stuff we buy ourselves

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in May

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

If you follow our monthly feature “Your Shopping Cart,” you know we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying. Which led us to think 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 a Strategist editor; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it. (It’s online-shopping expertise meets IRL needs.) Below, what we all bought in May.

Chris Mandle, writer

Photo: Amazon

If you’ve lingered too long on CleanTok, you’ll likely be familiar with the Pink Stuff. The vibrant pink paste is used by all manner of influencers. (Mrs. Hinch, the original cleanfluencer, is a big fan.) It’s a gently abrasive cleaner that I ended up buying after hearing my mum rave about it last month. I was specifically looking for something to clean my oven door, which was so marked with grease and God knows what that I could barely see whatever food was cooking inside at any given moment. While there are great oven-specific cleaners out there, I wanted something that would pull double — or even triple — duty elsewhere in my flat, and I’d heard that the Pink Stuff can be used on loads of things around the house.

When my package arrived, I ripped it open and decided to try it right then, in the middle of the day. And sure enough, months of caked-in grease was wiped away within minutes. I dipped the corner of a microfiber cloth into the paste and applied it in tight circles, then left it for a couple of minutes and wiped it clean with a cloth. What I didn’t know from seeing it online was that the Pink Stuff has an irresistible raspberry scent that makes using it quite pleasing. After the oven, I tried it on my cast-iron cookware, which now looks brand new, and it’s great for cleaning up watermarks from the inside of my sink.

Photo: Amazon

After getting through my last mammoth-size bag of cotton pads last month, I promised myself I’d look for a more sustainable alternative. I was adding some of my go-to moisturiser to my shopping cart when Amazon’s intuitive algorithm actually recommended these reusable pads from Garnier. I figured I’d try them out. Compared to cotton-wool pads, they’re a little downier, probably because they’re designed for makeup removal. (I use them for cleansing or the occasional smear of toner at night.) But I am particularly fond of the pink-and-white colour, which reminds me of the inside of a bunny’s ears. After a couple of uses, I just chuck them in the washing machine, and they’re ready to use again.

Photo: Made

I have been looking for a new rug for my bedroom for a few months — we currently have a thick woven one that was kindly gifted by a friend about four years ago, but it’s a nightmare to clean and is looking a bit ratty. I saw this rug when I visited the Made showroom on Tottenham Court Road earlier in the month and made a mental note to repeatedly check the website until one of the brand’s seriously-good sales happened.

Well, firstly, the rug went on sale — for a cool 35 percent off — but I kept ignoring it, and the sale ended. I couldn’t believe it. “That was the rug,” I explained to my boyfriend, who nodded sympathetically. I thought about it a lot over the month and then, right at the end of May, it was back on sale with the same discount. I stopped everything and ordered it, but not before finding a discount code online for a further £10 off my order. It hasn’t actually arrived yet, but let this be a lesson for you: If something is on sale on Made, don’t dillydally.

Rosie Percy, associate director of audience development

Photo: Hurr

After two years of cancellations and rearranged dates, I suddenly have a lot of hen dos and weddings all at once that each require an outfit. In an effort to be more sustainable (and expand my wardrobe options), I signed up for the rental service Hurr. The platform has a huge catalogue of designer clothes available to borrow, with the rental fee costing around the same as what I’d pay for a fast-fashion dress (and likely only wear once anyway). The price also includes a dry-cleaning fee and insurance, so I — a very clumsy person — could relax and rent in confidence.

I picked this silk bold-print Olivia von Halle dress, and the rental process couldn’t have been simpler: I chose how long I wanted the dress for, paid, then received a tracking number when it was on its way. The only downside was knowing that I had to give the dress back, because it looked and felt so incredible that I never wanted to take it off. After the hen do, I posted the dress back and I was done. It was so seamless that I’ve already lined up a Vampire’s Wife dress to rent for a wedding in June.

Photo: Amazon

I recently adopted a cat, Tabitha, and she very quickly started destroying my furniture. I needed a decent scratching post to keep her claws occupied but wanted something a little more aesthetically pleasing than the beige towers I’d seen elsewhere, so I was pleasantly surprised when a late-night Amazon trawl surfaced this whimsical cactus scratcher.

Although it’s so silly, the cactus does sort of blend into my home décor of earthy tones and houseplants. The materials are good, too — a mix of fluffy plush and hard-wearing sisal that provides different textures for pawing, climbing, and scratching. Tabitha started using the post right away, and though she really throws herself at it, the post is thankfully sturdy enough to stay upright. So now I can sleep easy, knowing I won’t wake up to shredded carpets and torn upholstery.

Photo: Amazon

I’m a fan of board gameslast month’s haul included a design-y version of Four in a Row — but I struggled to find a game that involves more than two players and doesn’t require a lot of concentration to play. Then a friend hosted me for dinner and introduced me to Kluster, promising me that a game involving magnets was more fun than it sounds.

The premise is simple: Players get an equal share of pebble-shaped (and surprisingly strong) magnets and take turns placing them inside a loop of string without making them stick together. The player responsible for making any magnets stick together has to pick those ones up, and the first player to get rid of all their magnets wins. Each game lasts for only a few minutes, and there’s no score to keep track of, making it an ideal end-of-the-night game to wind down with.

Fern McErlane, intern

Photo: Lush

As a certified Lush fanatic, their scents have been a staple in my toilette ever since I first ventured into one of their stores (back in 2016, with money from my first-ever paycheck to spend). I was devastated when my favourite seasonal body spray from the brand, the spicy-sweet caramel scent “Yog Nog,” was discontinued a few years ago. Though I’d luckily stockpiled it from the previous Christmas season, my supply ran out fast.

I’ve been hunting for a new top choice ever since, but since no other brand packs quite the sensory punch that Lush does, I turned back to the retailer to explore their other options. After testing their offerings in person in their Newcastle store one weekend, one body spray stood out: Honey I Washed the Kids, which is described as “honey toffee with a citrus twist.” Its sweetness appealed to me, and I later happily bought this 200-millilitre spray (alongside a handful of other goodies) for £20 from the Lush website.

This scent comes in a bottle with an effective spray nozzle; just two sprays provided full-body coverage. I find it also layers nicely with my favourite Lush perfume (What Would Love Do), so it’s now well on its way to becoming my signature scent.

Photo: Amazon

I’ve always been into photography but only delved into shooting with 35-mm. film for the first time during the pandemic, using a beaten-up, secondhand film camera with which I quickly fell in love. However, I’ve found a real downside in my trusty Minolta’s bulkiness: I can’t see myself risking its fragile lens and body carting it around festivals or on days out, and it doesn’t lend itself well to candid (or plandid) snaps. In an effort to replicate its retro shots on the go, I sought out a more portable alternative.

Though Kodak is widely known for its 35-mm. film and cameras, I found out that they also offer a really good disposable camera. It’s priced slightly higher than other options, but Kodak’s reputation and reliable photo quality persuaded me to purchase this for £25 from Amazon (though the price seems to have increased since). This camera uses their professional-grade 800 film, known for its natural tones and lighting. You get a generous 27 shots, though the snap-happy may struggle to ration these out, and it’s easy to use as a point-and-click.

After using up all my snaps on a weekend away with friends, I took my disposable camera to Boots to get my shots developed and was pleased with the high-quality, vintage-style pictures. I plan on buying another to take on holiday this summer; the only downside is that the button to activate flash is slightly unreliable and often fails to activate, making it a little hard to use at night.

Rachael Griffiths, writer

I first used the Airwrap in December after my friend was given one for her birthday. Ever since then, I’ve been coordinating my visits to her house to fall on hair-wash days and putting away money for my own.

The one I got is the newer model that allows you to use the same barrel to curl hair on both sides of your head. (With the original Airwrap, you’d have to switch barrels to change direction.) There are curling barrels in two sizes as well as four other attachments: a soft smoothing brush, a firm smoothing brush, the hair dryer (which also has a smoothing function, great for pesky flyaways), and a volumising round brush. Of all the attachments, the round brush is my most used. I have a full fringe that tends to part in the middle, but when I use the Airwrap on my damp hair, my fringe stays in place for days. The curling barrels are great, too. I can dry and curl all of my hair within 15 minutes, and even when the curls drop (after around a day), my hair retains some bounce. It’s definitely the most expensive thing I’ve ever bought, but it really is worth it. Not only is it kind to your hair, but people genuinely notice the difference — and ask me if I’m fresh from the hairdresser, even with my two-day-old hair.

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.

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in May