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The BuzzFeed staff is always trying new products, apps, hacks, and DIY projects, and we decided it was time to start sharing the best of them with you. Each month, we 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. (But! We’re under no obligation to write a review of those things, let alone a positive review.) Let us know in the comments what sorts of things you’d like us to review next month!
1. Key Light — $4
Many people have lights on their keychains, which they either picked up as free swag from any number of random pharmaceutical companies or marathons they did not run, or which they received as a “safety item” from well-meaning dads. But if the lock you’re trying to open is dark, shining the separate keychain light directly on the lock as you use another key on that same set is basically impossible. So this genius key solves that problem in the simplest possible way: The light will go in the SAME direction as the key! Because the light IS the key. This particular key light is also bright enough to be used to light up the entire dark stairwell of my apartment, as well as any other dark place I need a light.
Bonus: When you’re fumbling around blindly in your bag trying to find not just your keys, but the RIGHT key to use on the door, the light key is distinct and easy to feel for so you’re never jangling around for 10 minutes trying to get the right one. —Jess Probus
2. Garnier Micellar Water — $6.96
Last spring, a friend of mine sent me a link to this article about micellar water and I. Was. Sold. I wasn’t really feeling the makeup remover wipes I used every night, and, well…MAGIC WATER? That is POPULAR IN FRANCE AND COSTS UNDER $10? Count me in.
Micellar water is pretty unfussy to use: You put some on a cotton pad and swipe it over your face, and it removes makeup (including eye makeup) along with sweat, oil, etc. And…that’s it! You don’t even have to rinse it off when you’re done. It doesn’t have a strong smell or leave your skin tingling like an astringent does; it really just feels like…water. That initially left me skeptical that it was actually working, but after a year of using it, it remains as effective as ever. My current routine consists of swiping with two cotton pads — one to remove makeup and the second to grab remaining bits of makeup and kind of finish things off — and calling it a night, and then doing one cotton pad in the morning when I wake up. It’s also good for people who don’t wear makeup, and who maybe think they don’t need to wash their face every night but who are married to people who don’t want the sweat and grime one acquires daily as a human being in NYC/the world all over their pillows.
I’m a big believer in the “always take your makeup off before bed” rule, and micellar water makes it very easy to ensure I go to bed with a clean face, no matter how lazy I’m feeling. —Rachel W. Miller
3. Mushroom Coffee — $10–$15 for a 10-pack
Like most people, I love coffee. (Uh doyy.) It’s the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the first thing each day that brings me genuine joy. But like most coffee drinkers, sometimes I get bored of it. Some days, you just don’t feel like drinking regular coffee but still want that sweet, sweet caffeine boost.
I first heard about mushroom coffee from my friend Peggy, who had fallen into a “mushroom matrix” online k-hole. As a person, I secretly love herbal shit. I love all that hippie stuff but don’t take any of it too seriously. I don’t eat totally organic or clean, but I’ll try something new and ~natural~ especially if it doesn’t cost a crazy amount of money. According to Peggy’s research (from a Finnish mushroom coffee brand Foursigmatic), there are two varieties of mushroom coffees. One uses the lion’s mane and chaga mushrooms and the other uses Cordyceps and chaga mushrooms. The lion’s mane and chaga mushrooms are apparently good for clearing your mind. The Cordyceps and chaga mushrooms are said to be more of a stimulant without the crash and jitters of regular coffee. I couldn’t find any concrete science on these mushrooms but figured, Whatever — I’ll give it a go.
So I tried it.
Mushroom coffee is available on Amazon for $10–$15 for 10 packs. It comes in packets like instant coffee that you mix with hot water. It smells a little funky, but I’ve gotten over it. Taste-wise, it’s like a way milder coffee. I love love love it. It kind of tastes like a tea-coffee hybrid. The mushroom taste is VERY faint. I also mix it with regular milk as I would my normal coffee.
Ever since I’ve started drinking mushroom coffee I’ve basically been obsessed. I can’t stop talking about it. I love the taste and the way it makes me feel clear-headed, chilled, yet stimulated. Basically, I just like the way it makes me feel. I usually start my morning with Cordyceps and chaga for an energy burst. My favorite is the lion’s mane and chaga coffee, which I like to have in the afternoon.
I haven’t totally given up regular coffee because it’s my first love, but will definitely continue drinking my newly beloved mushroom coffee. If anything, it’s just nice to mix up my normal coffee routine with something new. It’s also hilarious to tell people you’re doing shrooms while drinking it.—Matt Stopera
My best friend Millie, who logs more airline miles than any other human I know, recommended Hitlist to me. She called it “a very dangerous app” — and it is very dangerous indeed.
Simply put, it’s a travel app that shows you cheap flights. What sets Hitlist apart is that it’s money-saving, beautiful, AND easy to use. You can add cities to your “hitlist” and get notifications when there’s a good deal for that destination.
I like perusing the app’s suggested trips, categorized by themes such as “Southeast Asia Adventure” and “Weekend Getaways.” The beautiful photos of locales around the world are enough to give you a serious case of wanderlust. For each destination, you’ll see the best deals on flights (rated good, great, or spectacular) and when you’re ready to take the plunge, you’ll be taken to Skyscanner for booking.
Why not just go straight to Skyscanner or another deals site? If you’re flexible in terms of dates and locations or just want to GTFO, Hitlist is an AMAZING place to start. It shows you a wide range of options and great prices.
There are two downsides: 1) It isn’t available for Android (boo), but you can use the Hitlist mobile website on any device (you just won’t be able to set up alerts), and 2) you can’t see flight duration in the app, which is a huge pain point for a lot of people. But the pros outweigh the cons for me! —Nicole Nguyen
*I rounded up more of my favorite travel apps you probably haven’t heard of here.
5. FlipBelt — ~$28.99
Running is already hard enough. On top of actually having the discipline to go running in the first place, you’ve gotta think about all the stuff you’ve gotta carry. For me, that’s my phone, keys, ID, subway pass for when I’m too lazy to run back, and some cash or a credit card. I know some runners have their Houdini-esque tricks like tying their belongings into their laces, but I definitely don’t trust myself to safely do that, nor do I fully understand how. I’ve run with a bag, worn a lil’ fanny pack, strapped on an arm band, and even just stuffed everything in my pockets and prayed for the best, but it all felt a little awkward and annoying.
One night I was lurking around Amazon, as one does, and found the FlipBelt. You can think of it as a simplified and subtle fanny pack. It has small little slits in the belt, so it’s perfect for carrying those small little essentials.
The material is stretchy, so it molds to your body without feeling constricting, while also not jostling around all over the place, which was super important to me. I’ve actually been guilty of leaving it on for a bit after my runs because I forget I have it on. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ It comes in a bunch of bright colors, though I prefer the subtle black, and costs around $28.99 on average. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still find silly excuses to skip my run for the day — but getting out the door has gotten a little bit easier. —Brett Vergara
6. Coach Olive flats — ~$72–$100
Finding cute flats that don’t rub your skin raw or cost a million dollars is an ongoing battle for many of us. But last year, after my beloved Tory Burch flats started to get holes in the toes after seven years of frequent wear, I decided to branch out and see if I could find flats that were less expensive, equally comfortable, and of a style that was more in line with 2015 me than 2008 me. After a few weeks of searching, I ended up buying a pair of mint green Coach Olive flats for $60 during the Lord & Taylor Friends & Family sale and never looked back. I wore them all spring and summer, and my only regret was that the mint green didn’t go with everything in my wardrobe (though it went with a surprising amount of it because my wardrobe is basically only composed of three colors). My Reynaud’s means I can’t wear open-toe sandals without my toes turning purple and basically falling off, so I wore them with jeans, midi skirts, my favorite dresses, and even to the beach on occasion. They are so comfortable, and are casual but still polished.
A few weeks ago, I was in the market for a new pair of spring/summer shoes, preferably in a neutral color, and I remembered that I’d bought the green ones around the same time last year. On a whim, I checked the Lord & Taylor website and discovered 1) that they had the flats in two neutrals I really liked, 2) that their Friends & Family Sale was currently going on (!!), and 3) that it was the LAST DAY FOR IT (!!!!). I booked it uptown and checked out both the chalk pair (which is really pretty white IRL) and the beige pair (which is a lovely light tan color). Hyped up on sale fumes and armed with the knowledge that if you love wearing white and live in a filthy city, it’s in your best interest to buy the things you love in multiples, I bought both colors.
I’ve been wearing the beige pair regularly since I bought them and have become re-obsessed with how simple and versatile they are. And a couple weeks ago, I received the highest compliment in this city: A woman on the subway stopped me to ask me where I got my shoes. —Rachel W. Miller
*Just FYI, the mint green are no longer available, but new colors rotate in from time to time, and I’ve seen a variety of colors/prices at both DSW and Coach outlets over the past year, and all department stories seem to carry the current models. All that to say: If $120 feels too pricey, shop around a bit and keep an eye out for sales because you can definitely find them for cheaper.
7. Storing Butter In a Dish
I am late to a lot of parties: I only recently got into traveling, just started watching Seinfeld (I am writing this in the year 2016), and am beginning to admit that maybe people have a point about flossing.
Keeping your butter in a dish on the counter is a small and sedate party, but it’s another that I’ve arrived at long past the time on the evite. Mostly it’s because we just didn’t do it that way growing up; butter was a fridge food, just like ketchup and eggs, unlike bread and tomatoes. I never thought to test what would happen if I didn’t return the butter to its designated kingdom of ice (I was a Good Kid, terrified of Getting In Trouble); I just assumed that the result would be Something Bad.
And so I got older, and I moved away, and I lived in a lot of apartments and then I lived in my own. Suddenly I had a fridge that was entirely under my domain. In it, I stored two different kinds of butter: the regular stick kind, for cooking, and Land O’ Lakes Spreadable Butter, for use on things like toast and challah rolls and once, when I was drunk, water crackers. This dual-butter strat was a decadent decision, doubling my dairy expenses each month, and sometimes I couldn’t even FIND the spreadable kind and had to resort to scraping the sad, cold stick butter across my toast like a pinecone across a chalkboard. And so recently I decided to grow tf up.
Scroll back up and look at my butter dish. It is one of the most beautiful objects I own, physically as well as emotionally. My mom gave it to me for my birthday and while this particular version (from Anthropologie, duh, because I am a walking, breathing parody of a human being) is no longer available, there are scores of them on Amazon and Etsy and wherever your money-spending heart may tug you. It keeps my butter perfectly at room temperature, ready whether I need it for sauteeing asparagus or acting as the foundation for cinnamon-sugar toast. The butter never melts. The world never ends. I should have trusted it all along. —Alanna Okun
8. C9 Champion Women’s Power Shape Mesh Sports Bra — $22.99
I hate buying sports bras so much that I’ll actually do laundry MORE often, just so that I can cycle through the same two not-awful ones that I own. With DD boobs, the only options are super-tight compression bras or big, bulky sports bras with crazy straps and buckles. And underwire in a sports bra just seems oppressive, so that’s out.
So when Champion invited me to try out their new sports bras for Target during a free trampoline exercise class, I thought they were batshit crazy. Even in my current favorite sports bra, all it takes is about 10 burpees before a boob pops out, so trampolines were definitely going to be NSFW.
Surprisingly, this mesh sports bra with molded cups is actually cute and comfy and stood up to the jump test I did in the bathroom. Then came the ultimate test: 60 minutes on a mini-trampoline. (Side note: If you’re in the NYC area, try a TrampoLean class because that was super fun.) I can honestly say my boobs stayed in place and didn’t hurt at all the next day. It also has an adjustable band like a real bra (but no underwire, thank god), so it’s not just assuming that everyone is the exact same size below-the-boob. Plus, it’s only $22.99, which seems illegal considering how much I’ve shelled out for less supportive bras in the past. —Casey Gueren
9. Beauty Bakerie Lip Whips — $20
I love lipstick, unequivocally. But reapplying it every hour is a pain in the ass. I’ve tried plenty of longwear lipsticks, but they usually leave my lips drier than the Sahara or they crack in the center (looking at you, CoverGirl Outlast). Enter, Beauty Bakerie Lip Whips. The second I saw this shade (Raspberry Tiramisú) swatched by women of color online, I knew the formula was definitely highly pigmented. But I really didn’t expect it to last the way it does.
This first picture was taken first thing in the morning, on a day when I managed to wake up early enough to not do my makeup in the bathroom at work. (Go me!) The second photo was taken at FOUR THIRTY P.M., after I’d been drinking water and coffee all day. But even more impressively, after I’d eaten both a bagel and a lamb pita from the halal cart across the street where I always request extra white sauce and extra grilled onions. Basically extra grease, y’all! That is what this lipstick withstands. I wore it the night of my birthday party and didn’t have to reapply once. (To take it off at night though, I use either the Beauty Bakerie remover or just some coconut oil.) I’m obsessed. —Hannah Giorgis
10. Nintype app — Free for Android, $4.99 for iPhone
I’ve used swipe-input keyboards on Android/iOS before, and while they were quick, I’ve never seen anything like Nintype. The idea is that by using both fingers to swipe across letters, you can more quickly complete words and keep a ~flow~ of consciousness as you type.
I’ve been using Nintype for the past few weeks, and I’ve amazingly stuck to it for most uses. The main thing that has kept me using it is that it’s made typing on a phone FUN. Not like, Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing “fun,” but real, endorphin-inducing fun. Everything became a game. I would try to see how fast I could shoot off an email, or try to write a journal entry that kept up with my stream of consciousness. On top of being quicker than your standard phone keyboard, Nintype integrates a TON of features that will allow you to customize the keyboard to your liking. You can change color themes, create custom word lists (like for crazy medical terminologies), split and resize the keyboard, set quick access punctuation shortcuts, and more.
I would recommend trying it if you’re willing to put the time into learning the quirks of the interface. It’s not for everyone, but if you geek out about utilities like I do, you’ll love it. —Jeff Barron
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