5 Must-Haves from 10+ Years of Beauty Writing

Nora Zelevansky
5 min readOct 19, 2022
Photo by ian dooley on Unsplash

I have spent many years in the beauty trenches. More than I — as a beauty writer driven by vanity — can be expected to own.

I’ve weathered trends from gold leaf and caviar to snail mucin and snake venom, experienced facial massages in LA and vitamin A peels in NYC. I’ve sat under red lights, blue lights, white lights and highlights. Been scarred by bad extractions and misused lasers — and been saved by the same.

In short, my skin has seen a lot. And, in that time, many a great product has come and gone, some inciting panic attacks when they were discontinued. (I’m still mourning Lili Mineni’s A and C serums, which I just discovered are gone while writing this story. At least, she’s still available for the world’s best facials if you’re ever in LA.)

Fortunately, some of the greats have endured. A tiny portion of the bazillions of products I’ve sampled (and continue to cycle through) have risen above and become solid keepers for me — more experiences than simply skincare.

These are my ride-or-die besties, my must-haves, my desert island picks (if that desert island came equipped with a porcelain sink and a sanitized washcloth). These are the lotions and potions that, after I tried them gratis, I started buying for myself — a beauty writer’s ultimate compliment. These have transcended fads.

Some people have a bucket list. For better or worse, I have this. And now you have it too.

Active Botanical Serum by Vintner’s Daughter
  1. Active Botanical Serum by Vintner’s Daughter

This face oil raises the bar. It’s not every day that a product hits the trifecta — great smell, great efficacy, great packaging/ingredients. (Wait, that’s four…oh, well. No one ever said I was good at counting.) Personally, I use this product every single day and, while I usually think the idea of turning your face washing routine into a ritual isn’t that realistic (aren’t we usually either rushing in the morning or exhausted at night?), I actually do that with my Vintner’s. Almost every time I use it, I close my eyes and inhale the essential oil scent for just a second and it really does relax me and lift my…

Nora Zelevansky

New novel: COMPETITIVE GRIEVING (Blackstone). New nonfiction: ROLL RED ROLL (Hachette ). Bylines: NY Times, T&C, WSJ etc. https://norazelevansky.com/