If you follow our monthly feature “Your Shopping Cart,” you know we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying, so we felt that it was only fair that, as Strategist editors, we could turn the tables and highlight all the things we’ve been buying for ourselves. As you’ll notice, it’s both a blessing and a curse to be on-staff at the Strategist; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it. (It’s online-shopping expertise meets IRL needs.) Below, what we bought in September.
Sam Daly, deals editor
I have incredibly sensitive skin, so when I suddenly started getting itchy and red all over my arms and legs with no clear culprit, I immediately ran to my dermatologist. Apparently, I was having an adverse reaction to the heat wave — brilliant — and she suggested I use a fragrance-free body wash for the time being. While perusing my local Target, I spotted the Naturium cleanser that’s been cropping up on my TikTok feed for months (and was in last month’s Strategist Haul) and was delighted to see the words “fragrance-free” printed in bold on the label. I’m a convert: It doesn’t suds up very much, so I have to use two or three pumps on my loofah, but I haven’t used up more than a third of the bottle even after weeks of use. My skin has gotten incredibly silky-smooth, and the little strawberry bumps on the backs of my arms are noticeably smaller. (It’s not as effective as my trusty buffing bar, I will admit, but it’s nice to not have to add an extra step to my routine.)
I had heard of the mystical qualities of Dr. Jart’s color-correcting cream for years, and I finally submitted an order for the full-size miracle cream after getting my hands on a sample. Every day, I dab the treatment on my cheeks, chin, and forehead and am blown away by how my rosacea, hyperpigmentation, and occasional pimple begin to fade away. It’s not going to airbrush away all your features, but you do get that whole, “Who, me? Oh, I just woke up looking this beautiful and radiant” kind of look. It doesn’t feel like you’re wearing makeup, either. It’s essentially the same as putting on your daily sunscreen (and it has SPF 30 if you happen to forget that step).
Lauren Ro, writer
My husband ordered this large-format countdown timer for my son Augie after seeing it in his pre-K classroom, and it has been a game changer. I don’t know if it’s this clock or if he’s getting more mature as he approaches 5 years old, but now he actually stops what he’s doing after a five-minute warning and transitions to the next thing without throwing a tantrum. We’ve used phone, Apple Watch, and Google Home timers in the past, but he always ignored those. Something about the association with school, the big numbers, and the fact that he can easily set it himself seems to be clicking. It’s only been two weeks, but I’m cautiously optimistic that we can keep this up.
Maxine Builder, editor
Winnie Yang, senior editor
I collect cookbooks and make it a point to acquire those on the cooking of my parents’ homeland. This is the latest one.
Arielle Avila, writer
For the past eight years, my dog Maggie has never been precious with her toys. She usually tears the squeakers out immediately and gets bored of fetch after five minutes, if that. I bought these after she found an already damaged stray ball of the same brand at the park and carried it all the way home. We replaced it with a new one, and she has kept it by her side ever since. When she wakes up, she gives it a squeak. When she eats, she puts it next to her bowl. Before our walks, she lays it by the door for her to pick up when we get back. When it’s time to sleep, she brings it to bed. It’s brought a new meaning to “ball is life.” And frankly, it’s very cute to see my dog as obsessed with something as I am with her.
Ailbhe Malone, senior editor
After close to three years of soft-bra life, thanks to the pandemic and pregnancy, I decided it was time to return to an underwire. I thought that buying some lovely bras from Dora Larsen would help me turn my back on the uniboob-giving Skims Stretch Scooped Bralette that I’m so fond of. I was right! There’s lots I like about Dora Larsen as a brand: It lists the names and addresses of its factories on its site (all of which follow the Ethical Trading Initiative), over 80 percent of its lace is recycled, and its color patterns are playful but not weird. But I also appreciate that it’s made an underwired bra — the Aerin — that I genuinely haven’t wanted to take off since I put it on. (The other bra, the Rae, is taking a little longer to break in, but I’m hopeful.)
Kelsie Schrader, managing editor
I’ve been waiting for this table to come back in stock in the walnut color for at least two months. Natural and black regularly went in and out of stock, but walnut never did, and I feared it was gone forever. But I’d become convinced it was the only side table that could ever look right in my apartment, and at the right price, so I waited hopefully. I’m glad I did. The table looks exactly as it does in the photos. It arrives fully assembled, and, in my opinion, it looks nicer than a $150 side table. If you’re interested in it, I wouldn’t wait too long, as I’ve already seen it start to go in and out of stock again, so who knows how long you have until you end up waiting two months like I did.
Ambar Pardilla, writer
A hyperfixation of mine has been trying to find a turtleneck that’s Lurex-y in that Lauren Hutton in Halston way. The hunt has been going on for years. They’re always either garishly sparkly or incredibly tight-fitting. But the search is over. This Elie Tahari sweater is what I wanted, what I had pictured in my head — plus, it’s on sale.
I can’t do foundation — it feels like too much on the skin — but I will do dabs of concealer. And I ran out of my tube of Boy de Chanel right as Gucci launched its first concealer. Though this one is branded as full-coverage, it’s lightweight. I can blend it right into my skin with my fingertips. It covers those out-of-the-blue red spots and unruly, about-ready-to-pop pimples really well. Is it a splurge? Yes. But Gucci has one of the only good luxury-beauty lines — I have bought blush, lipsticks (both matte and sheer), eyeliners, and mascara from the brand. And, I mean, look at it.
Erin Schwartz, writer
I recently stopped by D&F Italian Deli in Astoria, where I go for really good ravioli, fresh pasta, and Sicilian blood-orange marmalade. (They also have squid ink, which I’m intrigued by but have no idea how to use; send tips.) I was vacillating over whether to buy this fancy olive oil when the deli guy said the magic words: He told me an older customer who only buys this brand had been asking about it, and that he had to call her and tell her it’s back in stock. Where the old ladies of Queens lead, I follow. The oil is great — perfect for salad dressing or drizzling over baba ghannouj.
It’s for a Halloween costume. That’s all I’m saying; I’m not giving away all my secrets.
Jenna Milliner-Waddell, associate editor
I moved this month! I officially upgraded from a studio to a one-bedroom and basically need a new version of everything I own. My old stuff looks like doll furniture in my new place, but I haven’t gotten much yet. I did, however, find a deadstock, metal Ikea wardrobe from its PS 2014 collection on Facebook Marketplace that I’m obsessed with; got this shower curtain from Hay in cream; and painted my bedroom this moody color from Benjamin Moore called Wenge. Describing it as brown, black, or violet doesn’t really do it justice. There’s so much dimension to it. It’s absolutely gorgeous. I regretfully didn’t paint the ceiling as I thought it would be too dark. Don’t be like me; just go for it.
It was also my birthday this month. I popped into Seed in Bed-Stuy expecting just to browse, but I came across this Brandon Blackwood bag and decided to treat myself. It’s the kind of black bag that looks great when you’re wearing color, but I’d probably never wear it with a monochrome fit. I can’t explain the phenomenon beyond that, but those who get it know.
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.