Navigating the congested aisles of a CVS is a daunting exercise any time, even for the most seasoned of shoppers. Do you get heavy-duty band-aids or regular? What’s the difference between the generic and name-brand pain reliever? Will any antacids actually, effectively relieve indigestion? But throw a pandemic in the mix, along with increasingly extreme weather, and those drugstore aisles feel downright scary. Which face masks are the most effective? Is there a sunscreen that works and prevents maskne? Which toilet paper and batteries should you keep in stock, just in case? The Strategist over the years has surfaced hundreds upon hundreds of best-in-class drugstore items — like the hair-ties that won’t leave dents, the nasal inhalers that Tuk-Tuk drivers use in Thailand, the 1864-era mouthwash that historian Walter Isaccson swears by, even an accordion plunger that will save you from embarrassment. But no run-of-the-mill Rite Aid, or even a high-end apothecary carries this all — which is why we decided to create our own drugstore on the Strategist.
Below, we’ve pieced together the inventory of our dream drugstore, featuring recommendations from doctors, integrative nutritionists, dermatologists, frequent travelers, authors, famous people, dental hygienists, and our own staff writers, among (many) others. (Of course, you should always consult your doctor before taking a new medication.) Some of the products are straight from the shelves of actual drugstores (like a pregnancy test or Guy Fieri’s insoles), while others are ones we wish were on the shelves of actual drugstores (like reusable Swedish dishcloths). Some are everyday items (like hydrating shampoo or itch-relieving moisturizer). Others are extremely 2020 (and 2021) needs (like KN95 face masks, eight-port power outlets for home offices shared with roommates or family members, or low-dose melatonin for when your mind won’t shut off at night). And, importantly, most of these items cost about as much as any counterparts you might find at your local pharmacy — with a few exceptions, like the $67 British M hair oil our beauty writer (and her mom) swears by.