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What Strategist Readers Are Buying: Drugstore Lip Balm and Bug Repellent

Photo: Courtesy of the retailers

Welcome back to Your Shopping Cart, wherein we break out the top-ten products that you, devoted Strategist readers, all bought in droves. Think of this as the tl;dr of the Strategist: If your like-minded brethren are buying these items, maybe you’d like to, too.

It certainly feels like summer on the list this week, with two insect-repellent sprays (one for clothing, in second, and another for body, in fourth) and with Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton’s favorite sunscreen in third place. Plus, a Dopp kit for summer getaways makes the list in eighth. The runaway hit, though, making its debut at No. 1, is this $3 lip balm that one Strategist writer thinks is better than Dior’s. These no-show socks, perfect for ballet flats, round out the top five. In sixth place, we’ve got the back massager with a cult following in Los Angeles, followed by an old favorite, this pillow for side sleepers, in seventh. A hair-loss treatment kit for men, the seventh-place finisher on our last list, drops a bit to ninth, and a very affordable sweater hits the list for the first time, in tenth place.

It’s a dupe for the much pricier Dior Lip Glow, and Strategist writer Hilary Reid actually likes this drugstore lip balm more than the original. “The Maybelline Baby Lips Glow gave my lips almost the exact same rosy tint as the Dior Lip Glow at less than one-tenth the price. In fact, the pink glow produced by Baby Lips might even be better,” she says. “It’s just as hydrating as the Dior balm, too, and feels like it lasts longer.”

For the second list in a row, this tick-and-insect-repelling spray takes the No. 2 spot. Strategist managing editor Maxine Builder discovered it when searching for the best products to keep disease-carrying pests away. The spray works by protecting your outdoor attire: “Spraying your sneakers or hiking boots before going out into the woods is another solid tick-prevention technique, as is spraying gardening gloves, pants, shorts, or T-shirts.” With the buggy summer season approaching, Strategist writer Dominique Pariso checked back in with experts and learned it’s still the best option out there.

This sunscreen, one of Rio’s favorites, moves up from ninth place into the top three. It’s packed with all-star ingredients like soothing Centella asiatica, brightening niacinamide, and moisturizing hyaluronic acid. “The Purito,” she writes, “almost immediately improved the texture, radiance, and moisture levels of my skin … It’s one of the best products I’ve ever tried in general, not just in the sunscreen category.”

Writer Maureen O’Connor calls this “almost completely odor-free” bug repellent “a staple in my ongoing mosquito jihad.” Strategist senior editor Anthony Rotunno followed Maureen’s lead and picked up a bottle for his outdoor wedding. He reports, “When I squirted the lotion into my hands, not a trace of chemical smell wafted from it (and neither my neck nor my hands smelled like chemicals after applying). More important: I made it through our ceremony in the woods without getting a single bug bite.”

From $10 for 4

When former ProPublica investigative journalist and current Last Week Tonight producer Marian Wang shared her “extremely methodical approach” to finding the perfect no-show socks, we knew she was onto something. After testing out lots of socks, she says these are the “clear winner” because they’re “stretchy and snug. And unlike many no-show socks that have just a tiny dab of silicone gel at the heel for grip, these socks have a ring of gel all the way around the edge, which is much more effective.”

According to writer Natalie Toren, this affordable back massager has taken Los Angeles by storm, garnering fans like designer Lesley Aitken and massage specialist Anna Zahn, the founder of Ricari Studios in Beverly Hills. “The first thing I thought after turning it on was that it is powerful,” says Toren. “It felt almost as if real human fists were kneading me. I pressed a button to heat it up, and within 20 seconds, the nodes warmed to a temperature like that of the hot stones a masseuse might use for an actual spa treatment.” Note: The massager is currently sold out, but you can buy this model, which is exactly the same only cordless for easier portability.

No stranger to our list, this pillow is actually making its 15th appearance this week. Editor Jason Chen discovered it when he tested a wide selection of pillows designed for side sleepers and concluded that the Wamsutta Extra-Firm was the most comfortable and supportive of them all: “Unlike other pillows that mistake plushness or fluffiness for support, the WEF didn’t sink as soon as I rested my head. Instead, it had a firm, satisfying spring — it’s a different sensation but one I took to right away. And even though I didn’t do any measuring, my head felt more propped up from the mattress and sheets than with any other pillow.”

Great for weekend travels or even daily trips to the gym, this Dopp kit from luggage brand Away comes recommended by Bryant Knight, founder of men’s skin-care line Knight Co. As we learned, “he finds it well designed and functional, with extra storage in the form of two internal pockets (one on each side) that create separation and organization.” As Knight says, “I prefer a water-resistant exterior with a lining inside that is easy to clean,” and he also likes the bag’s minimal profile and strap for easy portability.

Designed to prevent hair loss in men (and to help hair grow back), this kit includes two powerful ingredients: oral finasteride and topical minoxidil. Experts told us that using both in combination is like a “full-court press” against hair loss. As dermatologists explain, “finasteride inhibits an enzyme that converts testosterone to DHT, or dihydrotestosterone, the hormone that causes hair loss in men [and] can actually help hair grow back,” while “minoxidil is better at slowing down or preventing more loss.” This week marks its second appearance on our list.

We spotted this very on-sale sweater from Lord & Taylor at Walmart last month, and enough of our readers took notice to launch it onto the list. While the gray version we featured is sold out in most sizes, there are several other colors to choose from, like basic black or a soft pink.

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.

What Strategist Readers Are Buying: Lip Balm and Bug Spray