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What Strategist Readers Are Buying: Back Massagers and Electric Toothbrushes

Photo: Courtesy of the retailers

Two electric back massagers top the list this week — one that we recommended as a last-minute Father’s Day gift, and one that’s become a bit of a cult hit in Los Angeles. The top seller on our last list, a $3 lip balm that one Strategist writer thinks is better than Dior, sticks around in third place, and a dentist-recommended electric toothbrush makes its debut in fourth. Next up are two summertime must-haves — a powerful insect-repellent spray and a K-beauty sunscreen — which claim fifth and sixth place, respectively. A toy piano, last spotted on the list in March, is back this week in seventh place, followed by a hair-loss treatment kit for men in eighth and a pillow for side-sleepers in ninth. Finally, our second newcomer on this week’s list, a budget-friendly vitamin C serum, closes out the list in tenth place.

This reviewer-adored back massager last hit our best-seller list back in February, after we included it in our roundup of Valentine’s Day gifts for hard-to-shop-for men. Then, we wrote, “If you don’t know what to get a man, you can’t go wrong with a back and neck massager.” When we saw it on sale right before Father’s Day and suggested it as a last-minute gift for dads with aching backs, lots of you took the hint. We’re sure dad is very thankful.

According to writer Natalie Toren, this affordable back massager has taken Los Angeles by storm, garnering fans like designer Lesley Aitken. “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 hot stones a masseuse might use for an actual spa treatment.” It’s back in stock on Amazon after being sold out for weeks, so act fast.

A dupe for the much pricier Dior Lip Glow, 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 of the price. In fact, the pink glow produced by the Baby Lips might even be better,” she says. “It’s just as hydrating as the Dior balm, too, and feels like it lasts longer.” After rocketing to the top of the list last time, it drops a bit to third this week.

This sunscreen, one of Rio’s favorites, makes its fourth appearance on the list this week since she first reviewed it in April. 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 for the better.” She even raves, “it’s one of the best products I’ve ever tried in general, not just in the sunscreen category.”

As part of Teeth Week, our week-long investigation into everything you need to keep your mouth and teeth clean, writer Karen Iorio Adelson asked dentists to recommend their favorite electric toothbrushes. This one, from Oral-B, was a top pick since it both rotates and oscillates (or vibrates) to clean teeth and remove plaque. Dentists like that it rotates 44,000 times per minute for “a lot of disruption of plaque,” and that the round brush head can make contact with all sides of the teeth.

Writer Maureen O’Connor calls this “almost completely odor-free” mosquito repellent “a staple in my ongoing mosquito jihad.” After finishing in fourth on our last list, it’s back again in sixth as the buggy summer season heats up. Strategist senior editor Anthony Rotunno followed O’Connor’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 importantly: I made it through our ceremony in the woods without getting a single bug bite.”

This colorful toy piano was one of our expert-recommended choices for an age-appropriate gift for 1-year-olds, because it stimulates little ones’ growing minds. Child development expert Dr. Sarah Roseberry Lytle says it’s a good pick because “young kids love to make music and noises and exploring things, like, ‘Can I make it softer? Can I make it louder?’ ‘What happens when I hit it harder?’ That’s a really interesting learning process.”

In its third appearance on the list, this kit (which is designed to prevent men’s hair loss, and to help hair grow back) moves up from ninth to eighth place. It includes two powerful ingredients, oral finasteride and topical minoxidil. Experts told us that using both in tandem 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.”

Making its 16th appearance on the list — the second most of any product since we started publishing it — this pillow is a bonafide Strategist favorite. Editor Jason Chen first discovered it when he tested out 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.”

A standout skin-care ingredient, vitamin C is credited with everything from diminishing fine lines and wrinkles to fading acne scars and brightening skin. While the well-known (and very expensive) Skinceuticals version is deemed the “gold-standard vitamin C serum,” when Strategist writer Dominique Pariso asked dermatologists which ones they like, she discovered this surprisingly affordable alternative. Pariso writes, “In addition to skin brightening L-ascorbic and ferulic acids, the serum also has a soothing botanical blend of aloe, grape, magnolia, and orange peel to give the skin an added dose of nourishment.” It hits the list this week for the first time.

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: Electric Back Massagers