year in review

I Found It on the Strategist: What the Editors Discovered This Year

Photo: Courtesy of the retailers

One of the best things we’ll hear from friends (and even strangers) is “I found it on the Strategist!” and even as writers and editors of this very site, we’re constantly learning about new things here, too. Now that 2018 is nearly over, we’re recapping the best things we discovered on the Strategist, whether from our colleagues’ shopping receipts, impassioned odes, or celebrity favorites. Below, the vegetable scrubber, lunch box, and natural deodorant we’ll keep adding to our carts.

Margaret Rhodes, senior editor

At some point this year I went to an event and got a goodie bag on the way out, and it contained one of these orange-wrapper Japanese vegetable scrub brushes. I left it sitting around for a while until I stumbled on this old post, from Strat’s early, early days, espousing the benefits of the scrub brush on sticky or difficult dishes. Then I started using mine on all my dishes, not just the baking pans or skillets, and I became weirdly enamored with it. It’s both very aggressive and very gentle, because it’s made from natural fibers. And it looks little a wonderful little sea anemone sitting next to my sink. So now I’ve been ordering three-packs and using them instead of sponges.

Technically, I did not find this on the Strategist, but rather found it thanks to a Strategist in the human form of senior editor Simone Kitchens. At some point this fall I noticed that my skin was looking a little bumpy around my forehead and cheeks. Not breaking out, just unhappy texture. Simone was a beauty editor at Glamour before she came to New York, and she has great product knowledge, so I Slacked her about it. “How often are you exfoliating?” she asked. Never, really, because my skin can be very reactive. She suggested this stuff: superfine powdery dry granules of rice, clay, and turmeric root that you mix with a gentle cleanser or oil and then scrub all over your face. I started using it twice a week or so, and after a week noticed a huge difference — my skin was shiny and smooth and happy once more.

Dominique Pariso, intern

I was routinely using old takeout containers to bring my lunch to work every day and was one catastrophic spill away from a ruined tote bag. So I decided to buy an old Strategist favorite: the Monbento Bento Box. It holds four cups of food (!) and is dishwasher and microwave safe.

Rio wrote that these “little heroes” help maximize tiny bathroom storage, and boy, she was not kidding around. I bought a handful of these on a whim and they not only create space, but really display my everyday makeup beautifully. They are super cheap, easy to install, and allow me to take a “shelfie” that would make any beauty influencer swoon.

Maxine Builder, writer

I am in a constant battle with my skin, which is sometimes fine but mostly red and splotchy and ridden with cystic, hormonal acne. (Date me!) My little brother works as a medical assistant in a dermatologist’s office, and he recommended that I add a retinol to my nighttime skin-care routine but refused to give me more information than that. So I turned to this piece by Lori on the best retinol products, according to dermatologists, which is so thorough and well-reported and helped me make sense of this ingredient that I had heard about all the time but didn’t quite understand. I ended up buying a tube of Differin, since it seemed like the product with the most consensus around it at the most reasonable price, and it’s definitely been a helpful tool in my ongoing struggles.

Katy really sold me on tortoiseshell with this story she wrote back in May — specifically, the earrings. And even though I don’t wear that much jewelry, I picked up a pair of tortoiseshell hoops from H&M later that month, and I could not stop wearing them. They make a white T-shirt and jeans seem like an outfit, and the tortoiseshell really does match everything. In fact, if you look closely at my Instagram, you’ll spot them in basically every selfie from 2018, from a bachelorette party in Nashville to lunch in Greenwich, Connecticut, with my parents. I wore these earrings so much that I actually lost one of the hoops this month, somewhere between the gym and my apartment, so I now need to replace them. Of course I’ll never be able to find the exact same pair, because fast fashion, but I think I’m ready to upgrade to the fancier Bird version. At this point, I know I’ll get my money’s worth (and I actually feel kind of naked without some tortoiseshell earrings on right now).

Simone Kitchens, senior editor

This is an item that falls under my favorite category of Strat stuff: under $20 and possibly life-changing. Maxine worked on a post about the best chiropractor-approved office chairs, and this wobbly half-ball seat thing really appealed to me. I’ve tried a few contraptions to help me sit up straighter, but this one is currently my favorite. It’s supposed to destabilize your core so that you’re constantly making all these micro shifts while sitting, which is good they say. I just think it’s kind of fun to sit on, and I have been sitting up straighter.

This is the item that I feel the most thankful to Strat for: the insanely effective deodorant that Alexis mentioned in her haul earlier this year. It’s not just the world’s best natural deodorant — it is the world’s best deodorant. Again, under $20 and actually life-changing.

Lori Keong, writer

All of my favorite things I’ve bought from the Strategist, I stumble upon in the Friday sales posts. This backpack we included back in August: To me, it really sums up the Strategist’s knack for unearthing impossibly kawaii things you never knew you needed, and immediately want to buy. I knew I had to have this when I spotted it. My niece finally got to open it this Christmas and I wish I could describe how adorable she looked with Stegosaurus spikes and a tail peeking out behind her back.

And the best beauty decision I’ve made this year has been caving and finally trying Stephanie Danler’s Weleda Skin Food this winter. I’m discovering that this stuff is magical for plumping and dewifying skin, especially for someone with perpetually dehydrated skin. Nothing else works as well for hydrating in winter. I try a lot of beauty products out every year, but hands down, this one has made the most noticeable difference in how my skin looks. Stephanie Danler was really on to something: Two friends (and one of their mothers) bought this after messaging me to ask what I’m using, and I’m sure the Skin Food gospel will keep spreading everywhere it goes.

Lauren Ro, writer

My husband sends me links to stories we’ve written on the Strategist with commentary like, “This is so cool! Should I try it??” as if I weren’t already aware of the utility of the products we cover. When Maxine wrote about the Drillbrush, he sent me the link to the article and wrote: “I’ve always wanted to get this!!!!” Luckily for him, I won it at our team White Elephant game after stealing it from someone else. We haven’t tried it yet, but I know that he can hardly wait to get at the stubborn mildew in our shower. One product that he actually bought from the Strategist was the Miracle TimeCube. We’re both particularly fond of the Pomodoro method for productivity and use an app on our phone to keep time, so when he read about the tactility and simplicity — and distraction-free component — of this device, he was sold. He keeps it in the office and flips it over every time he needs to get a couple of hours of uninterrupted work in.

My mom defies all gift guides. She always insists that she has everything she needs, and when you do get her something that she actually kind of wants, she barely uses it. She says she’s saving everything for us, her children. But for when and what purpose? I really do not know. We got her an Instant Pot last year, and she’s probably used it all of one time. I’ve also gotten her steak knives (still in the box), a stand mixer (used once), and countless other kitchenware goods over the years that she never takes to, even though she loves to cook and does so constantly, often for large groups. Stumped again this year about what to get her for Christmas, I scrolled through all of the Strategist’s meticulously curated holiday gift guides for every type of person, hoping to find something that she’d love. Five days before Christmas, I was about to give up (this is not an indictment of the caliber of our gift guides but how truly impossible my mom is) until I came across the electric pour-over kettle on a gift guide for dads. I suddenly remembered that my mom had commented on how she liked my Hario pour-over setup when she was visiting one time, and knew she’d appreciate Stagg’s sleek electric kettle, which we’d anointed the best there is. I promptly ordered it. When she opened it on Christmas, she texted me to say: “It’s too pretty to be abused! Looks like an art piece.” At least she liked the way it looked, even if she never takes it out of the box. I’ll count that as a win.

Jason Chen, deputy editor

I have learned about so many things from the Strategist, but the one that’s really stayed with me is the brilliant, hilarious, heartbreaking Mrs. Bridge. I bought it on Meg Wolitzer’s recommendation, and she was totally right. The prose is so economical, the form totally unusual (it’s 100-some short chapters describing scenes throughout Mrs. Bridge’s life), and it finds bigness in the smallest things. I sped through it on my Kindle in a day and am excited to read it again.

David Notis, writer

I bought this Philips Wake-Up Light alarm clock almost exactly one year ago, and it’s been a total game-changer. I am very much not a morning person. (A serious snoozer, I can even sleepwalk across the room to shut off an alarm clock without waking myself up). I tried a bunch of things, including the Sonic Boom alarm clock, which did successfully jolt me up, but it was a pretty stressful way to start the day. I was skeptical about the Philips — it seemed gimmicky and overly complicated — but it really does work. I have it on my bedside table, and I often find myself waking up before the alarm actually starts, as the light begins to gradually brighten. For some reason the bright light gets me every time, immune to my typical “snooze resistance.”

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

Every editorial product is independently selected. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

I Found It on the Strategist: What We Discovered This Year