The BuzzFeed Life editors are always trying new products, apps, tips, and DIY projects, and we decided it was time to start sharing the best of them with you. Each month, we’ll post our recommendations for what’s actually worth it. For the sake of transparency, items under “Things We Bought” and “Tricks We Learned” were purchased with our own money and/or were not the result of a PR pitch. Those under “Things We Tried” are items that were provided to us at no cost for the sake of review. Let us know in the comments what sorts of things you’d like us to review next month!
1. OxiClean Max Force Gel Stick — $3.44
I spill, slop, or smear a stainable substance onto my clothing at least twice a week. My wardrobe *should* look like a Jackson Pollock painting, but everything is surprisingly stain-free thanks to my beloved OxiClean Max Force Gel Stick. Grease, tomato sauce, chocolate, dirt, blood: I’ve used this glue-stick-style stain remover to get rid of them all. You just blot the stain with the stick and let it sit before eventually washing the garment as you normally would.
Last week at work I somehow managed to scribble all over the front of my dress with a ballpoint pen (either that or I was attacked by some malevolent ghost toddler — the truth is out there). I thought that I’d finally found a stain that the stick wouldn’t be able to tackle, but I should never have doubted the “magical” powers of the blue gel. I let the the solution soak into the stain for four days, ran it through the wash, and my dress was back to normal.
Moral of this stain-strewn story: If you’re as incapable of eating without dribbling as I am, you need to get a gel stick ASAP. —Mallory McInnis
2. Oxo Salad Spinner — $30
After I read the BuzzFeed piece about wedding registry items that are actually worth it, I felt inspired to finally buy myself a damn salad spinner because I spend way too much money on pre-washed greens. Also I have a fear of finding a frog in those salad mixes, because that’s a real thing!
The Oxo Good Grips Salad Spinner cost $30 and it took, like, five minutes to clean a ton of kale and lettuce I bought at the farmers market. I stored the greens in a plastic container + a paper towel, and they lasted well over a week — yay! —Rachel Christensen
3. Crocs Wedges — $40 to $60
Two years ago I moved into an apartment that’s a 15-minute walk away from the subway, which meant that without even noticing it, I stopped wearing heels. If I had to do that much walking to get where I was going, I wanted to be in the most comfortable shoes possible…even if that meant choosing frumpy shoes over the stilettos that were sitting in my closet, waiting to see the light of day.
Then one day, I was chatting with a friend of mine who works in PR (and subsequently needs to wear heels to work and/or events every single day). She had complimented a co-worker’s shoes one night, and the co-worker whispered back, “They’re Crocs.” The next day my friend went out and bought a pair in her size and she’s never looked back… So I decided to give them a whirl.
When I walked into the Crocs store, my eye went directly to the “Buy One, Get Two Pairs 50% Off” sign. The first pair I tried on were black wedges with simple, little straps around the ankles and toes. My foot immediately felt comfortable and I practically jumped up to give the shoes the Walk Around the Store Test. They passed with flying fucking colors, and then I skipped through the aisles trying to find my second and third pairs. I actually had a hard time choosing because there were so.many.good.choices. Seriously, a bloodhound would not be able to tell that these beautiful shoes were the siblings of the Crocs we all know (the ones most people abhor).
Since getting them, I’ve worn the wedges (the salmon pair above and the black pair) to work, out to drinks with friends, and during a weekend when I’m just walking around the city. A few coworkers complimented my shoes the first day I wore them and audibly gasped when I revealed the brand. It legit feels like I’m walking on air, plus they’re cute as hell. In a weird way, I feel like one of those girls who wears heels every day and says things like, “They’re just honestly more comfortable for me than flats!” and I now see the light. Go forth, my friends, and suffer less. I’ll be wearing my Crocs with pride. —Augusta Falletta
4. Titan Vegetable Peeler — $12
The first time I tried to peel a shiny green apple with a vegetable peeler is one of the more gruesome moments of my adolescence. Let’s just say it didn’t go well. Although my fully substantiated fear of peelers after that got me out of some tedious chores for a while, at some point I knew I would have to suck it up and learn how to behave around sharp blades like a grown-up. But it turns out I was wrong! Instead, I put my obsession with infomercials and As-Seen-On-TV products to good use and purchased this Titan Peeler that promised to not slip and cut all your skin off. This peeler actually *grips* onto the skin of anything you want to peel — apples, carrots, potatoes, squash, pumpkins, onions, tomatoes — so it doesn’t slip off and cut you. And it only takes the smallest layer away so you’re left with plenty of veg for cooking. That’s enough to have me sold (I didn’t even watch the whole infomercial before ordering online) but you can also use it to shred cabbage, slice cheese, mandoline-slice potatoes for chips, and a bunch of other super-useful things.
Although I haven’t yet tried the running-over-the-peeler-with-a-car-tire trick that the infomercial so dramatically suggests, I’ve done about everything else, including peeling a pineapple just for shits and giggles. And while the ShamWow I also bought didn’t quite live up to the hype, I would go on TV and shill the Titan Peeler any day. —Jess Probus
5. Dot App — Free for iOS; Android App Coming Soon
Most period-tracking apps SUCK. They’re either amazing but too pink, have all the features you want but are too complicated, or beautiful but too simple. I’ve downloaded every menses app under the sun — and finally found one that I liked.
Dot (free, iOS only for now, Android soon) is one of the most well-designed and easy-to-use period/fertility apps I’ve ever seen. I like it because it a) is not pink, b) easily tracks your menstrual cycle, sexual activity, mood, and symptoms like cramps, AND c) calculates your chance of pregnancy based on your period start date. It’s like a weather forecast app — you open Dot and immediately see how likely your baby-making skills are that day. I have the app set to prevent a pregnancy (there are pregnancy-planning and just period-tracking modes too), so it shows my daily ovulation “risk” as high or low. There’s a share button too, so you can keep your partner in the loop with a quick text. If you have a tricky period, this app’s six-month menstruation predictor is great for planning trips and other events around Aunt Flo. It takes a few months to calibrate to your particular cycle, but will become more accurate over time.
The Pro version ($6) allows you to export the app’s data, but the free version is good enough. It was just as easy to show the app’s calendar view to my gynecologist. A pretty good Android equivalent is Clue (free, iOS and Android), which has a similar period-prediction and fertile-window interface. — Nicole Nguyen
6. Délice de Bourgogne — ~$8
Last month, my husband and I puppy-sat for BuzzFeed Life Creative Director Emily Fleischaker. Or, more accurately, we puppy-sat for Artie, the cutest, sweetest puppy ever. To thank us for taking the time to snuggle with an adorable puppy (!!) she left us loads of booze and cheese at her apartment. It was then when I experienced the glory of Délice de Bourgogne for the first time. I’m a fan of most cheese, but this one took things to a whole new level. Further research told me that the rich, creamy goodness I was experiencing was the result of “an extra helping of butterfat.” A few weeks later, my husband and I took a 20-minute walk in 90-degree heat to get a wedge of our own…and when we realized that the cheese shop was out of it, we continued our trek for another 20 minutes in the hope of finding a store that carried it. Luckily, we found it and have since been able to make it part of our rosé-and-cheese-plate dinners on those nights when it’s just too hot to cook. —Rachel W. Miller
7. Making Breakfast Smoothies in Advance
Morning workouts are a relatively recent addition to my crazy routines. And the biggest struggle I’ve run into — well, second biggest, after getting my ass out of bed before sunrise — is eating something before heading into an intense pre-work cycling class. Granola bars are all well and good, but in the hot summer weather, nothing beats a fruit smoothie. It’s refreshing, it’s easy to down in my early-morning haze, and it packs a punch in fruit and vegetable servings (especially when I make one of the Clean Eating Challenge recipes). Here’s how I make it work, if you want to try it for yourself. You don’t even have to be crazy enough to try to go to the gym before work: They’re great for any sort of busy morning routine! —Natalie Brown
8. Washing Bras in a Pillowcase
As of late, many of the conversations in the BuzzFeed office have revolved around boobs and bras. One afternoon, a rowdy debate broke out when we learned that there’s more than one way to put on a bra (which is also my new favorite of saying that there are many ways to accomplish a task).
While many of us couldn’t agree on “the right way” to fasten down our boobs, one thing we all agreed on was that we aren’t washing our bras as often as we should. According to the experts, you should wash your bra at least once a week — and every other wear (!!!!) during the hot and sweaty summers. This is particularly challenging when you live in New York and you have to use laundromats where machines don’t have a delicate setting. Some people suggested hand washing, but ain’t nobody got time for that. I want to be clean, but I also don’t have plans to rectify my laziness. Instead of messing with a lingerie bag, I’ve started putting my bras in a cotton pillowcase and securing the top with a hair tie. Then I put the pillow sack of bras in an empty washing machine and wash them on the cold cycle. Doing this prevents the bra straps from wrapping around your other clothes and stretching out, and it helps to keep the cups from getting distorted. Then I lay them flat to dry. It’s easy, and my boobs are happy that they are no longer being stuck in a dirty, stinky contraption every morning. —Monique Bartley
9. Putting Honey on Pizza
Pizza is already the perfect food (in addition to the banana, which comes in its own disposable container). So when I discovered a way to make pizza *even better*, it was a beautiful day. It all started at a cute little pizza place in Brooklyn called Emily, where several of the pizzas are served with a hot-honey drizzle. When I tasted that insane flavor combination, I knew I would never go back. It works with almost every topping: pepperoni, veggie, cheese, jalapeño. Just a little drizzle of honey on the top of the ‘za to add an extra bonus flavor. It’s the perfect subtle addition that’s not too strong but makes even the cheapest, greasiest slice feel like a fancy indulgence.
10. Flytographer — $250
I’m the BuzzFeed travel editor, so it should come as no surprise to you that I am obsessed with travel photography. Before I go on a trip, I Google Image the hell out of the place so I know what I can expect from my photos and where I should go to get the best shots. I’m currently working on a wall of travel photos for my apartment, and I also follow about a bajillion travel photographers on Instagram. That’s why I was SO excited when I heard about Flytographer, a new startup that promises to help you get amazing travel photos when you go on a trip.
How it works: The company connects you with more than 250 local photographers all around the world, and you can hire the one closest to your destination to take candid, cool photos of you and/or others — so the photographer is basically like your own personal paparazzi. He or she follows you around for an hour or more and takes great candid shots (so you don’t end up with those hilariously awkward posed pictures where you look like you’re modeling for a JCPenney catalogue).
I hit up Flytographer on a recent trip to Laguna Beach, California, and I really liked the way my photos turned out — they look amazingly professional WITHOUT looking like your posed senior yearbook photo. The photographer, who was based in L.A., found cool backgrounds, like the graffiti wall above and, of course, rocks on the beach. We even went into a local green juice smoothie shop and she took pics of me ordering, which I really like!
Flytographer is definitely a treat — sessions start at $250 for an hour or more — but IF you want to capture a super-special trip, it can be worth it. Otherwise, check out these tips for how to DIY great photos on your own. —Annie Daly