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What Strategist Readers Bought in October: Space Heaters and Water Flossers

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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.

Our readers’ shopping carts looked quite different this time last year: It wasn’t the month of Prime Day, for one, and they certainly weren’t buying boxes of medical masks. (According to our records, last October, you bought some kitschy dishcloths, fuzzy dog beds, and lots of moisturizer.) But times have changed, and, as we noted last month, it appears our readers have continued to settle into our new normal — even with winter on the way. There’s an outdoor heater for keeping warm in the great, socially distanced outdoors; some easy-to-hold crayons to keep the little ones entertained; and an office chair to add to your once-temporary WFH setup. And while our favorite Waterpik makes its first post-Prime Day appearance, we’ve seen most of these best-selling items before, including an adjustable memory-foam pillow, a moisturizer for all skin types, and, yes, lots of face masks.

Back in August, a couple of essential workers told us that they relied on these medical-grade masks while working through the pandemic, and two doctors attested to their efficacy in crowded places: “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,” Dr. Scott Segal, chairman of anesthesiology at Wake Forest Baptist Health, told us. Naturally, these masks have topped our readers’ shopping lists since August, and it’s no surprise that they took the top spot in your carts again this month, with COVID-19 cases on the rise. What is surprising, however, is that it seems our readers are officially opting for disposable masks over reusable ones — Vistaprint who? — as we enter into the third wave of the pandemic.

[Editor’s note: The Sfavereak Disposable Face Masks are now sold out, but these top-rated disposable ones are still in stock.]

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Last month was the first time we’d ever seen an office chair in readers’ shopping carts — a testament to just how permanent our work-from-home setups are becoming. Now at No. 2 on our list of best sellers, this supportive, mesh-backed desk chair from Modway has quickly become a Strategist-reader favorite, after Physio Logic founder Dr. Rudy Gehrman told us that it makes for a convincing dupe to the super-sleek, super-expensive Herman Miller Aeron chair. Consider our readers convinced (and lumbar-supported).

Another top-five pick from last month, these blue-light blocking glasses have become a work-from-home staple for mitigating itchy, watery eyes due to excessive screen time — according to nearly 12,000 Amazon reviewers. “Lets face it, more and more people are using multiple monitors for their work days,” writes one five-star reviewer. “Prior to wearing these, I could ‘feel’ the pressure in my eyes from looking at my screens. I put these on, and I can ‘feel’ less pressure and less strain on my eyes almost immediately.” We also found that, in one 2009 study, volunteers who wore blue-light-blocking glasses three hours before bedtime reported better sleep quality (something that’s essential for keeping your immune system strong). And while we aren’t sure whether our readers are buying pairs for themselves or as holiday gifts, we suspect these glasses will continue to top this list as the holidays near and the nights get longer.

Strategist readers themselves seem to prefer disposable masks, but it looks like fabric ones are still the go-to for kids. And while it’s the first time we’ve seen any face masks for kids on this list, we predict this Crayola set will be the mask of choice for kids of all ages, now that students are returning, albeit slowly, to in-person instruction. Erin Bakst, the senior vice-president of people and culture at Vox Media, told us that they’re a hit with her 3-year-old, because “they tend not to get up into the kiddo’s eyes.” She adds, “They’re bright, the cut is good, and the ear loops are adjustable.” This pack comes with a mesh laundry bag and name tags to keep track of everyone’s individual masks, and are made with dual-layer fabric. (And would make for a practical stocking stuffer for just about any kid on your holiday list, if you’ve yet to snag a set.)

This adjustable memory-foam pillow has been on the list before — six times since 2018, to be exact — and for good reason: It’s 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. Strategist writer Lori Keong even compared it to a “warm hug for your head,” which, given the state of the world right now, sounds like just what our readers need.

Before this month, we had yet to see an outdoor heater on our best-seller list, but a chilly, socially distanced winter is on the way, and Strategist readers are preparing accordingly. This propane heater was one of the most-recommended models by experts this month for convenient, portable outdoor heating. According to Dyrt community manager Taylor Kalsey, the Mr. Heater Buddy can provide enough heat for “four to five people sitting around it in a close circle,” while Strategist deputy editor Maxine Builder says that it “puts out serious heat” and is so effective that she “convinced my boyfriend’s mom to buy two more for outdoor hangs.” It’s easy to use, our experts say, and comes with an automatic safety shutoff function should it accidentally tip over.

7. Waterpik Water Flosser

We’re pleased to report that our readers were able to score this water flosser, a Strategist favorite since 2018, on sale this Prime Day. And while it’s discounted no longer, it is still the go-to for over 20 dentists and dental hygienists, one of whom calls it the “holy grail” of water flossers. It comes with ten different pressure settings to accommodate sensitive teeth and gums, and, according to dentist Dr. Irina Sinensky, edges out other water flossers on the market with its “90-second run time, seven different tips, 360-degree rotation of the tip, and a significantly large water tank.” And if you have braces, retainers, bridges, or gum disease, Dr. Sonya Krasilnikov, a dentist and co-founder of Dental House, told us water flossers can clean around those “extremely hard-to-reach places” that only dentists seem to be able to get. (And let’s face it: We’re likely all a bit overdue for a dental cleaning this year.)

An indicator that our readers might be a bit more stressed than usual, this Oral-B dental guard has made it into our readers’ carts for the third time this year. Dentists recommend it as the best over-the-counter mouth guard for teeth grinders because it’s as close as you can get to a custom mouth guard, thanks to its moldable fit. Plus, TMJ and facial-pain specialist Dr. Nojan Bakhtiari told us it covers all the teeth, making it a safer option than partial appliances, which can cause teeth shifting.

An 11-time Strategist-reader favorite, this Neutrogena moisturizer gets high marks from dozens of dermatologists we’ve spoken to. It’s an affordable drugstore moisturizer, for one, and it’s fit for virtually all skin types: from dry to mature to sunburned to acne-prone. The key ingredient is the hyaluronic acid, which dermatologist Joshua Zeichner says “delivers higher levels of hydration without weighing down facial skin.”

It’s not often that toys make it into our readers’ carts, but these egg-shaped, ergonomic crayons are, according to child expert Dr. Alexandra Figueras-Daniel, “a great way to get young children to have interest in writing and drawing.” These are “perfect for tiny hands to build fine-motor skills,” she adds, and are safer than traditional crayons, which can pose a choking hazard. They’ve made it onto our list of best toys for 1-year-olds, but we think they’d make an excellent gift for any petit Picasso under 3 this holiday season.

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: Space Heaters and Water Flossers