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” 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. Food Huggers — $11
I’ve spent hours looking at kitchen accessories for work, and every time I saw these Food Huggers (meant to preserve the freshness of leftover produce), I was skeptical. Why not just use a ziplock bag? (Well, because you want to do your part in the effort to eliminate unnecessary waste from this great earth, that’s why.) Also, I wasn’t sure if they would actually work. So this month, I decided to give my food (specifically: a tomato and an onion) a little hug.
I put the huggers on my halved produce, left the duo chilling in the fridge for two days, and returned to find that things still looked fresh. Fresher than they would have been left in a bag or plastic container? Not necessarily. But fresh! I’ll definitely use them to hug more food in the future.
One caveat: I do think you’re better off using them with vegetables of a solid sort; it was easy to get the onion properly situated, but I felt like I had to squish my tomato too much to get the hugger on it snugly. —Mallory McInnis
2. Happier With Gretchen Rubin podcast — Free
I have this idealized version of myself who wakes up feeling refreshed, exercises in the morning, stays sharp in meetings, and actually has the energy to socialize after work. I’ve tried reading self-improvement and productivity books, but they just end up making my eyes cross by the second chapter. And as much as I want to be that effortlessly perfect person, the advice never sticks.
I decided to try the Happier with Gretchen Rubin podcast because it seemed like a more digestible way to consume life and productivity advice. It turns out that this format works so much better for me! The advice is actually fairly unexpected, and it’s helpful to hear it talked through. After listening, I feel immediately inspired to try tiny new things (like setting an alarm for bedtime to remind me to shut off my phone and go to sleep). Gretchen hosts the podcast with her sister Elizabeth (who is like this disorganized creative type that I totally relate to), and their endearing push-and-pull-but-super-loving dynamic is the key to what makes it so enjoyable. (Everyone is definitely either a Gretchen or an Elizabeth.)
Gretchen also brings up cool psychology 101 concepts (“Are you a marathoner or a sprinter? An abstainer or a moderator?”) that give me more self-awareness as I put the ideas into action. I might not do every single tip and trick, but just listening at least makes me feel like I’m trying. —Peggy Wang
3. Bleach + Cotton Coil for Cleaning Bathtub Caulk — $8 (Enough for Three Cleaning Sessions)
Recently, a gross, black mildew appeared in the caulk in my shower. No amount of scrubbing with vinegar and castile soap (including a castile soap and baking soda scrub) made any difference, nor did regular bathroom cleaners, like Scrubbing Bubbles or Scrubbing Bubbles With Bleach. So, I took the advice of this blog (which is alllllll over Pinterest) and went for the strong stuff: straight-up bleach, soaked into cotton coil, left to sit overnight. It’s a smelly solution, but it worked incredibly well.
If you’re going to try this…
1. Read the full instructions in the original blog post.
2. Wear rubber gloves when you’re working with the bleach so it doesn’t touch your skin.
3. Tie a bandana or a scarf around your mouth and nose (or wear a surgical mask) so you don’t have to breathe in the bleach fumes.
4. Turn on your bathroom’s fan and open a window if you can.
5. Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s advice and never mix bleach with any other cleaner. —Natalie Brown
4. The Furminator — $42.99
Before we got our toy fox terriers, my husband and I saw an Animal Planet special about the breed that said a weekly brushing would keep them from shedding. I think of that show every time I remove Chuck from my lap and see that my yoga pants are covered in a layer of fur. Because no matter what we do, our TFTs Charleston and Indiana shed like crazy.
I’d heard that the Furminator brush was pretty great, but I initially dismissed it because it was pricey. Then my mom texted me and told me not to buy Chuck and Indy a new brush for their birthday. Apparently, some of her co-workers had been raving about the effectiveness of the Furminator, so she bought one for her dogs and one for mine.
At first I wasn’t that impressed; the Furminator doesn’t look terribly special, and while it did remove a lot of hair, that’s not hard to do when you’re brushing (or simply petting) our dogs. But! I made a point to sweep our apartment right before we used it for the first time to get a sense of whether it reduced the dogs’ shedding afterward. A week later, the area around their crates — which is typically surrounded by little piles of dog hair — still looked freshly swept. I was impressed, and subsequent brushings have been just as effective. (Also, a few weeks ago, I overheard a woman a PetSmart insisting that the groomer shave her dog because he sheds so much; the groomer was begging the woman to just try the Furminator first.) So if your dog’s hair is making you crazy, consider dropping hints about the Furminator to the dog-grandma in your life. —Rachel Wilkerson Miller
5. Shaving Your Legs With Olive Oil — $5
I have the unfortunate combination of very sensitive skin and very hairy legs, not to mention being clumsy. Since I started shaving my legs 15-plus years ago, I’ve tried every different kind of fancy razor and cheap razor and men’s razor and shave cream and shave gel and shave sticks and aftershave but I always end up with both stubble and razor burn. Then I tried shaving with olive oil and everything got a little easier. My legs were already moisturized after I was done and there were no cuts anywhere, even on my weirdly shaped knees! I finally felt like I had the just-shaved-smooth feeling I’d heard about for so long instead of slightly wet-and-chafed sandpaper. The only danger: OIL IS VERY SLIPPERY. I have nonslip treads in my shower already (see: clumsy) so it was fine, but it can get very slick, so you’ll still want to wipe down the shower with a soapy washcloth as you go. —Jess Probus
6. Luxardo Cherries — $77 for 6.6 pounds
The past few times my husband has ordered an Old Fashioned at a bar, the maraschino cherries added for garnish have been amazing. We talked about making our own to try to replicate the amazing flavor when the bartender overheard us and told us the secret: Luxardo cherries. “You’ll buy them in a huge can that’ll cost about $100,” she told us. “But it will last you a year.” I found them on Amazon for $77 for a 6.6-pound can. (They are also available in a 4.6-ounce jar for $20 on Amazon and at Williams-Sonoma.)
(Side note: I opened the can using the can opener Jess Probus recommended last month; I’ve never been able to work a manual can opener but with the EZ-Duz-It, I got the top off smoothly on the first try. Just in case you weren’t sold on it yet.)
These are not the maraschino cherries most of us are used to; they are a deep red and float in a thick, sticky syrup. But they are SO MUCH BETTER than those ice cream–stand cherries (which, for the record, I have always loved). The big can was a splurge, but they have a shelf life of three years. (Head’s up: Don’t refrigerate them after you open them.) I plan to buy another can in December so I can scoop them into cute little jars and give them as gifts; they are the perfect little treat for cocktail and banana split enthusiasts. —Rachel Wilkerson Miller
7. Glossier Phase 1 Set — $80
Glossier is a beauty brand and skincare line by Emily Weiss and Into the Gloss. It’s essentially the hot older sister of Proactiv, that acne-fighting system with clinical white packaging and celebrity infomercials that are much too long. The Phase 1 kit doesn’t claim to fight anything; there’s no salicylic acid in its starter kit, nothing that burns or peels or hurts so good it must be working, nothing but a trio of moisturizers (one priming, one tinted, one balm) and a “rosewater spray.” The packaging and the smells are clean but not sterile, indulgent but not frilly. The application is easy and addictive. (I am a vigorous starter of things — workout routines, journals — and an almost equally vigorous abandoner. I’ve still faithfully used the kit every morning and night for the past month.)
The tacit promise in the kit’s ad copy and brand photos is that it will turn you into one of Those Girls, the kind who rolls out of bed Looking Like That and is probably quasi-famous on Tumblr. Glossier hints at ease, comfort, and effortlessness. And for me, it delivers!
My main intention when I bought the kit was to aid in my long slog away from wearing a full face of makeup every day. My skin is not good, not at all effortless: It’s prone to redness and clogged pores, marked by acne scars and sometimes just actual acne, and oily as all heck. For the past decade and change I’ve spent around 20 minutes per morning applying, in the following order, primer, foundation, concealer, powder, bronzer and/or blush, eyebrow pencil, eyeliner, mascara, and something lip-related. I love this ritual. It calms me, focuses me, makes me feel like myself. But lately it’s felt TOO ingrained. That’s a lot of hours, a lot of money, and a lot of distance between happiness with the way I look and dissatisfaction.
Maybe I just happened to try Glossier at the right time, but it’s helping me close that gap. Now I spritz on the rosewater, rub in the priming moisturizer, and put some balm on my lips (and eyebrows! life hack!). Then I apply the tinted moisturizer in 30 seconds, add concealer because it’s not got much coverage at all (a complaint some friends who also use the set have raised too), and swipe on mascara. The whole act takes under five minutes and yet I still feel done.
There is no universe in which I would tell you to spend $80 on products in order to not wear makeup. But I think sometimes we need our crutches, to replace an old ritual with a new one, in order to get back to ourselves a little bit. This is mine. —Alanna Okun
8. In Your Corner Online Virtual Therapy — $25+
The last time I went to therapy, it was at my college’s free clinic and it felt pretty one-sided; I spent a lot of time talking but I didn’t feel like any practical solutions were suggested. That was years ago, and until losing my brother a few months ago, I hadn’t felt the urge to find — and pay for — a therapist. A co-worker recommended In Your Corner to me, and as soon as I used it, I felt like I was in the right place.
First I created an account and then chose a plan. It’s kind of like a cell phone plan in the way that you get to choose how many sessions you’d like each month and then subscribe. There’s an introductory session for $25, a pay-as-you-go plan at $50 per session, a basic plan of three sessions for $125, and so on. Once you choose your plan, you find your person. There’s a mix of therapists and life coaches, each with a different specialization ranging from grief to life transitions to mindfulness training to breakups to anything else you can think of. I chose a grief specialist.
Next, I set up an appointment time. Each session lasts 30 minutes, and the sessions are all virtual. It’s essentially FaceTime with a therapist, which can feel a little jarring at first, but it worked for me. I immediately clicked with my therapist, and during the session she was able to instant-message me links to resources she was mentioning during our time so I could refer to them once we were done. I was given the introductory session for free, but wound up upping my session count to three per month (and am paying for those with my own money).
Therapy can feel like uncharted territory. This format may not be for everyone, but considering how closely I work with technology every day and how inexpensive it is compared to a lot of other options, In Your Corner feels like an awesome solution. —Augusta Falletta
9. Tattify Nail Wraps — $8
As a former beauty editor with a knack for nails, I have committed many an hour to trying out nail wraps of all different varieties. Some flake off really quickly while others come in seriously questionable patterns, which is what brings me to my new favorite wraps from Tattify. One set —which lasted on my nails for about two weeks — includes 22 nail wraps, a nail file, and a wooden cuticle pusher, and comes in enough cool patterns to make your head spin. They are also really easy to peel off and reposition, which is perfect for anyone who is at-home mani–impaired.
As someone obsessed with anatomical prints (just give me shoes that look like tongues and I’ll die happy), I loved the D-eye-monds set, which features lashed-up eyes and diamonds against a matte white background. I couldn’t help but stare at them and smile. —Alison Caporimo
10. Edyn Smart Garden Sensor — $100
A couple of months ago, after my co-worker Mallory posted a round-up of diagrams that make gardening so much easier, I had a “Why the heck not?!?” moment, during which time I decided to plant an herb garden on my tiny San Francisco patio.
The Edyn Garden Sensor (now available to preorder) is a solar-powered stake that analyzes soil, light, and moisture conditions, and then beams that information to your smartphone via Wi-Fi. The information is displayed on the Edyn app in an easy-to-read format that’s designed for gardening newbies (like myself). For example, it will tell you, in layman’s terms, whether there are too many or too few nutrients in the soil and whether your soil is too dry, too wet, or ideal. Based on the soil readings, the sensor can decipher which plants will grow best and when you should plant them.
As a new herb parent, I loved that I could check in on my little garden’s health whenever, wherever. The app also had an extremely useful database full of planting tips for different types of herbs, vegetables, fruit trees, and more. Edyn told me the correct fertilizer-to-soil ratio for my starter cilantro plant, and showed me what the readings of a healthy basil plant should look like. The sensor is definitely on the expensive side, but it’s great for beginner gardeners who need a bit of hand-holding or even advanced green thumbs who want to know more about their soil. —Nicole Nguyen
- The Women's March on Washington was one of the largest protests in the city's history.
- "SNL" featured a shirtless Vladimir Putin celebrating America's newest President.