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What Strategist Readers Bought in March: Earplugs and Blush Sticks

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, bought in droves last month. 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.

March marked the second anniversary of the start of the pandemic, and it seems as if shopping habits have reverted a bit toward before-times normalcy. Strategist readers are still buying lots of masks — they took two of the top spots on the list of our most-purchased items — but cosmetics and personal-care items like blush sticks, wrinkle creams, toners, and water flossers are gaining popularity. Perhaps as temperatures rise and COVID-19 recedes, we’re collectively ready to socialize and dig our way out of our stay-at-home rut. Travel essentials such as molded earplugs and Bluetooth adapters also made the list, heralding an increase in weekend trips and summer vacations as the weather grows warmer.

CeraVe’s reader-favorite moisturizer is making its 11th appearance on this list, and it moved up five places from February to take the top spot in March. Dermatologists count it among the best drugstore moisturizers for its rich yet nongreasy formula that is infused with ceramides and hyaluronic acid to help reinforce the skin’s moisture barrier. One such derm, Sapna Palep of Spring Street Dermatology, gives it a stamp of approval for the way it provides “around-the-clock moisture.”

The last time we saw this Cosrx toner on the Strategist best-sellers list was in August 2019, but it’s making a comeback now, likely due to its appearance in a recent “Deal of the Day.” Strategist beauty columnist Rio Viera-Newton calls it a “really solid dupe for the very expensive, cult-favorite SK-II Facial Treatment Essence” and says that its hydrating, brightening formula has helped fade dark spots and even out her complexion thanks to its hyperpigmentation-fighting galactomyces.

A new addition to the best-sellers list, this AirFly gadget takes its place courtesy of Strategist kitchen-and-dining writer Emma Wartzman, who spotted it in food stylist Judy Kim’s Instagram Stories. The device allows you to pair your AirPods with the plane’s in-flight entertainment system, so you can watch movies without getting any pesky cords tangled up with your neighbor’s. “I’ve had the AirFly for the last two trips I’ve gone on, and I love it. It makes for a better all-around user experience,” Kim says. The AirFly also works with other Bluetooth-enabled audio systems you might encounter while traveling.

$12 for 10

Though it’s no surprise to see masks still making this list, this Powecom KN95 model has dropped down to fourth place in March, down from first place in February — in line with changing CDC recommendations, warmer weather, and declining COVID case rates. Nonetheless, it remains a best practice to mask up when you’re indoors in high-transmission areas, and masks are still required on planes and many forms of public transport, and the Powecom provides a snug fit that won’t shift when you’re talking, according to fourth-grade teacher Jacob Cohen. It’s also a go-to mask for Cohen’s fiancée, Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo, who wears them “on the subway, to the office, at museums, on Metro-North, at the airport, and to countless doctor’s appointments.”

These Mack’s silicone earplugs are making their debut on this list after being recommended twice in the span of one month by two different celebrities: actress Courteney Cox and musician Bryan Adams. Cox wears these earplugs to sleep “every single night” and likes that “you don’t have to squeeze them … these mold around my ear and completely block out sound.” Meanwhile, Adams keeps them on hand when traveling since “the normal, marshmallowlike ones always end up falling out. I like that you can wedge these into your ear, they just cut out everything, and they stay in place,” he says.

This RoC night cream is an old favorite, as it’s been a staple in Strategist readers’ carts ten times before — the last time we saw it was in October. We recently named it a “Best in Class” wrinkle cream, as several dermatologists recommend it as a great over-the-counter option for anyone who is interested in the anti-aging properties of retinoids but wants a slightly milder formulation. If you’re looking to battle eye wrinkles, Morgan Rabach, clinical assistant professor of dermatology at the Icahn School of Medicine, says it’s gentle enough to use on the fragile, sensitive skin around the eyes.

This Oral-B dental guard maintained its position at No. 7, same as last month. Nighttime teeth-grinders looking for relief can rest easy knowing that three dental experts have recommended this guard for its durability and ease of use. Pediatric dentist Dr. Ambewadikar is a fan of its thin yet sturdy construction, noting it won’t feel bulky or cause discomfort. And as a bonus, it has a pleasant minty flavor to keep your mouth feeling fresh all night long.

Viera-Newton also recently raved about this Wet n Wild MegaGlo makeup stick, which she discovered on TikTok as being marketed as a near-dupe for Charlotte Tilbury’s Pinkgasm blush. According to Viera-Newton, the two products have an “identical” peachy-pink finish; both blushes bring “warmth, dimension, and an insane glow to the skin.” She says the MegaGlo “truly makes it look like you’ve come back from a picnic on a warm spring day, all fresh and sun-kissed,” and that it has a “perfect amount of pearlescent sheen” that’s suitable for a work outing or lunch with friends.

The Waterpik water flosser showed up for the first time in readers’ shopping carts in October and is back again for round two. Writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell crowned it a “Best in Class” water flosser for its sleek, lightweight design — it weighs under a pound — and its surprisingly lengthy battery life, which certified dental surgeon Greg Grobmyer calls “one of the best on the market.” It’s especially great for travel, as you can easily take it into the shower with you or stuff it into a carry-on and not have to worry about it dying on you.

$24 for 10

Our roundup of the best masks to wear on an airplane included these BOTN KF94 masks, which are a potentially better option for people who have trouble finding a good KN95 fit. They open up a bit like an envelope and sit slightly off the face, creating more room to talk and breathe. When Corsillo tested these, she noticed “how light [they] are — far lighter than a Powecom KN95 or even other KF94s I have tried,” declaring that they will probably become her “favorite spring and summer masks.”

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: Earplugs and Blush Sticks