sunday circular

10 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Collectible Playing Cards to Inflatable Knee Pillows

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

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 two hair-care products for avid swimmers, the caffeinated gum that boosts Steve Aoki through his longest DJ sets, and a butter-inspired rug.

The inflatable knee pillow that Waxahatchee takes everywhere

Waxahatchee’s Katie Crutchfield is a side sleeper who needs a knee pillow even while traveling. The singer-songwriter told us she struggled to find an especially portable one until she discovered this inflatable number. “It takes three big breaths to blow up, and then you have a knee pillow that you can still put in your suitcase,” Crutchfield says. “I don’t overinflate it — I leave a little bit of air out of it so it has a little bit of squish.”

A $28 hair-dryer brush for better-than-Dyson blowouts

We’ve uncovered hundreds upon hundreds of best-in-class drugstore items, but as our writers Tembe Denton-Hurst and Kitty Guo put it, “no run-of-the-mill Rite Aid or even high-end apothecary carries it all.” So we created our dream drugstore — also known as the Strategist Drugstore 100 — which collects beloved standbys, such as Bernie Sanders–approved throat lozenges, and new discoveries, like this Conair hair dryer that producer and podcast host Katie Dalebout swears does a better job than a Dyson. “The Conair’s round brush can get close enough to my scalp to straighten the particularly curly pieces near my temples, in a way all other brushes can’t,” she says.

The powder sunscreen one chef brought to Seville

In our latest installment of Steal My Vacation, we heard from chef Alex Wight, owner of the seasonal restaurant Crown Jewel, about her trip to southern Spain for her mom’s 70th birthday. Wright’s packing list included this tinted powder sunscreen that she wears in place of foundation: “The best part is you don’t need to wash your hands before or after you put it on because they’re not touching your face,” Wight says of the no-mess, travel-perfect formula.

The energy gum Steve Aoki chews before his DJ sets

From $25
From $25

Red Bull doesn’t always cut if you’re hitting as many time zones as Steve Aoki — so he turns to Neuro Gum to help him stay alert. “If I know I’m going to have a late night DJ-ing or have back-to-back shows, I’ll chew it right when I get off the plane and am headed to the show,” Aoki told us when we asked him about his most recent favorite things.

A playing-card-obsessed writer’s favorite deck

We love hearing about what people simply cannot stop buying, and for interior stylist Sydney Colburn, it’s playing cards. “When I see a deck I like, I just get a gut feeling and go for it,” she says. What was once just a hobby has now turned into a proper collection of over 70 decks, including this Unfortunate Portrait set she received as a birthday present. “Every single card has a different portrait on it — one ten is The Royal Tenenbaums; the jacks include Jackie O. and Jack Nicholson,” Colburn says.

An ultra-hydrating lip balm one of our beauty writers applies all day, every day

In last week’s edition of The Strategist Beauty Brief, each of our beauty writers shared their can’t-live-without lip balms. Strategist writer Arielle Avila says this Naturium formula in the mocha shade ticks all the right boxes: “My lips stay moisturized for hours and the tint is natural but noticeable.” She also appreciates that the applicator is larger than most.

The special trauma kit Jena Malone always keeps nearby

When we talked to actress Jena Malone about her favorite things, we learned that she’s also studying to be an EMT. After completing a Community Emergency Response Team class, Malone realized the importance of owning a trauma kit — so she bought this one from My Medic, which includes, among many other useful items, “a good triangle bandage” that makes it easier to wrap wounds.

Two shampoos for post-pool showering

Our writer Rachael Griffiths answered a reader’s question about ways to protect your hair from damage caused by pool and ocean water in our latest installment of Ask the Strategist. Griffiths laid out two steps: First, use a clarifying shampoo, like Ouai’s Detox Shampoo, at least once per week to break down the buildup of chlorine, copper, and salt on your hair. Then, rotate in a deeply hydrating shampoo, like our favorite from Malin + Goetz. “I think your hair will really appreciate the moisturizing glycerin and the fact that it’s sulfate-free — so it won’t strip away any of your hair’s natural oils,” Griffiths writes.

The ultimate accent rug for one writer with a “butter addiction”

And finally, we rang in the end of March with the monthly Our Shopping Cart roundup, where we highlight what the Strategist team has been buying for ourselves. Junior writer Bella Druckman, who “was raised to be a butter snob, with a butter addiction to match,” snagged this cheery rug. She says the classic yellow stick makes for the perfect accent rug and a great conversation starter.

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.

10 Things We Loved: Playing Cards to Inflatable Knee Pillows