We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favorites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly-launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trolling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including a tiny oven that one mom relies on in quarantine, gamers’ favorite Zoom-friendly board game, and a hair mask that deep conditions in 60 seconds.
The fast-working mask Rio uses to deep-condition her hair
With salon visits off the table, our columnist has “taken to extensive, at-home, deep-conditioning treatments to make sure that, as my hair lengthens, it doesn’t grow into a tangled, uncontrollable, broomlike disaster.” This mask, she says, is ideal for those who want fast results. “I have to admit I was truly impressed by just how incredible this product made my hair look (shiny, silky, and perfectly wavy) after using it for its recommended time: 60 seconds. It’s not the most conditioning mask out there, but it certainly makes hair look very good for a solid three to four days.” (A note that Sephora Insiders, a.k.a. anyone who signs up for Sephora’s free loyalty-rewards program, can get 10 percent off their purchase through April 27 with code SPRINGSAVE.)
The pomade rapper G-Eazy uses to style his hair
“My hair is a big part of my identity as G-Eazy. I’d describe it as greaser–meets–Elvis Presley–meets–gentlemen from the ’50s and ’60s. I use a comb with this pomade to slick it back,” says Eazy (G?), who can’t live without the stuff. “I found the Cool Grease pomade at a barber shop in Oakland I used to go to, and it just worked.” Styling products like this, we should note, are a also barber-approved way for sculpting and camouflaging men’s hair as it grows in, in case yours is getting long but you’re hesitant to cut it yourself.
The putting mat one dad used to turn his living room into a (mini-) golf course
“With few sports to watch — reruns are never as exciting, and the pre-taped, pro-cornhole games some networks have been airing can only keep your attention for so long — I decided to buy an indoor putting mat I could use to work on my golf game,” writes contributor and Strategist dad John Rotunno. “The Putt-A-Bout Par 3 mat’s three different holes (or pins) make it kind of like three practice greens in one, since each requires a slightly different approach,” he continues, noting this versatility inspired a brilliant hack: “By rearranging a couple of pieces of furniture in my (and most every person’s) living room, I created a course with unique holes featuring different “hazards” to play around as I tried to sink a ball into one of the mat’s three pins.” (Click here to see a blueprint of said course.)
Madewell shorts on sale for $22
Whether you wear them to work from home or couch surf, we “think indoor shorts will be the sloungewear of this summer.” The season hasn’t even started, but right now, you can get this easy-to-wear, elastic-waisted Madewell pair for just $22 — a darn good deal, considering all the time you have to wear them. (They come in two colors, so if you really like them, at more than 50-percent-off, it’s basically a buy one get one free situation.) If you want to shop around, the shorts are one of hundreds of sale-on-sale items at Madewell that are an additional 50 percent off with the code BIGTIME.
The best wine subscription (if you like natural wine), according to sommeliers
In speaking to sommeliers about wine subscriptions worth your money, Ian Bishop, the portfolio manager at Flavors of Italy, had high praise for Primal Wine Club. “Low-intervention, natural, low or no sulfites — whatever your vernacular, Primal Wine curates an excellent selection of wines you most likely aren’t familiar with,” he told us of the service, which starts at $85 a month for monthly, three-bottle shipments (and, right now, is offering new subscribers a free bottle for their first month, plus free shipping).
The best board game to play on Zoom, according to gamers
If you’re running out of Heads Up! categories, several gaming experts told us that Welcome to … Your Perfect Home is a delightful game that’s easy to play digitally. Summing up their description of it, we write: “Players take on the role of architects attempting to build the perfect town in 1950s America. Instead of dice, three cards are flipped over, each with a given action. Players choose one of the three cards, and once everyone has made their decision, the next three cards are flipped over. There are many ways to score points, and players must figure out their preferred strategy; at the end of the game, each player will have completed their unique town, and the player with the most points wins.” Should you have a big family, one pro notes that “he’s personally played with over 50 people, to great success.”
The best canned tuna, according to the guy who wrote the cookbook on canned fish
When we reached out to chefs about the shelf-stable canned goods they keep in their pantries, chef Bart van Olphen, the author of The Tinned Fish Cookbook, said his is always stocked with this tuna, which comes from a brand founded by one of the families behind the American Albacore Fishing Association. “Their West Coast fishery was the first in the world to obtain a certification for seafood sustainability from the Marine Stewardship Council,” he explains.
A decorative bowl that … also smells good?
“This incense bowl from New York City–based Mellow Ceramics is so chic: a hand-painted checkerboard pattern on the outside, and the a perfect slot for incense on the inside,” writes columnist Chris Black, who dug it up for a reader looking for a “cool incense holder or ashtray.” Incense, Black adds, isn’t the only fragrant thing it can be used with: “When you are not burning, you can use it to hold dry flowers or potpourri. If you think you need something larger, End Clothing has different sizes (and styles) of Mellow’s incense bowls here.”
The the chair (with built-in table) that one writer uses to work en plein air
“Yes, it looks like a cross between a lecture-hall armchair desk and a chair a dad would pack for an outdoor Kenny G concert,” admits writer Hilary Reid, but the lightweight, collapsible, and discreet piece is all she needs to turn her fire escape into an office (and dining room). “At just eight pounds, it’s lightweight enough to pull in and out of the window easily, and it folds flat, so that I can store it in a closet. Crucially, the legs are thick and a little wider than the slats of my fire escape. The swivel table is large enough to hold my laptop, and has a cup holder for a coffee cup or glass of wine — it’s no sidewalk table outside the Odeon on a spring night, but for now, it’ll do.”
And the oven (and air-fryer, broiler, and toaster) that’s transformed a mom’s quarantine cooking
“Pre-quarantine, I only made about one meal a day during the week, so cooking was more of a hobby than a necessity, and I didn’t think it was worth the clutter of installing yet another appliance,” Strategist writer and mom Lauren Ro says of an all-too-relatable situation. “But this do-it-ourselves moment called for a sous-chef that more or less does it all at the press of a button, which is exactly the Cuisinart’s appeal: It can bake, broil, toast, fry, and even convection cook at basically the turn of a dial. And it’s fast.” Things Ro has used it to whip up in the time it takes to feed her 1-year-old include “perfectly roasted sweet potatoes, perfectly roasted broccolini, perfectly toasted, open-faced ham and cheese sandwiches, mini fried pork dumplings, more-than-respectable French and sweet-potato fries, and ready-to-eat, fried chicken wings that were (almost) as good as the ones we ate straight from a restaurant.”
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.