Los Angeles-based, skincare-loving cinephile that I am, I've encountered my fair share of incredible stuff. And when I find something I love, I tend to become a bit of an evangelist about it (which really works in favor of my commerce writing pursuits). Though many of my favorites are already widely beloved, the items below are of special personal significance.
While compiling this list, I tried to think both in terms of products I use every day that have made a marked difference in my life and of the small luxuries I treat myself to that bring me joy. So without further ado, here are a few things I love. I hope you love them just as much.
There was a time when I desperately wanted to be the kind of woman with a complicated, 20+ step skincare routine. I found the ritual of applying all of those expensive ampoules, serums, and masks to be terribly glamorous, but unfortunately, my skin was not having any of it. So, I whittled the regimen down to five simple products (including this dermatologist fave moisturizer) and - surprise, surprise - my skin has never looked better. Side note: CeraVe has been spreading the good word of ceramides and hyaluronic acid since long before the skincare craze began, so you can trust that they know what they're doing.
I started using Differin Gel a few years ago to combat "maskne" but wish I'd known about when I was in my teens and 20s. It's helped so much with breakouts, evening my skin tone, and even with keeping fine lines at bay. For the uninitiated: Differin is a (formerly by-prescription-only) retinoid that gently chemically exfoliates skin and promotes cellular turnover. I use it every other evening under my night cream and wake up with glowing skin.
Something I noticed as I entered my 30s is that my patience for sitting down and doing my makeup every single morning all but disappeared. I still like to look pulled-together, though, so this CC+ cream foundation from It! Cosmetics has been a game-changer for me. The coverage is full enough that it evens everything out without being cakey or mask-like. It's also surprisingly hydrating, and I love that there's SPF 50 built right in for extra sun protection.
People stop me to ask where I get my lashes done with some regularity. When I tell them it's just mascara, they assume I use something expensive. Then I get to delight in their shocked expression when I say, "No, it's Maybelline!" The fan-shaped brush is where it's at: the short bristles apply a nice, thick layer of product and the longer ones help to separate.
On the occasion that I do want to really do my whole face, I usually go bold with a red lip. And for that, I turn to Bésame. Bésame Cosmetics is a Burbank, CA-based makeup company with vintage style and modern values. Deeply inspired by the glam of old Hollywood, founder Gabriela Hernandez set out to make natural, sustainable, cruelty-free versions of products from the past and her collection of red lipsticks cannot be beat. Red Velvet gives me the most perfect bombshell pout. It's long-wearing and contains nourishing ingredients like Vitamin E and squalene, so it doesn't dry out my lips.
I found this while looking for a dupe for the vastly more expensive Mason Pearson brush, and it's been a godsend. I'm convinced this baby has saved me from total baldness. The mixed natural boar and nylon bristles distribute sebum evenly over the hair shaft without pulling, so I have way fewer split ends and my hair is shinier than ever.
I'm extremely lazy. A quick and simple spray and go is where I thrive, so this is the only styling product I regularly use in my hair. Davines texture spray creates a nice "chicly unkempt" effect and smells yummy.
Satin scrunchies round out the beauty section of this list because when I was young I would just use any old thing lying around to put my hair up (like bare rubber bands - eek), then be like, "why do I always look like I was just struck by lightning?" Not very bright! Fast-forward to a semi-recent bout of Covid-related hair loss that was devastating, but it also showed me how careless I had been about taking care of my crowning glory. Now I treasure every strand like it's spun gold, and I must say, being a little more high maintenance is paying off.
Freshly ground coffee or bust, in my opinion. Even inexpensive beans taste better when you grind them just before brewing. This Black + Decker has sharp, durable blades, a powerful motor, and just enough capacity for the quarter-cup of Trader Joe's Breakfast Blend I use in my morning French press. I've also used it for spices and even to make powdered sugar in a pinch.
Speaking of my French press, my favorite thing about it is how hot it keeps my coffee. And for hours! It's made of double insulated stainless steel instead of glass, so even if I don't get to my second cup until later in the morning, I know it'll still be steaming when I'm ready for it.
It might be a controversial opinion, but I believe any knife is a good knife as long as it's sharp. I've gotten a lot of mileage out of my cheapies just by keeping them keen. Run your blade through this sharpener's three-slot system before you use it and you'll never squash a tomato again.
Scratches on my phone screen drive me bonkers, so I always have some of these tempered glass screen protectors around. They're incredibly simple to install, and the satisfaction I get from laying it on perfectly with no air bubbles is, frankly, obscene.
This is a space heater shaped like an old-timey stove that uses what is essentially theatrical lighting to mimic the vibe of a wood fire. It's the best money I've spent in a long time. And 10,000 people on Amazon agree with me! If you're looking to cozy-up your space, I would highly recommend investing in one of these.
AAA has helped me out of many a hairy situation. Honestly, it's probably the only membership I have that's actually worth the money. LA is a geographically enormous city with notoriously bad public transportation, so you end up spending a big chunk of your day in a car. Flat tires, breakdowns, fender-benders, and battery issues are part of life. Luckily, the Auto Club is always there to assist when the going gets tough. Bless them.
Adaptogens are mushrooms, herbs, and roots that are said to help the body "adapt" to stressors and promote overall well being. They're gaining traction here in the West after centuries of use in Eastern medicine, and while there is still much to be studied, my approach to these kinds of supplements is always "know thyself" (i.e. whether or not you're allergic to anything) and "try it, you might like it." I'd gotten a sample of Yin Power by Sun Potion a few years ago and I noticed an immediate difference in my energy levels, so I decided to start using it regularly. It's a mixture of eight adaptogens including reishi, ashwagandha, and shatavari. I blend a teaspoon into my coffee in the morning and feel focused and sharp for the rest of the day.
Chili crisp is not a hot sauce, contrary to what one might assume. It's a savory, slightly crunchy, slightly sweet condiment that activates every single one of my taste buds and produces a wholly euphoric sensation in my brain. I actually had to stop buying this for myself for a while because I was eating it out of the jar with a spoon.
Amass Gin is distilled in Downtown Los Angeles. It has a lovely, clean, herbaceous flavor that's ideal for how I like my Martinis (which is shaken, a wash of vermouth in the glass, and a twist of lemon.)
These are my favorite cherries to garnish cocktails with. Maraschinos are way too sweet, but Amarena cherries are tart and have a depth of flavor that works so beautifully in, say, a Manhattan. I also love to drizzle the syrup over plain vanilla ice cream. YUM.
This squishy mat has saved my kneecaps during morning rounds of Cat/Cow flows. It's one luxurious inch thick and provides way more comfort than one of those traditional skinny yoga mats. I've even brought it camping to sleep on!
Believe the hype! I love these Beats headphones. They're essential to my daily mental health walks and an indispensable component of my home office setup. Not only are they very comfortable, but they have great bluetooth range and the battery life is outstanding. I feel like I almost never have to charge them!
It was amidst another late-night Instagram scroll that I stumbled upon this bralette, and I must admit that I absolutely love it. It's comfortable and supportive despite not having any underwire, and I love that they use sustainable materials in its design.
Quince is one of those online retailers in the emerging market of affordable, sustainable clothing, specializing in things like washable silks, European linen, and cashmere basics. All the pieces I have of theirs are beautiful and well-made but in warmer months I live in the black tee shirt dress.
Not gonna lie, I first bought these because Julia Fox gave an interview right after Uncut Gems came out where she said that they're the only sneakers she wears. At the time, Julia and I had the same kind of thick Italian legs (hers are way slimmer now), so I trusted her opinion that the Supergas would be flattering. I was not led astray. They're my go-to everyday white sneaker. (The 2630s are also really nice if you're looking for a sharper white.)
Truthfully, most days my "loungewear" of choice is actually just a cotton terry cloth bathrobe. Of course, I hope I look a little more like Marilyn Monroe than The Dude, but honestly, at this point in my life, I'm cool with either.
This duvet cover set makes me feel very glam. It's buttery soft, and despite being made from 100% organic bamboo, has a lovely, silk-like sheen to it. Plus, it's super breathable - ideal for a hot sleeper like me. I have it in Taupe, which, in real life, is a darker, more earthy greige than the champagne color pictured on Amazon, but I prefer it that way.
Scrabble is my favorite board game. My boyfriend and I play all the time. In another life, when I was working in the film industry right out of college, I actually spent part of my first paycheck on a deluxe edition like this one instead of paying an impending bill or two. No regrets!
Karina Longworth deserves a Peabody award or something for her podcast about "the secret and/or forgotten history of Hollywood's first century." Each season, she brings her listeners thoroughly researched, fascinating episodes on topics like the Blacklist, erotic thrillers of the '80s and '90s, blonde bombshells who met an untimely demise, and the Hollywood of Charles Manson's '60s. A must-listen.
Is this my favorite book? I never think of it as my favorite book, but I read it at least once a year, so maybe it is! (In fact, I'm about to dive into it again.) The 1987 film adaptation is also one of my comfort movies. John Updike wrote almost exclusively about WASPy, partner-swapping New Englanders who deal with their existential dread by playing basketball or tennis and gossiping about one another, only to semi-realize that their problems are all self-inflicted but lacking the courage or conviction to actually do anything about it. A bit polarizing, but I happen to really enjoy it.
Birding is a pastime that completely sneaks up on you. One day you're young and carefree. The next you're looking out your window oohing-and-ahhing over the yellow-rumped warbler at your feeder (which also seemed to appear as if by magic.) It happens to us all, so do yourself a favor and get a good set of binoculars. These are a great starter pair, and I'm a big fan of the phone mount that comes with it.