(Shelf Space)

The 5 Best Beauty and Wellness Products I Tried in May

From a lavender-infused wellness beverage to a bacne-fighting skin savior.

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Shelf Space is our series that highlights the five best new launches that our editors made coveted space for in their beauty routines. These monthly features will explore the must-have hair, skin, makeup, nail, and body products that are now a forever favorite. Find out which products made the cut this month below.

Ah, the sweet, sweaty smells of summer in New York — a pungent mix of trash, pollen, body odor, smoke, and more trash that clings to your skin in a sticky film. Mmmmmm. I breathe it in like it’s the crystal-clear air of the Alps. This morning, I found myself one step away from spreading my arms, The Sound of Music style, and singing that the hills are alive in the middle of Union Square. If a pigeon defecated on me, I’d probably laugh gaily and say, “Thank you, good sir!”

I can’t be the only one feeling this elation. We’ve made it through the most difficult year of our collective experience (how has it only been a year?!) and now, on the eve of the best, most exciting season (as a Leo, I’m simply stating a fact), with thousands more people getting vaccinated every day, it feels like finally, finally, the end is in sight. And if that doesn’t make you want to skip down the street and hug strangers, well, we’ve clearly had very different years (and also, are you an alien?).

I’m applying this joyful mindset to my beauty routine this month, which is perfect timing because there are a slew of exciting new launches to discuss. My friend David Yi, founder of Very Good Light, started a skin care brand called Good Light with products that are like a hug for your face — soothing, comforting, and healing. I finally found a clean mascara that works for my wimpy lashes in RMS’ new volumizing formula, and I’ve swapped my nightly glass of wine for a wellness drink that tastes like lavender and sea salt. I also discovered a new serum favorite from wildcrafted beauty brand Alpyn Beauty, and a gel exfoliator that got rid of my chest breakout overnight from a chic new body care brand.

Friends — it’s going to be the best summer of our lives. Now let’s get into my shelf space, shall we?

We only include products that have been independently selected by TZR's editorial team. However, we may receive a portion of sales if you purchase a product through a link in this article.

I’m a sucker for anything with the word “milky” in it, therefore, this was an automatic win. Sure, you might own other toners, but are they made with snow mushroom, meadowfoam oil, and ceramides to make your skin feel like you’re dousing it in a cloud of moisture? Didn’t think so. I received a bottle of this a few weeks ago and I’m already halfway through, which is saying a lot for a beauty editor with a short attention span. I use this at night after I’ve done a mask or peel, and I can literally feel it calming down my skin — like your best friend talking you through a quick spiral. But my favorite way to use it is first thing in the morning. I skip cleansing and wipe this over my face instead, and it feels like I’m toning with a cooling cloud. It leaves my skin feeling softly cleansed, bright, hydrated, and ready for my serum, moisturizer and SPF. File under: summer essential.

There are very few parts of me I’d describe as “weak” — my lashes (along with my ability to resist dessert or crying during a Pixar movie) are one of them. They’re also sparse, thin, and grow straight down, which makes finding a good mascara incredibly difficult. I test 99% of mascaras that come across my desk, and 99% of them don’t work for me. It’s not their fault, really, it’s just that my lashes come with a very specific set of demands. My favorite mascaras are volumizing, but don’t weigh my lashes down and still allow them to hold a curl — I know it’s asking for a lot, but it’s just the way my lashes are. Somehow, this new mascara from RMS does all of that and is somehow made with a slew of lash-nourishing ingredients. It sounds too good to be true, which I’d say it was if I wasn’t staring into the mirror admiring my thick, curled lashes as I type. This mascara really has sculpting power, as in it feels like you’re literally sculpting the shape and curve of your lashes as you apply. It magically locks the lift in place, while delivering major volume in just a few strokes. Plus, it’s made with peptides and even shea butter to help strengthen and nourish your lashes every time you apply. This might just be a new holy grail.

Now that the temps are warming up, my body acne has decided it’s time for it to rear its ugly (white) head. Luckily for me, there’s a new body care brand called Soft Services that’s bestowed me a secret weapon. The Smoothing Solution is a light-as-air gel formula that I spread on my chest and my back post-shower to keep my skin clear (warning: it definitely tingles, especially if you use the brand’s Buffing Bar to exfoliate before). Made with 10% lactic acid and 5% urea, it’s a chemical exfoliator made especially to smooth out any bumps and breakouts on your body. And unlike other body products, the ingredients list is short, and filled with skin-soothing ingredients like centella asiatica and aloe vera. The first time I used this before bed, I woke up and my burgeoning chest breakout had literally disappeared. Since then, I’ve incorporated it into my post-shower routine, slathering it onto my chest and back before applying the brand’s Carea Cream daily lotion. I haven’t experienced a chest or back breakout, zit, or bump since. Sweaty temps, come at me.

Is rambutan the new retinol? Alpyn Beauty says it is and its new serum is proof. The wild harvested skin care brand’s milky, soothing serum is made with wild nettle, extracted straight from founder Kendra Butler’s farm in Jackson Hole, and rambutan, a spiky-looking superfruit the brand sustainably harvests in Thailand. Other ingredients like niacinamide, aloe, sunflower seed oil and squalane give a dose of hydration, so your skin feels instantly calmed and soothed. I haven’t used this long enough to attest to its firming benefits, but I will say the silky serum is a joy to use — it feels like I’m dousing my skin in moisture, and it sinks in instantly so you can use it both night and day. Plus, someone complimented my skin via Zoom the other day, so I’m counting that as an instant win.

I’ve never been someone who needed to unwind with a glass of wine after a long day — then the pandemic happened, and I turned into one of those people. There’s nothing wrong with having a glass of red to take the edge off, but if you’re looking for an alcohol alternative that will also help you de-stress, look no further than Kin’s newest drink, Light Wave. I’ve been a fan of Kin ever since their first product, High Rhode, launched — a drink made with adaptogens and nootropics to help you feel a happy wine buzz with none of the alcohol. The brand’s newest venture, however, is all about de-stressing. Light Wave is a fizzy drink that tastes like lavender-vanilla, birch, and smoked sea salts, which I can attest is really as delightful as it sounds. It’s the ingredients, however, that really make this so special. L-theanine is scientifically proven to help lower cortisol levels, magnesium glycinate helps to soothe anxiety, and resihi mushroom is a powerhouse adaptogen that brings your body back into balance. Drinking a Light Wave at the end of the day has become my favorite part of my nightly routine, and not just because it never leaves me with a hangover the next morning.

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