We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked some of our recent favorites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and very good deals we uncovered while trawling through the vast online-shopping universe, including a packable picnic blanket, a compact scooter for grown-ups, and lightweight slides perfect for the pool.
Shampoo-commercial-worthy hair oil
Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla recently ditched her Olaplex habit in favor of this hair oil from True Botanicals. She says it’s given her “a glossiness reminiscent of what you’d see in a shampoo commercial” — while most finishing products “never fully melt into the hair,” Pardilla says this oil has a more natural finish, with “no uncomfortable crunch, as when you’ve been overzealous with the hairspray or gel.” While it seems pricey at first, she says a mere two drops was enough to cover her “entire shoulder-length head of hair, which helps justify the $52 price tag.”
The (tattoo-worthy) book that changed Yara Shahidi’s life
When we asked actress and activist Yara Shahidi what she can’t live without, she told us that James Baldwin’s The Fire Next Time sparked a fire in her that’s still burning. “Not only does it capture this really specific moment in our history and shared past, but it introduced me to so many other incredible figures,” Shahidi says. “So Baldwin has kind of been the gateway for me to learn about other activists, other organizers, other moments in history that I wouldn’t have otherwise understood, because he was so tapped into his community.” Shahidi even got a ’63 tattoo to celebrate 1963, the year the book came out.
This week, we asked a panel of stylish experts about the best women’s slippers and slides. If you’re looking for a waterproof pair to wear at the pool or beach this summer, Birkenstock’s cult-favorite Arizona sandals are available in an all-EVA version, making them “unbelievably lightweight and comfy,” according to Ouisa stylist and creative director Bryn Taylor, who says they “feel like nothing on your feet.” They’re also vouched for by senior graphic designer Hilary Pearson, who likes to throw them on post-workout. “Getting home from the gym and taking off my sneakers to slip these on is honestly my favorite part of my workout ritual,” she says.
Masa harina to enhance your tortillas …
Rick Martínez grew up thinking he didn’t like corn tortillas, until he traveled to Mexico and realized how delicious they can be when they’re “made from locally grown kernels native to the country, freshly ground, and eaten right off the comal.” While searching for similarly high-quality masa in the States, Martínez came across the company Masienda, which sources heirloom corn from farmers in Oaxaca, then dries and pulverizes it into flourlike masa harina. He’s especially fond of their blue-masa harina, which he says has helped take his homemade tortillas to new heights. “It’s like making your own pasta,” Martínez says. “You’re not going to do it all the time, but when you do do it, it’s going to elevate your dish to a level that’s kind of mind-blowing. That’s what Masienda’s masa does.”
… and hazelnut spread to enhance your toast
Back by popular demand, non-alcoholic aperitif brand Ghia has rereleased its beloved hazelnut spread, “Ghianduja.” Available in packs of two, it’s made with (more sustainable) olive oil instead of palm oil, contains no dairy or gluten, and incorporates less sugar than the best-known options on the market. Enjoy it smeared over a hunk of bread, drizzled over a stack of crepes, or simply spoon it straight from the jar.
Bold (and budget-friendly) lipstick
Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton has tried a lot of beauty products, learning along the way that formulations “don’t have to be expensive in order to be excellent.” One of her favorite under-$10 lipsticks is Colourpop’s Lippie Stix, in the eye-catching shade “Trust Me,” which she calls “the perfect blue-red shade for nights out or when you want to dress up your jeans and T-shirt before dinner.” It has a true matte finish, but “it isn’t the slightest bit drying on the lips,” Viera-Newton writes — plus, it’s “incredibly easy to apply” because the applicator is more pencil-like than the standard bullet lipstick.
An adult scooter for zipping, well, everywhere
Strategist contributor Diksha Basu decided to buy herself the Swagtron folding kick scooter in order to keep up with her 3- and 5-year-olds. She felt a little silly riding on it at first, but her kids were “absolutely delighted to have me zipping along beside them,” and soon enough she found herself also using it to get to the grocery store (it has two little hooks where you can hang bags), the coffee shop, a restaurant to meet a friend, and even to the train. Since it folds down, Basu can pick it up and “carry it under one arm without troubling others, or yourself, too much,” eliminating the headache of finding a place to lock it up outside.
A collectible (and durable) work tote
Baggu’s canvas duck bag is one of the brand’s most popular products, perfect for schlepping laptops, groceries, and gym clothes. (New colorways and patterns are released each season, which also makes these something of a collectible item.) This wavy checkerboard design is currently on sale for $24 at Urban Outfitters, where the retailer is also offering an extra 40 percent off at checkout, bringing the total down to just $15. If you’ve been on the hunt for a new commuter tote, here’s your chance.
The lightest picnic blanket for hikers
When Strategist writer (and outdoor enthusiast) Katherine Gillespie investigated the best picnic blankets, she concluded that this lightweight, pocket-size one from Matador was the best to bring along on hiking trips. It boasts “tiny but mighty built-in corner stakes, which make it easy to stretch the fabric into a taut, waterproof surface when you’re on the trail,” Gillespie writes, adding that “lines of stitching on one side show you where to fold the blanket so it fits into the small included pouch, though I tend to just scrunch up and stash mine.” While it’s not quite as plush as a blanket meant for park hangs, Gillespie says it’s perfect for trekkers looking to take a break.