Each year, I tell myself I’m getting out of the product-review game—and each year I seem to fail. When you receive dozens and dozens of press releases every day offering you new, cool products to review, it is very tempting, to say the least. I justify my continued promotion of consumerism to myself by trying to recommend only high-quality products I actually use and love and that are vegan and ethically made. With that disclaimer in mind, here is my list of the best products of 2021 I’ve tried and loved.
Health & Wellness
MaxPro Home Gym System
Down from $1029
I prefer to work out at home because of COVID-19. The best piece of equipment I tested this year was the Max Pro Cable Machine. It’s definitely an investment that I don’t think I would have made myself, but if you can swing it, it really is a compact and impressive piece of equipment that brings a gym experience to your home. I highly recommend it. I was also extremely glad I bought the Bowflex Adjustable Dumbbells—they really are a great investment if you work out at home.
To make my work experience a little more active, I’ve really enjoyed VariDesk’s automatically adjustable standing desk, paired with the FluidStance balance board. This Steelcase chair, which I carefully researched and bought, proved durable during the ridiculous hours on end of sitting it took to write my forthcoming book, Open: An Uncensored Memoir of Love, Liberation, and Non-Monogamy. (Which I also humbly have to recommend you buy!)
If my back aches anyway, I’ll often use this DynaFlex massage gun, which really works to help get out the toughest knots. This Balan’s Labs Vegan CBD-Infused Lotion has become my go-to moisturizer before bed; with soothing lavender, I use it mainly on my hands and chest to signal sleep. And speaking of sleep, Kin Slips Shut Eye strips with CBD and CBN have worked like nothing else for my migraines and occasional insomnia, while Sunday Scaries CBD Sleep Oil is a lighter option that consistently works for me when traveling.
With all the fires in California, Gaia’s Respiratory Mushroom Blend capsules at least made me feel psychologically better, like I was doing something to protect my lungs. MyKind Organic’s Vitamin D Spray with Omegas and Once-a-Day Women’s multivitamin have also become my daily supplement staples. These nootropic supplements by Mind Lab Pro I invested in recently really do seem to help with focus and alertness, minus any stimulants.
And finally, THINX period panties remain unthroned as my essential period companion. Other brands I’ve tried, I find itchy. These continue to hold up with monthly use and frequent washing and have helped me cut down on my tampon use substantially. A long-reigning game changer.
Womanizer Premium Clitoral Sucking Sex Toy
Down from $199
Free access to vibrators is one of the main reasons I’m in the product review business—not only are good toys usually quite expensive, but they are also not returnable. Everybody is different of course, but having tested many toys over the last year, here are my top picks:
The Womanizer Premium remains my gold standard for solo use. Though it is still somewhat loud, it packs an incomparable punch. (Or should I say, suck.) This year, they also came out with the Womanizer Eco version, made of all recyclable, biodegradable materials—and for each toy purchased, a tree is even planted.
LELO’s lube and their NEA 2 vibrator remain my go-to for clitoral stimulation during penetrative sex. While I don’t use the toy on my own, it is strong enough to. Mostly, it stands out as being pointed, ergonomic in a variety of positions to hold, and relatively quiet and unobtrusive.
New standout toys this year were Fun Factory’s MANTA, which is aimed for people with penises. It proved quite effective for extra stimulation during oral, and helps take vibrators out of the realm of only for vagina-holders. The cloud massager onyx was also noteworthy as a smaller and quieter alternative to The Womanizer that is deceptively strong. Zalo’s Bess Clitoral Vibrator was a unique new toy with a quiet, fine tip and ample strength, and can be used easily while either being penetrated, or even alongside a tongue during oral. The New York Toy Collective Carter dildo is an award-winner, and also a fantastic investment to make in your sex life—even if an anatomical penis is already in your mix. It’s always good to have backup, you know?
This Only Hearts bodysuit is the best unnecessary piece of lingerie I bought myself—it’s comfy, sexy, and doesn't have to be removed at any point because of its open bottom, if you get what I mean. Meanwhile, Pepper’s bras for small boobs are a new brand and concept I appreciated.
The Uvee sanitizing sex toy box never sent me a sample, and so after years of holding out, I finally bought it for myself. Once I did, I was so glad. The box fits a surprising amount of toys—upwards of eight—and can be used for a hygienic and compact storage when not being used to sanitize. You can also use this for sterilizing non-toy items, like your glasses and phone.
A surprising new standout this year was Dripstick, which is specially designed to remove semen after sex. Though the premise made me giggle and seemed frivolous, I quickly realized not having to worry about surprise drips was actually a huge life improvement. This product really works, and no, it is not at all the same as using a tampon for the same purpose (something I definitely have tried and don’t recommend).
Also in the vaginal health realm, I loved HelloAgain suppositories, which are designed for women going through menopause, but helped me feel like a horny teenager all over again. They are like a deep conditioner for your hoo-ha, but they also offer full-body relaxation.
Home & Reading
Lettuce Grow Farmstand
Lettuce Grow is a cool new invention that allows you to easily grow veggies, herbs, and berries in your own home—no real green thumb required. It needs to be plugged in and treated once a week, but doesn’t actually use a lot of energy. It can also be kept inside, but you will need glowlights for that, which are quite fluorescent. I keep mine outside, and though the brand suggests you order refill seed pods relatively frequently, my original batch keeps giving and giving many months later.
Also, a new favorite are these soft and adorable Green Philosophy Co succulent pillows. They are ethically made, fairly priced, and very cute. Every purchase of one of these pillows plants trees, too.
On the cleaning front, CleanCult’s set seems like an investment upfront, but lasts a very long time, with less waste. (My only complaint is that the dryer balls are not vegan, which I hope they change!) Papaya reusable paper towels were introduced to me by a targeted Instagram ad. I ended up trying them, and they really have reduced the number of paper towels and rags I use. They work great and are easily thrown in the dishwasher for cleaning. Going on six months of regular use and washing, they show no sign of slowing down.
This Dyson vacuum I was sent to test grew on me. At first, I thought I couldn’t recommend it, because it takes some muscle to use. You have to hold your finger on the trigger and kind of flex, and at first, I found it tiring. But now that I’m used to it, I love the thing. Not only is it a wonderful bagless vac that sucks up everything, with lots of easy-to-use different attachments, but it’s also sort of a built-in workout.
These Organic Favorite Tee Sheets by PACT are worth the investment, and are supremely soft with that jersey feel, as the name promises. Because I have allergies and asthma, I wash my sheets hot every week, which can lead to a faster deterioration—but over six months in, I can attest that these sheets show no sign of fading or growing less soft. Impressive. I was also gifted the Manta Sleep Mask by my partner, and it really blocks the light and is comfortable on my sensitive eyes. I’m also a huge fan of the NodPod sleep mask, which I use as a sort of eye pillow.
Also among the best sleep products, I tested this year was the Avocado vegan mattress, which has stood up to my back and neck pains, and only helped. I also remain devoted to Dyson’s Pure Cool Tower Fan, which creates perceptively fresher feeling air, nice white noise, and a cooling breeze. It is also allergy & asthma-friendly certified, which puts me at additional ease.
The Sunlight Inside Lamp is one of my favorite room staples I’ve tested and held on to, since it gives off a warm, non-sleep-disrupting light.
The Remarkable 2 is a truly unique tablet that allows you to write or draw as you would in a journal, and then export to text with… well, remarkable accuracy. It really does help with creativity and is unlike any other tablet I’ve tried. It also makes for good reading and annotating experience if you put a PDF on it.
The Book of the Month club is fun in that it consistently offers great new books to choose from, and allows you the option to skip months and have your credits roll over. Speaking of which, some of my favorite books from 2021 I read this year, and highly recommend: Whimsy, Cheat Day, You Never Get It Back, Do Better, Detransition, Baby; Greedy, Tomorrow Sex Will Be Good Again, and The Loneliest Americans.
Beauty & Apparel
Lawless Forget the Filler Plumping Lip Gloss
It’s hard to find teeth whitening products that don’t seem somehow toxic, but this one by Crystal is low on chemicals, is vegan, and really works (it also didn’t cause teeth sensitivity, which these products usually do for me).
Pur Big Look mascara for dramatic lashes and Milk Kush mascara were the best I tried for dramatic lashes, while Thrive mascara in black-brown is my favorite for a more natural and easy-to-remove look. Becca Undereye Brightening Corrector has also become a staple (it lasts forever and doesn’t irritate sensitive eyes), and Lawless Forget the Filler Gloss and Definer Lip Liner are the best I tested for natural-looking, defined, and not-sticky lips. This skincare set “for men” by Disco is also vegan and well-made.
These ridiculously soft pajamas have become my favorite, and this Olive and Linen Turkish towel bathrobe makes me feel fancy. This shirt is my favorite go-to for advocating abolition. It’s made by For Everyone Collective, which is staffed by formerly incarcerated people being paid a living wage, with 20 percent going to bail funds and abolition organizations. These shirts are my favorite for advocating compassion, kindness, and the fact that caring is cool—and benefit the nonprofit Mercy For Animals.
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