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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in January

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

If you follow our monthly feature “Your Shopping Cart,” you know we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying, which led us to think that, as Strategist editors, we could turn the tables and highlight all the things we’ve been buying for ourselves. As you’ll notice, it’s both a blessing and a curse to be a Strategist editor; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it. (It’s online-shopping expertise meets IRL needs.) Below, what we bought in January.

Maxine Builder, editor

I’m prone to razor bumps and ingrown hairs, and one product that’s been incredibly helpful in both prepping my skin for shaving and keeping it smooth is this body scrub from First Aid Beauty. I walked into Sephora, planning to just re-up my supply, and I discovered this new extra-large size. Because I use it so sparingly (and I, quite candidly, avoid shaving my legs at all costs), I expect this tube will last me through the summer — and even if it doesn’t, I’m always a sucker for the value size.

Kat Gillespie, writer

Glamorous purchase alert: I upgraded my dish rack this month. The collapsible nature of this one means it can be tidied away when not in use, which is an improvement on the Rubbermaid wire rack I’d been using previously. I can see why Oxo’s space-saving design is MoMA-approved: This thing is solid and sturdy, with the grooves on the top rack perfectly spaced to hold my on-the-chunkier-side stoneware plates and bowls. And the drip tray beneath is grooved, which means you can play Tetris with larger pots and pans without them slipping out onto the counter. Though previously dish rack–agnostic, I am feeling quite passionate about my new one.

The fall-winter Uniqlo x Marni collaboration is very on sale right now, and I’m surprised by how much of it is still in stock. Having previously purchased a balaclava that has gotten plenty of wear, as well as some extremely comfortable corduroy pants, I was powerless to resist these $6 leggings. Fun colors aside, the fabric has this unusual slinky, ski-lodge feel that I really like; it’s thinner and less compressive than with your typical pair of yoga pants.

Lauren Ro, writer

I scoured the internet looking for a winter shoe for our almost-4-year-old that wasn’t a snow boot (too clunky) or sneakers (too thin) and finally settled on these from Keen because they were insulated and had the flexibility of a sneaker. Ideally I wanted a boot that was also waterproof, but I couldn’t find anything that had all three features, at least in little-kid sizes. (Plus, I didn’t want to spend too much money, though I was momentarily tempted by Blundstones.) Augie wore these on a hike straight out of the box and had no complaints. They slip on easily and keep his feet toasty. They were also an excellent price — $42 on sale at the time.

Latifah Miles, writer

I’m always on the hunt for exfoliators that feel like they are actually doing something for my oily, breakout-prone skin without ripping it off. After an underwhelming adventure with konjac sponges, I decided to try one from vegan brand Acure, as recommended in our guide to the best face scrubs. This will sound like an exaggeration, but my skin has never felt softer, more supple, or brighter. The scrub contains crushed-up walnut shells to buff away dead skin cells, plus sea kelp and French clay to brighten and soften the skin. The smell is natural, too, which I appreciate.

I haven’t thought of Dial bar soap for the better part of the last 20 years, but it has been one of my most prized purchases this month. My preteen son has become quite … fragrant … over the last few months despite consistent showers and trying several different deodorants; amid true confusion over how to manage hormonal BO changes, Dial bar soap reentered the chat to save the day. I saw another parent mention Dial online and immediately bought a four-pack. To say it’s been a game changer feels like an understatement. I am very close to selling bars door-to-door to save other parents of preteens and teens.

Kayleen Schaefer, senior editor

To my dismay, Fresh recently changed its Sugar Lip Balm colors, which meant the cherry and nude shades I’ve been using for the past decade were no longer available. Nervously choosing from the new colors, I decided to try cocoa, even though I feared it would be too dark. To my relief, the cocoa makes my lips look only subtly deeper, like mine but better. My best friend even said she preferred it to my old colors, which is what best friends are for.

My 2-year-old is into puzzles, which are now all over the floor of our apartment, so after Strategist senior editor Winnie Yang recommended the tiny Mudpuppy Mini City puzzles, I bought Paris and New York. He’s as excited about them as he is his bigger puzzles, but they take up only a fraction of the space. They’re also perfect for travel — a recent weekend trip found us putting them together, unobtrusively, in the hotel lobby. I’m planning to add the rest of the Mudpuppy city puzzles — Tokyo, Chicago, and London — to his collection soon.

Dominique Pariso, writer

Back in December, I wrote that these Judi Rosen jeans were on my holiday wish list. I had tried them on a few months back and hadn’t been able to get them out of my head ever since. I did end up finding a pair under my tree, and they were as great as I remembered. So great, in fact, that when I saw them on sale for 60 percent off, I scooped up another pair in white. As I write this, there is only one pair left on sale, though there are plenty of sizes of this season’s (full-price) denim still available.

Ambar Pardilla, writer

I couldn’t help but fall for the Rococo-esque buckle of these Suzanne Rae slides. (They’re definitely a splurge, but in my defense, I had a coupon code that knocked off about $100.) I went up two sizes to get the right fit — I always have to size up when it comes to slides, thanks to my wide feet — and then found them comfortable right out of the box. I’m imagining clomping around in them through the cobbled streets of somewhere, ideally while wearing a completely impractical all-white ensemble.

Sam Daly, deals editor

I’ve been on the hunt for a good inner-corner eye shimmer for a while, and this gel eyeliner is incredible. It dries down to an almost liquid finish — and it stays put, even through a night out. Plus, it’s vegan, cruelty-free, and fragrance-free.

Kitty Guo, junior writer

After seven years of daily conscription, my faithful MacBook Pro that carried me through college finally kicked the bucket this month. I opened it up one day to find the display shrouded in vertical black bars. A quick consult at the Genius Bar confirmed my fears — rather than shelling out $400 for the repair, it would be more cost effective to just get a new one. I traded it in for an M2 Air, which our friends at The Verge assured me would be more than capable of supporting my very humdrum email-checking and Netflix streaming.

Swayed by the New Year spirit, I tried my first Pure Barre class this month, and though they warned me ahead of time that I’d need grippy socks, I forgot that detail until five minutes before class started. Luckily for me, they had some for sale at the studio; unluckily for me, they were $20. There’s no way I can let these $20 socks languish in my dresser drawer, so I guess that means I’m signing up for more barre classes?

Tshepo Mokoena, senior editor

This isn’t the first time I’ve relied on sherbet-colored underwear as a corrective to London’s flat, gray winter. When it’s below freezing outside, I find a childish joy in wearing a bright bra that basically no one will see. It just cheers me up. This set’s lightly elasticated straps make it rest comfortably across your shoulders and hips, even if all you end up doing is sprawling on the couch. If you get up to more, shout-out to you.

I guess I influenced myself, editing a recent story on plush blankets. My 1800s apartment was built before insulation was a norm (not a joke), so it’s drafty even with the radiators on. I used to haul a spare duvet into the living room and get under it, but upgraded to this sherpa blanket for both aesthetic and practical reasons. If, like me, you’re prone to allergies, it also shouldn’t irritate your eyes or make you sneeze.

Emma Wartzman, kitchen and dining writer

After a predictably spend-heavy month in December, I made a mini-resolution to not buy anything in January that wasn’t an essential — basically food, household goods, and any beauty or hair products I happened to actually need. In the latter category, I re-upped my current shampoo and conditioner. I’ve only gone through one bottle of each, but as someone with very fine hair that is super-prone to breakage, so far, so very good. My mom (who has similar hair to me) was the one to find and recommend this brand. I usually feel like at a certain point, if you’re using stuff made with good ingredients, the variations between shampoo and conditioner don’t make a huge difference (and I have a tried many over the years), but I’ve noticed significantly less hair falling out in the shower since switching to Routine. It’s not cheap, but the bottles last quite a while and I’m definitely sticking with it so long as it keeps my precious strands on my head.

Picked up a couple of these at my local bodega after a particularly grueling day. Made cookies. Essential.

Winnie Yang, senior editor

We spent part of the holidays in Taipei, where I consumed as much of the locally grown tropical fruit as I could get my hands on, including guava. I have been craving the fruit ever since, and while the watermelon guava that Miami Fruit ships is not the same variety as what you’d find in Taiwan, it is very, very good, with a truly exquisite fragrance and creamy texture when ripe. I’ve eaten my way through several boxes of the fruit this month and will likely continue until the season ends.

My 7-year-old received a lot of Lego for Christmas and her January birthday, and that overwhelming tide of bricks was becoming an organizational issue (and a hazard underfoot). Fortunately, we just published Youngna Park’s roundup of not-hideous Lego-storage options, which inspired me to get several of the brick-shaped storage boxes in both drawer and lidded formats and to sort the bricks into color groupings. My daughter, who has never shown any interest in sorting her toys, surprised me by not only co-signing this effort, but even helping with it (?!?!?).

Erin Schwartz, writer

Do you ever see something on Depop and think, Wow, that’s great? Do you ever save that thing to your likes and return to check on it every few days? Do you ever dream about it? Then, when you finish a task, do you ever decide, “I deserve something nice. What can I buy that feels like a treat and will enrich my life? I know — I am going to get that great top from Depop”? This happened to me. If I had to only wear one designer for the rest of time, it would be Y/Project, which excels at a genre I call “tailoring jokes” (riffs on patternmaking and how clothing is constructed, like this). But I didn’t own anything by it til now. This bodysuit is even better IRL than in my daydreams, which is a rare and special thing. (I’ve bought the only one from this seller, but you can find similar bodysuits on eBay and TheRealReal.)

Although I love hippie shit, it takes several recommendations of an essential oil–based beauty remedy for me to trust it enough to try it myself. I’d heard a few times that rosemary oil is great for your scalp, but the tipping point came from the unlikely source of a Hasan Piker Twitch stream, when his guest Jeff Wittek mentioned it as a way to manage thinning hair, something I’ve been paranoid about since starting testosterone last year. I bought a little bottle of rosemary oil at a co-op in Vermont, and I am pleased to say it’s been working for me! My hair feels healthier and stronger, my scalp less dry and itchy.

Rachael Griffiths, writer

I’d been on the hunt for a pair of nylon cargos for months before I found these, but most pairs I tried on were unflattering and felt quite cheap. When I first tried this pair from PeachyDen, I practically squealed: They’re exactly what I had in mind. They’re made from a soft, good-quality nylon, and the waistband has an adjustable cord, meaning I can hike them up and wear them high-waisted or loosen them for a slouchier fit. They also have lots of handy pockets and drawstring cuffs — so they never drag along the floor. I have the slate-green shade, but as we get closer to spring, I’ve started flirting with the idea of getting a berry pair, too.

Late last year, I started suffering from acne, despite having never had any terrible problems with my skin before. I tried adding and removing a few steps from my skin-care routine, but nothing was cutting it, and every day I’d wake up with more angry spots. That’s until I tried Acnecide: It contains a 5 percent dose of benzoyl peroxide, one of the best ingredients for destroying acne. As benzoyl peroxide can dry the skin, I don’t use the treatment every day, and I make sure I’m slathering myself with hyaluronic acid and moisturizer before bed. But since using the treatment, my existing spots appear far less inflamed, and I’m not waking up with a new cluster every morning.

Jenna Milliner-Waddell, associate editor

No-spend January went terribly, for those wondering. I ate out multiple times, had an unexpected dental expense, and splurged on this COS puffer that finally came back in stock in my size. I also purchased this Rebecca Taylor dress, but I got it at a major discount. I stumbled upon a closeout sale where everything was 80 percent off, so it only cost me $89. It’s from a summer collection, but I immediately envisioned how to winterize it. It’s great with tights, loafers, and a semi-sheer turtleneck underneath.

My brown pencil lip liner was all worn down and I couldn’t find a pencil sharpener. Times got so desperate that I had to carry around my Anastasia Brow Wiz on a few occasions. I finally made my way to Target and actually remembered that I was in need of a new one. I picked this up and it did not disappoint. I’m a big fan of all the TLB products I’ve tried so far, and this is no exception. It goes on smooth and is pretty long-lasting. It pairs perfectly with my Pat McGrath gloss in Flesh 4.

Jeremy Rellosa, writer

I geek out on the creative process, and I’m always curious about how highly successful artists think about their work and the act of creating things. This book by legendary music producer Rick Rubin was the best thing I bought in January because it helped answer some burning questions I had about broader concepts like collaboration, craft, and spontaneity. It’s a collection of short essays and meditations on those themes and 75 more, and it’s just as much about mindfulness and awareness as it is about creativity. I also love that the book design is simple and clean.

I’ve never used Aesop’s products before, despite hearing through various Strategist articles about Aesop’s status-y hand soap. Then my sister-in-law gave me a smaller-size version of this room spray for Christmas. After spritzing it around my apartment and bathroom this past month, I needed a refill. When I was buying this 3.3-ounce version, I mentioned to the Aesop store employee that I couldn’t quite pin which scent within the blend I liked the most — was it the lavender? tobacco? the pink pepper? — but it didn’t matter; it’s now my apartment’s defining scent.

Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer

I’m publishing a book this year, and I’ve been finding ways to celebrate leading up to the release. Cue these color-blocked sandals from Loewe, which incorporate the color scheme of the book. I showed them to every single friend I had before buying because even at 50 percent off, these are pricier than what I’d normally spend on a fancy Teva-espadrille hybrid, brand name be damned. But I hate to say it, I love them. I put them on sometimes just for fun, and can’t wait for it to warm up so I can wear my new shoes outside.

Barnes and Noble had an insane sale earlier this month — all preorders were 25 percent off for three whole days. Predictably, I stocked up. Of all the titles I purchased, I’m really excited about Dyscalculia, by Camonghne Felix, a memoir about a horrific breakup that uses her diagnosis of dyscalculia (a disorder that makes it difficult to learn math) to explore grief and finding herself again. It drops on Valentine’s Day (timely!), and I’ve been waiting to read it for months.

Jen Trolio, senior editor

I am a sucker for home décor by Chen Chen and Kai Williams (I am also the proud owner of their shoe-wearing leg bowl), and I have been eyeing this Greek column plant trellis for months. Flush with a little bit of “fun money” after receiving some cash for Christmas, I finally purchased it in January. It comes in two sizes, but the large is the way to go — at more than a foot tall, it’s helping support a giant aloe plant in my kitchen window, to stop it from leaning. But even if it weren’t functional, I simply love looking at it every day.

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.

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in January