Strategist Circular: 10 Things We Wrote About Last Week 2021

Eufemia Didonato

Photo-Illustration: retailers

We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favorites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trawling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including an ultra-moisturizing shampoo, classic checkered sneaks, and a high-powered water flosser.

This plush velvet duvet from West Elm made our list of the best duvet covers, as recommended by interior designers. Decorilla designer Devin Shaffer loves the crushed finish, calling the texture “avant-garde” and a bit glamorous. Made from a viscose blend with cotton backing, the duvet cover comes with two matching sham covers and is available in a range of jeweled fall tones, including the Dusty Blush shown here. The set is currently over $100 off (that’s 40 percent off the original price).

Nowadays, Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst reaches for this Sienna Naturals shampoo to detangle her hair — a development she would never have dreamed of five years ago. “I was immediately impressed by its foamy lather and how soft and moisturized my hair felt,” Denton-Hurst writes. “I could feel some of my tangles melting as I worked it through with my fingers.” She notes that the shampoo contains aloe, which has “a gel-like consistency that acts as a lubricant and makes it easier to comb out knots and tangles.” Afterwards, her curls “clumped and spiraled so nicely I was compelled to post a photo on Instagram stories as proof of its effectiveness.”

When we asked Nick Jonas about his favorite things, he said these classic checkered Vans are a staple in his everyday wardrobe. He owns “two or three pairs” because they’re “so easy to throw on and pair with anything” and “add a nice punch to any outfit.” Any time he travels, he makes sure to throw these in his bag.

Strategist senior writer Liza Corsillo consulted with dental experts about the best water flossers, and this Waterpik flosser came out on top. “They are the holy grail of Waterpiks and flossers, and I recommend their product to all my patients,” says dentist Dr. Elliot Eskenazi. The Aquarius model is a popular pick for its ten different pressure settings, which allow you to personalize the pressure to your own mouth depending on factors such as gum sensitivity or the amount of space between your teeth. Dr. Irina Sinensky of Dental House lists all the ways it can be adjusted to your individual preferences: “It offers water-control buttons on the handle, 90-second run time, ten pressure settings, seven different tips, 360-degree rotation of the tip, and a significantly large water tank.”

According to some pretty cool people, this Peel iPhone case protects your phone without adding weight or bulk. Strategist contributor Chris Black says it’s the definition of barely there, so innocuous you barely notice it on your phone. And contributors Jake Swearingen and Paris Martineau describe Peel cases as “low-key [options] that won’t hide the glory of your shiny new iPhone from the world.” They attest that the cases are “crazy thin — like, ‘you will forget you have a case on’ thin … [and] still offer some protection if you fumble your phone onto the sidewalk.”

Great Jones just launched its new Dutch Baby, a smaller, round version of the full-size Duchess, and we suggest you don’t dillydally on this petite pot. It fits comfortably inside the Duchess for easy storage, and its 3.5-quart size means it’s perfectly sized to one stove-top burner. Available in a variety of shades such as “broccoli” and “mustard,” it’s currently available for preorder with plans to ship by the end of October.

Strategist writer Emma Wartzman spoke with professional bakers about the best tools for baking cakes, and recipe developers Claire Saffitz and Samantha Seneviratne both stress the importance of straight-sided cake pans. “Certain cake pans have slanted or rounded edges,” Seneviratne says, “so when you go to layer them, you can’t lay them nicely. That’s not something you want to realize when it’s too late.” Saffitz is a proponent of anodized aluminum, which “heats quickly and evenly” and is also “super-nonreactive. Sometimes standard aluminum pans change color over time, and you can get funky flavors.”

As we head into chillier days, wool socks are essential for keeping your feet warm — and Amazon reviewers say this low-cut option is suited for just about any activity you can think of. “Absolutely the best athletic socks I’ve ever owned. I use them playing racquetball, pickleball, mountain biking, hiking, etc.,” one reviewer writes. Another reviewer has had problems with low-cut socks bunching up, but “never had an issue” with these “falling down around the ankle or pooling up at the toes. They’re no-show and keep my feet dry from sweat even during long workouts at the gym.”

Strategist contributor Ariel Kanter can’t get enough of Dr. Bronner’s new chocolate line. She was skeptical at first — “What are soap people doing making chocolate?” — but was quickly won over, declaring the nut butter and praline bars to be “dark and rich” with fillings that are “sweet but not tooth-achingly so.” She’s especially a fan of the hazelnut-butter bar, which she describes as a “flat, sophisticated Reese’s cups.” Even her vegan sister-in-law, who typically goes for “flaxseed eggs and butter replacement,” got on board, marking the first time they two had agreed on a dessert. “As cheesy as the label looks — it literally has the word magic in large metallic, Willy Wonka–worthy lettering — the bars are indeed something of a miracle,” Kanter proclaims. “A sisterhood-of-the-traveling-pants type of bar that everyone can love.”

We asked barbers for their best safety-razor recommendations, and the German razor company Merkur came up more than any other brand. The 34C is a three-inch, roughly three-ounce model that four experts say is perfect for those new to shaving with a safety razor. Its shorter handle is “wide and well-balanced,” according to Brian Porteous, owner of Heritage Barbershop in Portland, so it’s “easier to grip” and more maneuverable. And barber Mike Sposito assures that it’s very simple and straightforward to use: “You unscrew the button, the top pops open, you pop the single blade in, and screw it down again.”

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.

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