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What Readers Are Buying: Ultramoisturising Creams, Pens, and Olive Oil

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

Welcome to “Your Shopping Cart,” wherein we break out the top-ten products that you, devoted Strategist UK readers, bought in droves. Think of this as the TL;DR of the Strategist UK: If your like-minded brethren are buying these items, maybe you’d like to as well.

The first month of 2022 saw some seasonally appropriate entries, including ultrahydrating products for dry skin, which occupied almost half of our roundup. As well as some of the usual items, such as a mister and a customisable baby book, we have two new entries this month, including an editor-approved pen.

Returning to the top spot this month is the Flairosol mist bottle, now in its 20th month in our top ten. This product was so popular in January it sold nearly twice as much as the product in second place — a sure sign that its status as one of our most frequently bought products on the Strategist is well deserved. Experts told us misting was an excellent way to take care of plants during the winter months, so perhaps readers are nurturing their aspidistra and leafy ferns alike until the spring.

While Neutrogena’s gel-like moisturiser has been the most popular on the Strategist, over the last few months we’ve noticed Cerave’s moisturising cream creeping back into people’s shopping carts. While it was absent from our top ten last month, it was the number-one selling product back in October and is a favourite of contributor Daniela Morosini and several dermatologists we spoke to. This is suitable for dry to very dry skin, so it’s perfect for this time of year — which might explain the reappearance during the winter months. Dr. Susan Binder says, “It has a high lipid content, which really helps repair dry, cracked skin.” In fact, she says, no matter the reason for your dry skin — whether it’s dry in winter, dry year-round, or dry because of aging — this is a universally good choice.

Last month, Neutrogena’s gel moisturiser slipped down to number ten in our most-bought, which seemed highly unusual for such a relentlessly popular product. Now, it has gone up seven places to number three and is enjoying 20 months in our most-bought. It comes recommended by Strategist staff and skin-care experts and is often on sale for under £10. Case in point, it was down to £8 this month — clearly readers are stocking up while they can.

After a month away, the customisable baby book returns to our most-bought, though one place down, at number four. The book can be completely customised for the recipient — for example, you can choose hardback or softback, select different coloured pages, and even add a message in the front (it’s worth noting that some of these options cost extra).

​​This board game featured in our most-bought for three months running last year, but board games notably fell in popularity when lockdown restrictions began to ease across the UK. Just as with last month, several games have continued to sell well in January, including Codenames. The basic elements of this word-association board game are similar to those of charades; players divide into two teams, with one designated spymaster providing clues. By guessing the words correctly, players unveil the other teams’ agents. The first team to unmask all of their opponents’ spies wins.

Our first new entry this month is this Cetaphil moisturiser, which was the sixth most-bought product in January. It is popular with dermatologists and skin-care experts: In fact, it was featured in both our guides to the best lotions for dry skin and the best moisturisers. Experts said it is particularly good for sensitive skin, as it contains ceramides and essential fatty acids. Cosmetic dermatologist Michele Green says these “create a barrier that protects skin from environmental stressors, while replenishing lost moisture.” It’s fragrance free and, due to the lactic acid, will gently exfoliate without irritating skin.

This soothing balm makes a return after first featuring in our most-bought almost two years ago. The fragrance-free product came recommended by four dermatologists for “extremely dry skin.” Dr. Annie Chiu says she is a big fan of this one because of its density. “Severely dry skin typically calls for a thicker cream, balm, or ointment because they can trap in moisture better,” she says.

Our second new entry this month is the pen that the Strategist UK editors declared “the best” when we tested 87 different kinds. We found the Stabilo 88’s hexagonal barrel made it comfortable to grip, and it was adept at both frantic scribbles and more thoughtful notes, too. We have recommended them as a thoughtful gift for a valentine, particularly if coupled with a nice notepad or planner.

Another returning entry is this set of pencils, which first featured in our October roundup. They debuted at number nine and have stayed in that position this month. These German drawing pencils have come highly recommended by artists, who considered them the “superior” pencil when we asked 12 of them to tell us about their favourites. We think they would make an excellent Valentine’s gift for an artsy sweetheart.

After missing out on our top ten in December, Belazu’s olive oil has returned this month at number ten. It came recommended by Joshua Pattison, founder of Bill & Beak in Camden Market, who told us it was one of his go-to oils for “dressing dishes and dipping ridiculous amounts of bread into.”

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.

What Readers Are Buying: Ultramoisturising Creams and Pens