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 “G.O.A.T” of men’s sweatshirts, a cheeky card for couples in quarantine, and an actually sexy bra that doesn’t skimp on support.
A cheeky card for couples in quarantine
Since you can’t just pop into the drugstore this year to find a thoughtful card to match your well-curated gift, we found all the best tasteful, punny, and slightly suggestive Valentine’s Day cards that you can buy on Amazon — and most with two-day shipping — fit for kids, friends, partners, and more. We think the card above, for instance, would be particularly apt for the couples who may have gotten a little too comfortable while in quarantine. “If your relationship survived the great toilet paper shortage of 2020, and then nine more months of self-isolation,” we write, “this card’s for you.”
… and a clean-smelling candle to go with it
Even if your own skin-care routine is just washing your face in the shower, you can find a thoughtful Valentine’s Day gift for the skincare or makeup obsessive in your life — with help from our beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton, who curated a list of Valentine’s Day–appropriate beauty gifts. One surefire gift is this Overose candle that has notes of “‘rain’ and ‘roses,’ which make for a beautiful, fresh, floral scent that’s perfect for any season or time of day,” Rio writes. “This candle really fills a room, which is why I find myself buying it as a gift for friends and family again and again. Plus, the packaging is adorable and very Valentine’s Day appropriate.”
The best budget-friendly USB microphone for streaming
“If you’re starting to feel as though everyone is streaming during the pandemic, that’s because they are,” writer Jordan Bowman pointed out last week. If you are one of the millions of people who spent 1.6 billion hours on Twitch in 2020 and want to start streaming yourself, like Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or even Ninja, the Blue Yeti USB microphone is a good place to start your streaming setup. This not-too-expensive option came recommended by two streamers, one of whom — BrickinNick, who has a family-friendly crafting channel that focuses on creative LEGO builds — told us that it’s so good, “Only now, after nearly five years of streaming, am I looking into a high-end microphone.” This Blue Yeti has gain control, a mute button, headphone output, and a convenient headphone volume knob if you need to adjust things on the fly.
An actually sexy (and supportive) bra for big busts
“For much of my life, $100 was an average amount of money for me to spend on a bra. I’m a size HH, like my initials, and I learned very quickly growing up that if I wanted to find the right fit for my bust — one that allowed me to stand taller and my clothes to drape better — I was going to have to pay for it,” writes Strategist contributor Hannah Howard. That is — until she found this Panache Clara Bra while on a trip to the U.K. The bra is made of “stretchy lace that molded to my breasts and had inner side-support slings that noticeably perked me up,” she writes, and despite the feminine details, “appears perfectly smooth” under clothing. “It would go on to become my favorite bra of all time,” Howard says.
The ice pack Este Haim uses to manage her dia-bee-ties
Musician Este Haim was diagnosed with diabetes in 2000, and she told us about the all of “things that have helped me stay on track for the past few years and make life easier as a touring musician and a diabetic of 20 years.” That includes this vibrating ice pack, which Haim called a “lifesaver” when taking shots every day: “I’ve heard it’s great for kids, too. It’s painful taking multiple shots a day, especially if you’ve been doing it for years and develop scar tissue around the injection sites, which is almost worse than the shot. The cold numbs the pain, and the vibration tricks your nervous system into not feeling as much pain. It’s similar to a numbing cream, which some people like and think works great, but I just always preferred the ice pack. And it’s cute.”
A coconut-y cuticle cream
Applying (and reapplying) hand sanitizer and washing our hands have been the norm for months now, so it shouldn’t be a surprise if your hands are drier than usual this winter. To help alleviate that dryness, we found the best-rated hand creams on Amazon, including this coconut cuticle cream from Yes To. “Since using this hydrating formula, I’ve noticed my cuticles to be smoother and the skin around is also stronger/more taut,” writes one five-star reviewer, while another says, “My cuticles and fingernails look better after this cream than they do with the oil I use for manicures.” And though many call it a miracle for cuticles, nearly 20 percent of reviewers also think this cream works well to moisturize the rest of their hands. “My hands are as smooth as a baby’s butt,” writes one reviewer. “I love that it goes on creamy and then it’s gone, leaving my hands and cuticles soft and smelling yummy.”
A comforting, caffeine-free coffee alternative
Strategist writer Liza Corsillo quit drinking coffee this year, after finding that made her feel “first anxious, then distracted, and then run down.” So she replaced her morning coffee with a hot cup of Dandy Blend, “a malty powder made of five simple ingredients: dandelion root, chicory root, sugar beetroot, barley, and rye.” You can drink the blend hot or cold, but her go-to recipe is to “a heaping tablespoon mixed with boiling water and oat milk,” which creates a “comforting frothy drink that’s a little bit sweet and caffeine-free.” The texture and taste are “surprisingly similar” to coffee too, she writes, “but without the acidity or bitterness that would often mess with my stomach.”
A new toy for Valentine’s Day
If you and your partner are lucky enough to spend Valentine’s Day together and in the flesh this year, a sex toy that you both can use, such as this stroker from Tenga, can make for an exciting addition to the bedroom. Samantha Bard, co-owner of the Williamsburg sex shop and event space Shag, told us that the Tenga Egg is “incredibly discreet, super cute, makes a really good gift, and it’s only $10.” While it’s known as a masturbation toy, she says “it doesn’t have to be just a solo thing,” and that an egg can also be a lot of fun to use with a partner. “In fact, probably half our customers who buy it are females buying it for their boyfriends or partners,” she says.
Brooks Marks’ “game-changing” bottle opener
Though he only turned 21 in July, Real Housewives of Salt Lake City’s Brooks Marks has spent the last six months “explor[ing] everything the alcohol world has to offer,” including the Coravin: “One of my friends introduced me to it. It’s a modern-day wine opener.” According to Marks, it “creates a microscopic hole in a cork that’s big enough to pour wine by the glass” — while still preserving the rest of the bottle. “It has this — I don’t even know what it’s called. You know how a whipped-cream can uses pressure, not gravity, to force the cream out of the can? This does that for wine,” Marks says.
Some kitschy kitchen towels fit for a party (of one)
Our latest Don’t Dillydally includes lots of unexpected home decor, like a Parachute x Crate and Barrel quilt, some recycled denim storage bins from PB Teen and Wrangler, and these limited-edition tea towels from clothing designer Rosie Assoulin, known for her exaggerated silhouettes and striking plaids, and Great Jones, the DTC cookware company that makes a mean (and surprisingly stylish) sheet pan. As we write: “Sticking with Rosie Assoulin’s signature plaid prints and adding in Great Jones’s now-iconic blueberry shade, they’ve come up with something original that’ll zhuzh up your table-scape and make setting the table, dare we say, fun.”
“The GOAT of sweatshirts”
“Today, crewneck sweatshirts are as much a wardrobe staple for work (both at home and in offices), as they are for working out or even dining out,” we write in our guide to the best men’s crewneck sweatshirts. One such sweatshirt, the Uniqlo Long-Sleeve Sweatshirt, comes recommended by Andrew Favorito, who works in public relations for skin-care brand Tatcha. He says the sweatshirt combines “Japanese simplicity and design, high-quality fabrics, a towel-soft terry cloth interior, and a dye that can withstand 19,571,209,043 washes without fading, all for $30.” It’s for this reason he simply calls it “the “GOAT of sweatshirts.” And if this salmon-y pink isn’t for you, it comes in eight other colors (of which Favorito owns three).
And a touchscreen air fryer
The state of sales is (or was) decidedly good last week, with lots of deals on cold weather gear, home decor, and even potential Valentine’s Day gifts. Among the discounts (and gift contenders) was this top-rated air fryer at Best Buy. “If we’ve learned anything from Tiktok in 2021, it’s that you can make just about anything in an air fryer, from cinnamon buns to kale chips,” we write. “And for just $40, this one, with an easy-to-use touchscreen, is worth a shot.”
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.