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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in February

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

If you follow our monthly feature “Your Shopping Cart,” you know we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying. Which led us to think that, as Strategist editors, we could turn the tables and highlight all the things we’ve been buying for ourselves. As you’ll notice, it’s both a blessing and a curse to be a Strategist editor; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it. (It’s online-shopping expertise meets IRL needs.) Below, what we all bought in February.

Leah Muncy, junior writer

My fabric bath mat — the third one I’ve purchased in the last year — was starting to get moldy, so I said to hell with it: We’re going teak. I picked up this one from Amazon, and I think it makes my tiny, shower-stall bathroom look like a mid-tier spa. It’s a little on the expensive side, but teak is known for being durable and easy to clean. A friend of mine says that he’s owned his for years, and it still looks new. If you do decide to take the plunge, make sure yours is made from solid teak (and only teak), which is mold- and mildew-resistant.

Chloe Anello, writer

I’m really into TikTok now and wanted to get better videos of my crafts, don’t judge me.

I needed to wash and depill all of my cashmere sweaters, so I bought this handy kit. Depilling actually made for a soothing afternoon, since it’s oddly satisfying, and my stuff smells and looks great now.

Dominique Pariso, writer

I’ve never met a shampoo I’ve loved enough to buy twice. I’d been using Prose — which I liked a lot — but as soon as it ran out, my eye immediately started wondering. I’ve heard a lot of buzz about Monday, a popular New Zealand–based hair-care line that just made it Stateside this month. I love the look of the all-pink packaging, and while the jury’s still out if I’ve finally found the one, I’m quite happy to have found a sulfate-free formula for under $10.

Peter Martin, senior editor

I haven’t been trimming my beard (or showering, smiling, or eating fewer than three cookies at a time) that often during quarantine, but recently I found myself avoiding the process completely. My old trimmer had started getting stuck in the denser patches of hair, which made shaving feel like mowing a lawn with dull garden scissors, and took nearly as long, so I’d put it off. In the past, I would have replaced the trimmer with the same model, but I decided to upgrade and bought this trimmer, which has solid reviews online and came strongly recommended by my brother-in-law. It’s so much easier to use; I wish I’d found it years ago. The cutting blades are sharp and never get stuck, and it clips all the hair in basically one pass. I’m still not shaving a lot, but when I do, it’s a much more enjoyable — and much faster — experience.

$7

This month I also bought my first-ever beard cream. As someone who deals with eczema and constant dry skin, I’d started noticing flakes of beardruff on the chest of my shirts when I wore dark clothes. After a little Googling, I discovered this cream from Cremo, a shaving company that I remembered for making some of the best-smelling shaving cream I’d ever tested back when I was a grooming editor at Esquire. Between that and the fact that the mint scent was on sale for $5, it was an easy choice. This stuff worked after just two days. I can rub my beard like Ally Sheedy scratching her head in The Breakfast Club, and nothing falls out. I’m not a cologne person, so the light scent took a minute to get used to, but my toddler liked it, and even my wife, who somehow hates the smell of even the fanciest candles, said she liked the way I smelled.

Hilary Reid, writer

One day this month, something obvious occurred to me: it was time to stop listening to music played only from my laptop and cell phone. So I bought this bluetooth speaker, which my dad recommended to me, and have been pretty impressed. It’s small, inexpensive, pairs quickly, and — most important — doesn’t look hideous on my mantle.

I also treated myself to a new pair of (chic-mom favorite) Ted Muehling earrings. I’ve worn its “berry” and “acorn” earrings for a few years, and I really love them. They’re one of the only styles of drop earrings that feel as casual as a pair of small gold hoops for everyday wear. I went for the aventurine mostly because I liked the shade of green — and was sold after reading that aventurine is supposedly the stone of prosperity, perseverance, and calming neuroses (!).

Kayla Levy, junior writer

Minutes after becoming a foster to a sweet, sweet cat named Momo (short for Mordechai), I became anxious about all of the possibly dangerous items in my home — including my beloved bundle of eucalyptus, which I realized is toxic for cats. Half is now hanging in the shower, and the other half is downstairs (where he is too scared to go, for now), but I replaced the bunch on my mantle with these (Strategist favorite) yellow billy balls. I might still get some more faux flowers or even artificial eucalyptus, but for now I’m more focused on getting him the right kind of homeopathic drops for a possible cold.

Photo: ISSEY_KOBORI

-Last weekend, Golde, the wellness brand behind some of our favorite (edible) face masks, donated all of its net profits to organizations helping at-risk folks in Texas get access to food, water, and housing. After donating to a mutual-aid fund, I bought the brand’s Cacao Turmeric Superfood Latte blend, too. Former Strategist intern Aisha Rickford says that it soothes her stomach and clears her skin, all while tasting like hot chocolate.

Maxine Builder, deputy editor

This month, I became an official T-shirt-wearing member of the Asian-American Girl Club.

I also bought this Online Ceramics long-sleeve T-shirt from the Online Ceramics website, where it’s now just about sold out, but you can still get most sizes on Ssense. I plan to pair it with my Grateful Dead–themed Chacos as soon as the weather gets warm enough for open-toed shoes.

Casey Lewis, senior editor

After nearly an entire year of wearing my beloved Madewell leggings daily, I recently woke up and simply could not bear the thought of having them on my body for another second. Not ready to give up soft pants entirely, I ordered these cozy elastic-waist ribbed pants that are pantlike enough to wear outside walking the dog but are comfy enough to double as PJs. The fit is so nice: They claim to be wide leg, but they actually have a subtle flare that makes them look much more expensive than they are.

Arielle Avila, junior writer

After reading Liza’s recommendation of a caffeine-free coffee alternative, I bought a small bag for me and my coffee-loving family while staying at my parents’ house. We went through a seven-ounce bag in just a few days, which then led to my mom and I each buying two-pound bags. We haven’t completely kicked our morning coffee habit — a truly impossible task — but we’ve all been enjoying this whenever we’re craving the taste without having to worry about jitteriness or sleepless nights.

Just this month I ran out of my tube of Glossier cloud paint, so I decided it was time to try something new. After a search for another natural-looking creamy blush, I stumbled upon this one from Tower 28 in a variety of pretty shades suitable for spring. I went with the newly released “Rush Hour.” All of the products are made with sensitive skin in mind, so I’m excited to see how my eczema-prone skin benefits from its silicone-free formula with added green tea and aloe vera extracts.

Jessica Silvester, contributing editor

At the very beginning of February, my 8-month-old still wasn’t showing much of an interest in making any sort of crawling motions. I looked back at Eva Chen’s baby list and saw this motorized bumblebee thing, about which Eva noted: “This toy basically taught Tao to crawl!” So I bought it, and after a few tries, my son started going right after it. Now he’s shimmying his roly-poly little body all over the house. I’m sure the timing is mostly coincidental, but still, it was a nice boost of motivation for both of us.

Why is it so much harder to find CBD chocolate than CBD gummies? And why is it so much harder to find bite-size CBD chocolate than in the form of a big bar that grows stale as you gradually chip away at it? I was delighted to see that the brand Five — from which I’ve often bought gummies, because they are effective, even though I’m not a gummy-candy person — recently introduced these milk-chocolate squares that have 50 mg of CBD per serving, along with 2 mg of THC. They taste like Hershey and, within an hour, make you feel all tingly (but not loopy).

Anthony Rotunno, senior editor

Bowls are one of those things that prove to be way harder to buy online than you might think. One reason is because most brands tend to measure things differently. Another: A bowl’s true width and depth can’t really be discerned from just looking at a photo on a website. Like Goldilocks and her beds, I cycled through a few versions of these enamelware bowls before landing on the right size. My husband and I cook a lot of things — chilis, soups, stews — best eaten from bowls, but this six-inch size that markets itself as a cereal bowl (a description you’d think means it’s big enough for other meals), proved to be way too small to fit the portions we two adult males are used to. I exchanged those for these 9.5-inch ones; looking at how small the six-inch bowls are, the increase seemed right — until the nine-inch ones arrived. (Too big.) Those got sent back in exchange for these 7.75-inch ones, which wound up being just right. Slightly larger than your average bowl, they are the ideal size for generous, dinner-size portions without looking comically huge.

Continuing in my tradition of buying Steiff stuffed animals (on Amazon) for babies, I just purchased this fuzzy kitty for a new little one who will soon enough be calling me Uncle Tony. While some of the lower-priced Steiff toys can be fits-in-your-palm small, I was surprised to open the box and see this one is actually a decent size.

Louis Cheslaw, writer

I picked up my guitar this month to find it was literally unplayable. After a visit to a guitar repair shop, I learned the lack of humidity in my apartment this winter had caused it to literally shrivel up. They told me it was too late, but they were wrong! I bought this guitar humidifier, put it between the strings, gave it a week, and the guitar expanded back to its original shape. My guitar manufacturer, Martin, told me I should really have been using it all along — so don’t make the same mistake I did.

I’ve become a total convert to over the calf socks this winter. They give me protection from the cold where I need it (below the knee) with none of the hassle of long johns, which I’d find myself taking off and putting back on all day. I own two of these pairs from J. Press (but have also heard good things about these less-expensive Bombas ones).

Rio Viera-Newton, writer

I’ve truly never been so passionate about canned fish before. This ethically sourced, high-quality smoked tuna is some of the tastiest and flakiest canned fishes I’ve ever had. Seriously: It’s so fresh tasting I would never have known that it came canned. For lunch, I love rustling up a big, hearty salad, and this smokey tuna has become an essential ingredient in my culinary endeavors. Yesterday, I made a giant kale salad with this smokey tuna, avocado, shallots, chickpeas, tomatoes, cucumber, and a lemony dressing. Dare I say it was better than Sweet Green? All I know is I’ll be making it for lunch again today.

I take my planners extremely seriously. They’re the only things that keep me organized and on top of all my work, school assignments (I’m in esthetician night school), and personal projects. This particular planner from Day Designer really is one of the best I’ve ever used. It has both monthly and daily scheduling that includes spaces for time-mapping from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m., a to-list section, and even space for meal planning, finances, daily gratitude, and due dates. If you’re someone that relies on planners, I think you’ll absolutely love this one.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, writer

I’ve been in my apartment five months now, and I’m still getting it together. It’s a studio, and I finally figured out a way to rearrange my furniture to separate my “bedroom” and “living room” more, and now I need a divider to conceal it all. I looked at several others like this one and this, but ultimately landed on this Palma Shop screen, which I was served in an Instagram ad. It was the widest one I could find barring my other requirements (cane and black trim), so I think it will tie in with the rest of my décor and — fingers crossed — still let in some light from my one and only window.

In more apartment news, I’m starting to look at upgrading some of my smaller things too, like dishes. I wanted some deeper plates and found these very affordable matte-black ones from H&M Home. They aren’t super-wide but hold plenty of food, and they were perfect for serving my Valentine’s Day meal (Grossy Pelosi’s Vodka Sawce pasta). One already has some scratches, which I think speaks more to my hand-me-down utensils being on their way out than the quality of the plate. That might be the next thing I tackle in my apartment refresh.

Kelsie Schrader, editorial coordinator

I don’t know when or how I got my favorite leopard-print scrunchie, and I don’t know when or how I lost it. All I know is it’s suddenly nowhere to be found. Luckily, Google knew that “scrunchie brand with P logo” meant Pomchies, so I was able to find the exact same one. It’s not by any means the best scrunchie ever: I had to pay $7.50 for shipping for a one-ounce product! That is as wild as this scrunchie’s print. But it was familiar, and I loved it. And when you love something, you let it go and then pay three times its price to buy it right back.

There is no good reason why I spent over 100 hours, probably, looking at bed frames the past three weeks. I was moving and needed a new one, but I didn’t want to spend a lot because I don’t really plan to sleep in a full-size bed my whole life, I’m hoping, so I’d rather save the investment for when I’m an “adult.” But I wanted it to look nice … ish. So after truly losing sleep looking at every bed frame on Beyoncé’s internet and ordering (and promptly canceling) three different ones, I decided Ikea’s Tarva was my best bet at this particular moment in life. I know, Ikea. But listen: It’s made of real wood, so it’s sturdy. It has a headboard, which a lot of affordable options lack (or if they have them, they aren’t cute). The wood is unfinished, so you can DIY it however you want, if you want. And it’s incredibly affordable. It’s also good enough, which sounds like a bad thing, but good enough is exactly what I was after.

Lauren Ro, writer

Our living room was being overrun by our toddler’s toys, and we had had enough. Getting this toy storage system from Ikea was a no-brainer, and I don’t know why it took us so long to actually do it. All of his millions of cars, trains, balls, and other toys now have their own spot in one of the green and yellow drawers we got, and everything just feels remarkably more organized. The pine frame looks quite nice, though the bins, quite flimsy, don’t always stay in place or glide in and out easily. But a small price to pay for a bit more sanity in the house.

Audrey Lee, editorial intern

J.Crew’s tissue turtlenecks have appeared on the Strategist before, and I was stoked when I found this leopard-print one while doing some late-night shopping on J.Crew’s website. It immediately reminded me of a much more expensive one I had seen from Rag & Bone, and because I caught it during one of J.Crew’s sale-on-sales it was a very good price. Without exaggerating, I’ve worn it literally every time I leave the house since getting it in the mail. It’s thin, so I like to pair it with solid-color sweaters and crewneck sweatshirts for a little added warmth. Plus the leopard print looks really nice peeping out of the collar.

The recently frigid weather’s been especially rough on my hands (though constant sanitizing and washing also doesn’t help). I have eczema, so this cream from O’Keefe’s has been a real lifesaver in making sure my hands don’t go dry overnight. It’s formulated with shea butter and oils, which I find super-nourishing, and it’s unscented, which I prefer for my really dry skin.

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.

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in February