sunday circular

11 Products That Delighted Us Last Week: From Spillproof Sippy Cups to Spicy Tea

Photo-Illustration: retailers

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 showerless shampoo that refreshes “super-sweaty” hair, a crafting tray for car meals, and one tea-maker’s go-to spicy tea.

Actually spillproof sippy cups

Even obsessive product-testing journalist and mom of two, Hannah Selinger, got a “fair amount wrong” on her first baby registry: “If I ever write a memoir, it will be titled Why Does Every Single Children’s Cup Spill?: A Horror Story,” she writes. “I trusted far too many cups that advertised their ‘spillproof’ qualities, the results of which pooled at the bottom of my diaper bag.” If she could do it all again, she’d pick up these truly spillproof sippy cups that “withstand my children’s gnawing” with a rubber valve that can be flipped “to make the thing truly spillproof.” Not only that, but they’re made from recycled milk jugs, are dishwasher safe, come in “tons of fun colors,” and are BPA free.

The showerless shampoo that refreshes “super-sweaty” hair

Strategist writer Dominique Pariso has been “fighting a losing battle with my scalp’s natural oils since puberty” and has tried to combat it with bottle after bottle of dry shampoo. But when the pandemic hit and she started working out — and therefore sweating — more regularly, “it didn’t take long before I noticed that my current arsenal of products couldn’t keep up with the extra sweat and grime.” Unlike the dry shampoos she had already tried, Swair’s so-called showerless-shampoo spray “actually cleanses hair by lifting away sweat and dirt,” leaving her hair looking freshly showered. And though its liquid squalene-infused formula is a bit more involved than applying dry-shampoo spray — you spray it on and then give your hair a “vigorous” towel-dry — “it’s a lot less involved than a whole shower.” After workouts, her hair is Zoom-ready in less than five minutes, and “it crucially leaves my hair looking a lot better after exercising than washing or dry-shampooing it.”

An easy-to-use custom-greeting-card-maker

“Like many people, I saw our socially distant times as an opportunity to connect with loved ones this old-fashioned way, with a physical card and a pen. But the more I looked for greeting cards, the harder it became to find the right ones,” Strategist contributor and expert DIY-er Leica Lucien wrote last week. Dissatisfied with her drugstore and Etsy options, she picked up this paper-cutting gadget that allows her to create her greeting cards (including an expert-level birthday card for her sister) at just the push of a button. “All of the detail work is done on the Cricut Joy — a small and mighty cutting machine — but I use the machine’s compatible card mat and pens, too,” she writes. And the gadget’s free software program, Cricut Design Space, includes “tons of fonts and graphics that the machine can cut or draw with one of its pens.” To draw some balloons on her sister’s birthday card, for instance, “I just chose that graphic in the software, stuck one of the Cricut pens in the Joy’s penholder, and let the machine do the rest.” (We won’t spoil the finished product, so if you’d like to see the completed card, read more here.)

A crafting tray for car meals

With indoor-dining options limited because of the pandemic, and outdoor-dining options limited because of winter weather, Strategist writer Chloe Anello and her boyfriend started eating takeout meals inside of their car, often driving somewhere scenic to enjoy the view. And while it “sure beat eating outside on a cramped sidewalk with a continuous stream of passersby,” eating a full meal on your lap in a car “is no easy feat.” So after coming across a TikTok of a couple buying plastic kids’ craft trays for their car meals, she did the same. “They have a flat surface perfect for eating and feature three sizable side compartments that seem as though they were made for holding ketchup packets, extra napkins, and a drink (rather than the crayons and markers they were technically designed for),” she writes — and she and her boyfriend have used them for everything from lunch in the Brooklyn Museum parking lot to breakfast in Kingston and plan on taking them to the drive-in theater once it opens for the season. “We’ve actually begun to prefer our little car meals, where both the scenery and the soundtrack are unbeatable,” she says.

Some (on-sale) cult-y vitamin-C serum

Cult favorite SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic has been called the gold standard of vitamin-C serums and is beloved by dermatologists and editors alike. One dermatologist even told us that he thinks it’s the “best one out there” owing to its light, nongreasy feel while still delivering “the maximum amount of its active ingredients to the skin.” Even better, it’s currently a very rare 15 percent off at SkinStore with the code SKINC15.

“Top” tennis shoes for men

From $115

“Like all sports, the shoes you wear (and equipment you use) can really affect your performance on a tennis court,” explains Strategist writer Louis Cheslaw. In order to find the best tennis shoes, whether they’re for stability, comfort, or speed, he spoke to five tennis players and retailers about their favorite styles. Several recommended the Asics Gel-Resolution 8, which fit comfortably “regardless of the width or volume of their feet,” he writes. They’re “probably the top tennis shoe because of their comfort, style, and toughness,” adds Frank Green, a high-performance tennis coach based in Philadelphia, and are suitable for “every kind of court.”

One editor’s comfortable yet compact camping chair

L.L.Bean’s duck boots and durable totes are well-known Strategist staples, but in our latest roundup, we went back through our archives to find all of the best L.L.Bean gear that we’ve written about. One such Strategist-approved pick would be the brand’s “super-lightweight” Packlite Chair, which Strategist editor Maxine Builder picked up at its flagship store in Freeport, Maine. She likes that it can be compacted to “about the size of an extra-long Nalgene bottle,” which makes it easy to transport in a tote or a backpack. It’s so comfortable and supportive that she has even “taken to setting it up inside my house,” she says. (But heads up: It’s back-ordered, so you won’t get it until later this spring.)

Andrew Yang’s favorite family board game

Andrew Yang may be running to be New York City’s next mayor, but he’s also a parent of two, and this family-friendly board game made his list of favorite things last week. “One of our family’s goals is to have a board-game night at least once a week,” which “we did a lot in the height of the pandemic,” Yang told us. His initial attempt to get the kids into Monopoly failed, “so I found this Super Mario edition of Monopoly, and they got very excited,” he says. “It has these little tokens of all their favorite characters, and the properties are more familiar to them.”

The “superior” gluten-free pasta …

People often ask how Anello (of the car-friendly crafting trays) lives without pasta now that she’s gluten free. “Well, honestly? I’m doing just fine,” she wrote in her roundup of the best gluten-free pastas last week. “Gluten-free pasta has come a long way from the mushy, tasteless noodles that I tried when I went gluten free a few years ago, and many mainstream brands actually provide truly great gluten-free alternatives.” That would include this penne from Barilla, which Anello says is the “best” gluten-free pasta that she and her (gluten-eating) boyfriend have tried. “Because it’s made from a magical combination of rice and corn flours, it has almost the exact same texture and taste as wheat-based pasta,” she writes. She has tried both the penne and the spaghetti, and “every single time, it has properly absorbed the sauce.” Plus, it’s only 70 cents more than Barilla’s wheat-based pasta.

… and some New York–approved marinara to go with it

$40 for 4

“Carbone, which our friends at Grub Street dubbed the second-best Italian restaurant in New York, is now selling its red sauces, making it easy for anyone to take their ziti and bucatini to the next level,” we write in the latest installment of “Don’t Dillydally.” We think the arrabbiata, tomato-basil, and marinara would all pair exceptionally well with the pasta above, but for a more traditional dish, you can take a peek at some of our favorite pasta-making tools. Just know that while all are currently available for purchase, orders don’t start shipping until tomorrow, April 5.

The Qi founder Lisa Li’s go-to spicy tea

One of the Qi founder Lisa Li’s earliest memories is of sharing a cup of tea with her grandmother in China. “It was with this memory in mind that after immigrating to the United States and working in the (notoriously grueling) fashion industry for more than a decade, I decided to change course and pursue a career in tea back in 2015,” she writes. An avid tea drinker to this day, Li shared her favorites with us, which range from fragrant Japanese matcha to this lemongrass-ginger blend from India. “Run by female Indian American founders Esha Chhabra and Smita Satiani, Alaya works directly with Indian tea farmers, cutting out all middlemen in an industry overrun with distributors, exporters, and importers,” she explains. “I’m a big sucker for anything herbal, especially when I feel under the weather, which is why the brand’s Lemongrass + Ginger tea is another go-to … The tea is potent, with a spiciness I absolutely love, but the lemongrass tones it down a bit and gives it a nice balance.”

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.

11 Products That Delighted Us: From Sippy Cups to Spicy Tea