After an exceptionally long winter (certainly in spirit, if not in actual weather) and a beautiful, temperate spring, Team Byrdie is more than ready to jump headfirst into the summer months. It should hardly come as a surprise that in May, our editors took a shining to elevated takes on classic summer must-haves: a lip product that marries the best of balms and glosses, a self-tanner that provides the perfect hint of color, and a mineral sunscreen that does away with the unpleasant white cast, among many other great products. Read on for the full rundown of our May 2021 favorites.
Olivia Hancock, Associate Editor
Nivea Breathable Lotion
Many lotions claim to be lightweight and breathable, but they still leave your skin feeling oily and sticky. This one, however, lives up to its claims: As soon as I slather it on, it soaks into my skin and leaves behind not a touch of greasiness. It’s infused with shea butter and vitamins, which help it deliver 48 hours of deep hydration (something my perpetually dry skin craves).
Ami Cole Lip Treatment Oil
After my deskside with Ami Cole founder Diarrha N'Diaye-Mbaye, I couldn’t wait to try the products. The clean beauty brand creates products that celebrate melanin-rich skin—launching with the Skin Enhancing Tint, Light-Catching Highlighter, and Lip Treatment Oil. While I love each of them, I’ve been using the Lip Treatment Oil every day. It’s everything you could want from a lip product: it adds shine, gives your lips a sheer wash of color, and nourishes them. It’s a product I won’t leave home without now.
Youthforia Color Changing Blush Oil
Youthforia’s BYO Blush is one of the coolest products I’ve ever tried. It’s a color-changing blush oil. Need I say more? It reacts with your skin’s natural pH to create a unique blush color that flatters your skin tone. As someone who has developed an affinity for blush over the last year, this one has been so fun to use. I just dab a few dots across my cheek and watch in amazement as the color transforms.
Karli Bendlin, Senior Editor
The summer of lipstick has yet to officially start, but there's already a strong showing of new lip launches contending for a coveted spot in the back pocket of my jeans. One product, however, immediately rose to the top of the pack—Ultralip, Glossier's new gloss-balm hybrid. The brand deems it the “ultimate lip product," and I can happily report that it lives up to the description. One swipe gives you a subtle wash of color that could easily be mistaken for your natural lip color, while two swipes provide a long-lasting lip look with tons of shine and hydration. In short? Glossier understands the assignment yet again.
Madeline Hirsch, Senior News Editor
Saie Glowy Super Gel Lightweight Dewy Highlighter
I know I’ve found a keeper when I lose the cap to a product (just me?), which makes this dewy number from Saie my most cherished highlighter. First off, it comes in a massive container—perfect for a glisten addict like myself. I have this highlighter in two shades, and I’ve recently swapped out Universal Champagne for Golden Bronze to get my summer glow on. The formula has serious staying power and works both under foundation and applied to the high points of my face.
Fenty Beauty Bright Fix Eye Brightener Concealer
I’m not a huge fan of full-coverage products for everyday wear. But, I don’t feel fully awake without a little under-eye love, either, which is why Fenty’s new Bright Eye Fix is the concealer of my dreams. The shade match? Perfect. The effect? Airbrushed. It gives me that “always gets eight hours of sleep and drinks lots of water” look, even when I don’t.
Starface Exfoliating Night Water
Full disclosure: This stuff is potent. If you’re a beginner to exfoliants, make sure to start out slow. But, if you’re an acid devotee like me, get ready to be impressed by Starface’s night water. I discovered it after a recent bout of acne (it was a skincare experiment gone wrong—don’t ask). Turns out, my skin loves and craves this blend of AHAs, PHA, and niacinamide. After the first night, I noticed a reduction of redness and irritation, and after a few weeks, my skin is smoother, happier, and free of scarring. Plus, you can’t beat the price—a single bottle is just $12.
Holly Rhue, Senior Editor
Avene Solaire UV Tinted SPF 50
I prefer to use mineral sunscreens on my acneic skin (zinc is beneficial for breakouts), but when I use the full recommended application amount—1/4 teaspoon—they usually leave a very distinct, chalky white cast behind. A dermatologist recommended that I try a tinted sunscreen, and this option from Avene has instantly become my go-to. It goes on smooth, doesn't leave a goopy feeling on my skin, and leaves behind a dewy, radiant finish. I've been wearing it every single day and it feels like absolutely nothing is on my skin. It's worth noting, though, that most tinted sunscreens (including this one) only come in one shade because the tint is just there to neutralize white cast—it's not there to do the work of a foundation. With that being said, the tint may be too light or dark for those that want to wear it alone (I mix mine with an untinted sunscreen to get my perfect shade).
Briogeo Superfoods Mango + Cherry Conditioner
Multiple people have asked me what type of perfume I'm wearing after using this conditioner—the smell is intoxicating, but in a very natural kind of way. That, and this formula leaves my curls bouncy, defined, pillowy soft, and super shiny. Washing and conditioning my hair isn't exactly something I look forward to each week, but after discovering this smoothie-textured miracle I genuinely can't wait to treat myself to a little spa moment in the shower. This is definitely a new staple for me (and it's Curly Girl Method-approved!).
Lindsey Metrus, Editorial Project Director
Sol by Jergens Deeper by the Drop Serum
It's tough to find the perfect facial self-tanning product. Some read too orange while others are actually a bit too subtle, so when you land on just the right formula, it feels like a unicorn. This product is exactly that and then some—the concentrated serum and dropper allow you to mix it in with your favorite moisturizer and layer for a just-laid-on-the-beach wash of color. Kylie Jenner's makeup artist, Ariel Tejada, is a huge fan, too.
Victoria Beckham Beauty Matte Bronzing Brick
Anytime something new launches from VB Beauty, I'm immediately on the edge of my seat. Aside from the packaging (so gorgeous I could weep), the products themselves are always a home run. My new favorite is the Matte Bronzing Brick, a chic dual-tone pressed powder pan that allows you to customize your level of bronze to either warm up your skin tone or contour.
Tata Harper Vitamin-Infused Cream Blush
I haven't used a powder blush in ages—cream blushes melt so much better into the skin for a more natural, radiant finish, so I'm always game to try a new formula. This new offering from Tata Harper is a highly pigmented, long-lasting way to warm up your cheeks, lips, or lids. I love tapping the shade Naughty on my lips like a stain to instantly liven up my complexion.
Kathryn Vandervalk, Editorial and Strategy Director
Herbivore Cloud Jelly
Never have I encountered a product so perfectly described by its name. This serum literally feels like "cloud jelly" on my face. When I heard about its hero ingredient, tremella mushroom—which claims to hold 500 times its weight in water—I didn't see how it could be better than hyaluronic acid, but I've been proven wrong. It makes my skin feel supercharged and bouncy when I need something to counterbalance the retinoids in my routine, or when you can see last night's cocktails on my face.
Facial cleansing brushes had always seemed like too much effort to me until I encountered the Meejee. It's fully waterproof, so you can take it in the shower for a face massage, and clean it with a rinse when you're done. The battery should last a year before you need to charge it again. The sonic pulses are supposed to clean out your pores, and after I've used it, I can physically feel the difference on my face—I'm baby soft like I've just had a chemical peel.
Meow Meow Tweet Powder Shampoo
I've been looking for more sustainable hair care options, and Meow Meow Tweet's new launch is a personal favorite. This shampoo is sulfate-free, yet the lather is absolutely unbeatable and cleanses your hair from hard water buildup. I could go on and on about the scent or the environmental benefits of plastic-free hair care, but the biggest draw for me is the price. Since the shampoo rehydrates in your hand, you get about four traditional bottles of shampoo in one, for only $24.
Eden Stuart, Associate Editor
NakedPoppy Clean Liquid Eyeliner
I've worn liquid eyeliner just about every day for the last 10 years—so I definitely fashion myself as something of an expert, and my standards are certainly very high. NakedPoppy's Clean Liquid Eyeliner is the first liquid eyeliner I've added into my rotation in years. It meets all the metrics I've traditionally required in my liquid liners—a felt tip that's easy to maneuver, an opaque black finish, and incredible staying power—all while proving that clean beauty products can be even more efficacious than their less sustainable counterparts. What more can you ask for?
Tatcha The Silk Powder
Have you ever had a beauty problem so vexing you had all but given up on ever solving it? That was where I was at with setting powder—namely, the possibility of finding a setting powder that didn't enter full-on cake mode by the end of the day. Just as I had accepted that I was doomed to have my foundation part like the Red Sea every day, Tatcha's The Silk Powder hit my desk. This super finely-milled powder sets makeup beautifully, blurs imperfections, and maintains its finish throughout the day. By the time I'm ready to wash my face, my makeup almost looks as good as it did when I first applied it.