Now that 2020 is almost officially over, we wanted to share with you, our dear readers, the things that helped us get through this year. We looked back at our order confirmation emails and credit card statements — picking out the very best of the best. These are the things that we definitely would recommend to anyone.
Take a look:
A mattress for the sweetest of dreams
This year, there were weeks on end when I don’t remember ever even falling asleep. So it’s no surprise that my under-eye bags have gotten darker and deeper. To make matters worse, I was tossing and turning in an old mattress that just didn’t have my back.
After much research, I decided to buy a new Allswell mattress. There are three different Allswell mattresses to choose from, but I settled on the cheapest: “The Allswell.” Not only was it affordable (the queen-sized version of this mattress is just $375), “The Allswell” has features like a charcoal infused memory foam (to help hot sleepers stay cool) and individually-wrapped coils (so the mattress doesn’t move too much when you move).
I loved it so much that I even wrote my own review on it. This mattress has just enough firmness without feeling like I’m being sunk into my bed or laying on a rock. I don’t get overheated at night and have to wrap myself out of my blankets. It’s exactly what I wanted out of my mattress. Now, I don’t have to count sheep to sleep. — Ambar Pardilla, Commerce Writer
Maskne has been the word of the year for me in 2020. My chin has always been my breakout spot, so I wasn’t surprised when wearing masks for hours led to painful, cystic acne that just didn’t seem to go away. I started using these Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare Alpha Beta Extra Strength Daily Peel pads at the recommendation of a friend, and they have become my secret weapon against maskne. Hand to goddess, my skin has never been smoother, clearer and spot free. I honestly don’t know how I went so long without using these miracle pads. — Brittany Nims, Head Of HuffPost FindsFind them for $88 at Sephora.
The lunch option that’s made my days super easy
I love experimenting in the kitchen and cooking big dinners with plenty of meat and carbs, but usually keep lunch simple with a small-portioned plant-based meal and have a smoothie for breakfast. When I started working from home I had to start cooking lunch and dinner and got over it very quickly. I signed up for Daily Harvest and haven’t looked back. It’s been amazing to open my fridge, pick a fun lunch, pop it in the microwave for a few minutes, and have a hot, healthy, plant-based meal. — Danielle Gonzalez, Associate Commerce EditorBuild your Daily Harvest order here.
The all-in-one AHA treatment that’s internet famous
I never thought I’d be the person recommending such a splurgy beauty product but here I am. I bought my first bottle of Sunday Riley’s Good Genes back in May — the smallest size that I could find, which is under an ounce and less than $50 at Nordstrom. The one ounce bottle is the next largest at $85. But before I spent that much, I really wanted to try it out.
Good Genes is an all-in-one lactic acid treatment. Lactic acid can be used as a light exfoliant. The treatment has ingredients like lemongrass and licorice (you can get a hint of it when applying). It’s supposed to smooth your skin. I wanted to know if it was worth the hype — especially since staying in since March has definitely changed how my face feels and looks (little bumps here and there, plus a lack of a “glow”).
I finally get why Good Genes is such a cult-favorite. It definitely has changed my skin for the better — to how it was in pre-pandemic times. My skin feels soft and my pores aren’t pouring out. I use it every night before bed. Once I finished the smallest size of the bottle, I thought it was so worth it that I stocked up on the $85 version at Sephora. — Pardilla
Custom hair care for a little self-care during a stressful year
My hair has endured a lot through the years — going from a bottle brunette to platinum blonde, and everything in between. My damaged and dull locks needed a change, which is why I decided to check out Prose hair care, where you can get a shampoo, conditioner and pre-shampoo mask custom mixed for your unique hair concerns.You start by taking an extremely thorough online questionnaire that asks things like how often you use heated hair tools and your age. Prose’s mixologists even take into account the weather and humidity where you live when whipping up your custom creations. I received a formula for dry, damaged hair that would enhance the volume and slight natural waves of my locks. They even added a touch of purple tint to the conditioner to neutralize brassy undertones. I selected the “Botanica” scent that smells like eucalyptus, lavender and rosemary, and so far, I’m obsessed with my Prose formula. My hair is as soft daily as it usually is only when I get a fresh haircut and professional blow-out. My strands feel stronger and look shinier, and my hair air dries naturally with a ton of volume and curl — a sentence I never thought I’d say. I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to go back to drugstore shampoo ever again. — NimsCheck out Prose’s personalized haircare.
The jeans I live in on weekends
I’ve been looking for the perfect pair of high-waisted straight-leg jeans since before the pandemic, and when I saw the Everlane 90’s Cheeky Jean on sale in the spring I decided to go for it. These have become my favorite jeans of all time — they’re loose enough to be comfortable but fitted in the right places for a flattering and polished look. The straight silhouette offers a lot of comfort despite the raw denim material, it’s loose in the thighs but hugs my hips and butt perfectly, then tapers in around the ankles. — GonzalezFind them for $78 at Everlane.
A face mask that’s actually fashionable
An affordable, easy-to-wear concealer that’s buildable
I bought a little jar of Glossier’s Stretch Concealer at the beginning of the pandemic, and can now officially dub it the official hero of my beauty bag. I particularly love that it’s buildable, so I can get as much or as little coverage as I want. And, as with all Glossier products, it leaves just a hint of healthy dewiness behind, so even when I’m wearing just a swipe of it, my skin looks glossy and hydrated as if I’m going au naturel. — NimsFind it for $18 at Glossier.
The closest I’ve gotten to a spa in a year
This product has been my go-to for looking refreshed and put together without actually having to wear makeup — the look I want for video chat and errands. I smear one pump of it across my cheekbones, eyelids and nose for a dewy, just-walked-out-of-the steam-room glow. — Gonzalez
So what does it actually do? This hot brush doesn’t just dry your hair — it helps to add volume, too. I have frizzy curls naturally and this brush keeps my locks wavy with just enough volume on top. It takes me about 10 minutes to dry off my hair after a shower. This brush is definitely ideal if you’re not looking to spend too much time on your hair (I know I’m not!). — Pardilla
These footbed sandals offer plenty of support, so much in fact that I wore them everyday to work from home and hang by my pool from May to September in complete comfort. They’re a lot like the Birkenstock Arizona Essentials slides but they’ve available in a ton of colors and prints, including glitter and leopard print. — Gonzalez Find them for $40 at Anthropologie.
Earrings that make a statement on video calls
I thought I owned too much jewelry already pre-pandemic but I’ve been buying big and bold earrings since March to dress up my work (from home) wardrobe. It’s been almost therapeutic to still put on outfits that I would have worn to the office. And sometimes, I like to experiment with different patterns and prints that might be too loud to wear on the commute into the city. I can’t go a day without wearing some sort of jewelry. These past few months, I’ve bought all sorts of earrings especially — everything from earrings with crescents and ones shaped like snakes. My current obsession are these crystal encrusted flower stem earrings from Lele Sadoughi. This mismatched pair is so, so playful — they brighten up these weird winter days. — Pardilla
The game that defined the beginning of the pandemic for many of us
Besides my espresso machine, the other only thing that has given me as much joy this year is playing Animal Crossing on the Nintendo Switch. I should start by saying I am not a gamer. And I must confess that most of my gaming experience was learned on an N64 from 1997 to 2001. But my boyfriend insisted the newest version of Animal Crossing for Nintendo Switch would be the game for me, and he wasn’t wrong. There is no violence or big battle sequences, so the stakes are low. (And right now all I can handle in life are low stakes.) It’s a game that’s subtly all about home decor and fashion — two things I love. Released on March 20, just as most of us across the U.S. began social distancing, Animal Crossing quietly became the game that saved us all from losing our minds during social isolation. If you have other friends who play Animal Crossing, you can virtually visit their characters’ homes. People have even been throwing virtual birthday parties on Animal Crossing to make up for canceled plans. It’s a carefree, low-effort game I recommend to anyone who wants a little low-stakes escapism from the world today. (And check out our guide to the difference between a Nintendo Switch and a Switch Lite if you’re shopping for a console, too.) — Nims
As someone who used to wear lipstick everyday (and a red lip at least once a week), having to wear a mask has made that difficult. However, when I started outdoor dining in the summer it was the perfect excuse for me to start playing with makeup again, and this Fenty Lip Gloss Bomb was my go-to lip product. It’s a flattering shimmery rose nude and is formulated with shea butter for a hydrating, but never sticky feel. — GonzalezFind it for $19 at Sephora.
A set of satin scrunchies for when you don’t want to let your hair down
You might be thinking: scrunchies, seriously? But this was the year I decided to give my hair a break — I didn’t stress too much about what it looked like. So, I had it up in a ponytail a lot. So I wanted to find hair ties that wouldn’t be too heavy-handed on my locks but kept them away from my face. These satiny scrunchies are as close to perfection as I could find. They haven’t stretched out and don’t get caught up in my curls. The scrunchies aren’t too big, either — the very oversized scrunchie trend isn’t for me. With black and white stripes, they go with just about any outfit, too. — Pardilla
In The Before Times, I could be found almost any given weekday morning grabbing a latte or cortado from my local cafe. For a while during quarantine, I was content with a cup of black French press coffee at home. But as quarantine was extended, I knew I wanted everything to make a latte at home, easily. Fortunately, we put together a guide to making your favorite espresso drinks at home, and that’s where I stumbled across the Breville Bambino Plus, a top-rated espresso machine that’s designed for small spaces. What I like most about the Breville Bambino is that every step of making a quality espresso is automated, from extraction to milk frothing. I can easily make a single- or double-shot espresso and steam the milk for a creamy latte or a frothy cappuccino at the push of a button. Cleanup is remarkably easy, too. Just don’t forget to buy a good burr grinder that’ll give you the perfect, fine ground needed for espresso beans. (I use this OXO conical burr grinder). — NimsFind it for $400 at Bed Bath & Beyond.
The only way I drink enough water
I ordered this bottle when I started working from home and it’s gotten me in the habit of drinking so much water. It’s a glass bottle with a mouth-sized opening so the water stays room temperature and it’s very comfortable to sip from, plus the silicone sleeve keeps it from breaking. It comes in 250ML, 500ML and 1L sizes, so I fill and drink the 1L bottle twice a day to hit 68 ounces of water. — GonzalezFind it for $48 at bkr.
A mascara for commercial-worthy lashes
This mascara has become such a part of my morning makeup routine that I almost completely forgot that I bought it back in March. Personally, I love having Twiggy-esque eyelashes that are big, bold and definitely say “look at me” (pun intended). While this Gucci mascara is a splurge, it gets me that look without having to apply coat after coat. I wear it almost everyday and it lasts me all day without staining underneath my eyes. Plus, it’s super easy to take off at the end of a long day. — Pardilla
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