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What Readers Are Buying: Graphite Pencils, Plant Misters, and Hair Masks

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.

As in September, October’s most-bought list features an all-new No. 1 item, but this month also includes two new entries: a baby book perfect for a 6-month-old and a set of artist-approved drawing pencils that would make an excellent gift for someone this Christmas. Naturally, some of our best sellers remain on our list, but perhaps the biggest surprise is a non-gel moisturiser claiming the top spot for the first time.

CeraVe Moisturising Cream

Last month, CeraVe’s hydrating moisturiser made a reappearance after being absent from our top ten for five months, and now it’s taken the top spot (which is no mean feat given the universal popularity of a certain gel-like moisturiser further down the list). CeraVe’s moisturiser, a favourite of contributor Daniela Morosini and several dermatologists we spoke to, is suitable for dry to very dry skin, so it’s perfect for this time of year. 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.

Although its popularity waned somewhat recently, the Flairosol plant mister has returned to second place in our most bought, making October the 18th week this inexpensive product has remained on our list. Perhaps it’s because October saw the Strategist UK run a whole week dedicated to plant content, including the best gifts, misters, secateurs, pots, and yes, plants. This bottle comes recommended by experts for misting plants — though we have lots of other options in our guide to the best plant misters.

We first saw this Belazu olive oil in August’s roundup, where it was at No. 10, and after disappearing last month, it has now reappeared in third place. 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.”

This month’s list is the 19th to feature Neutrogena’s gel-like moisturiser, though it’s rare to see the product in fourth place. It has come recommended by experts and Strategist staff alike and is suitable for dry-skin types, the rosacea prone, and even pregnant women. It contains both glycerin and hyaluronic acid, meaning it can hydrate skin without the need for emollients (which can feel too heavy).

One of our best-selling gifts for babies, these chewable stacking blocks have been on our most-bought list for five months. Natasha Crookes, director of public affairs and communications at the British Toy and Hobby Association, recommended interlinking tactile cubes for little ones at this age but said soft toys are an important consideration since 1-year-olds are still very much in the teething zone.


Our sixth-most-bought product this month is a three-way tie. First is the Henry Hoover, which has gone up one place from its debut last week. It was the most recommended vacuum cleaner by the ten experts we spoke to; four of them chose this model specifically. Wendy Iveson, owner of zero-waste shop the Green Stores in Hertfordshire, says she uses hers both in the store and at home. Iveson, who has four kids, says its “industrial nature means it’s suitable for both the workplace and domestic spaces.”

Also at sixth place is this star projector, which has fallen five places from last month’s top spot. The inexpensive, easy-to-carry item has now been on our most-bought list for four months and would make an excellent gift for little ones. In fact, we first featured it in our guide to the best gifts for 1-year-olds. “At an age when children are learning to sleep independently, this twinkling projector will help them drift off peacefully,” says Siobhan Freegard, founder of It is cordless and easy to transport, so you can keep your child’s bedtime routine consistent when you’re away from home.

Our final sixth-place product is this customisable baby book, which has also been in our roundup for a total of four months. It was featured in our look at the best gifts for 1-year-olds and came recommended by Freegard, who said children love hearing stories about themselves, making this a fun way to get story time more personal.

Another popular book for little ones, Funnybones has now made three appearances in our most bought, though it has dropped two places from September. This fun tale by the Ahlbergs is a firm favourite with contributor Ellen Wallwork’s 1-year-old, who often picks up the story of the “dark dark house” and plonks himself on a knee to be read to. We featured it and many other books in our look at the best gifts for 1-year-olds.

Olaplex’s hair-repairing mask spends an 11th month in our most bought, though it has dropped two places from September. As well as coming recommended by stylists, it has been a “life saver” for author Shon Faye, who told us she had grown out her hair from her pandemic-era bleached-blonde look: “I have come to enjoy the ritual of slicking it over my hair and leaving it for so many hours that my hair and the product dries out, as it repairs the bonds in the structure of my hair. Then I relish the satisfaction of getting to wash it out and letting it air-dry into a boosted shine.”

Our ninth-best-selling product this month is a new entry: 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. Staedtler, which was founded in 1835, is also the preferred choice of Strategist writer Chris Mandle’s dad, David, a sketch artist who swears by them. We think they would make an excellent gift for an artist.

In tenth place this month is our second new entry: a book of baby faces that comes recommended by experts as an excellent gift for a 6-month-old. “Babies at 6 months start to be more inclined to pay attention to a book, and they’re starting to notice other babies’ faces. They really like to look at other babies,” said Sarah MacLaughlin, LSW, senior writer and training specialist of Zero to Three. Dr. Tovah P. Klein, director of the Barnard College Center for Toddler Development and author of How Toddlers Thrive, further explained, saying, “The words are not the most important part. Looking at a picture and the interaction with the parent around the book gives the message that looking at books is a positive thing.”

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: Graphite Pencils and Plant Misters