This 2018, I went a little crazy on the product testing. Ever since I started writing gift guides, I get emails from all kinds of cool brands offering samples for me to consider. It’s hard to turn down—plus, I’m sick of reading gift guides where the writers clearly haven’t tested the products themselves. I’ve made it my goal not to recommend anything I haven’t tried and enjoyed enough to buy.
After I test products, I mostly end up giving them away as gifts, or donating them to local charities—but some products were so good I had to keep them for myself. The extensive list that follows are those products: out of over 200 products I tested in 2018, these are the ones I still use, would or have bought myself again, and recommend most highly.
Best Sleep Mask & Sleep Aid: NodPod
I was suspicious when I received the NodPod eye mask — it didn’t seem like it would be comfortable, since the weighted section goes not only over your eyes but also on the side of your head. Not so — this little device has improved my sleep markedly, and is officially my favorite sleep mask and new sleep innovation of the year. Not only does it totally block out the light and feel completely comfortable, but the weighted therapy really does work. I also enjoyed the weighted neck/shoulder wrap by Huggaroo, which uses the same idea to relax you, though their weighted blanket I find a little too claustrophobic.
Best Mascara: Too Faced “Better Than Sex” Mascara
Too Faced “Better Than Sex” Mascara has earned its reputation as one of the best began mascaras on the market (and best mascaras in general). I can vouch that it won’t irritate sensitive eyes, or clump (until it gets to be about three months old), and that it lifts and lengthens for a look that can be subtle for daytime wear, or layered for a more dramatic lash.
Best Toothbrush: Dr. Plotka’s Toothbrushes
It’s just a toothbrush — but it’s become my favorite one. Dr. Plotka’s Toothbrushes has 10-times thinner bristles than your average brush, and antimicrobial bristles infused with silver to naturally eliminate 99.9% of bacteria that grows in between uses. I found I liked these toothbrushes so much that I switched from Sonicare back to a normal brush — it seems easier on my gums.
Best Skincare Collection: The Honey Belle Gold Collection
Honey Belle Gold uses only whole plant ingredients, and their products smell amazing. I especially recommend the Luxe cleanser, with organic cold- pressed apricot, rosemary, bergamot essential oil, and vitamin Ee to clean your skin.
Best Eyeliner: EccoCCO Bella Eyeliner
For a very natural look that just makes your eyes seem just a little bigger and brighter — but like a celebrity going “makeupless” in a movie — try EccoCCO Bella Eyeliner in bronze. It doesn't irritate or wear off., and is only slightly iridescent, in a way that somehow manages to be both brightening and natural. It’s a great secret weapon that in a pinch can even double as brow pencil (don’t judge me). Mineral Fusion’s eyeliner in a brown shade also works well for a similar effect.
Best Vibrator: Womanizer 2-GO
You might have heard of The Womanizer already — that oral-sex-mimicking vibrator that somehow lives up to its ridiculous name. Now, however, they've made a travel-size Womanizer 2-GO — and wow, does it work. I highly recommend this if you want something compact that packs a punch likely to satisfy even the most picky among us. A special shoutout to my favorite go-to runner-up, The LELO Lily 2, which is good for both personal use and the best vibrator for clitoral stimulation during penetrative sex.
Most Useful Secret Weapon: Bean-zyme
When it comes to preventing gas from all the healthy foods you should be eating, I really can’t recommend Bean-zyme highly enough. It works for me, I’ll say that much — just be sure to get the vegan version of the capsules, because there’s really no reason to be consuming gelatin if you don’t have to. I take it with pretty much every meal now, and am rarely caught with gas, even with my cruciferous vegetable- and bean-heavy diet.
Best Immune Defense: Gaia Herbs Quick Defense
Sure, it could be mostly placebo, but I’ve taken supplements before that didn’t seem to help me as much with fending off a cold. Made with Elderberry, Ginger, and Andrographics, Gaia Herbs Quick Defense helps support a healthy immune response, and seemed to help me fend off sickness more than once.
Best Greens Powder: Live Ultimate The Ultimate Elixir
I tried more than a few green powders this year, and Live Ultimate The Ultimate Elixir— despite mixing 8 Alkalizing Greens, 4 Immune Strengthening Mushrooms, 6 Superfruit Antioxidants, 6 Adaptogenic Herbs and and 5 Natural Plants — actually tastes kind of...good? It must be the fruit enzymes mixed in that help hide the mushroom and more off-putting greens tastes. You feel very healthy consuming a scoop of this a day — I like it mixed into some yogurt or even oatmeal, but others might prefer a smoothie.
Best New Flavor: mykind Organics Fair Trade Maca Root
Maca Root is my new obsession. It’s a little sweet and nutty, and delicious on everything from lattes to oatmeal to even popcorn. It’s said to be good for energy and sex drive too — I haven’t really noticed a difference, but I’m definitely addicted.
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