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What Strategist Readers Are Buying: Astronaut-Approved Nasal Spray and Tower Fans

Photo: Retailers

Welcome back to Your Shopping Cart, where 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.

The new normal is here, and many of the things we once touted as quarantine purchases are now turning into everyday essentials. We will be wearing fabric face masks for the foreseeable future, so it’s not a surprise that in first and second place (for the third month in a row) are new brands of fabric face masks. They are followed by more seasonal purchases that often spike this time of year, like an expert-recommended sunscreen, an oscillating tower fan, and a NASA-approved allergy remedy that’s on the list for the first time. Readers this month also showed us that while they are still in need of the same things, they are willing to try new brands. The Wamsutta Side Sleeper Pillow, our best-selling product of all time, was replaced this month by a set of well-rated pillows on Amazon. And readers have seemingly switched from the Fake Bake self-tanner that’s made the list recently to a cheaper (but still Strategist approved) tanning lotion. Some things, you just won’t budge on — a popular moisturizer for dry skin is on the list for the fifth time, a trusty handheld vacuum cleaner is back for the 12th time, and a very giftable back massager makes its sixth appearance on the list.

Taking the No. 1 spot for the third month in a row is a fabric face mask — but this month, the Buck Mason mask pack was beat out by a Vistaprint one. For something to make its best-seller list debut at No. 1 means it must be pretty good. We tested it and found that the adjustable ear loops, bendable-wire nose strip, stretchy fabric, and an added lower section that hugs your chin makes this mask fit several different face shapes securely and comfortably. It comes in lots of different patterns and passes the all-important light test, too. It also happens to be a mask you can feel good about purchasing; for every mask you buy, Vistaprint will give 10 percent to support small businesses impacted by the coronavirus.

$28 for 2

Yet another fabric face mask that made a first-time appearance on the list this month is the Vida version. When Camilla Cho, our senior VP of e-commerce, tested the double-layer cotton face mask with adjustable ear loops, she found it to be breathable even with the filter. Best of all, she said the adjustable nose strap makes the fit snug, which in turn helps keep her glasses from fogging up.

This marks the fourth time this expert-recommended sunscreen has shown up on the list, and it’s turning into a bit of a seasonal staple. More than five dermatologists have recommended the facial sunscreen to us over the years because it offers so much more than protection against UV rays. It includes niacinamide, a vitamin B3 derivative with anti-inflammatory properties that can fight breakouts and is recommended for people fighting acne, rosacea, and hyperpigmentation. It also tops our list of best sunscreens for dark skin because it goes on clear. If you missed getting it last month, now is a great time to stock up because it’s on sale.

Typically our best-selling pillow of the month is the very popular Wamsutta Side Sleeper pillow (which also happens to be our best-selling product of all time), but this month readers flocked to this set of hotel-style pillows, which are now making their best-seller-list debut. They’re filled with gel, which reviewers say makes them particularly cool and comfortable to sleep on. Most recently, we recommended them as a good gift for sleep-deprived dads, and Amazon reviewers agree it’s a good choice for new parents. “I slept so good that night, that I didn’t hear the baby crying or hear my husband up with her,” writes one after her first night with the pillow.

This moisturizer first appeared on the list in November, which made sense seasonally — it comes recommended as the best body lotion for dry skin, which many of us experience in the winter months. But our readers like this formula so much, they’re using it year-round. In fact, it has appeared on the list five times since its debut. The formula has ceramides and hyaluronic acid, both of which are good for hydration, and while it is a thick-style body cream, Dr. Melissa K. Levin, the founder of Entière Dermatology, told us it’s cool to the touch and immediately soothes irritated skin upon application.

Photo: retailer

Last month, writer Chantel Tattoli wrote about this NASA-approved nasal emollient that’s good for nasal congestion, dryness, and inflammation due to allergies, colds, and weather. After staying in a potpourri-filled bed-and-breakfast (pre-COVID), her allergies were on high alert and she said this “worked wonders immediately.” Unlike other nasal sinus medication, Tattoli says this smells and tastes good. “It drains gently, even pleasantly, into my throat,” she writes. “The taste is like a spa, in a good way.” We predict this might become an allergy-season regular on our list, but it also could stick around for the rest of the pandemic; Tattoli notes that “after an hour spent wearing a mask, it’s just so soothing to snort this stuff — and because it’s all-natural, I can feel good about my habit.”

Despite being stuck inside, our readers are dedicated to not looking like they’ve been vitamin D deprived for the last few months. Fake Bake Flawless Self-Tanning Liquid made our best seller list in both April and May, and for June, it was beat out by this less-expensive but well-rated lotion that’s making the list for the first time. Its main selling points, according to Amazon reviewers, are that it gives a natural glow and that the formula doesn’t have a lot of chemicals. “Quick toasty color that deepened with repeated use,” writes one user. “Zero orange tones. Blended beautifully and was easily absorbed — no streaks or crease marks. Gentle on my sensitive skin … And the cost was phenomenal, given that so many tanners are in the $30 to $50 range.”

This is one of our ten best-selling products of all time. Since its Strategist debut in July 2017, it has appeared on the list 12 times. It is also the best-rated handheld vacuum on Amazon. More than 20,000 shoppers have reviewed it and more than 11,000 gave it five stars. Reviewers say it’s effective for cleaning everything from “5 and 8 year old [kids’] messes” to “vacuuming stink bugs from my [organic] plants.” It also has a long-lasting rechargeable battery and is durable enough to last through years of use.

If you couldn’t tell by the nightly fireworks, summer is here and it’s heating up. This is the third time this fan has made the list — each time popping up in the summer as people try and find ways to cool down. In our story about how to cool your apartment without an air conditioner, interior designer Ariel Okin recommended this oscillating tower fan, noting it gets her through the weeks before her building turns on its central air-conditioning. It is also the best-rated floor fan on Amazon, with more than 5,000 five-star reviews. Its oscillation feature, height, stability, sleep timer, remote, and relatively quiet noise are all selling points for buyers.

Either our readers are still stressed, or they haven’t found the right work-from-home chair yet, because this electric back massager has made the list three months in a row. Overall, it’s been a best seller six times, and it’s the best-rated back massager on Amazon. Reviewers say this Shiatsu massager, which relieves back pain with heat and kneading, is a more affordable alternative to seeing a massage therapist — and in times of social distancing, it’s a safer option, too.

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: Nasal Spray and Fans