The Best Things Our Editors Bought In 2021

Handy tools, COVID face masks, beauty products and more items that HuffPost Life editors fell in love with this year.

HuffPost Life’s editors are a discerning bunch of parents, cooks, do-it-yourselfers, clean freaks and enthusiasts of all things fitness and wellness. When we find a product that truly makes our lives better, you can bet we’ve put a lot of research and care into it, which makes us want to shout it from the rooftops. That’s what we’re doing here.

From padded bike leggings that’ll save your Peloton-riding butt to a mug that’ll magically keep your coffee warm (even after you’ve ignored it for far too long), there’s something for everyone here. Take a look at our favorite things ― we hope they can bring you as much joy as they did us.

HuffPost may receive a share from purchases made via links on this page. Every item is independently selected by the HuffPost Shopping team. Prices and availability are subject to change.

1
An Ember temperature control smart mug
As a mom of two — a toddler and a baby — by the time I had a chance to drink my morning coffee it would end up being lukewarm or cold. That is, until I discovered this epic Ember mug. You can set the temperature to up to 145 degrees and it keeps my coffee hot for hours. I've since bought a few as gifts because I love it so much and it's one of those bougie things that feels ridiculous to buy for yourself, but it's so worth it. — Ashley Rockman, Senior Relationships and Parenting Editor

Get it from Amazon for $129.95.
2
A Zojirushi rice cooker
Earlier this year we published a story called "Do You Really Need A Rice Cooker? The Answer Is Yes," and I can vouch for it. Sure, I went to culinary school and can cook a great pot of rice if I really want to stand by the stove and pay attention to it, but my Zojirushi rice cooker cooks it to perfection without having to babysit it. I can literally set it and forget it, and it keeps the rice warm until I'm done working and ready to eat dinner. I love it more than any appliance I've used all year. (And I've tried other brands; this really is my favorite.) — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Amazon for $149.99 (originally $192).
3
Our favorite KN95 face masks
Never in my life did I think I'd have a favorite face mask, but here we are. These are by far the most sturdy and breathable face coverings I've found. They come equipped with a nosepiece so you can bend the mask to fit your face shape, and they're great for layering under a cloth mask if you want added protection. KN95 masks are also a solid alternative to medical-grade ones. I order these so much, I almost want to keep them a secret so they won't sell out. — Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness and Travel Editor

Get a 25-pack from Amazon for $24.74.
4
A Yeti Hopper portable cooler
I get so much use out of this Yeti cooler. It keeps food and beverages extra cold and it's not too cumbersome to lug around. I actually have this size and one bigger, that's how much I love the brand. Traveling anywhere with kids requires tons of snacks and bottles for the baby, and this cooler delivers. I've used it for family road trips, sisters' bachelorette parties, even just bringing perishables to and from my parents' house. If you're in need of a cooler, this is the one to get. — Ashley Rockman, Senior Relationships and Parenting Editor

Get it from Amazon for $249.98.
5
A Theragun mini
If you're a person who moves their body, then the Theragun mini is an absolute lifesaver. I've used it on sore muscles after a workout, on my shoulder blades after hunching over my desk all day and my back after I injured it putting together a desk chair (yes, that really happened). The product features three different intensity settings and feels like you're getting a deep tissue massage on your couch. It hurts so good, and is ultimately worth the investment. Trust me. —Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness and Travel Editor

Get it from Therabody for $199.
6
Padded bike leggings
If you've been riding your Peloton regularly, you probably already know why these are necessary. Let's just say my backside is NOT happy with me when I ride too often, and these padded leggings have literally saved my butt. Warning: Amazon will scare you away from buying these with misleading photos. See that photo on the left? It looks like the red butt pads are visible on the outside of the pants, which ... who would want that?!? But they're not! For some reason, Amazon is just trying to show you what the padding on the inside looks like. Rest assured, you'll look like the person on the right. Get these, and I promise your butt will thank you. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get them from Amazon for $33.99.
7
Omnilux
An Omnilux LED face mask
This was certainly one of the most expensive products I've ever purchased, but it was honestly so worth it. I have rosacea, and my dermatologist recommended LED red light therapy as a way to help reduce redness. I did a ton of research on face masks and the Omnilux Contour Face came out on top. The mask is flexible so you can get a tight fit around your face, and it has a built-in 10-minute timer so you don't have to monitor it yourself. Potential benefits of the treatment also include a more even skin tone and reduction in fine lines and wrinkles. I've certainly noticed a difference when I use it consistently. — Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness and Travel Editor

Get it from Omnilux for $395.
8
A portable phone charger
I simply cannot be unprepared and disconnected, whether I'm on a train that's been stranded or at the U.S. Open grounds, which are notorious for sapping your phone's battery. This thing is small enough to stash in my purse and keeps a charge that'll last me a couple days, which keeps my anxiety levels at bay. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Amazon for $25.49.
9
Revitalash Advanced eyelash serum
I tried a popular brand of eyelash growth serum for a good six months earlier this year, and it was a total failure. My expectations were pretty low when I later tried out Revilash, and to my total surprise I could see noticeably longer lashes after just a month. You know how I could tell? My eyelashes began to bump into the lenses of my swimming goggles. I've been using it ever since, and my lashes are now long with a natural curl, like the ones seen in this picture. Just make sure you read all the warnings and talk to your doctor before purchasing this product, because it contains ingredients that could make some people sensitive. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Revitalash for $150.
10
A Hydro Flask water bottle with straw lid
Clearly, I have a thing for cups. This Hydro Flask is the only thing that keeps me drinking water regularly, and as someone who is breastfeeding, I need that extra hydration. But honestly, we all do! I don't know what it is about this water bottle in particular that makes drinking water all day easier — I think it may have to do with the straw — but I've turned on my husband, sisters and friends to it and they all agree. Plus, it comes in tons of fun colors. — Ashley Rockman, Senior Relationships and Parenting Editor

Get it from Amazon for $48.84.
11
Coola's organic Sun Silk drops SPF 30
A transparent, full-spectrum daily sunscreen that isn't greasy is practically a miracle. I've been using this lightweight, serum-style sunscreen this year and love its dropper-style bottle, the breathable finish and the fact that it disappears into my skin and is easy to layer under makeup. With bonus ingredients like aloe, jojoba oil, glycerin, vitamin E and hyaluronic acid, it also helps care for skin while saving it from sun and blue light damage. — Janie Campbell, Senior Editor, Money, Home & Living and Work/Life

Get it from Ulta for $46.
12
A neck cooler from the future
I saw this thing on Gee Thanks, Just Bought It and couldn't NOT buy it for summer. As a pale redhead who's been conditioned to avoid the sun for her entire life, I'm not great at sitting in the heat without wilting. This neck cooler looks only slightly ridiculous (but also sort of cool?) and is pretty quiet. But most importantly, it really does cool you down. I love it. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Amazon for $27.79.
13
A Levoit humidifier
Every winter my skin shrivels up and I long for the years I lived in Florida, where dry air didn't exist. Enter this humidifier. It can easily cover a large room (I use it in the bedroom) and comes equipped with a night light and several adjustment options. I only need to fill it up once every two or three nights. The top fill design also makes it easy to clean (the app even reminds you every week to do it!). Now that I have it, I can't figure out how I lived without it. — Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness and Travel Editor

Get it from Amazon for $69.99 .
14
Saie's Slip Tint
This dewy tinted moisturizer is the closest thing to makeup that's come to my face over the past year. It's ultra sheer (but with enough coverage to hide redness) and moisturizing, and also contains SPF 35. I'll never go back to wearing regular foundation. This comes in 14 shades! — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Sephora for $32.
15
Athleta's Conscious Crop
Athleta's Conscious Crop was my holy grail sports bra this year. It's more supportive than you realize; it held up during boxing workouts, cycling classes, runs, you name it. I even wore it as a shirt in the summer. It comes in a ton of fun colors and the material is super soft. Add this to your athleisure wardrobe ASAP. — Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness and Travel Editor

Get it from Athleta starting at $35.99. It's also available for D-DD+ cup sizes.
16
Olaplex hair care products
I follow Audrey Leighton Rogers, the brilliant creator of Audrey Leighton Vintage, on Instagram, and began noticing her stunning hair transformation since the pandemic started -- her tresses have become luminous. She eventually shared with followers that she uses Olaplex hair care products, a line that claims to strengthen the bonds in your hair to prevent breakage. As someone who swims (and sweats) in a chlorinated pool 4-5 times a week, wearing a swim cap and goggles that cause breakage, I was willing to buy whatever it was that worked such a miracle for Audrey. And you know what? It has worked some serious magic. I haven't had to get my hair trimmed since using this stuff, and it smells deliciously of light citrus and spruce. The line contains several specialized products, but I use the four pictured here. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

See the entire range of Olaplex products at Sephora, starting at $14.
17
The world's most perfect drain catcher
Speaking of hair, I have been undergoing some serious seasonal shedding. And because I've been spending a lot of time at my mom's house during the pandemic, I really don't want to gross her out by leaving wads of my hair in the bottom of the shower. This brilliant hair catcher from OXO sit in the bottom of your shower and prevents your hair from going anywhere near the drain. Just empty it out after every shower and it'll be as clean as a whistle. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Amazon for $9.99.
18
Naturopathica carrot seed soothing facial oil
Someone gifted me this face oil once and I never looked back. It keeps my skin hydrated and it's not too heavy; it feels luxurious to apply each night and it's very soothing to my sensitive skin. I also love that the line is clean! — Ashley Rockman, Senior Relationships and Parenting Editor

Get it from Naturopathica for $68.
19
Tom's Perfect 10
Tom's Perfect 10, the "Birkin of granolas"
If you've even heard of the internet, you likely follow Eva Chen on Instagram. And it follows that you may know all about her husband Tom Bannister's love affair with creating the perfect granola, which has culminated in an insanely popular granola line (it has been dubbed the “Birkin of granolas”). It's called Tom's Perfect 10, named after the brand's brilliant scorecard that encourages customers to provide specific feedback for each flavor. If you want to know what all the fuss is about, you can either sign up for the monthly flavor-of-the-month club or you can buy individual flavors on an ad hoc basis. I've had a chance to test two of the flavors (Ginger Zing and Pina Colada), both of which were perfect for snacking on dry (lots of good clusters!) or eating in a bowl with milk (because I'm still a child, despite my big age). — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Sign up for a monthly subscription for $20/month.
Buy a bag of this month's flavor (Ginger Zing) for $20.
20
A Philips Sonicare 6500 electric toothbrush
Tell the truth, do you really brush your teeth for the suggest 2-plus minutes? Before I had this toothbrush, I wasn't. But its QuadPacer technology tells me just the right amount of time I should spend cleaning each part of my mouth, and now my teeth feel sparkling clean every day (which helps when you wear a face mask and have to smell your own breath all day). I can't go back to my regular old brush. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Amazon starting at $129.95.
21
Baggu face masks
I'm a little bit obsessive about making sure my face mask has the right fit, and this fabric version from Baggu has been the best I've tried. It has a wire that lets it fit closely atop your nose, and features an accordion-like style that follows the contours of your face to ensure there aren't any gaps. Plus, they come in really fun prints and colors, like this fruity three-pack. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get a three-pack from Baggu for $32.
22
A grout pen (it's not as sad as it sounds)
If the grout on your floors or your wall tiles looks dirty, this grout pen will make it look like you just had your tiles redone. It comes in a wide variety of colors (I like the white) and you simply draw over your old grout lines and it cleans them right up! I used this on my shower 10 years ago and it still doesn't need touching up, and this year I used it my floors and it's still holding strong. It's the cheapest tile makeover you'll ever get. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Amazon for $8.99.
23
Amazon
Cute kids disposable face masks
When my son started preschool this year, I was worried he wouldn't tolerate wearing a face mask all day. I have two things to thank for helping him with that: 1) his amazing teachers and 2) these fun, disposable face masks. I found he didn't love the cotton reusable ones, and he gets so messy at school with sand, paint and god knows what else, it makes more sense for him to use ones we can toss. They come in a ton of cute patterns, too! — Ashley Rockman, Senior Relationships and Parenting Editor

Get a 50-pack from Amazon for $12.99.
24
A sleek shoe rack for tiny spaces
I live in a 400-square-foot apartment, but I have about 40 pairs of shoes. I can stash most of them away in hidden places, but for the 4-5 pairs I wear regularly, this portable, vertical shoe rack from Yamazaki has been a godsend. It barely takes up any space in my entryway and is lightweight enough to pick up and move elsewhere if it's ever in the way. I know the price may look a little steep for how minimalist it is, but the space and aesthetic appeal has been totally worth it for me. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Amazon for $46.15.
25
A gorgeous laptop table
If you're in the market for a side table in your living room, this modern one from World Market should be a contender. We get compliments on it all of the time, and it's the perfect height for using your laptop on the couch (guilty) or even for eating dinner in front of the TV (also guilty). — Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness and Travel Editor

Get it from World Market for $149.99.
26
Amazon
A stud finder (not THAT kind)
Well yes, I'm looking for both kinds of studs. But it turns out the ones in the wall are much easier to locate if you have one of these tools. If you're the kind of person who likes to hang your own shelves or picture frames, a stud finder will save you a lot of strife (or having to hire help, which I try to avoid at all costs). And this one from Craftsman is cheap! — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Amazon for $10.98.
27
A Capri Blue volcano capiz jar candle
This candle makes my entire apartment smell like a luxurious hotel. The burn time of this bad boy is almost absurd; I've had it for almost a year now and there's still plenty of it left (just make sure to keep trimming the wick). Not to mention the fact that it's a gorgeous jar and fits perfectly with most decor. Highly recommend it either for yourself or as a gift. — Lindsay Holmes, Senior Wellness and TravelEditor

Get it from Anthropologie for $34.
28
A NuFace Trinity skin-firming device
I'm not one of those beauty editors who's allowed to accept free facials and beauty treatments, and I've been a little hesitant to get a facial since before COVID, so I've been in dire need of a good facial massage for the past couple years. On Prime Day, I took advantage of a deal for the NuFace Trinity, one of the most popular devices out there that claims to contour, tone and firm skin (and experts can back up the microcurrent technology). It's a bit of a splurge, but it forces me to take 10 minutes out of every evening to give myself a zap-filled facial massage (and in the long run, saves a lot of money on facials, which cost around $100 a pop). — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get it from Amazon for $288.15 (originally $339).
29
For serious knitters, a yarn swift and winder
If you've ever wandered into a yarn store, you may see the staff winding yarn on a giant wooden spinning wheel that looks like a carnival ride. It's called a yarn swift (left), and it saves serious knitters HOURS of frustration trying to hand-wind yarn that comes in hanks (as opposed to affordable yarn, which often, for whatever reason, comes pre-wound). It collapses to become totally flat and is easily slid under your bed, so don't worry if it looks like it'll take up a lot of space in your home.

Get the wooden yarn swift from Amazon for $28.85.

Do you see how that yarn swift on the left is transferring the yarn into a ball on a little plastic device? That device is called a yarn winder, and it's the perfect accompaniment to a yarn swift. If you get one, you really should get both. — Kristen Aiken, Senior Food, Style and Shopping Editor

Get the yarn winder from Amazon for $37.88.
30
Be We'll by Kelly collagen protein powder
I have a love/hate relationship with morning smoothies but currently I am on the smoothie train. This is my favorite protein powder to date. It's the cleanest collagen protein I've found, made from grass-fed beef and with no added sugars and 23 grams of protein per serving. I also use the chocolate flavor for protein hot chocolates when I want a sweet but filling afternoon drink. — Ashley Rockman, Senior Relationships and Parenting Editor

Get it from Amazon for $59.99 for 30 servings.
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