Self Care Things We Tried and Loved in 2021


2021 was stressful. I am not kidding. The staff at BuzzFeed News have some recommendations they tried at home last year, which they really like, and which have helped make life a little easier. Things like Theragun for sore muscles, a fancy face wash, a cheap dupe for fancy sunscreen, and the best workout band for short hair. Perhaps the strongest advice is for two separate people to try and swear by acupuncture mats for headaches and stress.

These items were chosen independently by the staff and they spent their own money on it. As you know, BuzzFeed may receive a sales share or other compensation from the links on this page if you decide to shop from them. Oh, and FYI – prices are correct and items in stock at the time of publication.

Acupressure mat — from $19.47 Amazon

Periodically I have very bad headaches and often go back and forth between over-the-counter medications, none of which seem to relieve the pain. Earlier this year, I asked a neighbor with migraine if he had taken any medication recently and said, “You know what worked? That’s it.” I expected the link to go to a newfangled headache remedy or perhaps an herbal remedy, but instead this is really weird productSomehow inexplicably, it actually helps my headaches and also causes me to fall into an awkward deep sleep the moments I lie on it. (Warning: Set an alarm; I endured this thing for two hours recently, and when I finally woke up, my back was on fire.) I was relieved to know that when the pain got worse, I could just lie down. my plastic nail drill bed. —Sam Henig

Theragun Prime — $299 Macy’s

Do you know what I got into during the pandemic? Running. Really original, I know. But between the stress of isolation and the stress of being a new father, I needed a consistent, thoughtless physical release.

You know what happens when you run regularly? Your entire lower body starts to ache. I tend to be skeptical of shortcuts around pain. I don’t think it can fool the body. And if you do, I think you tend to pay for it later. But a few months after I took my first tour around Prospect Park, which is rife with calf and hip pain, I gave up and ordered a Theragun. Yes, a Theragun. That loud and heavy percussion massager that looks like a sex toy for the German ravers.

The thing is working. You stick it where it hurts and then it hurts less. It doesn’t get much simpler. There’s a lot of things I don’t like about it. It’s very expensive, and when I lay on the couch and relieve the tension of my quads, my wife sometimes gets on board and asks, “Are you pleasing yourself again?” She asks. Accordingly, 20 miles a week may strain my knee, but words never hurt me. —Joe Bernstein

Contoured sleep mask — $18.99 Amazon

Let me start by being really honest: I can’t work on less than eight hours of sleep. I know there are a lot of freaks out there who are proud to sleep like five hours a day, but I’m not like you. Sleeping is my favorite – and incredibly vital!! – hobby, so you know you can trust me and I’m here to tell you to get this contoured sleep mask made of memory foam. Sleep has changed my life in ways no other product has. The second night I used it, I slept straight through my alarm and got a full 12 hours of deep sleep; this is scary for the quality of my alarm, but great for my mind and body. It’s pitch dark inside, but the styling means you can even open your eyes in the mask, you can also keep the blinds open and let in the sunlight to help you wake up after you’ve taken out the sun – but not all at once. I also find the soft memory foam just like an extra pillow for my eyes, and when it’s time to sleep, the act of wearing it keeps me away from my phone and telling my brain it’s time to shut the fuck up. I love him. —Addy Baird

La Prairie foaming cleanser – $90 Neiman Marcus

A few years ago, a Very Nice person gifted me travel-size products from a Swiss company called La Prairie. I didn’t know anything about the brand. They looked beautiful. A small tub of something called leather caviara treatment lotionand one standout: a small tube foaming facial cleanser. It smelled great – a light minty scent, maybe? (It’s pink, so maybe my brain stuffed that scent on its own.) It was unlike any cleanser I’ve used before. It rinsed out in seconds (no soapy feel) and left my face oddly super clean. I have dry skin and I have never felt that this product dries it out any more – quite the opposite. It really was unlike any other facial cleansing product I’ve tried (and I’ve tried a lot). I just needed a small piece and it took forever. When all these cute little products were gone, I was a little shocked. This material is expensive! As it happens, some products are expensive at $200 per ounce. (Ah, $180 sunscreenanyone?) Anyway, I was like, Welp that’s nice, now where is my favorite Neutrogena cleansing gel? (It’s also a great product.) But this year, I found La Prairie foaming cleanser for $90. I know, this is too much for a face wash. But 4 oz. tube (BTW, huge by beauty product standards) and it lasted for months – even a year. I don’t usually spend that much on beauty products, but this is one rare item that seems like a good fit for a fancy gift or the occasional splurge. [Editor’s note: We found this for cheaper on Amazon, but the reviews for the seller said that it may be expired or counterfeit, which is not uncommon for high-end skincare products on Amazon or other reseller sites.] — Theresa Tamkins

Acure Curiosity Purifying Shampoo – $5.99 Amazon

I have combination hair and I exercise a lot, so finding the perfect shampoo has been a journey of a lifetime. Acure is affordable, smells great, has a vegan formula, never dries out my scalp, and made my hair feel shiny from roots to ends! –nicole fallert

Revlon One-Step Drying Brush – $34.88 Amazon

It takes less than 10 minutes to dry my long, thick hair with this drying brush. It does not dry out my hair or scalp – and is loved by many of my friends with different hair types, from curly to straight. –nicole fallert

Larq self-cleaning water bottle – $95 larq

I don’t know about you, but I’m really bad at washing my water bottle. Frankly, I don’t think about it often enough and then I realize it’s gross and I’m embarrassed and avoid dealing with it. This is something I should probably address in therapy, but until then, there’s the Larq self-cleaning water bottle. Yes, $95 is a ridiculously high price for a water bottle—but if there was a water bottle with such a price tag, this would be it. Not only does this thing clean itself with the UV light inside the cap, it can also filter water (two different settings depending on how filtered the water needs to be). And it keeps my water cold as hell, thanks to some kind of godlike insulation. My previous main water bottle was a giant 42oz. The Hydroflask was literally giving me shoulder issues from carrying it. The Larq bottle is 17 oz. so I fill it often but it also fits perfectly in my purse. —Addy Baird

Breathing nose magnets – from $67 Do not breathe

I have a garbage septum that has prevented me from breathing cleanly and easily for decades. It interrupts my sleep, makes exercising nervous, and sometimes humiliates me when I realize that I unconsciously start pulling my cheek to open a nostril in meetings or public gatherings. Wretched. And yes, I have to fix it with surgery. But instead, I relied on a bucket full of drugstore shelf droopy nostril countermeasures. Breathe Right’s tiny nose strips, nostril expanders, I’ve tried them all. They’ve all helped to some extent, but none have given me the relief of Intake Breathing’s nose magnets that open up the windows, wide nostrils. These things advance the concept of nose strips, turning them into an inelastic and *magnetized* nose bridge that is then attached to small metal-filled bandages that you attach to your nostrils. Are you saying it’s ridiculous? Brilliant. Because they are not perishable and STRENGTH Thanks to magnetism rather than the strength of the adhesive athletic tape, Intake opens your airways and keeps it that way without falling off your face. Yes, I look like I have a Transformer on my nose when I wear it. But I can breathe without feeling like I’m suffocating, and that’s what matters. —John Paczkowski

Shakti Mat – $69 Shakti

Shakti Mat is a modern nail bed. It’s an incredibly weird synergy of BDSM and meditation – but once you get over the initial pain, it’s incredibly relaxing. I have no idea how or why it works. But it was definitely more fun than the pandemic. —Tom Warren

Innisfree SPF 36 day sunscreen – $15 Amazon

I am old enough to observe the terrifying reality of sun damage and dread direct careful sunscreen application. I tried Supergoop’s “Play” daily SPF 50 sunscreen before and liked it, but it’s a bit pricey at $22. So I looked for cheaper options and the closest copy of Supergood was $15 from K-beauty brand Innisfree. It has the same texture as “moist”, moisturizing and lightweight without being sticky. I have dry skin and I don’t like the matte finish that La Roche-Posay, Neutrogena and Sun Bum face options have. —Katie Notopoulos

Harry’s deodorant – $5 Harry’s

Are you sweating more than you want? Plenty, maybe? Tired of spending over $12 on over-the-counter, “clinically strong” antiperspirants that smell like your grandma? Then check out Harry’s sweat control solutions. Starting off as a subscription shaving outfit, the company now produces a range of delightful deodorants. The scents are interesting and not at all offensive (bye “baby powder” hello “stone” and “sequoia”), the “advanced sweat control” version works as well as anything you’d buy from BIG DEODORANT and costs just $5. —John Paczkowski

Eric Morrow / BuzzFeed News

Temple Tape sweatband – $8.95 and Temple Band

Like many people who have changed over the past year, my hair has grown very long. Love, *too much.* But when it was time to re-enter society and get a haircut, I wanted to keep some of the volume I had gained in quarantine. My new barber made this happen (masako, you’re seriously the best) but would run into a problem three weeks after any downtime. My long hair would start to get in my way at the gym or on a run. Some of the power-ups I had before the pandemic worked well at home, but I didn’t always want to snag some flyers covered with company logos. Enter the Temple Tape headbands I found while searching for a headband brand I could order off of Amazon. They’re durable, hold my hair straight and don’t make my eyes sweat, and they come in loads of simple colors. They even live in Brooklyn so I can say I support a local business.

I feel like headbands are having a moment. they are everywhere college and professional Football side lines and Drake even played sports while boxing. The objection is easy to understand. They’re functional, but also so fun to wear that I now wear a headband for all my workouts, even if I had my hair cut the day before. –Eric Morrow

Keynote illustration by Raymond Biesinger for BuzzFeed News

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