My Love Story: Ilia Polka Dots & Moon Beams Luminizer



Beauty editors aren’t exactly known to be brand loyal. In fact, very few can name more than one product they’ve been in a monogamous relationship with for more than a few months. It’s not that we’re fickle by nature. It’s just that by the time we hit the bottom of our must-have jar of night cream, there’s a new one we’re bound to fall in love with waiting for us. (Life’s rough, we know.) We’re telling you all this only to highlight the importance of the products that do make it into our regular rotation—the ones that don’t get replaced by the latest and greatest, our one true (beauty) loves. This February, we’re sharing all of our product love stories. Enjoy!

It's the sign of a thriving relationship when the object of your affection inspires you to be better, right? To that end, I can't exactly say I've done a lot for my favorite beauty product, but it certainly has for me. It's not even about the fact that Ilia's Polka Dots & Moonbeams Illuminator ($34) is a stellar product, though it isit represents something much bigger in my beauty journey, because it's the product that completely changed the way I approach and use makeup. Polka Dots & Moonbeams, I didn't just fall in love with youI fell in love with makeup again. 

I've always loved the beauty world, or really, I thought I did, at least from afar. On a personal level, beauty has always been a bit of a battle. I've gone through my phases like everyone else, but for years, I just assumed that if I wanted to look and feel great, I had to make a ton of effort. My thick, wavy hair had to be tamed into submission with frizz creams and hot tools; I needed a thick layer of foundation, eyeliner, eye shadow, and blush to walk out the door. That was basically my routine in a nutshell, and I spent so much time on those elements alone that I ignored the things that probably mattered moremy skin, for example. And because I was subscribing to a formulaic way of applying makeup rather than having any idea of what actually looked best on me, I frankly didn't look my best. By my early 20s, I was understandably disillusioned by all of this, and I started going without makeup entirely on a regular basis, save for a swipe of mascara. (FWIW, this is around the time that I went cold turkey on hair products, too.)

And then, just over a year ago, this illuminator landed on my desk. I was coincidentally just beginning to (finally) get into skincare and was actually even more over makeup as a result. Why would I want to cover up my newfound radiance? It wasn't until I was prepping for a night out that I swiped the creamy stick along the tops of my cheeks as an afterthought, and ran out the door, barely glancing in the mirror as I went.

"Dude, your skin looks amazing," my friend marveled in the dimly lit bar. "You're glowing!" When I made a pit stop in the bathroom, I finally understood that she meant: It was like someone had taken my newly dewy complexion and amped up the wattage, like a real-life Instagram filter. And cheekbones! I suddenly had them!

I was 100% sold when after removing my makeup that evening, I realized my skin was softer and more hydrated where the organic, plant-based highlighter had been. And it suddenly occurred to me that maybe I had this all backward. I didn't need to take an all-or-nothing approach to makeup, I just needed to be smarter about it. And in a way, I think that's when I really became a beauty editor.

Over the coming weeks, I began slowly rotating more makeup into my routine, choosing products that enhanced my natural look with ingredients that would do the same. To this day, I live for the thrill of the find. I have my face uniform, but I'm always on the hunt for amazing products that can tweak it for the better.

Still, while my gig has allowed me to rotate through some really awesome makeup, the one thing I won't swap out is my beloved Ilia highlighter. I've gone through stick after stick of the stuff, addicted to the seamless, creamy formula and the lit-from-within glow it creates. But would it still be sitting on my vanity like a trophy if I found a superior highlighter? Probably. Except I'm the one who's "most improved."

Do you have a product that totally changed the way you approach your beauty routine? Tell me about it below, and read more editor love stories here.