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What Atsuko Okatsuka Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Illustration: Joe McKendry; Photo: Oluwaseye Olusa/HBO

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hair spray and electric toothbrush. We asked comedian Atsuko Okatsuka — whose comedy special Atsuko Okatsuka: The Intruder recently came out on HBO — about her go-to protein snack, the electrolyte tablets she adds to her water, and a skin-tightening serum she can’t live without.

During the pandemic, a gender-reveal party gone wrong caused an explosion. All of L.A. was smoky; air quality was really bad. Ashes were even getting into our house. We used an air-filtration system at first, but it dried out our air, and we were still getting headaches. I was thinking, Are we getting poisoned from this explosion? I mentioned it on an Instagram Live and learned that a humidifier would offset the dryness. So I bought this all thanks to my fans, who are more grown up and understand self-care better than me. Now I bring it with me on vacations and on tour, and it helps a lot with keeping the air moist. I had no idea about these things. Like, I think I just learned what central AC meant this year, because as an immigrant, life growing up was very simple. We didn’t have AC or heaters or humidifiers. I knew basic things like what a fan and space heater were. Now I’m learning all of these things as an adult on this earth. The only bummer is that you constantly have to buy things to offset another thing, like this humidifier to offset the dryness of my air-filtration system.

All of these items come down to me being a stunted adult. I know you’re supposed to drink water, okay? But I watch people carry these big jugs of water every day, and I’m like, Really? How did you know to do that? My grandmother didn’t teach me these things. I don’t like drinking water; it has no taste on its own. And I can’t just drink orange juice all the time — I’m not 12. So I started buying these electrolyte vitamins that I add to my water. It has a subtle flavor, so I feel like an adult, but it gets me to drink water. It really hydrates and energizes me, and I try different flavors like watermelon and strawberry lemonade.

Again, I like flavored water. When I want a hot beverage, it’s tea for me. I don’t drink coffee. This specific brand is my mom’s favorite, and now it’s mine. We’re both very branded people because we don’t like the hassle of choosing. We don’t do research to find another option. We’re like, Okay, this is our brand for the rest of our lives. I’ve tried Tazo, Bigelow — honestly, whatever’s free — but if I’m buying tea myself, it’s this one. I’ll even bring boxes of it on tour.

I’m not a beef-jerky person. I like this as my protein snack because it’s soft and tastes good. It’s convenient and easy to travel with because they’re really tiny and come in wax packaging. The wax is easy to peel off and really mend-able, so you can ball it up when you’re done with it. It’s not like string cheese with its annoying plastic packaging. I’ve actually found the wax in different jacket pockets because I take it on the go so much.

The first time I used this years ago, even though the label says in bold letters “Do not put this directly in your eye,” I did. I drove to school right after, and my eyes were hurting so much that I got in a car accident. That memory stuck with me, so I didn’t buy this again for a while. It wasn’t until years later, when I first met my husband, that I tried it again. During that time, my contacts were always cloudy. I had to wear glasses because I could not see through my contacts. It was a dark period. I remembered this bottle and picked it up on a whim. This time around, I follow the instructions. Turns out my contacts just had too much bacteria, and I needed the hydrogen peroxide to really clean them out. It’s so mundane when I explain it, but it’s really another adult realization I had. I always have this in my house now.

My husband and I have been using this for about two years. It was a pandemic splurge for our skin. We were like, If the world’s falling apart, at least maybe our skin will look tight. It’s probably the priciest thing that we buy for our faces. For a moment, we can feel like we actually grew up with money, you know? It’s a nice wrinkle-preventative that we share. We both look good, so we’re not outdoing each other.

I was born so hairless — no eyebrows, no eyelashes. I considered getting extensions, but I just know sitting there for two hours would be difficult for me. I found this serum at Sephora, and it actually made my lashes longer and thicker over the course of six weeks.

My grandma and I shot a TikTok for Benefit using this eyebrow pencil. It’s very easy. I just draw a line across the middle of my brow, then brush with the spoolie to fill out the rest. I don’t have much brow hair, and usually you can’t see my brows because of my bangs. But I realized we show our emotions through our eyebrows. I thought, Oh my gosh, there’s a whole part of me people are missing out on. This pencil stays on all day, and now people can see what I’m expressing.

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What Atsuko Okatsuka Can’t Live Without