Refinery29’s MVP Awards

Refinery29
·17 mins read

Refinery29’s Most Valuable Product Awards distinguishes 29 of this year’s most outstanding items that we personally tested and approved to meet our standards of unique must-buy material. Click here to read more about our methodology in choosing the winners.

Our search for the “unicorn” of leggings offering the perfect combination of softness, support, and durability led us to Girlfriend Collective’s FLOAT style. After two years of tinkering, the sustainable activewear brand engineered its lightweight leg-hugger using a polyester fabricated from recycled plastic bottles. Offered in an inclusive size range of XXS through 6XL, FLOAT’s silky-soft material won’t suffocate your skin but still compresses just enough.
Featured in: Girlfriend Collective’s New Launch Feels Like Wearing Nothin’ At All

As far as green friends go, Lula’s Garden is our loyal bestie. The hand-grown-in-L.A. succulents are thoughtfully packaged inside petite boxes and carefully shipped directly to your doorstep (or the doorstep of a lucky giftee). And, although we adore every single cheery succulent and cactus in its curated collection, our accolade-winning favorite is its personalized garden — featuring a bespoke monogram-accented planter tied together with a matching bow. We’d give it to our BFFs; we’d give it to our bosses; we’d give it to our moms; heck, we’d give it to ourselves.
Featured in: Plant Shops That Are Ready To Deliver Cheer (In A Pot).

While it might seem like all lo-fi white sneakers are created equal, this year’s MVP is one pair that stands out (and is worn by half the Shopping team). Cariuma’s OCA Low is a chic blank canvas of a shoe that contains a wealth of eco-friendly materials — a natural cotton upper supported by a flexible cushioned insole (made from cork and plant oil instead of petroleum-based plastic) sits on an outsole of sustainably-harvested rubber. The Rio de Janeiro-based brand also plants two trees in the Brazilian rainforest for every pair of shoes purchased.
Featured in: Back-In-Stock: Pantone x Cariuma’s Canvas Sneaker Collab

Each of us will remember different things about this very strange year, but we’ll probably all hold a collective memory of the sweatsuit. Out of the thousands ordered at the height of the pandemic, Los Angeles-based loungewear brand Entireworld, helmed by Scott Sternberg, was the standout. Thanks to an electrifying rainbow of colorways and no-fuss fit, the brand’s sweatsuit boosted our spirits. As R29’s Connie Wang described wearing her Entireworld set, “I felt like a floating head, atop a cloud of comfort.”
Featured in: How This Matching Sweatsuit Became The Unofficial Uniform Of Quarantine

What if you gave your vagina the same attention that you afford your face? The Honey Pot Company has made something as simple as intimate wipes into a radical act of self-love (like a face mask, but for your V!). The formula is 99% natural and made with herbal ingredients that sanitize and hydrate your skin. It’s what’s not in these babies that makes them an MVP, and what also makes them a fab cleanser for sex toys, buttholes, and nether regions in general. It all comes back to the ethos of Honey Pot Company, a Black female-owned business whose products serve as a springboard into conversations on vaginal health. If you want to join that club (who wouldn’t?!) this product is an easy but powerful step in that direction.
Featured in: More Retailers Need To Support Black-Owned Brands Like The Honey Pot Co

The future of your sparkling home is in a tablet — and no, not the one your mom takes pictures with. Female-founded Blueland is on a sustainable mission with its starter kits containing reusable glass bottles with dissolvable tablets formulated to clean every surface in your space. Between the sleek design and the fact that, you know, the sh*t works, making an eco-swap has never been easier.
Featured in: The Best Refillable Products For Eco-Conscious Spring Cleaning

Although we’re currently living in the year of canceled plans, planners still have a place in our forward-looking lives (as well as this MVP list). And no one does it better than Erin Condren — whose LifePlanner, according to customers, has a 93%-success rate for increasing overall productivity and time management. Condren’s softbound or hard-coiled books are each handmade in the U.S. with customizable page layouts filled with 12-month’s worth of planning material (from inspirational quotes to notes, goals, space for contacts, coloring sections, sticker sheets, and folder-storage pockets). But, the real magic behind the cover design of our award-winning choice is in the ability to serve as, Condren describes, “a beautiful reminder that we will rebuild, layer by layer, stronger than before.”
Featured in: Crush Your 2020 Goals With This Bestselling Planner

Don’t underestimate the cheer-up power of a sweet treat — especially in 2020. If you’re sending a token of love to friends or fam who you haven’t seen in months, then Milk Bar’s assortment of quirky desserts (like rainbow sprinkled cake truffles and everything-but-the-sink compost cookies) make for the ultimate surprise. Founded by James Beard award-winning pastry chef Christina Tosi, the online bakery more than delivers on delightful goodies in giftable packaging during socially distant times.
Featured in: The Best Care Packages For Bridging Social Distance

If a bike has replaced your monthly MetroCard, then you may be in the market for the right helmet to keep you comfortable and, most importantly, concussion-free. Thousand’s minimalist Heritage noggin-protector gets extra points for being completely un-hideous — but was able to win the MVP award based on meaningful rider-centric bells and whistles alone. There’s a nifty pop-lock to secure it to your ride without worrying about it getting swiped (Thousand will send you a new one it if it does!) along with a replacement policy for helmets damaged in accidents. Final thoughts: A helmet only works when you wear it 100% of the time, which won’t be hard with one of these effortlessly cool-looking hard hats.
Featured in: The Best Bike Helmets To Keep You Safe During Socially-Distanced Rides

This choice Amazon pick made our radar after a few R29 readers shouted its praises — so, naturally, we had to see what all the hype was about. After testing, our resident R29 Shopping team Virgo/home-manicure enthusiast confirmed nothing but glowing reviews for the wildly affordable jar. Hard As Hoof is a spa day for nails in need of a little TLC. The balm-like texture feels oh-so-luxe, and the generously sized-product will last you longer than you think. It tames scraggly cuticles, strengthens nails, and costs under $10. Dry, brittle nails? Haven’t heard of her.
Featured in: I Tried Amazon’s Most Viral Beauty Goods — & Here Are The Real Gems

Athena Club, a new personal-care brand making feminine hygiene modern and affordable, has changed the grooming game with its razor — and we would know, having tested all the leading DTC brands. Five blades mean you get smooth results (even during an emergency dry shave), and the ergonomic handle allows navigation around tricky areas like knees and ankles. When paired with the Cloud Shave Foam (which has notes of rose, sage, vanilla, and cedarwood), it offers a few minutes of zen while going through the personal-grooming motions. Plus, with plenty of colorways available, you can select a style that speaks to you — or that tells you it isn’t your roomie’s.
Featured in: I’m Only Shaving With This Affordable Female-Founded Razor Brand From Now On

With a texture smoother than butter and a faint natural-fruity scent harkening back to beach vacays of yore, Glow Recipe’s decadent Papaya Sorbet Enzyme Cleansing Balm is 2020’s skincare standout. Just a little of this liquid gold goes a long way in melting off foundation, waterproof mascara, and oil with elegant ease — plus, it’s brimming with brightening enzymes that glow-up complexions with continued use. Our favorite way to use it? Apply on dry skin, massage for a minute, and then rinse off the milky residue before chasing it with your go-to face wash.
Featured in: Glow Recipe’s New Cleansing Balm Made Me Look Forward To Removing My Makeup

We’ve probably gone through more hand sanitizers in the past six months than we have in six years — and on this disinfecting journey, we discovered that there are more versatile options to keep hands happy (and germ-free) than just your run-of-the-mill Purell. Case in point: elevated bébé brand Pipette’s $5 hand sanitizer infused with soothing skincare ingredients (like squalane and glycerin) plus germ-dominating 65% ethyl alcohol. Don’t say we didn’t warn you: this bottle is one you’ll want to keep on hand (had to).
Featured in: PSA: Your Favorite Beauty Brands Now Make Hand Sanitizer Too

When they say everything, they mean it. Los Angeles-based Olive & June’s blockbuster Everything Box is as close as it gets to bringing the nail salon experience to your home. In addition to including every tool you’ll need to shape and smooth those tips — including files, clippers, and a buffing board — you get to customize your kit with your choice of six full-size polishes. What’s more, they’ve taken the struggle out of DIY manis with what they call the “Poppy,” a grippy, category-defying cap attachment to allow for easier control and application — there’s one in there, too. To top the Everything Box off, there’s a long-wear, glossy top coat to prevent chips, a serum pen to show your cuticles some love, and a built-in phone mount so you can capture the perfect #nailfie.
Featured in: L.A.’s Coolest Nail Salon Just Solved Your Biggest At-Home Mani Problem

If 2020 were a kitchen item, it would be Our Place’s Always Pan. The eco-chic cookware brand’s star creation rose from slow-burning cult status to its now-legendary internet-favorite fame — and, after testing it first-hand, we can fully back its magical multipurpose prowess. From its non-toxic, nonstick, ethically sourced, and sustainably packaged properties to its innovative eight-in-one design that’s ideal for small spaces and its strikingly stylish pastel colorways, the pan is plain-and-simple genius.
Featured in: The Internet’s Favorite Pan Has A Gorgeous New Color (That’ll Likely Sell Out ASAP)

The feel-good grocery membership for people looking for an alternative to Amazon Prime: Thrive Market offers sustainable shipments of organic groceries (gluten-free, paleo, raw, vegan — pick your poison diet) with tons of daily deals and freebies. Memberships cost $60 annually (or $10 monthly) for exclusive access (with a free 30-day trial) to its competitively-priced goods plus free shipping — and, with every signup, a free membership is donated to low-income families in need.
Featured in: The Most Wanted Online Subscriptions — According To You

Lube has never looked (or felt) so good. Maude is the modern-sexual-wellness genius behind this made-in-the-U.S. personal lubricant that’s consistently swept the top-seller charts for the past year. Shine Organic’s bestselling secret lies in its 100% natural, pH-balanced, fragrance-free, vegan, and hydrating aloe-based formula — paired with the fact that it can incognito hang with the best of any minimalist bedroom decor. Oh, and did we mention a little goes a LONG way? This stuff lasts (so you and your partner can too).
Featured in: Add These Natural, Organic Lubes To Your Bedside Table

Restless sleepers, rest easy: Hatch’s Restore, a smart light meets soothing sound machine, is here to calm your mind (and put you to bed). The multifaceted wellness gadget offers customizable scenic sounds (like bird chirps, subtle rain showers, and soft white noise) along with guided meditations to help you wind down and drift off. But, that’s not all — the Restore also employs a natural sunrise-and-sunset light feature to encourage more gradual wake-ups on dark and dreary mornings when you feel like playing wack-a-mole with your snooze button.
Featured in: I’ve Tried A Ton Of Wellness Gadgets & These 7 Actually Work

We spend about a third of our lives in snooze mode — which, in our expert and not-too-humble opinion, warrants the MVP with the highest price tag on this list: Saatva’s Classic Mattress. The hybrid-style support system is crafted from three key layers that include a luxury pillow-top covered in organic cotton, a memory foam encasement, and a base of 416 individually wrapped coils that contour to your body. And, more importantly, it was the consistently top-shopped and top-rated choice for stealing winks among both our readers and our writers.
Featured in: We Slept On 12 Top-Rated Mattresses For 30 Days

Our beds were once a destination for merely sleeping and now work triple duty as a desk, sofa, and surface for snacking (don’t judge). Tempur-Pedic’s TEMPUR Topper Supreme helps us support all of those functions for much less than the price of a new mattress. With three full inches of the brand’s long-lasting memory foam, it gives way to the lightest touch and silently bounces back. 2,249 customers, including members of the R29 Shopping team, swear by this topper as an added comfort layer when overhauling your entire sleeping situation isn’t within budget.
Featured in: I Slept On Tempur-Pedic’s Bestselling Mattress Topper For A Week — & Wow

Vacuums are one of those “adult” home buys that can cause shopping panic in the most Miss Independent among us. In a sea of countless floor cleaners, where do we begin? With over 2000+ positive reviews, Dyson’s V8 is a more than solid choice. The vacuum comes designed with: a cord-free body that’s perfect for moving freely from room to room; a powerful suction that does an impressive job of picking hair (both dog and human); multisurface cleaning capabilities that help it glide across carpets and hardwood floors; five interchangeable attachments to fit all couch-sucking and crevice-finding occasions. The icing on the cake? You won’t have to touch that dreaded dust-filled bin when emptying its content.
Featured in: A New Dyson Owner On If The Vacuum Is Worth Its Hefty Hype (& Price)

Pact’s name is its mission: a figurative treaty with Mother Earth to be as eco-forward of a consumer brand as possible. It stays true to its word by working with Fair Trade Certified factories, offering minimal packaging, using 100% pure organic cotton, and fostering a used-clothing donation program that gives back to non-profits in need. Wow, we haven’t even gotten to the Room Service sheets yet. Picture yourself wrapped up in the soft embrace of organic-cotton sateen and knowing your money was well spent. Plus, if you’re not happy with the thoughtful quality of your purchase, you can get a full refund up to 30 days — no questions asked.
Featured in: 22 Eco-Friendly Bedding Brands (& Deals You Can Score On Them)

After this Wayfair desk chair was purchased by over 700 Refinery29 readers (according to that anonymous shopping data you keep hearing about), one of our own bought it for herself to find out what all the hype was about — and also because working from the couch was killing her back. Here’s what she reported back on the runaway favorite: it’s relatively affordable, hella easy to put together, offers excellent back support, and is one of the most handsome WFH staples ever to grace our market roundups (or my bedroom/living room/office/snack den).
Featured in: Found: The Comfiest Chairs To WFH In

Out of the countless cozy wardrobe essentials (from loungewear to slippers and throw blankets) bought and coveted in 2020, there’s one whose name will not be forgotten: Parachute’s Cloud Cotton Robe. The frothy gauzy piece crafted from 100% Turkish cotton wrapped us up in its impossibly soft cloud-like embrace — on more than one occasion. With a relaxed wrap-dress-style silhouette and many minimalist-chic colorways to choose from (white, rose, mulberry, amber, surplus green, or slate grey), the essential piece swaddled us post-bath, pre-bed, and even mid-Zoom meeting.
Featured in: 20 Bathrobes For The Snuggliest Stay-At-Home Fall

There’s no room for clutter in our lives now that we’re spending so much time inside. And, for those of us dealing with cramped AND shared spaces, the kitchen sink is a daily disaster waiting to happen. To the rescue: Food52’s Five Two Drying Rack. Roll out this silicone-coated, small-space savior and let its multifaceted powers handle all of your delicate handblown drinkware to hefty pots alike. Built with a smartly perforated ledge and roomy utensil caddy that can (and will) contain all of your forks, knives, and miscellaneous mumbo-jumbo, this magic gadget is ready to offer you back your precious space.
Featured in: The Best Space-Saving Gadgets For Tiny Kitchens

Never in our lives has there been a consumer product that’s rocketed from “who is she, don’t know her” to absolutely essential in a snap. At first, it was just about acquiring a mask — any mask — but now that we’ve become seasoned face mask-wearers, we know not every style makes the cut. The good news for sweaty chins and stifled noses everywhere is that the elusive perfect mask does exist. The Space Mask (cue: 2001: A Space Odyssey theme song) uses impressive-sounding (and feeling) nanotechnology for its tightly woven filters and is constructed from three layers, including an antibacterial filter, soft cotton, and another nano filter. It’s CDC-approved and comes in three sizes. Our shopping director promises that it can be worn for a long period of time, and it won’t make you feel like you’re drowning in a mist of your own breath.
Featured in: Here’s What The R29 Shopping Team Actually Bought For Under $100

If you’ve been looking for no-frills underwear that doesn’t take itself too seriously (or look ready to join the AARP), look no further. Parade offers undies that are sexy without being sweet, come in a size range of XS – XXL, and are designed for max comfort — thanks to its soft feel and a comfy waistband. A bonus is that each pair is made from recycled materials and shipped in 100% recyclable and compostable packaging. But, it’s the brief style that somehow manages to accomplish the hitherto impossible: a wedgie-proof fit that complements your cheeks.
Featured in: Parade’s Newest Underwear Collection Is Silky Mesh

New to sex toys? Sick of your staples? Invest in a vibrator that’s invested in you, like the sleek “Vibe” from Dame. For one, the female-founded company’s vibrator is so chic it should go on a mantle. More than its aesthetic panache, the Vibe is a toy that brings progressive energy into the bedroom: feeling both vaguely phallic yet non-gendered; great for clitoral stimulation; ergonomic in design; perfect for massaging everything from your erogenous zones, anus, and beyond. It’s waterproof, rechargeable, and has an ample (but manageable) five patterns and intensities. Call it thoughtful versatility and the future of sex toys — or, at least, a sure thing when it comes to your present-day O.
Featured in: This Sold-Out Vibrator Is Back (But Not For Long)

Even if you’re not a total hothead, a little heat never hurt nobodydish. Everything from ramen to eggs, pasta, and maybe even a sweet treat (if you’re feeling particularly spicy) can be revolutionized by just a dash of crispy chili. Handmade in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan spice, this stuff by Fly By Jing is not your everyday hot sauce. It’s flavor nirvana, layered with garlicky goodness plus a touch of zesty brightness brought to you by ginger and savory splendor courtesy of shallots. Consider this wild card condiment 2020’s most unique gift for your tastebuds.
Featured in: Our Team’s 2020 Most Valuable Product Wild Cards, From Alka-Seltzer To Vibrators

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