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What Strategist Readers Bought in September: Bath Towels and Black Work Pants

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist

Welcome back to “Your Shopping Cart,” where we break out the top-ten products that you, devoted Strategist readers, bought in droves. 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.

The contents of Strategist readers’ carts this month reflected our societal shift, even if it’s a begrudging one, to returning to the office; one writer’s go-to pair of black work slacks and a beginner-friendly safety razor were among the most-purchased items in September. A couple of other longtime favorites within the personal hygiene and grooming category also made a return, including a high-powered electric toothbrush and a nourishing night cream. And with travel slowly but surely ramping up, readers also availed themselves of a popular neck pillow to help them relax on long flights.

Photo: retailer

This Zimasilk pillowcase exchanged places with the Powecom KN95 mask from last month, rising one position to claim the top spot in September. We named it the best overall silk pillowcase thanks to its high-quality material and wide range of fun colors, including coral pink, eggplant purple, and peacock blue. Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton says the Zimasilk case feels “smooth, cool, and soft on the skin” and makes her “feel as though I’m sleeping at a luxurious hotel every night.” Though it’s priced incredibly affordably at just $25, it doesn’t have “that odd sticky feeling that some cheap silk pillowcases have; it’s thick and substantial,” Viera-Newton writes.

This month finally broke the Powecom KN95 mask’s six-month streak at No. 1, but it only slipped down one place. Considering its total domination of this list since the start of the pandemic, there’s not much to say about the mask that hasn’t been said already: According to Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo, it filters out 95 percent of small particles; it creates a tight seal all the way around your mouth and nose; it collapses around your cheeks when you breathe. In short, it has all the features you need to stay safe as you navigate the new normal.

These Beckham Hotel pillows remained secure in their third-place standing, the same as last month. They’re one of the products that show up most reliably in readers’ carts thanks to their luxuriously plush feel and cooling gel construction, not to mention their budget-friendly price tag. One five-star Amazon reviewer who is in their 70s declared them to be “the best pillows I’ve ever bought” and the pillow of their dreams. They prefer a fluffier pillow while their husband likes “extremely flat pillows,” yet both find the Beckham Hotel ones to be comfortable and restful.

This Oral-B electric toothbrush is no stranger to the best-sellers list but hasn’t made an appearance in recent months. It made a comeback in September, however, in part because it’s our pick for the best overall electric toothbrush. The brush head can rotate an astonishing 44,000 times per minute, which dentist Jonathan Levine says causes “a lot of disruption of plaque.” It has soft bristles, a pressure sensor that stops the pulsation if you brush too hard, and a built-in two-minute timer that vibrates every 30 seconds when it’s time to move to the next quadrant of your mouth, so it’s an extremely useful tool for stopping cavities in their tracks.

5. Trtl Pillow

We discovered this travel pillow all the way back in 2017, and since then, it’s proven itself to be a consistent reader favorite. Former Strategist writer Lauren Levy says the pillow is so small that it “takes the same amount of space as a couple of magazines” — which means it won’t be annoying to stuff into your carry-on. The whole thing is “easily adjustable and customizable with a simple Velcro strap,” and you can even “place it beneath your chin to keep your head from drooping,” Levy writes. Novelist Celeste Ng, who usually can’t sleep on planes, is a huge fan as well. “It’s incredibly comfortable, super-light, and way easier to pack than a regular travel pillow,” she says.

After consulting with a panel of dermatologists, we crowned this CeraVe moisturizer the best overall night cream. It’s vouched for by dermatologist Dr. Britt Craiglow, who shouts out the ceramides and hyaluronic acid in its ingredients list for being excellent hydrators. It also contains niacinamide, which helps “replenish the skin’s barrier” and reduce redness, Dr. Craiglow says. Facialist Jordana Mattioli also recommends it for “normal to combination skin” because it has a light, nongreasy texture.

With many people returning to the office, it’s no surprise that readers went shopping for the perfect pair of black work pants. Strategist writer Ambar Pardilla has tested many styles, including from Loft, J.Crew, H&M, and Cos, but remains loyal to her Hayden trousers from Banana Republic (which are making their very first appearance on this list). They make her look “much more put-together” without sacrificing comfort since the slacks have “an elastic waistband in the back that’s easily hidden with a blazer.” She owns five pairs of Haydens and wouldn’t say no to a couple more.

This Merkur safety razor is also making its debut on the best-sellers roundup (perhaps men are making an effort to clean up a bit before meeting their co-workers IRL). With a short, easily maneuverable handle and a single, sharp blade, it’s the best overall razor according to multiple experts. “The Merkur handle is thicker, which gives you more weight to hold onto,” explains Patrick Butler, technical director of education and operations at Floyd’s 99 Barbershop. And barber Mike Sposito adds that its design is very simple and user-friendly: “You unscrew the button, the top pops open, you pop the single blade in, and screw it down again.”

After we declared them the best bath towels, readers spent August stocking up on these Brooklinen towels, and the fervor didn’t let up in September. They’re one of the plushest towels we considered, have a super-soft texture and high absorbency, and come in lots of pretty colors to brighten up your bathroom, from hibiscus red to ocean blue. Architectural designer Madelynn Ringo calls them “more robe than towel … incredible at soaking up water, and the threads are really durable, no snagging.”


And finally, the Waterpik water flosser dropped to No. 10 after coming in at No. 4 last month, but it’s clearly still a big hit. Six different sources recommended the Aquarius to us because it contains “the strongest engine on the market,” according to Pia Lieb, founder of Cosmetic Dentistry Center NYC. “You want really strong water power to push as much food and debris off of the tooth structure as possible,” Lieb explains. In addition to its superior water pressure, its 22-ounce tank also holds enough water to run for 90 seconds, and a built-in timer counts down the recommended one-minute cleaning time.

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: Bath Towels and Black Work Pants