The 6 best reusable shopping tote bags of 2021

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A durable, reusable shopping tote is versatile for groceries, library books, and retail returns, among other errands. Whether stored on your passenger seat or inside your trunk, it’s an easy carrier for your items and will save time otherwise spent unloading too many plastic bags.

Of course, reusable bags have the added benefit of being sustainable. Most are made of nylon or canvas and come in all shapes and sizes. Though they look similar on the surface, there are subtle differences that make some perform better (and last longer) than others. Some, like our top pick, come with their own storage solutions, and others are sturdier than the competition.

Here are the best reusable shopping tote bags of 2021

The best reusable bag overall

bagpodz reusable storage system

The BagPodz Reusable Bag and Storage System comes with multiple nylon shopping bags, a pouch for on-the-go storage, and an affixed clip to attach to your shopping cart.

Pros: Comes with multiple bags, storage pouch, clip for shopping cart, water-resistant material

Cons: Limited designs

The BagPodz Reusable Bag and Storage System comes in a set of five or 10 sustainable, machine-washable nylon shopping bags. They’re ideal for transporting groceries and are especially unique for their compact pouch that holds the bags when you aren’t using them.

Aside from their smart storage, there’s a clip on one end of the pouch that attaches to a shopping cart so you don’t have to juggle bags in the middle of the produce aisle. Each bag holds up to 50 pounds yet can easily be stored in your purse or glove compartment. BagPodz’s material is water-resistant, too, so you won’t have to worry about leaks in the event of a spill. 

The best reusable canvas bag

Duck Bag Canvas Tote copy

The Baggu Duck Bag is a sturdy canvas tote suitable for a variety of lifestyles and purposes.

Pros: Durable, machine washable, multiple handles

Cons: Not as large as some picks

For a reusable, practical, and multipurpose shopping bag, the Baggu Duck Bag is our favorite canvas tote. You could easily take it from the office to the grocery store because it snaps shut, has an interior zipper pocket, and two sets of straps: top handles and shoulder straps.

Despite the deep compartment, its restrictive shape makes it better for smaller runs than your big weekly shopping haul. It will last you a while, too, as the machine-washable, artfully-worn fabrics are thicker and more durable than some of its nylon counterparts. 

The best reusable waxed bag

colony waxed canvas

The Colony Co. Reusable Grocery Bag is a sustainable take on old-school paper bags and will last you for years of grocery trips.

Pros: Durable waxed canvas design

Cons: Only has top straps

The Colony Co. Reusable Grocery Bag is made of waxed material that’s stain-resistant and easy to clean. It’s also vegan, so it’s free of beeswax and leather.  Though not machine washable, the 16-ounce bag is an all-in-one carrier for cereal boxes and baked bread alike.

The brand also sells reusable produce bags, which would make a nice addition to any sustainable shopping routine.

The best reusable bag on a budget

easy fold

Easy Fold Bag’s Reusable Grocery Bags are an affordable set of three nylon bags that conveniently fold for your shopping trips.

Pros: Affordable, machine washable

Cons: Fabric is a little shiny, not as sturdy as other picks

If you’re not looking to splurge, Easy Fold Bag’s Reusable Grocery Bags are a great option. The set comes with three ripstop nylon bags that fold easily. They’re machine-washable, too, so it’s a practical option for your essential items. 

They’re also extremely functional and come in three colors for less than $10.  They aren’t as sturdy as some of the pricier options, but if you’re looking to reduce waste on a budget, the bags’ reinforced stitching should last you a good while. 

The best insulated reusable bag

veno bag slide image

Veno Bag’s Insulated Grocery Bag is a durable, boxy tote that will keep your vegetables and other perishables cool.

Pros: Made with 80% post-consumer recycled material, aluminum covered thermal insulation, can hold up to 30 pounds, flexible fabric sides for odd-shaped items

Cons: May be bulky to carry

For days when you’re hopping from the grocery store to the library to the post office, it’s important for your perishables to remain cool and fresh. The Veno Bag ensures just that with its aluminum-covered thermal insulation, ideal for avoiding unnecessary pit stops home before heading out for other errands.

A novelty feature of this tote is its recyclable fabric sides which allow for simple storage of irregularly-shaped items. Though the box style may make it inconvenient for carrying, the added bonus of temperature regulation doesn’t make it a dealbreaker.

The best large reusable bag

Standard_Baggu_Ripstop_Black 04_170e81d6 99cf 4ae7 8bd4 7a72550e89bc_2048x2048

The Baggu Large Reusable Shopping Bag is great for buying canned goods and other items in bulk, holding up to 50 pounds at a time.

Pros: Holds up to 50 pounds, machine washable, folds into a small square

Cons: Short handles, shapeless

The Baggu Large Reusable Shopping Bag comes in a host of cute colors and patterns, is durable and flexible, and is made of 100% ripstop nylon. Despite its large capacity, it folds down to a neat 7-by-7-inch square for easy storage. 

The material is both thin and strong, too, allowing for hassle-free carrying. And, when you’ve unpacked your goodies, just throw it in your washing machine before its next use. 

Check out our other grocery guides

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The 5 best measuring cups of 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Measuring cups are a must for baking and cooking to ensure ingredients are precisely added.
  • Bellemain‘s set is our favorite for dry ingredients, while Pyrex’s set is the most accurate for wet ingredients.

A good set of measuring cups allows for hassle-free baking of your favorite chocolate chip cookies and lemon blueberry muffins alike. We rounded up the best ones with careful attention to both dry and wet ingredients:

For dry ingredients: Cheap plastic sets and flimsy metal ones never last very long – either the handle snaps off or it bends under the least amount of pressure. We recommend you invest in a good sturdy pair of stainless steel measuring cups or thick plastic ones, though the latter won’t last as long.

For wet ingredients: Look for a sturdy set of glass measuring cups. Plastic measuring cups for wet ingredients always seem to get stained, and the plastic can absorb and transmit unwanted flavors to your ingredients. You should also check for metric measurements, comfortable handles, clear marking, and a good spout for pouring the wet ingredients.

We listed our top picks below.

Here are the best measuring cups of 2021

The best overall for dry ingredients

bellemain measuring cups

The Bellemain 6-Piece Measuring Cup Set ensures accurate measurements for your dry ingredients and will last you for years of baking cakes and pastries.

Pros: Durable construction, accurate measurements

Cons: No markings on the insides of the cups, no warranty

The Bellemain Stainless Steel Measuring Cup Set is made of stainless steel, and thanks to each cup’s flat bottom, they won’t tip over. Each cup is made with dishwasher-safe stainless steel and I haven’t had any issues with bending or pieces snapping off. I also like how the pieces can be stacked inside each other for easy storage.

All cups include both metric and imperial measurements, which are clearly noted on the handles. While there aren’t markings on the inside of the cups, the six-piece set does cover all the standard measurements: 1/4, 1/3, 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, and 1 cup.

The edges aren’t terribly sharp, which is useful for folks without dishwashers (or who just prefer to hand wash their cups). And thanks to the wide handle, you won’t have these measurers slipping out of your hand. Lulu Chang, Former Freelance Writer

Though Bellemain doesn’t offer a structured limited lifetime warranty plan, you can contact the company via its online form

The best overall for wet ingredients

Pyrex measuring cups

The Pyrex 4-Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set is a kitchen staple that is durably-designed and clearly-marked to measure wet ingredients.  

Pros: Durable glass design, doesn’t absorb odors, clear metric and imperial measurements, easy to clean, good spout for pouring liquid ingredients, two-year warranty

Cons: None

When it comes to measuring wet ingredients, there’s only one brand that comes to mind: Pyrex. The company has been making glass measuring cups for wet ingredients for 90 years, and it’s still the top brand among bakers and chefs. The Pyrex 4-Piece Glass Measuring Cup Set is ideal for any recipe with its 1-, 2-, 3- and 4-cup measurers. 

Although these measuring cups are made of glass, they are very sturdy and shouldn’t break easily. The glass is also nonporous, so it doesn’t absorb odors or flavors the way plastic inevitably does, and these cups won’t warp or melt in the presence of hot ingredients. 

Pyrex guarantees that you can pop its measuring cups in the oven, microwave, fridge, freezer, or dishwasher without any problems, so you can get a lot of use out of this set. The company also offers a two-year warranty in case of any defects or problems.

More importantly, though, Pyrex’s measuring cups offer accurate measurements and clear markings in cups, ounces, quarts, and milliliters. The spout pours well without dripping and the handle is comfortable to hold, too.

The best magnetic set

OXO stainless steel measuring cups

The OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Measuring Cups with Magnetic Snaps is an easy-to-use set that measures dry ingredients with great accuracy.

Pros: Sturdy stainless steel, magnetic stacking cups, clear etched markings, sturdy handles, limited lifetime warranty

Cons: No metric measurements

If you don’t want to pay more than $20 for a set of measuring cups, the OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Measuring Cups with Magnetic Snaps are your best bet. These durable cups come with excellent grippy handles and clearly etched measurement markings. And, you don’t have to worry about bent or broken handles either, thanks to its thick steel construction.

The handles have magnets inside and, though not terribly strong, they stick together when you stack them (and have enough force to hold the cups in place in your cupboard).

The set comes with 1/4-cup, 1/3-cup, 1/2-cup, and 1-cup measurements, and the only complaint we have with the set is the lack of metric measurements. But, most people won’t need to measure in milliliters, anyway. There’s also a matching set of teaspoons if you want your baking gear to match.

With the OXO Better Guarantee, the brand has you covered with a limited lifetime warranty in case your cups become less sturdy or damaged.

The best on a budget

OXO plastic measuring cups

The OXO Good Grips Plastic Measuring Cups are a comparable yet affordable alternative to other high-end stainless steel sets.

Pros: BPA-free plastic, half measurement lines, comes with a scraper, clear measurement markings, affordable, limited lifetime warranty

Cons: Plastic isn’t as durable, no milliliter markings

The OXO Good Grips Plastic Measuring Cups snap together for easy storage in your cupboard and make it easy to measure dry ingredients for any recipe with clear markings for half and full measurements.

OXO includes a scraper with the cups to level off ingredients as you bake. The measurement of each cup is engraved in the handle and colorful measurements are stamped on the sides. Those marks typically wear off over time, so it’s good that OXO made indelible markings on the handle, too.

The inside of each cup also has a half-measure line for when you need to cut a recipe in half. Like some of our other picks, these cups don’t have milliliter markings but most US buyers won’t need these. And, though the cups are made of plastic, they are BPA-free and relatively sturdy.

And, like our best magnetic set, the OXO Better Guarantee applies to the brand’s plastic set as well. 

The best for scooping

norpro

The Norpro Grip-Ez Stainless Steel Measuring Cups are narrower than most, which makes them perfect for reaching into a jar of sugar or bag of flour without damaging the cup or container.

Pros: Shovel-like shape makes for easy scooping, great grip (for right-handed folks), accurate

Cons: The rubber grip isn’t totally sealed to the handle, which could allow for some buildup; no warranty

Most measuring cups are indistinguishable when it comes to their design, but that’s not the case with the Norpro Grip-Ez Stainless Steel Measuring Cups. Considerably narrower than the other cups you might find, and more closely resembling a large spoon than a cup, I’ve grown particularly fond of this set as it’s extremely useful for scooping dry ingredients.

They perform well in terms of accuracy of measurement, and the “Grip-Ez” aspect of the product’s name comes into play with the rubber coating on the handles, which makes grabbing the cups comfortable. There’s also a small indentation in the handle that allows your pointer finger to rest comfortably as you’re scooping. Be warned though, it’s designed for right-handed folks, and lefties may find the notch a bit less user-friendly.

The Norpro comes in a set of five, so you’ll get 1/8 cup, 1/4 cup, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup in your collection. Better still, the 1-cup measure actually features markings on the inside of the cup. Because the rubber grip isn’t completely sealed to the handle, ingredient buildup is possible. Another downside is the product’s lack of warranty coverage, but its two-part steel construction makes it break-resistant. 

Check out our other kitchen guides for baking gear

measuring spoons
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The 11 best sheet masks we’ve tested for every skin type

skII

  • Sheet masks offer an easy, speedy way to treat your skin without having to leave home.
  • We’ve tested dozens of sheet masks and rounded up our favorites for every skin type.
  • You can also check out our guide to the best moisturizers.

As well as being renowned for their incredible hydrating properties, sheet masks treat different skin concerns, from soothing sensitive skin to brightening dull complexions. Some are great for a pre-night-out boost, while others work better if you wear them before you go to bed, so the serum can soak in and you can wake up with glowing skin. Many experts are now using sheet masks as part of their daily skincare routine.

With the incredible number of sheet masks on the market, working out which one is right for you can be a minefield. As well as researching thousands of reviews from beauty experts and buyers, we’ve tried and tested all sorts of sheet masks to come up with our top picks.

Here the best sheet masks in 2021:

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Farmacy Coconut Gel Sheet Mask Sheet

farmacy sheet mask

The Farmacy Coconut Gel Sheet Mask Sheet is loaded with ultra-moisturizing ingredients for a boost of hydration in a pinch.

Farmacy’s Coconut Gel Sheet Mask is loaded with nourishing ingredients like coconut water, hyaluronic acid, and cucumber extract. Hyaluronic acid can hold 1,000 times its weight in water, so it delivers some serious hydration. Paired with calming cucumber extract and moisturizing, refreshing coconut water, this mask works for any skin type. Just slap the Coconut Gel Sheet Mask on for 15 minutes — that’s all you need for the mask to work its magic. Take it off to reveal more supple, smooth, calm skin.

Coconut Gel Sheet Mask (small)
Patchology Hydrate FlashMasque 5 Minute Facial Sheet Mask

patchology sheet mask

For smoother, hydrated skin in just five minutes, the Patchology Hydrate FlashMasque 5 Minute Facial Sheet Mask is hard to beat.

Patchology’s mask is your secret weapon for defeating dry skin because it features ingredients like hyaluronic acid for hydration, and vitamin B5 and betaine to improve elasticity and smooth skin. Traditionally, sheet masks take up to 20 minutes to work, but the Patchology Hydrate Flashmasque accelerates delivery of the ingredients to the skin with its unique material, so you see results in just five minutes.

This speedy skin saver is perfect for a last-minute touch-up before you put on your makeup or before you go to bed. It is the ideal quick fix for winter when your skin needs some extra hydration or on a long flight (as long as you don’t mind scaring the flight attendants).

Hydrate FlashMasque 5 Minute Facial Sheet Mask (small)
Erno Laszlo White Marble Bright Hydrogel Masks

Erno Laszlo sheet mask

For an easy, fast path to radiant skin, the Erno Laszlo White Marble Bright Hydrogel Masks should be your go-to sheet mask.

The White Marble Bright Hydrogel Mask from renowned skincare brand Erno Laszlo is designed to instantly brighten skin and reduce the appearance of dark spots and aging. The serum is made up of allotonin to plump up the skin, essential oils including peony and chamomile to moisturize, and sunflower seed oil to protect against wrinkles.

We’re obsessed with Erno Laszlo’s range of sheet masks, and this one is awesome. Each sheet mask comes in two pieces of gel-like material. It felt a bit slippery and strange, but it was easy to apply. I liked that it didn’t slip off my face so I could walk around while the mask did its work.

White Marble Bright Hydrogel Mask (small)
Dr. Jart+ Dermamask Water Jet Vital Hydra Solution Mask

dr jart +

When you want to give dry, sensitive skin some extra love without spending a fortune at the spa, the Dr. Jart+ Dermamask Water Jet Vital Hydra Solution Mask is ideal. 

Our favorite water-based face mask for sensitive skin comes from the legendary Korean Brand Dr Jart+. The mask is packed with hydrating ingredients like algae extract, aquaxyl, xylitol, and oligo-hyaluronic acid to moisturize sensitive skin without irritation. The mask is designed to calm redness and cool irritated skin, making it a godsend for people with sensitive skin. It works just as well for those with oily, dry, or combination skin.

Dermamask Water Jet Vital Hydra Solution Mask (small)
SK-II’s Pitera Facial Treatment Mask

SKII sheet mask

Japanese brand SK-II’s Pitera Facial Treatment Mask is a cult classic because it visibly hydrates, brightens, and firms your skin.

The SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Mask is an all-in-one sheet mask that does everything you need for a glowing, gorgeous complexion. The sheet is soaked with SK-II’s signature serum Pitera. Discovered in a sake brewery back in the ’70s, this liquid is packed with naturally-derived vitamins, amino acids, and minerals. It is designed to refine texture and address uneven skin tone, dryness, large pores, and oiliness. SK-II suggests you use a mask once or twice a week or before a special event.

The SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Mask lived up to the hype in our testing. It made my skin look more radiant instantly, and my skin felt tighter and softer. The mask fit well and stayed put, although it felt a bit slimy. Granted, most face masks feel a bit slimy because it’s the slime that fixes your skin.

Pitera Facial Treatment Mask (small)
Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask

tatcha sheet mask

For smoother skin in just 15 minutes, the Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask is our top pick.

Tatcha’s gel-like face mask is packed with powerful anti-aging products including red algae and hyaluronic acid, as well as green tea and rice to target dryness, dullness, and loss of firmness. It is derived from coconut and is more effective than paper masks.

Tatcha claims it can increase the skin’s total moisture by 200% in 15 minutes. While we can’t verify that claim, we can say that it left our skin feeling great. It’s a bit fiddly, as you have to remove one of the layers to put it on, but it fit well. 

Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask (small)
Leaders AC Clear Treatment Mask

AC Clear sheet mask

If you’re prone to breakouts and want effective instant relief, then you’ll love the Leaders AC Clear Treatment Mask.

The AC Clear Treatment Mask from Korean company Leaders Insolution balances skin and provides relief for irritated, stressed, and sensitive skin that’s prone to breakouts and inflammation. This hypoallergenic 100% cotton sheet mask is packed with maple water, hyaluronic acid, and snail secretions to calm skin and reduce redness. It’s gentle enough to be used daily and the more often you use it, the better the results.

AC Clear Treatment Mask (small)
Tonymoly I’m Real Avocado Sheet Mask

tony moly sheet mask

For a fun and very affordable sheet mask with great results, the Tonymoly I’m Real Avocado Sheet Mask is a winner.

Established in Seoul more than 10 years ago, Tonymoly pioneered the Korean sheet mask beauty trend that has spread across the world. The innovative brand is now a household name in the US. There are 14 different masks in the Tonymoly I’m Real Sheet Mask collection to address every possible skin concern and we’ve tried them all. Our favorite is the I’m Real Avocado Sheet Mask.

Ideal for dull, dry, and stressed-out skin, this highly moisturizing sheet mask is soaked with nutrient-rich avocado essence. The paper sheet has a pleasant smell but feels quite delicate. After leaving it on for 20 minutes in our testing, our skin definitely felt softer and looked fresher.

I’m Real Avocado Sheet Mask (small)
St. Ives Nourish and Soothe Oatmeal Mask

St Ives sheet mask

St. Ives’ Nourish and Soothe Oatmeal Mask helps calm even the reddest of faces.

Just like the oatmeal baths of your childhood, St. Ives’ Nourish and Soothe Oatmeal Mask soothes whatever is ailing your face. Sunburn? Pop this on. Windburn? You got it. That’s all thanks to the oatmeal extract. It works to calm any type of skin issue while leaving your face feeling refreshed and clean.

And since it’s in an easy-to-use sheet, you can get all of the benefits without the mess. This is actually a great mask to pop on after you’ve applied a more detoxifying mask. It will calm things down while sealing in the good-for-you ingredients of the first.

Nourish and Soothe Oatmeal Mask (small)
Leaders Cosmetics 7 Wonders Amazonian Acai Anti Pollution Mask

7 wonders face mask

Leaders Cosmetics 7 Wonders Amazonian Acai Anti Pollution Mask helps fight free radical damage, leading to a bright, beautiful complexion.

If you live in a city, it’s not just the sun you have to worry about every time you step outside. Free radicals brought on by pollution can wreak havoc on your skin, leading to a dull complexion. But a skincare regimen rich in antioxidants is perfect for combating these issues. And Leaders Cosmetics 7 Wonders Amazonian Acai Anti Pollution Mask should be a regular part of any antioxidant-rich regimen.

This little mask is chock-full of good-for-you ingredients that help fight free radicals. Vitamins C, B, and E are the powerhouses of this mask, while acai berries come in for the assist. All these ingredients work to wick away the negative effects of pollution.

7 Wonders Amazonian Acai Anti Pollution Mask (small)
Check out our other great skincare guides

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The 8 best running socks for marathon training, blister prevention, and cold-weather runs

  • Running socks manage moisture and provide cushioning to prevent blisters and hot spots on long runs.
  • A quality sock is made of sweat-wicking materials, has targeted cushioning, and lasts through dozens of washes.
  • Our top pick, the Rockay Accelerate Running Socks, is durable, comfortable, and wicks moisture.

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

Running doesn’t require much equipment. While fancy gear might make runs more enjoyable, some would argue all you need is a quality pair of runners. However, there’s another key piece that shouldn’t be forgotten: a reliable pair of running socks.

These two pieces of running apparel work in tandem to keep your feet happy from heel to toe and as most runners know, happy feet make for a much more enjoyable run. You may think any old pair of socks might do but we strongly encourage you to try out a pair of running-specific socks instead.

We all tend to have strong opinions on which brands are best but it’s important to note what works for one runner may not work for another. That’s why we tried a variety of options perfect for a variety of runners. At the end of this guide, we lay out what to look for in a pair of quality running socks and how we tested here:

Best running socks overall

Rockay socks

The Rockay Accelerate running socks are comfortable, moisture-wicking, and made from durable, high-quality materials with a focus on sustainability.

Pros: Comfortable, durable, moisture-wicking, made from thoughtfully sourced materials, provide support where you need it most

Cons: Expensive

Socks were the first product to be released from the Danish running company, Rockay, and after testing a pair of its Accelerate, I was immediately impressed. They’re incredibly comfortable thanks to a blend of organic merino wool, polyamide, and elastane, and I appreciated the seamless construction. Its focus on using eco-friendly methods and materials is a nice touch, too. 

The blend of materials allows for impressive moisture-wicking capabilities to help prevent blisters. My first test run was on an unseasonably warm day but my feet never felt overheated and stayed dry throughout the run. 

Durability-wise, these socks wash incredibly well. As with most of my running gear, I try to hang dry everything since heat can damage the synthetic materials often used in athletic clothing. However, there were a few times these socks slipped their way into the dryer and I was pleased to find that their performance was unaffected. If you do have any issues, these socks are guaranteed for life, so you can receive another pair, no questions asked.

Another positive of these socks is the support they offer. They have just the right amount of compression in the arch of the foot, providing a snug fit without being uncomfortable. This fit also prevents them from slipping around in your running shoes, so any rubbing that might cause blisters can be avoided.

The Rockay Accelerate socks are available in multiple colors and range in sizes from extra-small to extra-large. A sizing chart is available to help you find the best fit, too. I felt that they ran just a tad bit smaller than true to size. Keep in mind that these will have a snug fit around the foot because of the compression arch, making them feel smaller than normal socks. While these are on the more expensive end, you’re paying for quality and for socks that will last.

Best for durability

darn tough socks

The Darn Tough Tab No Show Light Cushion socks are durable, have a seamless toe for added comfort, and are a merino wool/nylon blend which wicks away sweat to keep your feet dry.

Pros: Durable, no seams for added comfort, wool and synthetic blend to wick away sweat, resist odor, all-weather appropriate

Cons: Not many colors to choose from, can be expensive

If you run your socks into the ground — or, more accurately, until they’re covered in holes and falling apart at the seams — it’s worth investing in a pair from Darn Tough for its lifetime warranty. True to its name, these durable running socks will last through countless jogs and arduous trail run. But Darn Tough’s warranty policy says if you don’t find its socks to be the most comfortable, best-fitting pair you’ve owned, or if they come apart for any reason other than being chewed by dogs, burned around the campfire, or one being lost to the laundry monster, you can ship back your faulty pair and receive credit for a new pair. 

You probably won’t need to use that great policy, though. All of its socks are thoughtfully designed to withstand some of the toughest sports, and it shows in the attention to detail given to the Tab No Show Light Cushion running socks. It’s a wordy name but these socks live up to it. The no-show style is subtle and the tab provides extra cushion where your running shoe meets the back of your ankle to prevent chafing.

Another winning feature? These socks are seamless, so your toes won’t be subjected to any uncomfortable rubbing.

As far as material goes, you won’t find any cotton here. These Darn Tough socks feature merino wool blended with nylon and lycra spandex. You may think wool is only reserved for cold weather running but not in this case. These are all-weather socks that wick away moisture to keep your feet dry and blister-free. Wool also helps resist odor, so even after a sweaty run, you’ll be far less likely to offend anyone when you take off your runners.

These Darn Tough socks are available in both Men’s and Women’s styles and come in Small, Medium, and Large sizes that correspond with your shoe size.

Best for all-around comfort

running socks

The Balega Hidden Comfort No Show running socks have a seamless design crafted with synthetic materials and elastane throughout to make for a better fit and prevent blisters.

Pros: Synthetic materials keep feet dry, mesh construction for added breathability, heel tab to help prevent slippage, seamless design, multiple colors to choose from

Cons: Some reviewers reported slippage, they don’t have targeted cushioning

Even if you’ve been running for a relatively short amount of time, Balega is likely a brand name you’ve heard. I own a few pairs of these socks myself and can confidently say these are some of the most comfortable socks I’ve ever worn.

They’ve seen their fair share of runs but they’ve also been through trips to the grocery store, as well as some intense Netflix binge sessions on the couch. In other words, they’re so comfortable you’ll probably find yourself wearing them even when you aren’t running.

Each pair is carefully crafted to help runners perform at their best. The seamless design of the Hidden Comfort running socks reduces the friction that causes blisters. They have a reinforced heel and toe for increased durability and the top of the sock is constructed with mesh construction for extra breathability and comfort.

These are no-show socks with a heel tab at the opening that makes them easy to slip on. It also reduces chafing and prevents them from slipping down into your shoes. The elastane provides added stretch and comfort, too.

These socks come in sizes ranging from small to extra large. It’s important to size correctly so you get the best fit and minimal slippage. There is also a fun variety of colors to choose from if you like to add a little flair to your running kit.

Best for cold weather

running socks

The Smartwool PhD Run Cold Weather Mid Crew socks are designed for cold weather running, with a longer length for extra warmth and a wool blend that keeps your feet toasty and dry.

Pros: Wool and synthetic blend keeps feet dry and blister-free, mid-crew length for extra warmth, 200 needle construction for warmth and cushioning without the bulk

Cons: Not many color choices, expensive

If you live in a location where winters bring cold and snow, yet you don’t call it quits on your running routine, you need a pair of running socks specially designed to keep your feet warm. Smartwool is known for a wide range of specialized socks and its line of cold weather running regularly receives positive reviews from runners who often brave the cold. 

Read more: The best winter running shoes

These socks are mid-crew height, perfect for wearing under your running tights for added warmth, and preventing the cold ankles that often result from wearing no-show socks. It may sound silly but when it comes to running in the cold, every bit of skin coverage makes a difference.

These Smartwool socks are made of 55% merino wool for warmth, nylon for breathability, and elastane for flexibility for stretch. They’ll wick away moisture to help keep your feet dry and free of blisters. If you’re afraid that warmth equates to added bulk, you won’t have to worry in this case. The 200 needle construction allows for high-density cushioning while keeping these socks lightweight.

Smartwool designed the PhD cold weather socks in both men’s and women’s styles for a better fit and they come in small, medium, and large sizes. Unfortunately, you won’t have many colors to choose from but in this case, comfort and warmth will likely be more important than style as you brave those chilly weather conditions.

Best on a budget

saucony socks

The six-pack of Saucony Performance No-Show socks gives you the most value for your money and keeps your feet dry and comfortable.

Pros: Affordable, synthetic fabric to keep feet dry and blister-free, heel tab to prevent slippage, arch compression for added support, comes in multiple colors

Cons: Can’t be bought in single pairs, non-specific sizing

You’ve likely heard of Saucony, a brand known for its well-made running shoes. However, like many running shoe brands, Saucony also makes athletic socks geared towards runners. If you’ve just splurged on a new pair of running shoes and want to save some bucks, or you simply don’t want to spend a lot on socks, these are a great option.

For less than $20, you can get six pairs of socks, and having more socks means you’ll be less likely to run out before having to do laundry. These socks come in plenty of fun color combinations and are available in both men’s and women’s styles. Unlike most others on this list, these don’t come in multiple sizes but men’s will fit an 8-12 shoe size and women’s will fit a 5-10 shoe size.

A heel tab helps prevent slippage and arch compression provides extra support. You won’t find any cotton here, either, with all synthetic materials for sweat-wicking and comfort, and mesh construction for added breathability. These are all features found in a more expensive running sock, for a fraction of the price.

As a more lightweight sock, these aren’t recommended for winter running but otherwise, they’ll do just fine at the gym, on the road, or on the trails.

If you are looking for just one pair to try, you’ll be out of luck as these only come in six-packs. However, for such an affordable price, it’s worth it to try them for yourself.

Best for preventing blisters

toe socks

With a place for each toe, a breathable mesh upper, and sweat-wicking materials, the Injinji 2.0 Lightweight No-Show toe socks are a great option if you’re prone to blisters.

Pros: Individual toe coverage helps prevent blisters, Synthetic fabric to keep feet dry and comfortable, mesh upper for breathability, heel tab to help prevent slippage, come in multiple colors

Cons: Can be tricky to put on, some reviewers couldn’t get used to the individual toe style

These toe socks may look a little odd but as they say, you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Having a place for each individual toe prevents them from rubbing together — one of the main causes of blisters.

Injinji is a California-based company, with its roots in wanting to develop a seamless sock that allowed for more natural foot movement and toe splay. From this, the patented five-toe sock was born.

In addition to preventing any skin-to-skin friction that causes blisters, the Injinji 2.0 is made from synthetic materials to wick away sweat and keep feet dry and comfortable. A mesh top also allows for more breathability. If you prefer the minimalist style of running toe shoes like Vibram’s FiveFingers shoes, these socks also make a great liner for additional comfort. These socks perform just as well in traditional running shoes, too.

The Injinji 2.0 is a unisex sock but it comes in four sizes: small, medium, large, and extra-large. Sizing is important here since these conform to every contour of your foot — toes included. 

While they may not be for everyone, if you’ve been in a standoff with stubborn reoccurring blisters, these socks may be just what you need.

Best for compression

Aspire Socks

If you experience muscle soreness or shin splints after your runs, Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve compressions socks help reduce the pain.

Pros: Promote blood flow and help reduce muscle soreness, olefin wicks sweat to keep your feet dry

Cons: Expensive, hard to put on 

Swiftwick is a mainstay in the compression sock industry and its Aspire Twelve knee-high socks are perfect for the runner looking for more than just muscle relief, but shin relief as well. Made of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, not only do they offer supreme compression and a snug fit, but they wick sweat away, as well. This is especially useful for hot and humid summer runs.

Running in these socks provides response lower leg support thanks to its minimal cushioning. They also function well to help recover after a long run or whenever you feel the muscles in your legs start to tighten up and feel sore. 

It’s worth pointing out that these socks (as well as many similar compressions socks) aren’t always the easiest to put on. We recommend reaching into the sock and pulling out the heel before putting your foot in and pulling the rest of the sock on. They’re made to be really snug on your lower leg, so this isn’t something that just needs to be broken in either. 

Aside from getting them on, the Aspire Twelve’s perform well work wonders to help with sore muscles. They’re a bit expensive at $30 per pair but most compression socks of this quality are hardly cheap. — Rick Stella

Best for fun ankle patterns

Zensah

With a range of fun patterns to choose from, the Zensah Limited Edition Mini Crew-Length running socks allow you to show off your personal style without sacrificing high-quality performance.

Pros: Tons of fun patterns and colors to choose from, comfortable, light compression for added support, moisture-wicking material to help prevent blisters

Cons: On the expensive side

Just because you’re decked out in running gear doesn’t mean you can’t make a statement. If you want to stand out from the pack, a crazy pair of running socks is the perfect way to do so, and the Zensah Limited Edition running socks rise to the occasion. Don’t be fooled by the limited edition in the name. Whether you want to show some holiday spirit, or share your love for donuts, there are tons of fun prints, patterns, and colors to choose from.

These socks look fun but when it comes to performance and comfort, things get serious. Zensah is a brand known for tight-fitting compression products but even if you aren’t looking for compression, their snug fit keeps them from sliding down during your runs. They also have a seamless toe and a lightly cushioned sole for added comfort, and they’re anatomically designed with a specific left foot and right foot fit.

The nylon, spandex, and polyester blend allow for breathability and help these socks dry quickly, protecting your feet from any blisters. Silver ions in the material help keep any odors at bay.

The mini crew height of these Zensah running heights makes them just tall enough to show off your chosen design, without having them take over your entire calf. They’re available in small, medium, and large sizes that correspond to your shoe size.

How we test

Each pair of running socks featured in this guide went through a series of on-foot tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Fit and comfort, features, durability, and value. Specifically, here’s how each category factored into what socks ultimately made this guide and what sub-categories we chose to spotlight: 

  • Fit and comfort: Though fit and comfort could be two different categories, they’re very closely related when it comes to running socks. You ideally want your running socks to fit snug enough to not rub inside your shoe (even if they get wet and want to start sliding around). This is as true for no-show socks as it is for both ankle- and shin-high options, too. The more comfortable and well-fitting a running sock is, the more enjoyable your running should be. 
  • Features: Using the term “features” to describe the makeup of a running sock may seem odd but different brands do include a variety of unique traits that make them more well-suited for different types of runners (and their needs). For instance, a brand like Swiftwick specializes in compression while Injinji’s socks are geared toward reducing the development of blisters. 
  • Durability: No matter if you’re a casual running or you’re training for a marathon, your running socks will take a beating — and having to deal with holes forming or a sock tearing at its seams can be especially frustrating as you prepare for a run. Though we didn’t push each pair to its absolute end, we did go on enough runs wearing each featured pair to get a reasonable idea of how long they’d last.
  • Value: Value is the combination of each category above, as well as how a running sock’s actual stick price factors into its worth. We do think that it’s more beneficial to spend a little more on a premium product that’s designed to last than to opt for a poorly-made budget option and have to spend that reduced cost more often. 

How to shop for running socks

Since there are so many options, it’s tricky to wade through what’s available. Luckily we’ve done the legwork for you, rounding up a group of socks outfit with the features you need most.

Before we get into our favorites, we’ve outlined what to pay attention to so your feet can meet their best match.

  • Material: One of the most important things to consider is material. Synthetic materials like polyester, acrylic, and nylon are your best bet because they help wick away moisture and prevent blisters. A wool blend can also be a good choice to keep your feet warm and dry — especially if you’re running in the winter. You’ll want to avoid anything that’s 100% cotton as it will only hold in moisture, making for very sweaty and uncomfortable feet.
  • Cushioning: The cushioning and the thickness you desire in your running socks is a matter of personal choice, and luckily there are all types to choose from. Plenty of running socks are also designed to provide cushioning in places that are more likely to develop blisters.
  • Height: The height of your running socks can be a matter of personal style, but it can also serve a more useful purpose. Maybe you’re tired of chafing the backs of your ankles. Or maybe you’ve noticed that mid-calf ankle socks have roared back into style, rejoining us from the 1980s. Either way, it’s enough reason to try out a pair of crew length running socks. On the other hand, if you prefer a subtler look, no show or quarter-length socks are also available. 
  • Specialized Features: Aside from the basics, there are also socks designed to meet running specific needs and issues. Compression socks are a good option if you want to improve blood flow through your legs and ankles, or you want additional arch support. If you’re especially prone to blisters, some runners swear by toe socks.
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The 5 best can openers in 2021

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  • A quality can opener will last you for years or even decades.
  • If you need a new one, the Made in USA Can Opener is our top pick as it’s simple to use and cuts well.
  • We’ve also selected efficient and high-quality electric, manual, and portable can openers.

Can openers are an essential part of every kitchen. Yet, from your dollar store find to high-end options at department stores, there are a lot of terrible can openers on the market. Fortunately, with a little bit of research, you can find a device that is durable, sanitary, and simple to use.

Most can openers also function as bottle cap openers, and some even open large jars. If you’re looking for a device that will serve a variety of purposes, the Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master Opener and P-38 Can Opener and P-51 Can Opener are great options. But if you’re looking for a solid can opener that does the job, the Made in USA Can Opener is our top pick.

We chose our top picks based on their track record of accurate cutting, reliable performance, and price.

Here are the best can openers in 2021

The best overall

made in usa

The Made in USA Can Opener is a manual can opener with reliable and consistent results. The handles have a grip for comfort and the sharp blades cut cleanly.

Pros: Consistent performance, long-lasting, efficient

Cons: Leaves sharp edges, manual can opener might not be ideal for those with limited mobility

The Made in USA Can Opener features a skip-proof feed wheel, is gear driven, and is made from carbon steel. The gears, wheel, and cutter are all zinc plated and heat treated.

It works like a traditional manual can opener: Press the cutting blade on the top of the can along the lip, hold the thick handle pads, and turn the crank until you have almost completed a rotation. Use a butter knife to flip the lid up. Empty the contents, then press the lid down into the can.

This method of opening cans isn’t ideal for those with limited mobility, but we have an electric option that might suit their needs better.

The best electric can opener

Best_Can_Openers_ _Hamilton_Beach_ _Amazon

When you want to open a can with minimal mess, effort, or little chance for contamination, the Hamilton Beach 76606ZA Smooth Touch Can Opener is a smart choice.

Pros: Easy to use, leaves smooth edges, works for cans of all sizes, strong magnet

Cons: Requires electricity, might have trouble with thick-rimmed cans

For those who want or need a can opener that requires little effort, an electric one is a good option. This one from Hamilton Beach operates with just the press of a button.

To operate, you just press the large ergonomic lever until the can has made a complete rotation. The magnet holds the can in place as it cuts along the sides instead of the top, so the lid won’t fall into the food. The cut leaves smooth edges, and the blade of the opener, which can collect harmful microbes if you don’t wash your cans, doesn’t make contact with the food, either.

The best ergonomic can opener

Best_Can_Openers_ _OXO_ _Amazon

When you have to open several cans to cook a meal, the OXO SteeL Can Opener‘s large ergonomic knob means you won’t tire out.

Pros: Feels comfortable in your hands, long track record

Cons: Hard to clean, the handle may slide

What sets the OXO SteeL Can Opener apart from the other models on this list is the large, soft turning knob. The large-size makes it more ergonomic than other manual can openers, and the grips are helpful if you’re operating the opener with wet hands too.

The opener is made of sleek stainless steel. The blade is sharp and makes cutting easy to manage, and there is also a handy built-in bottle cap opener.

The best versatile can opener

Best_Can_Openers_ _Kuhn_Rikon_ _Amazon

If you want to streamline the number of tools in your kitchen, the Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master Opener opens cans, jars, bottles, and more.

Pros: Performs a variety of tasks, leaves smooth edges, dishwasher safe

Cons: Requires reading a manual, knob is hard to turn

The Kuhn Rikon Auto Safety Master Opener opens pop-tops, cans, pull tops, jars, and bottles. Like the Hamilton Beach model, this device is a side cutter that does not come in contact with the can’s contents.

Unlike the Hamilton Beach or Made In USA models though, this can opener is not intuitive to use and would require reading the manual.

To use this opener, you should place the tool on top of the can with the two half circles lined up with the can’s rim. Once you twist the knob, the opener will grip the lid and cut. You will feel less resistance after a full circle. You should stop at this point and remove the top using the mini-pliers push button. If you try to do more than one revolution, you may get slivers or burrs of metal in your food.

The best compact can opener

Best_Can_Openers_ _US_Shelby_Co_ _Amazon

If you’re preparing for stuff to hit the fan or just want an easy way to open cans while backpacking, the P-38 Can Opener and P-51 Can Opener are inexpensive and lightweight options.

Pros: 75-year track record, compact, inexpensive

Cons: Works slowly, requires a little elbow grease, leaves sharp edges

Though it is not an official US Army-issued item, the P-38 and P-51 can openers have been used by our armed forces since they were first introduced in 1942. Nicknamed the “John Wayne” and manufactured by the US Shelby Co. in the United States, these can openers get their name for how long they are. The P-38 is 38 millimeters long and the P-51 is 51 millimeters (or about 2 inches), and both are popular among survivalists and veterans. 

These durable slabs of steel fit on a keychain. There are many websites devoted to celebrating this can opener, and the list of uses is virtually endless. US Shelby advertises the P-38’s ability to clean fingernails, clean grooves, open cans, open seams, screw drive, and cut items.

For can opening, you rotate the cutting edge 90 degrees from the stowed position. You then hold the can opener with the blade directed downward and rotate the can with your other hand as you cut the lid off.

The P-38 takes about twice as long to open cans as their cranking counterparts, and there appears to be a little bit of a learning curve and a need for elbow grease. Yet, once you get the hang of using this can opener you’ll appreciate its simple but useful design. 

FAQs

How should I clean my can opener?

Keeping your can opener clean and free of rust is imperative as a dirty or rusty opener can create unsafe food conditions. We recommend wiping your can opener down with a cloth and hot water or vinegar to clean it. It is best practice to clean your can opener immediately after using it. 

What should I look for in a can opener?

With so many options out there, it can be hard to pick a can opener that is both easy to use and good quality. First, we recommend assessing your kitchen counter space. If your counters are cramped, your best bet will be a manual can opener that can fit nicely into a utensil drawer. If you have more space and prefer a more hands off approach, an electric can opener is a great option. Many can openers have multiple functions, such as being able to open jars and other items, so it can also be helpful to think about what you would like to use your can opener for before purchasing. 

When using manual openers, a good grip ensures that you can open cans quickly and efficiently.  The handle grips on your can opener should always be comfortable to use, even if you have to open several cans at once. So when looking to purchase a new can opener, make sure that the handle grips feel comfortable in your hands. 

Check out our other kitchen guides

cutting board
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The 9 best lip balms with SPF – because your lips need protection, too

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

Best lip balms with SPF 4x3
  • We know that wearing sunscreen is crucial, but we often forget to apply it to our lips. 
  • A good lip balm with SPF will block harmful UV rays while moisturizing your lips.
  • We consulted two dermatologists and gathered our nine lip sunscreen mainstays.

You’ve probably heard numerous times from your doctor, dermatologist, or favorite beauty YouTuber that wearing sunscreen every single day is a must. And they’re definitely right. But one part of your body that can sometimes get overlooked when it comes to SPF is your lips, which need protection just as much as the rest of your body. 

A great way to deliver SPF to your lips on a daily basis is with SPF. But not all of these tubes are created equal. So we turned to Dr. Elizabeth K. Hale, a board-certified dermatologist and senior vice president of The Skin Cancer Foundation, and Dr. Marie Hayag, board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics who advised us on working lip balms with SPF into our daily routines. You can read on to learn more from our experts and hear about our team’s nine tried-and-true lip balms with SPF. 

Here are the best lip balms with SPF you can buy:

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Vanicream Lip Protectant Sunscreen SPF 30

skincare for runners_Lip balm Vanicream Lip Protectant

Lip Protectant/Sunscreen SPF 30 (small)

I’ve tried a few lip balms with SPF, but this one from Vanicream is my preferred pick. On top of a simple formula, the consistency is nice and creamy. It also lacks any sort of strong sunscreen smell or taste, which is a dealbreaker for me. However, without a mirror at hand, it’s hard to know if you’ve rubbed in all of the white cream and sometimes it takes a bit of lip-smacking to reduce the tint. Katie Decker-Jacoby, style & beauty reviews fellow 

This lip balm contains both titanium oxide and zinc oxide for effective protection against damaging UV radiation. Additionally, it is water-resistant, free of fragrances, flavoring, and dyes, making it a great option for people with sensitive skin. Dr. Marie Hayag, board-certified dermatologist and founder of 5th Avenue Aesthetics 

Aquaphor Lip Protectant and Sunscreen Ointment

Best lip balms with SPF_Aquaphor Lip Protectant and Sunscreen Ointment

Lip Protectant and Sunscreen Ointment (small)

I bought this lip sunscreen ointment because I’m never without Aquaphor’s ultra-nourishing Lip Repair. The two products have similar ingredient lists and consistencies. And though I’m not a huge fan of the sunscreen smell and taste, they’re minimal and do not override the efficacy of this balm. The formula specifically caters to those with sensitive skin, and I find this to be true, as well. Katie Decker-Jacoby, style & beauty reviews fellow

Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm

Best lip balms with SPF_Palmers Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm

Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm (small)

As someone who is sensitive to the sun and prone for my fair skin to burn, I’m especially cautious with the products I’m using. That being said, I use SPF just about everywhere, even in the colder winter months. I absolutely swear by Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Lip Balm. It has SPF 15 and also prevents my lips from being chapped. It applies buttery smooth, as its name suggests, and smells divine. Victoria Giardina, Buying Guides Fellow

Kiehl’s Since 1851 Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 30

Best lip balms with SPF_Kiehl's Since 1851 Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 30

Butterstick Lip Treatment SPF 30 (small)

I have a tube of this in the clear/untinted shade in every hiking backpack I own. It’s moisturizing without feeling sticky and goopy, and the balm doesn’t melt — even during multi-hour-long hikes in the sun. The SPF 30 is strong enough to keep my lips from burning, and the clear shade I use most often comes in handy when I need to reapply sunscreen on the bridge of my nose or the tops of my ears. The metal tube feels more substantial and luxurious than other balms, and the cap screws onto the tube so there’s no chance you’ll lose it at the bottom of your bag. It does, however, contain octocrylene so it’s not reef-safe and I don’t use this when I’m around the beach. Jada Wong, senior editor

Supergoop! PLAY Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai

Best lip balms with SPF_Supergoop! PLAY Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai

PLAY Lip Balm SPF 30 with Acai (small)

The tube and formula remind me of old-school Vaseline, but much more protective and way less goopy. The SPF 30 is great for protecting my lips and the formula includes shea butter for lots of moisture. It doesn’t contain any oxybenzone, octinoxate, or octocrylene that would be harmful to coral reefs, so I always use this when I’m around the beach. Jada Wong, senior editor

Coola Classic Liplux Organic Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 30

Best lip balms with SPF_Coola Classic Liplux Organic Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 30

Classic Liplux Organic Lip Balm Sunscreen SPF 30 (small)

If you’re looking for a quality plant-based sunscreen lip balm, this one from Coola offers broad-spectrum protection, instant moisture, vitamins, and antioxidants. Plus, it’s water-resistant for 80 minutes and should be reapplied every two hours. Dr. Hayag says, “This is a good balm that provides broad-spectrum protection against UV rays while also providing hydration to the lips through ingredients like jojoba and avocado oil.” 

Colorescience Lip Shine SPF 35

Best lip balms with SPF_Colorescience Lip Shine SPF 35

Lip Shine SPF 35 (small)

For days where you want more color and luster, this lip gloss checks off those boxes — plus, it has broad-spectrum SPF 35 sun protection. You can reapply every two hours, but every 40 minutes if you’re swimming or sweating a lot. According to Dr. Hayag, “This is a great gloss that contains zinc oxide and Vitamin E to aid in photoprotection. It also contains hyaluronic acid, helping the lips stay well moisturized. Additionally, it has peptides that give the lips a more plump appearance.” The shade selection includes rose, pink, champagne, coral, and clear. 

CoTZ Lip Balm Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 45

Best lip balms with SPF_CoTZ Lip Balm Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 45

Lip Balm Tinted Mineral Sunscreen SPF 45 (small)

With a zesty kiwi-lime-ginger tang, this product is ever so slightly tinted to avoid that white cast other sunscreens oftentimes leave behind. It’s also cruelty-free, reef-friendly, and free of chemical sunscreens, oil, lanolin, and gluten. Dr. Hayag says, “This contains zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and iron oxide to cover UVA/UVB rays and blue light. It is moisturizing, yet water-resistant and has antioxidant protection.”

MDSolarSciences Hydrating Sheer Lip Balm SPF 30

Best lip balms with SPF_MDSolarSciences Hydrating Sheer Lip Balm SPF 30

Hydrating Sheer Lip Balm SPF 30 (small)

This tinted lip balm has a gentle, cruelty-free, and reef-safe formula that does all of that, but of course fends off ultraviolet rays, too. The broad-spectrum SPF 30 sheer tinted balm comes in red, pink, and nude. According to Dr. Hayag, “It also has multiple ingredients in it to help keep your lips moisturized, like avocado oil and olive butter. The balm also contains shea butter, which is rich in antioxidants and soothes and softens the lips.”

FAQs

Best lip balms with SPF 4x3

What is SPF and what SPF should I wear on my lips?  

SPF stands for sun protection factor, which is the measure of how well a certain formula will protect you from the sun’s rays. “For example, if you use an SPF 30 product properly, it would take you 30 times longer to burn than if you used no sunscreen,” Dr. Hale explains. The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends SPF 15 for daily wear and SPF 30 for prolonged outdoor activity. 

What’s the difference between UVA and UVB rays?

There’s ultraviolet A (UVA), which is connected with skin aging, and ultraviolet B (UVB), which is linked to burning. Instead of worrying about whether your lip balm protects against UVA or UVB rays, Dr. Hale says to pick broad-spectrum sunscreen products, as they shield your skin from both rays. 

What can sun damage do to your lips? 

The skin on your lips is thinner and missing a layer that the rest of your body uses for UV protection, so it’s more susceptible to burning. Too much sun exposure without any protective lip balm can lead to dryness and flakiness, and even skin cancer. Dr. Hale says, “About 90 percent of nonmelanoma skin cancers are associated with exposure to UV radiation from the sun.” 

Are there certain ingredients I should look out for?

According to Dr. Hale, there are two groups of UV-blocking ingredients: physical and chemical. The former are ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, while the latter includes components like avobenzone and octisalate. “Look for products with antioxidants like vitamin E and vitamin C,” Dr. Hayag says. “They neutralize and boost protection from free radicals produced by UV radiation and visible light.”

As for ingredients to avoid, Dr. Hayag explains that products with menthol — the thing that gives cough drops and pain relief creams its cooling effect — can irritate the lips. You should also stay away from phenol and fragrance for the same reason. 

When should I wear it and how often should I apply?

Our experts urge you to wear lip balm with SPF both outdoors and indoors, as the sun can penetrate through glass windows. And they suggest reapplying every two hours, but more frequently if you’re eating, drinking, or swimming. 

What should I do if my lips get sunburnt? 

Dr. Hale recommends the following steps: move into a shady spot, stay hydrated, take Advil or Motrin to reduce inflammation, and apply a water-based, moisturizing lip product. For the very last step, she advises steering clear of petroleum and oil-based balms that could possibly aggravate the burn.

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The 5 best women’s multivitamins in 2021, backed by medical experts

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Taking a multivitamin has always been common practice in my household – I grew up taking (and still do) every morning, but I never really stopped to think about why. After researching how some offer 100% of the US Daily Value (DV) for essential nutrients like iodine, vitamin D, and calcium, I realized multivitamins aren’t just a mundane part of my morning routine; they actually offer a sort of safety net to certain individuals, ensuring they meet recommended nutrient intakes.

Multivitamins are a bit of a hot topic. That’s because, while there are certain categories of people who can benefit from taking one every day, there is also a massive group of people who don’t necessarily need one. A 2020 study in BMJ Open found that people who take a multivitamin don’t have lower rates of illness or disease compared to those who don’t. However, people who take one daily said they feel healthier on a regular basis and, even if it’s a placebo effect, that counts for something toward wellbeing and adhering to healthier habits

Also, that study didn’t measure actual nutrient levels, so we can’t say the multivitamin had no real benefit. What’s more, the latest Dietary Guidelines for Americans in 2020-25 say about three out of four people don’t eat enough dairy, fruits, or vegetables. 

Julie Garden-Robinson, PhD, RD, Nutrition and Food Safety Professor at North Dakota State University, told Insider multivitamins can be the “nutrition insurance” if you’re not following an adequate diet. She advises aiming for a healthful diet first, as food contains a “complex array of nutrients and phytochemicals (‘plant chemicals’) that help fight disease.”

That said, there are certain groups of Americans who do need to have their vitamin and mineral levels supplemented.

What is the best multivitamin for women?

Supplement Safety Graphic_Health & Wellness

Once you know you need a multivitamin, you have to breach the next big hurdle: picking the right one. It seems like this should be an easy task, but multivitamins (like all supplements) are not regulated by the FDA, which means there’s no governing body confirming (1) what’s included on the label is in the supplement or (2) if it’s actually safe. What’s more, with how important it is to understand your body’s needs and how highly personal multivitamins are, it’s difficult to recommend just one that works for everyone. 

We talked to a nutritional psychiatrist, a pharmacist, and a registered dietitian to help narrow down what’s available and hone in on the top multivitamins for women at different stages of their lives. At the end of this guide, we go into more detail about who needs a multivitamin and how to choose the right one

Here are the best women’s multivitamins of 2021:

Best women’s multivitamin overall

Best women's multivitamins Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women 4x3

The Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women is an all-in-one choice packed with the essential daily nutrients, probiotics, and enzymes to aid with digestion.

Pros: Vegetarian, gluten-free, contains probiotics, optimal for women during reproductive years, no artificial colors, flavors, or sweeteners

Cons: Pills are large, must take four daily

The thing that makes Garden of Life’s women’s multivitamin rise above other brands is that it’s void of synthetic materials and contains the ingredients they claim — which you may think is a given, but a recent analysis by Consumer Labs found that 44% of multivitamins it tested didn’t actually contain the amounts of nutrients the label claimed. 

Not only is the formula certified organic by the USDA, but Garden of Life’s Vitamin Code for Women covers all the basics: The capsule is gluten-free and the formula includes folate, calcium, magnesium, vitamins A, C, D3, E, and B-Complex, and the raw formula also reinforces breast health.

A vegetarian vitamin, Garden of Life Vitamin Code for Women is made without binders or fillers and contains probiotics and enzymes to help with digestion. Vitamin Code for Women met all purity standards set forth by Labdoor and was given a B score. 

The two drawbacks of this multivitamin are that each pill is quite large, about the size of a mini binder clip, and you have to take four daily. So those who have trouble swallowing big pills should probably opt for another supplement.

Best for active women

Best women's multivitamins Optimum Nutrition Opti Women 4x3

Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women offers a tailored distribution of nutrients designed for a more active lifestyle.

Pros: Provides immune support, includes 23 essential nutrients and 17 specialty minerals

Cons: Not for people under 18 years of age

Regular physical activity can affect your vitamin and mineral levels — which in turn can affect your athletic performance.

Physically-active women, especially those who do aerobic exercises like running and biking, are more likely to be iron deficient, according to researchers at Cornell University. What’s more, a 2017 study from the National Institutes of Health found that some women (in general, not just athletes) are deficient in folate, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12, three vital pathways used during exercise. If your B vitamins and folate levels, in particular, aren’t up to par, it can impair your athletic performance and increase fatigue, risk of injury, and ability to concentrate, the study adds. Your doctor can test your levels, and if he or she confirms yours are low, you would be well-served to opt for a multivitamin designed for an active lifestyle.

The Optimum Nutrition Opti-Women multivitamin is formulated to help women with an avid fitness routine score enough nutrients to keep their active bodies healthy and strong. It’s curated with 100% DV of B vitamins, folate, and iron. In addition, the multivitamin provides 17 other specialized minerals, one being calcium phosphate which aids in vitamin D absorption to keep muscles healthy

Though Consumer Labs has not reviewed this specific multivitamin, when they surveyed more than 9,700 respondents on “overall customer satisfaction” in February 2020, Optimum Nutrition was named a top-rated vitamin and supplement brand. The Opti-Women formula did receive a C grade from Labdoor, namely because the amount of vitamins in the tested formula differed from the label. However, the biggest discrepancies (vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium, magnesium, and zinc slightly lower than the label; vitamin D and B-complex slightly higher) aren’t at harmful levels, Véronique Taché, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at UC Davis Health, confirmed during medical review. Plus, the formula met all purity standards.

Best on a budget

Best women's multivitamins Nature Made Multi for Her 4x3

Nature Made Multi for Her gives a boost of calcium, folic acid, iron, and vitamin D for less than $30.

Pros: Great value, 23 nutrients, contains the daily recommended amount of iron and calcium, great folic acid count for prenatal or pregnant women, more vitamins per bottle; only need to take one tablet daily

Cons: Some may find pills to be large and may be hard to swallow for some

Vitamins can be expensive. If you’re looking to cut the cost without eliminating the essential nutrients, Nature Made Multi for Her comes at a great value: 300 capsules for less than $30.

The multivitamin contains all the major nutrients vital to women’s health (23 total), including the daily recommended amounts of iron, calcium, and D3. It also contains more than 100% of the Daily Value (DV) of folic acid, a key nutrient for those who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. C. Michael White, PharmD, department head of University of Connecticut’s pharmacy practice and dietary supplement researcher, told Insider adequate levels of folate help to reduce the risk of having neural tube defects as babies are growing. 

While this multivitamin is catered toward females, it still contains sufficient vitamin levels essential for both men and women. Uma Naidoo, MD, director of Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital told Insider the 13 essential vitamins, including A, B, C, and D, play an important role in the body and are essential for healthy vision, skin, and bones for both men and women.

This multivitamin met all Labdoor’s purity standards, but inconsistencies in the formula earned it a C grade overall. The biggest formula-to-label discrepancies include slightly less vitamin A and vitamin C, as well as slightly more vitamin B-6, folic acid, and vitamin D3, but still within safe ingesting levels, Dr. Taché confirmed. Though this is its worst offense, nutritional value and safety outweigh this satisfactory rank, making it a top pick still.

Best vegan

Best women's multivitamins Ritual Essential for Women 4x3

Ritual Essential for Women is vegan, gluten, and major-allergen-free, focusing on brain health, bone health, blood-building, and antioxidant support.

Pros: Vegan, subscription model with free shipping for easy refills, free of gluten and major allergens, no artificial colorants or synthetic fillers, good for brain and bone health, infused with mint for freshness 

Cons: Not found in stores

Because people who follow a vegan diet don’t eat animal products, they are usually deficient in key nutrients abundantly found in meat, dairy, and seafood. A 2016 study in the Journal of Osteopathic Association found vegans are often deficient in vitamin B12, iron, calcium, vitamin D, protein, and omega-3 fatty acids. 

Ritual Essential for Women is completely vegan and outlines a visible supply chain of ingredients so you know what you’re intaking. Ritual’s brand mission is to “bring foundational health into focus,” and its supplements are designed to boost brain and bone health, promote red blood cell formation, and provide antioxidant support with vitamin E

Ritual’s vitamins are vegan, gluten-free, and allergen-free. Ritual also operates on a unique direct-to-door subscription model, automatically sending a fresh bottle to you each month so you’ll never run out.

Vegan multivitamins tend to include plant-based ingredients, like calcium. While some calcium supplements are oyster-shell based, Ritual uses vegan-certified ingredients, like vitamin D, to rid worries of consuming a multivitamin using shellfish in the manufacturing process.

If you aren’t vegan but like the convenience of a multivitamin that will be automatically refilled and delivered, you can certainly take Ritual’s vegan multivitamin, but you should opt for their water-soluble option if you don’t have a specific deficiency. Dr. Naidoo told Insider that if you take a fat-soluble vitamin and are already getting sufficient amounts of those nutrients from your diet, your body will store the excess in your liver and fatty tissue which can accumulate to toxic levels. With a water-soluble vitamin, though, the excess is just excreted through urine. Ritual features both options to help fill gaps in your diet and support nutrient levels.

Though Ritual was not yet tested by Consumer Labs, it’s USP-verified, confirming that it contains what it lists on the label, contains safe nutrient levels, is void of harmful substances like heavy metals and pesticides, and can be broken down and released into the body as intended.

Best for women over 40

Best women's multivitamins Garden of Life women's multi 40 plus 4x3

Garden of Life myKind Organic Women’s 40+ Multi is specially formulated to address the changing nutritional needs of women as they age, with 16 nutrients at levels greater than 100% DV.

Pros:  Certified USDA organic, vegan, gluten-free, contains 16 nutrients over the 100% Daily Value (DV)

Cons: Pills are large

Though not a hard-and-fast number, when females hit 40, their body and hormones typically begin to change as they are maturing past childbearing years into perimenopause and menopause. Because of this, Dr. Naidoo says you may need less folate and iron, and more: 

  • Calcium: This helps to prevent and slow bone loss
  • Vitamin D: This is essential for bone and skin health
  • Vitamin B12: This is key for brain health
  • More water: This is important as kidneys tend to become less efficient in detoxifying the body

The Garden of Life myKind Organic Women’s 40+ Multi is our top pick due to its precise amount of nutrients of concern for middle-aged women. And, it’s the only brand on the market that is dual-certified as both USDA Organic and Non-GMO Project Verified, meeting purity standards and void of genetic engineering in the manufacturing process. Though pricier than other options, the vitamin is optimal for middle-aged women and provides an extra boost to a balanced diet.

Garden of Life’s formulation is made exclusively from whole foods, which may lower rates of heart disease, certain cancers, and type 2 diabetes.

Though this multivitamin has not yet been tested by Consumer Labs or Labdoor, myKind is one of Consumer Labs’ approved brands based on product quality, appropriateness of dosage, formulation, and value. 

Who should consider a multivitamin

Generally, people who are pregnant, underweight, elderly, who don’t get enough sun exposure, or who have a chronic medical condition [like heart disease, certain cancers, and individuals who had bypass surgery] should consider taking a multivitamin, Uma Naidoo, MD, director of Nutritional & Lifestyle Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital told Insider. Those who follow a stricter diet, too, like vegans and vegetarians, should take special caution; low intake of B vitamins, as well as iron and possibly zinc, will likely lead to a deficiency.

If you know or you’re wondering whether you fall into the category of nutritional deficiency, it’s important to get your levels checked by your doctor. Though others may not need one, Dr. Naidoo advised reviewing your daily nutrition with your doctor to see if you need a multivitamin as well.

A daily multivitamin may holistically bring benefits, but Garden-Robinson notes there can be risks with oversupplementation. She and Dr. Naidoo said excess calcium may increase the risk for urinary stone formation in some people, while oversupplementation of vitamin A may promote birth defects and liver damage. An abundance of vitamin C can cause cramps, diarrhea, and nausea. That said, be sure to check out the DV for guidance on how much of each nutrient you daily need.

What to look for & other FAQs

If you’re wondering what to look for in a multivitamin and how to shop for one, check out our very detailed multivitamin FAQ page.

Check out our other vitamin guides

Best women's multivitamins - slide image 4x3
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The 6 best robot vacuums we tested in 2021

  • A good robot vacuum cleans floors with little work from you, clearing debris with a button push.
  • We tested 25 robot vacuums and consulted three experts to find the best options for different needs.
  • The Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum is the best robot vac because it cleans well, mops, and has a helpful app.

A robot vacuum can remove the small but time-consuming task of vacuuming from your never-ending to-do list. However, you’ll want one that’s powerful, relatively quiet, and doesn’t require constant attention. 

That’s why I’ve tested 25 robot vacuums to find the best ones and consulted health experts and engineers on how to use them properly. A robot vac needs maintenance like any other small appliance, so while using it takes just a press of a button, all our experts stressed the importance of regularly cleaning brushes and filters, and running the vac when no one is in the room to keep the indoor air quality clean and avoid resuspended particles. We get into details over here

I tested each robot vac’s cleaning abilities along with their extra features and app. You can find the details of how we tested, what else we recommend, what we don’t recommend, how to shop for a robot vacuum, and more at the end of our guide.

Here are the best robot vacuums in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

The best robot vacuum overall

Best Robot Vacuums 2021_Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum

The Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum performs well on carpet, hardwood, and in corners. It can map your space for more efficient cleaning and mops floors for extra convenience.

Pros: Excellent on hardwood and in corners, good on carpeting, does not get stuck, has mopping capabilities, can be scheduled and set no-go zones in the app, Alexa compatible

Cons: Gets loud on the highest suction setting, larger than most vacuums making it hard to get into tight spots

The Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum performed well in every test we put it through. On carpeting, it picked up more than 90% of the flour, coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hair I laid out for it. On hardwood, it did even better picking up everything except for a little flour. The S6 gets within half an inch of corners — the deepest of all the vacuums we tested.

The vacuum also rarely gets stuck. It returned to its charging dock after a cleaning cycle without getting stuck along the way approximately 75% of the time. In fact, it even somehow managed to keep going despite a floor strewn with Nerf darts after an epic battle with my kids.

The Roborock S6 comes with a variety of extras, including an adjustable water tank that can be installed in place of the dustbin and a mop cloth to mop your floors. The mop function worked well and I appreciated that you can adjust how much water the tank dispenses so you’re not creating mini floods everywhere. I recommend running the mop after vacuuming to minimize the chance of spreading dirt and dust around your floor. There’s also a damp-proof mat attachment on the charging dock so your floors don’t have prolonged direct contact with moisture. Unfortunately, extra brush heads aren’t included. 

If you like smart gadgets, the Roborock app can be scheduled for cleaning sessions via the app or Amazon Alexa. You can also adjust the suction power and set how many passes the unit completes in a certain space. After a few runs, the S6 will have enough data to make a map of your home so you can set no-go zones.

Including scheduling, the set up of the S6 took about 15 minutes. All you need to do is charge the vacuum on the dock, pair the vac with the app, and you’re ready to go.

There are a couple of things to consider with the Roborock S6, specifically noise and size.

On high suction power, it recorded 70 decibels, which is similar to city traffic. However, it does sport a Quiet mode, which is only around 56 decibels according to the manufacturer; I wasn’t able to measure the noise output of this robot vac by the time I had to send it back to the company. At 14 inches in diameter and four inches high, it was also the largest vacuum we tested. This means it will have trouble getting under low-clearance furniture and into other tight spots. These aren’t deal breakers if you’re able to compromise noise in favor of power and convenience.

Read our full Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum review.

The best affordable robot vacuum

Best Roboto Vacuums Moosoo MT 720

If you’re looking for a cost-effective vac that cleans well on a variety of surfaces, gets deep into corners, and runs quietly, the Moosoo MT-720 Robot Vacuum is your best bet.

Pros: Good performance on carpet and hardwood, excellent corner cleaning, quiet operation, compatible with Google Assistant and Alexa, low-profile design

Cons: Gets stuck easily, can’t set no-go zones

After an initial round of testing, we realized many of our top picks are quite expensive. For the most recent update of this guide, we tested five budget models. Of the models that performed well, the Moosoo MT-720 has the lowest price. It replaces the Eufy RoboVac 15C Max as our budget pick because the MT-720 does a better job of getting deep into corners. 

The MT-720 comes with an extra filter, extra side brushes, a cleaning tool, and a remote control, which worked well. Setting up the vacuum took five minutes. 

The app lets you schedule the vacuum to clean at the same time every day or mix it up. You can also choose smart, wall follow, spiral, random, and manual control cleaning modes. The app creates a map of the area cleaned, but you cannot set no-go zones as you can with other room mapping robot vacs.

The MT-720’s performance was good on hardwood and carpet, picking up almost all of the coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hair. In corners, it did an outstanding job, coming within an inch of the corner and picking up 70% of the flour on carpeting and 85% on hard flooring. At 12.5 inches in diameter and 3.25 inches high, the vac is small enough to get into tight spaces that other models might miss.

Counterintuitively, the strong suction didn’t translate into loud operation. On high suction, the sound meter registered 66 dB, or a little louder than a business office. On low, it was 59 dB, which is quieter than normal conversation. 

The biggest negative with the MT-720 is that it tends to get stuck easily. During testing, it regularly got stuck on the one-inch threshold between the living room and kitchen of the testing area.

The best robot vacuum and mop

Best Robot Vacuums 2021 Ecovacs T8 AIVI

The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System thoroughly cleans floors as opposed to pushing a wet cloth around. When paired with the Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum, the two make easy work of time-consuming chores.  

Pros: Excellent performance on carpeting and hardwood, automatically empties the dustbin, HD video surveillance, impressive deep-cleaning mop attachment, quiet operation

Cons: Got stuck on the threshold in our tests, doesn’t get deep into corners

The Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo Pro Mopping System attachment is the best mopping system I’ve tested. Thanks to its 480-vibrations-per-minute scrubbing motion, it’s able to provide a deep clean whereas other robot vac mops just push a wet cloth over your floors. It’s compatible with the T8 family of Ecovacs, which made the powerful Ecovacs Deebot Ozmo T8 AIVI Robot Vacuum even better. 

In my testing, the 240mL water tank was large enough to complete at least two passes over the 500-square-foot test floor. With the app, you can choose from four water flow levels to reach a balance of moistness and quick drying, and two mopping patterns. The deep scrubbing option is good for a more thorough cleaning, but for the most part, quick scrubbing is my go-to for regular mopping — and even then, it’s a very thorough cleaning. 

When the Ozmo Pro Mopping System encounters carpeting, it automatically avoids it so you don’t get wet carpeting. In testing, I found the carpet detection sensor worked well.

As for the robot vac itself, the Ozmo T8 AIVI has HD video and a microphone so you can keep tabs on your pets or check for open windows and doors from your phone. I didn’t find the home surveillance features particularly useful but they could be handy for people who are often away from the home and concerned about security. 

The more useful feature is the auto-empty station. With this dock, you don’t have to empty the dustbin after cleaning sessions — the charging station does it automatically. You just need to replace the disposable pouch every month or two. 

On both carpeting and hardwood, the Ozmo T8 AIVI was among the best at removing all of the debris types we tested. Plus, it remains fairly quiet at just 67 decibels on the highest Max+ cleaning setting and 58 decibels on Quiet mode. 

However, the vac consistently got stuck on the one-inch lip between my living room and kitchen. It also wasn’t able to come within two inches of corners so you may need to do occasional touch-ups using a hand vacuum or broom.

When it comes to set up, the process was seamless. I plugged in the dock to charge the vacuum, connected the app, updated the firmware, and set a schedule for cleaning. Once the vacuum mapped out my floor plan after a couple of cleanings, I was able to set no-go zones to keep the T8 AIVI away from sensitive areas.

The unit is on the bigger side measuring 13.75 inches in diameter and 3.5 inches high. This was just low enough to fit under my chairs and couches, but if you have radiators or low-clearance furniture, you may want to measure to make sure there’s enough clearance or set no-go zones. The main brush of the vacuum is around 6.25 inches long, which is about average.

The best robot vacuum for hardwood floors

Best Robot Vacuums 2021 Roomba S9+

The D-shaped iRobot Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum did the best in our hardwood floor tests and features a self-emptying dustbin, impressive app that lets you set no-go zones, and large main brushes that pick up debris on the first pass.

Pros: Cleans well on hardwood flooring, good performance on carpeting, rarely gets stuck, comes with a charging dock that empties the dustbin, large main brushes, has a useful app with virtual no-go zones

Cons: Loud, poor performance in carpeted corners

As iRobot’s top-of-the-line model, the Roomba s9+ Robot Vacuum is another feature-packed vac. Like the Ecovacs T8 AIVI, the s9+ empties itself and is supported by an app that allows you to effortlessly schedule cleanings, set no-go zones, and customize your cleaning experience, including pairing it with the iRobot Braava Jet M6 (sold separately) to mop after it finishes its vacuum cycle.

In testing, the Roomba s9+ performed the best of any robot vac on hardwood flooring, likely due to the two large 9.5-inch main brush heads — the biggest we tested. After the cleaning cycle, there was only a trace of flour left. Its D-shaped design came within an inch and a half of the corner, picking up everything it could reach. On carpeting, the performance wasn’t as impressive, but it was still solid with only about 10% of the flour left, 5% of the kitty litter, and no coffee grounds or pet hairs to be found after testing. The unit didn’t get stuck in our testing area either. 

At 77 decibels (about as loud as a busy city street) on high suction power, the s9+ was by far the loudest model we tested, and even in Quiet mode, the vacuum is a not unnoticeable 64 decibels (a little louder than a normal conversation). 

Additionally, the vac got within an inch of the carpeted corner, but it left behind about 70% of the flour, which suggests it doesn’t do as well picking up fine debris on carpeting, especially in areas the main brushes have trouble reaching.

Installation was easy, but it took about 25 minutes. Most of that time was spent installing firmware updates after connecting to the app. I liked that the s9+ comes with plenty of extras, including an additional filter (which needs replacing every two months), side brush (every three months), and dirt disposal bag for the self-emptying base (every month or so.) 

These extras mean you get several months of use before you need to replace parts that wear down. The app features tutorials on how to care for your Roomba, including the seamless purchase of replacement parts.   

The overall unit is around 12.5 inches in diameter and the 3.5-inch height should also fit under most furniture.

The best robot vacuum for carpet

Best Robot Vacuums 2021 Roomba i3+

With its strong suction and large main brushes that adjust to stay in contact with your carpeting, the iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is a great solution for carpeted homes.

Pros: Excellent performance on carpeting, cleans well on hardwood, pairs with the app and Alexa, comes with an automatic dirt disposal base, doesn’t get stuck easily

Cons: Loud, virtual wall barriers cost extra, not impressive in corners 

The iRobot Roomba i3+ Robot Vacuum is fairly new and is iRobot’s most affordable option with automatic dirt disposal.  

In our carpet tests, the i3+ picked up all of the coffee grounds, kitty litter, and pet hairs we laid out, and left behind only about 5% of the flour — the best performance of all the robot vacs we tested. In corners, it came within an inch of the wall but left behind about half the flour. The i3+ performed better on hardwood floors, picking up all of the coffee grounds and pet hair, and only left behind 5% of the kitty litter and about 10% of the flour. The robot vac didn’t get stuck going back to its base after it completed its cleaning sessions.

Whereas some robot vacuums sense carpeting and boost suction, the i3+ provides consistently strong suction, and when it detects excess dirt, it will automatically perform multiple passes to ensure it gets all of the debris. There are two main brushes measuring 6.75 inches and each one adjusts and flexes to keep in constant contact with carpet and hardwood so it picks up more debris quickly. 

Though it doesn’t come with a tool for cleaning the brushes and dustbin, the i3+ comes with an extra filter and disposal bag, which only needs to be replaced every month or so. Plus, setup is a breeze only taking about 10 minutes, including connecting to the user-friendly app. With the app, you can easily schedule your unit and connect to Alexa or Google Assistant.

Unfortunately, the app doesn’t allow you to set up no-go zones, so you have to buy virtual wall barriers. It’s a small 2 by 4.5 inch-high battery-powered device that creates a virtual barrier up to 10 feet long or a 12-inch radius that the Roomba avoids. In my experience, the barriers work as advertised, but at around $40 each, I’m more likely to use common household objects to create physical barriers to keep the Roomba out of areas I want to protect.

The other negative with the i3+ is how loud it is. My sound meter recorded 68 decibels, and you can’t adjust the suction power for a quieter clean.

The overall dimensions of the vacuum are larger than most at 13.25 inches in diameter and 3.75 inches high. This can make it hard to get into tight spots, though I didn’t experience any issues in my testing.

The best robot vacuum for pet hair

Best Robot Vacuums 2021 Bissell Spinwave

The Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum picked up all the pet hair on carpet in our tests and has a great assortment of mop attachments and accessories. The company is also committed to helping homeless pets and helps them find loving homes. 

Pros: Excellent job on hardwood and corners, picked up all of the pet hair in our tests, great mop attachment and accessories, app connectivity, small size, quiet operation

Cons: Can’t set up no-go zones, gets stuck easily

In general, the robot vacuums we tested did an excellent job of picking up pet hair. However, the Bissell SpinWave Robot Vacuum is created specifically for pet hair and has a 5.75-inch tangle-resistant main brush, a useful mop attachment, and powerful suction. Specs aside, a portion of each sale also goes to the Bissell Pet Foundation, which is committed to finding loving homes for pets.

The Bissell SpinWave picked up all of the cat and dog hair we laid out on carpeting and hardwood and did a great job on hardwood and in corners. On the hardwood, it only left a trace of kitty litter and flour. In corners, it came within two inches of each and picked up more than 60% of the flour on both the carpet and hardwood. When you consider that it’s among the quietest vacs we tested – 58 decibels on Quiet mode (slightly quieter than a normal conversation) and 65 on high suction – its performance is even more impressive. If you have particularly skittish pets, the low-decibel output is less likely to startle your fur friends. 

The vacuum also included a lot of useful extras and attachments that can help any pet parent, such as a mop tank attachment, spinning mop pads, and a trial-size bottle cleaning formula. Plus, you receive an extra filter, an extra set of side brushes, and a cleaning tool that helps remove hairs from the brushes and clean the filter.

In testing, the mop attachment worked seamlessly. You just fill the tank with water and some of the cleaning formula and attach it to the vacuum in place of the dustbin. The mop pads spin to scrub away stuck-on debris while the soft surface avoidance sensor keeps it away from area rugs or carpets.

The SpinWave has a quick set up taking all of five minutes, including installing the app and connecting the unit. With the app, you can schedule cleanings and customize the suction strength based on your preferences. Unfortunately, though, the app doesn’t let you set up no-go zones.

At 12.75 inches in diameter and 3.25 inches high, it has a smaller and lower frame that can squeeze into small areas. The biggest limitation we found was it tended to get stuck easily. In our tests, it consistently got stuck on the one-inch threshold leading into the kitchen. We had to put up a physical barrier to get it to stop trying.

What else we tested

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

We’ve tested 25 robot vacuums and counting, here are the ones that didn’t make our top picks.

What else we recommend and why

Eufy RoboVac 15C Max ($259.99): Formerly our pick for the best affordable robot vacuum, the 15C Max offers an impressive suite of high-end features for its reasonable price, including smart connectivity and powerful suction on carpeting and hardwood. We dropped it from our guide because the Moosoo MT-720 performed similarly, including doing a better job in corners, and it’s currently $11 cheaper. However, the 15C Max doesn’t get stuck as easily. If that’s important to you, you may want to choose this model instead when on a budget.

Ecovacs U2 Pro ($299.99): Of the eight vacuums I’ve tested since the last update, this was the best. It did excellent cleaning hardwood and carpeting and rarely got stuck. The U2 Pro also comes with a mop attachment, which didn’t do a good job of cleaning up dried Tang on linoleum. Despite good performance, it couldn’t compete with our current top picks, and was too expensive for consideration as our best budget pick. Other negatives include loud operation, poor corner cleaning, and boundary strips for setting no-go zones are sold separately.

ILife A10 ($279.99 with coupon/$349.99 without): If setting no-go zones is important to you, then the A10 might be a good option. After it maps your house, you can set up virtual barriers in the app. This model also does an outstanding job of cleaning hardwood and carpet. But, there are plenty of cons: The A10 barely picked up any flour in carpeted corners, it runs loudly, and it gets stuck easily.

Proscenic M7 Pro ($479): I enjoy the automation afforded by self-empty charging docks, and the M7 Pro has one that works well. You can also set no-go zones in the app. Plus, the vac didn’t get stuck easily and performed well on carpeting and hard flooring. Yet, it had trouble cleaning corners and was loud. Plus, with a height of four inches, it doesn’t fit under low-clearance furniture.

Moosoo R3 ($249.99 with coupon/$299.99 without): If you mainly have hardwood flooring, the Moosoo R3 may be a smart choice for you, especially if you can get it on sale. It performed excellent on hardwood in our tests, ran quietly, and you can set no-go zones in the app. The vac did well on carpeting too, but it had trouble cleaning corners. And, it got stuck easily.

Proscenic 850T ($209 with coupon/$239 without): When it comes to cleaning hard flooring, the 850T is outstanding. It picked up almost all of the debris on hardwood in our testing, got deep into the corners, and got all of the grounds, hair, and litter on the carpet. However, it left 20% of the flour behind, got stuck easily, and runs loudly. Plus, in my long-term testing, the vac regularly disconnected from the app and required my attention to run on schedule.

Roborock S4 ($339.99): There’s a lot to like about the Roborock S4. However, the main reasons it didn’t make our top picks are because it’s loud, doesn’t come with many extras, and at 3.75 inches high, it doesn’t fit under low-clearance furniture. It’s pretty similar to our top pick, the S6, but lacks many of the features, such as a mop attachment. However, the S4 was excellent on carpeting, hardwood, and in corners, and it rarely got stuck. This is a more affordable alternative to the S6 if you’re not interested in a mop attachment. 

Roborock S6 MaxV ($699.99): For the most part, Roborock is doing a terrific job in the robot vac space. We recommend the S6 MaxV because of its excellent performance in our carpeting, hardwood, and corner tests. It also has video surveillance and a two-way microphone if you’re looking for additional home security, no-go zones, and a useful app. But it has the same large dimensions as the S4 and it kept getting stuck on the one-inch lip leading into the kitchen of our testing course. It isn’t as loud as the S4, but louder than others we’ve tested. 

iRobot Roomba i7+ ($799.99): The Roomba i7+ was the first robot vacuum to feature an automatic dirt disposal charging dock. Since then, iRobot has introduced two other models that improve upon the i7+. Though this Roomba has great high-end features, its performance doesn’t justify its price. It only did a satisfactory job on carpeting and hardwood, and it got stuck fairly often. If you find the i7+ on sale, we recommend picking it up. Otherwise, consider the s9+ or i3+ instead. Read our full review.

Eufy RoboVac G30 Edge ($239.99): Eufy usually makes more affordable robot vacuums, so at this price, the G30 Edge is considered the company’s top-end model. The variety of extras — no-go zone strips, a user-friendly app, and Alexa and Google Home compatibility — make it worth the price, but you’ll have to compromise some power. It performed poorly on carpeting and in corners during our testing, and it was in the middle of the pack on hardwood. Despite the underwhelming performance, it remains a good value for the price.

Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S ($149.99): This model didn’t perform as well as the RoboVac 15C Max, doesn’t have the same Wi-Fi connectivity, and can’t be paired with an app. It’s a good basic vacuum that does well on carpeting — which is surprising since it didn’t perform well on hardwood floors or in corners. You can often find it on sale for under $200, which we recommend grabbing if you’re in the market for a more affordable robot vac. Read our full review.

What we don’t recommend and why

Eufy BoostIQ RoboVac 11S ($149.99): At one time, the RoboVac 11S was our budget pick, but after putting it through our testing alongside other affordable options, we no longer recommend it. The 11S doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity, which has become standard in the industry at every price point. The vac performed well on carpeting but left a lot of debris behind on hardwood and in corners. You’d be much better off with the Moosoo MT-720. Read our full review.

Proscenic M6 Pro ($299 with coupon/$369 without): After testing two other Proscenic models that I recommend, I was surprised by how poorly the M6 Pro cleans. It left significant debris behind on carpeting, hard flooring, and in corners. The vac also got stuck easily and ran loudly. Plus, the app is slow to respond to finger taps and commands. 

Yeedi K650 ($129.99 with coupon/$149.99 without): The attractive price doesn’t make up for the fact that the Yeedi K650 does a poor job cleaning any surface. It also gets stuck often, is noisy, and doesn’t have many of the features we like, such as the ability to set no-go zones.

iRobot Roomba e5 ($299.99): This appears to be iRobot’s attempt to make a budget Roomba, but it’s the worst-performing Roomba I’ve come across in my years of testing. It didn’t come with any extras – not even an additional filter. You can schedule it easily in the app and it’s compatible with Alexa and Google Home, but you have to buy virtual wall barriers separately. Also, it gets stuck easily and doesn’t clean well on hardwood.  

Neato Botvac D7 Connected ($479.99): We’re dropping the Neato Botvac D7 Connected from our guide this time around because it’s relatively big, got stuck about half the time during our original testing, and it only comes with two extra filters and a magnetic barrier, which isn’t necessary since you can set no-go zones in the app. We think there are more affordable alternatives that perform better and are more feature-rich in our guide. Read our full review.

Eufy RoboVac 11S Max ($249.99): The 11S Max is an update to the 11S, but we feel the original 11S is better. Ultimately though, if you’re spending this much, the 15C Max performed much better in our testing. The 11S Max did poorly on carpeting, hardwood, and in corners. It also relies on a remote controller rather than app connectivity, which means you need to turn to and keep track of another device.

Roborock E35 ($349.99): At one point, we recommended the E35 as a good robot vac at this price, but since then, we have tested several others in this price range that outperform and have better features. The E35 doesn’t do well with hardwood or corners and is big and loud. Read our full review.

Roborock S5 Max ($549.99): The S5 Max is loud, big, and it did poorly in corners and on carpeting in our tests. 

Our methodology

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

I’ve been reviewing vacuums for the past few years, writing numerous buying guides and reviews, so I leaned on my background when developing our testing methodology. I also consulted three experts and took their advice and expertise into consideration — Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at the Pulmonary, Critical Care & Sleep Disorders Institute of South Florida; Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at Clarkson University and the current president of the American Association for Aerosol Research; and Jill Notini, the Vice President of Communication and Marketing for the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers.

In addition to using each robot vacuum daily for at least several weeks, I tested each one for its suction on various types of flooring including corners, ability to maneuver around obstacles, noise, and special features. Our testing methodology has gotten more comprehensive over the years, so for any models that I’d previously tested but didn’t have the vacuums on hand anymore, I extrapolated the data as best as possible based on previous testing and manufacturer info. Those vacuums are the iRobot Roomba i7+, Neato Botvac D7 Connected, Eufy 11S Max and 15C Max, and Roborock S4, S6, and E35. 

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them

Size: I note the specs of the overall unit, main brush, and side brushes. This gives me an idea of how well a vacuum can clean floors and carpet — the larger the brushes, the more they can usually sweep up. The main brushes are often somewhere between 5 to 10 inches long and side brushes are usually 2 to 3 inches long. Of the vacs I’ve tested, only Roomba models have two main brushes; others just have one. I’ve noticed that longer brushes tend to facilitate faster cleaning. If this appeals to you, consider a unit with a longer brush, such as the Roomba s9+.

Carpet cleaning: I poured a tablespoon each of flour, coffee grounds, and kitty litter on 18-inch-square sections of carpeting. To make sure I had enough pet hair, I also collected pet hairs from my rat terrier and two cats to place on carpeting. I ran the vacuum on its most powerful mode for two cleaning cycles and compared before-and-after photos to estimate the percentage of each material picked up or left behind.

Hardwood floor cleaning: This is the same test as the carpet cleaning test, but on hardwood flooring.

Corner cleaning: To test corner cleaning abilities, I poured a teaspoon of flour in an approximately four-inch-radius in a corner on hardwood and carpeting. I took pictures of the messes before and after running the robot vac for two cleaning cycles to compare how much flour was left over. I also measured how close to the corner the vac was able to reach.

Obstacle avoidance: You don’t want your robot vac to get stuck while it’s cleaning or when it’s returning to its charging dock, both of which force you to hunt it down while it’s sending you notifications or making annoying error sounds. I tested the vacuum in an approximately 500-square-foot room with several obstacles, including stairs, a one-inch threshold to a kitchen, and a table with chairs.

Loudness: I used a sound meter to measure the decibel output of each of the robot vacuums from 12 inches away as they ran on the highest and lowest settings. For vacuums I no longer had in my possession for testing, I relied on manufactures’ info and my previous notes. 

Brushes: I noted the lengths of the main and side brushes as they’ll likely indicate performance in our cleaning tests.

Robot vacuums work using a combination of suction and brushes. There are two types of brushes on a robot vacuums: the side brush and the main brush. Units have either one or two side brushes that are about three inches in diameter and protrude from the forward portion of the vac. They move in a circular motion, get into corners, and feed debris to the main brush. There appears to be little difference in the performance of vacuums with two side brushes versus those with one.

The main brush is between five and ten inches long, located under the unit, and is made of a rubber-like material. The vacuum sucks debris into the main brush which spins to feed the materials into the dustbin. Of the vacs I’ve tested, only Roomba models have two main brushes. Other models just have one. I’ve noticed that longer brushes tend to facilitate faster cleaning. If this appeals to you, consider a unit with a longer brush, such as the Roomba s9+.

Extras: I note if the vacuums included extras such as filters and side brush replacements, mop attachments, a cleaning tool, and more.   

Special features: All of the vacuums featured some method for scheduling and returning to their charging dock on their own, so those weren’t useful differentiators. Auto-dirt disposal, voice control, and home surveillance aren’t universal, so you may want to consider if those are important. (There’s more information on those and other features here.)

What we’re testing next

LG CordZero
Amazon

We’re constantly testing new vacuums to update our guide. Below are a few models we are currently testing or will be testing soon:

LG CordZero ThinQ ($1,199.99): Whereas most robot vacuums are good for daily light cleanings, LG bills this CordZero ThinQ as “powerful enough to be your primary vacuum.” The vac has an inverter motor that adjusts to the debris levels and a large main brush that picks up more on the first pass. It also has cameras for obstacle detection and avoidance and home surveillance. The biggest negatives appear to be the expensive price and the 5.6-inch height, which may keep it from fitting under furniture.

Samsung JetBot 90 AI+ (price not yet available): Samsung just announced the release of an AI-based robot vac at the 2021 CES trade show and we’re looking forward to testing its smart-learning capabilities to avoid obstacles. It also has cameras and can be connected to the brand’s SmartThings hub for another layer of home security. 

Samsung Electronics R7040 ($312.94): The R7040 was in a previous version of our guide based on positive reviews by other sites, but we weren’t able to get a unit in time to test in this round. We’re looking forward to seeing how its unique flat front-edge design works in corners.

Trifo Lucy ($699.99): In addition to powerful suction and an outstanding app, Lucy has HDR video, a two-way microphone, and the ability to detect noise and people in your home as part of a home security set up. I’m interested to test its vacuuming abilities alongside the home security features.

Why we don’t measure Pascal Pressure Unit

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

A robot vacuum’s suction power is measured in Pascal (Pa). Generally speaking, the higher the Pa, the better, but that’s a misleading metric of comparison. 

When I talked to engineers at iRobot about a year ago, they told me that there are several ways to measure suction power, but there are no industry standards. They viewed the reported Pa measurements as essentially useless, hence why it’s nearly impossible to find suction power for iRobot vacs. It’s also difficult to find the Pa for Ecovacs, though Eufy and Roborock report the measurements for their models.

Due to the inconsistent reporting from manufacturer s, we don’t include Pa as a part of our testing methodology and criteria.

How to shop for a robot vacuum

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

While using a robot vacuum is easy enough, shopping for one can be overwhelming. Here are the main aspects to look for when considering which one to buy. 

Size: If you have furniture that’s hard to move or low-clearance pieces like sofas or bed frames, you’ll want to pay attention to the height of a robot vacuum; the other dimensions are usually within the range of reason for a normal household. For example, I have several radiators in my house with a 3.5-inch clearance that slim vacuums can get under, while just-slim-enough models sometimes get stuck, and too-thick models bump up against and go elsewhere. If you want your robot vacuum to get under your low-clearance furniture, make sure you choose a model that is slim enough to do so. 

Features: It’s important to think about what features you actually need. For instance, if you work from home and are rarely away, HD cameras aren’t useful since you can keep tabs on your home with your own eyes. If your floors are covered with carpet, you don’t need your robot vac to mop. I also almost never use voice control out of personal habit, but if you use Alexa or Google Assistant for everything, then compatibility with those services is a must.

Extras: You can easily purchase extra filters or brushes for robot vacs, but we think having them included with the unit is better. All of our top picks include useful extras like brushes or dirt disposal bags.

Price: Robot vacuums go on sale often, and the discounts are steepest during Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, and Cyber Monday. We expect most of the models we recommend in this guide to go on sale so it pays to wait until those sale days.

How to use a robot vacuum

Best Robot Vacuums 2021

Robot vacuums make keeping your house clean easier, but there’s still some regular maintenance needed to improve the performance and longevity as well as help your indoor air quality. 

Run your robot vac when no one is around: Andrea Ferro, Ph.D., a professor at Clarkson University and president of AAAR, and Dr. Luis Javier Peña-Hernández, a lung and sleep health specialist at PCSI, both recommend running your robot vacuum in unoccupied areas. The robot vacs can kick dust, pollutants, and microbes back into the air as it vacuums floors, which can lead to subpar indoor air quality. “Every vacuum, including a robot vacuum, has the potential to release some dust, particles, and allergens back into the air, but the benefits still outweigh the risks,” said Peña-Hernández. 

And run it regularly: Ferro and Peña-Hernández agree that you should run your robot vac at least once per week and more if you have pets and heavy-traffic areas. Ferro even suggests that daily cleaning isn’t a bad idea. I generally set my vacuums to run in the early morning before I wake up or when the level of my house where the vacuum is running will be unoccupied, especially since I live in a large house with three pets and no HVAC system.

Clean the dustbin and filter: If you’re regularly vacuuming your space, you’ll need to make sure to empty the dustbin and clean the filter. According to Peña-Hernández, you should clean the vacuum’s filter at least once a week, or twice a week if you have a pet.  

You’ll also need to replace the filter and brushes every few months. Manufacturers usually give guidelines in the vac’s user manual on how often you should replace these components, but a good sign that it’s time to replace your filters or brushes is if they appear to be damaged or if your vac just isn’t doing as good of a job of cleaning as it once did. 

Fortunately, many models come with extra filters and brushes, but eventually, you’ll have to purchase replacements. Manufacturers usually link to their parts store in your robot vac’s app, but you can also usually find parts on Amazon so it’s worth shopping around. Just make sure that you are buying the right parts for your model.

Use it in addition to a traditional vacuum:  Despite how far robot vacuums have come in the last decade, they won’t replace your stick and upright vacuums anytime soon.

FAQs

Do you still need another vacuum if you have a robot vac?

While the dream is to set your robot vacuum on a schedule and have it do all the floor cleaning for you, it’s just not the reality at the moment. Robot vacuums don’t clean as much dirt and debris as upright vacuums. “I think you’d still need a stick or upright vacuum for spots that the robot vac can’t reach,” Ferro said.

Robot vacs function best as maintenance cleaners. Having them run a couple times a week will make your floors less gunky, especially if you have pets. But these vacuums also need babysitting. You need to clear their path of anything that might get tangled in their wheels, and some have trouble getting into or out of tight spaces. Their bins are fairly small, so you’ll need to empty them more regularly than an upright or stick version. 

Even squarish robot vacuums — as opposed to round ones — aren’t perfect at getting into corners. Some are too tall to fit under certain types of furniture. They obviously avoid stairs, too. Upright vacuums typically come with attachments that are useful for cleaning things like drapes or furniture, which robot vacs can’t handle. 

“Research indicates that robot vacuums are not meant to replace upright vacuums,” Peña-Hernández said. “That likely has to do with their smaller motor size. They’re good for touch-ups and in-between uses.”

When it comes to robot vacuums, expect maintenance not miracles.


How have robot vacuum cleaners improved?

Since iRobot’s first Roomba came on the market in the early 2000s, robot vacuum technology has improved a lot. You can now find square-ish models in addition to round ones, and the mapping technology is much better. 

Cameras and optical sensors can help with obstacle recognition, and LiDAR-based navigation uses lasers to detect objects. These capabilities aren’t perfect, but vacuums are now more adept at finding their way back to charging docks than they were even a few years ago. Another new feature is self-emptying bins, which suck the debris out of the robot and into a canister in the charging dock. 

Many robot vacuums are now smart, letting you start a cleaning session from an app or by asking a smart speaker. Some, like Roborock S6 Robot Vacuum, let you block off entire rooms in an app, so you don’t have to worry about them getting stuck on your kid’s clothing piles. With cameras and connectivity come some privacy concerns. 

Some interesting features aren’t universal, such as auto-dirt disposal and home surveillance. To get more guidance on these features, I spoke with Jill Notini, Vice President of Communications and Marketing for AHAM.

A few of the new features she’s excited about — and that are found in many if not all of the models in our guide — include:

  • Advanced navigation: “Many of today’s models have the ability to map a home and remember how to get around objects and stay out of tough spots. You can also program the robots to vacuum specific areas of the home.” You can also set no-go zones that the vacuum should avoid on your phone via the app.
  • Mopping ability: “Robots are evolving into floor care multitaskers,” said Notini. “In addition to vacuuming, some models now have the ability to mop, both wet and dry.”
  • Voice control: “Robotic vacuums can now respond to voice commands, either directly or through an outside system like Amazon Alexa.”
  • Remote operation: “You can start, stop, or control your robotic vacuum with your mobile device.”
  • Cameras: “Cameras have been incorporated into some models to help the robot map the room and allow you to get a robot’s eye view of cleaning and keep an eye on your house while you’re away.”
  • Fall prevention: “Even with all of the new features and technological advances, robotic vacuums still have not gained the ability to climb stairs. Many models now utilize sensors to prevent themselves from taking a tumble down the stairs or off a higher level.” All of the robots in our testing were able to sense cliffs and avoid falling down stairs.
  • Automatic dirt disposal: One of the most useful features that’s becoming more ubiquitous is the charging dock that automatically empties the vacuum’s dustbin. Even the largest bins need to be emptied with regular use so it’s a maintenance task you’ll need to perform once a week — at best. But with the self-emptying dock, the chore is no longer necessary. You just throw away and replace the disposable dirt bag every month or two.

Can a robot vacuum prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus?

The novel coronavirus is most easily spread through face-to-face interactions and in close quarters, and if someone in your household has been sick — even if it’s not with COVID-19 — it’s recommended to clean and disinfect the area.  

“Currently the CDC recommends that we take precautionary measures for vacuuming during the COVID-19 outbreak although there are no reported cases of COVID-19 associated with vacuuming,” Peña-Hernández said. “It recommends using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, opening outside doors and windows to increase air circulation, and not vacuuming areas with people in it.” 


How do you clean a robot vac?

Though robot vacuums automate cleaning your floors, they are not completely hands-off. There are several care and maintenance steps you should take to ensure your vac operates properly for many years to come. Manufacturers provide clear instructions for how to clean and maintain your robot vacuum in the user manual or app. 

Here are some general maintenance tasks:

  • Empty the dustbin: Depending on how dirty your home is, you will want to empty your robot vacuum’s dustbin after every use. If you run your vac on a daily basis and don’t have pets, you can get away with doing this chore once a week.
  • Clean the filter and dustbin: This is a weekly task. Cleaning the filter is important because the vacuum doesn’t clean as well when the filter is dirty. Most models’ filter and dustbin can be cleaned with water. I usually clean and thoroughly dry the dustbin while letting the filter air dry. While the filter is air drying, I insert the extra filter that most units come with. Whatever you do, make sure the filter and dustbin dry completely before you use them again.
  • Clean front wheel, brushes, sensors, and charging contacts: You should do this every two to four weeks. Most robot vacuums come with a cleaning tool with a brush on one end and a cutting blade on the other. Use these to cut out hairs that are wrapped around the brushes and wheel and to brush away debris. Use a soft dry cloth to dust the sensors and charging contacts per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Additionally, after about two months of use, it’s time to replace the filter. The front caster wheel and brushes — both the main brush and side brushes — should be replaced every year or so.


Can you fix a robot vac?

This depends entirely on the problem. In my years of testing robot vacuums, I’ve probably ran into every problem a robot vacuum can experience: falling down stairs (surprisingly uncommon), running through pet accidents, attempts at taking up crocheting, etc. I’ve learned that these machines are resilient. 

That said, any attempt to fix a problem with your robot vacuum should start with consulting customer service. After I determined there was no chance I could clean the pet waste off my robot vacuum, I reached out to the manufacturer. And, even though the warranty specifically states these accidents aren’t covered, they still provided me with a replacement unit for free. 

The most common problem I face is the vacuum finding my wife’s yarn and wrapping it around its wheels and brushes. When this happens, you can usually work the thread free if you’re patient. I usually just cut it free. 

Check out our guides to more great vacuum cleaners

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The best patio heaters we tested in 2021

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Best Patio Heater 4x3

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Spring is coming soon, so it’s a good time to look into purchasing a patio heater for the shoulder season.
  • We’ve tested several brands, and talked to three experts about what to consider when buying a patio heater.
  • We recommend choosing a pyramid or dome-top propane heater that gives off at least 40,000 Btu of heat.

Springtime is right around the corner, and while a patio heater won’t magically melt away all the snow in your yard, it can help extend the outdoor season. If you’re starting to think about outdoor entertaining for the spring and summer, the right outdoor patio heater can keep you and your guests cozy, even if there’s a significant chill in the air. 

Now is a great time to buy a patio heater as stock is up a bit after big shortages in the fall and there will likely be shortages again when folks start setting up their spaces for spring. If you’re in the market for a patio heater you’ll need to consider heat output, ease of use, and, most importantly, safety. 

Despite shortages, we were able to get our hands on three models to test and review, and also consulted safety experts to put together this guide on what to look for if you’re considering purchasing an outdoor patio heater. 

What we recommend: AmazonBasics Patio Heater

AmazonBasics patio heater best patio heater

The AmazonBasics Patio Heater is a sturdy, easy-to-use outdoor heating device that puts out an impressive 46,000 Btu of heat — enough to extend the outdoor dining season well into the colder months. 

Pros: Durable construction, easy to operate, wheeled design, puts out a lot of heat

Cons: Shorter people might have to stretch to reach the control knob

I panic-purchased the AmazonBasics Patio Heater when the weather started to turn colder and the pandemic didn’t appear to be ending anytime soon. I’ve been using the AmazonBasics Patio Heater for almost five months now, and it’s made it comfortable enough to sit outside even during the chilly Canadian fall and early winter. It provides a consistent amount of heat that spreads over a large enough area to keep a small group of people comfortable when the weather is chilly. 

The mushroom-top unit has a single control knob with an ignition setting, along with low and high heat options. The heat controls are placed at the top of the unit, which requires short people like me to stand on tippy toes to reach, but keeps the controls out of the hands of kids. It operates on a propane tank — the same kind you use to operate your BBQ — and the stainless steel design is weather-resistant, so there’s not really any need to store it away for the winter.

A patio heater — even a powerful one like the AmazonBasics unit — won’t turn your deck into a summertime oasis when the weather is freezing. Still, it can offer a hint of warmth, making it easier to spend more time outside with loved ones during the pandemic.

Like with all patio heaters, we’ve seen stock of this product fluctuate. We don’t recommend buying from third-party sellers. If it’s out of stock or only available from third-party sellers, we recommend waiting until Amazon receives more stock.

Read our full review of the AmazonBasics Patio Heater

What else we recommend: Mr. Heater Buddy Patio Heater

mrbuddy patio heater best patio heaters

The Mr. Heater Buddy Patio Heater is a compact, portable heater perfect for personal use and heating up small outdoor spaces. Its rugged design also makes it suitable for toting along in cold weather excursions like camping.

Pros: Small footprint, durable construction, portable, simple to use

Cons: Not an ideal solution for providing warmth for a large group of people

This lightweight little device is an excellent option if you’re short on space or want an outdoor heating option while you’re on-the-go. It’s only 14 inches wide, making it suitable for tabletop use. However, on mild winter days, I place it under my patio table as a supplemental heating device to my AmazonBasics unit. It heats up the surrounding area fairly quickly and runs for up to 3 hours — the single control knob allows you to choose between low and high heat. You’ll get the most benefit if you’re sitting in front of the heater. 

I recommend this space-saving heater to anyone wanting to spend more time outside, as it will help keep you warm without gobbling up valuable real estate.

Like with all patio heaters, we’ve seen stock of this product fluctuate. We don’t recommend buying from third-party sellers. If it’s out of stock or only available from third-party sellers, we recommend waiting until Amazon receives more stock.

Read our full review of the Mr. Heater Buddy Patio Heater

What else we tested

We’re continuing to test patio heaters as we can get our hands on them. Here are patio heaters we tested that didn’t make the cut.

What we don’t recommend and why

Rangland Patio Heater ($199): Out of the box, this unit looks almost identical to the AmazonBasics heater, but putting it together revealed a few significant red flags: the dome-top was warped, and several pieces didn’t fit neatly together. The end result was a flimsy-looking heater with a wobbly base — I definitely didn’t trust it to last in windy conditions. When it came time to start it up, I wasn’t able to ignite it. I enlisted the help of my husband and father-in-law — who works in the aerospace field and gave the heater a failing grade — and neither had any luck firing it up. We even switched out the propane tank just in case the one we were using had an imperceptible leak, but to no avail. I also wasn’t able to locate a customer service contact in the manual; another major red flag. I wasn’t alone in my issues with this heater; multiple consumer reviews mention the same issues getting the heater lit. Even if you find an enticing deal on this heater, I recommend skipping it.

Other brands to consider

Mocha Steel Floorstanding Liquid Propane Patio Heater

Outdoor heaters are an investment, but they won’t last forever. Buying from a reputable company that sells replacement parts means you’ll be able to repair your patio heater should something break. We’ve noticed a lot of brandless outdoor heaters on Amazon and other online retailers and we don’t recommend buying them, nor buying from third-party sellers. Some reputable patio heater brands include Home Depot’s in-house brand Hampton Bay, AZ Patio Heaters (also sold as Hiland), Westinghouse, Dyna-Glo, and Mr. Heater. While we’ve only been able to test a few brands due to stock issues, we’ll be adding reviews of other reputable brands to this guide soon. Here are some products worth considering:

What to look for in a patio heater

best patio heaters what to look for

Certifications

Matthew Griffith, prevention section chief with the Montreal Fire Department, said shoppers should look for patio heaters with certifications from the Underwriters Laboratories (UL) or Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC). These independent certification bodies test and ensure various appliances meet specific safety standards. Griffith said a lot of inexpensive products don’t have these safety certifications, which can be quite expensive for brands to obtain.”There’s a reason why one company can sell it at half the price,” he said. Though a product with safety certifications often costs more, Griffith said it’s important to prioritize safety over price. 

Heat output

You’re buying a patio heater to keep warm when it gets cold, so heat output should be a key consideration. Most manufacturers list heat output in British thermal units (Btu) and estimate the square footage a heater can handle in ideal conditions. The higher the Btu of a heater, the more heat it will produce and the larger an area it will cover. 

You can estimate the Btu you need to heat your outdoor area by multiplying the cubic footage of the space by your desired temperature increase. My patio is about 1,500 cubic feet (assuming a height of around 5 feet — I’m short, so I don’t need to heat the air too far above my head), and if I want to hang out outside in the fall when it’s 50 degrees outside, I’ll probably want to raise the temperature by at least 10 degrees. That means I’ll need a heater that puts out at least 15,000 Btu. Bigger spaces or colder climates will require more Btu to heat comfortably. 

If you live in a colder area or are looking to entertain guests, we recommend looking for a heater that produces 40,000 Btu or more, which is enough to heat around 2,000 square feet comfortably. Dome or pyramid-shaped heaters are typically larger and have a higher Btu output, so they can usually heat a larger area than tabletop patio heaters. These tall patio heaters are often seen at restaurants because they can keep a large number of guests comfortable at one time. Thomas Bonfiglio, CEO and founder of Triple T Hospitality, said that the high heat output is one of the reasons he chose pyramid and dome-top heaters for his New York and New Jersey restaurants. “Diners who may still not be comfortable eating inside anywhere can have a pleasant experience outside for many months,” Bonfiglio said.

Fuel Type

Propane-powered heaters typically produce more heat than electric heaters because they aren’t limited by the circuit system of your home. That, of course, means there are some additional safety considerations for propane heaters, since they won’t shut off automatically like an electric heater will when a circuit is overloaded. You can read more about safety considerations in the section below.

The majority of propane patio heaters are compatible with standard 15-20 pound propane tanks, but some portable versions work with smaller, 16 ounce canisters. You’ll have to buy propane tanks separately from the heater, as you would for a gas-powered outdoor fireplace or grill. Fortunately, small and large propane tanks are readily available at most hardware stores; it typically costs about $20 to $25 to refill or buy a 20 pound propane tank at Home Depot. 

How much gas your patio heater uses depends on its heat output, what setting you’re using, and the surrounding air temperature (the colder it is, the more gas you’ll use to heat the area). Amerigas says that you can expect to generate 22,000 Btu per hour for each pound of propane. So if you have a 40,000 Btu patio heater, it’ll burn through about 2 pounds of propane every hour you’re operating it on its highest setting. Patio heaters guzzle a lot of propane, so I always like to keep an extra tank on hand, since I have multiple outdoor gas-powered appliances like a grill and an outdoor fireplace. 

Electric heaters are usually cheaper and safer to operate because they produce less heat. They also don’t require regular trips to the hardware store for fuel refills. But the heat isn’t very powerful or far-reaching if you’re looking to keep a crowd warm.

If aesthetics are important to you, keep in mind that electric and propane heaters give off different types of light. Gas-powered patio heaters create actual flames, which produce a natural, fireplace-like glow. Bonfiglio said he settled on gas models for his restaurant because of their ability to evenly diffuse heat without adding unnecessary bright light. 

Controls

Bonfiglio also chose patio heaters with controls that are high up and out of reach to customers, which keeps diners safe and the atmosphere consistent. If your household has children, pets, or fidgety adults who like to play with controls, you might also consider a patio heater with out-of-reach controls to prevent any accidents. Most tall, freestanding patio heaters naturally have controls that are high up. My AmazonBasics patio heater has controls so high that I need to stand on my tippy toes to reach them. 

On the flip side, if you don’t have any wayward hands in your home, you might find it a pain to break out the step ladder every time you want to turn on your patio heater. Some models come with remote controls for easier operation, or you may opt for a tabletop unit.

Portability and storage

Experts told us you can store most propane heaters outside all year round. Just add a cover to prevent unnecessary wear and tear during rainstorms and cold winter months. We recommend choosing a model with wheels if you’re opting for a standalone unit like a dome-top or pyramid heater, so that it’s easy to wheel out of the way when not in use. If storing a portable patio heater indoors, remove the propane attachment before doing so. 

FAQs

Best Patio Heater Types Graphic

What are the different types of patio heaters?

Here’s a quick breakdown of the most common types of outdoor patio heaters on the market:

  • Pyramid: A tall, freestanding outdoor heater with a triangular shape that usually runs on propane. Flames run up a center column from the bottom to the top of the heater.
  • Dome-top: Also known as mushroom-top heaters, these models are tall and skinny with  a big metal disk on top that deflects heat downward to distribute it evenly over a large area. They also run on propane and have a similar heat output to pyramid-style units. 
  • Tabletop: Compact, portable gas heaters that are small enough to fit on a patio table, like the Mr. Heater Buddy Heater.
  • Electric heaters: Hanging lamp or freestanding heaters that require an outlet for power. These put out a lot less heat than propane-powered heaters. 

While most outdoor patio heaters use propane or electricity as an energy source, natural gas heaters also exist, but they require professional installation into an existing gas line, so we don’t expect to test these anytime soon.


Why should I buy a patio heater?

If you currently use or would like to use your outdoor spaces during the colder months, a patio heater is a great investment. However, deciding to purchase a patio heater depends on a few factors, including the size of the outdoor area you’re trying to heat, the average temperatures during the colder months in your area, and whether a gas or electric powered heater works best in your space. It’s also important to remember that the higher the patio heater’s Btu, the more area the heater will cover, so if you have a larger area to heat, you’ll need a patio heater with a higher Btu. Also consider storage and whether the patio heater should be stored outdoors or indoors when not in use.


Are patio heaters safe?

If used correctly, yes. However, there’s a lot to consider safety-wise when bringing any heat producing appliance into your home.

Griffith said it’s important to follow manufacturer recommendations during installation, which means reading the owner’s manual—something many buyers never do. He also recommends keeping your patio heater away from anything combustible, and making sure you allow for at least 4 or 5 feet of clearance in all directions, including vertically. Be careful of trees, umbrellas, and, if you have an apartment balcony, any balconies above you made of flammable materials. Propane-powered heaters have actual flames coming out of them, which is why it’s essential to always be alert when they’re lit. 

With most outdoor heaters, you don’t need to worry about accidentally burning yourself via fully-exposed flames. The flames on most tall freestanding heaters, for instance, are well out of reach from curious little hands. But you should never leave your outdoor heater unattended, and be extra cautious on windy days. 

General propane tank safety also applies, Griffith said. Keep propane tanks at least 3 feet away from entrances or building openings, discard tanks that are damaged or more than 10 years old, and never store a propane tank indoors. It’s OK to keep a tank outside all year round. “There’s no danger for it to be out in the cold,” says Griffith. 

Most importantly, never use an outdoor propane-powered heater inside. “Those are meant to be outdoors where it’s ventilated…[carbon monoxide] is an odorless, colorless insipid gas. You simply aren’t able to detect it without a CO detector. There’s cases every year across North America of people dying, unfortunately, because of things like that,” Griffith said. 

Griffith suggests calling your local fire department if you’re unsure about placement or have questions related to patio heater safety, and he also adds that it’s a good idea to check whether your town has any specific regulations for this kind of outdoor heating appliance.


Are electric patio heaters safer than propane patio heaters?

While electric patio heaters are a bit safer because of natural restrictions to electrical output and built-in safety mechanisms in modern home wiring, you should be careful about placement, said Dan Mock, brand manager for Mister Sparky, an electrical services company. Taping down wires can prevent accidental knock-overs and is especially important if you have kids or pets running around. Plug-in heaters require a lot of electricity, so Mock also recommends not having too many things plugged in at the same time as your electric heater. Electric patio heaters aren’t all dust and waterproof either. Check the manufacturer specifications and look for an IP Code rating of at least 55, which means the device can handle some dust and water. Here’s a handy chart of IP ratings and what they mean. 

 

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We’ve tested dozens of moisturizers for dry skin – these are the 15 best

If you buy through our links, we may earn money from affiliate partners. Learn more.

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  • Whether your dry skin is seasonal or not, treating it can often seem impossible.
  • We consulted two dermatologists and our team to learn about dry skin and which products to buy. 
  • If you have a different skin type or are unsure, see the best moisturizers for every skin type. 

Tight, red, itchy, rough – these are all descriptors of dry skin. And while dry skin on its own is tough, peeling or flaking can also appear, especially during the transition from the summer season to fall and winter, no matter your skin type. 

If you notice your skin experiencing dryness, you likely also notice that not all facial moisturizers can get the job done in curing it. The most important things to keep in mind when buying a moisturizer are the ingredients and consistencies of the lotion itself. We spoke with Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, board-certified dermatologist of Mariwalla Dermatology, and Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology, to break down these details, and help guide us toward the best moisturizer for dry skin.

Click to jump to the best face moisturizers for dry skin that you can buy:

The best face moisturizers for dry, sensitive skin

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CeraVe Moisturizing Cream

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Moisturizing Cream (small)

This cream has a thick consistency, so you’ll never have that tight, still-dry feeling. But it’s non-comedogenic, so it doesn’t clog pores or leave you feeling greasy, either. It’s free of fragrance and other common irritants, which is why it’s a great choice for sensitive skin types. — Kyle Kerchaert, senior video producer, beauty and style

Once I reached my mid-30s, it felt like all the moisture had been sucked from my skin. The CeraVe Moisturizing Cream was the only thing that calmed and hydrated my face. And though I was originally worried that it would be too thick, it absorbs quickly and leaves your skin feeling soft, not greasy. — Jamie Feller, account executive

I grew up with severe eczema on my face, and this moisturizer was the only thing that was gentle enough to be used on my sensitive skin. While it may seem too thick at first, it absorbs very quickly, leaving your face soft and dewy. — Grace Wade, associate health reference editor

First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream

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Ultra Repair Cream (small)

I have recommended First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream time and time again because it’s just that good. It’s unscented and has a creamy consistency. I apply it every night to my face and neck, and it has never led to breakouts on my sensitive skin. — Victoria Giardina, buying guides fellow

Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion

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Moisturizing Lotion (small)

The Vanicream Moisturizing Lotion is ideal for dry, sensitive skin. It contains no fragrance, dye, formaldehyde, or lanolin. It contains both humectants and emollients to provide a mix of hydration and moisturization. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology

Clinique Moisture Surge 100-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator

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Moisture Surge 100-Hour Auto-Replenishing Hydrator (small)

I have dry, sensitive skin as well as rosacea, and this has been my year-round lifesaver. It’s a gel-cream so I initially had my doubts, but whenever I even think of trying another moisturizer, I come back to this. This product is paraben-free, fragrance-free, and oil-free, and also has hyaluronic acid and aloe water. — Magenta Ranero, senior chart editor, Insider Intelligence

The best face moisturizers for dry, acne-prone skin

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Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel-Cream with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra-Dry Skin

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Hydro Boost Gel-Cream with Hyaluronic Acid for Extra-Dry Skin (small)

My skin feels soft, hydrated, and supple when I use this gel cream, especially during the cold winter months. I appreciate that it’s non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog my pores, as I have acne-prone skin. It’s also fragrance-free. This moisturizer contains humectants such as hyaluronic acid and glycerin, along with emollients like olive extract — all of which help to pack quite the punch in the best and most hydrating way possible. — Katie Decker-Jacoby, style & beauty reviews fellow 

Hada Labo Skin Plumping Gel Cream

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Skin Plumping Gel Cream (small)

I discovered this moisturizer on a desperate Reddit search for an oil-free formula that wouldn’t irritate the seborrheic dermatitis that sometimes pops up on my face. This gel formula is gentle and non-irritating, and it feels like a glass of water for your skin. It also cleared up the minimal flaking I was experiencing from my AHA serums. It does leave a bit of a dewy finish, so I prefer it at night or with some extra setting powder under makeup. — Kyle Kerchaert, senior video producer, beauty and style

C’est Moi Gentle Moisture Lotion

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Gentle Moisture Lotion (small)

C’est Moi is better known for their colorful makeup, but I picked up this moisturizer on its website on a whim and have loved it. My skin gets very dry in the winter, and so I’m always on the lookout for products that deliver a lot of moisture for a budget price. This one isn’t greasy or oily at all, and I was shocked at how moisturizing even a small amount of product felt. — Allison Jiang, story production fellow

Lotus Moon Vitamin B Hydrating Gel

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Vitamin B Hydrating Gel (small)

I have dry, sensitive, and acne-prone skin and this plant-based moisturizer is a champion at hydration. It has a gel formula, so it’s lightweight, absorbent, and doesn’t make me sweat on hot days. It also smells lovely and helps keep my breakouts at bay. — Stephanie Hallett, senior personal finance editor

The best face moisturizers for dry, mature skin

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SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Interrupter

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A.G.E. Interrupter (small)

The A.G.E. Interrupter is an advanced wrinkle treatment that combats the visible signs of aging caused by glycation, which is a major factor of the natural aging process. Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, board-certified dermatologist of Mariwalla Dermatology

SkinCeuticals Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2

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The Triple Lipid Restore 2:4:2 contains free fatty acids to replace cellular lipids and nourish dry skin. This is a crowd favorite for those with extremely dry skin that is worth the splurge. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology

fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream

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Lotus Youth Preserve Dream Night Cream (small)

This is actually a night cream I use as a regular moisturizer in the winter when my skin is its driest for a big hydration boost. It works great under makeup, helping to impart a dewy look that I generally have trouble achieving due to my skin’s aforementioned dryness. It’s essentially an amped-up version of my other favorite Fresh moisturizer. — Ellen Hoffman, executive editor

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer

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Water Drench Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizer (small)

This moisturizer is probably my most-recommended skincare product ever. I generally have really dry skin, but you’d never know it when I’m using this gel-like formula from Peter Thomas Roth. It makes my skin soft and plump, but never leaves behind a sticky residue. The best part about it, though, is that its effects last all day (and I’m not just regurgitating brand copy here — this is literally one of the only moisturizers I truly feel this way about). — Sally Kaplan, deputy editor

The best moisturizers for extremely dry skin

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SkinFix Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream

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Barrier+ Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream (small)

The Triple Lipid-Peptide Cream is a deeply hydrating face cream with active lipids, peptides, small particle hyaluronic acid and rich shea butter for brightening, firming, and plumping. Dr. Kavita Mariwalla, board-certified dermatologist of Mariwalla Dermatology

Nourish Organic Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion

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Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion (small)

The Lightweight Moisturizing Face Lotion contains argan oil to replenish moisture and rosewater to improve tone, hydration, and elasticity. Shea butter acts as a seal to lock in the moisture and repair the barrier. Dr. Corey L. Hartman, board-certified dermatologist and founder of Skin Wellness Dermatology

Aquaphor Healing Ointment

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Healing Ointment (small)

My eczema reacts so badly around my eyes that even the best eye creams and the best moisturizers cannot bail me out. In times of distress, I smear just a small amount of Aquaphor onto my under eyes to restore moisture. I apply it as needed, but most typically before bedtime to lock in moisture and before I apply makeup so my eyelids can soak it up and prevent my concealer from looking cakey. — Jacqueline Saguin, style & beauty reviews fellow

FAQs

Which ingredients should you look out for when buying moisturizer for dry skin?

To start, it’s helpful to know the three categories of moisturizing ingredients: occlusive, emollient, and humectant. An occlusive forms a barrier to retain moisture, an emollient traps water, and a humectant brings water to the top layer of the skin. Dr. Mariwalla and Dr. Hartman recommend ingredients that fall under these groups, including ones like ceramides, glycerin, hyaluronic acid, squalene, petrolatum, shea butter, and lactic acid. 

On the flip side, there are of course ingredients that could further irritate your dry skin, such as fragrance, retinoids, glycolic acid, alcohol, sodium lauryl sulfate, and salicylic acid, according to both dermatologists. 

What are the differences between creams, lotions, and gels?

The key differences are their ratios between water and oil. According to Dr. Hartman, creams are composed of half water and half oil, lotions contain mostly water and less oil, and gels are water-based and lack any trace of oil. This matters because, according to Dr. Mariwalla, thicker creams typically deliver more moisture than thinner lotions and watery gels. For example, extra dry skin might require a heavy cream, while dry, acne-prone skin might benefit from a lightweight, oil-free gel.

Is there anything else I can do for my skin before applying my moisturizer?

Face moisturizers alone likely won’t relieve your dry skin. Dr. Hartman recommends washing your face with a cream or oil-based cleanser and staying away from foamy ones. For good measure, Dr. Hartman adds, “Avoid hot water, use less soap or cleanser, and wash for shorter periods of time. Moisturizer works to strengthen the skin barrier and to trap in water, so apply the moisturizer immediately after washing.” After applying moisturizer in the morning, Dr. Mariwalla advises layering on sunscreen to block harmful UV rays, which is a step all skin types should take. 

Rest assured, if you consistently experience dry skin, seeing your dermatologist is a good idea. Your dermatologist can help uncover the reason for your dry skin and if you perhaps need stronger prescription treatments. 

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