There’s no more convincing testament to a beauty product than using it to the very end of the tube or bottle or tub. To find out about the products that are worth excavating (as well as experience the satisfaction of snooping inside someone else’s bathroom cupboard), we occasionally invite friends of the Strategist to tell us about their empties for the month. In this installment, Strategist writers and editors from both sides of the Atlantic tell us what they used to the last drop in February.
Ailbhe Malone, senior editor, Strategist UK
I bought the Rituals Advent calendar last year, and this month I finally used up the last of the products that came with it. Of all the bath oils, body creams, and unguents that were included with the calendar, I didn’t expect to be so besotted with the Ritual of Hammam shampoo and conditioner set. I wash my chin-length hair every two days, and the 250ml samples lasted me all the way from December to February. They’re not super-perfumed (unlike the Ritual of Sakura range, which I find cloyingly sweet), and they leave my hair soft and shiny. They’re also sulphate-free, if that matters to you. So once I finish up my bumper bottle of L’Occitane Gentle Balance Micellar shampoo, I’ll be adding the large size of the Rituals shampoo and conditioner to my basket.
Another Christmas gift that I finished up this month was this delightful bath foam from London Bathers. Readers of our Strategist Haul know that I’m incredibly fond of this brand — I buy its bar soap and bath salts on repeat. This bath foam, which my husband got for my stocking, smells like walking through a forest (it’s got eucalyptus, lavender, and peppermint). It bubbles splendidly. My only irk is that unlike other London Bathers’ products, it’s not refillable — but I’ve emailed the company to ask for a timeline on when that might change.
Mia Leimkuhler, senior manager, audience development, Strategist U.S.
I know correlation is not causation, but my 68-year-old mother has barely any wrinkles, and she has worn sunscreen every day of her adult life. So I have also worn sunscreen every day of my adult life, and the absolute best sunscreen I’ve ever tried is this Lierac Sunissime SPF50+ Anti-Aging Protective Fluid. I discovered it a few years ago on a trip to Lyon, when I explained in shaky French to a kind pharmacist that I needed a sunscreen that works for oily skin, has no white cast, and is strong enough to only need one daily application (I care about my skin, but I’m also lazy). Without any hesitation she handed me this Lierac formulation, and now I’m hooked — it absorbs quickly and leaves my skin feeling soft and happy, thanks to the moisturizing hyaluronic acid and protaurine. My most recent tube just ran out, so I ordered two more (it’s the only product I like enough to buy in multiples).
Sanibel Chai, junior writer, Strategist U.S.
While I like a rich moisturizer for nighttime, during the day I need something that absorbs really well and doesn’t pill during makeup application. Oat So Simple Water Cream from Krave Beauty has a gel texture that’s incredibly hydrating, and unlike most gel moisturizers I’ve tried, it leaves no residue. I also love to use this on my neck because it doesn’t leave a sticky coating. I tend to over-moisturize (layering on a bunch at once to compensate for all the times when I didn’t moisturize at all), and this formula is forgiving of my venial sin. I finished the tub in a little over a month (using it as a neck cream led me to burn through it).
Karen Adelson, senior writer, Strategist U.S.
I started using this moisturizer a few years ago when I was on Accutane and needed something extremely gentle to nourish my parched skin. It did the trick then, keeping my dryness in check and helping my skin feel soft and smooth. As someone with very oily and acne-prone skin, I’m not generally in the market for an “ultrarich” cream, but even when I finished my Accutane regimen, I kept using it — in part because the tub lasts forever but also because I just liked how it made my skin feel. When I finally ran out a couple of months ago, I switched to something that I thought would be more oily-skin–friendly, but it ended up with my breaking out — and it left me with random dry patches. I decided to go back to the First Aid Beauty moisturizer. It’s hydrating without feeling greasy, and it works in both my morning and nighttime routines.
Maxine Builder, editor, Strategist U.S.
I’ve been on isotretinoin since September, and finally, after dealing with cystic breakouts for the past 15 years, my skin is acne-free. But one horrible side effect of isotretinoin is dryness — and that’s exacerbated by the cold winter air. So this month I finished off a tube of Weleda Skin Food Light, a less-dense version of the original balm (that’s also a longtime Strategist favorite). I was so desperate to finish it that I even cut the tube in half and scooped out the dregs with a Q-tip. I prefer this formula to the thicker cream because I can use it morning and night, and it soaks into my skin better, rather than sits on top. But it’s just as hydrating and has really helped keep my flaky skin at bay. It’s a classic for a reason, as they might say.
Kathy Li, audience growth coordinator, Strategist U.S.
I’ve been obsessed with this facial spray from Pixi and am just about done with my first bottle. (Definitely plan on repurchasing.) I generally think facial sprays are a waste of money, but I was curious about the hyaluronic acid and oat combination, and now have a very specific use for it. I’ll do a few spritzes after I get out of the shower — I tend to take very hot showers, which feel great but are pretty terrible for my skin — to calm some of the redness and get my face feeling like itself again, at least until I can do a more involved skin-care routine at night. It has a very fine, evenly dispersed mist and dries down quickly without leaving a weird film. I have the 2.7-ounce bottle, which is actually an ideal size to travel with, and I can see myself using it on a plane to combat the dry cabin air.
Chelsea Peng, senior editor, Strategist U.S.
Being more mindful of accepting press mailers means I’m (gradually) working through my beauty stash, which includes this miracle leave-in conditioner. Because it smells like oceanic laundry and instantly reanimates my neon green hair when it’s feeling particularly Grinch-y, I’m still coming to grips with the fact that it really is kaput: I’ve resorted to storing it upside down, slapping it against the palm of my hand like it’s a reluctant Heinz, and unscrewing the pump to scrape the sides for those last clingy bits. It’s very powerful in a Brylcreem “a li’l dab’ll do ya” way, though, so even with regular nightly use, my eventual replacement bottle should last another year or more. (Sponsor me, Sachajuan.)
Lauren Ro, writer, Strategist U.S.
There was a time earlier this winter when this very popular night cream was sold out everywhere online. I was able to track it down at a local-ish CVS, where I bought two, knowing it was precious goods. It has since become available online, but I’m glad I stocked up when I did, because I very quickly reached the bottom of the first jar (it took me about two months). It’s my night moisturizer of choice for the winter and when I’m pregnant, as it’s free from all the yucky stuff and full of all the good (ceramides, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide). It’s so luxuriously thick without being greasy, and in the mornings when I wash my face, I can still feel it, which to me signals that it’s been working all night to hydrate and brighten my skin.
Rosie Percy, senior manager, audience development, Strategist UK
I was introduced to The Ordinary a few years ago, after dealing with comedonal acne that a dermatology referral couldn’t even shift. The skin- care forums and reviews I pored over pointed me toward this niacinamide 10% and zinc 1% serum. Within just a few weeks of applying it daily, my skin had cleared and was less congested, and I’ve been using it religiously ever since. I get through a bottle every six weeks — it’s one of the few products I use to the very last drop. Annoyingly, because the viscous serum is a cloudy, colorless liquid in a frosted glass bottle, I sometimes don’t notice when it’s running low. Thankfully, when I emptied my latest bottle this month, I was able to order it for next-day delivery from ASOS, so I don’t ever have to go a day without it. If we’re doing Desert Island Discs for skin-care products, this is my top pick.
Liza Corsillo, senior writer, Strategist U.S.
I am probably on my fifth tube of They’re Real! lengthening mascara. The first time I bought it was years ago, in an emergency. I was running late to meet a former colleague I wanted to impress. It was summertime and I was sweating in Soho. And because I was rushing, I also had zero makeup on. So I ran into the closest pharmacy, ready to buy whatever mascara it had. That’s when I noticed this stuff, and the name made me smile. That first tube I bought was the jet black color, and I put it on with the help of my phone’s camera app under some scaffolding. It soon became my daily mascara because it never clumps and delivers on its promise. Instead of my looking like I have on mascara, I look like I was born with longer, fuller lashes. I have since gotten into using the brown color for an even more minimal appearance, and currently have one tube in my bag and another in my bathroom. I use it so often the logo has been rubbed half off. But it actually lasts quite a long time (I purchase a new one every six months or so) and it never dries out. I also love that you can buy it in a mini, for easy carrying or to try it out.
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