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What Strategist Readers Bought in September: Earwax Cleaners and Office Chairs

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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.

If there’s anything to be learned about the current state of the world from our readers’ shopping carts this September, it’s that you’re really settling into our new normal — with picks like an office chair for a permanent work-from-home setup and a freezable hat for reducing stress-induced headaches — and maybe even getting bored enough to give the inside of your ears a thorough clean. But a vast majority of best-selling items are still repeats from months past, including an electric massager and adjustable pillow, each of which have been in readers’ carts for several months in a row now. There are also some Strategist-favorites represented, like a pair of blue-light-blocking glasses and an affordable moisturizer that’s good for basically every skin type. Although make no mistake: There are still three different types of face masks on this list.

Last month we posited that a fabric face mask might never not top this list for the foreseeable future, and while we weren’t completely correct, we also weren’t that far off, since the number-one most purchased item in readers’ carts this past month was … a pack of disposable face masks from Sfavereak. These exact medical-grade face masks debuted on the list as the second-most purchased item last month, after a couple of essential workers told us they’ve been wearing them throughout the pandemic, and two doctors vouched for their efficacy in more crowded places, like the subway. Perhaps their jump to the top of the list correlates with (slightly) increased public transportation ridership — as students return to school and businesses continue to reopen — or it’s the first sign that the fabric mask bubble is going to pop soon.

For the first time in five months, a face mask of any kind is not in the second spot on this list. Instead, the new silver medalist is this plastic earwax remover (of all things). In late August, Strategist contributor Ashlea Halpern wrote that this spiraling, reusable device keeps her “ears cleaner than ever and my vertigo under control” all without going too far into her ear canal (as is the fear with Q-tips). With basically nothing new to do at home other than clean your ears — and the harrowing image of Girls’ Hannah Horvath with a cotton swab lodged in her ear at top of mind— we can sort of understand why this $9 device is a best seller.

After disappearing from the list last month, one of June and July’s best-selling fabric face masks is back on the list. According to Strategist writer and resident mask expert, Liza Corsillo, this two-ply mask from Vida is one of the most “breathable” ones out there (even with the filter inserted), and senior VP of e-commerce Camilla Cho says the adjustable nosepiece keeps her glasses from fogging up. Plus, as climate-change induced wildfires continue to ravage the West Coast, the San Francisco–based brand is donating 10 percent of mask profits to the SF-Marin Food Bank (as well as a portion of profits to Food Bank NYC).

Though these blue-light-blocking glasses have been on the list before — three times since April, to be exact — this is the first time since their debut that we’ve seen them in the top five. But, as we’ve realized, moving into our seventh month of working from home, staring at screens all the livelong day can result in itchy eyes and headaches — both of which nearly 11,000 Amazon reviewers say these glasses help to relieve. Maybe next month we’ll see some blue-light-specific skin-care products on the list, too.

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Perhaps because of readers’ increased blue-light exposure, or just because of the election and general anxiety-inducing state of the world, this freezable, headache-reducing hat was a popular purchase this month. Just weeks after Strategist contributor Ariel Kanter penned an ode to the “whole-head-encompassing hat,” which she affectionately calls “the Eggplant,” it took over readers’ carts — and we hope it has brought buyers the same “gentle compression that takes the pressure off pounding temples” that Kanter herself wrote about.

As working from home is becoming the new normal, people are beginning to get more serious about their home offices, including the many Strategist readers who purchased this ergonomic office chair from Modway. In fact, its debut on this list is also the first time we’ve ever seen an office chair in readers’ shopping carts. Last month, Dr. Rudy Gehrman, founder of New York City’s Pysio Logic, told us that the supportive, mesh-backed chair is a more-affordable option to the super-luxe, and super-expensive, Herman Miller Aeron chair.

Back again on the list for the first time since May, this anti-microbial mask from the L.A.-based menswear brand Buck Mason was one of the first to hit the market at the start of the pandemic. In this month’s print article about the wide world of fabric face masks, the brand’s co-founder Erik Allen Ford told us that back in March, “We’d heard no one should wear masks, but some outlier articles indicated we should be getting them to our warehouse employees.” Since then, the “soft and breathable” masks have become a favorite among essential workers and Strategist writers alike — so much so that they’re currently sold out online in all three colorways. (But you can enter your email on the site to get a notification when they’re back in stock.)

September is the sixth consecutive month that this Shiatsu massager from Zyllion has been in readers’ carts. And it’s not just readers who have come to depend on its warm back-and-neck kneading abilities: With nearly 14,000 five-star Amazon reviewers, many say this electric massager is better (or just as good as) than their massage therapist. It’s also one of our most stood-behind gifts for stressed-out nurses and parents alike, and since the holidays are right around the corner — and our collective stress levels are still at an all-time high — we anticipate it’ll remain on this list for a while.

Another product that’s seen a recent resurgence in popularity among readers is this adjustable foam pillow, which first appeared on the list in 2018, and now is back for the third month in a row. The Coop pillow is also the best-rated pick among Amazon reviewers looking for either a memory-foam or bamboo-covered pillows, as well as a favorite among the 20,000 five-star reviewers who say it’s the “holy grail” of pillows. We were first introduced to this pillow on Prime Day in 2018, when then Strategist writer Lori Keong compared it to a “warm hug for your head,” and with any luck it’ll be on sale again during this year’s Prime Day, happening October 13 and 14.

This is the tenth time we’ve seen this Neutrogena moisturizer in Strategist readers’ carts, and according to dermatologists, it’s somewhat of a Goldilocks product: It’s non-pore-clogging enough for oily skin, hydrating enough for dry skin, sensitive enough for Accutane users, and cheap enough to find at your local drugstore.

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 Readers Are Buying: Earwax Cleaners and Office Chairs