawers, the usefulness of organizers can not be overestimated.

Go Digital

Eliminate stray notes and papers by going digital. “I’m fully digital regarding tasks and appointments,” Jill says. In your closet, get some inspiration from Cher Horowitz’s digitized closet: “My shoes in boxes with images of what’s in the box, on the outside and my clothes arranged by style and color. Books alphabetized by author and title. Super nerdy.”

Get Everything Out Of Your Bedroom

“My bedroom is super minimalist,” Jill says. Not surprising. “Only a bed, pillows and white sheets and one built in shelf with my favorite 30 books. The walls are white and empty and there’s one blue and white oversize african basket in the corner for laundry.” Make any space sparse but inviting with something like this herringbone throw (OK, it’s a towel, but I give it the seal of multipurpose approval) and a super large, pastel tie-dye pillow. Set up shop with a book on Yamamoto & Yohji and a candle to reach peak chic-tude. Well done.

—Emily Ferber

Photographed by Tom Newton.

From the living room to the powder room: more organization tips care of the ITG beauty closet, right this way.

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Aida Bicaj’s Top 5 Skin Tips

There is one facialist in all of New York whom I know by name. She is Aida Bicaj and for a while, I didn’t even think she was real—sort of like Sally Hansen, or Chiquita Banana. More concept than woman. Real she is (I can confirm; I sat with her for an hour in the lobby of her Upper East Side salon for this interview), and influential, too. She’s the reason everyone’s at least considered Biologique Recherche P50, if not completely converted to its skin-rehabbing powers. Also, just a small thing: She regularly touches Jenna Lyons’ face.

Someone with that kind of power clearly has wisdom to spread. So I sat her down and asked: What do you know about our collective skin that us plebes do not know? A lot, it turns out. Here are her Top Five of sorts. Simple, but face-and-body-changing. Read on…

[Side note: Her absolute, #1 live-by-it tip is actually to use P50, which is part toner, part chemical exfoliant that treats your skin after you wash it but before you put on the rest of your serums or lotions. But you knew that already, so go forth with that in mind.]

1. Not all serums are the same, so they should not be used the same. “You have the water-based serums and the oil-based serums. Water-based serums go under the cream and they are so important. They nourish the inner layer of the skin because the molecule is very small so it penetrates—because of the P50, of course. The oil-based serums go on top of the moisturizer because they have a bigger molecule. They’re supposed to keep the cream and whatever you put underneath moist during the entire day. There are so many products out there and everybody claims that it’s the best, so consumers are confused as to what works for them.”

2. Don’t use eye cream at night! “Only use it during the day. Because that skin is thinner, the water retention is more noticeable there—so when you apply eye cream at night and then go to sleep, you wake up puffy. In the morning, use very little from the temple and then you push it in towards the eye. “

3. You can do your own lymphatic drainage massage: “It’s very consuming to do, but people don’t want to pay $400 on a body treatment. They don’t care so much about skin on your body. But if you have cellulite, you can’t just treat the cellulite—you have to treat the muscles and the aging skin. If you start at 25, you won’t have to deal with this at 40. I do it every day with a silicone glove that Biologique makes. You massage your products in with the glove—there’s P50 for body, but you can also use their Creme MSR-H Corps—pushing everything up towards the heart. This makes the product penetrate deeper. When your skin gets red, you stop. I mix body lotion and body oil together because I want to have a glow. I apply it section by section and then use the glove upwards, never down!”

4. Cheese with caution: “Usually younger people have a problem with oiliness and often it is what you eat. I see a lot of dairy products consumed by people and I know right away that oiliness, zits underneath the skin, patches, and redness are from dairy.”

5. Skincare is like working out (but better, because it’s not working out): “You don’t need to do anything to clean damage on the skin if you are always working on it. If you workout daily and you eat well, you are not going to have problems—and it is the same with skin. It takes five minutes! When people say, ‘I don’t have time,’ how is that possible? If you have time to brush your teeth, you have time to put on five minutes worth of products. People don’t think of the skin as the most important thing that exists in your body—it is. If you have good skin and good hair, you can put anything on and look like a million dollars.”

—Emily Ferber

Photo via ITG.

Time for a facial. Tips on at-home skincare from the woman who handles Mila Kunis and Condoleezza Rice can be found here.

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Sheet Mask Snow Day

If I may edit David Dudley’s already much-quoted blurb in the Times from last week, it should probably read, “A snowstorm rewards the well-moisturized and punishes those who haven’t been methodically stocking up on sheet masks, which is only one of the many reasons it’s the best natural disaster there is.” While the rest of the world was waiting in line at the Union Square Trader Joe’s for almond butter, I stopped at the much more conveniently located Space NK in Nolita because, yes, easy alternative protein is important—but when faced with a 48-hour snowstorm-enforced house arrest, it’s important to think about all facets of life. (Whole Foods is on my way home too, and they had plenty of almond butter left, so I did spend the weekend well-moisturized and well-fed.)

It turned into sort of a challenge, seeing just how many sheet masks I could accomplish during two days on the couch without a) freaking out my skin or b) freaking out my roommate. The best laid plans start with a sacrifice, so I tossed a prized SK-II Facial Treatment Mask her way as a peace offering. She seemed satisfied, so we turned on Ina Garten’s Back To Basics—the BEST thing on Netflix right now—and got to work.

With a project like this, you want to start slow, and give yourself a nice base moisturization to work with. Mess with the crazy ingredients later. Laneige Water Bank Soothing Gel Mask doesn’t make too many big promises or claims and that’s what I like about it. Instead, it’s all about comfort, and it does this two ways. The first is to make the mask out of extremely thin hydrogel; the second is to make it two pieces that you can fit together and overlap at will on your face. It’s also not too saturated, which makes for an easy, clean wearing experience.

Similarly there’s Ariul 7 Days Mask in Bamboo Water. It’s part of a Korean line purposefully designed to look like a daily newspaper, so that you’ll remember to use a sheet mask every day. It’s tencel, which made me feel better about the possibility that I might stock up on these—throwing 365 face-shaped pieces of tencel is apparently better than throwing away 365 pieces of anything else. (Reformation agrees.) It’s refreshing and it smells nice and sometimes a mask doesn’t need to be much more than that.

By Saturday night, I found myself needing something a little more party-party, y’know? Something to take the place of going out on the town (ha). Thank God there’s The Extremely Fancy One: Peter Thomas Roth Un-Wrinkle 24K Gold Intense Wrinkle Sheet Mask. It not only drips GOLD, but it leaves your face just a tinge sparkly. Can’t say I noticed its effects on wrinkles—maybe because I was so distracted by the sparkles. My roommate looked over at me in the process and gave a one word review: “Juicy!”

In one day, we’d gone through three bottles of wine, so Sunday morning was a bit rough. There’s always a hangover mask, or the more recently released DHC Medicated Q Pack Sheet. Once unfolded, it looks a bit like Shrek—a comparison not aided by the fact that it’s yellow-ish green in tint. (Of course, this is not to be confused with the actual Shrek sheet mask, something that came into the office last year but for dignity’s sake, I opted not to try.) The “ears” attached into my hairline, which wasn’t exactly what I was looking for, but hey—maybe the coQ10 antioxidant formula is good for my roots, too. It was certainly good enough to revive dehydrated-by-alcohol-and-radiator skin in 10 minutes or less.

To stave off too much snacking, I brought out the Patchology Flashpatch Lip Gels on Sunday afternoon. They’re a sort of physical lip balm—a mouth-shaped hydrogel patch that dangles from your lips as long as you have the patience to keep it on. There’s a little hole in the middle, but you definitely shouldn’t try and stick food through it. It also tastes not great, so it’s good if you want your couch potato-mates to keep quiet as you try and figure out what Nicolas Hoult is shouting through Mad Max: Fury Road. It’s streaming on HBOGo so you can stop pretending that you’ve seen it and actually join the movement.

By Sunday night it was clear I would have to venture out into the world again soon, so I brought out the heavy hitter: Colbert MD Illumino Anti-Aging Brightening Mask. Dr. David Colbert, in addition to running New York Dermatology Group, has a really gorgeous line of skincare products that look not clinical or doctor-y at all. The latest addition to the ColbertMD line is this mask that makeup artist Frankie Boyd says he likes to “spoil” his clients with. Good enough for me! It’s the sort of mask where the packaging even suggests that you are going to sparkle like all that new snow on the ground before it gets slushy. And the results were good enough to get me over the Sunday Scaries hump and out to work the next morning. No small feat.

—Emily Ferber

Photographed by Tom Newton.

More sheet mask suggestions from Team Glossier can be found here. Also worth considering: facial steaming.

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Hair PSA: Volume Products Aren’t Just For Volume

This is a secret I have known for several years and I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to share it. You know Bumble and bumble Thickening Spray? Or Aveda Volumizing Tonic? They’re not really for volumizing. Well…they are, but there’s more to that story. Tyler Colton can explain it better than I can:

“All products are meant to create texture,” he says. “So you can think of it all as some version of a watered-down gel. The products are all the same general thing, they’ve just been reworked. Everything can be multi-purpose.”

Which means that if you’re actually trying to tame volume, you might want to reach for the product that says volume because it’s going to give you that grip and hold you need to style your hair. Think of it like those oils that fight other oils. Or how the only thing that gets an eggshell out of a cracked egg is another eggshell.

Of course, if you really are looking for volume, you’re golden too. Lacy Redway (she does Joan Smalls’ hair, so…) says, “If you plan on blowdrying your hair, blow-dry by over-directing the hair for maximum volume at the root. Using a velour roller, or pin-setting your hair until your strands have cooled down, will give you the lift you’re looking for.”

See? Everybody wins.

—Emily Ferber

Photo via ITG.

More tips from our friends: Kardashian kolorist Tracey Cunningham advises on how to get the balayage you’re looking for right this way.

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