sunday circular

10 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Shoe Stretchers to Dry Shampoo

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist. Photos: Courtesy of the Retailer

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 “sturdy” backpack that’s discounted for students, the chili crisp Jon Gray puts on everything, and a table that grows with your toddler.

A little tea to fix your sweaty feet

While Sweat Week is technically over here at the Strategist, summer is still in full swing, and we have plenty of things to help you keep sweat at bay. We kicked off the week with expert-recommended ways to handle sweaty feet, from antibacterial soap to moisture-wicking socks to … tea? Podiatrists Isaac Tabari and Jackie Sutera told us that soaking feet in black tea helps reduce their sweating. “Sutera explains that the tannic acid found in tea has astringent properties that draw out moisture and dry out your feet,” writes Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson. “She recommends brewing two tea bags in one quart of water and soaking your feet for ten minutes nightly for a week. Afterward, you can repeat the process once a week to keep reaping the benefits.”

The foldable fan one writer won’t leave the house without

VersionTech Mini Handheld Fan
From $19
From $19

If you’re more concerned about face sweat than foot sweat, writer Dominique Pariso has a solution that’s “the closest thing you can get to sticking your head in a freezer on a steamy subway platform.” This foldable, battery-powered fan has become “an essential, on par with my house keys and debit card,” for the past three summers. “When folded in half, the fan is compact enough to fit in my fanny pack. And it is, most important, powerful,” Pariso says. “Comparing this fan to my old hand fan is like comparing a luxury car to a horse and buggy: It blasts my face with air that feels cooler, as opposed to just fanning what feels like tepid air in my general direction.” She has used it on subway platforms and outdoor patios and at sweltering graduation ceremonies. “On full blast, it stops a stream of face sweat in its tracks before it even has a chance to get into my eyes. And if the sweat has already started dripping, it efficiently speeds up the evaporation process — no desperate wipe-and-rub-on-pant-leg move necessary.”

A “sturdy” backpack that’s discounted for students

To help ease the transition back to school, Strategist deals writer Leah Muncy found the best discounts for college students, some of which can even be applied year-round (and until graduation). One of the many deals is at ASOS, where college students can take 10 percent off their order year-round after verification of their student status. Muncy suggests using it on this reviewer-favorite “sturdy” backpack from the North Face that fits laptops of all sizes. Another reviewer says the backpack has “plenty of organization for pens, pencils, tablet, calculator, cellphone, etc. My daughter can comfortably carry two (one-and-a-half-inch) binders, a folder, and a library book and still has a little room for extra things.”

A soothing dry shampoo for inflamed scalps

Dry shampoo is a quick solution for scalp sweat, whether it comes from working out or just spending a day in the sun. Writer Chloe Anello spoke to eight hairstylists about the ones they recommend, including options that work for darker hair and others that offer volume. Hairstylist Benjamin Talbott calls this Philip Kingsley dry shampoo “the perfect solution if you have dandruff or scaly-scalp issues” because “it’s been formulated to target the root cause of dandruff and clears up any excess sebum, keeping you balanced and refreshed.” The product absorbs oil with a blend of starches, while ingredients like bisabolol (a derivative of chamomile), niacinamide, aloe vera, and methyl lactate (a cooling agent) all work together to soothe and calm inflammation as well as improve the scalp’s appearance.

The chili crisp Jon Gray puts on everything

“It’s just delicious,” says Jon Gray, co-founder of Ghetto Gastro, of this chili crisp spread he can’t live without. “A friend introduced me to it, and it sat in my cupboard for a while before I cracked it open and tried it. Then I was hooked.” In fact, he told us he puts it on “everything from ice cream to a wack piece of pizza. It transforms the vibe. It’s got a complex umami-to-chile flavor. You get garlic, you get black beans, you get peppercorn. It gives you a little numbing, tingling sensation.”

Madame Sweat’s soap for smelly underarms …

Photo: retailer

Writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell turned to Mary Futher, a natural-products developer known as Madame Sweat to her 40,000 TikTok followers, for expert advice on “keeping sweat and odor at a minimum the natural way.” Rather than reaching for a normal bar of soap to wash sweaty underarms, Futher recommends the Underarm Bar, which is made with essential ingredients like apple-cider vinegar, charcoal, and sodium. “You need something that has more ingredients than just a lot of fragrances and sulfate,” she explains, adding that sodium is the key ingredient to getting rid of bacteria and odor. “If you ate raw pork, you’d be sicker than a dog, but if you eat prosciutto, which is preserved with salt because salt kills the bacteria, you’ll be in much better shape.”

… and the panty liners an “excessive sweater” uses to absorb pit sweat

Photo: retailer

Contributor and self-proclaimed “excessive sweater” Liz Carey has tried plenty of products to absorb sweat. Many were catastrophically unsuccessful, but a few actually do work, including her favorite baby powder, natural deodorant, and these panty liners, which she turned to in a moment of desperation. In one instance when her anti-perspirant failed and she couldn’t find any paper towels to dab the sweat away, she reached for the only other option she had: a pad in her bag. “It was bulky and had wings, but after some minor noninvasive surgery, I stuck it on my pits and it actually worked wonders,” she says. Since then, she has tried other pads and eventually discovered these thin ones from MyBoxShop, which are her “absolute favorites.” As she explains, “They’re small enough that you can easily place them into the arms of the most summery of dresses. Usually, I put them on when I drive somewhere and don’t want to show up damp on arrival. Then I just peel them off when I get there.”

Woks that work on all stovetops

Misen, the company that makes Strat-approved chef’s knives, now offers “pre-seasoned steel woks designed to work with all kinds of cooktops.” The convenient 12-inch size is both “easy to store” and “big enough to cook an entire meal.” Plus, it has a small flat bottom so you can cook on burners of all sizes. Currently available for preorder with an expected ship date of early January, it’s 30 percent off right now, so don’t dillydally.

A writer’s tool for breaking in too-tight shoes

Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla says her feet are slightly wide, which can result in “painful blisters, toenails cutting into other toes, and sore heels.” It typically takes her “weeks and weeks to break in shoes” — and even then, she’ll “still see a peeling pinky after a long day.” In her search for some relief, she found these “intriguing” shoe trees that promise a four-way stretch. “The stretchers come with ten plugs, which can be inserted into holes on the side and top to give you extra room where you need it,” Pardilla explains. She used them on a pair of too-tight mary janes and saw a “noticeable difference after 24 hours.” “The entire shoe seemed wider,” she writes, “from the pointed toe box to the strap, which showed the most obvious signs of expanding (the elastic on each end had loosened up).” What’s better is that they “felt so much more comfortable” and “fully broken in.” She has since “used these stretchers on just about every pair of shoes I own, including other pointed flats, clogs, open-toed mules, and strappy sandals. Each has stretched out just enough to give me the extra space to stand a little taller and not shuffle around uncomfortably.”

A table that grows with your toddler

Over the course of two and a half years, Strategist writer Lauren Ro and her husband turned their sunroom into a playroom for their son Augie to enjoy. “While the time it took meant that our living room was taken over by his countless toys, books, train tracks, and art supplies for longer than we might have wanted, it also allowed us to more thoughtfully accumulate the type of furnishings we needed to make a functional playroom that looked as nice as any kids’ area can,” Ro writes. One of those items included this “sweet, kidney-shaped table from RAD, a Los Angeles–based company that makes everything locally out of sustainable, formaldehyde-free Euro birch.” Ro says it’s the “ideal height for Augie because you can choose from infant, toddler, and preschool heights (we went with toddler) and can even get replacement legs, like the preschool ones we got, for when your child outgrows whatever they start with.”

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.

10 Things That Delighted Us Last Week