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What Strategist Readers Bought in August: Neck Fans and Eye Masks

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.

This August, much like real life, there was not much new going on in our readers’ shopping carts. Six of the items on this list are regulars, and the four new items are, for the most part, new variations of our Strategist readers’ staples. For example, in at No. 1 is the Vistaprint face mask we tested, which is currently on a three-month streak, and at No. 2 debuted a set of disposable surgical masks — similar, but different. A more exciting face-covering variation — a face shield — also made the list for the first time, along with a literally cool neck fan and cushy eye mask. But plenty of the usual suspects are on the list again, like a back massager, which is back on the list for the eighth time; an all-sleeper-friendly, hypoallergenic pillow; blue-light-blocking glasses; a mouth guard; and a moisturizer so popular you probably already know which one it is.

A fabric face mask might never not top this list for the foreseeable future. For the third month in a row these Vistaprint face masks have taken the No. 1 spot. We tested them 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 super comfortable, and month after month, our readers have grown to love it, too. This dotted version is the most popular, but several people also bought this daisy-printed one.

In at No. 2, making the list for the first time, is this disposable, surgical-type face mask. Last month, two essential workers told us that a surgical face mask is their go-to when in a potentially crowded, unpredictable space like a subway. It’s important that we leave PPE to those who need it most, but we totally get it, and so does Dr. Scott Segal, chairman of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health. He told us, “If you’re going to have to be in a high-risk environment, something like the subway, with lots of other people in a relatively closely confined area, perhaps for a prolonged period of time, then mask effectiveness might really play a difference in protecting you.” Strategist writer Louis Cheslaw also bought himself a set of these masks, noting they are thin, but that’s exactly what he wanted as he tried to beat the heat. Maybe these will continue to fly off the shelves as we head into the dog days of summer.

This massager has made the best-seller list eight times since its debut in February 2019. And given that these are extremely stressful times, it’s no surprise that a Shiatsu massager that relieves back pain with heat and kneading would be a popular purchase. Not only do our readers love it, but it’s the best-rated back massager on Amazon. We anticipate that as more and more people perfect their work-from-home setup, tacking this massager to their new desk chair will become even more popular for our readers, so this little machine is probably here to stay.

We talked to infectious-disease experts in July to figure out the deal with face shields. Ravina Kullar, an infectious-disease specialist, epidemiologist, and spokesperson for the Infectious Diseases Society of America, told us that face shields offer extra protection because they block particles from entering your eyes, and make it less likely that you’ll touch your face with unwashed hands, but that they should still be worn with a face mask to protect others from your germs. This particular one, making the list for the first time, is a good pick because it covers your entire face, has an elastic band for a snug fit, and even has a cushioned section in the front for comfort. As more and more people start to outdoor dine (while the weather permits) maybe face shields will become more popular, because they still offer you and your tablemates some protection while still enjoying a meal together.

5. MZOO Sleep Eye Mask

Our beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton said this eye mask was the best, and you all listened, helping make its best-seller-list debut. It’s a memory-foam mask, which, according to Rio, “is the perfect material for an eye mask: just as a good memory-foam mattress forms to your body, this memory-foam eye mask forms perfectly to your eyes, sealing them from any outside light.” It also makes it a good option for stomach sleepers, because it’s “thick, bouncy, and cushiony — so if you happen to sleep on your stomach, like me, it almost feels like resting your face on another mini-pillow.” Rio said the first time she tried this mask she slept until noon the next day, so if you plan on joining the Strategist readers who bought this eye mask, make sure you clear your schedule.

Former Strategist writer Lori Keong first introduced us to this pillow back in 2018, and though this is only its fourth time on the best-seller list, it’s the second month in a row (and at the same spot at that). It’s a shredded-memory-foam pillow, which, to Lori, meant “it’s adaptable enough to auto-adjust to my sleep positions, evenly supporting my head no matter how I’m angled.” She ultimately compared it to “a warm hug for your head.” Amazon reviewers like it, too, confirming that this really does work for all types of sleepers. One self-described “everything sleeper” says, “Every day this week I’ve slept like a brick without waking up briefly to adjust my pillow.”

At the Strategist, we can’t talk highly enough about this Neutrogena moisturizer, so it’s no surprise our readers like it, too. This moisturizer has appeared on this list eight other times, and in several of our expert-recommended skin-care guides. Dozens of dermatologists have recommended this hyaluronic-acid-infused moisturizer for dry skin, mature skin, sunburned skin, Accutane users, and even for pregnant women. It also helps that it’s relatively affordable, which helped earn its spot on our list of the best drugstore moisturizers, too.

This is perhaps even a bigger indicator than the Zyllion massager that our readers are stressed. The massager was a Strategist staple, and best seller, even before the pandemic, but this mouth guard’s frequency on the best-seller list has increased since stay-at-home orders started — though we do have to warn that over-the-counter mouth guards are typically recommended as a temporary fix for stress-related teeth grinding. Four of the dentists we spoke to recommend this one. It’s boil-and-bite style will help you get a better fit, and this guard also covers all the teeth, which is overall a safer option.

Working from home, it really does seem like we are on our screens more. There are no in-person meeting breaks, no walks to go get lunch, or zoned-out commuting time, and our readers seem to have turned to these blue-light-blocking glasses to help cope — and this is their third time on the list since May. These glasses come highly recommended from Amazon reviewers who say they help relieve headaches, eye strain, and are even comfortable to wear. “Prior to wearing these, I could ‘feel’ the pressure in my eyes from looking at my screens,” one user says. “I put these on, and I can ‘feel’ less pressure and less strain on my eyes almost immediately.”

Writer Alison Freer told us about this handy gadget at the end of July, which helped her beat the heat while in Palm Springs during a stretch of 100-degree weather. “I was shocked by how much wind this little device managed to put out, and by how much less red my face was at the end of my walk,” she writes. “It has three different fan settings (plus a set of colored LED lights, should you find yourself at a rave), and the short charge lasted the entire two hours I was out walking. Later, once I charged it fully, it ran for close to six hours on the medium setting as I cleaned up around the house and yard.” It has come in handy for less strenuous situations, like an outdoor, socially distanced birthday event on a hot day, and Alison has even figured out how to configure it into a desk fan. This is the first time this neck fan has appeared on the best-seller list, but something this versatile, we imagine it will make a second appearance.

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: Neck Fans and Eye Masks