your shopping cart

What Strategist Readers Bought in May: Garden Hoses and Vaccine-Card Holders

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: 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.

By the looks of it, readers are gearing up for a post-vaccine summer of travel, with top spots in your carts going to immunization-card holders, a dermatologist-recommended sunscreen, and disposable masks that would work well for any upcoming vacation flights. There were only two items appearing on our list for the first time this month: a stretchable garden hose and (very) distracting dog toy. The rest we’ve seen before, including luxurious gel-infused pillows, an oscillating tower fan for fighting the summer heat, and a reader-beloved lightweight moisturizer that’s making its 14th appearance.

Even if you’re vaccinated, masks are still required by the CDC on all forms of public transportation, as well as in many indoor settings. These masks, the South Korean equivalent of N95s, took the top spot in your carts back in March, as double masking gained popularity, and they’re having a resurgence now as more people prep for their summer travel plans. This particular brand is a longtime favorite of Strategist senior vice-president of e-commerce Camilla Cho. She says these masks are tight enough so as not to cause her glasses to fog up, and she likes that the adjustable straps make for a comfortable fit.

Although they’re down one spot from last month, these immunization-card holders remain a top seller. Carolyn Frisa, owner and head conservator at Works on Paper, recommends them as a way to keep your flimsy vaccine card protected because, unlike lamination, these sleeves won’t cause any long-term damage. Plus, they leave your card easy to remove for verification or to update after potential booster shots.

With the impending arrival of warmer temperatures, it seems that Strategist readers are gearing up to take care of their lawns and COVID gardens. This lightweight expandable hose from TBI is great for saving space. The only downside, says Timothy Hammond of Big City Gardener in Houston, is that “the same thing that makes them light … also leaves them prone to tearing or punctures.” To keep them safely stored when not in use, Southern California gardener CaliKim hangs hers from a wall-mounted rack.

These pillows have been in readers’ carts ever since we deemed them the best pillows according to hyperenthusiastic Amazon reviewers at the start of 2021. Although there’s no guarantee they will solve coronasomnia, they’ve made more than 81,000 Amazon customers happy and well rested enough to leave five-star reviews. One person with insomnia describes them as “magical” and was shocked when they were able to sleep for 11 hours straight: “I woke up 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.”

A longtime Strategist favorite, EltaMD UV Clear has been a top pick among dermatologists and Strategist readers since 2018. Jennifer MacGregor of Union Square Laser Dermatology appreciates that it’s “lightweight and oil free, so it won’t clog pores,” making it ideal for acne-prone skin. It’s also rich in antioxidants that help protect against skin-damaging free radicals, making it especially effective for avoiding sunburns (and the dreaded mask tan) this summer.

Another Strategist staple, this Lasko fan has been in readers’ carts for the past three summers. The powerful fan is the best-rated tower fan on Amazon, with more than 18,000 five-star reviews. Experts love it, too: In our story about how to cool your apartment without an air conditioner, interior designer Ariel Okin recommends the Lasko, noting it gets her through the weeks before her building turns on its central air-conditioning.

7. Neutrogena Hydro Boost

This Goldilocks gel moisturizer is recommended for nearly every type of skin: oily, dry, combination, acne prone, mature — and this month marks the 14th time it’s been in on our top-sellers list. It’ll be great for sweatiness caused by summer’s heat and humidity, since it won’t clog your pores. Plus, if you’re prone to burning, it’s nice to keep on hand for after-sun care. Dr. Dhaval G. Bhanasuli of Hudson Dermatology & Laser Surgery says it “works well to retain moisture and prevent water loss through the compromised skin.”

These black disposable masks have been in readers’ carts throughout 2021 — ever since we identified them as the first bona-fide mask trend at the end of last year. Wearers we spoke to like that they’re both effective and stylish and that they offer a normcore alternative. “I don’t want to look like I’m overthinking my mask, but I also don’t want to look like I’m about to go to the dentist,” Will Anderson, formerly a senior product designer at Artsy, told us. Steven Phillips-Horst, who co-hosts the podcast Celebrity Book Club, says he can’t live without them since “they go with everything … And since they’re disposable, you don’t have to worry about losing or washing them.”

Another item appearing at the top of readers’ carts for the first time is this LickiMat, which Strategist writer Arielle Avila uses to keep her dog Maggie quiet during Zoom meetings. The deceptively simple rubber square has grooves that hold peanut butter — it takes about 15 minutes for a dog to lick the food out. It ended up being a “miracle toy” for her (and Maggie) since it meant “one less thing for me to stress over while I work, and Maggie is a little calmer, too.” And for anyone going out more or getting prepared to go back to the office, the LickiMat helps keep Maggie’s separation anxiety at ease, too.

Appearing for the third consecutive month is this beginner-friendly retinol recommended by dermatologists. According to Morgan Rabach, a dermatologist at LM Medical NYC, its formula is “gentle enough to use on more sensitive, wrinkly skin around the eyes.” Along with reducing fine lines and wrinkles, it helps fade discoloration and repair UV damage.

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: Garden Hoses and Card Holders