Our Editorial Director’s Least Glamorous Beauty Products

I am constantly hard at work on my Top Shelf. Products come in; products go out. Oftentimes they find their way back in again—only to be escorted once more to the door. The ones that stick around are selected based on various moving targets, none of which add up to any number, real or imaginary. The first moving target is my routine—what I actually need on a day-to-day basis, to cleanse, exfoliate, moisturize, treat… But what does that routine say about ME and My Lifestyle™. Or better yet: What could it say? What story are these products really telling, with their packaging and branding and placement in my medicine cabinet? It’s a game of three-dimension chess—and one that has kept me gainfully employed for going on five years.

But as that ecosystem is whirring about upstairs, downstairs (or rather, below the sink) things are telling a quieter story. That’s where you’ll find the Bottom Drawer, a phenomenon cleverly pointed out by writer Or Gotham. He demonstrated his theory over here not too long ago. The Bottom Drawer is where you keep those ugly (but trusty!) products that say less about the aspirational version of you and more about the secret trash monster you become when you close the door of your bathroom and take off your human costume. It’s OK—we all do it. And to honor Or’s initial transparency, I too shall partake of this exercise and share the least glamorous, most embarrassing pieces of my beauty wardrobe. They are as follows:

What it says: “Is someone boiling eggs?”
This spot treatment is a chore. The packaging might be so grotesque that it’s circled back around to chic again, but that does not make it user friendly. In ever sense of the word, it is a tub. A tub I have to dip into with a Q-tip to fish out a yellow glob that then hangs on my face. I say “hangs” because the formula is heavy. But the thicker the yellow smudge, the better—it really does work on everything from surface pimples to those deep painful suckers. Just gotta remember it’s there, lest you end up with yellow gunk all over you sleeves, hair, pillowcases, and the like. Never trust a chic spot treatment. Only trust a spot treatment that boasts roughly 1,000,000 positive reviews on Amazon.

What it says: “Grey Gardens is on HBO!”
Make fun of my shower habits all you want. But you may not, under any circumstances, make fun of how infrequently I wash my hair. It is basically never. And if it happens, it’s because I’ve paid someone to do it for me. So if you want me to do you the public service of washing my body regularly, let me use my shower cap in peace. Don’t make me use a chic one. Frumpy works just fine (better, actually, because it covers any sort of hairstyle, whispies and all). Joke’s on you, I guess.

What it says: “I still go to the pediatrician.”
When I was but a wee babe, my mother purchased one of those giant 14 oz. jars of Aquaphor. What can I say?! I was a rashy infant. I finally finished this tub when I was in 8th grade. That’s the kind of pre-teen event you remember. After that, I was advised not to purchase another, as the next 13 years of my life would be characterized by a lot of moving (every year in college and then to go find a job). My jumbo healing ointment would only mean more baggage. So now I stock up on the little purse guys to heal any surprise spots of dryness. As the old saying goes: Bring your own lipid barrier. BYOLB, for short.

Prescription steroid

What is says: “I’m an indoors person.”
Eczema! What’s it good for? For getting a serious-as-hell Rx to heal that shit scary fast. Best if used under the supervision of a qualified dermatologist. And that’s about all I have to say about that.

What it says: “I shouldn’t eat tomatoes after 5pm.”
Y’all are sleeping on Gaviscon and that’s disappointing to me. So right now, at this very moment, stand up and walk to your nearest medicine cabinet. Find the Tums, and chuck them in the garbage. They can’t lift a finger to the chalky wonders you’ll find in this bottle of Gaviscon. It is a king among antacids. A true lifesaver (and there’s even a vaguely fruity aftertaste—once you get past the chalk). Not technically a beauty product, but if you know, you know.

—Emily Ferber

Photo via ITG.