sunday circular

8 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Towel Scrunchies to Tagines

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist

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 statusy meat thermometer, a powerful pint-size steamer, and a menthol tear stick for on-demand waterworks.

A summery sparkling water

Pastry chef and writer Natasha Pickowicz recounted her “restorative, serene, and special trip” to New Mexico in our latest installment of “Steal My Vacation.” For six blissful days, Pickowicz and her boyfriend, Steven, hiked through the desert, sampled enchiladas and green-chile croissants, and soaked in multiple hot springs. While exploring the trails of Bandelier National Park, they made sure to bring a few cans of LaCroix to help them stay hydrated — pulled from the cases they stashed in their rental car along with “chips and salsa in the car console because I never stop snacking,” Pickowicz says.

Microfiber scrunchies to dry out damp hair

When Strategist writers and editors recalled what they bought in June, Strategist senior editor Jen Trolio raved about these microfiber towel scrunchies that both she and her daughter use to contain their “long, straight, thick hair that stays wet for hours” after swimming or showering. “We don’t always have the time or desire to blow-dry, especially in the summer,” Trolio writes. So they use the towel scrunchies to absorb excess water and avoid damp shoulders and backs, especially when they go to sleep with wet hair; when they take them out, the ends are “usually damp enough for further styling but nowhere near dripping.”

An astronaut-approved sinus tincture

Photo: retailer

Strategist readers bought this Ponaris nasal emollient in droves last month thanks to its inclusion in our Father’s Day gift guide. It was first recommended by Strategist contributor Chantel Tattoli back in 2020; after experiencing an allergic reaction to roses, Tattoli was looking for something to soothe her sore, sniffly sinuses and discovered this product in the aisles of her indie pharmacy. “To administer Ponaris, you tilt back your head and send a little up your nose with a dropper,” Tattoli says. “It drains gently, even pleasantly, into my throat. The taste is like a spa, in a good way.” It’s so effective, in fact, that it’s advertised as a “NASA staple — included in the agency’s medical space kit on every Apollo mission.”

The secret to professional-looking pleats

This handheld Conair Turbo steamer (a favorite of Uma Thurman’s stylist, Kate Young) will give you “a red-carpet-immaculate finish every time,” says Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla. She bought the device after testing multiple steamers that “fell short of the freshly laundered, carefully starched look I love. There was always a slight crinkle to my hems and collars, and the task itself was positively Herculean.” With the Turbo, however, she can “unwrinkle just about any fabric, from fussy chiffon and wilty linen, in its 15-minute run time.” A quick press of the “Turbo” button and your clothes will come out looking as though they’ve just returned from the dry cleaners.

Tears in a tube

Kryolan Tear Stick

Actress Annie Hamilton recommends this Kryolan tear stick “for when you need or want to cry and know you have the feelings but are scared the actual tears won’t come.” The lipstick-shaped menthol irritates your eyes and causes them to water, almost as if you’re actually overcome by emotion. Hamilton uses it at “parties when no one’s paying attention to you. Sometimes I slick a little on for therapy so my shrink can see how hard things have been lately.” She’s become such a frequent user that she’ll “now take out my contacts and coat the stuff straight on the bottom of my eyelid. But if you’re a beginner to the tear-stick game, you’ll be good to go with a dash on where your undercircles are,” she advises.

A pot for making chicken tagine …

Building on its line of “Traditionware,” Our Place just released a handcrafted tagine made specifically to fit the cult-favorite Always Pan. Perfect for slow-cooking your favorite comfort dish, it features a cone-shaped glazed-clay lid that allows condensation to drip down the sides back into the dish, making your food extra juicy and flavorful. Plus each order comes with a mini tagine spice holder and a bottle of ras el hanout, a warming spice blend, from Brooklyn-based New York Shuk.

… and a thermometer to check when it’s done

The Thermapen is the Ferrari of meat thermometers — according to Strategist editor Maxine Builder, it gives you a near-instant temperature reading that’s accurate within half a degree even after several years of use. With the Thermapen, Builder’s chicken “is never dried out because I pull it off the heat as soon as it’s fully cooked at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. My steak is always perfectly medium-rare because it’s reached an internal temperature of 135 degrees. French fries never get soggy because I know that the oil is hot enough for frying at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.” Although it does have an admittedly hefty cost of $105, it’s made Builder “more confident in the kitchen, able to complete any number of tasks without worrying about making myself sick or wasting a fancy cut of meat” — and you can’t put a price on that.

A dupe for a cult-favorite lotion

[Editor’s note: The Perle de Coco lotion is currently out of stock, but you can still get it as a body wash for $17.]

Recently, the store & Other Stories has become Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton’s go-to source for all things body care. “It sells everything from scrubs to shower gels to body mists to lotions — and usually within the reasonable price range of $12 to $17,” Viera-Newton writes. On a whim, she picked up the brand’s Perle de Coco body lotion and realized that it “smells identical to Sol de Janeiro’s Brazilian Bum Bum Cream — so much so that if you close your eyes, the two products are truly indistinguishable.” Featuring milky coconut and soft vanilla notes, the longevity of the mouth-watering scent is impressive; she “applied the lotion in the morning and found myself still smelling like Perle de Coco when I got home in the evening.”

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.

8 Things That Delighted Us: Towel Scrunchies to Tagines