The Most Useful Under-$20 Products Our Editors Bought This Year
The word “affordable” is often up for debate. What’s affordable when it comes to a pair of sturdy winter boots will be vastly different than an affordable price for a pair of sneakers. The same goes when buying shampoo that color protects vs. a simple shampoo that will manage your everyday hair care. But I think we can all agree on considering any item that runs under $20 a universally affordable price. Just because you’re not spending a lot of dough doesn’t mean an under-$20 product isn’t valuable.
To prove that point, we asked our shopping editors to name the most useful product they bought this year, all without spending more than their average Seamless delivery. From an at-home bikini waxing kit that’s been a saving grace with shutdown spas to silk scrunchies, read up on the cheap items our team has decided they can no longer live without.
1. “It may be TMI, but Flamingo's bikini wax strips were an absolute lifesaver in lockdown. I can't really shave down there because I'm prone to painful razor bumps, but given that my usual wax spot was closed down due to the pandemic, I had to get crafty. I'd tried Flamingo's face wax strips before COVID and liked them, so when the brand launched pubic hair strips, I thought, why not? while also acknowledging my own impending doom. To my surprise, they barely hurt and actually worked, two things I wasn't at all sure about when I clicked purchase. Even after my wax place reopened, I haven't had to go back. Seriously, buy these.”
- Eliza Huber, Fashion Writer
2. "When I left the office back in March, I left many a trinket behind. Fast forward to October where I'm still working remotely, wondering from time to time if my tiny succulents have withered away and just how much dust my trusty desk water bottle has accumulated. After a few months of pining for my office stuff and suffering the sleepy effects of improper WFH hydration, I went ahead and found a suitable replacement for my favorite office water bottle — and that's where this just-at-$20 find came into play. It has a nice give-back element as each USA-made water bottle give proceeds to park conservancy and it makes me feel almost like I'm back on my in-office grind. As for my succulents, I'm not yet ready to replace those (may they RIP)..."
- Elizabeth Buxton, Market Editor
3. “I know I may be pushing the limits of the "useful" by including a pair of underwear, but after roughly two decades of trying out ever undie under the sun, I have found my most favorite pair of all time — for the low, low price of $12 — and I am never looking back. Knickey makes the best, comfiest, wedgie-proofiest high waisted drawers out — and they are made from 95% organic cotton! Insert flamenco dancer emoji!!! After reading the fawning reviews on the brand’s website and watching them sell like hotcakes in our guide to the best cotton underwear, I bought a pair myself and am overjoyed with the results. They’re really flattering and sit beautifully, and I am filing them under “useful” because I reach for them every day. I actually need to buy, like, 9,000 more pairs.”
- Emily Ruane, Fashion Market Writer
4. “Despite COVID-19 keeping us in lockdown this year, I still wear sunscreen every day and this one is my go-to. I love it because it doesn't leave a white cast on my dark complexion and I can feel it absorb into my skin instead of just sitting on it. Also, the price is low and it lasts me forever.“
- Alexandra Polk, Associate Writer
5. “I found this niacinamide serum after searching “how to get rid of forehead bumps” on Youtube…and let me tell you, after just 2 weeks of use there wasn't a forehead bump to be seen. I. Am. Serious. It truly transformed my skin at lightning speed.”
- Kate Spencer, Creative & Updates Editor
6. "I've been experimenting with my natural curly hair and throughout this process I noticed that regular hair ties pull the curls out. Which is a huge no-no for natural styles. I bought these silk scrunchies from Etsy in a variety of hues and they've been a huge life-saver. They don't pull, and the silk is great for my tresses!"
- Cortne Bonilla, Lifestyle Writer
7. “After much trial & error, I finally found the Goldilocks of hand sanitizers. It comes in a flat, travel-sized square about the size of a credit card that fits perfectly in my pocket or bag. It’s bergamot scent is divine (you know it’s 2020 when you start describing hand sani as divine by the way), and it’s made of the necessary alcohol plus jojoba, argan, rosehip, and coconut oil oils of jojoba, argan, rosehip, and coconut oils in a spritz, not a goopy drip. It’s basically the stocking stuffer that everyone needs but nobody asked for.”
- Marissa Rosenblum, Shopping Director
8. “Due to all the time I’ve been spending in isolation, my mental health has taken a serious toll. I only recently learned about the benefits of gratitude journaling and decided to pick up this one from Anthropologie. It prompts you to check in every morning and every evening, writing out your current state of feeling and goals on a daily basis. It has been such a huge help over the last six months. The best part has been looking back at old entries to see how far I’ve come since the lockdown era first began.”
- Ray Lowe, Contributing Writer