What To Do With $20 At The Drugstore

Drugstore purchases can go one of two ways: impulsive and fanciful or the most trustworthy of standby products. Both are valid, and both can tell a lot about a person. "Oh, I see you picked up a $2 glitter nail polish—how adventurous and simultaneously risk-averse of you!" So, in keeping with the "get to know a person through their products" theme of this whole site, we'd like to introduce you to ITG's new Senior Editor, Jen Steele, through her most essential drugstore recommendations. Take it away, Jen: 

OK, here's the scenario I have in mind each time I approach drugstore shopping: You've got $20 and change on your person and you need to replenish all the critical aspects of your bathroom. Now, it's not that I don't want to spend more—I just enjoy the challenge of maintaining a thoughtful budget and also getting strategic with what I need in my cosmetics bag. In other words, I aim to be resourceful. So you walk into Duane Reade and the pressure is on—and let me tell you, I'm great at this kind of thing. Here's how it shakes out:

1. Maybelline Great Lash Mascara: $5.49
I'll never forget when makeup artist Troy Surratt told me that Great Lash Mascara was his one and only, the product he trusted most and always used. I think he's right—the wand and formula provide clean and defined lashes and for the price...sold.

2. Aquaphor Healing Ointment: $2.99
Years ago, model Taylor Warren turned me on to the benefits on Aquaphor. I started using it on my lips, cheekbones, temples, and under my eyes...it feels hydrating and protective. This tub container is also ideal for travel and fits into pockets and purses of most sizes.

3. Johnson's Baby Oil: $4.99
Alright, this one's a stretch but hear me out. Baby skin does well with this mild and gentle oil, and your skin will, too. Summertime bare legs and arms, a little sheen—baby oil does the trick, and its hydrating effects last.

4. Johnson's Baby Powder: $1.99
My best-kept beauty secret: baby powder. I've used it in my hair to sop up excess oil when testing the how-long-can-I-last-with-unwashed-hair look. I've used it sparingly to mattify makeup like lipstick and cream blushes. I've also, in a pinch, used it as deodorant. You can slip baby powder in your shoes, too, if your feet swell up.

5. Gillette Sensor2 Plus Disposable Razors, travel pack: $2
I don't use women's razors. I find them to be too expensive and too flashy. A men's single or double-blade razor is as clean a shave for your legs as any other hot pink number.

6. Lubriderm Daily Moisture Lotion For Normal To Dry Skin: $5.49
I've tried every drugstore body lotion, and I've also read up on everyone else's point of view regarding what is best. When it comes down to it, in my opinion, Lubriderm sets the standard. Opting fragrance-free is also important. Keep it simple.

OK, I went over a bit: $22.95 in total (but close enough.) After laying it all out, I also noticed each of the products fell into the iconic packaging realm. I'm definitely attracted to vintage aesthetics but not entirely swayed by design (what's inside is important, too). Each product feels tried and true, and that's what makes (and keeps) them trustworthy. So if there's a lesson here, it's respect the standards. They're still here for a reason.

—Jen Steele

Photographed by Tom Newton.

For more drugstore roundups, check out the best Duane Reade, CVS, and co.  have to offer in concealers, mascaras, and foundations.

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Remember Loafers?

I don't have any loafer love stories to tell here, but there is one time I really wish I wore loafers. It was one of my first Fashion Weeks, and I left Milk Studios wearing too-tight Rag & Bone lace-up wedges. After a couple of blocks, my feet hurt so bad I could barely walk. I took a detour into a Duane Reade and grabbed the first pair of non-patterned flip-flops and headed into the subway. So from here on out, here's to wearing flat shoes when you have a long day (or a lot of walking) on your hands. Or feet...yeah, feet.

1. Church's Kara Patent Leather Loafers: Wear these with white jeans and neutral top, and let them do their job—they're like the exclamation point to the rest of your look. End of sentence.

2. Sigerson Morrison Inkaley Patent Leather & Calf Hair Flats: Sleek hardware and a shiny exterior. Everything you'd want in a new car—or a new pair of shoes. These work with skirts, dresses, pants, whatever.

3. Zara Shiny Penny Loafers: Really classic shape in a far-from-classic color. Silver—first lipstick, now shoes. Groundbreaking, really...

4. Everlane The Modern Loafer: These come in a rounded, flattering cut that makes feet look elegant—something that wasn't possible (for me) until now. Continue the vibe in fitted jeans and a '90s-feeling, high-necked tank.

5. Asos Mascot Leather Loafers: The color of sand, biscotti, and general happiness, now available for your feet and ready to mix with light-wash jeans and bright whites. Shoes definitely don't have feelings, but these are infinitely more lighthearted than the same pair in black.

—Claire Knebl

Intro image courtesy of Dieppa Restrepo.

Just as comfy but with a little more pizzazz: gladiator sandals. Five cool ones right this way.

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The New Basics

Looking in your closet and seeing a bunch of things that are so distinct you only want to wear them twice a month is not a good feeling. On the other hand, I think we can all agree that going all normcore can feel pretty saltine-cracker bland—especially at this point, a year and a half post trend christening. So here I am, looking for a happy medium.

Bigger and more important projects have been launched in search of the perfect basic (The Row famously started from the quest for an ideal t-shirt), but it's a shopping project that's never completely resolved—one should always be looking for something that can be worn often with a myriad of other pieces. Because life is hard enough, dressing (especially as we crawl into August) should be easy.

1. Re/Done NO. 26HR110378 High Rise Jean: All the better-suited for wearing with those close-fitting tops you've been buying by the handful.

2. Trois Claudia Slip Dress: Equally perfect for sleeping in, wearing around the house, and wearing out. This is the kind of thing you won't get sick of, no matter how much you wear it. Also a good choice for the season—'90s vibes are perfect for when it's 98 degrees out.

3. Khoi Lee Swiss Dopp Kit SL: If you're anything like the 30-some people in our office, your summer is probably filled with a lot of hurrying out of the city on Friday afternoon and heading back late on Sunday night (or worse, Monday morning). Put everything you can't survive without in this sturdy case.

4. Valley of The Dolls: Julie Burchill said everything you need to know about this book: "About the most fun you can have without a prescription!" Add some sun and sand and you have something to experience for oneself, for sure.

5. T by Alexander Wang Triangle Bra and The Nude Label Basic Brief: This set isn't going to do too much in terms of coverage up top. But in certain situations, how important is that anyway?

—Claire Knebl

Photo courtesy of Jen Steele for Valentine NYC. A true basics collection isn't complete without the perfect button-down. Here are five options worthy of your consideration.

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Kai Avent-deLeon, Owner, Sincerely, Tommy

"I grew up in Bed-Stuy. Born and raised. Actually, I grew up in the building next door because my grandmother moved here and got into real estate, so her first purchase was this building. My dad is from Bed-Stuy, too, so we’re all born and raised Brooklynites. I think that’s what's so cool about [living here]. It’s so black and white in terms of, ‘Oh Bed-Stuy. Isn’t that, like, really dangerous?’ And then there are people who are like, ‘Oh Bed-Stuy! It’s, like, really cool there. That’s where Biggie is from.’

CAREER
When I was in high school, I started taking classes at the Fashion Institute of Technology. I was doing textile design and patternmaking. I just started to fall in love with fashion design. I was like, ‘Oh I’m going to be a fashion designer’ or ‘Oh I’m going to be a buyer,’ so I did that. My first job was at this boutique in Fort Greene when I was 17—I just walked in because my mom was like, 'Time to get a job!' I had never worked, so I just went walking down Fulton Street, and there was this really cute boutique that had just opened. It was sort of like what my store is like now. I walked in and was like, ‘Hey this is my résumé. I really like this store, and I’d really like to work here.’ They had just opened like a week ago and weren’t even trying to hire anyone. I started off as an intern and left three years later doing all of the men’s buying, and I loved it.

My first real job once I left school was at Chanel as an operations manager overseeing back-of-the-house stuff. Then I was at Aritzia managing their first store in Soho. After that I was like, ‘I’m ready to do my own thing,’ but those experiences were so valuable. I learned what women want to buy, what they’ll spend money on. Women specifically will remain loyal to a brand if they really like what it represents. The money is an afterthought if they know they are investing in something. The purpose of Sincerely, Tommy is to continue to highlight these emerging brands because that’s what New York is. People who come here— who really come here—want to be part of a community that’s creative and different and innovative. There's a lifestyle component—the girl who shops at my store is more unique all-around in her furniture, her home, her beauty routine, her clothing...so the question at one point was what beauty products could we introduce that could allow for that? Initially it was definitely organic, small-batch kind of mom-and-pop brands, and it was really cool just to see people playing, buying, and touching these products because they were not things you could get Sephora or Bloomingdale's.

HEALTH
I wake up at 7am. The store opens at noon, so I have time to work out in the morning. I have a trainer—Shane Augustus—and we go to the park and do a lot of boot camp on the stairs and pull-up bars. I don’t feel healthy when I’m skinny. It happens when I don’t take care of myself, but Shane is intense. I’ve seen results from him within a few weeks. He’s really good.

SKINCARE & BODY
I started playing around with beauty in college. I never had problem skin. It's just oily, so the buildup sometimes gets annoying. But I’m like, OK, if it means no wrinkles, I’ll keep the oil. I got into facials heavy when I was younger. I just love the way they feel, and I love how refreshed I feel afterward. The city is so dirty. Your skin just gets so clogged and filthy. There was just something very purifying about knowing that it was cleaned. Growing up, I always used the Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay because of my mom. You know that one? She would always use it. She is really strict with diet overall and taking care of herself. I think that’s probably why I didn’t wear a lot of makeup other than the fact that I was just not a girly girl. It just wasn’t something I saw from her a whole lot. But definitely getting older, I was very aware of what I was eating and drinking—and the facials became a big part, the masks became a huge part.

Last year, I got my first chemical peel. I was so nervous—petrified—even though I'd researched it for a while. My aesthetician recommended it, and I was like, ‘Really?’ She said, ‘You’re going to notice a difference. It’s not dangerous at all.’ I made an appointment the next day, and I ended up finding this guy in the city who specializes in darker skin because that was my other concern. After the first one, I was like, ‘This is amazing.’ Some people peel afterward depending on their skin or the level of the peel, but I don’t peel at all. I get an enzyme and salicylic acid one, so it’s very light. You just feel a tingling sensation when it’s on. It's only on for about five minutes and then you wash it off. It gives you a refreshed feel, but the process really controls breakouts and evens out skin tone if you have dark spots from acne or just being in the sun. I get dark spots, and it’s so annoying. They definitely go away—it just takes forever. I use Desert Essence 100% Organic Tea Tree Oil a lot to tone my skin at night, too.

I shower when I wake up. I have to—it’s like a pet peeve, waking up and wanting to feel refreshed. I just have some basic Dr. Bronner’s Pure-Castile Liquid Soaps. I just got the Frank Body Original Body Scrub with coffee in a care package. I use it on my face in the morning to exfoliate maybe twice a week. I’m not that intense. I also have the Alba Botanica Natural Acnedote Face and Body Scrub. It gets all the dirt off. My mom uses it, too. Then there’s my moisturizer, which is just regular Vitamin E Oil from Nature’s Gate. It’s really thick, so I would recommend maybe just doing a little bit on your hand and then rubbing it in. It’s good for getting rid of scars, too, but I like the way it feels on my face and it absorbs nicely once it’s in there. Sometimes I’ll use the Clarins Beauty Flash Balm, which is just kind of a light refresher.

MAKEUP
Foundation doesn’t look good on me, so I use the Cover FX Cream Concealer in N Deep to cover up all my spots instead. Putting on anything more just doesn’t feel natural. Then there’s some people I see that just look amazing with makeup, and I start to wonder maybe I just haven’t really tried the proper way. I do have my little kit that I use sometimes. I have this little guy—the Sephora Collection Long Lasting Eyeliner High Precision Brush—that I’ll just do a cat eye with every now and then when I’m feeling fancy. The felt tip is definitely easier. When I have a tan, I like to use MAC Pearlglide Intense Eye Liner in Periwinkle Grey. My mascara is They’re Real! by Benefit. I went to Sephora and was like, ‘I need a good mascara because all the ones I always get dry out really quickly.’ The sales person recommend this one, and I love it. I only wear it when I go out, though, and I always forget that I have makeup on.

On my lips, I use something that is super nude every now and again. This taupe-nude color is a good summer look. I know people are scared of nude lipstick because it can wash them out, but I’m a big fan. Some of my favorites are Kat Von D's Everlasting Liquid Lipstick in Lolita, Yves Saint Laurent's Rouge Volupté Silky Sensual Radiant Lipstick SPF 15 in 3 Beige Ultimate, and Temptu's Color True Lipstick in Blushed Suede. They're all very simple, classic nudes. I always ask my boyfriend before I wear a lipstick. 'Does this look good to you?' He doesn’t really like makeup, so I know he’ll be honest. If I don’t wear a color, I'll put on Glossier's Balm Dotcom. I like the consistency. I like my balms to be a little thicker.

Every now and then, I’m like, 'OK, I can wear makeup. I can change my look.' It’s definitely a process because like, I’m not used to being photographed. I’m always in a comfort zone. Now, I want to change it up. I want to play with different things. I think beauty and fashion are so similar, so they have to factor into one another."

—as told to ITG

Kai Avent-deLeon photographed by Tom Newton on May 1, 2015. For even more nude lipsticks, check out the best of the best for every skin tone. For more on New York boutiques, check out Claire Distenfeld of Fivestory's ITG After Dark, and get lost in all our Top Shelves right here.

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Made In The USA

It's quite likely that you never made it off the waiting list for Bean Boots last winter (they're made in Maine). That's OK because now it's the Fourth, so that ship has clearly sailed. Either way, it's safe to assume that not enough of your wardrobe is made up of clothing made in the good ol' US of A—but that might change soon. And while we're here, conjecturing wildly, we'll also assume you're interested in kicking off the holiday weekend with some shopping. Great! Please see below for some nice additions to your wardrobe that sport the Made In America tag.

1. Araks Harley One Piece Ballet Combo: Would look good with a tan, and with a margarita in hand. It's the American way.

2. Vrai & Oro Baguette Diamond Earrings: Sleek, simple earrings that you'll wear forever and will last you just as long, courtesy of this direct-to-consumer line that offers ethically made pieces...Oh, and the diamonds are high-quality, too. (Does this sound too good to be true? I'm over here pinching myself—you're more than welcome to join me.)

3. Carleen Sandra Dress: Your 90-degree day plan of action. A tented cut means the fabric sits away from your skin—and white always looks good. Consider this the foundation piece that you can then get as crazy with as you choose. Add jewelry, bright shoes, or what have you—there's really no going wrong here.

4. Pamela Love Inlay Choker in Gold with Turquoise: Turquoise resting in a brassy sheen of a choker is simple but feels special. This is something you can wear every day and still get compliments on.

5. Between The Sheets Petal Play Bralette & Hi-Waist Knicker: Take American-made lace, divide it between a flexible soft bra and some high-waisted bottoms, and call it a day—or a night.

—Claire Knebl

Images via Getty, Edith Young, Sleepy Jones, and Tanya Taylor. Just when you thought the tank top couldn't be improved upon, here are five cool options to consider for summer.

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