Enough with the couples’ gift guides. Valentine’s Day is supposed to be for the ones we love … so why shouldn’t we treat ourselves, too? Indulge in some self-care (or gift some to a friend!) with our picks for the best things you can buy yourself this February 14.
Alison Herman: There’s been a lot of internet squabbling lately over whether the various serums and essences you can find hawked on Instagram or debated on Reddit are actually worth the cash. To the cynics, I say: Get you an exfoliant you can literally see scrub all the dead skin off your face. A complete K-Beauty regimen can be an intimidating thing to assemble; I still don’t understand exactly when you’re supposed to apply a toner, or what steps 4 through 7 of the mythic 10 are meant to be. Dr. G is the perfect starter product, both surprisingly cheap (and right now, almost 50 percent off on Amazon with Prime!) and easy to integrate into any routine, even a nonexistent one. Use it once or twice a week, and then as a gateway drug to a more intense lineup of products.
Rubie Edmondson: To truly treat yourself on Valentine’s Day, aim higher than boxed cake mix and frosting from a can. Food blogger Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen has been my ride-or-die since 2007, and her new cookbook features a brilliant section called “The Party Cake Builder” that will save you from a lifetime of sad desserts. Mix and match dead-simple cake recipes with one-bowl frostings to have your preferred treat ready in an hour or less. All of Deb’s indulgent recipes are designed for postage-stamp-sized urban kitchens, with minimal pots and pans used, so they’re perfect for one. Plus, cooking is therapeutic.
A Marimo Ball, $13
Claire McNear: Treat yourself to the cheapest, lowest-maintenance pet around: a marimo ball. Simple and lovely, all your petite aquatic moss ball—sounds gross but isn’t; I promise—will demand is an occasional water change. Mine’s been modestly gracing my apartment for a few years now; a well-shepherded one supposedly brings its owner good luck. And if you’re still looking for the right words for that special someone—might I suggest that the words will matter little if you send them on a potato? $9.99 has never been better spent. (Good for exes—current or soon-to-be—too.)
Alyssa Bereznak: Here’s a very solid self-love starter pack: a small bottle of Veuve Clicquot to be enjoyed during a long, product-heavy bath. (I’m talking essential oils! Face peels! Bath bombs that look like candies! Bubbles for days!) Yes, I am aware this is the kind of single-on-Valentine’s recommendation that a rejected Bachelor contestant might come up with, but that’s exactly why it is also perfect. The first rule to treating yourself on the national holiday of romance is to indulge in your most basic instincts. The second rule is to put your champagne glass on a grippy coaster so you don’t knock it over in the tub.
Riley McAtee: Stop using the speakers on your television. They are bad, and when you turn the volume up, they sound even worse.
Want to get the most out of your shows? Your sports? Your music? You need a speaker system. Now there’s no reason to jump in and get a surround-sound system from the start—especially if your apartment is as small as mine. But if you get a set of bookshelf speakers, you’ll notice a huge difference in sound quality, and the Micca MB42Xs are a great bargain. Get these and immediately watch the Loot Train Attack from Game of Thrones. The rumbling of the hooves, the roar of the dragon, the wails of the soldiers—trust me, it’ll be so much better. (Then buy a subwoofer and do the same thing—it’ll be even more immersive.) I’ve had this set of speakers for over a year now, and every time I go over to someone’s house who just watches television without any added sound support, I notice the difference. Audiophiles won’t be blown away by this set of speakers, but they’re a huge step up from a television set.
Keap Candle Subscription, $28/Delivery
Kate Knibbs: Candles often get a bad rap as a fallback gift, a safe and generic present for someone you don’t know well. I’m not going to dispute that argument, but it loses sight of the simple fact candles are awesome, and they’re also the perfect gift for someone you know very well, a.k.a. your damn self. They come in different scents! They’re decorative and give life-sustaining warmth! They’re tiny little movable fireplaces for your house! This winter, I bought myself a candle subscription from Keap, a Brooklyn-based company that uses eco-friendly materials and creates very pleasant scents. Their candle holders also turn into cups when they’re done. Now I get a gift from myself every month in the form of glorious, aromatic portable fire, and my life is improved.
Barboncino Pizza, $18
Miles Surrey: Cool gadgets, flowers, chocolates, and other people can be great, but they’re not pizza. I’ll take a great pizza any day of the week, arteries willing, and if I’m gonna treat myself right on Valentine’s Day—single or otherwise—I will be eating Barboncino pizza. Specifically, I will be getting a sumptuous mix of fior di latte, Gorgonzola, ricotta, Parmigiano, and pepperoni cooked to crispy perfection in a wood-fired oven. They call it the Four Cheese with Pepperoni; I call it Culinary Nirvana. You spend the love holiday with what you love.
Adidas UltraBoost, $125 (Or Any Nice Running Shoes!)
Haley O’Shaughnessy: Any gift involving exercise is a turnoff when the objective is self-care. But this is about comfort, the kind that only a slightly pricey, solid pair of sneakers can guarantee. And who knows! Being the proud owner might inspire a walk or hike on Valentine’s Day—Definitely, Maybe can be streamed only so many times. (And, if nothing else, these are perfect for running away from commitment.)
Emerald Green Sheets, $29
Virali Dave: Since moving to L.A. at the end of January, I’ve been sleeping on an all-white bed. My insistence on eating in bed has somehow merged with my tendency to be the reason I can’t have nice things, and so my white sheets, white pillowcases, and white comforter have since become decorated with Cheeto dust, balsamic vinaigrette, and dark chocolate, respectively. Emerald green, Pantone’s 2013 Color of the Year, feels classy and decadent and much better than the 2018 Wario Purple we are currently stuck with. Do I deserve new sheets? Probably not. But is Valentine’s Day a holiday basically commemorating (a) people who deserve good things but don’t get them while (b) other people who don’t deserve good things do get them? Yes. Ergo, I should get these sheets.
A Vintage Tee, $80
Keith Fujimoto: Nothing says “I love myself” more than owning a beat-up shirt from a stranger’s forgotten closet. With that in mind, I’d definitely buy myself this used DJ Quik shirt as my “treat yo’ self” Valentine’s Day gift. It’s basic, will match with any color of jeans, and I can wear it happily while blaring “Safe + Sound” and “Pitch in on a Party.” My DJ Quik vintage collection needs to start somewhere.
The xx’s Coexist on Vinyl, $45 … and Plenty of Barbecue
Zach Schwartz: It is my fifth consecutive year of being single for Valentine’s Day and this year I’m pretty happy about it. I intend to put on my finest pair of sweatpants (shout-out to Ronnie Fieg and Kith), get in my car, drive to Bludso’s BBQ and fill my body with smoked meats. L.A. might be known more for kale and cleanses than BBQ, but Bludso’s gets it right.
After consuming a disgusting amount of food, I plan to drive to my local record store and pick up the xx’s album Coexist. On a Valentine’s Day some years ago, I went with someone special to see the xx perform at a little venue in Tucson. To this day it is one of my favorite memories. In honor of that show, I’m going to go home, listen to one of my favorite albums, reminisce about an incredible show, and hope that Romy, Oliver, and Jamie can help me battle meat sweats and loneliness.