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.
A post-vaccine summer is (finally) in sight, and Strategist readers stocked up accordingly this month: Face masks were swapped out for immunization-card holders, and a reader-favorite, dermatologist-approved sunscreen made its annual reappearance — signs, we think, of better times to come. But even with more and more people now eligible for the vaccine, experts still recommend masking (and double-masking) while indoors, so it’s no surprise that both fabric and disposable masks remained among your top items purchased. And those aren’t the only things that are repeats from the past few months. Top-rated, gel-infused pillows and ergonomic office chairs popped up again, too, along with a reader-favorite charging cable and the lightweight moisturizer that’s made this list dozens (upon dozens) of times.
All New Yorkers age 16 and older became eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine this month, and if your shopping carts are any indication, Strategist readers are baring arms. In order to keep your (unfortunately rather flimsy) card protected, experts told us that one of the best ways is with this immunization-card holder — which just so happens to be the first non-mask item to take the top spot in your shopping carts since April of last year. “When I get my card next week, I will be putting it in a Melinex or Mylar sleeve — the clear plastic choice of conservators because it will never harm the paper,” says Carolyn Frisa, owner and head conservator at Works on Paper. She likes this one because it’s sealed on three sides, rather than four, so it’s easy to remove for verification or potential booster shots.
[Editor’s note: This card case is shipped and sold from a third-party seller, but these ones, which are shipped by Amazon, are nearly identical.]
Even if you’re fully vaccinated, you shouldn’t give up your masks quite yet, especially while indoors. These expert-recommended disposable masks — their third consecutive appearance on this list — have long been a favorite of Strategist readers ever since we first tested them 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.”
If you’re in the market for a new set of pillows (perhaps in preparation for a day of rest after your second vaccine shot), 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 76,000 five-star Amazon reviewers — and most recently, Strategist writer Arielle Avila. Speaking to its actually supportive, down-alternative fill, “they really do live up to all the hype,” she says. “I’ve been waking up more comfortable and refreshed as ever.”
These black disposable masks have topped readers’ carts throughout 2021, ever since we spotted them on everyone from Fort Greene picnickers to K-pop groups late last year. Part of their appeal, according to the fans we spoke to, is the combination of style and effectiveness. “It feels less medical while still delivering the benefits of being medical,” says Laura Naparstek, a product marketing manager at Braze. Comedian Steven Phillips-Horst, who co-hosts the podcast Celebrity Book Club, even told us that he can’t live without them. “They go with everything, so from a fashion perspective, they’re great,” he says. “And since they’re disposable, you don’t have to worry about losing or washing them.” After four consecutive months in your shopping carts, it’s safe to say Strategist readers can’t live without them, either.
[Editor’s note: These masks are sold from a third-party seller, but are shipped by Amazon.]
Neutrogena Hydro Boost — a.k.a. the “Goldilocks” of gel moisturizers — made its way into our readers’ carts for the 13th time this month, just in time for warmer temperatures and higher humidity. According to dermatologists, it’s fit for all skin types, from dry, to sunburned, to acne-prone, thanks to its gentle, skin-quenching glycerin and hyaluronic acid. And since it’s a tried-and-true choice for mature skin, we wouldn’t be surprised if Strategist readers plan on gifting a tub or two to Mom, too.
A seasonal Strategist favorite, this dermatologist-recommended sunscreen has appeared in your summer shopping carts every year since we first wrote about it in 2018. One dermatologist told us that her patients love it — as do, apparently, our readers — because it doesn’t feel greasy like traditional sunscreen, and in addition to being fragrance-free and noncomedogenic, it’s rich in antioxidants that help protect against skin-damaging free radicals. With warm weather on the way (and loosened post-vaccine travel restrictions), it’ll be a foolproof choice for preventing sunburn — and avoiding the dreaded mask tan.
Way (way) back when fabric face masks were in short supply, the VistaPrint Face Mask was one of the first to land on the scene. A lot has changed since then, but this Strategist-tested mask has remained one of our (and your) go-tos for reusable masking — so much so that it was even one of your most-purchased items in all of 2020. It is, after all, a one-size-fits-all face mask, thanks to its adjustable ear loops, bendable wire nose strip, and stretchy fabric. It fits a variety of face shapes “securely and comfortably,” we found, and the added lower section hugs your chin for a snug, gap-free fit. Plus, there are hundreds (if not thousands) of patterns to choose from.
A Strategist reader favorite throughout all of 2019, the humble AmazonBasics lightning cable made its way onto this list for the second time this month, not long after we named it the best-rated lightning cable on Amazon. Perhaps in response to our increased pandemic-era screen time, Strategist readers have been swapping out their charging cables for these more affordable ones, which more than 20,000 five-star reviewers claim are sturdier — and much more durable — than Apple-brand lightning cables.
Ergonomic office chairs have served as the backbone (ha!) of our readers’ work-from-home setups since late last year, but it wasn’t until last month that this model from Ticova made it into the top ten. This month, it’s officially dethroned the Modway as your favorite office chair, and according to chiropractor Dr. Jasmine Bhoola, it’s easy to see why: Unlike the Modway, this chair comes with a “completely customizable headrest” for extra support, and when paired with its adjustable armrests and “solid” cushioning, it promotes “effortless” lower- and upper-back posture, Bhoola says.
With humidity-induced breakouts on the way, readers are stepping up their skin care accordingly. A seven-time best-seller veteran, this beginner-friendly retinol comes recommended by several dermatologists, one of whom explains that it can “increase cellular turnover and encourage the formation of new skin as well as the production of collagen and elastin, all of which help to reduce fine lines and wrinkles.” Because it’s more mild than its prescription cousin, retinoid, it’s also “gentle enough to use on more sensitive, wrinkly skin around the eyes.”
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.