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What Strategist Readers Bought in March: Air Purifiers and Affordable Ergonomic Chairs

Photo-Illustration: 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 March marks a year since the start of the pandemic, and — by the looks of this month’s cart — Strategist readers are still prioritizing face masks and work-from-home necessities over the electric toothbrushes and planners that once topped this list in the “before times.” As we’ve learned more about masking, and more recently, double masking, disposable masks remain among four of the top six items purchased this month. And those aren’t the only products that are repeats from the past few months. Top-rated, gel-infused pillows and ergonomic office chairs popped up again, too, along with a certain reader-ubiquitous moisturizer that’s been on this list a dozen times.

For the past 12 months the most-purchased item in readers’ carts has been a face mask. And over the past six months, as the global supply chain caught up to new demands for personal protective equipment and the CDC began recommending double masking, disposable masks specifically have topped readers’ carts month-to-month — with this month being no exception. While the gold standard of disposable masks, N95s, should still be reserved for health-care workers, their Chinese and South Korean equivalents — KN95s and KF94s, respectively — have become some of the most popular disposable masks among non-health-care folks (including Strategist readers, who bought one teacher-approved KN95 in droves last month). The data on which of these two highly effective masks is more effective isn’t conclusive, so the deciding factor comes down to which one seals to your face better: For Strategist senior vice-president of e-commerce Camilla Cho — and apparently many Strategist readers — that’s this KF94 mask from LG Health Care, which has adjustable ear loops and a tight enough seal to not cause any fogging on her glasses.

These hotel-style, gel-infused pillows have been in readers’ carts every month since the start of 2021, when we first crowned them the best pillows according to hyperenthusiastic Amazon reviewers. While we can’t guarantee that this pillow alone will solve coronasomnia, it is beloved by over 68,000 five-star Amazon reviewers, one of whom said it was the solution to her restless nights: She woke up after 11 hour of sleep “and was SO comfortable and the pillows were still soft and fluffy. And I was so cozy, I could have fallen right back to sleep.”

Another disposable face mask that we’ve seen on this list before (as recently as last month) is this expert-approved three-ply mask from EcoGuard. When we first tested the masks in November of last year, we described these as “very comfortable,” adding that they fit “pretty well without much need for adjustment.” Plus, they passed the candle test — which was first popularized by Bill Nye on TikTok — with flying colors: “No matter how hard we tried to blow out the flame of a lighter, it wouldn’t even budge.”

This KN95 mask, which is the aforementioned Chinese equivalent of the N95 disposable mask, has been in readers’ carts for three months in a row. Although they’re technically nonmedical, the Powecom KN95 masks are on the FDA’s list of approved emergency PPE (and are actually worn by some doctors), and pass both the candle and light tests. We also described them as “soft on the skin,” adding that they “create a tight seal all the way around from nose bridge to under the chin.” The fit is so good, in fact, that second-grade teacher Jacob Cohen said they don’t move at all when he talks during class.

If you don’t want to spend over $1,000 on a Herman Miller office chair, but still need ergonomic support in your home office, this Modway chair (which we first was in readers’ carts two times at the end of last year) is an under-$200 alternative that our readers have been buying, even a year into working remotely. Dr. Rudy Gehrman, the founder of New York City–based wellness center Physio Logic, appreciates the chair’s supportive mesh, and adjustable armrests and seat height, which will help reduce some of the strain on your back and shoulders caused by working from home for the past year.

These black disposable masks are yet another item on this list that’s topped readers’ carts all of 2021 — ever since we identified them as the first bona fide mask trend at the end of last year. And it’s not just Strategist readers (and the Biebers) who are up on this trend: Comedian Steven Phillips-Horst, who hosts the podcast Celebrity Book Club alongside Lily Marotta, told us in January that he can’t live without the “go with everything” masks, which he even dubbed “a nice way to keep warm without wearing a scarf.” While it’s no longer so cold, the mask remains a normcore option for those who’d rather focus on spring and summer clothes (now that we’re not just wearing sweatpants anymore).

As the weather begins to change from winter to spring, we’re not surprised to see this Goldilocks gel moisturizer in readers’ carts again (for the 12th time, to be exact). That’s because while some people are still struggling to combat cold-weather dryness, others are just beginning to get sweaty (and oily) for the first time in a while, and this moisturizer is good for both skin types. That’s right: According to dermatologists it’s non-pore clogging enough for oily skin, but still has enough skin-quenching glycerin and hyaluronic acid for dry skin. And, if you have mature skin, sunburned skin, or are an Accutane user or pregnant woman, this super-hydrating, but gentle, moisturizer is good for you, too.

This AmazonBasics lightning cable was one of the most purchased items throughout all of 2019, but it’s never been purchased enough times in any one given month to top readers’ carts — until now. A few months ago we crowned it the best-rated lightning cable on Amazon, according to hyperenthusiastic reviewers, and it seems like readers have since followed suit, buying the cheap-but-high-quality cord in droves. In fact, one of the nearly 30,000 five-star reviewers has had issues with the Apple-brand charging cables, but says this one is of higher quality and sturdiness.

This Levoit air purifier is making its first appearance on our list of best sellers, and it’s actually the first air purifier to ever be featured. It comes recommended by Cho, who penned a review of its dander-eliminating powers this month. “In the seven months I’ve owned the Levoit, I’ve reduced my allergy-pill intake from once a day to once a month,” she wrote of the purifier, which has kept her puffy eyes and sneezing at bay. But even if you don’t have a pet or suffer from seasonal allergies, the HEPA filter offers some potential COVID-19-filterning benefits, so there’s plenty of reasons to buy.

Dr. Jasmine Bhoola warned us that “prolonged sitting has been associated with musculoskeletal dysfunction, especially during COVID-19 work-from-home culture” (in case you’re a reader who hasn’t yet upgraded to a more ergonomic chair, and needs a reminder of why you should). And unlike the Modway chair above, this office chair, which was recommended by Bhoola, comes with a “completely customizable headrest,” for extra support.

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: Air Purifiers and Affordable Chairs