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 the best kids’ bike helmet, according to experts; the best wax for candle-making, according to an artist; and a better–than–Baby Foot peel.
A candle that’ll make mom feel closer to you …
With Mother’s Day a week away (it’s Sunday, May 10), we’ve been on the hunt for all sorts of thoughtful gifts to delight her, even if you can’t be there to give them yourself. “Homesick allows you to choose a candle specifically inspired by the state mom is in (or the one you’re in),” we wrote in our roundup of the best gifts for long-distance moms, where we suggest the candle as a great idea for a mom in another state. “Each scent is specifically concocted with notes from its namesake state.”
… or some (expert-approved) beeswax to make your own
If you’d rather not buy another candle for mom (or yourself), artist Janie Korn — who is known for her singular creations, like these runway looks she re-created in wax for the Cut — told us about everything you need to make your own. Wax, of course, is a must, and Korn says that lately she’s “been ordering beeswax sheets from Etsy, because I’m trying to support small businesses as much as I can.”
The gardening tool all plant parents should own
Whether you’re growing a victory garden or just tending to the green things in your apartment, experts told us a bypass pruner (or secateur) is the first tool you should have in your kit. The one-handed pruner with two curved blades, we wrote, “is the go-to tool for clipping delicate branches and trimming shrubs, perennials, and flowers because the blades are specially designed to give a clean cut without tearing the plant tissue.” Bob Fiorello, the chief horticulturist at San Francisco Botanical Garden, loves this Japanese-made one, which he says “is very good quality stainless steel, very easy to clean, and doesn’t gum up nearly as much as” other popular models. “Some people refer to ARS as ‘always really sharp,’ and that’s pretty much true,” he sums up.
Some (deeply discounted) comfy sandals to treat your feet
Chaco fans among us swear by the sandals. This pair with red-white-and-blue-patterned straps is “excellent for warm-weather hiking and walks around the block,” we write. It comes from a recent micro-sale, where we note the sale price includes an extra 25 percent off (but only through May 4), making the sandals almost half-price. This pair is technically for women, but REI Co-op has the same style for men (with different straps) on sale for the same price.
A (nontraumatic) mask to exfoliate your feet
“Baby Foot, the cult-favorite, superintense, skin-shedding foot exfoliant, terrifies me — a few years ago I tried it, and it was so powerful my feet bled for days,” says Rio, who is not the only person we know who’s craved a less traumatic but equally effective alternative. “After much sleuthing, I stumbled upon an exfoliant from Patchology — a cruelty-free skin-care and body brand — that had excellent reviews. For the first few days after I used the foot-mask socks, I noticed a little bit of flaking here. Then, on about day eight, my feet were shedding and peeling constantly. While pretty disgusting, it was insanely satisfying — at one point, I peeled off a five-inch piece of dead skin. And after two weeks, my feet were absurdly, silkily smooth, with no cracks or dry patches at all.”
The best bike helmet for kids, according to experts
“You can’t go ten feet down a bike path without someone singing the praises of the Giro Scamp,” writes contributor Stacey Dee Woods, who talked to bike-shop owners, doctors, and other experts about the best helmets for protecting little heads, now that the weather is warm enough for (socially distant) bike rides. The Scamp, according to one of those experts, created a “sea change” in the kids’-bike-helmet market following its release, thanks to its lightweight, well-ventilated, and comfortable design with a pinchproof buckle and a wheel that allows you to dial in the perfect fit. “We sell a ton of these,” adds the owner of Golden Saddle Cyclery in L.A.
‘Excellent’ over-ear headphones, for under $100
At least according to Chris Black, who recommended these as an “excellent option for home use” to a reader looking for mid-level over-ear headphones for easy listening at home during the quarantine. “They are open back, which means no sound isolation. Everyone can hear you, and you can hear all that is going on around you. The sound is FULL BODIED and lively, and I love the way they look. Vintage but not corny.”
A moisturizing deep conditioner for newly natural hair
“With salons shuttered, many of us have found ourselves suddenly forced to learn (or relearn) how to take care of our natural hair,” says writer Tembe Denton-Hurst, who counts herself among the many. “It can be a lot of work, especially if you’re not used to taking care of it yourself,” she continues, noting that, according to experts, deep conditioning “is so important” for keeping natural hair moisturized. One hairstylist and salon owner she spoke with says this mask, made with manuka honey and mafura oil, is “very, very moisturizing” and particularly ideal for curly, thick, and coarse air.
And a bouquet of cured meats
Back to mom: If she always expects you to say it with flowers, here’s a way to simulate the gesture that’s not only a feast for the eyes but the stomach, too. The salami bouquet, which comes from our list of the best food gifts for moms, can get to her before the big day, “but only via express shipping, which costs $11 on top of Food52’s standard $9 shipping fee.” Also, Food52 only ships it on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Wednesdays to ensure it arrives fresh (orders placed Thursdays onward will ship out the following week). It’s sure to make her (or anyone) smile. As we put it: “Who could possibly resist gourmet salami wrapped up like a bodega bouquet?”
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.