To say that the events of 2020 have reinforced the importance of self-care would be an understatement. This year, many of us have adopted daily practices and rituals that have helped us feel better as we navigate these unprecedented times. For us, beauty has always been a way that we’ve practiced self-care. But during this perpetually stressful year, we’ve turned to our beauty and wellness routines more than ever to lift our spirits. Taking a moment to awaken our senses by spritzing on a new vibrant fragrance or comfort our skin with a rich face mask has often served as a much-needed pick-me-up when the days feel especially draining. Throughout this year, we’ve become acquainted (and reacquainted) with quite a few items that have ultimately earned staple status in our routines for their ability to boost our moods instantly. Ahead, we’re sharing the products and tools–ranging from foundations to fragrances–that never fail to spark joy and put a smile on our faces.
"I love the ease of this regimen: four to five drops of Blue Skies—with the amazing anti-inflammatory blue tansy—in the morning, then Golden Hour (an all-in-one with rosemary seed oil, an antiseptic that controls breakouts, plus super-quenchers vitamin E and rosehip) at night. Both feel like a skin hug and leave my skin with a natural-looking highlight that looks great on Zoom."
"I went almost three years without Botox–a detox related to fertility, then having a baby and breastfeeding—and I'm starting to see the results around my eyes, big time. I have always trusted the Regenerist line for its research and science that, IMO, stands up to some of the best anti-aging systems out there. Now with retinol (proven to be one of the most effective line smoothers out there), it's even more powerful in a very gentle way. And smoother skin, right now, is bringing me a lot of joy."
"I test and hoard mascara more than any other product—one, because I love it, and two, it's the number-one recommendation I'm asked for. Currently, this is at the top of my list. You truly only need a few layers but piling it on dials up the drama without clumps. The brush also fits the shape of my eye perfectly, so it's easy to apply. And these days, easy makes me happy."
"I was first introduced to this product during Byrdie Beauty Lab, and I haven't put it down since. The brand is practically made for at-home facials (a reality we've had to get used to over the last few months), and this formula, in particular, makes the experience even more luxurious. At first spritz, the scent transports me to the spa—think: a refreshing mix of neroli and rose—and the light, controlled mist doesn't douse your face. It's more like a toning massage. It's purifying, it's hydrating, and it makes my skin immediately supple. I like to use it between my toner and serums, as well as during the day when I need a pick-me-up."
"This is another incredible at-home offering, one I swear I've used every day since it showed up on my doorstep. I've never been one for tools (too much beeping, extra time, too complicated, etc.), but this one is the easiest and most effective little gem. Post-cleanse, I apply hydrating under-eye masks and my usual serums. Then, I go in with the gold bar and lift, sculpt, and tone all the contours in my face. You can see (and feel) under-eye puffiness move across your face and down through your lymph. I use it under the eyes and along my jawline, neck, and cheek and brow bones for just five minutes a day. It feels meditative—and it genuinely works like a charm. Afterward, I apply moisturizer and go about my day far less puffy than I was before."
"If ever there was a line of products that all incite joy and delight, it's Klur. This one, in particular, the Supreme Seed Delicate Purification Mask, is my favorite. The dreamy formula blends together aloe, cacao, panthenol, and calendula to reset and restore balance to fragile and easily stressed skin conditions. (Raises hand.) I use it once or twice a week to gently draw out impurities from my skin, including congestion and environmental debris. It's soothing, balancing, and erases any redness or irritation from my skin (something I've been dealing with a lot in these times). It makes me so happy."
"Naturally, I haven't been wearing a ton of makeup. And when I do, I want something that doesn't feel heavy or uncomfortable—but still allows for a helpful amount of coverage. Enter: Neo Nude Foundation. This is Armani Beauty's most recent foundation launch, and I couldn't love it more. It glides on like silk, feels breathable, looks dewy, and covers lingering redness or discoloration. It's a perfect formula—a mix of hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and pure pigments—to plump, hydrate, and offer real, long-lasting coverage."
"This one is so fun to use—I want all my products to come with little finger gloves. And, here's the thing: Of course, I love a chemical exfoliation, and I don't want to cause any damage with a harsh physical exfoliation. But sometimes, I just want to get in there and scrub. So, this is the perfect middle ground for when manual skin labor brings you joy. These exfoliating pads combine lactic and glycolic acids, as well as vitamin C, to clear clogged pores, help fade acne scars, and even skin tone. But, the pad has one side for gentle physical exfoliation as well. All you do is slip your fingers inside the little glove, massage around in small circles on the textured side, flip it over to the smooth side, and rinse with water. It takes one minute and reveals bright, happy, glowy, soft skin."
"Clear brow gel is a staple in my daily routine, even if I'm not wearing any other makeup. I brush each hair up and out to keep them feeling groomed and feathery. This is my absolute favorite formula, as it leaves my brows glossy without any stickiness or flaking. Plus, it's infused with conditioning ingredients and only costs a cool $2."
"Perfume has been such a source of comfort for me during this very strange, very anxiety-ridden year. I've been gravitating towards sweeter scents, and this one from Ellis Brooklyn makes me feel instantly happier and soothed with one spritz. It contains notes of pear, ambrette, and marshmallow, but to me, it just smells like comfort and coziness."
"I've been dealing with supremely dry lips for the first time in my life, and this lip treatment has been a savior. I slather it on during the day and at night and instantly notice a difference–my lips feel softer and less flaky after just one use. I applied it on a random scaly, flaky spot this past week, and it literally disappeared before my eyes in just a few minutes (and didn't come back!)."
"I feel like I don't even know my skin anymore these days. The combination of wearing a mask and not going outdoors as much has left me with skin that's constantly breaking out, dull, and rough-feeling. I love this primer from Isla because it's like a tall glass of water for my skin–it wakes it up and helps it look glowy and alive instantly. Plus, I love that it's made with skin-loving ingredients like rose water, witch hazel, and vitamin e, so it's more like a skin treatment instead of just a makeup product."
"As the temperatures dip and the skin on my body gets drier and scalier, I have to bring in the big guns. I've been loving this body oil from Tata Harper because it seals in my body lotion post-shower (I rotate between African Botanics and Kayo) and also provides an aromatherapy experience. It's a nice way to take a moment for myself at the end of a long day and has become one of my favorite parts of my nightly ritual."
"I've found that burning a candle is the quickest way to elevate my mood when I'm working from home, and this one from Krigler is a new favorite. I love rose-scented anything, but this rose scent is a little spicier, a little naughtier than your typical rose--that's because there are notes of sandalwood in here, too. It smells more like you're burrowing your face into a rose bush than anything of the saccharine-sweet variety. Plus, the hand-poured glass jar is the prettiest, most soothing lavender shade. Just looking at it makes me feel happier. "
"After using the Molton Brown Fragrance Finder personality quiz, I was recommended this scent from the Molton Brown portfolio. I was skeptical at first because I typically don't like to smell fruity, but it turns out the program was totally right! The top notes of this fragrance are grapefruit, pink pepper, and cardamom, which really rounds out grapefruit's citrusy scent and makes it a little muskier and more wearable for me. I find that after I apply a spritz, I immediately get a mood boost. FYI: grapefruit is a natural de-stressor, and I can attest to the fact that wearing it really puts me in a brighter mood."
"It’s no secret that I (like most of us) am washing my hands more than ever these days. And while handwashing can be mundane, this foam handwash by MyKirei actually managed to make it fun. The unique dispenser is in the shape of a flower so that when you press down, you have a foam flower in your palm. This has been on my bathroom sink for about a month now, and to be honest, the pretty foam flower never really gets old. It’s the perfect way to elevate this never-ending ritual."
"The reason why this diffuser makes me happy is pretty simple—it's beautiful. Of course, it's effective, and I love the multiple diffusion settings, but mostly, I love keeping it on my kitchen-table-turned-desk and am reminded to use it each day. I've been loving Vitruvi's Woodsy essential oil kit. I live with my boyfriend, and this kit includes fragrances we both enjoy like cedarwood and frankincense."
"This may sound blasphemous coming from someone who works in the beauty industry, but I've always struggled to keep up with a multi-step skincare routine. There have been moments throughout 2020 where I've been super focused on skincare and have done all the things (fancy face wash, toners, serums, moisturizers, masks, etc.), but lately, I haven't been motivated to do so. I love The Nue Co's serum The Pill because, on days where I really can't bring myself to do much more than wash my face, I just put this on and know my skin is getting nutrients. I feel good knowing I'm doing *something* for my skin, even if it's just applying one product after I wash, which is literally doing the absolute least in the skincare world. The serum is jam-packed with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and complex AHAs to keep your skin happy and healthy."
"I turned 30 at the end of September and felt like it was a good time to finally pull the trigger on some self-improvement things that I'd been thinking about for a long time. Included in this list (which is a mix of both physical and mental improvements) is straightening my teeth, which I've been self-conscious about for the last decade. I can't afford an in-office orthodontics treatment like Invisalign, so I researched at-home options. Byte has an option for night-time only aligners, which I prefer. I've been using them for 2 weeks, and so far I'm loving them. I wear them for 10 hours a night, and my treatment is a total of 15 weeks. There's not as much discomfort as I expected, and I use their patented Hyperbyte vibrating machine each night for 10 minutes to help speed up the process. The feeling of finally doing something for myself that I've wanted to do for years is deeply satisfying, and the Byte experience is really easy. I'm actually tracking the process and my progress on our Instagram, so keep an out eye there for updates."
"It's hard to believe we're in the ninth month of this prolonged time at home, so finding little pockets of comfort in the confines of the apartment I spend far too much time in is the key to my sanity. Foreo's latest launch, an anti-shock microcurrent device, has become sort of like a meditative practice at the end of my nighttime skincare routine. The technology helps to build collagen and ease facial tension, the latter of which I could really use, considering I catch myself grinding my teeth throughout the day. It also just feels nice to glide the cool metal spheres along my face and neck before settling down into bed for the evening."
"I might be one of the few people who wears perfume while working from home, but giving myself a quick mist in the morning feels routine and comforting. Plus, catching a whiff of it throughout the day is a calming practice when the monotony starts to weigh on me. This recent launch from Marc Jacobs has been such a welcome daily smell. It has top notes of rhubarb and daffodil mixed with an unexpected dash of almond milk and musky base notes of cedarwood and cashmeran. It's the perfect balance of delicacy and heady smoke."
"The packaging alone is enough to spread joy, but these patches actually work, too. I'm a skin-picker (I try hard not to be!), and these little gold stars seem to be the only thing that can stand between me and popping my maskne-related pimples. These days when I rarely wear makeup, it's nice to have something just genuinely fun and colorful on my face—even if wearing one means I have a pimple."
"This is a controversial (perhaps even sacrilegious) statement as a beauty editor, but I'm just not a lipstick person. Sue me! I have dry lips and have never found a formula that doesn't exacerbate the problem. I fell in love with the shades when It Cosmetics launched their Pillow Lips lipstick almost a year ago, but again, I'm just not a lipstick person. So when the brand announced they'd be launching a Pillow Lips Solid Serum, I had high hopes. And I was not disappointed. This formula has the color payoff of a lipstick, but it feels just like my favorite lip balm (and with a glossy finish). This one's a huge winner in my book."
"When I was in high school, the original Aussie 3 Minute Miracle Deep Conditioner was the beauty product to own. This newer formulation is even more effective, with avocado and Australian jojoba oil to nurture curls. I smile every time I use it—it smells like nostalgia and leaves my curls hydrated, bouncy, and more defined (even when I skip the diffuser and just go for an air-dry). It's my weekly beauty indulgence even though it's only $6."
"On rest days when I'm not working out, I like to spend a good 20 minutes stretching and rolling out my muscles. This one really gets the job done in a hurts-so-good kind of way. Every time I pick it up, I know I've done something good for my body by working out and that I'm continuing to do something good for my body by taking a rest day to foam roll when I'm feeling sore. This one's a mini, so it's great for smaller areas like my hip flexors and stows away easily in my ottoman."
"These powerhouse pads prep my skin with a deep exfoliation every time I use them. They help fight my stubborn maskne and help fade acne marks."
"My skin has been super dry with the changing of the seasons, and this mask is the answer to my prayers. Sometimes I use it as a moisturizer overnight. It’s deeply hydrating and leaves my face with a plump glow every morning. It is especially great for my under eyes."
"This sunscreen has been a game-changer this past year. It lives up to its name. Not only does it help protect me from damaging sun rays, but it also leaves my face perfectly covered in a subtle golden glow. It’s packed with hydrating ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide. It even acts as a highlighter. It’s my all-in-one go-to when I need to face the day."
"Recently, I’ve made a cup of hot water mixed with a spoon of this honey, a few drops of Yesterday CBD Hemp Oil- Lemon ($45), and a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar first thing in the morning. It really sets a positive tone for my day. I feel calmer, and the lemon, honey, and sorrel flavors are delicious together."
"I get so many compliments on the scent of this candle when I have visitors. But I love lighting it when I'm home alone and curled up on the couch with my pup with the sun shining through the window. It smells like grapefruit and lemon."
"Sleep makes me happy, and so do gummies. I’ve been trying my best to go to bed earlier. Anxiety keeps me up at night, and these signal to my body that it's bedtime. More sleep makes me a much happier human in the morning."
"When my roommate and I were separated for quarantine in March, I was also separated from her vast collection of beauty products, including this cult classic moisturizer. I wasn’t a beauty editor then, so I used to steal some whenever my skin was feeling dry (sorry, Allie!). She’s since moved to LA, and I've now bought my own bottle of Embryolisse. It protects my skin from the dry air in my new apartment, has a soft, non-greasy feel, and also doubles as a makeup remover. At night, I pat it on my face and think of her. The scent makes me feel at home."
"These bright, matte liquid eyeshadows are the easiest way for me to incorporate fun in my beauty routine. They help me do a low-effort, statement eye that stands out above my mask. I dab some product on my hand, then tap it onto my lids to build up the color. Currently, I own Lawn and Terra, but I’m lusting after Pool and Valley."
"My hair can look lazy and limp when it’s air-dried, but this paste immediately perks up my natural waves. I have an oily scalp, and the Zeolite helps absorb the grease before it happens, extending the life of my wash. With results that last for days, it’s a low-effort, high-impact product—my favorite kind."
"I hadn’t worn perfume since March until I got my hands on Decorté’s new line. The scents felt absolutely luxurious, just for me to enjoy as I worked from home, the definition of self-care. My favorite is Kimono Rin, which my boyfriend likes so much that he’s taken to spraying it on himself, too. It has notes of ume (Japanese plums, a personal favorite food) with woody patchouli."
"At the start of the pandemic, my nails were brittle and thin due to constantly getting full sets of gel nail extensions. While I've been home, I’ve focused on restoring my natural nails' health and have been painting them myself, which has been a fun self-care activity. I recently tried polishes from Habit Cosmetics and absolutely love them. All of the polishes are non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and housed in sustainable packaging. They come in so many fun, flattering shades–ranging from grape to gold glitter–that last a long time on your nails."
"When it comes to skincare, I love a good facial oil. And this one from Frigg is one of my favorites. It has been described as a “tonic of dreams,” and that perfectly summarizes the magic of this oil. It’s loaded with antioxidants, the Omega 3-6-9 complex, CBD, and botanical oils that help reinvigorate my skin when it is feeling stressed and looking dull. After this oil soaks in, I’m left with skin that is happy, hydrated, and absolutely glowing."
"I’ve always suffered from migraines. When those throbbing headaches hit, all I want to do is find ways to soothe the pain so that I feel 100% again. This CBD Relief Roller has been a huge help. It is formulated with a calming blend of CBD and essential oils, including lavender, peppermint, eucalyptus, and lemon. I apply it in a circular motion to my forehead and temples about three to five times, and I’m met with a cooling sensation that works quickly to dull my migraine pain."
"Experimenting with new makeup looks has been one of my favorite pastimes during the pandemic. The MAKEUP BY MARIO Master Metals Eyeshadow Palette ($48) has been one of my favorite eye palettes to play around with as of late. This palette boasts five highly-pigmented shades inspired by Earth’s natural metals. I’ve been transforming the shadows into liquid foil using the Master Metal Manipulator ($14) and creating some super fun molten metal eye looks."