We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favourites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trawling the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including an infant-friendly travel cushion, a Playmobil-esque coffee brewer, and some sourced-from-Jamaica rum. And if you want even more Strategist stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for our email newsletter.
A coffee brewer for one
Senior audience-development manager Rosie Percy decided to rethink her coffee-making ritual when she began to live alone recently. After spotting a coffee maker that looked “like part of a Playmobil set” on a friend’s counter, she knew she had to have it. The Aromaboy is “inexpensive, easy to use, and takes up less space than a kettle,” says Percy. “Importantly, the machine also brews a really good cup of coffee — and although the description says the Aromaboy makes two cups, I find it makes the perfect single serving to fill my big Le Creuset mug.”
A TV critic’s favourite streaming service
With a new streaming service seemingly launching with each passing week, we spoke to TV and film experts to find out which ones are worth the subscription fee. “If you’re aiming for glossy, high-end, U.S.-based drama, I’d say Now and Sky are the best places to go,” says TV critic and broadcaster Scott Bryan. “Now are also quick off the mark in getting these programmes overnight, so you can watch Succession at the same time in the U.S. — if you stay up until 2 a.m.!” Starting at £5.99, Now is one of the more affordable services in our roundup, but Bryan let us know that it’s always worth a haggle: In the past, he has managed to negotiate a much cheaper offer.
A skin-quenching balm
Our January edition of “What Readers Are Buying” saw the return of an old favourite; Avène’s lipid-replenishing cream first featured on our most-bought list almost two years ago. The cream, recommended to us by four dermatologists, is designed to soothe “extremely dry skin.” The balmy cream is also fragrance free, making it suitable for those whose skin is particularly sensitive.
A heavy-duty carryall
This tote bag from the ESEA-owned brand Native & Co hails from the Okayama Prefecture of Japan, known for its high-quality textiles. We think it would make a delightful gift for a valentine whose Kånken has seen better days. For more gift inspiration from ESEA-owned businesses, read our full guide here.
A beauty-writer-approved curl definer
Broadcaster and beauty writer Louise McSharry emptied out ten tubs, tubes, and bottles throughout January, including this curl-defining gel from Bouclème. “I’ve spent the last few years weaning my hair off bleach and attempting to coax it back to its natural 2C texture,” says McSharry. “It’s been a journey.” McSharry applies the gel to her soaking-wet hair and “scrunches” it out once it’s dry. The results: “beautifully defined and lasting curls.” The bottle is also long-lasting; despite using a tablespoon of the gel with each shower over the past year, McSharry is only now on her second bottle.
Some giftable spiced rum
These bottles of spiced rum come from Black-owned brand Las Olas. The British company sources their rum internationally — from Barbados and Jamaica — and tasters can look forward to notes of vanilla, gold cherry, and roasted coffee beans. However, if you like the look of their handsome bottles, don’t dillydally — the last day to order them in time for the 14th is tomorrow.
Arman Naféei, former director of ambience at L.A.’s Chateau Marmont, is very particular about three things: music, temperature, and lighting. For lighting, he swears by these Edison light bulbs by Woowtt — he even packs a set with him when he stays at his parents’ house. “It’s so warm. It’s like the light from a fireplace,” says Naféei. “Lighting must adapt to the time of day, but some times of day are particularly flattering. It’s why so many Instagram filters mimic sunset hours: It’s the warmest, most comfortable light.”
A romantic potted plant
In the run up to Valentine’s Day, plant columnist Sonya Patel Ellis shared some less obvious houseplants to gift to your beloved. According to her, the hoya kerrii can’t be beat for its cuteness factor. “In stores, it’s typically sold as a single or double leaf. It readily roots in a small pot of soil and can stay as a planted heart or hearts for many months without turning into a larger vine,” she says. As well as a small love token, Patel Ellis also recommends the potted plant as a gift to kids, bringing a splash of joy to desks and dressing tables.
A pair of cozy slippers
With Valentine’s Day now a little over a week away, you may be scrambling to find a gift that will arrive in plenty of time. If your valentine is all for the UGG revival, they’re sure to welcome a pair of these comfy Cluggette slippers. They’re currently available in both the classic shade, “chestnut,” and “pink cloud” (which is on sale currently).
And a toddler-friendly travel pillow
Flying with an infant in tow can often be a source of great stress — contributor Chantel Tattoli recollects some of the “worst migraines” of her life following such flights from France to Florida. Resolving to do whatever it takes to find a solution to the problem, Tattoli happened across the Huzi Infinity Pillow. “Basically, the pillow is a noise-canceling puff coat that you can wind around your neck and/or over your eyes or prop behind your back for lumbar support,” she says. “Into the bargain, it turns out that the Infinity is super for kids.” Not only has the Infinity Pillow zapped Tattoli’s dread around travelling, but she now sleeps with it at home, too.
The Strategist UK is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Read about who we are and what we do here. Our editors update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.