Get Ready

Oddly Satisfying Beauty Products to Put on Your Face

by Alyson Zetta Williams

I’ll let you in on a secret: my love for what we call “beauty” has nothing to do with beauty at all. It has nothing to do with looking my best, becoming a poreless medical marvel (although that can be a fun side effect), or following some trend, alone, in my bathroom, with only my skin to bear witness. No, my love for beauty comes from the fact that it is the socially accepted channel through which I can indulge my love for putting various creams, gels, cream-gels, oils, and the like on my face.

Forget “results”. Nothing is more soothing to me than sticking my finger in a cream so creamy it just might engulf all of my problems in one thick glop. Instagram pages overrun with creative product displays and close-ups of Unidentified Whipped Substances make my skin salivate. What’s left for a skin-care creep to do but indulge her innermost urge in the form of a catalog of the most satisfying things to put on your face?

  • Dr. Loretta Intense Replenishing Serum
    Need This Now| $70

    Alone in my apartment (sensing a theme here?), trying Dr. Loretta’s Intense Replenishing Serum for the first time, an audible “Whaaaaat the fuuuuuck” escapes my lips. I don’t know who Dr. Loretta is (“a highly sought-after, board-certified dermatologist”) or what magical powers she possesses (research experience at Harvard Medical School’s Dermatology Department), but her ability to bottle liquid velvet is unprecedented. Unprecedented! But that’s not all: the brand’s patented antioxidant Lipochroman rids skin of the nasties while replenishing at the surface for a supple look. In a world where an expensive serum generally means results at the sacrifice of hot packaging and satisfying application experience, Dr. Loretta’s serum brings the results, looks pretty, and feels good.

  • Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream
    Need This Now| $65

    Picture the most well-moisturized woman you have ever seen — poreless, pristine, glassy. Skin so dewy, it could probably make its own juice. Bottle that vision and you have Sunday Riley’s Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream. Most moisturizers act like muumuus for your face, coating whatever you’ve got going on with a redundant blend of vaseline and fragrance. But Tidal? Nooo. Tidal is the cool mom of moisturizers, brightening and subtly exfoliating with AHAs while you sit back, relax, and layer on as much as you can until you transform into an actual piece of glass.

  • Truly Organic Heartbreaker Lip Plumping Mask
    Need This Now| $14

    Lip masks have forever intrigued me. Something about slathering insanely heavy balm over the lower half of my face always seemed like a good move — like putting on my daily Lip Smacker, but more. So when my first experience lip-masking was with Truly Organic’s jelly-ish Heartbreaker Lip Plumping Mask, I was cautious but optimistic. How would a clear gel with fast flecks of glitter hold up against my aforementioned masking fantasy? Apparently, quite well.

    Putting on the Heartbreaker Lip Mask is like being the subject of a magic spell (and no, not just because your lips look like they’ve suffered the wrath of every Disney fairy to ever exist). The promised tingling happens. The inevitable smacking of the lips happens. And then the ceramides happen, the aloe happens, the lips are plumped, and you don’t even remember how you got here — but your lips feel and look damn good.

  • Surratt Lid Lacquer
    Need This Now| $36

    Putting clear lip gloss over eyeshadow always reminded me of the 2000’s trend of wearing a skirt over leggings: the layering can be clunky and not very comfortable, but you can always find a handful of editorials that make it look so good, and you’re left thinking, “Where am I going wrong?”

    I can’t speak for skirts over leggings, but glossy lids continue to reign supreme as a Cool Girl Makeup Look since their reintroduction a few years ago. If you’re like me and have decided your years of gloppy layering are o-v-e-r, look no further than Surratt’s Lid Lacquers. In a range of mature colors, Surratt’s lacquer formula is a pleasant surprise — no stick, just slide. Some more good news: it comes off just as easily as it goes on.

  • The Cleansing Duo by Then I Met You
    Need This Now| $68

    The name of the next hit YA novel or a two-product line of cleaners by Sokoglam’s Charlotte Cho? Let’s just say that the only thing YA about these babies is their gushy gooey-ness. With this two-step product, you start with the Living Cleansing Balm, which I have aptly dubbed the “day off cleanser” because of its ritualistic (read: somewhat time-consuming) nature. As someone who has recently converted to face-washing, I found that the balm’s viscosity and yellow body (@ seabuckthorn oil) made the daily task a little less dismal.

    Ready to speed through the second and final phase — the water-based Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel — you better believe my surprise when a dollop of gel I can only describe as tenaciouslanded on my fingertip. After pressing it between my fingers for an abnormal amount of time, I cleansed, only to find that it was all a bluff as the gel thinned out once hitting my wet face.

  • INC.redible Jelly Shot Lip Quencher
    Need This Now| $10

    A childhood of disappointing (and likely toxic) jelly beauty products only made my meeting with Inc.redible’s Jelly Shot Lip Quencher that much more . . . quenching. Yes, yes, it moisturizes and makes you feel as such. Continuing to rub my lips together as I write, however, I would like to think that “jelly” is the operative word here. Surprisingly, there are not too many ingredients in the balm, but there are a few big-hitters such as Rice Bran Oil and Avocado Oil that are the reasons you might be left wondering how an otherwise novelty lip balm repaired your chapped lips.

  • HERBIVORE Botanicals Pink Cloud Hydrating Rosewater Creme
    Need This Now| $48

    Herbivore Botanicals Pink Cloud Creme is just that — a pink cloud. It even evaporates, turning into an absorbent water upon application. Advertised as being suitable for all skin types, Pink Cloud is a face smoothie full of all kinds of goodies (Kuikui Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, White Tea extract) to be used alone or before makeup. Tip: focus your attention on the pink cloud mood board that is the box while applying Pink Cloud for maximized cloud-to-face sensation.  

  • Lapcos Sleeping Mask
    Need This Now| $38

    I might be sleeping, but my skin won’t be. K-beauty brand Lapcos’s Pearl Peeling Sleeping Cream (say that five times fast) claims to brighten and exfoliate with pearl extract and AHAs — all whilst feeling like vaseline soaked in water. It’s a good thing, swear! The clear (and slightly grainy) peeling cream melts into near-water territory upon application. Just make sure to close your window at night to avoid a Jack Nicholson in The Shining scenario.


Feature image via Ella Xu

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