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 trawling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including a pair of versatile loafers, Gen Z’s favorite skin-care product, and a heart-shaped waffle-maker.
A design-minded bento box
When writer Leah Bhabha told us about this Takenaka bento box back in 2017, she said it “makes packing a meal feel like a treat, instead of a sacrifice.” With its two-tiered construction, it has enough room for a main dish and plenty of sides, or even two meals — but you don’t have to worry about the scents mixing, according to Bhabha: “It doesn’t retain flavors, so Wednesday’s roast-beef sandwich doesn’t taste like Tuesday’s tuna salad.” We never see this box on sale, and it comes with a pair of matching chopsticks that are typically sold separately for $12, so act fast.
Belinda Carlisle’s ingenious mug warmer
When we spoke to singer Belinda Carlisle about what she can’t live without, she recounted how she discovered this mug warmer during her time in Asia and at first thought it was “the stupidest thing I’d ever seen.” Now, however, she swears that it’s “changed coffee-drinking for me. If you don’t finish your coffee in a half hour, it’s lukewarm or cold unless you refill it or heat it up. That’s why this is the best invention ever: I can put my coffee cup on it and it will stay hot for hours if I keep it there.”
The skincare product Gen Z swears by
In our survey of 100 teens across the country, they said that the cult beauty brand Glossier is out and more straightforward skin-care lines such as The Ordinary are in. With its uncomplicated formulations and accessible price points, the company has become the go-to choice for skin-care newbies. “I love The Ordinary’s products because they are not too expensive and consist of simple ingredients,” says Ciara, who likes its hyaluronic acid the most. Dylan, who enjoys how the brand makes it easy to experiment with different ingredients, prefers the Caffeine Solution because it makes it look like she got a full eight hours of rest — even though she “never get[s] enough sleep.”
An e-bike for zipping around town …
“Earlier this year, I woke up one morning with a vision of myself wearing a flimsy summer dress and zipping around town on a Vespa,” writes Strategist contributor Diksha Basu, who is currently living her best life in Ithaca, New York. Vespas are quite expensive, however, so Basu settled instead for this relatively cheap e-bike from Swagtron. “It has been more than capable for pleasure rides, commuting to coffee dates, biking down to the public library to do some work out of the house, and, of course, riding to the gorges and to go swimming,” Basu says. “I even went to the farmers’ market and rode back with some beautiful purple lilacs in it, like some kind of romantic movie character who wears quirky pajamas and knits at night while watching television.”
… and what to wear during your ride
According to writer Karen Adelson, moisture-wicking clothing is a must when you’re exercising to keep you dry and reduce chafing. She recommends opting for synthetic blends or even lightweight wool, which naturally helps with temperature regulation. These Tracksmith Session Shorts come recommended by both Tina Muir, an elite marathoner and host of the Running for Real podcast, and Jonathan Beverly, editor-in-chief of PodiumRunner. Beverly says the shorts are “über-soft and breathable without being too thin,” and Muir likes that they’re “comfortable, dry quickly, and can be used as lifestyle shorts too.”
A pool for keeping cool
We recommend you not dillydally on this portable pool, which will help you cool off during the hottest stretch of the season. This style is designed for dogs but can also be used by kiddos, as Strategist contributor Regan Stephens discovered after buying a similar dog pool for her three children last summer. It’s made from “durable, nonslip PVC and has thick fiberboard walls that can withstand rambunctious pups and children alike (the company just suggests trimming pets’ nails before they jump in).”
Summery strawberry vinegar
Status-y olive oil and vinegar brand Brightland is a perennial Strategist favorite, so we’re very excited about its recent release of a limited-edition strawberry vinegar called Lush. Crafted in partnership with farming company Oishii, it’s made with “Omakase berries and seedless strawberries with a distinctive creamy flavor” — sure to add a splash of summer to your salads and spritzes.
Stylish, versatile loafers
Strategist contributor Chadner Navarro owns two dozen pairs of loafers, but it’s these Wolf & Shepherd ones that he’s been reaching for all year. “I wore them all weekend long for a food festival in Wyoming,” Navarro writes. “I’ve stomped around downtown Denver in them in search of the perfect green-chili burritos. I’ve attended dressed-up media events in them. And, yes, I rock them with workout shorts to buy Skittles at Walgreens.” Plus, they’re the perfect travel companion; as someone who travels a lot for work, Navarro found that these “unlined, soft Italian suede shoes would occupy very little space in my carry-on when travel was finally a thing again.”
A Scandinavian-style waffle-maker
In contrast to thick, circular Belgian waffles, Norwegian waffles are thin and heart-shaped — and multiple Amazon reviewers were delighted to discover a waffle-maker that could provide them with a little taste of Scandinavia. An Amazon reviewer whose boyfriend’s family is Norwegian bought it as “a surprise for when he is missing the real thing. He used it today and they came out perfect! If you are looking for an iron to make the thin Scandinavian waffles, this is it.” Another reviewer who recently returned from Iceland says this waffle maker “recreates them perfectly” and recommends using it in conjunction with a Norwegian recipe for your batter.
Ali Wong’s tell-all memoir
Who doesn’t love a dishy, detailed celebrity memoir? Writer Arielle Avila spoke to a panel of 16 experts to curate your summer reading list, and three of them raved about comedian and actress Ali Wong’s memoir Dear Girls, saying that it “delivers laughs and insights in equal measure.” Sharon Marcus, professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University and author of The Drama of Celebrity, says that “celebrity memoirs by women are often stealth accounts of the challenges of being a working mother, or a straight woman who earns more than her male partner” and that Dear Girls “offers plenty of insights on both fronts.”
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.