Mario Badescu sure knows how to deliver one magical product. The drying lotion features salicylic acid to promote clear and even skin, sulfur to draw out impurities in pores, and calamine to sooth those pesky blemishes.
After hearing about it from so many people, I decided to give it a try. Never in my life have I looked in the mirror at a nasty pimple only to watch it leave my face in 12 hours or less. I'm not the only one who thinks the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion is a something Merlin brewed up. More than 1,500 Amazon users have given the product a full 5 out of 5 stars.
Insider Picks' very own Ellen Hoffman said, "Mario Badescu's drying lotion is magic. It's an acne spot treatment that dries out whiteheads while you sleep so they're virtually gone by the next morning. A bottle of this stuff lasts me a good six months or so."
A moisturizing gel cream to hydrate extra-dry skin
This dermatologist-recommended brand created a moisturizing formula that utilizes hyaluronic acid to quench even the driest of skin. Hyaluronic acid is naturally found in healthy skin, but sometimes due to weather or other circumstances, our skin — especially our face — lacks it. On top of that, Neutrogena Hydro Boost is oil-free, dye-free, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic, so it's safe to use on sensitive and acne-prone skin.
Connie Chen from Insider Picks, as well as 1,690 Amazon users, has tested and reviewed this product She says, "It's the number-one reason my face hasn't cracked into a thousand pieces even after layers of acne medication. Thanks to my history with acne, I have an instinctive distrust of many skin products, but I'll be buying this one again and again."
Connie Chen personally bought the Seville Classics 2-Tier Utility Show Rack and said, "I’m impatient when it comes to setting up or installing things, so any product that I can put together in less than half an hour is a win for me. This shoe rack appealed to me because of its easy assembly, attractive style, and ability to be stacked with more shelves in case (read: when inevitably) my shoe collection grew."
It’s also lightweight and sturdy, and it doesn’t take up a ton of space. It’s honestly not the best quality rack out there, but if you don’t want to spend more than $30 and know you’ll be moving around a lot, it gets the job done — it’s served me well for two years."
What looks like an "As Seen on TV" gimmicky product is actually quite convenient when it comes to making a quick breakfast. Mara Leighton, as well as almost 4,500 Amazon users, agree that the Hamilton Beach Breakfast Sandwich Maker helps save them time in the morning. All of the parts are nonstick, removable, and dishwasher safe, so using this appliance won't leave your kitchen a mess.
Mara Leighton wrote in her review that she's "never willing to spend more than five minutes on breakfast, which means I spend a little too much at corner stores on bacon, egg, and cheese sandwiches." She added, "The loophole, though, is getting a cheap device to do the handiwork while you sit back and reap all the benefits."
Recently purchased by Ellen Hoffman, the BetterBrella has reverse-open technology so you can enter and exit your car with ease. It's also built to withstand winds up to 50 miles per hour and has locking mechanisms so it won't close on itself.
She says, "The reverse-open design of this umbrella is genius! It's on the bulkier side, so I can't stow it in my purse, but for rainy days there's no other I'd prefer to have on hand. I bought it after reading Mara Leighton's review since it was only $20 — about the most I'd want to spend on an umbrella anyway — and wasn't disappointed."
Ellen Hoffman recently purchased a Homesick Candle with the scent of New Jersey as a bridal shower gift, and I've personally purchased a Connecticut-scented candle for a friend. Homesick Candles are made with all-natural soy for a burning time of 60 to 80 hours, and come in scents that smell like your home state, city, and even country.
An Amazon purchaser stated, "I got this as a surprise for my boyfriend. He moved to my state from Texas for college. [...] When I surprised him with the candle and he smelled it, he actually got very emotional and started crying because he said the smell instantly brought back so many memories of home."
We definitely stand by OXO products so this Steel Bottle Brush is no exception. With an easy grip on one end and long neck flexes on the other, the OXO bottle brush can clean virtually any cup, bottle, or delicate container.
Insider Picks loves this brand and brush so much, that we already made a best scrubbing brush guide that features OXO in every recommendation but one. "The bristles are gentle enough for crystal and other delicate glassware, and the handle of the brush is non-slippery and easy to hold. As with the dish brush, just run the bottle brush through the dishwasher periodically to sanitize it."
This multi-item Whitmore Swing Arm Slack Hanger will allow you to hang up to five pairs of pants on each hanger. The hanger measures 0.5 inches thick, 16 inches wide, and 17.5 inches long, so it takes up virtually no space at all in your closet. Whitmor created an easy-to-use product by incorporating four swing out arms to make removing your clothes a non-frustrating task.
Connie Chen says in her review, "Though their name says they're for pants, you can also use them in other creative ways, like to hang scarves or craft supplies. In the year that I've owned these hangers, they've streamlined the way I store my pants and freed up space for my other clothes."
Who doesn't want to create space for new clothes without having to get rid of the old clothes?
The Cloud Cam is small enough so it can fit on shelves, by the front door, in the kitchen, and can record video at 1080P — with an infrared night mode and a built-in mic/speaker.
Ellen Hoffman recently bought a Cloud Cam for her apartment so she could spy on her cat during the workday — spoiler alert: she sleeps a lot. Ellen says, "The camera itself and its accompanying app are easy to set up and use. I got the Extended subscription plan for an additional $9.99 a month so I also get person detection and audio detection, and up to 14 days of cloud storage."
This cult-favorite clay mask is huge on Amazon so it's no wonder that it's marked as an Amazon's Choice product. The Indian Healing Clay comes in the form of a powder and should be mixed with water or apple cider vinegar to clear out your pores.
My colleague Mara Leighton also raves about this product in her review, "All in all, I can say from experience that this cheap wunderkind clay mask is absolutely worth a try if you'd like to see clearer and smoother skin immediately. Skin care is a touchy thing, and even with nearly 16,000 reviews you can't know for sure that it will work for you, but it is so far the only thing that has ever really made a difference in the clarity and appearance of my skin — and it seems I'm not alone in feeling that way."
"The set of food storage containers includes six color-coded containers and six snap-together lids in various sizes with a space-saving, nesting design. So simple, but so practical for anyone who cooks and meal preps at home a lot," says Ellen Hoffman. Joseph Joseph offers these microwave, freezer, and dishwasher safe Tupperware in six-piece, eight-piece, 10-piece, 12-piece, and 16-piece sets.
It's not breaking news that reusable straws are great for the environment and a bandwagon you should jump on. Green Steel makes a four-pack of reusable straws, in both medium and tall. Both sizes come with a cleaning brush so you can reuse them over and over again. Plus, since they are made out of stainless steel, you don't need to worry about rust or corrosion.
Insider Picks editor Jada Wong tested these straws and said, "When I first used them, I was worried that I might taste that distinctive, and frankly, disgusting metal tang, but they actually didn't taste like anything or change the taste of my drinks at all. In fact, most of the time, I don't even register that I'm using a metal straw — to me, it's just a straw. I use them at home and at work, though I haven't graduated to bringing them out to a restaurant yet."
Not only is this an Amazon's Choice brand, but it's also an Amazon brand. Presto! bundles four packs of six mega rolls for a whopping 24 rolls of toilet paper. Based on the price above, that's only $0.74 per roll. Each roll is thick and plush, plus it's safe to use in all septic systems. It's a no brainer that Presto! is the #1 ranked toilet paper on Amazon.
Connie Chen chose this Amazon's Choice item — along with 6,172 other users — saying, "I decided to try out Amazon's brand one day while reordering apartment supplies since it was cheaper than my usual toilet paper, and it's now my go-to choice because it's as soft and thick as popular brands, but a few dollars cheaper. Since it's a supply I have to buy consistently, this few dollars in savings adds up and makes a difference. You can also save even more and automate the ordering process by using the Subscribe & Save option."
Mrs. Meyer's Clean Day Liquid Hand Soap is made from almost 100% naturally derived ingredients to remove dirt and germs from your hands. Mrs. Meyer's also incorporates olive oil and aloe vera in its formula, so the soap is perfect for any skin type and throughout the year. The hand soap comes in six different scents like Rosemary, Basil, Geranium, Honeysuckle, Lavender, and Lemon Verbena.
Insider Picks reporter Remi Rosmarin says, "There are endless soap options out there, and most people probably don’t really care which one they buy. If you do care and want a soap that smells great and is free of harsh chemicals, Mrs. Meyer’s is the way to go. You can also stock up on some refills to save some money and plastic."
Superglue is a thing of the past with the Bondic Liquid Plastic Welder. This handy tool uses liquid plastic that solidifies under LED UV light. There isn't much that Bondic Liquid Plastic can't fix. A few materials that are pro-Bondic are: plastic, wood, metal, PVC, steel, rubber, wiring, ceramic, figurines, vinyl, Kevlar, polypropylene, leather, and more.
Megan Foster from Insider Picks praises this tool: "I initially bought Bondic as a gift because I thought it would be useful for small fixes around the home. I didn't realize it would allow me to repair nearly every broken item I owned from glasses, to mugs, to necklaces, to charging cables."
Insider Picks' Ellen Hoffman bought the Kitty Cot for her cat (pictured above) after reading about it in our buying guide to the best cat beds. The Humane Society-approved cot is attached to four suction cups so it can attach to any window for your cat's viewing pleasure. The Kitty Cot can hold up to 25 pounds of cat, so if you have multiple furbabies, you might want to get them each their own.
One Amazon user wrote on behalf of their cat: "My forever humans purchased this structural item for me soon after I came to my forever home as a means to win my approval, as if rescuing me wasn't enough. [...] I get to watch the stupid squirrels outside the window, chatter at the birdies, and sleep in the sun to my kitty heart's content."
The La Roche-Posay Clear Skin Sunscreen is a must-have if you have sensitive skin. It's dermatologist and allergy tested, oil-free, paraben-free, fragrance-free, and non-comedogenic. This SPF 60 sunscreen also dries matte (so no shiny, greasy look) and is water resistant for up to 80 minutes of splash time.
Remi Rosmarin uses the La Roche-Posay sunscreen, saying, "I’ve always known how important wearing sunscreen is during the summer, but even when the UV is low, you should be adding some SPF to your skin-care routine. Not only does daily sunscreen help protect skin from physical signs of aging and sun damage, but it can lower your risk of skin cancer.
Understandably, most people don’t want to lather on a thick, goopy sunblock in the middle of March, but there are lots of lightweight sunscreens that you can seamlessly add to your skincare routine all year round. This La Roche Posay sunscreen is a personal favorite — it’s oil-free, lightweight, and still has a high SPF 60."
Recommended by Ellen Hoffman, the Alpa Grillers Garlic Press is a necessity for anyone who loves to cook (and with a lot of garlic). The press is designed to mince unpeeled garlic, separating the garlic paste and peel in one step. It also comes with a brush to clean the grate, but ultimately it's dishwasher friendly for easy cleaning.
One Amazon user said, "As a novice cook, I thoroughly researched garlic presses before settling on this one. I was prepared to buy one that was twice this amount but am so glad I got this one by Alpha Grillers. It is exactly as advertised, stainless steel and feels hefty to the touch. [...] My only issue, which I think is the nature of garlic itself, is that after each press I have to clear the hopper of garlic film regardless of whether the garlic is already peeled or not."
More than 1,000 Amazon users have raved about the Tyler Glamorous Diva scented laundry detergent and gave it a 4.3 star rating. What's unique about this detergent is that it's formula is effective, yet gentle so it can be used for both machine and hand washing.
Senior reporter Owen Burke can't get enough of this scent stating, "Yes, this stuff’s expensive, but its scent is so effusive that it’ll keep your whole boudoir smelling as though you’ve got fancy candles and fresh potpourri going round the clock. Someway, somehow, it just seems worth it. Oh, and it does a fine job of cleaning, too."
"If you frequently cook with lemons or limes, or you just make a lot of guacamole, you need this cheap tool in your drawer. It stops seeds and pulp falling into your food and ensures you get every last drop of juice," says Ellen Hoffman.
According to another Amazon customer, they've "been squeezing lemons and limes with this thing for about a year now, and it’s still going strong. I can put a lot of force on the handle to get as much juice as I can out, and haven’t worried once about breaking it at the hinge."
Simplicity makes a hand-knit winter beanie in 19 different colors. Each hat has a faux fur decorative pom-pom on top and is ultra-soft from its 65% cotton and 35% acrylic make. The hat is a dual-layered, cable knit, so it will keep you warm on the coldest of days. Megan Foster ended up purchasing this and was pleasantly surprised.
She said, "I was a little hesitant to purchase this hat because hats are one of those things that you generally need to try on in order to see if they fit. Not only is the hat warm, it isn't itchy and looks exactly like the picture shown online. I purchased a single hat (you can purchase a 2-pack) in Heather Grey and my total came out to under $12. Similar hats can go for $50 or more at brand-name outlets, but I don’t think anyone could tell the difference between this one and one that was marked-up at one of my favorite stores."