Photo-Illustration: by The Cut; Photo: Courtesy of Leah Wyar, Retailers
On the Beauty Group, a Facebook community co-founded by the Cut and the Strategist, people chat all day long about the products they love — the ones so good they’ll make you hit that little “auto-refill” box at checkout. Below, we asked one of our favorite beauty pros to share her selections.
Leah Wyar has four bottles of the same nail-polish color sitting at home. This might not seem special — except finding the exact shade was like falling down a rabbit hole.
“I used it once in a salon and never got the name, but I fell in love with it,” says Wyar. “It made me happy and energized when I would look at my fingers.” So she hopped in her car and drove almost half an hour back to the New Jersey spot, where she found the old, faded bottle. “I took a picture of it, and I zoomed in, trying to see the name. I was Googling like crazy. Like, What could this particular combination of letters or numbers be?” It turned out to be Color Club’s nail lacquer in Lava Lamp, a bright traffic-cone orange.
Wyar, the senior vice president and general manager for Byrdie and Brides, regularly has beauty products come across her desk, but when she likes something, she really likes it. She explains, “I have so much stuff in my apartment, and I need to clean it out like four times a year to keep it manageable.” Products that make it past the purge are the ones she’d willingly hop in her car and drive out to Jersey for.
Below, more of Wyar’s beloved “worth a drive” products including the most “unique” perfume she’s ever smelled, the foundation that lives up to the hype, and the $12 shampoo she swears by.
“I use this facial spray as a toner. Toning in the morning, before I put anything on, is like brushing my teeth for me: I wouldn’t be complete in my routine without it. Toning wakes my skin up, and more important, I do believe that it helps everything else in my routine absorb better. If I just put products on my skin without toning, I feel like they evaporate. This one by Tower 28 — I don’t know how to explain it, but the sprayer gives you this super-concentrated, perfectly distributed mist. I’m so passionate about the bottle itself and the mister [laughs].”
“I was confused about this product, and then I did an Instagram Live with Bobbi Brown. I was like, ‘I don’t know how to use this.’ First of all, it’s a solid balm. She was like, ‘Well, you have to break the seal.’ You have to take your finger and push the product through. You sort of break it, pick it up, rub it between your fingers, and then you put it anywhere on your face. I tend to put it on the places where I would normally apply blush or bronzer. It doesn’t give a lot of color, but what it gives is more of a warmth. I do use it during the week as a last step to bring life to everything because I use a lot of powder makeup, but on the weekends, I just use this and some mascara. I love the Dusty Rose shade.”
“I first used this foundation because my friend did PR for Armani Beauty for a long time, and he would talk about it all the time. I was like, Oh, fine. I’ll try it, and I just fell in love with it. It really is the texture for me. If you use it, you’ll understand this: It’s a liquid … but thinner, and so when you place it on your skin, it’s easy to create an even surface. You’re making your skin look perfect, but it’s not in a matte or a fake way. It still gives you a luminosity, and it just looks like your skin is alive. Every makeup artist that I’ve ever worked with is like, ‘That’s the best,’ and sometimes I’m skeptical because people get obsessed with things and then I try them, and I’m like, That’s not that great. This lives up to every enthusiastic comment. I use shade 6.5.”
“This is a recent discovery that I made in the last three years: I found an eyeliner from Jillian Dempsey that was a limited-edition burgundy color. It wasn’t purple; it was almost red. I wore through it, and I couldn’t find it again. So when I found a burgundy from Chanel — it’s number 38 — I was like, Oh my God! Because my eyes are almost hazel, and when I wear a color like that, it makes my eye color look so green and so sparkly. My eye color just pops. But again the problem is that very few people make this type of color, and if they release it, it’s a limited edition. The Chanel burgundy one must have been limited, too, because I don’t see it on the website anymore.
But the thing about these pencils — in whatever color — is that the texture is not a gel and not quite a cream either. They’re perfectly silky and so easy to use. I know they’re a part of Chanel’s men’s line, but I’m like, Why don’t women have a liner that’s this easy to apply?”
“When I finally figured out the name of this nail polish, I bought four bottles of it from a random salon in Texas that I found online. I’m obsessed with it.”
“I went to the Aedes Perfumery in New York, and it’s like an emporium. You walk in, and they have spectacular amounts of crazy cool candles and fragrances. The owners created their own fragrance line, and this perfume is part of that collection. I’ve never smelled anything like it before in my entire life. The iris that’s in it — I didn’t know this before they told me — actually doesn’t have a scent. So what they use for the perfume is the base of the plant, and it smells like dirt — not that that’s what the scent smells like, but it does have a dirty, earthy feel to it. It has notes of rose, anise, juniper berry, and vetiver too. When you spray it, you smell so many different things in the first 30 seconds of applying it. It is an olfactory journey I have never experienced before in my life. It really is the most unique fragrance I’ve ever smelled. Every time I wear it, people are like, ‘What is that?’”
“This mask is unbelievable. My friend Kendra Kolb Butler started this line. She got so stressed out and left New York City with her family. She goes out into the meadows and the forests of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, and finds these special ingredients. But that is a side note to the whole line because I’m not a huge, die-hard ‘natural’ beauty person; I just happen to think that’s cool.
There are eight different acids in this, and for a natural brand to have the impact this peel has, it is insane. When I put it on my skin for five minutes, my makeup goes on unbelievably better than when I don’t use this on a regular basis. It’s incredible.”
“This is one of those products you didn’t know you needed. It helps your hair when you’re blow-drying it yourself, and it feels very weird when you apply it. It feels like it would be almost sticky in your hair, but it’s not. It contains the frizz and gives it a style, and when you’re done blow-drying, it gives your hair this texture that is not sticky or offensive. I can run my hands through it, but there’s a life to my hair. It has a very clean, chic, non-gendered scent. It smells like something I must have used as a teenager because every time I apply it, I’m transported back to getting ready for a dance or something.”
“I’ve used this for a long time. I am very gray, and I’m scared to know how much [laughs]. When the pandemic happened and I realized I wasn’t gonna be able to get to my colorist, I went on Amazon and bought like ten bottles of this. I was like, I’m gonna be prepared. Theoretically, you should probably get color every five weeks because the gray grows in quickly, but this bottle will push me to 11 or 12 weeks. I can literally go three months without seeing my colorist. It is the most perfect spray. The bottle has a good nozzle that you can really put where you want it. The spray does not stain my sheets or pillows — it doesn’t get anywhere — and it doesn’t look fake.”
“People don’t spend a lot of time thinking about their shampoo and conditioner because it’s a basic. We’re like, Whatever. I’ll just use whatever is in the shower. I did that for a long time; I think the most I thought about my shampoo was making sure that it was color safe. But this shampoo — first of all: It’s so chic. I’m a sucker for minimalist packaging. It is very gentle, it does not strip my color at all, and it smells perfectly clean. No crazy botanical smells here.
With conditioner, I get nervous sometimes because it will just flatten my hair like a pancake — I have a lot of hair, but it’s very, very fine. The Odele one preserves whatever movement I actually have in my hair naturally. I’ve fallen head over heels for this combination.”
“If there’s one product to buy from SkinMedica, it’s this one. It does have a lot of science-backed evidence in terms of texture improvement, and I love that the bottle is this dual chamber because when a company goes the extra mile to package something like this, it is to preserve the efficacy of the ingredients — it’s not a cheap way to package something. After about eight weeks of using it at first, I did really notice differences in the glow of my skin and the texture. It was a lot smoother. I’m 43 years old, and that’s something that is a concern of mine now because I’m starting to see wrinkles that aren’t just fine but that actually stick around. I use it twice a day.”