“Monthly Favorites” is the YouTube tag that refuses to die, and for good reason: 1) it’s a great way to share and discover new and thrilling products/tools/snacks/media, and 2) there’s nothing more compelling than knowing what other people find compelling. Before Anything Else is our version of “Monthly Favorites,” and each month we feature a new person with a new perspective. This month’s BAE is Chiaki Samonte, our graphic designer.


Simple, Hydrating Cleansing Oil

Cleansing is one of the most satisfying beauty rituals for me. So much so that right before I cleanse each night, I light a special candle to set the mood.

I’m almost finished with my first bottle of the Simple Hydrating Cleansing Oil, and I’m definitely buying another. It’s really lightweight and has a nice grapeseed scent that I totally get lost in while massaging it into my face. It also leaves my skin feeling hydrated and supple and provides a nice base for my makeup.




Milk Makeup, Blur Liquid Matte Foundation

I have hyperpigmentation and a few acne scars on my face, so a foundation that provides full coverage, but is still easy and light enough for everyday use, is what I usually gravitate towards. In the past I’ve used tinted moisturizer, foundation, and concealer to get a full cover effect, but that’s just too fussy for everyday and feels like a mask. While searching for the perfect one-step face product, I discovered Milk Makeup’s Blur Liquid Matte Foundation, and fell hard for the fun and sleek packaging. At first it felt strange, stripping my face routine down to just one product, but I quickly fell for how pretty it made my far-from-perfect skin look. The finish is real and lived-in and doesn’t look or feel like makeup.

Stila, Convertible Color, Poppy

For those that like that oh-my-god-there’s-my-crush-I’m-blushing look, you need the Stila Convertible Color compact. You can use it on both your cheeks and lips, and it’s perfect when you’re on the go and want to apply makeup with your fingers, just like those two gorgeous Parisians, Jeanne Damas and Violette.


Gucci, Bamboo

Besides lipstick and blush, fragrance is one of those products that I absolutely can’t leave my house without. My favorite scents typically have notes of jasmine, honeysuckle, and sandalwood – the sweetness always reminds me of my childhood. When I first smelled Gucci Bamboo, I was struck with nostalgia!


Mejuri, Engraved Locket

My gold Mejuri Locket Necklace is engraved with the word ‘happenstance.’ Defined simply, happenstance is a circumstance or occurrence that happens purely by chance. Some of the most memorable and profound experiences I’ve had have been chance encounters, and this necklace is a subtle reminder of the beauty in uncertainty.

Thrift/Flea Finds

Mini Burplap Bucket Bag, with Wooden Handles, and Cross-Hatched Leaf Interior

I found this bag in the two-dollar bin at the Out of The Closet in my neighborhood, and it’s become a summer staple. August has been hot and humid so I’ve been sticking with loose and flowy clothes – all in off-white, cream, and light earth tones – and this natural-colored, hand-woven bag has matched my wardrobe perfectly.

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