What We’re Buying: 14 Items We Tried And Loved In May

In this monthly column, ESSENCE editors and writers share what they purchased in the last 30 days and why they loved it. Many products cross our virtual desks or make it to our personal shopping carts, but these are the ones we couldn’t go without sharing.

In the age of social media, where the barrier to enter the retail industry has been significantly lowered, we’re of no shortage new fashion and beauty items to fawn over. In no exaggeration whatsoever, there are hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of new products being funneled into the world daily, and it can be hard to decipher which to pay attention to. As editors at Essence, a great chunk of our day is spent filtering through said new releases, in search of just what we know our audience will love, and naturally, our theoretical heart eyes pop out of our heads when we come across something we love, too. But when you test out products for a living, it becomes really easy to scope out high quality products that are worth the money.

That said, even editors don’t love everything they try, so we thought we’d give you look below at not just what we’ve gotten our hands on this month, but the items we loved the absolute most. Pants that fit just right, accessories that took an outfit over the top, serums that made our skin glow that much more, conditioners that added an extra bounce to our hair – you name it. Consider this your guide to the gems you didn’t know you needed (and that pleasantly surprised us, as well). Ahead, our wholehearted recommendations and unfiltered opinions – and products you’ll definitely fall in love with just as we did.

Blake Newby, Style & Editor

“I’m one of those people who believes that no outfit is complete without a pair of frames, that’s why my closet is brimming over with them. My most recent add to my massive collection are these chic Versace sunnies. The accents on the outer corners scream South Beach to me, and will certainly be my summer go-to.”

“I kept seeing the girlies raving over this fragrance on TikTok so I figured, why not? As a fragrance obsessive, I know firsthand how difficult it can be to find a scent that sticks — but this one does, all-day-long. I’m usually not a vanilla person, at all, but this isn’t your high school-level vanilla. It’s sexy, blended with orchids and wood, and is the perfect date night aroma.”

Shelton Boyd-Griffith, Contributing Style & Beauty Editor

“I’m usually a sneaker person (either Stan Smiths, Air Force 1’s, or New Balance 550 x Aimé Leon Dore) always choosing comfort over anything else but this month I decided to take advantage of the SSENSE sale and press buy on a pair of heeled loafers I’ve been eyeing. These Martine Rose loafers are so minimal and in line with my aesthetic, and can be dressed up or work for a more casual, running errands look. Also, they’re surprisingly comfy!”

“I’m a creature of habit/uniform so I usually find something I love and stick to it. I’ve been using the same fragrance for years (Maison Margiela Jazz Club) so I thought I would switch it up for my bday month (because we celebrate our birthdays all month long) and try a new scent. In steps: Le Labo’s Thé Matcha 26. I was influenced by the skin doll (Sean Garrette) who raves about it. Turns out, the scent doesn’t disappoint. It’s such a strong yet sweet scent, whose notes evolve as you wear it.”

Jamila Stewart, Contributing Commerce Editor

“I took a trip to Diesel’s Soho store location in New York, and when I saw these shoes, I had no doubt in mind they needed to be mine. First off, I’m a short-heel advocate, and ringing in at just three inches, these are heels I could walk a mile in. Then, they’re surprisingly easy to style, pairing seamlessly with jeans and a white button down, any earth-toned dress, and the list goes on. As for quality, the heel condition of any given shoe (luxury or otherwise) after just two or so wears tells me everything I need to know about how well I can expect them to hold up in the future, and these have earned a hard A+. I’d be remiss not to admit that it was the Carrie Bradshaw-esque collector in me that felt like I needed them, but non-conventional as they may be, I see myself pulling them out the closet for years to come.”

“I feel like this is a safe space to admit that I’ve ran away from exfoliators for… pretty much my entire life. Reason being, my skin is frustratingly sensitive. However, after convincing from a facialist, I decided to give them a go again. I’d heard nothing but raving when it comes to SkinCeauticals, so I started first with its exfoliating scrub, and I haven’t had a reason to try another since. With the tiniest of micro beads, it’s gentle enough for daily use (I opt for using it at night, following a cleanser, to further help with makeup removal). It’s made a world of a difference in my skin texture, and the fact that it’s packed with aloe vera extract to add a bit of moisture back into your skin while scrubbing definitely doesn’t hurt.”

Emerald Elitou, Style & Beauty Writer

“Now that we are back outside and enjoying the beautiful sunny weather, it’s also time to start grabbing brunch with the besties. I am in love with the Melissa Mercedes x Eloquii One Shoulder Ruffle Dress. This dress is not only flattering to my curvaceous figure, the colors give me island vibes that have me ready for vacation!” 

“I aim to keep my makeup regimen simple (think: tinted SPF, brow gel, mascara, highlighter, and a bold lip), especially as the weather warms up. Thankfully, Sunnies Face’s stateside launch made my five-minute face a little bit easier with its well-loved Fluffmate Lipsticks which offer a matte finish without the drying effect. My personal favorite and new go-to from the collection is the lipstick in the shade ‘Major,’ a deep crimson color that compliments my skin tone effortlessly.”

Gregory Emmanuel, Style & Beauty Writer

“These are my new favorite pair or jeans — I love the wash and they have the most perfect, subtle flair.”

“I’ve been wanting to try this serum peel for a while now as I’ve heard great things. I finally got around to it and I must say this is $8 well spent.”

D’Shonda Brown, Associate Girls United Editor

“As a native New Yorker, it’s imperative to have one pair of Air Forces in my closet, but I have to admit that Serena Williams changed the game when she came out with her own Air Force 1 Low LXX Serena drop with Nike. From the gold zipper to her signature on the back, I am obsessed with the reimagination of this classic shoe because it’s such a conversation starter, they’re so comfortable, and they just elevate any outfit I’m wearing.”

“I’ve always been a fan of Selena Gomez since her days on Disney Channel, but even from a completely non-biased POV, I have to say that she put her foot in Rare Beauty. As a mental health advocate myself, I adore the messaging behind the products of positive affirmations and that proceeds from their Rare Impact organization goes to mental health awareness. If I had to pick a favorite product, it’d be the Soft Pinch Liquid Blush. Before the Rare Beauty Liquid Blushes, I was not a blush girl but these totally changed the game for me. They’re highly pigmented, the colors are so complimentary on any Black girl skin tone, and if you try the TikTok hack where you put a bit under your eyes, it’ll really brighten up your look.”

Jailynn Taylor, Style & Beauty Writer

“It was about that time for my quarterly shopping trip, and I knew I was looking to inject some color and volume into my wardrobe this summer. When I saw this electric green puff top at Zara, I knew it was fate. It pairs perfectly with my collection of parachute denim.”

“I am extremely cautious about the shampoos that I use on my hair, especially now that I have microlocs that are easily prone to slippage and dryness. So, when I was gifted the Matrix Total Results Instacure Anti-Breakage Shampoo to review, I was shocked at how soft and hydrated my locs felt after just one wash. 10/10.”


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