When you’re looking to ease tension on a yoga mat, style your hair, or just catch some Zzz’s, you likely want to do so with the best products at the best price. Reviewed's expert team of product reviewers spent months testing hundreds of health, beauty, and travel gadgets to find the best lifestyle products of 2018.
Best Hair Dryer: Harry Josh Pro Tools Pro Dryer 2000
The compact size of this retro mint-colored hair dryer proves that great things come in small packages. The resulting blowout from this French-made dryer was the sleekest and fastest of all the hair dryers we tested. It comes with two concentrator nozzles and an ion switch for smoother styling, but if you want the diffuser attachment, expect to spend another $30. The controls are on the back of the handle, which can make turning the dryer on and off a little cumbersome but the tradeoff is that they’re out of the way, so you won’t accidentally hit them while you’re drying. It's a great trade-off.
Best Hair Straightener: Paul Mitchell Neuro Smooth Iron
The Paul Mitchell Neuro smooth iron is a standout among the hair straighteners we tested. Its 1.25-inch plates are great for long hair since they cover more surface area at once. The plates hold hair firmly and smoothly without ever snagging, resulting in a nice, sleek style. The on/off and heat adjustment buttons are smooth and tucked inside the clamp of the iron, which prevents you from accidentally hitting them as you style. Better yet, their flat design keeps them from getting caught in your hair. You'll be hard pressed to find a heat tool of this quality and caliber at a lower price.
Best Curling Iron: The Beachwaver S1
This iron is a game-changer amongst curling irons. Its infamous spinning technology uses a tiny clamp and a motor to curl your hair for you (at two different speeds and in two different directions), so styling time is cut in half. It has a well-designed handle that’s comfortable to hold, adjustable heating settings and auto shut-off, and it rests sturdily on any countertop. It takes the grunt work out of styling since with most curlers, you have to manually wrap your hair around the rod.
Best Curling Wand: GHD Curve Creative Curl
The unique design of this GHD sets this iron ahead of other curling wands: Its base is shaped like a round barrel, which graduates to a flat oval at the top. The tapered shape keeps curls from looking too perfect and unnatural, and it's textured to prevent hair from slipping off. Its speedy preheat is what really blew us away: It heats up in a hard-to-believe six seconds. Although the wand doesn’t have heat adjustability, the 365ºF temperature was enough to hold a lasting curl in even pin-straight hair.
Best Beauty Subscription Box: Play! by Sephora
If you're a Sephora junkie, this beauty subscription box is very much worth it. Each box is filled with five high-quality samples of the store's cult-favorite brands that match your preferences and interests. The site is easy to navigate with helpful information on products and orders, and makes cancellation simple. While some beauty box subscriptions put you on a lengthy wait list, the Sephora Play box was reliably delivered between 13th and 24th of every month. It's a slam dunk for consistent, luxury products at a great price—just $10 per month.
Best Carry-On Luggage: Samsonite MightLight 2 21" Spinner
The Samsonite MightLight 2 is the best carry-on bag of the moment. Despite the bag's total dimensions, the carry handle on top compressed down far enough that it can fit it into any carry-on sizing device, wheels and all—and what wheels they are! The chunky, spherical wheels on this bag make for easy crossing on even rough terrain. As it’s a four-wheeled spinner, there was no trouble maneuvering it around obstacles. Without anything in it, the MightLight 2 weighs six pounds. It strikes the perfect balance of affordability, features and build quality.
Best Checked Luggage: Travelpro Platinum Magna 2 29" Expandable Spinner Suiter
Travelpro's Platinum Magna 2 is the best suitcase for checked luggage to invest in. This expandable suitcase is made well enough to survive years of vacations, trips back and forth from university, or extended business travel. Measuring 29 x 20.5 x 12.75 inches and weighing in at just over 11 pounds, it won't fit into an airplane's overhead bin or slide under a seat. But its rugged Cordura exterior ensures it'll come out of your plane's cargo hold in one piece, no worse for wear. The suitcase’s four spinner wheels are aligned by magnets which guarantees that all of the wheels move in the same direction at the same time, no matter which way you push or pull the suitcase.
Best School Backpack: L. L. Bean Quad Pack
This is the perfect school backpack whether you're toting books, a laptop, gym clothes, or anything in between. With so many pockets and pouches, it’s easy to safely store both flat electronics (a laptop, tablet, etc.) and bulkier items, like chargers, clothes, or lunch bags. The online reviews for this backpack are overwhelmingly positive and praise its ability to both comfortably store many heavy textbooks and protect delicate electronics. Its reasonable price and L. L. Bean’s 100% satisfaction guarantee makes it a great buy.
Best Foam Roller: LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller
Of all the foam rollers we tested, the LuxFit Premium High Density Foam Roller. Not only is it incredibly simple to use, it works exceptionally well to massage out my sore muscles, as it's hard enough to be effective without being painful. The roller also offers a great stabilizer for planks and an effective aid for pushups and yoga moves (for those who are interested in multi-purposing their roller). So while it doesn't offer the deepest massage, going too deep isn’t always what you want. The LuxFit gives a worthy massage without inducing further pain, and I can see myself reaching for this one time and time again.
Best Yoga Mat: Lululemon The Reversible Mat 5mm
This yoga mat is so good, it may convince you to up your yoga game. At first step, its surface seems hard—but it actually has just the right amount of softness to provide comfort without any wobbling. It also boasts a completely flat, non-stick surface, meaning you can firmly plant your hands and feet on the mat and switch poses without slipping. The mat is easy to wipe down after a workout, too, though it does take some time to fully dry. And while it's a bit on the heavy side, it rolls into small cylinder, which is great for portability.
Best Comforter: Pottery Barn Linen Silk Comforter
This beautiful piece of bedding is not only gorgeous but has outstanding warmth and is sturdy enough to last for years, making it our top pick for best comforters. The Linen Silk Comforter is available in three sizes—Twin, Full/Queen, and King/California King—and it stands out from other comforters, thanks to its unique double-sided construction.
The top of the comforter is made of a beautiful textured linen fabric, while the bottom is a luxurious cotton-silk blend that’s soft and smooth against your skin—you can easily sleep without a top sheet, if you want! The comforter is filled with a polyester batting that keeps you toasty warm all night, and its box stitching is high-quality, ensuring the fill will stay in place without settling out. As if its grade-A performance isn’t enough, it's also made from sustainably-sourced materials, so it’s a purchase you can feel good about.
Best Bed Pillow: Xtreme Comforts Shredded Memory Foam Pillow
The Xtreme Comforts pillow, despite its ominously overzealous name, is the bed pillow we're happiest to recommend. The pillow arrives rolled up and compressed, but once it’s out of the packaging it fluffs up to full size quickly. The Xtreme Comforts really shines when it comes to adjustability: it's intentionally “overstuffed,” so we removed about a quarter of the bamboo shredded memory foam filling and kneaded the pillow until the foam was evenly redistributed and felt comfortable to lie on. Since the foam is shredded, you don't feel lumps and bumps—instead, the contents mold around your head, neck, and spine so you feel supported.