Tiny Luxuries That Will Get You Through 2020

Philosophy shower gel.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photo by Philosophy.

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Small luxuries are always nice, but in 2020 they’ve practically been a necessity. We’ve rounded up some of our staff’s favorite little indulgences that have helped make a tough year a little bit brighter. We hope they bring you and your loved ones some much-needed joy this holiday season. Enjoy!


At the start of the pandemic, I set aside my bottle of Philosophy’s Fresh Cream Warm Cashmere perfume and resigned myself to reserving it for a day when I might go out again. When the days of work from home stretched to months, I returned to the fragrance as a small pick-me-up for sleepy days in my home workspace. Now I spritz myself every day, even if I’m working in slippers and sweats. It’s a warm, comforting scent that reminds me of being at home for the holidays, snuggled up by a fire. (The shower gel is also divine for long winter quarantine bubble baths!) —Madeline Ducharme, production assistant

These days, it’s hard to mark the passage of time, as I barely leave the house and it practically starts getting dark before I’ve finished lunch. My nightly application of Go-To’s Face Hero oil has been one pleasant routine that helps separate day from evening. It feels great to pat onto clean skin, either alone or mixed with a light moisturizer, and smells like a fancy hotel. As a product that keeps my skin looking and feeling fresh, it’s perfectly adequate. As a sensual ritual that gets me out of work-from-home mode and into live-at-home mode, it’s divine. —Christina Cauterucci, staff writer


I discovered Dani Naturals Coconut Hibiscus Lotion at a resort spa, and I’m so happy I bought some. Since I can’t go on vacation right now, I appreciate how much this lovely scent transports me back to that feeling I have when I’m on vacation. The company describes it as aromatherapy, and it definitely has that effect. I always receive compliments on the scent, and I love how deeply it moisturizes. It’s also organic, vegan, and cruelty-free. —Erika Anderson, West Coast sales director

I first discovered this diffuser a few years ago, and I absolutely love how it smells of light and fresh lemon and herbs, almost like a summer garden. I prefer scenting my space with a diffuser over a candle, as I find it lingers a little longer. It is a bit pricey, but I get a lot of use out of it—it typically lasts me at least a year. —Maggie Taylor, marketing and audience development

A few years ago, I read a piece in Racked about Cocofloss, an Instagrammy-looking dental floss that costs $9 a roll. Luxury dental floss! I thought at the time. What will these crooks think of next! I’ll admit, though, I was intrigued by the flavor options: Big Floss never offered much beyond mint, and Cocofloss had orange and strawberry. Still, $9 seemed ridiculous. But then one of my favorite writers (Care and Feeding columnist Emily Gould!) wrote about the floss in her newsletter, and it sold me. I had never flossed much. You might think this would be a reason not to buy fancy floss, but I told myself that maybe it would be what motivated me to become a flosser. For the first time in the history of ever, this worked, sort of. Even though we’re in a pandemic and a lot of people’s personal hygiene has suffered, I am proud to say I now floss (sometimes). —Heather Schwedel, staff writer

We aren’t going anywhere during quarantine, which is what makes it a perfect time to try out the Baby Foot peel if you haven’t already. You put plastic booties filled with an exfoliating formula on your feet and keep them on for an hour. Then, about a week later, the dead skin on the bottom of your feet will begin to peel off. Frankly, it’s kind of a gross process, but it’s oh-so-satisfying once it’s done. Your heels have never felt this soft. —Karen Han, staff writer

I wore eyeliner pretty much daily before quarantine. I stopped wearing it for a while during quarantine, and also did not shower … regularly. Then I had a crisis where I felt like a sad grubby mammal all the time. I ordered Stila Stay All Day Waterproof Liquid Eye Liner. Now I wear eyeliner a couple of times a week, and I shower regularly. I feel a lot better! This is not really an endorsement of eyeliner, or even this eyeliner—here’s a $6 drugstore version I like—but of buying whatever nonessential thing makes you feel a little more like yourself. In gift-giving terms, this means finding the fancy version of whatever frivolous thing your loved one uses routinely, whether it’s eyeliner, candles, aftershave, or something else. (Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to make them shower.) —Shannon Palus, staff writer

Let’s be honest, lighting a nice candle at 4 p.m. when it is somehow already dark is one of the things that will help get us all through this winter. My favorite everyday candles are WoodWick. They smell nice enough (I suggest you stick to the “winter” flavors, rather than “sweet” flavors), and they last for a good long while, but their most notable quality, as suggested by their name, is the wick: It is made of wood, and it crackles. It’s very soothing, like having a fire going (a very, very tiny fire). I keep a “tall” one in my office and a “long” one in my living room. —Susan Matthews, news director

Maison Louis Marie’s Bois de Balincourt candle is my absolute favorite candle. I live in a small apartment, so I prefer candles with subtle scents that won’t give me a headache. This one has beautiful, delicate notes of sandalwood and cedarwood. Even when it’s not lit, I can faintly smell the scent in my space. It makes me feel much fancier than I actually am, and I’ve bought it for my friends to luxuriate in, too! —Stephanie Snyder, Slate Studios director of marketing

I have been ordering bath salts 18 pounds at a time. These are Amazon brand bath salts, which I try not to think about too much because it makes me feel weird to be soaking in the offerings of—you know what? Never mind! These are inexpensive, smell nice, come in eucalyptus (my favorite), lavender, rosemary mint, and plain (which you could use to make your own custom scented salts). I’m not entirely sure what they are supposed to do, or if they “work,” but I’m choosing to embrace the fact that they make me feel good, which, right now, is enough. —Shannon Palus, staff writer

I have always been a bath person, but this year I needed my tub’s soothing, womblike retreat even more. I was spending so much time in there I decided that the experience warranted an upgrade, in the form of a bath pillow and tray. The Bath Haven pillow is comfortable and well-designed, sticking handily to the tub and shower wall with suction cups. (It also comes with a washing bag and storage case—nice touch.) The bamboo tray works perfectly for reading, a glass of wine, (careful!) laptop work, more wine, a candle, or grain alcohol, depending on the day’s news. All together, they make my bath time almost like a spa day—not that I really remember what spas are anymore. —J. Bryan Lowder, associate editor

I love a bath. A really good one, with a good book on my Kindle, a nice-smelling candle, some easy-listening music, lights out. (God bless the Paperwhite’s backlight.) But it doesn’t work if your tub doesn’t fill enough to really let you soak. Enter the Madam of Leisure Infinity Bath Overflow Drain Cover. As the name suggests, the small piece of silicone goes over the overflow drain to keep it from doing its dastardly job of skimming the water off the top of your bath. While other drain overflow covers are hideous, the Madam of Leisure one is elegant (well, elegant as a piece of silicone can be) and unobtrusive, and, most importantly, it ensures that my knees are fully submerged. —Torie Bosch, Future Tense editor

When the world went into lockdown last spring, we bought our twin boys electric scooters in an effort to get them off their screens and into the great outdoors. They could not love them more. Given what a hit they were, we decided to opt for more outside fun this Christmas—in the form of unicycles! I cannot wait to see their faces when they see these under the tree. Somehow a wobbly unicycle feels like just the right way to wheel out of 2020. —Holly Allen, associate art director

We spent the weeks before the election, when the news was even louder and scarier than usual, indulging in this audiobook of stories about ancient Greek gods and goddesses, read by Stephen Fry. It was exactly what we needed: entertaining, funny, and set 2,500 years in the past. —Dan Kois, senior writer