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 Denise Richards’s “love” whistle, a serum to even out face-mask tan lines, and a most exquisite cornhole set.
The strawberry Crocs we keep seeing on Instagram
“In early March, fashion editor Laurel Pantin found herself sheltering in place in her hometown of Austin with only a weekend’s worth of clothes,” begins our investigation into the shoe we can’t stop seeing in our Instagram feeds. “As soon as temperatures in the South hit 90 degrees, she realized the only pair of shoes she traveled with weren’t suited for Texas weather. And that’s how she ended up with a pair of strawberry Crocs.” Then Pantin posted them on Instagram. Then textile designer Heather Taylor posted them on Instagram. Then fashion designer Clare Vivier posted them on Instagram. Then publicist Madeline Fawcett posted them on Instagram. Then Megababe founder Katie Sturino posted them on Instagram. Now, they’re selling out — but eBay still seems to have a decent stock (if you order, know that it simply calls them “white”).
An actually expensive-looking chair from Ikea
The trouble with a lot of Ikea’s affordable home furnishings is that they look like affordable home furnishings from Ikea. Which is why we did a double take when an interior designer told us this wood-and-rope folding chair that looks like some pricey designer model for Design Within Reach is actually a reasonably priced one from the emporium of Scandinavian design. Says that interior designer: “The strong, clean lines of this architectural silhouette are a striking addition to an outdoor space.” Say we: It would look just as striking indoors, too.
Denise Richards’s ‘love’ whistle
“The Lovetuner is a whistle that, when blown, makes a sound at the frequency of 528 hertz, which is known as the frequency of love,” explains the actress, who told us she’s been using it a lot lately. “It’s very calming. Anytime I’m feeling stressed out or overwhelmed, it helps ground me. And we could all use that right now, during a time when there’s a lot of anxiety and uncertainty.”
A serum to help even out face-mask tan lines
Last week, a reader asked Rio for help with a “a distinctly 2020 issue.” Her friend, she continued, got “a suntan on only the upper half of her face” after walking around outside with a mask on, and needed something to even it out. According to our beauty obsessive, “When it comes to evening out a tan on your face, vitamin C is going to be your hero ingredient. After consistent daily use, you’ll notice that your weird tan is slowly starting to fade away, and your complexion is generally more even and bright.” Rio’s favorite vitamin C serum is this, from Mad Hippie: “It’s rich in other antioxidants like vitamin E and ferulic acid (which strengthens your skin against all sorts of environmental stressors), and soothing, nourishing, and moisture-boosting ingredients like chamomile and hyaluronic acid.” If you want to shop around, dermatologists recommend 11 more vitamin C serums for skin of all types here.
‘Sauce-gripping,’ shelf-stable pasta
Closing out the top three in New York food editors Rob Patronite and Robin Raisfeld’s ranking of fancy pasta shapes is the Bucatini from Rustichella, a maker based in the Abruzzo region of Italy. They call it “the sauce-gripping best,” citing “Hard durum semolina, mountain-spring water, old-fashioned bronze dies, and the type of leisurely, practically spalike drying session that makes all the difference” as the reasons why.
An expert-recommended conditioner for maintaining color between hair dyes
To help those who would rather not let their locks go au naturel while many salons remain closed, we talked to hairstylists about the stuff they recommend for dyeing at home. “The most foolproof way,” according to the experts, is a conditioning, semi-permanent gloss that one hair stylist says will “give your color a boost of shine and depth.” Two pros swear by dpHue’s gloss, with one telling us it “acts like a color-depositing conditioner that provides incredible shine and added pigment.” Using it is as easy as applying to clean, damp hair, letting it soak in for three to 20 minutes, and then thoroughly rinsing it out.
Barefoot running shoes that don’t ‘look disgusting’
That is what one reader asked columnist Chris Black to help him find, noting that many barefoot running shoes — which, according to folks who use them, can be less intense on your heels and more responsive on slippery terrain — are not particularly stylish. Agreeing that, “Unfortunately, this genre of shoe is rather ugly,” Chris recommended this (on sale) pair from Merrell for leaning into that ugliness “in an interesting way.” He adds that, functionally, their “Vibram sole equals excellent stability, and there is zero drop from heel to toe for a natural stride.”
The Handmaid’s Tale starring … Clare Danes
If you’re looking to get lost in a dystopian world different from the one we are currently lost in, this audio version of Margaret Atwood’s novel read by Danes gets rave reviews for how her “exceptional” narration “enhances the story.” One listener praises Danes for “giving you a feeling of something very personal, like you are listening to a confession you wouldn’t dare interrupt.” Another simply adds: “She was perfectly cast.”
A pet-owner-approved handheld vacuum, for $40 less
Rummaging through the internet’s many sales last week, we found this expert-recommended handheld vacuum for pets on sale for a not insignificant discount at Best Buy. If the couch you’ve been sharing with Fido is looking a little hairier than you’d like, users say this little guy — which comes with two attachments — is both a “godsend” and “game-changer.”
And a most exquisite cornhole set
Of this intricate, handmade take on what will likely become one of the most popular socially distant lawn games of the summer, we think contributors (and former Of a Kind owners) Erica Cerulo and Claire Mazur already said it best: “Talk about a showstopper. Made in the Pasadena wood shop of the Wolfum founder Annabel Inganni, this fancy cornhole set is the sort of item that earns a grin even from those who have no intention of buying it.”