19 Things We've Tried, Loved, And Want Everyone To Know About
Statement earrings, small biz skincare, irresistible Sichuan condiments, and more. Man, we have good taste.
We hope you love the products we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI — prices are accurate and items in stock as of time of publication.
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First are some picks from Mal, whose love of cemeteries, ghosts, ghouls, and all things spooky, doesn't mean she isn't also one of the most cheerful, kind people I have ever had the pleasure to work alongside!
1. An "Overgrown Cemetery" scented candle for anyone who appreciates the earthy scents of nature, even the parts of nature that are a bit macabre.
Bazaar is a small business based in Baltimore.
Mal says: "This dreary candle lights up my life! I stumbled across it while digging through taxidermy critters in an oddities shop in Baltimore. But instead of smelling like formaldehyde, this lush stuff smelled fresh, dewy, and natural. It promptly came home with me and has been a staple on my bookshelves ever since. It looks right at home with my apothecary jar collection and helps my apartment smell like the great outdoors when things feel stuffy."
Get it from Bazaar for $15.
2. A collection of Papa Rozier Farms lotion bars to get your skin moisturized with castor oil and cocoa butter-based formulas each infused with their own special scents.
The set comes with six lotion bars in Chocolate Rose, Eucalyptus, Hibiscus, Jasmine, Oakmoss, and Natural scents. Papa Rozier Farms is a small business based in Bushwick.
Mal says: "Last Christmas I decided to buy presents exclusively from my neighborhood, which helped me discover Papa Rozier's lotion bars. I got these for my stepmom buuut they're now displayed in my bathroom. Oops. I have seriously dry skin and I love this stuff. The eco-friendly packaging, lightweight feel, and amazing smell make these a need."
Get it from Papa Rozier Farms for $62.
3. A pack of Liquid Death sparkling water for anyone who prefers their daily hydration to be metaphorically tattooed and wearing a leather jacket.
Mal says: "I received THREE separate boxes of Liquid Death for my birthday this year because I talk about this stuff so often, whether people want to listen or not. This is marketing genius, I'm a sucker for fun packaging, and the water is...TO DIE FOR. I also have/love...their merch. Love it."
Get a 12-pack from Amazon for $19.99.
4. An ABC tattoo flash board book, because it's never too early to teach your little ones about being cool. 😎
EGracePhotos is a small business based in Indianapolis.
Mal says: "I found this on Etsy and immediately purchased it for my home. There is no kid in my home. Did I need an ABC board book? No. Did I need an ABC TATTOO board book? Yes. Yes I did. I have it on display in one of my decorative bookshelves and it looks equal parts daring and darling. I have an ~inkling~ you'll love it as much as I do."
Next up are some of Jen's faves. I've loved every book she's ever recommended to me and *yes* I admit we have a group chat about Survivor. We are all so much more than our work, but I would be remiss not to mention that Jen's email inbox is the most organized I have ever beheld.
5. A set of linen face masks, because masks are simply a part of out lives now, so they might as well be as comfortable and adorable as possible!
Type Of Fit: Elastic Ear Loops
Pocket For Filter: No
Fabric Type: Linen with cotton lining
Shipping Time: Will ship within 4–5 days (shipping is free)
Jen says: "I've bought quite a few face masks this year and these have by far been the winner! They're handmade with two layers of pre-washed fabrics and come in a set of four, each one a different and adorable pattern. This floral one is my favorite because it pretty much goes with everything I own and more importantly matches my general ~aura~. The best part is that the maker really doesn't skimp on the fabric. This beauty covers me cheek to cheek and nose to chin without feeling restrictive or uncomfortable. You can't see my smile so you're just going to have to take my word for it — I'm super happy with this purchase."
6. A pair of ballast earrings that make a statement anywhere, any time. Modern but not too minimalistic, you're gonna wanna wear these babes with everything.
Grand Sans is a QPOC-owned business founded in Bed-Stuy in 2017.
Jen says: "These cool earrings are handmade in Brooklyn, New York by one of my favorite local artists and designers, Zoë Pulley. I got them back in March and even though there haven't been any events or nights out to show them off, I've still found a way to wear them ALL the time. I really can't recommend her work enough. Plus, if you end up grabbing a pair for yourself, you'll be supporting a small QPOC-owned business. Just a fair warning: prepare yourself for an influx of compliments!"
Get them from Gran Sans for $70.
8. A colorful backgammon set, because sometimes it just feels good to return to the classics.
Jen says: "This is my adorable mother. Don't let that smile fool you though — we are an extremely competitive family and just minutes after this photo was taken, she did three *very dramatic* victory laps around the kitchen counter. We've been lucky to spend most of 2020 quarantining together, so you can imagine there have been plenty of games and bragging rights to go around. For Christmas, I decided to splurge and buy her a classic Backgammon set but one that could also double as really beautiful house decor."
Get it from the MoMA Design Store for $99.
Now for some picks from Ali Faccenda whose aesthetic and 'fits are always on-point, and has an uncanny knack for uncovering trendy finds from small businesses and Amazon alike.
9. 101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think, because sometimes being able to flit about in a book and read one essay at a time is just what you need. A bedside staple.
Ali says: "I started reading this book about a year ago and it's fabulous if you're someone who doesn't have a lot of time to devote to reading a novel where you need to remember an entire plot line (although I love those too). This is a great book to pick up and flip to a random page and read an essay that will make you feel something, whether it's advice, validating your feelings, or simply to help you gain a new perspective. My favorite thing currently is to flip through random pages until I randomly land on one and read that essay for some inspo or worldly advice."
10. A sweatshirt that's Bad News Bears. Just kidding, this cuddly mockneck arriving on your doorstep is gonna be the best news you've heard for a long time!
Ali says: "I saw an influencer I follow on Instagram recently purchase a teddy bear cross-body from this brand, which I also happened to snag as well, but saw this Bad News (Bears) sweater on their site that I HAD to have. I love things super oversized lately with a cute pair of high-waisted ripped jeans and since I say the phrase 'Oh, they're bad news bears' all the time, this sweater just beckoned for me to buy it."
Get it from Just Peachy for $40 (originally $50, available in sizes S–XXXL).
11. A pair of blue-light-blocking glasses that could help reduce the eyestrain you get from staring at your laptop all day, and will look darn great while doing so.
Ali says: "I actually was served an ad for these blue-light glasses a few months ago and thought they were so cute and oversized. So naturally I popped over to their site and grabbed them. I loved them so much that I got a second pair of the same frames with my prescription. I get a ton of compliments on these, and let me say they are well worth the buy. Since the lenses are so large, you have such optimal viewing without more narrow frames getting in the way, and they've significantly help diminish the amount of headaches I get from looking at my computer screen."
Get them from TIJN for $50 (available in six colors).
12. A pair of mismatched moon and heart earrings, because coordinating > being too matchy in my humble opinion!
13. A custom personal library stamp so e-v-e-r-y-b-o-d-y knows exactly whose volumes they're borrowing. And an excuse to play library even as a grown-up? Heaven.
15. A Cle Cosmetics cushion highlighter for adding buildable luminosity to your favorite features. It's also moisturizing, so prepare to glow, glow, glow.
And last but not least, some faves from Kristina Bornholtz, our newsletter editor whose style I envy *big time* every time we're on a video call together. Kristina start a Depop so I can buy everything from it challenge.
16. A bottle of Leo Oil for anyone who's looking for a holy grail acne treatment that doesn't also leave their skin feeling super dry. Formulated with meadowfoam, rosehip seed oil, and blue tansy, Leo Oil can help calm your skin's oil production, and help it overall find some balance.
Kristina says: "My skin has always been a struggle — it can be really hard to find a balance of products that take care of my acne and don't totally dry me out. Leo Oil has been a saving grace. It's made by Dena Smith (aka @leowithcancer on IG) a woman living with Stage IV Metastatic Breast Cancer, and packaged up with so much love from her home in LA. My skin loves the healing, hydrating, and anti-fungal properties of blue tansy, the main ingredient in this oil. And I love Dena and her outlook on life just as much!"
Get it from Astrologiens for $46.
17. A trio of Fly By Jing sauces and spices so you can finally taste these cult-favorite Sichuan toppings for yourself! Containing classic Chili Crisp, sweet-yet-tangy Zhong Sauce, and Mala Spice Mix you'll wanna sprinkle on everything, with this set you've got all your bases covered.
All of the sauces are vegan! Hooray! Fly by Jing was founded by Jing Gao, globally-renowned expert on Chinese cuisine creating delicious products inspired by her hometown of Chengdu.
Kristina says: "I'm a sucker for sauces and spices, and Fly by Jing has soared to the top of my pantry must-haves. Founded by Jing Gao, Fly By Jing is inspired by the flavors of her hometown of Chengdu, China. If you love Sichuan food (or any heat to your food *period*), you'll love this lineup. Pictured above is the Mala Spice Mix a savory-spicy powder that is truly good on everything from beef bowls to roasted cashews. My other favorites are the Zhong Sauce (great for marinading and dipping) and the Sichuan Chili Crisp (also good on everything, even ice cream). Go ahead and just buy the trio."
19. A Nuuly clothing subscription so you can stay on-trend without kissing hundreds goodbye every month *or* resorting to only fast fashion. You'll get to choose six items per month to love as your own before sending them back to be loved by others. Sharing is caring, and hey, getting your new six items will soften the blow of sending the previous month's back!
Kristina says: "I love infusing my wardrobe with new clothes as much as the next person, but in 2019, I made a vow to shop more sustainably/ethically. Enter Nuuly, a well-priced clothing rental service with lots of fun brands, from Lisa Says Gah to AGolde to Urban Outfitters. Each month, you get your choice of six items sent to you in a reusable nylon container — get your kicks, then put them back in the container and return it. I've used the service off-and-on for over a year now (you can skip months!), and in the pandemic, it's been a nice way to swap in fun sweaters to make me feel like a human again, like this comfy-cozy sweater pictured above."
Get it from Nuuly for $88/month.
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The reviews in this post have been edited for length and clarity.