We write about hundreds of products every 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 the vast online-shopping universe — including the running shoes Ken Jeong persuaded other actors to buy, a happy-making set of candleholders for Ikea’s 80th anniversary, and the hair-growth serum Sephora customers can’t stop repurchasing.
The shea-butter tins Amanda Seyfried gifts every holiday
Amanda Seyfried can’t live without this cream from female-owned brand Eu’Genia — which she puts in Christmas stockings every year — since a friend introduced her to it years ago. When she’s not medicating her eczema, Seyfried says she applies the shea butter to her super-dry legs to lock in moisture. “I used it on my nipples when I was pregnant and when I was postpartum,” says Seyfried, who calls the grapefruit scent her current favorite. The balm comes in a 12- or 2-ounce container, the latter of which Seyfried says she travels with.
The vegan protein snack Natalie Morales keeps in her bag
When we spoke to Natalie Morales about her favorite things, she told us about this vegan-friendly snack that replaced the Trader Joe’s turkey jerky she used to enjoy when she ate meat. “There are not a lot of vegan protein snacks that I can get while I’m in airports or on the road that isn’t just like a whole pizza,” Morales says. Now she keeps this in her bag so she can get a bit of protein throughout the day. Of the six flavors, Carolina Barbecue is Morales’s favorite.
Beeswax crayons for bathtime doodles
“Even before I became a mom, I fantasized about the day I would get to start drawing or painting with a son or daughter of my own,” Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo says in our guide to the best art supplies for kids. When Corsillo asked experts about their favorite materials, many emphasized looking for nontoxic substances, avoiding choking hazards, and investing in simple, high-quality products like these beeswax crayons designed to be used in the bath. Liv Lo Golding, a mom to a toddler with another baby on the way, likes them because they’re fragrance free, easy to hold, and contain only food-grade ingredients, making them ideal for younger kids who may also use them to draw on themselves.
A playful collection to commemorate Ikea turning 80
Ikea is celebrating its 80th anniversary with a limited-edition collection, and to the delight of longtime fans of the Scandinavian retailer (like us), the brand is reissuing some of its classic designs in vibrant new shades. The drop includes triangular side tables, a sculptural coat rack, broad-striped bedding, and this trio of delightful, mixed-height candleholders originally created by siblings Marianne Hagberg and Knut Hagberg in 1982.
The one hair product Sephora employees don’t see being returned
In the latest installment of Retail Secrets, Strategist contributor Chloe Anello asked actual Sephora employees — or “beauty advisers,” as the company calls them — about the hype-y hair tool that keeps getting returned, the TikTok-recommended products that are actually worth it, and what happens to the items you bring back to the store. While none of our experts consider Sephora the place to go for hair-care products, multiple associates said the retailer’s hair growth category is worth shopping, especially this serum from the Nicole Kidman–backed brand Vegamour. “That’s one product I haven’t seen yet being returned; it’s definitely something you have to be consistent with, so if it doesn’t work, then you just don’t purchase it anymore,” one beauty adviser says.
The cushy sneakers that saved Ken Jeong’s fallen arches
When Ken Jeong started running again during the pandemic, his fallen arches and plantar fasciitis started acting up — until he switched to these Hokas. “It’s like walking on pillows,” he says. “Now I have an indoor pair as well, so I’m basically walking on pillows 24/7.” Jeong says colleagues from shows he’s worked on, like The Afterparty, have noticed his colorful sneakers before and even bought pairs for themselves.
An already-on-sale planter to nab ahead of Prime Day
Prime Day doesn’t begin until Tuesday, but if you’re eager to start shopping, you don’t have to wait to score some extra-early deals, like this sturdy garden bed that happens to be our favorite raised planter. Designed for inside or outside use, it’s self-watering thanks to a reservoir at the bottom, plus it has a tap for drainage. And if you’re wondering how the experts shop the two-day Amazon event, head to our Q&A for insider advice from three Strategist editors.
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.