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7 Things I Know Are Worth Your Money Because I Tried Them In December

Seven beauty editor-approved products and practices that are worth trying.

Whuddup, friends?! It's Essence, Sr. Beauty Editor at BuzzFeed's As/Is. To keep it real with you, brands send me a lot of stuff for the free-free because you can't write about things you know nothing about, right? Perk of the job. Here are seven of my absolute favorites at the moment, plus a life practice that's really helped me grow personally and professionally.

Here's a pic of me at work, working but also posing bc why not. Shouts out to Sandy from Grease for my outfit inspo this day!
Essence Gant

Here's a pic of me at work, working but also posing bc why not. Shouts out to Sandy from Grease for my outfit inspo this day!

1. Didara Whipped Body Butter is hands down the best body butter I've tried in a long time!

I'm a body butter snob! The way wine connoisseurs inspect their wine is the way I inspect my butters. I check for texture, consistency, scent, ingredients, moisturization — all of that. That being said, I was recently put onto Didara Whipped Body Butter and let me tell YOUUUUUU!!! It's so soft, and whipped to perfection. It's not hard and crumbly like some body butters, but it's still firm, and it literally glides onto my skin and melts into my pores. The scent is very light and natural, too, because all of the ingredients are natural: Shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, sunflower oil, apricot oil, grapeseed oil, and avocado oil. There are four scents (unscented, lemongrass verbena, vanilla rosé, and toasted coconut), and I'm currently obsessing over the the lemongrass verbena. I love layering it on my body as soon as I get out of the shower, and it keeps me moisturized the whole day ... And I'm in New York where the winters have your skin feeling like sandpaper. What really makes me hype, though, is that it's only $15 for eight ounces! (Four ounces are also available for $10.) A little goes a long way so eight ounces should be able to last you for at least a month. The formula is slightly oily, but it absorbs quickly and it really keeps my skin soft and gives the moisture lasting power for a full day.Get it from Didara for $15.
Essence Gant

I'm a body butter snob! The way wine connoisseurs inspect their wine is the way I inspect my butters. I check for texture, consistency, scent, ingredients, moisturization — all of that. That being said, I was recently put onto Didara Whipped Body Butter and let me tell YOUUUUUU!!! It's so soft, and whipped to perfection. It's not hard and crumbly like some body butters, but it's still firm, and it literally glides onto my skin and melts into my pores. The scent is very light and natural, too, because all of the ingredients are natural: Shea butter, cocoa butter, mango butter, sunflower oil, apricot oil, grapeseed oil, and avocado oil. There are four scents (unscented, lemongrass verbena, vanilla rosé, and toasted coconut), and I'm currently obsessing over the the lemongrass verbena. I love layering it on my body as soon as I get out of the shower, and it keeps me moisturized the whole day ... And I'm in New York where the winters have your skin feeling like sandpaper. What really makes me hype, though, is that it's only $15 for eight ounces! (Four ounces are also available for $10.) A little goes a long way so eight ounces should be able to last you for at least a month. The formula is slightly oily, but it absorbs quickly and it really keeps my skin soft and gives the moisture lasting power for a full day.

Get it from Didara for $15.

2. This Calpak Ambeur 3-Piece Rose Gold Luggage Set packs a LOT and stores easily so it's a yes for me, dawg. *Randy Jackson voice*

I'm actually in love with this three-piece luggage set from Calpak, and I honestly can't remember the last time anything or anyone made me feel so complete. You may've seen the brand on IG because it's cute and trendy and photographs well. But I like it because their luggage is just as practical as it is stylish. For starters, each piece fits into the piece that's the next size up. So the small carry on (22” x 14” x 8.5”) fits inside the medium luggage (26” x 16” x 10.5”), and the medium luggage fits inside of the large (30” x 19” x 12”). This is ideal if you're living in a small space or want to use your closet for as many shoes as possible and not a bunch of clunky suitcases. Also, it fits a lot of stuff inside because the bottom and top are hollow, so you can pack things past the rim and still have room to zip it closed. The color is obvi gorgeous and my personal fave, but they have a bunch of other colors and styles too if rose gold isn't your jam. The only issue I found with the luggage is that the outer material is a little thin and it scratches pretty easily. It's a hard case, but if you push on the Polycarbonate and ABS exterior it bends. It doesn't make any permanent indentations or anything, but it's not as hard as one would think by looking at the pics. I'm fine with that, but I do wish it didn't scratch as easily. I checked the larger bag for the first time when I traveled to London a few weeks ago, and when I picked it up from baggage claim I noticed a few scratches. Nothing too crazy, and it's normal for luggage to get a little beat up as its thrown on planes and conveyor belts, but it's worth noting if you're super particular about scratches. All in all, it's a great buy and the total cost for all three pieces is only $385, which is crazy-good for luggage. If you're on a budget and want cute, practical luggage or if you live in small space it's totes worth it imo!Get it from Calpak for $385.
Essence Gant

I'm actually in love with this three-piece luggage set from Calpak, and I honestly can't remember the last time anything or anyone made me feel so complete. You may've seen the brand on IG because it's cute and trendy and photographs well. But I like it because their luggage is just as practical as it is stylish. For starters, each piece fits into the piece that's the next size up. So the small carry on (22” x 14” x 8.5”) fits inside the medium luggage (26” x 16” x 10.5”), and the medium luggage fits inside of the large (30” x 19” x 12”). This is ideal if you're living in a small space or want to use your closet for as many shoes as possible and not a bunch of clunky suitcases. Also, it fits a lot of stuff inside because the bottom and top are hollow, so you can pack things past the rim and still have room to zip it closed. The color is obvi gorgeous and my personal fave, but they have a bunch of other colors and styles too if rose gold isn't your jam.

The only issue I found with the luggage is that the outer material is a little thin and it scratches pretty easily. It's a hard case, but if you push on the Polycarbonate and ABS exterior it bends. It doesn't make any permanent indentations or anything, but it's not as hard as one would think by looking at the pics. I'm fine with that, but I do wish it didn't scratch as easily. I checked the larger bag for the first time when I traveled to London a few weeks ago, and when I picked it up from baggage claim I noticed a few scratches. Nothing too crazy, and it's normal for luggage to get a little beat up as its thrown on planes and conveyor belts, but it's worth noting if you're super particular about scratches. All in all, it's a great buy and the total cost for all three pieces is only $385, which is crazy-good for luggage. If you're on a budget and want cute, practical luggage or if you live in small space it's totes worth it imo!

Get it from Calpak for $385.

3. Umkay, so Pat McGrath Labs Mothership V Eyeshadow Palette: Bronze Seduction got me out here thinking I'm a real MUA ... and don't even get me started on this gorgeous packaging.

If you're a makeup enthusiast, you know Pat McGrath. (If you don't, get your life here.) The makeup artist and icon finally launched her own brand and the products are pigmented and luxe because DUH, it's Pat. The Mothership V Palette: Bronze Seduction is my current obsession and here are all reasons I'm swooning over it.The pigment payoff is actually insane, in a good way, and there are 10 shades in matte and shimmer formulas. In the pic above, I'm only wearing one very light-handed application of the shades Elite Flame and Bronze Blaze, so you can only imagine if you were to really build on the shadow. And because it is so pigmented, a little goes a very long way and the palette lasts forever. But onto the packaging, which I'm OBSESSED with. It comes in this sleek and chic hard black rectangle case that kind of looks like a formal clutch when you close it. There's also a mirror in there. That case also comes in another hard envelope with a beautiful portrait of a woman on it. It's so pretty you could skip the wrapping and just tie a ribbon around it and gift it to someone. The price is $125, but I find it worth it because it's a luxury product that actually delivers in performance. I don't feel like people are just paying for a name or good packaging, but they're also paying for quality and a glamorous experience with this palette. Get it from Sephora for $125. (Payment plan option of three $42 installments also available on Pat McGrath.)
Essence Gant / Pat McGrath

If you're a makeup enthusiast, you know Pat McGrath. (If you don't, get your life here.) The makeup artist and icon finally launched her own brand and the products are pigmented and luxe because DUH, it's Pat. The Mothership V Palette: Bronze Seduction is my current obsession and here are all reasons I'm swooning over it.

The pigment payoff is actually insane, in a good way, and there are 10 shades in matte and shimmer formulas. In the pic above, I'm only wearing one very light-handed application of the shades Elite Flame and Bronze Blaze, so you can only imagine if you were to really build on the shadow. And because it is so pigmented, a little goes a very long way and the palette lasts forever. But onto the packaging, which I'm OBSESSED with. It comes in this sleek and chic hard black rectangle case that kind of looks like a formal clutch when you close it. There's also a mirror in there. That case also comes in another hard envelope with a beautiful portrait of a woman on it. It's so pretty you could skip the wrapping and just tie a ribbon around it and gift it to someone. The price is $125, but I find it worth it because it's a luxury product that actually delivers in performance. I don't feel like people are just paying for a name or good packaging, but they're also paying for quality and a glamorous experience with this palette.

Get it from Sephora for $125. (Payment plan option of three $42 installments also available on Pat McGrath.)

4. This Philadelphia Print Works Chisholm for President sweatshirt is my go-to when the world is overwhelming and I need to lean on the powerful women who came before us.

Ever look at the news and think How'd we end up HERE? Well it's on those days that I'm too overwhelmed to think about what to wear but I also wanna look cute that I reach for my Chisholm for President sweatshirt by Philadelphia Print Works. Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress, the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. When we say #goals, #boss, #womanpower, this is what we mean. I immediately feel a sense of pride as a woman and a black person when I wear my stop-and-notice-me yellow shirt with CHISHOLM in all caps across it. Also, it's suuuuuper comfortable and comfortability is all that matters to me when it's cold outside. And I love the fact that it's not just any ol' sweatshirt. It's a statement and the clean but bold design elevates my look without me having to put in any work. The sizes fit really well, too. I'm wearing a small here but it still has that roomy look you want in a sweatshirt. One of the best parts though is the price. We're in a day and age where brands are really out here charging $50 and up for sweatshirts because streetwear and athleisure trends have jacked up the cost of comfort clothes, but this sweatshirt is only $35. And it doesn't fade or shrink. Get it from Philadelphia Print Works for $35.
Essence Gant

Ever look at the news and think How'd we end up HERE? Well it's on those days that I'm too overwhelmed to think about what to wear but I also wanna look cute that I reach for my Chisholm for President sweatshirt by Philadelphia Print Works. Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress, the first major-party black candidate for President of the United States, and the first woman to run for the Democratic presidential nomination. When we say #goals, #boss, #womanpower, this is what we mean.

I immediately feel a sense of pride as a woman and a black person when I wear my stop-and-notice-me yellow shirt with CHISHOLM in all caps across it. Also, it's suuuuuper comfortable and comfortability is all that matters to me when it's cold outside. And I love the fact that it's not just any ol' sweatshirt. It's a statement and the clean but bold design elevates my look without me having to put in any work. The sizes fit really well, too. I'm wearing a small here but it still has that roomy look you want in a sweatshirt. One of the best parts though is the price. We're in a day and age where brands are really out here charging $50 and up for sweatshirts because streetwear and athleisure trends have jacked up the cost of comfort clothes, but this sweatshirt is only $35. And it doesn't fade or shrink.

Get it from Philadelphia Print Works for $35.

5. I've never slept on clouds, but I imagine them too feel something like my Threaded Luxe Essential Sateen Sheet Set.

Threaded is a sustainable bedding company that also partners with mills and factories in India that invest in local communities, funding education and women's empowerment opportunities for their employees. One of the Threaded suppliers even "built a preschool for the surrounding area, and also sends nutritionists into the local communities to make sure children grow healthy and strong—in both mind and body." I was immediately drawn to all of the good initiatives the brand supports, directly and indirectly, because I like the idea of businesses using some of their sales to spread goodness in the world.And on top of their strong ethics game, Threaded makes an AMAZING product! I have the Luxe Essential Sateen Sheet Set in white and my bed feels so cozy. I know it sounds weird, but the sheets low-key feel moisturizing on my skin because they're that soft. They're also warm, but still breathable, so I can sleep through the night without getting hot. Can I get a HALLELUJAH?! The set is made with Egyptian cotton and comes with one fitted sheet, one flat sheet, and two pillow cases. Having them on my bed makes me feel like an actual adult because they're just so crisp and white and silky; you can see and feel the quality. Get it from Threaded for $169-$199. Available in five colors and three sizes.
Threaded

Threaded is a sustainable bedding company that also partners with mills and factories in India that invest in local communities, funding education and women's empowerment opportunities for their employees. One of the Threaded suppliers even "built a preschool for the surrounding area, and also sends nutritionists into the local communities to make sure children grow healthy and strong—in both mind and body." I was immediately drawn to all of the good initiatives the brand supports, directly and indirectly, because I like the idea of businesses using some of their sales to spread goodness in the world.

And on top of their strong ethics game, Threaded makes an AMAZING product! I have the Luxe Essential Sateen Sheet Set in white and my bed feels so cozy. I know it sounds weird, but the sheets low-key feel moisturizing on my skin because they're that soft. They're also warm, but still breathable, so I can sleep through the night without getting hot. Can I get a HALLELUJAH?! The set is made with Egyptian cotton and comes with one fitted sheet, one flat sheet, and two pillow cases. Having them on my bed makes me feel like an actual adult because they're just so crisp and white and silky; you can see and feel the quality.

Get it from Threaded for $169-$199. Available in five colors and three sizes.

6. This Ivy Park Armour Poppers Crop Sweatshirt and Convertible Joggers set looks like one of those expensive athleisure suits you'd see a celebrity rocking in the airport!

If I could look cute and be comfortable every single day of my life I would. This is the Ivy Park Armour Poppers Crop Sweatshirt and Convertible Joggers set, and it's one of the most stylish and cozy things I've worn in a long time. The inside is very soft and feels kind of like a blanket, so it keeps me warm and feels good against my skin. I think the coolest thing about it, other than the fact that it's from BEYONCÉ, is that it has snap buttons on the top and bottom so that you can wear it multiple ways! The sleeves snap off so that you can rock it as a muscle sweatshirt, and the bottoms of the joggers snap off so that you can wear them as shorts. It's a little too cold in these N.Y. streets for all of that right now, but TRUST that my arms and legs will be all the way out in the spring.Get the top from Armour Poppers Crop Sweatshirt for $59.98 (originally $100) and the Convertible Joggers $68.98 (originally $115).
Essence Gant

If I could look cute and be comfortable every single day of my life I would. This is the Ivy Park Armour Poppers Crop Sweatshirt and Convertible Joggers set, and it's one of the most stylish and cozy things I've worn in a long time. The inside is very soft and feels kind of like a blanket, so it keeps me warm and feels good against my skin. I think the coolest thing about it, other than the fact that it's from BEYONCÉ, is that it has snap buttons on the top and bottom so that you can wear it multiple ways! The sleeves snap off so that you can rock it as a muscle sweatshirt, and the bottoms of the joggers snap off so that you can wear them as shorts. It's a little too cold in these N.Y. streets for all of that right now, but TRUST that my arms and legs will be all the way out in the spring.

Get the top from Armour Poppers Crop Sweatshirt for $59.98 (originally $100) and the Convertible Joggers $68.98 (originally $115).

7. Taking a deep breath and taking time to respond in instances when I want to clapback help me keep my focus on the bigger picture instead of giving into a moment.

Instagram: @theessenceof_

If you're a woman and/or a person of color you know what it's like to be tried on a seemingly daily basis. Micro and macroagressions are a huge part of your everyday life. If it's not someone catcalling you on your way to work, it's a colleague sending you a passive aggressive email, or a retail worker following you around the store, or a man mansplaining some shit you already know. There was a moment in time where I always found myself getting worked up, stringing together choice words the only way a southern girl could, because I thought it was the only way to defend myself in instances where I felt powerless.

But with time comes growth and perspective. Now I find myself taking these deep inhales and slowly letting them out to first control my breathing and heart rate. Pausing in a moment to control my breath helps me to control the rest of me, from the inside out. Sometimes I have to do this breathing exercise more than once, depending on how severe the offense is. Next, I give myself time to respond; if the situation even calls for a response. I take as long as I need to, which could be a day or a week, so that I can stick to the facts of why I'm offended. My reason in waiting to address the situation is to give my emotions time to simmer, even if I have every right to be in my feelings. I'm a woman and I'm black, and one of the quickest ways people try to dismiss my experience is to say my response is emotional, aggressive, or crazy. And then, if I feel the situation warrants a response and is worth the energy it will require on my part to respond, I move forward recanting exactly what happened, how it led me to feel/think the way I did, and how I would like to be treated in similar instances moving forward.

This is so not for the other person, but for me. It's so that I can maintain my peace (because my reeeeeally good clapbacks used to exhaust me), and so that my response is less likely to be used as a reason for someone else to sabotage my safety and/or opportunity. In the words of Beyoncé, "Always stay gracious, best revenge is your paper." And this should go without saying but if you do incorporate this practice into your life, discretion should obviously always be used to determine the best way to handle any less than ideal situation. There will be times where breathing and counting just won't get the job done; and in those times, do what you gotta do, sis!

Follow me on Instagram @TheEssenceOf_ to see more of my fave products, and to tag me in yours. See ya soon!

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