The 6 best at-home teeth whitening kits in 2021, according to dentists

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • At-home teeth whitening kits help lift surface stains, but many are expensive and hurt your teeth.
  • We asked six professional dentists to recommend their go-to at-home teeth-whitening products.
  • Our top pick, Crest 3D White Professional Effects, is effective, simple, and fairly affordable.

Wanting whiter teeth in a world of first impressions and social media needs no explanation. But which at-home teeth whitening kits won’t make your pearlies sensitive after one round – that’s much harder.

In actuality, the most effective way to whiten your teeth is at the dentist’s office; however, that’s expensive and inaccessible for many people. Whitening toothpastes can help with daily maintenance, but they won’t create that ‘wow’ factor. At-home teeth whitening kits can save you money, time, and allow you to regularly re-whiten as needed (aka, as your coffee and red wine habit sees fit). The problem: A lot of whitening kits are too strong, causing your gums to become sensitive to pressure and your teeth sensitive to cold after just one use.

To find the most effective at-home teeth whitening products, including options for sensitive teeth, we asked a handful of dentists what the best teeth whiteners are for a brighter smile ASAP. We took into consideration options for sensitive teeth and gums, folks on a budget, and other buying factors. We tested many of their suggestions, as well as leading brands on the market, and combed through research and ratings. Each of the teeth whitening kits below are effective, easy to use, and less likely to irritate your teeth or gums.

Here are the best teeth whitening kits you can buy:

The best teeth whitening kit overall

crest whitening kit

Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips are effective, won’t slide around during treatment, easy to find at any drugstore, and have a less-concentrated formula for minimal sensitivity.

Pros: Produces results in four or five uses, recommended by dentists, low peroxide levels

Cons: May irritate the gums

Pack count: 20 treatments

Easy to put on and with an effective formula, Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips offers the most bang for your buck and is a favorite of Neil Hadaegh DDS, a professional dentist in Beverly Hills.

The gel is contained in strips that you press to mold around your teeth — so much so that Crest says you can even drink water and talk while wearing the strips thanks to their “Advanced Seal Technology.”

This formula typically has a lower concentration (10%) of Hydrogen Peroxide so it’s better for people who have sensitive teeth and can’t tolerate higher levels.

The Crest 3D White Professional Effects Whitestrips kit comes with 40 strips for 20 treatments (each treatment consists of a strip on the upper teeth and one on the lower teeth.) You are supposed to wear the strips for 30 minutes, once per day. Crest claims that after the 20 daily treatments, you can remove 14 years of tooth stains. 

However, strips don’t offer the custom fit of trays, which means you may notice some increased sensitivity if your gums come in contact with the whitening strips.

The best whitening trays

opalescence

If you’re looking for more precision in your application to avoid gum sensitivity, your best bet is combining teeth whitening gel with mouth trays or guards like in the Opalescence Go 15% kit.

Pros: Effective, greater control over application, potentially less gum sensitivity

Cons: Expensive, may cause sensitivity

Pack count: 10 treatments

The benefit of using a mouth tray or mouth guard with gel is that, unlike white strips, you aren’t as likely to miss spots on the teeth or irritate your gums. 

Opalescence is known for its whitening products in the dental industry. I’ve gotten amazing results with the Opalescence 35% formula, which is a syringe you squirt into your own trays and is slightly more intense. Heather Kunen, DDS, orthodontist and co-owner of Beam Street in New York recommended the Opalescence Go to Insider for how easy and mess-free the process is is to use to get that same high-quality whitening Opalescence is known for.

Dr. Hadaegh also likes this product, adding that the trays adapt to your teeth all the way to your molars. “They have 15% hydrogen peroxide, which means you only need to wear them for 15 to 20 minutes a day for five to 10 days. It also contains potassium nitrate and fluoride to help reduce sensitivity while strengthening enamel.”

However, because the concentration of hydrogen peroxide is so high, there’s a chance you may still experience some sensitivity, in which case it’s best to switch to a less concentrated alternative like Crest Whitestrips.

The best for sensitive teeth and gums

zimba white strips

Zimba white strips whiten over 7 to 14 days without causing major tooth or gum sensitivity and come in tasty flavors.

Pros: Affordable, no-slip strips

Cons: Only covers front 10 teeth (upper and lower), takes about a week to whiten, whitening doesn’t last

Pack count: 14 treatments

If you’re looking for teeth whitening strips but have had issues with teeth sensitivity in the past, Kunen suggested Zimba white strips. It’s made with a gentle formula that uses a low concentration of hydrogen peroxide.

One box contains 28 stain-removing strips (14 upper, 14 lower) which cover your front 10 teeth on top and 10 on the bottom. The strips stay on pretty well with anti-slip technology and they’re slick, so there’s no gel or goop. Moreover, you can choose between two tasty flavors, coconut or mint.

Zimba says you’ll see whiter teeth in 14 days, and it truly does take at least one week to start seeing any difference. The major downside here is that the whitening doesn’t seem to last long — most reviewers say you have to use the strips regularly to maintain results. But that’s not surprising considering the formula is gentler, and considering these are about as cheap as you can get for an effective whitening kit, these are a great way to whiten before an event without breaking the bank. –Rachael Schultz, health and fitness updates editor

The best LED kit

smile direct club

If you don’t want to use strips and are determined to use an LED light, the SmileDirectClub Teeth Whitening Kit is the way to go.

Pros: Few reports of sensitivity issues, more precise application of whitening gel, reusable mouth guard

Cons: Expensive, dentists agree the LED light will not make a noticeable difference 

Pack count: 14-28 treatments

The idea of LED teeth whitening kits has mixed reviews: Brands claim the light helps make teeth whitening more effective than traditional whitening strips or trays, but there aren’t any studies to support this claim and many dentists feel like they don’t speed up the process. Patrick Campbell, DDS put it succinctly when speaking with Insider: “Frankly, these products are not worth the money.”

That being said, LED whitening kits are probably as effective as the other options so they’re not a waste of money if you can find a well-priced option. Also, they come with whitening pens that allow you a bit more control in terms of the application so you can avoid your gums and any increased sensitivity, and they usually require you to spend less time per day with the formula on your teeth.

If you want to try an LED whitening kit, SmileDirectClub’s Teeth Whitening Kit is one of the most convenient choices and about the same price as non-LED options.

The direct-to-consumer kit includes a LED mouthguard to act as a catalyst for the hydrogen peroxide whitening formula. It only requires 10 minutes a day of use and comes with nine whitening pens (enough for two full treatments). When I tested the device, I found the company’s estimates to be conservative — I got more than double the use out of the pens than expected, which is a great value for the money.

I loved that the LED device just plugs into your smartphone for power. 

SmileDirectClub’s Teeth Whitening Kit is $74 for the LED Light and an estimated 12-month supply of whitening pens, and $40 for the LED Light and 6-month pen supply. You can find them all here.

Read our full review on SmileDirectClub’s LED whitening kit.

The best natural kit

teeth whitening

The Miswak Club Natural Teeth Whitening Kit is your best alternative if you’re looking for a natural, chemical-free approach to whitening your teeth.

Pros: Inexpensive, easy to use, no added chemicals

Cons: Takes some getting used to, smells weird

Pack count: 40 treatments

Teeth-cleaning sticks known as Miswak have been used for thousands of years in what is now Pakistan, India, many African countries, and other parts of the world. And, a meta-analysis in the Journal of Ayurveda and Integrative Medicine found that the Miswak was just as effective for oral hygiene as the toothbrush and toothpaste used by Western cultures.

The Miswak Club Natural Teeth Whitening Kit features two Miswak root sticks with two carrying cases. Each stick will last for three weeks of daily use. Miswak comes from the Arak tree, and this product contains no pesticides or chemicals. Miswak Club offers a 120-day money-back guarantee if you do not have noticeably whiter teeth after using their kit.

It has a sweet musky smell (which some people like and others really don’t) and doesn’t make a mess. Some reviewers have noted that it may take a few weeks of daily use to notice effects and that the smell may be a bit off-putting.

The best for professional-level results

linhart

If you want the intenser results of whitening at a dentist’s office, but at home, the Linhart Teeth Whitening Collection uses a formula from cosmetic dentists in New York City.

Pros: Professional-grade results, easy to use

Cons: Expensive, LED has minimal proven advantage

“This whitening system was custom designed by high-end cosmetic dentists in New York City and utilizes the same whitening gel they use in their office on their patients,” Dr. Kunen, who has no affiliation with Linhart, explained.

The kit contains four syringes of 35% carbamide peroxide whitening gel, an LED whitening light to activate the gel, and a milder whitening gel to help maintain your results. It’s a bit pricier than other at-home kits but, as Kunen pointed out, “For those patients looking to replicate a chairside whitening experience, this is closest you will find!” –Rachael Schultz, health and fitness updates editor

What else we considered

What else we recommend

Glowup LED Kit ($35): This direct-to-consumer LED whitening start up will personalize the whitening formula to your level of tooth/gum sensivity and discoloration. The LED light is powered by your phone and requires 16 minutes of use. It only comes with three gel vials and the syringes aren’t the most intuitive to spread on your teeth, so SmileDirectClub is a better choice for most people. But if you have sensitive teeth and want lasting results, Glowup is a great option. (Read our full review here.)

Snow LED Kit ($149): This well-designed LED teeth whitening kit comes with 4 serum pens (no syringes) that are easy to apply precisely to your teeth. All four will last you 75 treatments. The mouthpiece is very comfortable to bite for the suggested 10 minutes and plugs into your phone for power. The kit is quite pricey, but I saw results after two uses, so the included treatments will allow a whole family to whiten regularly for basically all of time.

Opalescence PF 35% Whitening Gel ($45.49): This is a cheaper alternative to the Opalescence Go that Dr. Kunen and Dr. Hadaegh both recommend, delivering the same Carbamide Peroxide formula in a syringe. You’ll need to use your own mouth trays, but we can confirm it delivers whiter teeth after just a few 30-minute sessions.

Lumibrite 32% Whitening Gel($25): Dr. Hadaegh told Insider that Lumibrite causes little to no sensitivity, while also producing excellent whitening results due to its high concentration of Carbamide Peroxide. It does require custom bleaching trays.

Zoom NiteWhite 22% Whitening Gel ($30): NiteWhite is a clinical-grade tooth whitening gel of 22% Carbamide Peroxide. It’s medium strength, so it’s an excellent option for individuals who have some tooth sensitivity but want a whitening gel that’s not too strong or too weak, Hadaegh said.

HiSmile Whitening ($130): If whitening kits have left your teeth or gums sensitive in the past, Kunen suggested this brand which uses Pthalimidoperoxycaproic acid (PAP) as its principal whitening agent as opposed to the more traditional and harsher peroxides. It’s definitely more expensive than the other options, but it’s also super easy to use.

What we don’t recommend

GLO Teeth Whitening Kit ($150): Glo Science sells a similar device to SmileDirectClub; both use an LED mouthpiece to reportedly act as a catalyst for hydrogen peroxide. But SmileDirectClub is a better value at half the cost. We still recommend strips over gel and mouth trays over LED light options, though.

FAQs about whitening your teeth

What types of teeth whitening products exist?

There are essentially two types of kits: ones that bleach your teeth to take stains off and ones that physically scrape off the stains. Whitening trays and strips have been the standard for decades and generally rely on carbamide or hydrogen peroxide. Activated charcoal powders had a spike in popularity recently, but the dentists we interviewed would tell you to nix the powders. Ira Handschuh, DDS, cosmetic dentist at The Dental Design Center in White Plains, NY and Ania Mohelicki, DDS, a cosmetic dentist in Boulder, CO both told Business Insider that they don’t recommend these because they can be abrasive and only remove surface stains. 

There is a third type of teeth whitening product that simply blasts your teeth with LED light, which typically claims to speed up the process and achieve more intense results. However, most of the dentists we interviewed agreed that any gains from this treatment are short-lived or nonexistent. “Most studies show some difference detected by computers, but no visual difference detected by the human eye. For the studies conducted in actual patients (in vivo), most found no added benefit for light-activated systems,” Charles Sutera DDS, FAGD, a professional dentist at Aesthetic Smile Reconstruction in Waltham, MA told Insider.

Only the SmileDirectClub system in our guide uses this technology, but it is used in conjunction with a whitening gel and a mouthguard that may offer better control over your placement and avoid increased gum sensitivity in comparison to strips. 

Which teeth whitening products are most effective?

“Shopping for teeth whitening products is very simple.” Dr. Sutera explained. “There is only one active ingredient in all teeth whitening products: hydrogen peroxide. It’s the same agent whether it’s prescription use or over the counter. Any other ingredients in the product are inactive fillers needed to create the right consistency of the product.” If you see carbamide peroxide on your ingredient list, it’s just a derivative of hydrogen peroxide. 

“The key is to understand that whitening can be effective at any percentage, but what differs is the time of use. A high percentage of hydrogen peroxide typically is only kept on the teeth for 20 minutes maximum, while a lower percentage can be worn for 6 hours or overnight.” Dr. Sutera explains. “Much of the selection comes down to personal preference. If you have a tendency to develop tooth sensitivity or if you want to minimize the risks of irritating your gums, that’s when you’d select a lower concentration.”

A few warnings about teeth whitening kits

Peroxide is effective, but it comes with several warnings. Pregnant or nursing women may want to stop using peroxide-based whitening products. It also isn’t suitable for children under 14 years old. And, you should not use peroxide for longer than two weeks of daily use without the supervision of a dentist.

The FDA does not recommend using any whitening gels with a peroxide concentration of higher than 18%. Two of the kits we recommend use peroxide (Crest Whitestrips and SmileDirectClub) but they should be safe for most people.

Again, you should always consult with your dentist before starting a course of treatment. For instance, if your darkened teeth are due to the natural thinning of tooth enamel that comes with aging, whitening kits will not help you. Also, they cannot whiten fillings, dentures, veneers, crowns, or caps.

Most importantly, Dr. Mohelicki says the biggest concern is wearing whitening kits for the right amount of time. “Over-the-counter options are inexpensive when compared to in-office whitening, but they offer no gum protection. With no gum protection, users can experience increased sensitivity and even burns in severe cases.” 

How to use teeth whitening kits effectively

Before using a teeth whitening kit, brush your teeth so your whitening agent can make contact with the surface of your teeth to improve efficacy, and so it doesn’t accidentally create an uneven white. “Any buildup of plaque or food debris will not allow for the whitening agent to contact the tooth and therefore not allow the whitening agent to do its job,” Dr. Campbell explained. “You could end up with a speckled, uneven whitened appearance.” 

And, after you’ve whitened, try to avoid food and drinks that stain your teeth.”I recommend that my patients stick to a ‘colorless diet’ just after whitening,” Dr. Handschuh told Business Insider. “Meaning, avoid highly-staining food and drink such as coffee, red wine, tea, sauces, etc.” But, if you really want to, he recommends using a straw to bypass your teeth a bit. 

As Dr. Sutera explained, whitening your teeth and then having a glass of red wine is like “two people in a canoe paddling in different directions. The whitening products open the pores and clean them out. If you have coffee, tea, or red wine within 72 hours of whitening your teeth, your teeth are more likely to absorb dark stains and adversely impact your whitening results.”

Does teeth-whitening damage your enamel?

“Most studies show that whitening does not damage enamel,” Dr. Sutera said. Though, there has been recent research that shows teeth whitening can affect proteins deeper in the tooth, though researchers are not currently sure if the damage is temporary or permanent, according to Dr. Sutera.

How can you prevent tooth sensitivity?

“It is common for the majority of people to experience increased tooth sensitivity after having teeth whitening done.” Dr. Mohelicki says. “However, for those who already have sensitive teeth, I recommend starting out by trying a whitening toothpaste. This takes significantly longer than trying an over-the-counter product or having teeth bleached in-office, but it can be significantly less painful.”

For whitening toothpaste, Dr. Sutera recommends patients with sensitive teeth use a toothpaste with potassium nitrate and fluoride and also use a fluoride mouth rinse. According to Dr. Sutera, potassium nitrate is the primary ingredient that helps with sensitive teeth, and fluoride a secondary option that has also been shown to help.  

If you have sensitive teeth and want to use a teeth whitening agent, you may just want to avoid higher concentrations of hydrogen peroxide. “The suggestion I would make is to use a lower concentration of whitening agent to get their desired whitening outcome while minimizing the risk of tooth sensitivity.” Dr. Campbell said. “Although anecdotal, I’ve found that brushing with Sensodyne toothpaste before and after whitening has helped me avoid sensitivity.”  

Why do you feel increased sensitivity after you whiten?

The bleaching temporarily weakens your enamel so the bleach can pass through it and further lift those stains, explained Dr. Mohelicki. “When [our enamel] is weakened during the bleaching treatment, many patients find that it can be hard to consume hot beverages, ice-cold beverages, or even eat certain foods. This typically wears off within 72 hours of ending treatment.” 

Our experts

For this piece, we consulted a handful of different dentists for multiple perspectives:

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 7 best compression socks of 2021 for runners, seniors, and anyone looking to improve circulation

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Compression socks help speed muscle recovery and potentially improve athletic performance.
  • They also improve blood flow for venous or lymphatic issues for pregnant women or the elderly.
  • Our top pick, CEP’s Progressive+ Compression Socks, are incredibly comfortable and won’t sag throughout the day.

Compression socks are one of those garments that seem gimmicky but science actually backs up their biggest claimed benefit: Improving your circulation.

“Compression socks help the vascular system move blood and other fluids, which can help manage swelling and inflammation,” Jenelle Deatherage, a physical therapist at the UW Health Sports Rehabilitation Clinic, told Insider.

At their foundation, compression socks work by squeezing the walls of the veins and leg tissues to help blood work its way against gravity to the heart. The compression also improves the flow of lymph fluid, which helps remove cellular waste and circulates bacteria-fighting white blood cells throughout your body.

Deatherage added that several categories of people may benefit from wearing compression socks, including athletes who could look to enhance their workouts. This is especially true for runners.

“There’s not great research on performance, which is what a lot of patients look for, but the good news is that there is some research that shows [compression socks] might help with muscle fatigue and reduce soreness if you wear them during a workout,” she explained.

Because of those benefits, compression socks have become quite popular recently – and that popularity brought with it a surplus of options. To help narrow down what’s available, we tested dozens of styles across brands like Swiftwick, CEP, and Sockwell. Our guide features socks that provide great comfort, are relatively durable, and are fit to wear in a variety of situations.

At the end of this guide, we’ve also included some insight into who Detherage says may benefit most from compression socks, tips on how to shop for them, and the best methods for how to use and wear them.

Here are the best compression socks:

How we test compression socks

The compression socks featured in this guide each went through a series of on-foot tests to see how well they compared across these four categories: Fit, function, durability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into how we tested each pair of compression socks and how it influenced which made this guide:

Fit: A compression sock is far more able to perform its primary function if it fits the wearer properly, both in terms of the actual size as well as how well it stays fitted throughout the day. To test for this, we judged how true-to-size the socks were and also looked at if they avoided sagging when worn for anywhere multiple hours in a row to a full day. 

Function: Most compression socks feature a compression rating that indicates how tight (or loose) they are, and their function is tied entirely to these ratings. A wearer’s needs may fluctuate wildly (and are certainly different from person-to-person), so to test this, we looked at how many size options and ratings each brand offered and if they catered to a wide range of needs. 

Durability: Compression socks aren’t often cheap per single pair, so it’s important that they’ll last – and for multiple months, at that. This meant stress testing the socks in environments they wouldn’t typically be worn to see how well they held up. If some faltered by sagging easily or tearing, then we knew they’d likely break down far quicker in the long run than we’d like.

Value: Testing the value of a compression sock takes more than just looking at its sticker price. Rather, true value is a combination of the above three categories plus how much it costs. We often think it’s better to spend more on a quality product that lasts as opposed to spending less more often. 

The best compression socks overall

compression socks

Whether you are a runner or just someone who wants to relieve lower leg ailments, the CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 provides all-day comfort.

Pros: Incredibly comfortable, thinner, won’t sag over the course of the day

Cons: Expensive, sizing can be tricky so be sure to measure before ordering

The CEP Progressive+ Compression Run Socks 2.0 (available in men’s and women’s sizes) stand out from the other socks on our list due in large part to the fact they offer unparalleled comfort — and should be considered by anyone, despite a steep price tag. 

The brand’s parent company, Medi, has been producing medical compression products for over 70 years. The founder of CEP, who is an Ironman competitor, leveraged Medi’s technical knowledge and designs for athletes.

Made of polyamide and nylon (60%), elastane (25%), and polypropylene (15%), CEP’s socks offer precise 20-30mmHg graduated and consistent compression so they won’t sag as the day goes on.

The Progressive+ 2.0 Socks also feature a halo top band that lands right below the knee. This keeps your socks in place and the front ribbing allows air to flow through to cool your skin’s surface. Per CEP’s website, the company offers a six-month guarantee that covers wearing the socks up to 150 times before the compression lessens. 

These socks are recommended for anyone who suffers from shin splints, Achilles issues, or plantar fasciitis. They’re also great for runners looking to rehab their leg after a long run or workout. 

The best budget compression socks

compression socks

The SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are the least expensive pair in our guide, yet they stay up and provide reliable comfort.

Pros: Inexpensive, relatively durable, snug fit

Cons: Available in just two sizes

Though the SB Sox Lite Compression Socks are about one-fifth the price of our top pick, they rival it in performance. These socks have a graduated compression rating of 15-20mmHg, which is slightly less than the CEP socks but still supplies sufficient compression for blood circulation.

The socks are made of breathable and lightweight spandex and nylon, which helps to wick away sweat and moisture from your feet. SB Sox come in 11 different colors and two sizes: S/M and L/XL.

Though they seem thinner and lighter than other picks on this list, SB Sox socks hold up well through numerous wears and washes. Plus, they provide a snug fit that doesn’t feel too constricting. More sizing options would be welcome, though.

The best compression socks for circulation

sockwell

If you experience circulation problems due to chronic health issues, the Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks may be your best bet for achieving leg comfort.

Pros: Lightweight, maintain their snugness all day long

Cons: The top of the sock might warp over time, only comes in two sizes

For people with venous or lymphatic issues in their legs, compression therapy can help move blood through the veins and tissue better, which in turn promotes healing and prevents ulcers and other issues. Compression stockings are one of the easier options to put on and less cumbersome than medical bandages, says a 2014 study in CMAJ.

The Sockwell Elevation Graduated Compression Socks (available in men’s and women’s sizes) are made in the United States using bamboo rayon (31%), merino wool (31%), stretch nylon (30%), and spandex (8%). This combination helps with moisture management, thermoregulation, and odor control.

What’s more, these are one of the firmer pairs from Sockwell offering compression of 20-30mmHg. A 2019 study analysis in BMC Geriatrics found elderly folks with chronic blood flow issues (venous insufficiency) and swollen legs who wore class 2 compression stockings (pressure between 20 and 30 mmHg) regularly were less likely to have leg ulcers come back compared to wearing lower compression class 1 stockings (pressure below 20 mmHg).

These Sockwell socks have four zones of graduated compression beginning at the ankles and moving up. Since the compression starts at the ankles, the toes remain comfortable. There are four colors for men to choose from and eight in the women’s style.

The best compression socks for post-workout

compression socks 1

After running countless miles, slipping on a pair of Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks can decrease soreness and help your muscles recover.

Pros: Great for easing muscle soreness, cushioned bottom, durable, 4 sizes, 14 colors

Cons: Might not be tight enough for everyone’s needs, long drying time

The Zensah Tech+ Compression Socks come in four sizes, which is helpful for ensuring you get the right fit — the appropriate sock size gives you the appropriate level of pressure. Constructed of 82% polyamide and 18% elastane, these socks feature ultra-zone ribbing which targets ankle and arch stabilization, which is ideal for runners with weaknesses in these areas.

The 200 needle count construction is designed to make the socks denser, durable, and reduce stretching over time. They’re sweat-wicking, too, but don’t tend to dry out very quicky, so are best worn in cooler weather. Zensah offers the socks in 14 colors, including Black, Heather Grey, and Neon Pink. 

The best compression socks for runners

Aspire Socks

Swiftwick’s Aspire Twelve help relieve muscle soreness and prevent or relieve shin splints — something any runner can appreciate.

Pros: Offers comfortable compression for runners, promotes blood flow, helps relieve shin splints, and wicks away moisture

Cons: Can be difficult to put on

Swiftwick’s compression socks run the gamut of everything from knee-high versions for those looking for full leg relief to no-show options for golfers. For runners, its Aspire Twelve socks are an excellent option to help relieve muscle soreness, prevent or care for shin splints, and provide stability and comfort. 

Comprised of a blend of 43% nylon, 11% spandex, and 46% olefin, the Aspire Twelves don’t just offer the benefits of compression but also help wick away moisture to keep your feet dry. They work well to keep on even after your run as you’ll continue to reap the benefits of compression as you recover. 

The best compression socks for standing all-day

compression socks

If your job requires you to be on your feet for most of the day, give your lower legs a break with Sockwell’s Circulator Graduated Compression Socks.

Pros: Good for reducing foot and ankle swelling, incredibly comfortable, inexpensive

Cons: Concerns about durability, socks may only come up to mid-calf in taller people

The Sockwell Circulator Graduated Compression Socks have a lot of the same features as our pick for best circulation, the Sockwell Elevation socks. They both have four zones of graduated compression from the ankle on up, which keeps the toes feeling comfortable, and each is made of a combination of spandex, bamboo rayon, stretch nylon, and merino wool.

But the main differences are that the Circulator socks have moderate compression (15-20mmHg) and cost a bit less ($30 per pair).

The Circulator socks only come in two sizes. but there are nine colors to choose from, including Black Stripe, Charcoal, Black Solid, and Port. Regardless of the size, the socks aren’t very long, so they’re best used for people with shorter builds. 

The best patterned compression socks

Vim Vigr socks

Vim & Vigr combines form and function with its fashion-forward compression socks that you’ll just love to be seen in.

Pros: Stylish, comfortable, available for both men and women

Cons: Can get expensive

First and foremost, Vim & Vigr compression socks work. After all, no amount of aesthetic creativity would be able to make up for compression socks that don’t do much by way of compressing. Luckily, that’s not the case with these.

I’m particularly fond of Vim & Vigr’s medical-grade compression level, which are designed with a Gradient Knitting Technology to help promote circulation in your calves. The socks feature a structured leg but a flexible toe and heel so that you’re supported where you need it but still able to move. These socks offer moderate to firm compression, with somewhere between 20 and 30 mmHg depending on the style.

Regardless of your selection, however, you’ll find that Vim & Vigr helps to prevent swelling in your legs, and alleviates pain and achiness. I found that these socks were just as helpful during runs as they were during HIIT workouts — especially as the weather gets colder and circulation becomes increasingly important.

What sets Vim & Vigr apart are its fun, unique designs. Not only is there a wide range of colors to choose from but the brand also offers several interesting patterns. I’m a fan of the color block options, as well as a Rugby Stripe pattern for men.

Vim & Vigr offers wide calf versions of all their socks for both men and women, so you don’t have to be uncomfortable even when donning a tight pair of socks. If you don’t need medical-grade compression, you can always opt for the brand’s moisture-wicking nylon material, or the remarkably warm merino wool composition. You could also check out Vim & Vigr sleeves, which compress your calves without encasing your feet.

Who should wear compression socks?

Anyone can wear compression socks but they do figure to benefit some groups more than others. This predominantly includes athletes, pregnant women, and elderly people, though anyone who sits or stands for long periods of time at work should consider them as well.

Deatherage suggested that if you work out in the morning before sitting at a desk or standing all day, where your calves and ankles stay at the bottom of the gravity chain, it’s smart to wear compression socks post-workout. This helps with swelling and gets blood back to the heart.

Conversely, if you sit all day and prefer to work out at night, wearing compression socks while exercising after work may allow for less fatigue in the lower legs and can help enhance circulation.

Athletes

Concerning the exact impact of compression socks on athletes, Deatherage told Insider that their effectiveness is still somewhat undecided. There is some research that confirms that wearing compression garments helps improve running endurance or cycling sprints, while others say it doesn’t change a thing.

A recently-published analysis in the Open Access Journal of Sports Medicine looked at 21 studies and found that a small number do show that wearing compression socks during exercise improved performance. Mostly, though, the studies showed wearing the special socks during a grueling workout helped fit folks feel like their leg muscles were firing better, fatiguing less, and, after the workout, less sore.

Even if it’s just a placebo effect, those training hard, particularly for long endurance events like a marathon, wearing compression socks during workouts and after for recovery may help make training easier.

“When looking at the cost-benefit ratio and considering what research is out there, it’s not a bad idea,” Deatherage said. “And it’s an easy thing to do.”

Pregnant women

Besides runners, Deatherage says pregnant women may benefit from compression socks, as they’re more prone to swelling. Venous issues are also particularly high for pregnant women as they have a larger volume of blood pumping through their bodies. 

Some 40% of pregnant women develop varicose veins, while the risk for venous thromboembolism (VTE) is four- to five-fold higher for moms-to-be compared to non-pregnant women. Wearing compression socks or stockings during pregnancy can potentially help reduce swelling and discomfort, improve circulation, and minimize varicose veins.

Seniors

Elderly people with deep vein thrombosis, those who just had surgery on their legs, or anyone trying to minimize varicose veins or blood clot concerns, might also benefit from compression socks. The catch is here is that these more serious vascular issues, including varicose veins, would benefit more from medical grade compression socks, Deatherage added, which requires a doctor prescription and are often more expensive.

How to shop for compression socks

If you’re simply looking for workout recovery or want relief from more minor issues of swelling or soreness, say on long flights or during long work shifts on your feet (like nurses), you may see advantages from more moderate compression socks, Deatherage said. This includes socks with ratings of about 10-20mmHg, which stands for millimeters of mercury (a measurement of pressure).

When shopping around for compression socks, Deatherage said that besides a sock’s mmHg rating, the most important thing to look for is comfort, saying that “compression socks only work if you wear them.”

Look for a pair in which the material feels comfortable against your skin, and a set that feels snug but not too tight — you don’t want to restrict your movement. If you can find a pair that offers customization for your size, that’s even better.

Compression sock ratings

As noted above, the compression in the stockings is measured in mm Hg. Specifically, compression socks are rated based on blood pressure. The majority of compression socks either have a moderate pressure rating of 10 to 20 mmHg or a firm rating of 20 to 30 mmHg.

None of the socks we reviewed have a rating above 30 mm Hg, but there are specialty shops where you can find these if needed. Graduated compression socks, the most common type, are tighter near the ankle than at the calf to avoid cutting off circulation.

Fabrics used

Most compression socks are made from a blend of synthetic fabrics that provide a snug and stretchy fit. In the reviews that follow, we let you know what materials are used in the construction of the socks but unless you have an issue with a specific material, you should let performance be your main guide in choosing the best compression socks.

How best to use compression socks

There is a bit of a paradox associated with wearing compression socks. You may have purchased them to deal with leg swelling. Yet, this same swelling makes it hard for you to put them on. So, what can you do? There are countless resources on the web to help you out, plus we’ve compiled a few tips here, as well: 

  • Apply talcum powder or cornstarch to your feet before putting your socks on.
  • Wear dishwashing gloves to get a better grip.
  • Roll the socks before you put them on so you can just roll them up your legs.
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The 5 best electric toothbrushes for adults and kids, according to dentists

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Electric toothbrushes can make your dental hygiene routine easier and more thorough.
  • We spoke to 3 dentists and tested several electric toothbrushes for which are the best on the market.
  • Our top pick, Hum by Colgate, cleans teeth well, has three settings, and is rechargeable, all for just $70.

If you’re someone who takes your oral care seriously, it only makes sense that you would want the best possible tools. While there’s nothing wrong with manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes can help you clean your teeth more thoroughly and more easily. While the majority of the studies comparing the two device types are funded by personal care brands, a few unbiased scientific reviews and small studies do suggest that electric toothbrushes may be better at reducing plaque and preventing gingivitis, and possibly at reducing gum bleeding and inflammation.

Moreover, dentists love electric toothbrushes because the built-in timers encourage you to brush for a full two minutes – a big bump from the average brushing time of 45 seconds with a manual one, reports the American Dental Association.

“I would say that nearly 100% of people not already using one would benefit from an electric brush,” Courtney Hain, DDS, dentist and owner of Smile San Francisco told Insider. (Find out more about how if the upgrade from manual to electric is worth it in our FAQ section.)

Electric toothbrushes can also be a godsend for those with limited dexterity, but they make brushing easier for virtually everyone. Since electric toothbrushes cost more than manual ones, it’s important to pick one that’s worth your money. (Hain also points out its important to use the brush properly, especially if you have issues like gum recession. See more in our FAQ about who should and shouldn’t use an electric toothbrush.)

We spoke to three board-certified dentists about the advantages of electric toothbrushes, tips for shopping and use, and some of their favorite products available today.

Here are the best electric toothbrushes

The best electric toothbrush overall

Three Hum Electric Toothbrushes on a red background

The Hum by Colgate cleans thorough and offers advanced features and modern design for just $70, making it the best value.

Pros: Affordable, easy to use, great design, can subscribe to brush heads, smart app connectivity

Cons: Not as many fancy settings as high-end ones

The Hum by Colgate proves that not all worthwhile electric toothbrushes need to be expensive. Although it’s not as customizable and in-depth as other top-tier options on the market, the Hum electric toothbrush features more than enough pulse settings — normal, sensitive, and deep clean — and pairs with an app that helps monitor your progress and overall oral health. 

The Hum by Colgate toothbrush comes with a charging stand and a travel case for $70. You can also opt for the battery-powered model, which also comes with a travel case, for $50. The key difference between the two models is that the battery-powered version only has two pulse settings — normal and sensitive. But for most people, that’s more than enough, our dentists confirm.

For the low price of either, you still get an accompanying app, which is a helpful tool that gives you a visual of which areas you’ve sufficiently covered and which still need attention. You can track your progress while you brush, but your results are also recorded if you don’t have your phone nearby. The app is aesthetically pleasing and, if you like game-ifying everyday tasks, you’ll enjoy using it to collect points and rewards. 

If you’re curious about smart features, but not prepared to plunk down a few hundred bucks, Hum is an affordable choice. — Amir Ismael and Ariana DiValentino

The best budget electric toothbrush

Two hands, one holding the Quip Metal toothbrush and the other holding a phone with the Quip app open

The Quip is a sleek-looking toothbrush with a gentler brush great for beginners and those with sensitive teeth, or someone looking to try out an electric toothbrush for under $50.

Pros: Low price, great for travel, sleek design, replaceable head and battery, comfortable to use, ADA-accepted

Cons: Not the most powerful, no adjustable settings

If you’re looking to try out an electric toothbrush, but you’re not prepared to drop significant cash, the Quip is a stylish and affordable option. Its basic, plastic model goes for just $25, with metal and smartphone-integrated versions starting at a reasonable $45. 

The plastic version has a nicely contoured handle that’s easy to hold and slim enough to fit inside a travel Dopp kit. It takes a single AAA battery, so there’s no need to carry around a charging station. There’s only one mode, so it’s also a no-brainer to use. There are no rotating heads, but the sonic vibrations are more effective than brushing manually, and a 2-minute timer (four 30-second pulses) ensures you know to brush for the recommended time. The toothbrush is also accepted by the American Dental Association.

Brushing with the Quip is a gentler experience compared to most of the other options on this list, but that actually makes it great for beginners and those with sensitive gums: it’s simple to use and easier to prevent brushing too hard. 

Conversely, people experienced with electric toothbrushes might find the intensity a little lacking, and might miss having multiple settings to switch between.

Read more: Quip vs. Philips Sonicare ProtectiveClean 4100. Here’s how two popular electric toothbrushes compare.

Quip offers subscriptions for brush head replacements, so every three months a fresh one will arrive at your doorstep (along with a AAA battery) for just $5 each. You won’t have to mark your calendar to remember when it’s time to switch.

The best advanced/deep clean

The Sonicare Prestige 9900 on a marble bathroom counter leaning on it's carrying case

Dentists love Philips Sonicare and its new 9900 Prestige has every bell and whistle you could want in an electric toothbrush, including the ability to adjust its vibrations based on how hard you’re brushing.

Pros: Protective pressure and motion sensors, personalized guidance, dentist-recommended, autosyncs with Sonicare app

Cons: Expensive

The Sonicare 9900 Prestige was a close second for our top overall pick since it has everything and does it all exceptionally, but its higher price point drove it into a more niche, luxury category. That being said, if you’re the type of person who likes to spare no cost for a top-of-the-line product to score the best possible daily cleaning, the Sonicare 9900 Prestige is for you. 

All three dentists we spoke to are fans of the Sonicare line, citing the brand’s clinical research supporting its efficacy in removing plaque and preventing gingivitis as some of the strongest in the industry. The 9900 is the newest of Sonicare’s advanced electric toothbrushes, and it bears a careful blend of power, gentleness, style, and tech. Sold in sleek black, champagne, and pink, it won’t look too bad sitting on your bathroom counter, either.

During my testing, I found that the sonic vibrations feel like a little massage for your gums, and the brush head’s soft, long bristles are useful for getting into tight crevices without feeling stabby. The brush has three different power settings, which you can easily cycle through by pressing the three dots that indicate the level chosen. 

Aside from the top-notch cleaning, the Prestige has excellent AI features, including sensors to tell you you’re pressing too hard or moving too much, and the ability to actually alter the brush’s intensity to counteract the pressure you’re applying. I personally found it easy (and even pleasant!) to use, and I’m fairly new to using electric toothbrushes. 

Like most electric toothbrushes, it runs for two minutes with pulses at each 30-second interval to help you keep time. The app is straightforward and helpful, tracking your coverage, pressure, and motion and giving you suggestions to improve your technique. 

The package comes with only one new A3 brush head (which I really liked, due to its long, angled bristles that easily cleaned around my molars), and replacements are relatively steep at $30 for two. That said, the brush body is compatible with any of Philips Sonicare’s click-on brush heads, which do include some cheaper options.

The best smart brush

A hand holding the Oral-B iO Series 9 toothbrush

The Oral-B iO Series 9 is great for experienced electric toothbrush users who like tracking their dental health with data. 

Pros: App gives thorough feedback, small round brush head to give teeth individual attention, sensors let you know when you’re pressing too hard

Cons: Expensive, noisy, may be intense for some users

Oral-B electric toothbrushes, and the iO series in particular, are loved by dentists because they boast a strong clinical backing for effectiveness in removing plaque and preventing gingivitis and bear the ADA seal of acceptance. It’s another top-of-the-line product, comparable to the Sonicare Prestige in price and capabilities, but we found that the iO’s greatest strengths are in its smart features, which is why we awarded it best in this category. 

The app gives detailed information on coverage, with helpful and clear visual guides to show you where on your teeth you’ve brushed adequately and where missed spots. It also alerts you when you’re applying too much pressure and keeps track of how long you’re over-pressuring to help you learn and improve your practice. If your dentist has told you that your brushing habits need improvement — or if you’re just curious and abundantly careful when it comes to your health — this could help you turn it around. 

The app also allows you to input goals, like whitening, and then coaches on how to best attain that. It also makes the whole process fun by incentivizing you with collectible achievements and scored brushing sessions.

The brush itself has seven different settings, including specific ones for cleaning your tongue and gums. I personally found the experience to be a little intense (and loud), even on the sensitive setting, but more practiced users might enjoy the power and variety of settings. The brush head is small and round, like the kind used in dentist’s offices, so you can polish each individual tooth and navigate around the back teeth. It definitely takes some getting used to — even with the small brush head, I gagged myself a few times — but this thing is no joke, and that’s probably why it has such a devoted fanbase of dentists and customers alike.

The replacement brush head pricing is also comparable to the Prestige, at $30 for a pack of two. 

The best electric toothbrush for kids

A child's hand holding a yellow Quip Plastic Toothbrush on a yellow background

The Quip kids brush is an affordable and dentist-approved choice for little ones.

Pros: Low price, great for travel, replaceable head and battery, ADA-accepted

Cons: Only one setting, no fun gimmicks

Teaching kids proper oral health is important, and for some, the tech of the electric toothbrush’s apps will get them excited to brush. Also, since children haven’t fully developed their fine motor skills, electric brushes can help their lack of dexterity. 

The Quip kids brush is a nice upgrade from a standard manual toothbrush without excessive bells and whistles or an intimidating price tag. Like the adult model, the basic Quip kids plastic brush is only $25. If you want app integration so you can track your child’s brushing habits, the smart version is only $20 more. Some parents will find this useful for teaching kids healthy brushing habits, like making sure they brush for a full two minutes.

The Quip brush keeps it simple and isn’t too “little kid” for your Big Kid, but also has addition like music, bright designs, and game-like app integration useful for very young children. The brush handle is also made of a soft, grippable rubber, so it’s easier for little hands to hold and maneuver than the hard plastic body o fother brushes. And the gentle vibrations mean less toothpaste splatter. 

Lastly, if you also opt for an adult Quip yourself, the company’s replacement brush head subscription option is a time-saver for busy families.

Our testing methodology/How I tested

We deferred to our expert sources for recommendations on which specific models they like and would recommend to patients, and we considered which electric toothbrushes have earned the ADA seal of approval. We read customer and professional reviews, and we personally tried out several different electric toothbrushes to take note of ease of use, speed, noise, differences in bristles, and value for cost.

What to look for in electric toothbrushes

There are a few universal considerations for a good electric toothbrush: You want one that holds a charge for at least a few days and has changeable pressure so you can ramp up the power of your brushing as you get more used to the sensation. The four 30-second timers are one of the strongest benefits of an electric toothbrush, our dentists say, but nearly every model has that feature now. Always opt for brush heads with softer bristles — too-hard ones aren’t any more effective, and can ultimately cause more harm than good. If you have limited dexterity or there are areas of your mouth that you have trouble reaching, a small and/or flexible brush head is best for you. 

But the vast majority of what to look for in a good electric toothbrush comes down to personal preference. Do you want a brush that’s rechargeable or uses a replaceable battery? What’s the price point you’re comfortable with (be sure you’re also taking into consideration how much replacement heads are)? Lastly, do you want smart features that give you feedback on how much pressure you’re applying and which spots you tend to miss? In reality, most of our dental experts said the smart features don’t do much to improve the quality of clean, but if you’d benefit from seeing a digital map of your mouth and confirmation you didn’t miss any areas, smart features may be a good choice for you.

As for how to know if an electric toothbrush is safe and effective, that’s a little harder. We usually turn to the American Dental Association (ADA), who evaluates dental care products and, if the professional organization determines that there’s sufficient evidence supporting a product’s claims and benefits, grants a Seal of Acceptance. It’s great to use a brush that has the approval of an independent committee of dentists like the ADA, but the review process is optional and somewhat costly, so it doesn’t need to be your end-all, be-all when shopping. Paul Springs, DMD, a prosthodontist with Dr. Mondshine and Associates in Queens, NY told Insider that the ADA seal is less important for electric toothbrushes than some other product categories, like toothpaste, because it’s much less likely to cause harm than a poorly formulated toothpaste. A brush that doesn’t have the ADA seal may very well still be a great product.

What else we considered

We researched and tested several electric toothbrushes on the market. These didn’t make our top picks because other products beat them in terms of value for cost, professional recommendations, and user experience – but they still have their strengths and have the potential to be someone’s favorite:

  • Smile Direct Club electric toothbrush ($19): This was the lowest-priced brush we came across, from the brand already well-loved for its invisible aligner program. The Quip had stronger credentials (ADA acceptance and customer reviews), which is why it earned the best budget brush spot over this one. But we still found it to be a solid battery-powered brush with the right amount of intensity and comfortably soft bristles. 
  • Philips One ($25 for battery version, $40 for rechargeable): You don’t need to spend hundreds of dollars to try out the brand dentists love to recommend. The Philips One is a great budget option that comes in stylish colors, and AAA-battery-operated as well as rechargeable models. The brush heads are well-priced, too, at $10 for two. 
  • AquaSonic Vibe ($37): The Vibe model is an all-around solid choice for a rechargeable electric toothbrush that doesn’t include smart features, and it’s sold in pretty shades like rose gold and metallic grey. The Vibe also boasts ADA acceptance, signifying its proven benefits in plaque removal and gingivitis prevention. It was originally priced at $140, but at its current markdown, it’s a good deal. We also love that it comes with eight brush heads – way more than any other product we found – and refills are affordable, too, going for $19 for eight. 
  • BURST Sonic Toothbrush ($100): The hum offers more features for less money, the BURST is a sleek and respectable product, with its diamond-faceted handle and three intensity settings. Brush heads go for $8 each. 
  • BURSTkids Sonic Toothbrush ($70): Like the adult BURST brush, we wish this one offered smartphone integration for the price it’s going for. Still, the silicone handle and two different settings (standard and sensitive) make it an appealing choice. 
  • Brusheez ($20): If the Quip kids brush isn’t exciting enough to get your little one motivated to brush their teeth, Brusheez are another affordable choice for children. They come in 9 different animal character styles, like Luna the Llama and Shadow the Shark. Instead of shutting off or pulsing after two minutes, it comes with a sand timer – lower tech, but the visual cue may work better for some kids. 
  • The CO. Worker ($99): Colgate’s new CO. line looks and feels like a cosmetics brand (hence why they’re selling at Ulta stores), and the CO. Worker electric toothbrush is pretty, with its white and gold body, pink bristles, and pastel ombre carrying case. It has some advanced features, like pressure sensors, but ultimately we felt other products offered comparable benefits at better prices. If aesthetics are a high priority, it’s a fine pick. 
  • Spotlight Sonic Toothbrush ($150): With three settings and no app integration, we felt that this brush offered less than some others, like the hum, for more money. But the small, almond-shaped brush head is great for maneuvering into tight spaces (which is no surprise, given it was designed by dentists) and the brush bodies come in nice colors. 
  • Soothsonic by Tend ($100): The Soothsonic, like the Spotlight and CO. Worker, is a little expensive for a brush that doesn’t include smart features. But we do like the small, teardrop-shaped brush head with soft bristles, and the mint green travel case it comes with is super cute.

FAQs

Who should use an electric toothbrush?

According to the dentists we spoke to, virtually everyone would benefit from upgrading to an electric toothbrush. Electric toothbrushes are especially useful for people with limited dexterity or mobility issues, but for most, their primary benefit is a psychological one. 

“Just the fact of their additional cost can be a motivating factor for some people to use the brush to its full effect,” Dr. Paul Springs said. Similarly, they almost always have 2- to 3-minute timers, which encourages most people to brush for a lot longer (and, therefore, more thoroughly) than a manual brush.


Is there anyone who shouldn’t use an electric toothbrush?

If you’re someone who already tends to brush too hard, electric brushes may worsen the problem, causing damage to gums and teeth. The good news is that many brushes on the market today have sensors to alert you if you’re pressing too hard, so you can adjust your technique. Ultimately, if you have concerns about gum recession or tooth structure, talk it over with your regular dentist. They can give you personalized advice.


Are electric toothbrushes really better than manual toothbrushes?

Well…it depends on you. There is some clinical evidence that supports electric toothbrushes being more effective at removing plaque from molars and premolars, but the dentists we consulted with said that it’s perfectly possible to clean your teeth thoroughly and effectively with a manual toothbrush. 

“Contrary to popular belief, a manual toothbrush can do just as excellent a job as an electric, assuming the user has the appropriate manual dexterity and motivation,” Dr. Springs told Insider.

An electric toothbrush just makes your job a little easier, plus they generally have a timer to let you know when you’ve brushed for the recommended full two minutes. Again, the benefits are mostly psychological, so go with whatever is going to help you brush regularly and for an appropriate length of time.

Lastly, electric toothbrushes are more landfill-friendly, since you’re only tossing out the small plastic head rather than and entire plastic manual toothbrush.


Can I brush my teeth for less time if I’m using an electric toothbrush?

Nope, sorry. In fact, what dentists often like most about electric toothbrushes is that they include a timer to guide you towards brushing for two minutes, which is the ideal time to use any toothbrush, manual or electric. But it might be an easier two minutes, especially if you’re someone with limited dexterity.

Expert sources

Dr. Ben El Chami, DMD is a dentist and the co-founder and chief dental officer of dntlbar, a family of Manhattan dental practices. 

Dr. Courtney Hain, DDS is a dentist who owns and operates her own practice, Smile San Francisco.

Dr. Paul Springs, DMD, is a prosthodontist who practices with Dr. Mondshine and Associates, a dental practice in Forest Hills, Queens, NY.

The best deals on electric toothbrushes from this guide

Electric toothbrushes are one of those things that you don’t want to spend a whole lot of money on. Of course, biting the bullet on a good toothbrush can save you in the long run, and a nice discount can make that easier. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and Amazon Prime Day are when we see all time lows, but you can still find $10 to $15 discounts throughout the year.

Below, find the best deals to help you enjoy brushing your teeth a little more. 

Shop the same prices from other retailers: 

Read more about how the Insider Reviews team evaluates deals and why you should trust us.

Check out our other oral care guides

woman brushing teeth
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The best rowing machines of 2021 for your home gym

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • At-home rowing machines deliver high-cardio, low-impact workouts that strengthen muscles and burn calories.
  • Rowers come in four resistance varieties: Water, air, magnetic, and hydraulic, each with their own benefits.
  • Our top pick, Concept2’s Model D, is durably built, is comfortable to use, and has smooth-running air resistance.

There are few machines capable of delivering the same kind of calorie-burning, full-body workout as an at-home rower. In the span of just 30 minutes, you’re able to enjoy a low-impact, high-cardio exercise that’s fit for people of any age or fitness level. As long as you know how to properly row, this versatile workout not only serves as a quality complement to a pre-existing routine but it can also stand on its own as a prime source of weekly exercise.

It’s because of that effectiveness, and the fact many people prefer working out at home, that rowing machines are more popular now than ever – and are increasingly becoming staples in people’s home gyms. If you don’t like running on a treadmill or aren’t particularly fond of stationary bikes, a rower is the next best thing – and to some, it’s regarded as an even better form of exercise.

I tend to agree. There’s just something wholly different about finishing up a grueling 45-minute rowing workout that feels far more taxing and exhausting than a run on a treadmill or a streamed Peloton class. Those two do deliver tiring workouts, no doubt, but I walk away from a row routine truly noticing its full-body results.

But while all rowers deliver similar cardio benefits, not all are designed the same. In addition to a range of resistance types and rower sizes, there are models that are easily stowable, as well as a new crop of smart rowers touchscreens and access to on-demand, streamable classes. In other words, there’s plenty of variety.

To find the best currently available, I tested a number of machines that span every use case, resistance type, and price point. My goal was to find rowers that delivered a serious cardio workout while proving to be a valuable addition to a home gym setup – and I came away with a strong list of favorites.

At the end of this guide, I’ve also included some tips on how to shop for a rower, answers to a series of FAQs, and a rundown of the testing methodology I used in deciding which rowers made the cut.

Here are the best rowing machines:

Our testing methodology

Ergatta rowing machine

Each rower featured in this guide went through a testing process to gauge how well it performed across these four categories: Ease of use, experience, reliability, and value. Here’s how each category specifically factored into which rowers ultimately made this guide.

Ease of use: Row machines have a naturally low learning curve — the general idea is to just sit down and row. But we know there’s more to it than that. Ease of use also refers to the process of setting up the machine set up in your home, how easy it is to get started, whether there’s a companion app, and if that learning curve (however steep) dramatically impacts the following category: your experience.

Experience: Working out for fun may seem like an oxymoron but it is important to at least somewhat enjoy the sweat your breaking. Since a row machine delivers a full-body workout, you want one that won’t feel like some sort of grueling game of tug of war. Ideally, a proper row machine offers smooth operation, an engaging platform (whether that means it offers digital feedback or is just fluid to use), and is comfortable to use. 

Reliability: If the rowing machine you invest in doesn’t last longer than a few months, you’ll likely be cursing whatever inclination you had to want to buy it. Put plainly, at-home workout machines aren’t cheap and the one you ultimately end up spending a large chunk of money on should work and work often. 

Value: Value is a mixture of the categories that came before it, as well as some attention to its actual sticker price — but this doesn’t mean that more expensive models should be ignored. It’s better to spend more money once on a machine that’s reliable, easy to use, and delivers a fun workout than to struggle with a different cumbersome budget model every few months. 

The best row machine overall

Concept2 Model Indoor Rowing Machine

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine brings the gym to your home with its sturdy build, smooth gliding action, comfortable design, and superb quality.

Pros: Smooth gliding operation, ease of assembly, large size to accommodate tall people

Cons: Pricey and requires a bit of space (9 feet by 4 feet) but worth it

The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine features solid aluminum front legs, steel rear legs, a flywheel with air resistance, and a maximum user weight capacity of 500 pounds, making it our top pick. 

Essential for executing powerful and uninterrupted strokes, the Model D ‘s flywheel has a damper for adjusting its air resistance, granting you complete control of the resistance yourself. The harder and faster you row, the more wind the flywheel generates and the more drag you’ll feel.

With an air resistance rowing machine, you’d expect a bit of noise, however, the Model D runs fairly quiet. Although not completely silent, it’s quiet enough for rowers to listen to music or watch television at a normal volume during workouts.

The easy-to-read performance monitor (PM5) tracks stroke rate, calories expended, distance, pace, and watts. It has several built-in programmable workouts and games to motivate you during a workout. The rower’ also quick and easy to assemble and disassemble, and can be taken apart and rolled for storage.

Although the Model D isn’t inexpensive, it’s a worthwhile investment in your health and comes with limited five- and two-year warranties. — Helen Mao

The best budget rowing machine

Stamina Body Trac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine

At a very reasonable price, the Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine offers a versatile workout with its independently moving arms and smooth hydraulic resistance for continuous rowing action.

Pros: Low price, independent arms for a full range of movement, and ease of assembly and folding

Cons: Resistance declines as piston heats up during long rowing sessions; short warranty (90 days for parts/one year for frame) 

The Stamina BodyTrac Glider 1050 Rowing Machine is small but mighty — and an excellent value at $120. Although it’s compact and quiet, this hydraulic resistance rowing machine provides a big workout with a smooth-gliding padded seat and separate arms for a full-body workout.

What makes the BodyTrac Glider so special is its versatility in arm movements. Unlike many models where you pull a single handle attached to a chain or cord, this erg has two arms that allow for a full range of motion and mimic real boat-rowing movements.

This means you can row forward or backward, move your arms in circular directions, pull the handles close together for a conventional stroke, or hold the grips apart to exercise different arm, shoulder, and upper back muscles. Because the arms operate independently of each other, you’re able to focus a workout on each arm individually. 

Sturdy with a steel frame and aluminum center beam, the BodyTrac Glider supports up to 250 pounds. It assembles easily and folds up for storage, as well. The single hydraulic piston/cylinder is located under the unit for convenient adjustment with a manual control dial.

The machine is able to maintain a variety of consistent levels of resistance for roughly 30 minutes of hard rowing. As with most hydraulic rowers, fluid in the hydraulic piston heats up, which decreases resistance. When this happens, you’ll need to pause and increase the resistance setting. Always make sure you turn the control dial itself and not the heated piston/cylinder. Another downside to hydraulic resistance models is the chance of the piston leaking oil.

The BodyTrac Glider also has a simple and easy-to-use monitor, which features more functions than you’d expect on a machine this affordable. — Helen Mao

The best interactive rowing machine

Ergatta Digital Rower

The Ergatta Connected Rower combines the rush of video game racing with the fitness benefits of a full-body exercise to deliver one of the most interactive rowing machines available. 

Pros: Motivating video game-inspired workout platform, beautiful design, features a folding design for easy stowing

Cons: Expensive 

Like similar smart fitness equipment from brands such as Peloton or NordicTrack, the Ergatta Connected Rower utilizes a giant on-board screen to display its on-demand workouts and exercises. But unlike its aforementioned peers, the workouts aren’t led by an instructor belting out the next movement or exercise but are instead comprised of a series of video game-inspired routines that prove just as motivating as those high-energy classes.

What this means is that the Connected Rower pits you against the machine for its goal-based plans and interval workouts, while also allowing you to compete against other Ergatta users in simulated races. Regardless of the event, the software delivers an addictive experience that drives you to want to continuously do better. Fitness trackers found a way to gamify daily fitness and the Connected Rower follows the same path. 

The physical rower is an aesthetic wonder, too. Made of Cherry wood and featuring a traditional water rowing mechanism, Ergatta clearly intended for the rower to be more than just a means for getting fit — it wanted the rower to also pleasing both in terms of look and feel. The water rowers soothing swoosh of water adds to an already enjoyable experience, as well.

Perhaps its one downside is the fact the rower’s not cheap. But since few interactive workout machines like are, this isn’t entirely surprising. After an initial $2,199 price tag for the machine (and a $199 shipping cost), there’s a recurring $27 fee for access to the library of on-demand classes (which is also par for the smart workout machine course). 

In all, the Ergatta Connected Rower delivers a full-body workout disguised as an interactive gaming experience — and it’s one of the most enjoyable we’ve tested.

Check out our review of the Ergatta Connected Rower here

The best smart rowing machine

Hydrow

The Hydrow Rowing Machine aims to be the Peloton of at-home rowers with an immersive content experience that delivers a complete, full-body workout.

Pros: Extensive library of motivating classes and rowing events, delivers a full-body workout, features quiet, electromagnetic resistance

Cons: Expensive

Connected fitness equipment continues to grow in popularity — and for good reason. Not only does it provide an interactive method for keeping fit but the classes and streamed content itself serve as powerful motivation to push on. In the rowing space, one of the best to deliver the kind of connected content fans of NordicTrack and Peloton have come to love is Hydrow and its aptly named rower, the Hydrow Rowing Machine

Built with an aluminum and steel frame on a flat, anthracite polymer body, the Hydrow is a durable and sturdy rower. Attached to the front of the machine is an HD touchscreen where you’re able to access its library of interactive workouts. These workouts include everything from on-demand routines, open swim-style free rows, whole body-specific workouts, and live classes.

The machine also comes with the ability to read your heart rate via an included monitor and features a whisper-quiet electromagnetic resistance. Hydrow does well to not only provide classes that highly motivate you to finish a row but it also creates a competitive environment where you can see how you rank with other global users or anyone else using your machine. 

With a sticker price of $2,245 and a recurring monthly fee of $38 for access to the classes, it’s certainly not cheap — but few connected fitness machines of this caliber ever are. It’s worth the investment.

Read our full review of the Hydrow Rowing Machine

The best digital-resistance rowing machine

Screen Shot 2020 07 09 at 4.16.00 PM

NordicTrack’s RW900 combines the stimulation of instructor-led courses with the versatility of both air and digital resistance to offer one of the best at-home rowing experiences. 

Pros: Interactive workouts, easily folds up, utilizes a dual resistance design

Cons: Expensive, iFit membership costs $39 per month (after the first free year)

Though NordicTrack may be more well known for its stationary bikes and treadmills, the company’s offered high-quality row machines for quite some time — and its RW900 is the brand’s crown jewel. Featuring a 22-inch HD touchscreen display, a library of interactive workout classes led by real trainers, and a fold-up design, this rower is worth every bit of its $1,699 price tag.

What makes the rower particularly impressive is its dual resistance. So, while rowing away during a class, an instructor has the ability to digitally adjust the resistance based on how they want you to row. But if it’s either too much or you want to kick your workout up a few notches, there’s the ability to manually adjust the air resistance. An easy-to-use air control is located on the wheel which allows for quick adjustments, even between strokes. 

Like any workout machine with a massive touchscreen attached to it, the RW900 shines with what it offers in terms of workouts via its iFit interactive platform. Be it in studio routines from its roster of iFit trainers or more calming sessions in real locations around the world, the options are incredibly versatile. There are even yoga and cross-training courses to mix things up a bit.

The rower also offers stat tracking which tells you how long you row each week along with calories burned and row wattage and allows for up to four different users on the same iFit profile. All new purchases also come with a free year of iFit (which is typically $468 per year or $39 per month), so you won’t have to worry about a monthly recurring charge for access to the library of content for at least the first year.

The best water resistance rowing machine

Man rowing on a WaterRower at-home row machine

The elegant WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine uses water resistance to make you feel like you’re truly sculling on the open water.

Pros: Gorgeous appearance, meditative whooshing sounds, and simulation of open-water rowing sensations 

Cons: Expensive, included monitor is fine but limited

If the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine looks familiar, that’s because it’s the base unit used by Ergatta for its Connected Rower (our pick above for the best interactive row machine).

For an indoor rowing machine, the WaterRower Natural Rowing Machine comes closest to recreating the sensation of actual outdoor rowing as it features a flywheel that pushes through water in a heavy-duty tank. It even delivers soft and soothing swooshing sounds of water while rowing, too. 

In addition to controlling resistance through your strokes — the harder and faster you row, the greater drag the flywheel encounters — you can increase resistance by adding water to the tank. In essence, the more water there is, the heavier the drag on the flywheel, and the harder your workout.

Maintenance of the machine is easy, too. Just fill the tank using the included siphon pump and drop in a chlorine tablet every six months. There’s no need to empty the tank, even before storing it. Although the machine doesn’t fold up, it’s easy to store upright and the weight of the water stabilizes the erg in an upright position.

You can assemble the frame without any tools, and the instructions come on an included DVD. Because wood expands and contracts due to environmental conditions, you may need to tighten the bolts every once in a while.

With a comfortable, stable seat that rolls smoothly along dual rails, you’ll experience an excellent workout where you can keep track of distance, time, and calories burned as displayed on the S4 monitor. The rower comes with a three-year warranty on its parts, as well as a five-year warranty on the frame.

The best rowing machine for beginners

Sunny Health Fitness SF RW5515

Quiet, smooth, and stable, the Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine provides varying magnetic resistance levels for a wide range of workouts. 

Pros: Economical with eight levels of resistance, easy to fold and store

Cons: Only okay cord quality, rail might be too short for tall people

The reasonably priced Sunny Health & Fitness Magnetic Rowing Machine offers quite a few convenient features: a comfortable, cushioned seat; anti-grip handles; an LCD monitor that tracks stroke counts, time, and calories burned; and eight levels of knob-adjusted magnetic resistance for various intensities.

Level two is good for warming up before progressing to levels three and four for a more vigorous workout. Levels five and higher are more intense, perfect for long cardio-building rowing sessions. Level seven is for endurance and all-out sprints while level eight offers the greatest resistance (and hardest workout).

Able to support up to 250 pounds, the Sunny’s Magnetic Rowing Machine has a 48-inch-long rail in which the padded seat rolls smoothly and quietly. The rower is able to easily fold up for convenient storage and even has built-in wheels. It’s easy to assemble and relatively compact, taking up minimal space when folded up and very little square footage when open. — Helen Mao

FAQs

Is rowing better than running? 

According to a study done by Dr. Cameron Nichol, who is a former Olympic rower, rowing activates more muscle groups than just running. In addition to activating roughly 85% of your body’s muscles and upwards of nine different muscle groups, rowing also helps strengthen your back, tone your arms, and benefit both your upper and lower body.

Ramon Castillon, president of the boutique studio, Row House, told Insider that “rowing is the perfect answer to [finding the most effective workout] because it’s extremely accessible” to both beginners and advanced rowers. 


Can you row every day?

In short, yes. But like any workout routine, it’s important to not overdo it or consistently push yourself over your limit. Personal trainer, Irving “Zeus” Hyppolite, told Insider that people tend to try to do too much and that there’s an actual limit on how much your body can handle.

Hyppolite says three to five days a week of exercising from 45 minutes to an hour (including warm-up and cooldown) is a good standard. Once you start doing more than that, you’ll be expending the same amount of energy for more minimal benefits, he added. 

Personal trainer, Bryan Goldberg, previously shared with Insider that too much exercise can impede any progress you’re making, despite how beneficial it may seem in the short term. 

Though both Hyppolite and Goldberg referenced exercise in general, this can be used as a rule of thumb for rowing. As long as you’re not rowing to utter exhaustion every day of the week, it’s fine to jump on daily. However, it’s likely more useful to give yourself some days off to rest.


Can you lose weight by using a rowing machine?

Consistent exercise is just one component of being able to manage your weight, so it’s irresponsible to say that a rower can be singularly able to help you lose weight. Caley Crawford, NASM CPT, and Director of Education for Row House, told Insider that “it’s crucial that you partner a strong and healthy diet with your exercise routine.” 

Crawford added that full-body strengthening (like that which rowers can offer) does have its benefits in regards to fat loss. But keep in mind, that it’s not the only thing you should focus on. Weight training, proper rest, and a well-rounded diet are vital, as well. 

How to shop for a rowing machine

With so many different kinds of rowers, it’s important to examine each model to choose one that best fits your needs and keeps you motivated and injury-free. You’ll want to consider features like:

Resistance: Different types of resistance include magnetic (electromagnets slow the erg’s metal flywheel), air (wind from the spinning flywheel creates drag), hydraulic (resistance is created by hydraulic fluid in a piston or two connected to the erg’s handles), and water (the flywheel pushes against water in a tank).

Size: The machine should be large enough for you to straighten your legs and maintain proper rowing form, yet small enough to fit into your workout space.

Maximum user weight capacity: Models vary in how much they support but many accommodate 220 to 265 pounds or more.

Foldability: Some machines (usually magnetic and hydraulic resistance) fold up for easy storage, while others (often air and water resistance) don’t. 

Monitor: A monitor or computer tracks information like distance, duration, speed, and/or calories burned while rowing.

Seat: It should be contoured and large enough to keep your backside comfortable while allowing you to maintain proper form.

How to row with good form

To get the most out of your workouts and avoid injury, remember that proper rowing form consists of an initial drive phase followed by a recovery phase. Here’s how to execute it: 

  • For the drive, start first with your legs and once those are extended and your back is vertical, use your arms to pull the handle into your body. Your finished position should be your legs fully extended, the rower’s handle pulled into your body with your wrists in line with your forearms. From here, you’ll move onto recovery.
  • The first step of recovery is to straighten your arms and pivot your body from your hips, making sure to avoid hunching forward or bending backward. This fluid motion will then have your legs flexing in until your shins are completely vertical.

Finally, don’t think of this exercise as a race. Focus on perfecting your form, not on how fast you can row.

Check out more Insider Reviews fitness guides

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Read the original article on Business Insider

The 6 best disinfecting cleaners and wipes in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • There isn’t one product that will disinfect your entire home; you need multiple cleaners.
  • We researched EPA-approved cleaners and spoke to an expert for recommendations and tips.

To help combat the spread of measles, the flu, colds, and other viruses and bacteria, you should always keep a quality disinfectant on hand.

“A disinfectant is a product that can kill the germs that cause sickness or illness,” said Brian Sansoni, SVP of Communication at the American Cleaning Institute. “Disinfectants contain antimicrobial ingredients that kill germs if surfaces are free from heavy soil, and disinfectant or antibacterial cleaners [also] contain ingredients for removing soil.”

There’s an endless selection of sprays, wipes, and other cleaning solutions on the market, so you want to look for the US Environmental Protection Agency registration number that ensures the product has met requirements for killing germs on hard, nonporous surfaces. All of the products in this guide are EPA approved.

Aside from checking EPA labels, the CDC recommends disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily, particularly countertops, desks, doorknobs, faucets, handles, keyboards, light switches, phones, sinks, tables, and toilets. Make sure to clean dirty surfaces with soap and water prior to disinfection.

See our disinfecting cleaner recommendations below, and for more detail on disinfecting products and household cleaning, check out our in-depth FAQ.

Here are the best disinfecting cleaners in 2021

Best disinfecting cleaner for hard surfaces

Purell Surface cleaner

With Purell Professional Surface Disinfectant Spray, you can kill foodborne-illness-causing bacteria with one swipe and no rinsing.

Pros: No rinsing needed, safe to use around food, kills 99.9% of bacteria, no harsh chemicals, fresh citrus scent, helps to reduce the risk of cross-contamination

Cons: Not readily available in many mass-market stores

Disinfectant sprays are especially helpful in the kitchen, where food-dwelling bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli can spread. While all EPA-registered disinfectants will kill those bacteria if used properly, they require an extra step of rinsing after spraying when used around food preparation areas. Purell Professional Surface Disinfectant Spray, however, eliminates the need to rinse and is safe to touch nearly instantly. That being said, we should mention that rinsing any surface after applying disinfectant is currently recommended in the most recent CDC guidelines for protecting yourself against COVID-19. 

Though it won’t completely deep-clean your kitchen, this product can be used on sealed granite, glass, laminate, stainless steel, or plastic surfaces. It only takes 30 seconds to kill over 40 organisms, including the coronavirus that causes COVID-19, norovirus, MRSA, and strep.

Best disinfecting cleaner for laundry

Lysol Laundry Sanitizer

If you’re looking for a product that’s bleach-free and will sanitize your laundry without damaging your clothes, Lysol Laundry Sanitizer Additive is your best bet.

Pros: Kills 99.9% of bacteria on fabric, can be used in any water temperature, can be used with any detergent, safe with any washable fabric, bleach-free

Cons: Those with sensitive skin may react to dyes or scents

According to the American Cleaning Institute’s new laundry guidelines, sanitizing laundry is important if someone in your home is ill or has a compromised immune system.

While chlorine bleach is effective at killing bacteria, it damages colorful clothes and synthetic fabrics. Lysol Laundry Sanitizer Additive contains a phenolic disinfectant that’s safe to use at any water temperature, in both standard and high-efficiency machines, with any detergent, and on any washable fabric. Its crisp linen fragrance is an added bonus.

For the best results, the product and water must be in contact with the fabric for 16 minutes.

Best disinfecting cleaner for non-washable goods

Lysol disinfectant spray

Available in a dozen scents, Lysol Disinfectant Spray kills 99.9% of bacteria on fabrics and hard surfaces.

Pros: Kills 99.9% of bacteria, available in many fragrances

Cons: Surfaces used for food preparation and children’s toys must be rinsed with water before use

Lysol Disinfecting Spray isn’t just an air freshener: It’s a powerful disinfectant that kills bacteria but is safe to use on hard, non-porous surfaces; soft surfaces; and fabrics. For best results, pre-clean your surface, hold the can six to eight inches away, and spray for three to four seconds. Lysol will typically take three minutes to disinfect, but to eradicate traces of the Norovirus, it’s best to leave it on for 10.

If crisp linen is not your thing, there are many other scents to choose from, including lavender and waterfall. You can also use the spray to deodorize items like gym bags, shoes, and carpets.

Best disinfecting wipes

Clorox Wipes

Clorox’s Disinfecting Wipes not only kill almost 100% of germs, they also absorb greasy messes and help erase embedded stains.

Pros: Kills 99.9% of bacteria in 10 seconds; deodorizes; breaks down grease, soap scum, and grime

Cons: Not available in an unscented formula, must rinse down surfaces when used in food preparation areas, wipes dry out if you use them too long

Disinfecting wipes offer a simple, mess-free way to clean surfaces without the use of liquid disinfectants and cleaning tools.

While all Clorox wipes contain ingredients that kill 99.9% of viruses and bacteria on hard nonporous surfaces like acrylic, glass, and vinyl, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes also absorb greasy messes and gently scrub away dried-on stains, soap scum, and grime.

We should mention that the wipes do tend to dry out after a few minutes. If you’re cleaning a bathroom, you’ll typically use one wipe for the sink area, another one for the toilet, and a third (or third and fourth) for the shower. After wiping an area down, allow it to air dry to thoroughly disinfect against viruses and bacteria. It takes about 10 seconds to eliminate cold and flu viruses, E. coli, Salmonella, strep, MRSA, and the organism that can cause whooping cough.

Best disinfecting cleaner for toilet bowls

Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with bleach

Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach allows you to clean and disinfect your bowl in a single step.

Pros: Removes toilet bowl stains, kills 99.9% of bacteria, angled nozzle for reaching under the bowl rim, fresh scent

Cons: Not safe to use near children or pets

Cleaning your toilet bowl is essential for proper hygiene and, while many cleaners effectively remove watermarks and stains, they may not properly disinfect. Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner with Bleach disinfects, deodorizes with its fresh scent, and kills 99.9% of toilet bowl germs.

The disinfectant’s powerful clinging gel will eradicate tough stains and the angled nozzle is perfect for giving your bowl a deep clean. It’s non-abrasive and septic-safe, though children and pets shouldn’t be near your toilet bowl while cleaning.

Best disinfecting cleaner for pet messes

Clorox Pet Solutions Stain & Odor Remover

Clorox Pet Solutions Stain & Odor Remover is tough on deep-rooted stains but gentle and safe to use around dogs, cats, and other household pets.

Pros: Effectively removes stains, safe to use around pets, bleach and fragrance-free, helps to prevent re-soiling

Cons: Must purchase a spray bottle, not recommended for brass or natural marble surfaces

Clorox Pet Solutions Stain & Odor Remover is effective at removing tough pet messes like drool, feces, urine, and vomit, and it’s safe to use around your furry friends (as long as you take a few precautions). “It’s fine to use a regular disinfectant or bleach on bowls or pet toys with hard surfaces — you’ll just want to rinse the surfaces with water after they’ve dried,” Sansoni said. For more information on pet-safe products, check out our FAQ.

Simply pour the solution into a reusable spray bottle to clean pet bedding, carpets, clothing, flooring, furniture, travel crates, and upholstery. Then allow it to sit for five to 10 minutes before rinsing or wiping the area down with a clean, damp cloth. It’s bleach- and fragrance-free and wonderful at eliminating odors that tend to stubbornly linger. Regularly using this disinfectant may help your pet remember not to go back to re-soil the same spot.

FAQs

Brian Sansoni, SVP of Communication at the American Cleaning Institute, gave us some helpful information on assessing the quality of a disinfectant.

What ingredients should I look for in a disinfectant?

Sansoni said that some of the more active ingredients found within disinfectant cleaners include sodium hypochlorite, ethanol, pine oil, hydrogen peroxide, citric acid, and quats, otherwise known as quaternary ammonium compounds. For efficacy, be sure to visit the manufacturer’s website, look for the product in SmartLabel (a digital shopping tool where you can find detailed info that won’t fit on your standard cleaning product’s packaging), and check out the American Cleaning Institute’s guide on how to read a product label.

In addition to the ingredients listed above, your disinfectant of choice may include a combination of surfactants, builders, solvents, enzymes, fragrances, preservatives, pH adjusters, and thickeners or foam enhancers.


Do disinfecting cleaners kill the coronavirus? 

There are a number of disinfectant products that can be effective against the coronavirus on hard, nonporous surfaces, in accordance with the EPA Viral Emerging Pathogen Policy. Visit EPA-registered disinfectant products to use against Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) for more information.


Will alcohol kill germs? 

Alcohol solutions need to contain at least 70% alcohol to be effective on hard surfaces against the coronavirus. Read the labels on alcohol-based products, and be sure to reach for isopropyl alcohol and not ethanol, which is used in cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. 

You’ll want to pre-clean the surface with soap and water. Then, apply the alcohol solution to the surface — without diluting it — and let it air dry for at least 30 seconds before wiping. 

It’s important to never mix isopropyl alcohol or rubbing alcohol — which is typically 70% isopropyl alcohol and 30% water — with bleach since it will create chloroform, which is toxic.


What surfaces can I use rubbing alcohol or isopropyl alcohol on?

Rubbing alcohol and isopropyl alcohol can liquify and damage finished surfaces since isopropyl alcohol is a solvent. Sansoni advises against using either on painted, shellacked, lacquered, or varnished surfaces, including treated wood.

However, rubbing alcohol can be a great stain treatment for certain fabrics and can remove ink, grass, grease, or sap. While it’s good for carpet, Sansoni doesn’t recommend rubbing alcohol on materials like acetate, rayon, wool, and silk.


Do all-purpose cleaners kill germs?

A traditional all-purpose cleaner is designed to lift dirt off of surfaces, but it won’t completely disinfect the area you’re cleaning. Stick with a disinfectant designed to kill bacteria and germs. Keep in mind, however, that disinfectants won’t make surfaces shine like an all-purpose cleaner. Popular all-purpose cleaners that aren’t disinfectants include Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Multi-Surface Cleaner and Everspring’s Lemon & Mint All-Purpose Cleaner.


Will hydrogen peroxide kill germs?

Some registered disinfectants contain hydrogen peroxide as the active ingredient. The typical 3% hydrogen peroxide concentration found at drugstores can be used to disinfect surfaces. Pre-clean the surface before applying the liquid, and then let it air dry for at least a minute before wiping.

If you’re using a cleaner that contains hydrogen peroxide, check the product label for instructions on how long the cleaner needs to sit on the surface before wiping. Never mix hydrogen peroxide with vinegar, bleach, or other cleaners.


Will vinegar kill germs?

While vinegar has bacteria-killing properties, it is not listed as an EPA-approved disinfectant.


Do “eco-friendly” or “natural” cleaners work as well as ones with more “powerful” chemicals?

“Eco-friendly” and “natural” are, more often than not, marketing terms rather than scientific ones. It all comes down to how the product is formulated, what ingredients it contains, and preference. When a product is labeled as “natural,” it typically means that it’s void of harmful chemicals.


What makes a cleaning product “pet-safe”? 

According to Sansoni, products that are labeled as “pet-safe” are usually formulated with ingredients that are less harmful when unintentionally ingested. 

It’s important to note that cleaning products are safe for people and pets when used as intended. However, because pets have a habit of putting their mouths on things they’re not supposed to, the added step of rinsing any leftover product off of surfaces can be helpful.


What is an odor eliminator?

An odor eliminator can either cover up an odor, absorb it, or kill odor-causing germs. Fragrances that cover an odor may be used in tandem with an odor absorber or a product that kills odor-causing bacteria. Some odor-eliminating sprays use compounds called cyclodextrins to trap odor molecules.

We’ve rounded up the best odor eliminators for your home.


Are wipes better than sprays?

This is a matter of preference. Some spray products may be available in a wipe version or vice versa, with some customers finding that one product is able to reach the space they want to clean better than the other. Sansoni mentioned there isn’t a benefit for letting a disinfectant stay on surfaces longer than recommended, and you should always follow the instructions on the label.

Check out our other cleaning guides

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The 5 best creatine supplements of 2021 to improve your workouts

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Creatine supplements can help you work out harder and for longer and shed fat, according to studies.
  • Our experts agree powdered creatine monohydrate supplements are the best option.
  • The right creatine supplement for you depends on your goals, needs, and budget.

Creatine is one of the most popular workout supplements – but it’s also one of the most well-proven supplements to improve sprint performance, maximal strength and power, and lean body mass, explains Angie Asche, RD, CSSD, founder of Eleat Sports Nutrition and author of Fuel Your Body: How to Cook and Eat for Peak Performance.

“Any athlete or active person who is consistently training at high intensities may benefit from creatine supplementation,” Asche added. What’s more, a large 2017 study analysis found creatine is safe to take both short and long-term (up to 5 years).

Creatine is found in our muscle cells, and it’s instrumental in producing the energy our bodies run on (called ATP), especially for an intense workout, explains Martin MacDonald, PgCert, PgDip, a clinical performance nutritionist and director of Mac-Nutrition. Your muscles will take longer to fatigue, so over time that can add up to performance and muscle gains, says both MacDonald and plenty of studies.

In addition to letting you work out harder, for longer, it’s also helpful for retaining muscle mass if you’re recovering from an injury, and for vegans and vegetarians who tend to have lower phosphocreatine stores, Asche adds.

For more info on how much creatine you should take, potential side effects, and more, jump to the bottom of this guide.

Here are the best creatine supplements

The best creatine supplement overall

Optimum Nutrition Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder
This option comes in large quantities.

What we like: 240 servings per tub, pure creatine monohydrate

Check out the label of Optimum Nutrition’s Micronized Creatine Monohydrate Powder, and you’ll see that it lists just one ingredient: creatine monohydrate. According to the experts we interviewed for this article, that’s a major plus because you don’t want or need anything else in your creatine supplement. Unlike other creatine powders on the market, this one should last you for several months because it contains 240 5-gram servings, and at a really reasonable price. Because it’s micronized (processed to improve solubility), this supplement dissolves easily in water, juice, or any other liquid. The only potential downside is that the tub doesn’t come with its own scooper. That said, you can use a rounded teaspoon as a serving size. 

The best creatine supplement made with Creapure

 MUSCLE FEAST Creapure Creatine Monohydrate Powder
A great option for purity.

What we like: Main ingredient comes from a reputable manufacturer, certified vegan

When it comes to supplements, ensuring they contain what they say they do is a major concern, as the FDA doesn’t measure the effectiveness, safety, or purity of nutritional supplements. That’s why many people opt for creatine supplements made using Creapure, a pure form of creatine monohydrate made in Germany. There are several different supplement brands that use Creapure in their creatine supplements, and Muscle Feast’s version is among the best. Not only is it a great value with 168 servings in a tub, but it was also recently certified as a vegan product. This product isn’t micronized, but it still dissolves well in liquids and is flavorless, so you won’t notice it whatever drink you mix it with. 

The best creatine for athletes

Thorne Research Creatine
Ideal for anyone doing serious competing.

What we like: High quality standards, NSF certified 

Supplement purity is especially important for athletes, who can be disqualified from competing if they test positive for any banned substances. Sometimes, athletes aren’t aware of banned substances that are in their nutritional supplements. Though that might not seem like a common occurrence, it can happen. 

Thorne Research’s unflavored creatine is a top pick for athletes because of the rigorous quality testing it undergoes. Thorne tests all their supplements in-house four times for quality, purity, and stability. Plus, this creatine supplement is NSF Certified for Sport, which is one of the top third-party supplement certifications. This mark essentially means the supplement doesn’t contain any banned substances, and that what’s on the label matches what’s actually in the product. Thorne also uses Creapure as the main ingredient, which means you can count on the creatine being high quality and easily mixable. 

The best hypoallergenic creatine supplement

Pure Encapsulations Creatine Powder
Suitable for those with food allergies.

What we like: Free from unnecessary fillers, well-regarded manufacturer 

If you have a milk, soy, egg, or wheat allergy, it can be tricky to find the right creatine supplement, as some manufacturers can’t guarantee that their products won’t contain traces of these allergens. This is particularly true for brands that make protein powders that use these ingredients. Pure Encapsulations prides itself on being safe for those with food allergies, and is well-known in the supplement space for being a reliable source of high-quality supplements. This unflavored creatine powder is made up of 100 percent creatine monohydrate, is certified gluten-free, and is free from unnecessary binders, fillers, and preservatives. It clocks in at 4 grams of creatine per serving and is available in two tub sizes (8.8 ounces and 17.6 ounces).

The best quick-dissolving creatine supplement

Bodylogix Creatine Monohydrate Powder
There’s zero grit or chalky texture.

What we like: Mixes seamlessly, NSF certified  

For some people, a gritty texture makes it really difficult to get their creatine supplement down. Micronized creatine goes through extra processing to make it more easily dissolvable, so if this is a concern, it’s best to opt for a supplement that clearly states it’s micronized. Bodylogix’s version is unflavored, NSF Certified for Sport, and made from pure creatine monohydrate. The tub comes with 60 servings, or enough to last at least a couple of months. Those who don’t want any fillers in their supplements will be glad to know this product doesn’t contain any dyes, additives, preservatives, colors, flavors, or sweeteners.

About creatine supplements

How much creatine should you take? 

The common advice you’ll hear on creatine dosage is to take 5 grams of creatine per day. That dosage will work, MacDonald says, but there is a more efficient way to ensure your muscles are saturated with creatine. 

“The fastest way to saturate the muscle with creatine is to consume 20g or ~0.3 grams per kg of body weight a day of creatine monohydrate for seven days,” MacDonald says. So if you weigh 60kg (132 pounds), you’d take 18 grams of creatine per day for a week. MacDonald recommends splitting this across 4 doses a day to reduce the chances of GI distress. 

After seven days, you can go down to a maintenance dose that is one-tenth of this (0.03 grams/kg of body weight per day). So using the 60kg person example, that’d be 1.8 grams a day. There’s no harm in taking the standard dose of 5 grams a day, MacDonald says, but you don’t need that much to maintain your levels. 

Are there any side effects of taking creatine?

As mentioned above, higher doses of creatine (more than 5 grams at a time) may cause digestive discomfort. Also, don’t be surprised if you see the scale jump right after you start taking creatine. It can cause water weight gain due to your muscles holding more water than usual. But in terms of your health, studies have shown that you can safely take up to 30g per day for at least 5 years.

Is there anyone who shouldn’t take creatine?

Experts emphasize that overall, creatine is a safe supplement to take. “The only caution worth mentioning is in those who have pre-existing issues with their kidneys,” MacDonald says. If you have any kidney problems, it’s smart to check in with your doctor before starting creatine. Also, those on medication should always check with their doctor before use, Vichill adds. 

How long should you take creatine supplements?

You can take creatine indefinitely. “In fact, long-term supplementation has been shown to have lasting improvements on performance, and a positive effect on lean body mass over time,” Asche says.

Do you need to cycle creatine doses?

You may see recommendations about cycling creatine, for example, supplementing for 12 weeks and then taking 4 weeks off. The rationale behind this was that since we produce less of our own creatine when supplementing, it’d be smart to give your body a break to “recover” and start producing more creatine again. But this advice is outdated and unnecessary, MacDonald says. “While we produce less creatine in our bodies when we supplement, it goes straight back up whenever we stop taking creatine.” 

What types of fitness goals does supplementing with creatine make sense for? 

Supplementing with creatine makes the most sense for people who want to improve their athletic performance, maintain muscle mass (including after injury), or gain muscle mass. If you’re trying to cut significant weight, for example, there may be no point in supplementing with creatine, says Abby Vichill, MS, RDN, LD, founder of FWDfuel Sports Nutrition.

It’s also worth noting that creatine needs to be combined with proper training and nutrition for best results. Simply taking creatine without eating a diet to support lean muscle gain, or without training in the right capacity, will not cause your performance or results to magically shoot through the roof, Vichill says. 

Are there any other benefits to taking creatine? 

Aside from creatine’s athletic performance and muscle gain benefits, there have been a host of discoveries relating to health and the use of creatine, according to MacDonald. Creatine is also found in the brain, and research in young children with traumatic brain injury has shown creatine may help reduce the post-traumatic amnesia, the time needed in an intensive care unit, and the time needed for recovery of communication and locomotion, MacDonald says. “This has led to current research on creatine use in sports that lead to regular concussions such as rugby and boxing.” Similarly, some research shows there may be some promise in the use of creatine to benefit other brain concerns such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. 

What to consider when buying creatine supplements

According to nutrition pros, there are only a few key things to look for when buying a creatine supplement. 

First and foremost, you want to get creatine monohydrate. “There are many many different versions of creatine out there, all touted as having superior benefits,” MacDonald says. “However, monohydrate is the most well-studied version of creatine, and other versions have yet to show any extra benefit in the research.” 

You also want a supplement that’s purely creatine monohydrate, with no other ingredients. “My advice would be to get a product that says ‘Ingredients: 100% Creatine Monohydrate’ and nothing else,” MacDonald notes. These products will be flavorless, so they can be added to any non-caffeinated drink (caffeine may interfere with creatine’s effects), or even sprinkled on top of your cereal. 

Both MacDonald and Vichill recommend powdered creatine over pills, as it’s easier to adjust your dose and generally less expensive. 

Lastly, you’ll ideally want to look for a creatine supplement that’s certified by a third-party organization such as NSF or Informed Sport. This is because supplements are not regulated as closely as food products. “Creatine supplements are not regulated by the FDA, and thus may contain contaminants or discrepancies in quantity or quality,” explains Ashley Nader, RD. “Whether you’re an athlete or not, look for a third certification,” she advises. This ensures that what’s inside the package matches with what’s on the label.

Our experts

Because the safety and efficacy of anything you put inside your body is incredibly important, we thoroughly researched both creatine as a supplement and the specific brands we recommend here. That included speaking to a handful of experts, namely:

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 5 best weighted blankets we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

If you toss and turn at night or find your mind racing when trying to fall asleep, you might benefit from adding a weighted blanket to your bedding. Usually weighing somewhere between 15 and 25 pounds, weighted blankets provide gentle, constant pressure as you sleep, and recent studies have shown promising results in their ability to ease anxiety and reduce insomnia, though research still remains limited.

I spoke with Rebecca Robbins, sleep researcher, author, and post-doctoral fellow at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School, and she said the reason why weighted blankets tend to work is actually quite primal. “It really hearkens back to the way we entered the world,” said Robbins. “You were in a womb, compressed on all sides by water and fluid, and so there was a sense of pressure. We try to emulate that with infants by swaddling them. We might look at weighted blankets as the adult version of swaddling or emulating those circumstances where we feel at ease.”

I tested 11 of the most popular weighted blankets on the market to determine the best ones you can buy, evaluating them for how well I slept while using them, quality of materials and construction, how easy they were to wash and care for, and, of course, how comfy and cozy they were. For more advice on what to consider when buying a weighted blanket, click here or scroll to the bottom of this guide.

Editor’s note: Though my initial testing period lasted roughly one month, we acknowledge that issues may present themselves with extended use of a product. I have continued to test all of the top picks since this guide was published in November 2020. This guide is periodically updated with new findings and long-term discoveries.

The best weighted blankets in 2021

The best weighted comforter

best weighted blanket 2021 brooklinen weighted comforter

Brooklinen’s Weighted Comforter has a premium plush design that blends seamlessly with the rest of your bedding.

Pros: Looks just like a normal comforter, lots of plush fill, made of 400-thread-count cotton sateen, has duvet cover loops, accepts returns in any condition within one year of purchase

Cons: Dry clean only, duvet cover sold separately, difficult to adjust while using it

If you don’t want to sleep under a stack of blankets or compromise your bedroom’s look, you’ll want a weighted comforter, and Brooklinen makes the best one I tried. It looks and feels just like a traditional plush comforter but with an extra 20 pounds of weight integrated with small glass beads. The blanket itself is made of 400-thread-count cotton sateen, so it’s soft enough to throw on your bed without a duvet cover.

That being said, we recommend adding one — corner loops make it easy to tie on — because the blanket is dry-clean only which could run you anywhere from $20 to $50. It can be spot-cleaned and spot-dried with a hairdryer in a pinch. 

I found that the 20-pound comforter I tested actually weighed closer to 24 pounds, but the extra weight didn’t make too much of a difference once I laid it out on the bed. Sleeping under it was pretty dreamy (excuse the pun). I felt enveloped by the cushy fill, but not too overwhelmed or overheated. It was somewhat difficult to adjust while lying under it due to the weight and size, but I found this typical for just about every comforter-sized weighted blanket I tested.

Though pricey, this comfortable weighted blanket is worth the investment, especially because it will entirely replace your comforter. If you find it’s not right for you, Brooklinen has an incredibly lenient return policy, accepting returns for any reason in any condition within 365 days of your purchase.

The best extra-heavy weighted blanket

best weighted blanket 2021 gravity blanket heavy

Gravity’s 35-pound weighted blanket evenly distributes weight across your king-size bed and is perfect for those who are looking for some extra heft.

Pros: Great for those who need a heavier blanket, weight is evenly distributed, no beanbag feel, the cover is machine washable, low profile blanket

Cons: Queen/king size only comes in 35 pounds, the cover should be washed before use, too heavy to adjust in the middle of the night, the inner blanket is hand-wash only, customers are responsible for return fees

It’s recommended to use a weighted blanket that’s roughly 10% of your body weight, but many blanket brands we tested max out at 25 pounds. So if you weigh more than 250 pounds, you may find yourself struggling to find a weighted blanket that feels sufficiently heavy.

When I first received the Gravity 35-pound blanket, I thought it would feel way too heavy once laid out on the bed, but I found it to be pretty manageable when testing it. It did tend to slide down the bed as I was sleeping, and I’d often wake up about a foot lower than usual because I was chasing the blanket around through the night. It was simply too heavy to pull up or adjust while laying under it, though someone stronger than me will likely not have this issue.

One issue with this blanket was that the included micro-plush duvet cover felt oddly greasy out of the package. It left a film on my hands as I tried to smooth it out over the bed. But the zip-on cover is removable and washable, and a run through the wash resolved the issue. I can’t imagine hauling such a heavy blanket into and out of a washing machine, so the removable cover is a huge plus. 

The Gravity blanket is low-profile without any excess fill, so it won’t add a lot of bulk to your bed. That said, it’s not as plush or cozy as the Brooklinen comforter, which does also come in a 35-pound version, though it’s much more expensive.

The brand also makes “single” size weighted blankets that measure 48-inches by 72-inches. I tested a 15-pound one with a cooling cover and found that it performed well, but there was nothing that made it really stand out from the pack.

The best cooling weighted blanket

best weighted blanket 2021 cooling blanket blanquil chill

The BlanQuil Chill‘s unique cover disperses heat and stays cool to the touch as you fall asleep, but its slick fabric can cause it to slide off the bed.

Pros: Stays cool to the touch, no beanbag feel, glass beads don’t shift, 60-night sleep trial

Cons: Slides off the bed easily; internal blanket is spot-clean only; only one size, one color, and two weights available

I sleep hot, and the BlanQuil Chill is the weighted blanket I have the longest relationship with. It’s been on my bed for about a year and a half, and I’ve had two iterations of the design.

I lined up all the cooling blankets I tested for this guide and ran my hand across each one and the BlanQuil felt noticeably cooler than all the others, plus it did the best job of “refreshing” itself by dissipating heat and getting back to its cool baseline.

Since it’s slightly bigger than a twin bed, it’s not a blanket that’s intended to be shared, but I drape mine over my Queen bed horizontally so both my partner and I can benefit. Glass beads add weight, but there’s no beanbag feeling, and I’ve never felt them shift in a way that causes the blanket to feel lumpy or uneven.

The zipper on the removable washable cover of the first version of the design was weak, couldn’t handle the weight of the blanket, and broke just a couple of months into its use. But, BlanQuil has since reinforced the zipper and I’ve yet to have a problem with it. I even stress tested it by holding the weight of the blanket against the zipper, and it held strong.

Though it’s one of the best I’ve used, the cooling cover’s material has a bit of a sheen to it, which makes slick and slide off the bed easily — especially if you toss and turn at night. As soon as it gets off-center, the blanket’s own weight will cause it to slide.

I’ve mitigated this a bit by sandwiching it between my top sheet and my comforter, but it’s still not a reliable fix. Because of this, I debated not choosing this as the best cooling blanket, but none of the other cooling blankets I tested even came close to keeping me cool for as long or as consistently. I’m still on the hunt for the perfect cooling weighted blanket, but I consider the BlanQuil Chill to be the best cooling weighted blanket for now.

The best weighted throw blanket

best weighted blanket 2021 bearaby knitted throw blanket

The cocoon-like, knit-woven Bearaby Cotton Napper keeps you cozy yet cool as you lounge on the couch, it’s entirely machine washable, and it’s one of the heftiest blankets we tested.

Pros: Aesthetically minded design, has significant heft, made from organic cotton, washable and dryable, 30-day return policy if blanket remains unwashed, most versatile weighted blanket I tested

Cons: Doesn’t fit in compact washing machines, takes multiple cycles to dry, open weave may catch toes and fingers, heavier than advertised (though this may be a pro, depending on your preference)

Many of the weighted blankets on the market emphasize function over form, often because they have to encase and evenly distribute heavy beads. But the weight of the Bearaby Napper comes entirely from the dense organic cotton strands hand-knit into one of the most aesthetically minded weighted blankets I’ve ever seen.

If you’re not convinced straight-up cotton could be woven into a blanket with significant heft, you’d be sorely mistaken. This is a really heavy blanket — the blanket I tested, which was advertised as the 15-pound version, actually tipped the scales at 24 pounds. I contacted the company to verify that they sent me the right item, and they assured me they did. 

It’s not necessarily a bad thing that they’re heavier than advertised, but it’s something to keep in mind when you order.

A blanket this heavy — and bulky — can be tough to shift around, and if it’s going to live on your couch, it will take up quite a bit of space. Personally, I’ve shifted it to my bed. It drapes nicely over me and my partner on top of our existing comforter, but the open weave makes it prone to stretching if you need to pull it up in the night. It hasn’t misshapen in any significant way, thankfully.

It’s not quite a cooling blanket — Bearaby does offer one called the Tree Napper that I haven’t tested — but it doesn’t trap heat thanks to the open weave. The holes are quite large, though, so if you’ll be bothered by some toes or fingers poking through, you might want to look elsewhere.

The Napper is fully machine washable and can go in the dryer on a delicate setting. I wanted to see how the blanket washed and dried as part of my test, but it didn’t fit in my space-saving apartment-sized washing machine.

The budget weighted blanket

best weighted blanket 2021 luna blanket budget affordable cheap

Weighted blankets are typically expensive, but the Luna Weighted Blanket is gentle on your wallet despite being constructed from Oeko-Tex-certified cotton and filled with natural glass beads.

Pros: Excellent quality at a low price; comes in a wide variety of colors, sizes, and weights; fully machine washable; Oeko-Tex Certified construction; true to weight

Cons: Thinner blanket than some others on our list

Weighted blankets tend to be very expensive, but Luna offers an excellent weighted blanket at an affordable price. Price aside, its quality also matched or even exceeded other weighted blankets at much higher price points.

I tested the 15-pound Queen-size blanket, and the glass beads inside were barely noticeable, producing no beanbag effect. Where many other cheap weighted blankets are loaded with chemicals, the Luna Weighted Blanket is Oeko-Tex Certified, meaning it contains no harmful materials.

The blanket is much thinner than some of the others I tested, but in a sea of products known for causing sleepers to overheat, a thin blanket was a welcome change. It stayed breathable and was light enough to easily adjust in the middle of the night. It wasn’t quite as cozy as some of the others, but it’s a great option to layer with your usual comforter or use during the warmer months.

As I’ve continued to test these blankets, the Luna has become a bit of a travel-sized weighted blanket for me. Now that I’ve gotten so used to sleeping with a weighted blanket, I have a hard time going without. I wouldn’t recommend taking it on an airplane — it’s a bit bulky for that — but the Luna is thin enough to fold into a car trunk-friendly size. 

The blanket was a true 15 pounds according to my scale, but that weight was dispersed over a Queen-size surface area, making it feel lighter. Speaking more generally, that’s something to keep in mind: you’ll feel more pressure resting under a Full-size blanket than a King-size one of the same weight.

It’s also one of the easiest blankets to clean that I tested. The entire thing fits into my compact washer-dryer, and was fully dry within one cycle — and it got softer after just one wash.

How we tested weighted blankets

There are several factors I took into consideration while assessing weighted blankets. Aside from general coziness and comfort provided by each blanket, I also assessed things like quality of material, value, weight options, and aesthetics. For example, a blanket that came in more color and weight options beat out a blanket of equal quality that came in fewer options. I also considered things like return policies, sleep trials, and how easy these blankets were to clean.

The following are three tests I ran each blanket through to assess general user experience:

Sleep test: I slept with each of the weighted blankets on my bed for at least three consecutive nights. I noted how well I slept overall and how the blanket regulated my sleep temperature. I also paid attention to how well the blanket stayed in place as I slept and how easy it was to adjust while lying under it. Part of this test also included making the bed every day (hauling a weighted blanket is harder than it looks).

Wash test: I washed every weighted blanket or cover that was machine washable at least once to ensure they held up well in the wash and didn’t shrink, shed, or otherwise show signs of wear. I noted if the added weight made them more difficult to haul into and out of the washing machine. I also discovered that one of the machine-washable blankets was so bulky it didn’t fit into my washing machine. For those blankets that weren’t machine-washable, I made note of the care instructions and factored that into the cons of the blanket as I assessed them.

Weight test: I wanted to ensure each blanket was actually the weight it was advertised. To get an accurate reading, I weighed myself and then weighed myself again while holding each blanket, noting any discrepancies in the advertised weight versus the actual weight.

What else we tested

best weighted blanket 2021 what else we tested gravity helix brooklyn bedding
The Gravity Cooling, Helix, and Brooklyn Bedding weighted blankets were among the others we tested.

What we recommend and why 

Baloo Cool Cotton Weighted Blanket: The Baloo weighted blanket struck a great balance between comfort and cost. Its construction and quality felt similar enough to the Luna that we’d rather recommend the one that’s even more affordable.

Gravity Cooling Blanket: The blanket itself is well-built and high-quality, but the cooling cover did little to actually cool me off as I slept. It just felt like any other weighted blanket, and didn’t do much to distinguish itself from the other blankets I tried.

Brooklyn Bedding Dual Therapy Weighted Blanket: This blanket is dual-sided — with a silky cooling side and a minky textured side. The silky side stayed cool to the touch and the bumps on the minky side provided a nice sensory option. It didn’t feel beanbaggy and the weight was evenly distributed. But it was only available in one size, two weights, and one dark gray color that severely limited how many home decor scenarios it would work within.

What we don’t recommend and why

Yaasa Weighted Blanket: This is a knit-style blanket similar to the Bearaby Napper, but Yaasa’s weave was much tighter and therefore allowed for less airflow, and the material also felt spongier and less cozy than the Napper’s. The Yaasa blanket was also dry clean only.

Helix Weighted Blanket: This blanket is dual-sided with a white sherpa fleece side and a gray minky fleece side. I found the sherpa side especially cozy, and so did my cat. But it had one of the worst beanbag effects of any of the blankets I tried, and there is only one size and color option available, though it did come in three weights. If this blanket suits your style, it’s a decent buy for an affordable price.

YnM Weighted Blanket: This is an Amazon bestseller in weighted blankets, so we wanted to put it to the test. It’s a perfectly serviceable budget blanket, but the glass beads created a sort of beanbag effect that the Luna did not. Plus, the Luna is even cheaper and made of Oeko-Tex certified cotton, which isn’t found with the YnM.

What we’re testing next

Bearaby Sleeper: This is the only weighted blanket I’ve discovered designed specifically for couples. While there’s little data available to determine the best weight for a couple to share, Bearaby has eliminated some of that guesswork by weighting the two halves of the blanket differently, allowing you to choose the right weight for each person. This is especially useful if you and your partner are drastically different sizes and therefore would benefit from different blanket weights. The two halves can unzip from each other and become two distinct blankets. Right now, they are sold out, but Bearaby has assured us that they’ll be restocking soon, and we hope to test it once they do.

Luxome Luxury Weighted Blanket: The Luxome weighted blanket comes with a reversible cover with a plush minky fabric on one side and a cooling bamboo fabric on the other. This allows you to customize your blanket with the seasons. I’m curious to see if this versatility actually makes a difference in how the blanket affects my body temperature. It’s also a nice mid-range option in terms of price, and I’m hoping to add some more affordable options to this guide.

Slumber Cloud Weighted Blanket: In my ongoing quest to find a cooling weighted blanket that stays put throughout the night, I’m looking forward to testing the Slumber Cloud. It’s made using thermoregulation technology developed by NASA to keep astronauts comfortable in their spacesuits. The technology called Outlast uses small beads that absorb body heat when you get too hot and release it back to you when you get too cold. I’m fascinated by this concept and I’m excited to see if it works.

Weighted blanket FAQs

What weight should a weighted blanket be?

It’s recommended to select a blanket that’s roughly 10% of your body weight. But Robbins adds that there are no clinically established guideposts for choosing a blanket weight. “It’s hard for the one size fits all approach because we’re all just so unique and have different physiologies,” she says.

This is especially true when blankets come in different sizes. A 15-pound throw blanket is going to feel much heavier than a 15-pound comforter since a larger blanket distributes its weight over a larger surface area. Robbins suggests trying out weighted blankets before purchasing them. If you can’t test weighted blankets in a store, look for brands that offer sleep trials or have buyer-friendly return policies like many of our top picks.

What if I’m sharing the weighted blanket with a partner?

If you’re sharing a weighted blanket with a partner, you’ll likely want something a bit heavier, mostly due to the fact that larger blankets feel lighter than smaller ones. A blog from Layla Sleep advises purchasing a blanket that’s roughly 7.5% of the couple’s combined weight. I reached out to the brand to determine how they established this number and a representative responded, “Most suggestions in terms of weight are based on anecdotal evidence. We also factor in the customer satisfaction data that we have when making suggestions, but ultimately the weight that’s right for any one person will depend heavily on personal preference.”

It’s important to note that this parameter hasn’t been established in any sort of clinical trial or scientific study, so take it with a grain of salt. As long as you’re comfortable and can move freely under the blanket, you should choose the weight that works best for you.

What size weighted blanket should I get?

If you’re sharing a blanket with a partner with a similar body weight, you’ll want a weighted blanket that covers your entire bed. Many brands, including almost all of our top picks, offer blankets in multiple sizes to fit standard twin, full, queen, and king beds.

Some weighted blankets in these sizes are a bit smaller than typical comforters so the weighted blanket doesn’t hang off the side of your bed too much. Excess fabric that hangs off the side can pull the weighted blanket off-center as you shift around in the night.

If you and your partner are very different weights, consider opting for two smaller separate blankets in a throw or twin size. This way, you can each get the weight that’s most comfortable for you. Plus, you’ll have the added benefit of not having to worry about blanket theft in the middle of the night.

How often should I wash my weighted blanket?

Brian Sansoni, Senior Vice President at The American Cleaning Institute, recommends you treat your weighted blanket like any comforter, washing it once or twice a year, provided it’s covered by a duvet cover that you’re washing monthly. If it doesn’t have a removable cover, the entire blanket should be washed roughly once a month.

Check out our other sleep and bedding guides

Best pillow Saatva
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The 7 best whey protein powders, backed by strength coaches and dietitians

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Quality whey protein powder should have a tolerable taste, mix well, and offer maximum protein with minimal extras.
  • Our top pick, Naked’s Whey Protein, is a clean, additive-free powder that contains only whey protein.
  • This article was medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice in NYC.

Protein, a macronutrient every cell in your body contains, is essential for your health. If you’re an athlete, casual gym-goer, or just want to lose a few pounds, protein also helps you build and retain muscle. Taking whey protein is an effective and inexpensive way to add more of the macronutrient to your diet.

In short, whey is the liquid leftovers that come from the cheese-making process. This liquid is dried into a powder, which is then sometimes (but not always) mixed with sweeteners while keeping calories, carbohydrates, and fats to a minimum.

But there’s more to picking out the right whey protein than just grabbing whatever you find at the store. While some are formulated with different additives, others pack more protein per serving or are designed to keep more of the protein’s natural nutrients.

At the bottom of this guide, we’ve included insight into what whey protein is and why it’s beneficial, as well as the safety precautions associated with taking whey protein and the best places to purchase it. We’ve also provided some background on the sources used, as well as our own expertise.

Here are the best whey protein powders:

The best overall whey protein powder

Naked Whey Protein

When Naked Nutrition calls its Naked Whey Protein additive-free, it means it as this protein powder has literally just one ingredient: Whey protein derived from grass-fed cows.

Pros: Contains just whey protein from grass-fed cows, low carbohydrate and fat count per serving, has 5.9 grams of BCAAs per serving

Cons: Not completely devoid of sugar (though there aren’t any artificial sweeteners or flavors), hard to mix, and can sometimes be chunkya

Many of Naked Nutrition’s products live up to the brand’s namesake of being literally naked, though perhaps none do it quite as well as its flagship protein powder, Naked Whey. Comprised of a single ingredient (whey protein from grass-fed cows), Naked Whey is a clean, additive-free product that has no artificial sweeteners, no artificial colors, and no artificial flavors. 

From a protein standpoint, one serving of Naked Whey (2 scoops of powder which is roughly 30 grams) delivers 25 grams of protein, 3 grams of carbs, 2 grams of fat, 120 calories, and just 2 grams of sugar. Each serving also has 5.9 grams of a combination of the BCAAs isoleucine, leucine, and valine. BCAAs (branch chain amino acids) may help build protein in muscles and aid in recovery.

A few drawbacks (or, rather, nitpicks) would be the Naked Whey isn’t the easiest to mix, and requires quite the shake in a shaker bottle to create a smooth, drinkable combination, though you’re likely to still encounter a few clumps. The taste of this is also very plain and almost dairy-like (which makes sense, of course), but Naked does offer the protein in Chocolate, as well as Vanilla and Strawberry in its Less Naked Whey, which has a few more additives. 

Naked Whey comes in either a 5 lb. tub for $90 or a smaller 1 lb. option for $22 — and Naked Nutrition even allows customers to set up recurring monthly deliveries at a discounted rate. 

If an additive-free protein powder is what you seek, Naked Nutrition’s Naked Whey, with just the single ingredient of whey protein, is about as simple and straightforward as it gets. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best mixing whey protein powder

Cellucor Whey Protein

If you’re looking for a powder that mixes easily and tastes great, Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder is one of the best and most affordable options.

Pros: Great taste, affordable, mixes smoothly, 24 grams of protein per serving, excellent for baking, third-party tested

Cons: 130 mg of sodium per serving, contains artificial sweeteners

The Cellucor Whey Protein Isolate & Concentrate Blend Powder not only tastes good and has 24 grams of protein per serving, but it’s also the most affordable option in our guide at 71.4 cents per serving and 3 cents per gram of protein. Each serving also only has 1.5 grams of fat, 4 grams of carbs, and 120 calories.

There are seven flavors to choose from, including whipped vanilla, molten chocolate, and cinnamon swirl. Cellucor recommends mixing two scoops with five to six ounces of your preferred beverage, but you can adjust the amount of liquid to fit your tastes. The company also suggests mixing the powder with yogurt, oatmeal, and pancakes. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best sugar-free whey protein powder

 Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey

The Platinum Hydrowhey by Optimum Nutrition may be expensive, but it mixes well and boasts 30 grams of protein per serving with zero grams of sugar.

Pros: 30 grams of protein per serving, third-party tested, superb mixability, no sugar

Cons: Contains high-fructose corn syrup

A single serving of Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey yields 140 calories, 30 grams of protein, one gram of fat, 3 grams of carbs, and no sugar. It’s made of hydrolyzed whey protein, which breaks down the protein into smaller pieces for better absorption and easier digestion. 

You can choose from seven flavors: cookies and cream overdrive, chocolate mint, velocity vanilla, chocolate peanut butter, supercharged strawberry, turbo chocolate, and red velvet cake, which was the highest-rated flavor on Bodybuilding.com. I think that turbo chocolate tastes great, too.

Optimum Nutrition uses artificial sweeteners such as sucralose and high-fructose corn syrup (which gets counted as a sugar on food labels).

Optimum Nutrition claims you can easily mix this protein with just a spoon and I can confirm this is true. While this may not seem like a strong selling point, I’ve forgotten my shaker bottle at home many times and have had to mix my protein with a spoon or knife at work. When I tried this with other brands, I always got clumpy, gross-tasting shakes. — Andrew Gutman

The best customized whey protein powder

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Gainful offers a unique approach to protein powder by offering personalized blends that are formulated specifically to the person ordering it, based on their fitness goals, diet restrictions, and other vital factors.

Pros: The custom is able to serve a wider range of users, doesn’t just rely on whey protein but pea, brown rice, and organic oat, as well, has a team of registered dietitians formulating the blends

Cons: Not the most economical in terms of amount and cost

One of the more unique protein powder options is Gainful, a brand that formulates personalized blends based on your specific needs. This could include weight and fitness goals, the amount you’re active each week, or if you have any dietary restrictions. It even lets you choose options dedicated to getting better sleep or improving gut health. 

It’s an interesting approach that succeeds in making the protein you order seem one-of-one. That is, not only does Gainful say it’s formulating a specific blend of protein for you, but when you get it and see what exactly is in it (especially compared to other protein powders), it feels exclusive.

Gainful takes its customization even further by offering flavor packets that mix with the powder to create different taste profiles. My sample came with both rich cocoa and cafe mocha, but the brand offers a variety of others like chocolate peanut butter, strawberry cream, and matcha green tea. You could consume the standard protein on its own, but it’s a very bland flavor when you do (it doesn’t necessarily taste bad, it’s just not very exciting). 

The nitpick I’d have with Gainful is that it doesn’t feel like you’re getting much protein for how much you spend. I tend to consume protein most days of the week, and I was able to work through the $39 bag in a little under three weeks. You can opt to get more per shipment (and Gainful can set up a recurring monthly delivery), though the price could feasibly double.

Despite its expensive price compared to others in this guide, what you get with Gainful isn’t offered anywhere else. You’re essentially paying for a premium dietitian service to tailor a protein powder specifically to your needs — for people who keep close tabs on their nutrition and diet, that’s invaluable. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best GNC whey protein powder

GNC1

GNC’s AMP Wheybolic protein powder offers 40 grams of protein per two-scoop serving, as well as 6.2 grams of leucine, and works great as either a pre- or post-workout supplement.

Pros: Now comes in popular Girl Scout flavors, packs 40 grams of protein and 6.2 grams of leucine per two-scoop serving

Cons: Might be too sweet for some, contains sucralose and other artificial sweeteners

The GNC name is synonymous with workout supplements, and its own branded protein are among its most popular items, specifically its GNC AMP Wheybolic powder. The brand supplied a tub of the powder in the Thin Mints flavor, which is sure to catch the attention of anyone who’s a fan of Girl Scout Cookies (it also offers Girl Scout Coconut Carmel aka Samoas and Girl Scout S’mores). 

Each two-scoop serving of the powder offers 40 grams of protein, 6.2 grams of leucine, 210 calories, 7 grams of net carbohydrates, and 2 grams of total sugar. The powder mixes well in water (after about 20 seconds or so of shaking) and never felt chunky or like there were leftover bits that hadn’t fully mixed. 

I used this protein primarily as a post-workout drink, though did also test it post-workout and on non-workout days. The Thin Mints flavor is heavy on the chocolate and mint, so if you like sweeter protein powders, this is exactly what that is. I’m not a huge sweet protein powder drinker myself, so would often choose to use this in moderation. 

A single $65 tub of the powder comes with 25 two-scoop servings, which is just shy of enough for a month’s worth of use — especially if you prefer to drink it on both workout and non-workout days. 

Our nutrition reviewer, Samantha Cassetty, did point out a few things to be cautious of after we spoke to her during testing. First, is the inclusion of sucralose. As we’ve mentioned in other protein powders, sucralose is a sweetener that may upset some people’s stomachs during ingestion. Cassetty pointed out that the powder also includes the artificial sweetener acesulfame potassium, has artificial flavoring, and contains carrageenan, a somewhat controversial additive that’s been studied limitedly. — Rick Stella, health and fitness editor

The best-tasting whey protein powder

Optimum Nutrition Whey Protein Powder

The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder packs 24 grams of protein into each serving and is one of the better-tasting powders according to experts and buyers.

Pros: Tastes good, relatively affordable, third-party tested

Cons: Complaints about the formula changing, contains an artificial sweetener

The Optimum Nutrition Gold Standard 100% Whey Protein Powder gets its sweetness from a little bit of sugar (1 gram per serving) and acesulfame potassium, which is an artificial sweetener also known as Ace-K.

Each serving has 120 calories, a gram of fat, three grams of carbs, and most importantly 24 grams of protein. Optimum Nutrition has also curated a number of recipes in which you can use the powder. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best fat-free whey protein powder

MyProtein whey powder

The Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein is a great option if you want as much protein packed into each scoop as possible without extra fat, carbs, or calories.

Pros: Excellent product purity, a high concentration of bound protein, fat-free, low in sodium

Cons: Concerns about quality control, contains artificial sweetener, not third-party tested

Depending on the flavor you choose, the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate Protein fits up to 22 grams of protein into each 25-gram serving.

It does this with little or no fat or sugar and only 90 calories per serving. The sodium content is also low at 25 mg per serving. 

Labdoor independently tests dozens of whey protein powders, and the site recommended the Myprotein Impact Whey Isolate because it scored high in Labdoor’s ingredient safety, nutritional value, and product purity tests. The testers found there were 21.9 grams of protein in every 25-gram serving.

There are a few complaints worth mentioning, too. Make sure you buy the whey isolate and not just the whey concentrate (If you follow our links, you should be fine). — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

The best lactose-free whey protein powder

Dymatize

If you’ve found protein powders leave your stomach feeling queasy, consider the lactose-free Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder.

Pros: Lactose-free, 91% of calories are from protein, less than a gram of sugar and fat, third-party tested

Cons: Complaints of foreign objects found in the powder, contains an artificial sweetener, 160 mg sodium per serving

The Dymatize ISO 100 Whey Protein Powder is the only lactose-free option on our list but it’s not the only one that uses hydrolyzed isolate protein—the Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydrowhey does, too—which is supposed to help with digestion and absorption.

Each serving has 25 grams of protein, less than a gram of fat, 120 calories, and 2 grams of carbs, including less than 1 gram of sugar. There are 13 flavors to choose from, including cinnamon bun, fudge brownie, gourmet chocolate, and chocolate coconut

Labdoor recommends the Dymatize ISO 100 as one of the best whey protein powders. In its tests, the powder had high scores for nutritional value and product purity, including less than one part per million of six harmful substances. Around 91% of the calories in this powder come from its protein content. — James Brains, reviewed by Andrew Gutman

What else we tested

performix iowhey

Animal Whey

I like Animal because the company doesn’t make gimmicky claims or rely on pseudoscience to sell its products. What you see is what you get and what you get is 120 calories, one gram of fat, 2 grams of carbs, and 25 grams of protein per serving. Animal uses whey protein isolate as its primary protein source, it’s moderately priced, and it’s third-party tested.

This wasn’t included, however, because it’s no better than any other pick. Compared to Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize or Cellucor, it’s slightly more expensive and isn’t as lauded by fans. It barely missed the cut. 

Pro Jym Protein Powder

A fan favorite, Pro Jym is comprised of four different proteins: whey protein isolate, micellar casein, egg albumin, and milk protein isolate. According to creator, Dr. Jim Stoppani, Ph.D., this extends the rate of digestion for better protein synthesis. It comes in three flavors: chocolate cookie crunch, cookies and cream, and s’mores, and contains 150 calories, 3 grams of fat, 7 grams of carbs, and 24 grams of protein per serving. 

Pro Jym missed the mark for two reasons:

  1. You pay more for three times the amount of fat and carbs as Optimum Nutrition’s Platinum Hydrowhey, so it doesn’t fit into our minimum fillers criteria.
  2. It’s not a pure whey protein powder. 

Performix ioWhey

I personally like this protein powder because it tastes great, it’s easy on the stomach, and there are minimal extras. One serving of Performix ioWhey is 100 calories, zero grams of fat, 2 grams of carbohydrates, and 22 grams of protein. 

My major issue is that Performix claims ioWhey is absorbed 36% more efficiently than other brands, which is why their protein per serving is low. That sounds great but since the product isn’t third-party tested, there’s no way to know if this is true or if the company’s selling you less protein per serving.

For the price per serving, you’re better off buying Optimum Nutrition or Dymatize ISO 100 if you’re willing to shell out for a premium protein. — Andrew Gutman

What is whey protein?

man making protein shake shutterstock

There are three main types of whey protein:

  • Whey protein concentrate (WPC): This is a concentrated protein that keeps more of the nutrients. Most non-isolate proteins are comprised of WPC.
  • Whey protein isolate (WPI): This is similar to WPC but most of the carbohydrates, fat, and fat-soluble vitamins have been removed, so the powder has a higher percentage of protein. Typically, isolate is digested more quickly and, therefore, more agreeable for some. For that reason, most trainers and registered dieticians recommend opting for WPI, though it’s often more expensive.
  • Whey protein hydrolysate (WPH): WPH is considered pre-digested since it breaks down the amino acids — the building blocks of proteins — to help with quicker absorption.

Is it safe to consume? 

Before you increase your protein intake significantly, check with your healthcare professional since people with certain maladies, such as calcium deficiencies or low blood pressure, could experience adverse effects from whey protein. 

It’s also important to note that protein powders aren’t regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and some companies dilute their protein with useless fillers, which is why certain brands subject themselves to third-party testing as a way to verify the quality of their product.

To know if a protein is tested, look for a seal from either NSF Certified for Sport or Informed Choice. This doesn’t mean that untested proteins are a subpar product but it’s good to be aware. You are, after all, putting this stuff into your body. Other than looking for brands that are third-party tested, here are different ways to spot a quality protein:

  • Ensure that protein is the first ingredient on the label. “When you look at a label, it’s in descending order so the ingredient in the highest amount will be found at the top of the list,” Maryann Walsh, a registered dietician and the owner of Walsh Nutrition, told Insider. “Look for labels that have protein at the beginning with fewer ingredients accompanying them.”
  • Typically, you want a whey powder that contains at least 20 grams of protein per serving. All of our picks do.
  • Try to steer clear of excess sugar. As for artificial sweeteners, research on how they affect our weight and health is mixed.

How much should you consume? 

The recommended dietary allowance (RDA) for protein consumption is about a gram for every 3 pounds of body weight. So, if you weigh 180 pounds, that equates to 60 grams of protein per day. Experts suggest that taking up to twice that still produces benefits.

When it comes to fitness-specific goals, like gaining muscle or losing fat, Jeb Stuart Johnston from Stronger U recommends ingesting up to one gram per pound of bodyweight. His claim is backed by a study via the University of Stirling

“For someone who’s trying to gain muscle mass and work out, taking in more protein helps speed up protein synthesis [the process in which your muscle fibers utilize protein to repair and grow],” Johnston said. “For a person who’s strictly trying to lose weight, taking in more protein helps retain the muscle you already have.” 

Based on Johnston’s recommendations, a 200-pound man would have to consume 200 grams of protein per day. That’s equivalent to 2 pounds of chicken breast. Supplementing with whey protein, he explains, is a convenient way to get more protein without grilling up another piece of bland chicken.

Where to buy whey protein

man protein powder shutterstock

When it comes to buying protein, one convenient ordering option is Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program, since it can save you up to 15%. You’re able to cancel your subscription at any time, too. What’s great about this program is that it automates ordering products that you replenish regularly.

For instance, if you take a serving of protein powder every day and there are 30 servings in a container, you can have a new tub delivered every month without lifting a finger.

Personally, I like to buy my protein from Bodybuilding.com. I usually try a different brand of protein each time I order more, so Amazon’s “Subscribe & Save” program doesn’t make sense for me, although it’s a smart option for many people. Bodybuilding.com has reliable customer reviews and it routinely offers deals on popular brands. As a bonus, it offers free shipping on orders over $75.

To figure out the cost per serving on your own, take the product’s price and divide it by the number of servings in the container. Since the amount of protein per serving varies by brand, it’s also useful to look at the cost per gram of protein. This is easy to calculate by dividing the cost per serving (as calculated above) by the number of grams of protein per serving. — Andrew Gutman

Expert sources

  • Jeb Stuart Johnston, nutrition and strength coach at Stronger U
  • Maryann Walsh, a registered dietician and the owner of Walsh Nutrition

This piece was also medically reviewed by Samantha Cassetty, MS, RD, and a nutrition and wellness expert with a private practice based in New York City.

About our writers’ expertise

In developing this guide, we tested close to a dozen of the top protein powders available from brands like Cellucor, Optimum Nutrition, and Naked to find the best across a variety of categories. 

The co-author, Andrew Gutman, is a former associate editor at Muscle & Fitness magazine, has competed in a bodybuilding show and two Strongman competitions, and has been lifting weights regularly for more than 10 years. He’s tried dozens of different whey protein powders.

Our guide features powders that have a taste you can stomach, a high protein content, and minimal fat, carbs, and calories. Guides Editor, Les Shu, is a former research chief at Men’s Fitness who oversaw the fact-checking of the magazine’s nutrition and exercise articles.

Read the original article on Business Insider

The 4 best at-home DNA test kits for genetics, health, and ancestry, according to geneticists and genealogists

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • At-home DNA kits give insight into your ancestry and health information and can help connect you with family.
  • We spoke with six genetics experts on what to look for in an at-home DNA kit.
  • Our top pick, AncestryDNA, has the largest database and gives a detailed ethnicity report for $100.

It’s quite amazing that with a simple saliva sample or cheek swab, we can learn so much about our ancestry, family connections, and inherited health markers – all thanks to our DNA. These at-home DNA test kits provide us with all kinds of information we might not be able to learn otherwise.

“A DNA test kit can tell us our medical risks, to an extent, and who we are connected to right now in our living family,” Brianne Kirkpatrick, MS, LCGC, a genetic counselor, ancestry expert for the National Society of Genetic Counselors, and founder of Watershed DNA, told Insider. “They can also tell us about the grandparents and great grandparents we’d never have a chance to learn about otherwise. And they can be the entryway into a genealogy hobby.”

Buying a DNA test comes with a lot of questions, which is why we talked with six experts about what makes for a quality test, who should and shouldn’t take one, and how secure your genetic information is with these companies. We’ve also included answers to a variety of other FAQs based on the information shared by these experts.

Here are the best DNA test kits:

The best DNA test kit overall

ancestrydna test

The AncestryDNA Origins + Ethnicity Test gets you access to the largest customer database, which means more detailed results and more family matches. 

Pros: Largest database, built-in DNA-matching and messaging, widely available

Cons: No health testing (which experts say isn’t necessarily a bad thing), historical records cost extra

If your goal is to build your tree and meet your cousins, you want the site that has the most people and, therefore, most matches, Mica Anders, a professional genealogist who specializes in genetic genealogy, told Insider. 

AncestryDNA has the largest database with nearly 20 million purported people, which is roughly 8 million more than the next closest, 23andMe. You can opt-in to family connections and even have the ability to message potential matches. Anders did point out that people on Ancestry don’t check their messages as often as other sites geared toward more serious genealogists, like FamilyTree DNA.

The company also offers a subscription service ($25/mo and up) which grants access to a catalog of historical records like birth, death, and marriage certificates, which can be used to build your family tree.

After submitting a saliva sample to Ancestry, you’ll get a breakdown of your ethnicity estimates, ancestry matches with specific countries and regions, a map of the potential migration patterns of your ancestors, and family connections to those who match your DNA. You can even add a traits-testing service for an additional cost to find out about personal traits, such as how likely you are to have freckles or a distaste for cilantro.

Ancestry continues to update its ethnicity estimates and family connections based on new customer data, so you’ll keep getting up-to-date information as its database grows. The company also allows users to download their raw genetic data, which can be uploaded to other sites for analysis.

One of the downsides of Ancestry is that it doesn’t offer specific health information — a service it discontinued in January of 2021. But since genetic counselors recommend consulting with an expert before testing your DNA for health information, and most people use these tests for genealogical purposes, AncestryDNA still takes our top spot.

Plus, at $99 (and often less when on promotion), this test excels in its genealogical offerings while leaving room in your wallet to explore DNA health testing with a qualified expert, if that’s what you choose to do. 

The best DNA test kit for health data

23andMe DNA Tests for Health + Ancestry

If you want a DNA kit for both preliminary health information and a deeper look into your ancestry, the 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service is your best bet. 

Pros: Second largest database, some of the health tests are FDA-approved, identifies haplogroups

Cons: Higher price due to health testing, health testing may bring up sensitive information 

At $199, 23andMe Health + Ancestry Service is the priciest kit on our list but you’ll get over 40 carrier status reports (which include information about whether you carry gene mutations for various inherited diseases) as well as reports on more than 10 health dispositions. This helps provide insight into your genetic risk for diseases like type 2 diabetes and Parkinson’s disease. 

While these reports can be interesting and enlightening, it’s important to remember a positive result doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get the disease, and a negative result doesn’t mean you won’t. 

23andMe’s ancestry results provide information about your ethnicity estimate breakdown, an interactive map of the world showing where your ancestors came from and potential migration paths, and haplogroups, which look at the deep ancestry on your mother’s or father’s side of the family.

Female testers will only be able to see their maternal haplogroup, but male testers can get information on their paternal haplogroup because this test is done on the Y chromosome (which only genetic males have). 

This test also includes trait information from your DNA, such as your chances of having a cleft chin, dimples, and dandruff. One aspect of the test that’s particularly interesting is that it also provides a report on how much DNA is inherited from our Neanderthal ancestors. 

Lastly, 23andMe has a robust platform for making family connections with your DNA matches if you opt-in. You can send messages through the platform and can even see a map of where your potential family matches are located. And with more than 12 million people in their database, the chances of finding distant (or not-so-distant) relatives could be high.  

The best budget DNA test kit

MyHeritage

The MyHeritage DNA Test only costs $79 and provides most of the same information as other higher-priced ancestry tests.  

Pros: Great price, cheek swab, focus on ethnicity estimates, allows you to upload external results, database of genealogical documents

Cons: Smaller DNA test database, no health information

MyHeritage’s DNA test kit was launched in 2016, so its database, at approximately 4.5 million DNA samples, isn’t as big as the older brands. However, MyHeritage allows users to upload their raw genetic data from other sites, so even though its own sample pool is smaller, its database is quite large and you’re still likely to find family matches on the site. 

What’s more, if you believe you’re of European ancestry, MyHeritage DNA might be a better pick than others as it has more customers in Europe. 

MyHeritage has been used as a genealogy tool long before it started offering its DNA test. Because of that, the site also has an incredible database of genealogical documents like birth, death, and marriage certificates. Access requires a subscription, but you can also integrate your DNA results with its historical database and family tree-building tool. 

For $79 (and often promoted at lower prices), it has most of the same offerings as bigger names: There’s a built-in platform for connecting with new DNA family matches and a detailed ethnicity estimate breakdown. Unlike the Ancestry and 23andMe tests, MyHeritage uses a cheek swab to collect DNA, which some might find easier than having to collect their spit in a tube. 

This test doesn’t provide health or trait information, so it’s a good fit especially for those who only want to focus on their ancestry. 

The best DNA test kit for serious genealogists

FamilyTreeDNA

If you’ve already taken an autosomal DNA test like the above, FamilyTreeDNA Y-DNA and mtDNA tests provide deeper insight on your maternal and paternal lines, ideal for those looking to dig into their ancestry and build out family trees. 

Pros: More detailed information on maternal and paternal lines, more engaged user base

Cons: Pricier than other tests, not a starting point for DNA testing

Most of the ancestry DNA test kits on the market are autosomal DNA tests, which means any sex can take it to learn both sides of their family tree, Adrienne Abiodun, a professional genealogist with LegacyTree Genealogists told Insider. 

But FamilyTreeDNA offers two separate, more specific tests: Mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing which focuses on your maternal line, answering the question, ‘who was my mother’s mother’s mother’s mother?; or, Y-DNA testing, which only biological men with their Y chromosome can use to find information about their direct paternal line. 

These types of tests are best suited to those who have already taken autosomal DNA tests (like any of the above) and are looking for deeper information on their lineage. They’re also a good fit for someone who only wants information about their maternal or paternal line — for example, a biological male who never knew their father and wants more information about their paternal line only. 

FamilyTreeDNA is a cheek swab test and allows users to upload their raw data from other test sites to get more matches — making it ideal if you’re wanting to connect with others.

“FamilyTreeDNA has a lot more serious genealogists on it, so sometimes you’ll have a better chance of getting responses from people on there,” Mica Anders said. 

The paternal ancestry test starts at $119 while the maternal ancestry test is $159. For what it’s worth, FamilyTreeDNA does offer an autosomal DNA test but both Anders and Abiodun said they usually advise clients to upload their autosomal data from other testing companies, then focus on FamilyTreeDNA’s more specialized offerings as applicable.

Paternal Y-DNA Test

Paternal Y-DNA Test (button)

Maternal mtDNA Test

What else we considered

There are quite a few niche DNA test kits available, particularly for those interested in genealogy. The experts we spoke with highly recommend taking one of the larger database brands above and, once you have confirmation of where your lineage comes from, consider a more niche test.

Two tests that experts we interviewed for this article highlighted are:

  • African Ancestry (from $299): This test is for those who can trace their ancestry back to Africa and want more details on their maternal and paternal lines in that region. In most cases, you’ll want to do another DNA test kit first to check whether this test makes sense for you, according to Abiodun, which is why it’s not included in the main test ranking.
  • LivingDNA ($79): LivingDNA is a smaller testing company but includes mtDNA and Y-DNA testing in its standard offering. Primarily, experts interviewed for this article use it for people with ancestry in Great Britain, Wales, and Ireland, as they have a large representation of reference samples from this population.

How we evaluated

We evaluated each test based on the following criteria:

Reference database size: The bigger, the better. 

Price: We looked at what information you get, and the quality of the information you get, relative to the price of the test. 

Depth and detail of data provided: We considered how well each test covered deep ancestry information (your ancestry going back hundreds and thousands of years) as well as genetic genealogy, which covers your more recent ancestry.  

Ease of family matching: We considered how easy it is to connect with any family matches you establish, and whether or not you have to pay extra to do so. “Some sites have easier communication than others,” Anders said. 

Genealogist recommendations: We spoke with two professional genealogists who walked us through how they choose which tests they use for their clients. 

What to look for in a DNA test kit

In addition to the criteria above (Reference database size, price, depth and detail provided, and ease of family matching), people looking to purchase a DNA test kit should consider: 

Whether you want ancestry, health, and/or traits information: There are pros and cons to taking a test that includes all three types of genetic information, and some people may prefer not to know whether or not they have an increased risk of disease, for example. Others might want as much information as possible about their health, family roots, and genetic traits.  

Access to raw data: If you plan to upload your genetic data to another site to maximize family matches and build your family tree, you’ll want to check whether or not you can download your raw data after getting your test results. 

Subscription fees: Some DNA test kit companies require additional subscription fees to unlock certain features, particularly around health reports and historical records used for genealogy. Before you buy a test kit, check what’s included in the test price and whether or not you’ll need any additional subscriptions to use the test as planned. 

The test company’s privacy policy: Experts agree that reading a company’s privacy policy in full is an essential step for all consumers before purchasing an at-home DNA test kit. It’s important to be sure you’re comfortable with how your data will be stored and used, and there is variation among companies on this. For instance, some test companies keep physical DNA samples unless you tell them to destroy them, while others will destroy them automatically.

Usually, the reason behind keeping your DNA sample on hand is so that your DNA can be retested if more advanced testing methods become available in the future.

A note on data privacy concerns 

There’s only so much you can control when it comes to protecting your genetic data, according to Abiodun. “For people who say, ‘I don’t want my data out there’: Your data is out there.”

If anyone you share DNA with has been tested, part of your DNA is already in the database. “The floodgates are open, and millions of people have tested. I’m not saying this to be scary, but to be realistic,” Abiodun added. 

It’s worth noting, though, that once you receive your results, you can delete your genetic data from a given database at any time. 

As far as consenting to how your data can be shared, there’s been a lot of talk in the past several years about ensuring your genetic data is kept private after using DNA test kits. Note that some major companies do sell your genetic analysis (anonymously) to places like pharmaceutical companies.

Every expert we spoke to for this article recommended reading the company’s privacy policy in full before buying a test.

“That policy will outline who it might share your data with, and what your rights are,” Brianne Kirkpatrick explained.

But note that a company can change that policy, or be acquired by a larger company with its own looser privacy policy, and it doesn’t necessarily have to alert you that your previously-tested DNA is now available for other companies to acquire. Put plainly, if you aren’t comfortable with your DNA potentially being sold, you probably shouldn’t do a DNA test.

If you’re wondering why privacy is so important, here are a few of the main issues: 

Profiting from health data: “For some of the big companies like 23andMe, it’s clear that providing health information to consumers was always a goal, but identifying a genetic connection with diseases often requires looking at DNA from a very large number of people,” Rick W. A. Smith, Ph.D, an assistant professor at George Mason University and biocultural anthropologist who studies how colonialism and imperialism in the Americas impact people’s DNA, told Insider.

We’re beginning to see genetic ancestry companies sign deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars with pharmaceutical companies, Smith added. “I think it is important that more people understand that when they pay for a genetic ancestry test and consent to certain types of research, their data can be used to generate massive profits for these companies.” 

Some people might be totally comfortable with companies using their genetic data to develop new drugs or do other types of medical research. After all, your genetic information might contribute to the “greater good” in this way. But others may not want massive corporations to profit from their DNA, which is completely understandable. 

Sharing data with law enforcement: Most DNA test kit companies will not share data with law enforcement unless forced to (and their privacy policy states their stance if this is a concern for you). But in certain high-profile cases, such as the Golden State Killer, genetic data from DNA test kits has been used to locate a suspect. In the Golden State Killer case specifically, the suspect was located because his relatives had uploaded their raw genetic data to a third-party site called GEDMatch, a genealogy research tool.

“Once a consumer uploads their data to a third-party website like this, the expectation of privacy is basically out the window,” Lauren Jeffries, DO, a geneticist at Yale Medicine, told Insider. 

Data security: Like almost any other business that stores information in a database, it’s possible that DNA testing companies could be hacked, Jeffries also pointed out. Hackers having access to your name, billing info, and genetic information is potentially a lot more worrying than having your anonymized data shared with pharmaceutical companies.

There’s no evidence that DNA testing companies are particularly vulnerable to hacking, and many mention the safeguards they have in place, but it’s a risk people should be aware of before submitting their DNA test sample. Be wary of a brand that doesn’t mention its approach to data security at all.  

Who should get a DNA test?

1. People trying to build their family tree.

Whether you’re a hobby genealogist or an adoptee trying to find your birth parent, one of the biggest benefits of DNA testing is that it can reestablish lost family connections.

“These tests are invaluable if you’re of unknown parentage because they are the main tool we can use to really dig back when there are very few paper records, if any,” Mica Anders said.

Even if you don’t have family mysteries you’re trying to uncover, these tests can still be helpful, Anders said, if you want to answer questions like: Who am I? Where do I come from? Who’s my family?  

2. Those who want to know more about their ethnicity makeup.

Most of the DNA test kits available on the market today provide an ethnicity estimate, which gives a breakdown of different regions of the world your ancestors likely came from. This is enough of a curiosity on its own for many people to try a test.

Anders added, “I know a lot of people give test kits as Christmas presents to each other just for the ethnicity estimate, and they never look at their results again.” 

3. People who are curious about their genetic traits.

“Some of these kits uncover fun and interesting traits, such as one’s taste or distaste for cilantro,” Jeffries said. Jeffries added that she considers ancestry and non-health-related trait testing to be “curiosity genetics,” which can be entertaining. 

Who shouldn’t?

1. Those who would be devastated by a surprise family connection (or lack thereof)

Sometimes, people uncover unexpected information about their family via a DNA test kit. Perhaps they find out their dad isn’t actually their biological parent or that they have a sibling they didn’t know about before. Most people won’t get a shocking or surprising result — but according to Brianne Kirkpatrick, many people will.

“I’ve learned that even if there’s a warning label on the box and on the website that you might get an unexpected result that you aren’t prepared for, no one really thinks it’ll happen to them. Or they think they won’t react that strongly if it does,” Kirkpatrick said. 

It’s different for everyone who goes through this experience but it’s important to remember you don’t always react the way you think you will to the news. Moreover, there’s support available if this happens to you.

However, if you’re interested in taking a DNA test purely for curiosity, it’s important to think if that is worth any potential surprise revelations. 

2. People looking to assess their genetic health risks.

While it’s hugely popular to use an at-home DNA test to learn your genetic risks, the tests don’t actually cover everything in your DNA. Therefore, it doesn’t give you a complete risk profile.

For example, 23andMe looks at three markers within BRCA1 and BRCA2, two genes known to increase the risk of breast cancer. Kirkpatrick pointed out that in reality, those genes are thousands of DNA letters long. This means that you could get a negative result on the 23andMe test but still have an increased genetic risk for breast cancer from non-tested genes. 

For your complete risk analysis, you’d need a clinical DNA test. If you’re concerned about genetic health risks, you’re better off seeing a provider like a genetic counselor, Sara Riordan, MS, LCGC, president of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, told Insider. 

Interpreting what your genetic health test results mean (and what they don’t mean) should be done with the help of a genetic counselor. At the very least, speak to your health care provider. That way, you’ll know if you need further testing, or if any of your family members need to be tested. 

Can at-home DNA tests be wrong?

When it comes to health information, at-home DNA test kits aren’t as accurate as the tests a doctor or a genetic counselor would order — as explained above.  

For ethnicity estimates and ancestry matching, major companies like 23andMe or Ancestry are considered accurate at the continental level, Abiodun explained. That means if you take tests from multiple companies, you’d see pretty consistently that you’re 100% European, or 65% African American and 35% European, or 25% European and 75% Asian. 

However, the exact makeup of where your ancestors came from within those regions may differ between DNA testing companies. 

That’s because each company has its own database of DNA to compares yours with. The ethnicity and ancestry results you get from a company are entirely dependent on who that company’s tested before. If more people of Korean descent use one brand, that brand’s database and results will be more accurate and detailed for other people of Korean descent, for example. 

This is one reason that, in some cases, big-box testing brands may be less accurate for some populations.

“Historically, a lot of the genetic data gathered has been on white populations,” Kirkpatrick said. That means when non-white people submit samples to certain DNA test kit companies, there may be fewer similar samples to compare yours to. Ultimately, that may mean you get less detailed information in your results. 

In these situations, region-specific tests such as African Ancestry (Africa) or 23Mofang (China) can be helpful. These companies have a more well-developed database in specific regions, which means it may provide more insight into your ancestry from that region. 

If you’re looking for the most detailed and accurate ethnicity information, Kirkpatrick said your best approach is to do a broader test first and then follow up with a region-specific test once you know for sure that part of your family comes from Africa or from China, for example.  

That said, databases at major DNA testing companies are continually growing and becoming more diverse. And the larger a company’s database, the more accurate the estimates are, which is why the big names you know like 23andMe really are top choices. 

Other FAQs

I’m of non-European ancestry, and I’m not sure which test is right for me. 

“If you’re looking especially for ancestry information, the first place to start is the DNA test company’s website and find what’s called their white paper,” Kirkpatrick said. There might be information in that document that addresses different population groups.

Another strategy is to join genealogy groups on Facebook or other online genealogy communities.

“For example, there’s a Facebook group specifically for Korean American adoptees and they discuss which DNA tests they’ve done and which have been most helpful,” Kirkpatrick explained. “So, for some minority populations that are underrepresented in the large DNA company databases, I recommend seeking out groups specific to their background, and getting information from those who have been there before.”


What should I do if I get an unexpected ancestry result?

Sometimes, DNA test kits reveal shocking family information. “The main message I try to have everyone hear when they first make a discovery is to make sure they’re not misinterpreting the results,” Kirkpatrick said.

This means making sure you’ve ruled out other reasons for a surprise discovery before jumping to a conclusion about who a person is and how they’re related to you. 

Often, DNA testing companies report more distant relationships incorrectly, according to Kirkpatrick. For example, a half-sibling and a first cousin both share about the same amount of DNA as you.

“So, if the DNA company makes assumptions about how you and a DNA match are related, it might tell you it’s the wrong relationship,” Kirkpatrick explained. The only relationships that can’t be erroneously reported like that are parent-child relationships.


My ethnicity report says some of my DNA comes from an Indigenous group. What does that mean? 

“I think one of the biggest sources of confusion about these tests is that genetic ancestry results do not easily translate to group belonging,” Rick W.A. Smith said. He added that this is most often seen if people find out they have ties to Indigenous Americans.

“Pretty much everyone would understand that having Irish ancestors does not make a person an Irish citizen. But when it comes to Indigenous peoples, non-Indigenous consumers often make the mistake of thinking that sharing some DNA in common with Indigenous peoples makes them Indigenous also.” 

Indigenous peoples are not distinct genetic groups, Smith added, and only Indigenous peoples can decide who their members are. Genetic ancestry tests are not enough. 


I have an increased risk of a health condition. What do I do now?

Just because your genetic report shows you have an increased risk of getting a disease doesn’t mean you’ll definitely get it.

“It is seldom that the markers these at-home test kits report have a 1-to-1 relationship with disease,” Lauren Jeffries explained.

For example, genetic variants indicating an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease are very common in the general population, Jeffries added, but Alzheimer’s is not a purely genetic disorder. Lifestyle factors play an important role in the development of dementia, too.

Our experts

During the research process for this article, we spoke with a variety of experts in the fields of ancestry, genetic testing, and genetic genealogy, including:

  • Brianne Kirkpatrick, MS, is a licensed clinical genetic counselor (LCGC) and ancestry expert for the National Society of Genetic Counselors. She is also the founder of Watershed DNA, an organization that provides support for those who find out unexpected information after using a genetic ancestry test. 
  • Sara Riordan, MS, is a licensed clinical genetic counselor (LCGC) and president of National Society of Genetic Counselors. Riordan works at OncoCyte Corporation as the Director of Medical Education. 
  • Mica Anders is a professional genealogist and founder of Anders Genealogical Services. She offers genealogical DNA analysis and investigation to her clients. 
  • Adrienne Abiodun is a professional genealogist who works on the DNA ancestry team at LegacyTree Genealogists. Full disclosure: 23andMe does refer people to LegacyTree for genealogical help after they’ve paid for and completed a test. But Abiodun uses a variety of different brands with her clients, not just the 23andMe test kit. 
  • Rick W. A. Smith, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology and Women and Gender Studies at George Mason University. Smith is a biocultural anthropologist studying how colonialism and imperialism in the Americas impact people’s DNA.
  • Lauren Jeffries, DO, is a fellow of the American College of Medical Genetics, a pediatrician, and a medical geneticist at Yale Medicine for the Pediatric Genomics Discovery Program (PGDP), where she provides genetic counseling to patients and their families.

Other helpful sources: 

The International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki is jam-packed with information on the different DNA testing companies, and how different types of tests work.

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The 6 best mineral sunscreens for all skin tones, backed by dermatologists

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • Mineral sunscreens are ideal for sensitive skin types and protect the skin against UV rays.
  • We talked with two dermatologists about what to look for in an effective mineral sunscreens.
  • CeraVe is a standout skin-sensitive brand, and its Hydrating Sunscreen Face Lotion is our top pick.

Sunscreen is a must anytime you’re going to be in the sun, but it’s important to pick the right type for your skin and your lifestyle. While most traditional bottles are chemical-based sunscreens, these can sometimes irritate sensitive skin. Enter mineral sunscreen – a safe and effective alternative to typical tubes that is especially recommended for this skin type.

Mineral sunscreens physically block UV rays by reflecting them away from the skin, while chemical sunscreens absorb the UV rays, Marisa Garshick, MD, an NYC-based board-certified dermatologist told Insider.

Jeanine Downie, MD, board-certified dermatologist in New Jersey, pointed out that mineral sunscreens aren’t necessarily “healthier” for your skin than chemical sunscreens – if you choose a chemical option with gentle ingredients, it shouldn’t irritate sensitive skin and you won’t deal with any white residue. But some people do prefer an always-gentle mineral sunscreen or want to err on the side of caution until we understand exactly how the chemical ingredients absorbed into our bloodstream interact with human hormones.

Mineral sunscreen’s biggest downside is that it’s traditionally been hard to rub in, leaving your arms and legs with a white sheen. But newer formulas rub in just as well as chemical sunscreens, and many brands have formulated options specifically for those with a darker skin tone.

Whichever sunscreen you’re using, it’s important to always use SPF 30 or above and to reapply the formula every two hours if you’re in the Northeast, every hour if you’re closer to the equator, Dr. Downie said. You should apply sunscreen more often if you have fairer skin, too.

With dermatologist-backed perspectives, research, and testing, we rounded up the best mineral sunscreens – and a complementary FAQ on sunscreen use and efficacy – below.

Here are the best mineral sunscreens of 2021:

The best mineral sunscreen overall

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CeraVe’s Hydrating Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 50 is lightweight, developed by dermatologists, and contains niacinamide, a known ingredient to brighten and hydrate the skin.

Pros: Developed by dermatologists; contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide; oil-free, recognized by the National Eczema Association and the Skin Cancer Foundation; contains ceramides, hyaluronic acid, and niacinamide; won’t clog pores; fragrance- and paraben-free; allergen-tested

Cons: May be slightly chalky on darker skin tones

Recommended use: Apply a small amount to one part of your body at a time, preferably 15 minutes before sun exposure. Reapply every two hours, or less than that if you have fairer skin.

CeraVe is a brand well known for its use on sensitive skin, and its Hydrating Sunscreen Face Lotion SPF 50 is no different. Containing both zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to protect your skin from UVA and UVB rays, it’s also oil-free, was awarded the National Eczema Association Seal of Acceptance and the Skin Cancer Foundation’s Daily Use Seal of Approval.

CeraVe was developed by dermatologists to contain three essential ceramides, a type of lipid that locks in moisture and protects your skin’s barrier from the elements. The moisture-retaining ingredient hyaluronic acid, along with niacinamide, is also found in the formula. These two ingredients, according to NYC-based dermatologist Marina Peredo, MD, brightens and hydrates your skin, which she explained in our best eye creams and serums guide. 

This formula does leave a slight chalky residue, but it rubs in well enough for the majority of lighter skin tones; however, it is probably not ideal for darker skin if you don’t want that white overlay (see our specific pick below).

What’s more, CeraVe is non-comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores. It’s also fragrance- and paraben-free and allergen-tested. You can use it on your body, too.

The best budget mineral sunscreen

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For budget-friendly skin protection, Neutrogena’s Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 is a wonderful and accessible option.

Pros: Made with 100% zinc oxide, water-resistant, hypoallergenic, affordable

Cons: Doesn’t contain titanium dioxide

Recommended use: Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure, reapply two hours after (or 80 minutes after swimming or sweating), and immediately after towel drying

The Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50 is made with 100% zinc oxide and is water-resistant, so it’s great for water activities in the pool or at the beach.

It’s also hypoallergenic and, according to Dr. Peredo, this distinction means it’s likely void of parabens and fragrances. For an option you can swing at a drugstore at an affordable price, it’s a quality mineral sunscreen to stow away in your beach tote.

The best spray-on mineral sunscreen

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The Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray is a hassle-free sun protectant that’s dermatologist-tested and water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.

Pros: Easy application, water-resistant, dermatologist-tested, lightweight, vegan, gluten- and paraben-free

Cons: Doesn’t contain titanium dioxide

Recommended use: Hold the nozzle close to your skin and spray until your skin glistens. Then, rub it in thoroughly. Also, note that this 6 oz. bottle contains six applications, according to spray sunscreen guidance from the American Academy of Dermatology.

Sometimes, applying lotion-based sunscreen can take too long, especially when you’re in a hurry to hit the beach or jump in the water. The Sun Bum Mineral SPF 30 Sunscreen Spray allows you to quickly and evenly apply your much-needed protectant, which contains zinc oxide as its active ingredient.

The vegan spray-on sunscreen is also gluten- and paraben-free. Though the spray comes out white, it applies more transparently.

The best mineral sunscreen for darker skin

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SkinMedica’s Total Defense Repair SPF 34 Tinted Sunscreen is truly a blessing, as its sheer coverage doesn’t leave a white paste that’s noticeable on darker skin tones.

Pros: Doesn’t leave a noticeable white cast, contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, helps treat signs of aging with antioxidants

Cons: None

Recommended use: Apply to face, neck, and body and reapply after sweating, swimming, and towel drying.

As a BIPOC expert, Dr. Downie isn’t a big fan of mineral sunscreens because they often leave a white tint on dark skin. That said, she recommends the SkinMedica Total Defense Repair SPF 34 Tinted Sunscreen, which absorbs well, contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, and even helps to treat signs of aging with its antioxidant ingredient blend.

“We, as human beings, react to indoor and outdoor lighting and the blue light from the phone, computer, and tablets,” Dr. Downie said. “Therefore, all races need protection from sunlight and indoor light daily with reapplication.”

For a sunscreen that will protect against UVA and UVB rays, helps to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and works well for dark skin, SkinMedia is dermatologist-approved.

The best water-resistant mineral sunscreen

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The EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion is wonderfully formulated for an active lifestyle because it’s oil-free and water-resistant, so it won’t drip off when you sweat.

Pros: Contains zinc oxide, oil-free, water-resistant, won’t clog pores, contains antioxidants for protecting against aging and sun damage

Cons: Doesn’t contain titanium dioxide

Recommended use: Apply 15 minutes before sun exposure and reapply every two hours.

With the EltaMD UV Sport Broad-Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion, you won’t have to worry about your sun protectant sliding off. It’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and oil-free, so it won’t rinse off in water or clog your pores.

“Surfers, swimmers, and anyone partaking in water activities should read the sunscreen label which will indicate if the product is water-resistant and if so, for how long — generally 40 to 80 minutes,” Dr. Garshick said. “Those who partake in water activities should also be encouraged to wear UPF clothing for additional protection.”

You’ll also be protected from UVA and UVB rays since it contains zinc oxide and, with antioxidant protection, its SPF formula will help protect against aging and skin damage.

The best mineral sunscreen for your face

La Roche slide

The La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50 won’t make you look shiny and can conveniently be applied with or without makeup.

Pros: Contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, tested on sensitive skin, fragrance-free, water-resistant, dermatologist-tested

Cons: Isn’t water-resistant for more than one hour, like some of our other picks

Recommended use: Shake well and apply 15 minutes before sun exposure and 40 minutes after water activity.

Sunscreen isn’t just for your body — you have to apply some on your face, too. This will ensure protection from UVA and UVB rays to prevent sun damage.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Tinted Ultra-Light Sunscreen Fluid SPF 50 will effectively blend into your skin and can be applied with or without makeup. It contains zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, too, so it will properly protect against the sun’s rays. It’s also our top pick in our best facial sunscreens guide.

What’s more, its antioxidant complex — called senna alata — will help to protect against environmental damage. If you’re nervous about applying facial products on delicate skin, it was dermatologist-tested specifically for sensitive skin and is also fragrance-free. 

La Roche-Posay’s water resistance will last for up to 40 minutes. And, if tinted sunscreens aren’t your thing, the brand has a non-tinted version that has a thicker consistency.

FAQs on sunscreen

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Below, our dermatologist experts answered some common questions on sunscreen use and ingredients to look for, based on your skin type.

What is the difference between mineral and chemical sunscreen?

“Mineral sunscreens typically contain zinc oxide or titanium dioxide and physically block UV rays by reflecting them away from the skin, while chemical sunscreens, containing ingredients such as avobenzone, octisalate, and octocrylene, work by absorbing UV rays, converting them into heat, and then releasing the heat from the skin,” Dr. Garshick explained.

But both are considered safe and effective options for protecting the skin against UV rays, she added.

The other major difference between the two is that chemical sunscreens can be absorbed into the bloodstream. However, it does not necessarily mean these ingredients are unsafe or that the absorbed quantity is enough to cause any problems or concerns, Dr. Garshick pointed out. The FDA is continuing to look into this, but until we have research that shows these ingredients in this amount are harmful to humans, the FDA (and all our experts here) still recommend using whichever type of sunscreen you like most.

What consistency is best for a mineral sunscreen?

“The best sunscreen consistency is the one that feels good on your skin,” Dr. Garshick said. “Those with oily or acne-prone skin may opt for a gel consistency, while those with dry or sensitive skin may prefer a lotion or cream. Those with darker skin types may prefer a lightweight lotion that absorbs easily without leaving a white cast.”

How do I know if a sunscreen is “reef safe?”

According to the National Ocean Service, some sunscreen chemicals threaten marine life, ocean reefs, and the overall ecosystem, simply because humans engage in water-related activities. 

“The term reef-safe doesn’t actually have an agreed-upon definition and more research and formal testing requirements would be needed to truly determine what is considered reef safe,” Dr. Garshick said. 

Typically, sunscreens formulated without oxybenzone or octinoxate are labeled as reef-safe, she added.

How do I know if sunscreen is vegan?

“Vegan sunscreens refer to sunscreens that don’t contain animal products and aren’t tested on animals,” Dr. Garshick said. “Some ingredients that may be found in non-vegan sunscreens include beeswax, lanolin, stearic acid, and more.”

What sunscreen should I look for if I have acne-prone skin?

Dr. Garshick recommends looking for a non-comedogenic sunscreen to ensure that the formula won’t clog your pores, thus worsening the condition.

Sensitive Skin Liquid Face Sunscreen – SPF 50 (small)

Can I use mineral sunscreen with prescribed acne or facial medications?

“It is especially important for those with acne to wear sunscreen,” Dr. Garshick said. Some acne treatments can make you more sensitive to the sun, plus sunscreen can help to prevent and reduce the dark marks or post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that can go along with breakouts, she added.

Moreover, some sunscreens may also be formulated with calming or soothing ingredients, like niacinamide which can help to reduce redness and blemishes.

What sunscreen should I look for if I have dry skin?

For dry skin, Dr. Garshick recommends looking for hyaluronic acid, an ingredient known for its hydrating properties. This will nourish and protect your skin from the sun.

Sunforgettable Total Protection Face Shield SPF 50 (small)

What sunscreen should I look for if I have oily skin?

For oily skin, Dr. Garshick recommends looking for an oil-skin sunscreen to prevent clogged pores.

Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50 (small)
Our experts

Jeanine Downie, MD is a board-certified dermatologist licensed in California, New Jersey, and New York. Currently, she practices at Image Dermatology P.C. in New Jersey and specializes in cosmetic dermatology, laser and dermatologic surgery, and laser treatments, among other areas.

Marisa Garshick, MD is an NYC-based, board-certified dermatologist who practices at MDCS Dermatology: Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery. She specializes in cosmetic and medical procedures, including treatments for acne, eczema, and skin cancer. She’s also an assistant clinical professor of dermatology at Cornell-New York Presbyterian Medical Center.

Marina Peredo, MD is an NYC-based, board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Skinfluence, a practice offering a customized approach to cosmetic surgery. Previously, she served as a primary investigator in several FDA clinical trials.

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