We spent August testing dozens of products: Here are 25 we loved

6September 2021



CNN
—  

In August, we discovered plenty of products worth testing — honestly too many to count. Some were forgettable, while others left a lasting impression. Because we’re committed to highlighting the best products out there, we’ve decided to curate roundups of our favorite products we try each month.

So, what were those products we loved in August? Keep reading to check out the products we tested and couldn’t get enough of, or flash back to our July favorites too.

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Boll & Branch Waffle Terry Bath Towel ($58; bollandbranch.com)

Boll & Branch Waffle Terry Bath Towel

CNN/Stephanie Griffin
Boll & Branch Waffle Terry Bath Towel

I am ashamed to say that I have never invested in a “nice” bath towel — until now. At $58 a piece, Boll & Branch’s Waffle Terry Bath Towel is ecologically produced, aesthetically pleasing and best of all, highly absorbent and super soft to the touch. It legitimately feels like I’m at the spa every time I use it. If you’re looking to level up your bathroom experience this fall, you need this. — Stephanie Griffin, social media strategist

Opalhouse 15.1-Ounce Lidded Glass Jar 2-Wick Harvest Apple Candle ($10; target.com)

Opalhouse 15.1-Ounce Lidded Glass Jar 2-Wick Harvest Apple Candle

CNN/Delaney Strunk
Opalhouse 15.1-Ounce Lidded Glass Jar 2-Wick Harvest Apple Candle

Pumpkin spice lattes are back, which means it’s basically fall. (Sorry, I don’t make the rules.) The Harvest Apple two-wick candle is the first fall scent I’ve found that truly hits all the right notes. It’s sweet without being too sweet. Spicy without being overwhelming. Subtle enough you can burn it all day, but strong enough it fills a room with ease. I’ll be stocking up this season before they all disappear. — Delaney Strunk, programming editor

Brooklinen Linen Core Sheet Set (starting at $228.65, originally $269; brooklinen.com)

Brooklinen Linen Core Sheet Set

CNN/Chelsea Stone
Brooklinen Linen Core Sheet Set

This set of sheets has long been our pick for softest linen sheets, but I only just had a chance to feel them for myself — and they deliver. Linen is obviously the ideal fabric for sleeping in summer, and Brooklinen’s set manages to feel worn in like your favorite softest T-shirt yet still super luxurious. Not to mention, the limited-edition ochre color I got is downright stunning! This is my first set of linen sheets, and as someone who prioritizes softness when it comes to any and all bedding, I think I made the right call. — Chelsea Stone, commerce editor

The Dream Cloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress (starting at $699, originally $1,198; dreamcloudsleep.com)

The Dream Cloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress

CNN/Stephanie Griffin
The Dream Cloud Luxury Hybrid Mattress

I prefer a firm mattress, while my partner appreciates one on the softer side, so finding a quality mattress that we could both *finally* compromise on was quite the accomplishment. The Dream Cloud Premier provides a ton of support while also allowing the perfect amount of sinkage. The best part is, the memory foam in the top layers of the mattress help cut down on motion transfer, meaning if you live with a restless sleeper like I do, you most definitely won’t feel a thing at night! — Stephanie Griffin, social media strategist

Atlas Tea Club (starting at $15 per month; atlasteaclub.com)

Atlas Tea Club

CNN/Kai Burkhardt
Atlas Tea Club

While I’m primarily a coffee drinker, it was nice to switch up my method of caffeine intake when testing Atlas Tea Club. This service sends you delicious, single-origin tea leaves from a new country around the globe every month. Plus, each box comes with an informative card that not only tells you how to perfectly brew your new tea but also covers the tea history of the country that month. — Kai Burkhardt, associate editor

Katchy Indoor Insect Trap ($39.79; amazon.com)

Katchy Indoor Insect Trap

CNN/Stephanie Griffin
Katchy Indoor Insect Trap

I wish I never had to buy this, but I’m so glad I did! After dealing with pesky fruit flies around the soil in my new fiddle-leaf fig plant, I needed to find a way to safely yet efficiently get rid of them. All I needed to do was plug it in and let the device go to work for me; the UV light attracts the bug to the trap, and the fan — which makes zero noise — sucks it in and traps it. I’m shocked (and slightly grossed out) at how many bugs it has caught in just a few short days of using it. — Stephanie Griffin, social media strategist

Cloud Paper Tree-Free Toilet Paper ($29.99; cloudpaper.co)

Cloud Paper Tree-free Toilet Paper

CNN/Kiana Murden
Cloud Paper Tree-free Toilet Paper

Honestly, think about how much toilet paper you use each day, let alone each year — especially if you don’t own a bidet. If you’re interested in a more eco-friendly solution to your bowels, consider getting your hands on Cloud Paper’s tree-free toilet paper that’s made with 100% ultrasoft bamboo. It’s three-ply, so it’s pretty strong. I’m normally an ultra-soft kinda gal, but this still felt pleasant to use — so much so that I forgot which rolls were which. Even better: The toilet paper’s packaging is 100% plastic-free, recyclable, compostable and can be delivered as a subscription every few months. For only $30, you get 24 rolls, which we think is a pretty good deal. Pro tip: The Bamboo Paper Towels are great too. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automatic Ice Cream Maker ($324.55; amazon.com)

Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automatic Ice Cream Maker

CNN/Kai Burkhardt
Whynter ICM-201SB Upright Automatic Ice Cream Maker

After testing all sorts of ice cream makers for weeks, this one is definitely my favorite to use. Its upright structure means that it takes up much less space than other ice cream makers I tested, and you don’t have to pre-freeze anything. Just pour in your ice cream mix and watch the machine churn. Making ice cream with this machine is quick and easy, which came in handy during the disgustingly hot and humid New York summer. — Kai Burkhardt, associate editor

Canopy Diffuser ($90; getcanopy.com)

Canopy Diffuser

CNN/Stephanie Griffin
Canopy Diffuser

I am the most forgetful person ever when it comes to cleaning my devices. So I was super happy when my personal favorite brand, Canopy, recently launched a waterless aroma diffuser. Besides literally never having to clean it, the diffuser diffuses up to 400 square feet and features three fan speeds, so you can control your aroma experience. It’s also small enough to bring with you from room to room, or even the office or a hotel room if you want to feel more at home. — Stephanie Griffin, social media strategist

Cozy Earth Bamboo Sheet Set (starting at $255.20, originally $319; cozyearth.com)

Cozy Earth Bamboo Sheet Set

CNN/Rachel Lubitz
Cozy Earth Bamboo Sheet Set

I live by the mantra that anything that’s good enough for Oprah is good enough for me, and that’s especially true when it comes to these sheets. Oprah has touted Cozy Earth as being her favorite soft goods brand of all time for years now, and so of course I had to get them too. Before I tried these I was totally devoted to linen, but now I honestly cannot imagine sleeping on anything else. They’re made of a yummy bamboo fabric that really does feel like silk. Wrap yourself in them for one night and you’ll wake up feeling like you just slept at a 5-star hotel…and not just a studio apartment in Brooklyn. My only wish is that they came in other color options, but I’m sure those will come soon enough. — Rachel Lubitz, lifestyle editor

Beauty

Kérastase Curl Manifesto Gentle Hydrating Creamy Shampoo ($35; sephora.com)

Kérastase Curl Manifesto Gentle Hydrating Creamy Shampoo

CNN/Kiana Murden
Kérastase Curl Manifesto Gentle Hydrating Creamy Shampoo

As someone with coarse, 4B hair that craves moisture, I don’t often find traditional shampoos that leave my hair feeling hydrated even before conditioner. I can easily say that this shampoo is the best I’ve tried in a very long time. It works to simultaneously cleanse your strands while removing buildup without stripping it of its moisture — and it’s formulated with manuka honey and ceramides to smooth, soften and strengthen your hair. I still can’t believe how soft it leaves my hair post-wash. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Charlotte Tilbury Supernudes Face Palette ($75; charlottetilbury.com)

Charlotte Tilbury Supernudes Face Palette

CNN/Rachel Lubitz
Charlotte Tilbury Supernudes Face Palette

I’ve been on the hunt for a highlighter, contour and blush palette for years now that flatters my incredibly fair complexion. This one seemingly does it all. The lighter colored bronzer is perfect for the contour under my cheekbones, the lit-from-within blush is buildable so can work on a multitude of skin tones and the highlighter shimmers in even the dimmest of lights. This is one of the products that I know I’ll have for years. — Rachel Lubitz, lifestyle editor

Oak Essentials Balancing Mist ($38; jennikayne.com)

Oak Essentials Balancing Mist

CNN/Chelsea Stone
Oak Essentials Balancing Mist

Jenni Kayne’s new skin care line just launched earlier this month, and after being sent the full range of products, I can confidently say that while they’re all outstanding, the Balancing Mist and I are in the midst of a passionate love affair. Boasting ingredients like antioxidant-rich aloe leaf juice, healing rose water and hydrating glycerin, this mist is the perfect summer skin refreshment, and I can’t get enough of its hypnotic botanical scent. I’ve taken to just leaving the bottle on my desk and spritzing myself throughout the day when I need a little pick-me-up. — Chelsea Stone, commerce editor

True Botanicals Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm ($48; truebotanicals.com)

True Botanicals Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm

CNN/Kiana Murden
True Botanicals Ginger Turmeric Cleansing Balm

I am a cleansing balm fanatic — mostly because it’s the one makeup-removing product that convinced me to ditch makeup wipes for good. But not all cleansing balms are created equal! This one is a dream because it works to remove makeup and other impurities seamlessly, even for those with sensitive skin. Not only is it moisturizing, but the formula includes ingredients like yucca extract, turmeric, mango butters to moisturize as well as lactic and azelaic acid to gently exfoliate. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Nécessaire The Scalp Duo ($40; necessaire.com)

Nécessaire The Scalp Duo

CNN/Chelsea Stone
Nécessaire The Scalp Duo

Nécessaire’s skin care products are already among our favorites, but it turns out that the brand is just as adept at caring for your hair and scalp as it is the rest of your body. I normally stick to co-washing my curly hair, but the new Scalp Duo’s gentle, plant-derived ingredients left my hair feeling healthy by focusing on its source: the scalp. The shampoo noticeably cleanses your hair and scalp of impurities — we’re talking squeaky levels of clean here — while the light, creamy conditioner adds back just enough hydration (something that’s super important for my own curls). The products are fragrance-free, which threw me at first but ends up only contributing to their simplified feel and makes sense given the brand’s commitment to leaving sulfates, silicones, parabens, PEGs and more out of its products. Most importantly, my scalp and hair look and feel fab after use. — Chelsea Stone, commerce editor

Fur All Body Wash ($28; ulta.com)

Fur All Body Wash

CNN/Kiana Murden
Fur All Body Wash

Moisture is my No. 1 priority when it comes to body and skin care — even without lotions. That’s why when I tried the new Fur All Body Wash, it was love at first sight. It’s a pH-balanced restorative formula that transforms from an oil to a smooth, milky wash as you lather. It includes sweet almond oil, castor seed oil and vitamin E to condition, revive skin, decrease inflammation and hydrate all over. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Matte Sunscreen ($17.99; target.com)

Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Matte Sunscreen

CNN/Sarai Thompson
Black Girl Sunscreen Make It Matte Sunscreen

I’m already a big fan of Black Girl Sunscreen and currently use its moisturizing sunscreen as a part of my daily skin care routine. However, when I tested its mattifying sunscreen, I was so impressed. The formula leaves a primer-like finish on my face, perfect for my combination skin and a nice foundation to layer on any summertime makeup looks. — Sarai Thompson, social media coordinator

Tech

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2 ($149; samsung.com)

Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

CNN/Mike Andronico
Samsung Galaxy Buds 2

I’ve tested pretty much all of Samsung’s earbuds at this point, and the Galaxy Buds 2 just might be the best ones yet. They sound great, are incredibly comfortable to wear for hours at a time and are some of the most attractive buds I’ve ever put in my ears (seriously, just look at that lavender color). I have some issues with the Buds 2’s touch controls and the fact that many of their features are exclusive to Android, but that didn’t stop me from using these as my go-to buds for a good chunk of the month. — Mike Andronico, senior tech writer

Multitasky Multi-Angle Extendable Desk Phone & iPad Stand ($25; multitasky.com)

Multitasky Multi-Angle Extendable Desk Phone & iPad Stand

CNN/Kiana Murden
Multitasky Multi-Angle Extendable Desk Phone & iPad Stand

I’m honestly not sure how I lived before this phone stand — it’s made my WFH setup that much more convenient. Whether I’m watching TikToks, filming content for social or taking a call while at my desk, the stand has honestly made multitasking easy and hands-free. Sometimes I even transport it to the bathroom to play music while I shower or do my skin care routine. It’s adjustable, so you can position it to that perfect height. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Google Stadia (prices vary; stadia.com)

Google Stadia

CNN/Mike Andronico
Google Stadia

I’m a staunch console and PC gamer, but after spending serious time with Google Stadia, I’m convinced that cloud gaming might be the future. Google’s gaming service, which streams games from the internet rather than downloading them to a device, offers some really impressive performance — top titles like Cyberpunk 2077 looked so crisp and felt so responsive that I felt like I was playing them on a console. I also loved the freedom to play these games across phones, computers and my TV, all while using any controller of my choice. Stadia is free to try, and for some players, IT can be a worthwhile alternative to the expensive and hard-to-find PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X. — Mike Andronico, senior tech writer

Fashion

Alohas South Bicolor Stone Beige & Black ($266; theyes.com)

Alohas South Bicolor Stone Beige & Black

CNN/Rachel Lubitz
Alohas South Bicolor Stone Beige & Black

I’ll admit that this is the biggest fashion splurge of my life thus far, but given we’re on the brink of fall and I am especially excited, I decided it’s finally worth it. These are, in my humble opinion, the statement boot to end all statement boots. And not only are they gorgeous, with that contrasting matte beige leather and black patent leather on either side, but they are ridiculously comfortable. The heel might look high, but there’s padding within that makes it feel like you’re walking in flats. I bought them from The Yes, a new fashion retailer that I love, and they arrived in just three days too. — Rachel Lubitz, lifestyle editor

Calpak Hue Carry-On Luggage With Pocket ($225; calpaktravel.com)

Calpak Hue Carry-On Luggage With Pocket

CNN/Kiana Murden
Calpak Hue Carry-On Luggage With Pocket

Let’s set one thing straight: Airport fits matter. But any good outfit needs a good accessory, and when you’re traveling, that definitely includes your suitcase. When it was time to upgrade my old suitcase, I looked to Calpak for a chic carry-on that would make my life convenient while looking chic — and let’s just say the Hue Carry-On suits the bill. It features a front pocket with laptop pouch as well as a smooth exterior and TSA-approved lock closure. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Nike Dri-Fit Swoosh Medium-Support Sports Bra ($50; nike.com)

Nike Dri-Fit Swoosh Medium-Support Sports Bra

CNN/Delaney Strunk
Nike Dri-Fit Swoosh Medium-Support Sports Bra

Finding a sports bra that provides proper support but is comfortable enough to wear for every workout is like finding a needle in a very, very large haystack. Luckily, I finally found my needle. The Nike Dri-Fit Swoosh sports bra is genuinely the best sports bra I’ve ever tried. The material keeps everything in place while still being incredibly breathable. And the zipper front adds an extra layer of support that I never realized I needed. — Delaney Strunk, programming editor

Mango Croc-Effect Baguette Bag ($12.99, originally $39.99; mango.com)

Mango Croc-Effect Baguette Bag

CNN/Kiana Murden
Mango Croc-Effect Baguette Bag

This little baguette bag by Mango has quickly become one of the favorites of my collection. The gorgeous lilac shade adds a nice pop of color to any outfit, and despite being on sale for only 13 bucks, the bag surely looks more expensive than it is. It features a short strap, zipper fastening and small inner compartment to carry all your essentials to your next brunch day or night out. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Pets

Fable Acrylic Crate ($395; fablepets.com)

Fable Acrylic Crate

CNN/Stephanie Griffin
Fable Acrylic Crate

Why purchase a pricey side table *and* a crate for your pup when you can just buy Fable’s all-in-one crate? Not only does this acrylic crate double as an insanely chic side table, but it is designed specifically to reduce your dog’s anxiety — making it the perfect purchase for someone who is headed back to the office this fall. There are larger sizes available too! — Stephanie Griffin, social media strategist

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