Best sunscreens of 2021 | CNN Underscored


Regardless of your skin tone, protecting your skin from the sun is important. There’s no worse way to ruin what was an amazing day at the beach than getting home and realizing you’re as red as a lobster. And even if you don’t burn so easily (or at all), it’s still important to shield yourself from exposure to the sun’s rays, since it can cause damage to your skin in other ways, including skin cancer. That’s why wearing a proper sunscreen is essential when spending time in the sun. But even if trips to the beach are getting few and far between, that doesn’t mean you should stop wearing sunscreen, since you should be wearing it indoors anyway (yes, really!).

To help you find the best sunscreen, we talked to experts about the active ingredients and other important factors you should look for. We narrowed down a pool of 12 contenders and went hands-on with each of them for several weeks. Our pool included both mineral and chemical broad-spectrum sunscreens with a minimum SPF of 30. We avoided sunscreens that have oxybenzone, or either of the two active ingredients the FDA proposed as unsafe (aminobenzoic acid and trolamine salicylate).

To be clear, we didn’t test how well these sunscreens protect skin from the sun — for that, we relied on information from the US Food and Drug Administration and the experts we talked to (scroll down to see what they had to say). Too many variables (skin type, time of day, the sun’s intensity, etc.) made it impossible to accurately measure efficacy in our real-world testing. Rather, we had multiple testers with different skin types and tones test them for other variables such as feel, appearance on the skin, smell, ease of application and more.

After multiple weeks of testing, we found three sunscreens that stood above the rest:

The Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray scored miles above every other sunscreen we tested. An SPF 30, broad-spectrum, chemical formulation, this spray sunscreen applied super light, rubbed into the skin right away and smelled deliciously of coconut. A locking cap and slim bottle are just icing on the cake for our top-scoring sunscreen.

Our runner-up was the Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen, an SPF 45, broad-spectrum, chemical sunscreen. It had a light texture, making it incredibly easy to apply, and it rubbed right into the skin without leaving any white streaks. It had a light, subtle scent and is the best option if you don’t want sunscreen with a strong smell.

If you want to be extra safe and go with a mineral sunscreen (more on the differences below), the Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion is the pick for you. Physical sunscreens are harder to rub in and thicker than chemical sunscreens by nature, but this lotion rubbed in much better than other mineral options and has a light feel. It’s an SPF 50, broad-spectrum formulation with zinc oxide as its only active ingredient, which means it’s the safest pick if you’re worried about chemical absorption or have sensitive skin.

Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray

Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray

The Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray achieved a perfect score in nearly every single one of our tests. Its spray function made it extremely easy to apply, and it has a wide and even distribution, making it easy to quickly cover your entire body with a swift pass; it clocked in with the fastest full-body application for the testers who tried it out.

The spray disappeared nearly immediately into the skin and didn’t leave any lingering color or sheen. It felt a little wet at first but soon absorbed, and we completely forgot we’d even applied it. The spray’s tropical smell of coconut was pleasant, though it has a hint of chemicals and is quite strong overall, which could deter people with more sensitive senses of smell.

In addition to being a quick and easy sunscreen to apply, the Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen comes in a slim container that barely takes up any room in a bag, plus it can easily fit in a standard water bottle pouch on the side of a backpack. The cap twists into a lock position, so wherever you store it, you can be sure it won’t leak or soak any of your belongings.

The Hawaiian Tropic Island Sport Sunscreen Spray will protect you from the sun with its expert-approved, broad-spectrum SPF 30 formulation. It’s water- and sweat-resistant for 80 minutes, and is made without the chemical ingredients that the FDA and other studies have warned us to avoid. It’s incredibly easy to apply and its smell, feel on the skin and lack of streaking places it solidly as our pick for best overall sunscreen.

Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen

Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen

If you don’t want a spray or if you have a sensitive sense of smell, then the Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen is the pick for you. It scored remarkably high in our testing, a few points below our overall winner, just beating out the cult-favorite Sun Bum sunscreen (which we also loved; scroll down to read about other sunscreens we tested). The chemical sunscreen shone brightest in its ease of application and ability to disappear right into the skin. Its light texture rubbed in quickly, and one of our testers even said it left her skin looking glowy.

The Alba sunscreen is marketed as fragrance-free, which rings mostly true as both our testers loved its light and subtle scent. The only dings really came with the sunscreen’s feel, as it was a little thick and left a chalky feeling on one tester’s fingers after application.

Alba’s sunscreen comes in a small, compact bottle so you can easily stash it in any bag. The cap snaps shut, and while it doesn’t have a locking mechanism, it’s quite secure and shouldn’t leak.

The Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen’s broad-spectrum, SPF 45 lotion met all of the experts’ standards for offering stellar sun protection, while avoiding the harsh chemicals the FDA has proposed as unsafe. If you’re looking for a sunscreen lotion that goes on fast or an option with little to no scent, we think the Alba Botanica Sport Sunscreen is the best one to keep you covered.

Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion

Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion

If you want to be extra safe and completely avoid chemical active ingredients, a mineral sunscreen is the way to go, according to the experts we spoke to. While this variety is generally thicker and harder to rub in than a chemical sunscreen, out of all the mineral options we tested, the Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion stood out above the rest.

Alba’s Botanica Fragrance Free Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen fell short of our “best mineral sunscreen” spot because it was harder to rub in than the Coppertone, but the Alba mineral sunscreen does come in a spray bottle, which might be a plus for some.

The Coppertone formula is an SPF 50, broad-spectrum lotion with only one active ingredient: zinc oxide. The Coppertone excelled in tests where mineral options normally fell short, namely in ease of application and sunscreen visibility. The lotion itself is thin enough that it applies smoothly to the skin. However, like all mineral sunscreens we tested, it took a while to sink in. One of our testers saw a slight but noticeable white cast on her skin after applying, while another said it took some rubbing but most of the chalkiness and color eventually disappeared.

This sunscreen didn’t have much of a smell, though our testers did pick up a slight chalky, mineral scent. The Coppertone felt gentle on the skin, with no issues or irritation, which makes it a go-to option for anyone with sensitive skin, including children.

If you want to avoid chemical sunscreens altogether, there are plenty of mineral options out there. Many of them take more time to apply and might leave a white cast, but if you want a sunscreen that offers safe protection and isn’t a chore to put on, you won’t find one better than the Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion.

We selected 12 sunscreens to test after extensively researching the different types available, their active ingredients and minimum requirements for effective protection against the sun. We relied heavily on research done by the FDA and spoke to various experts who echoed and supported the conclusions of the FDA.

We tested only sunscreens that were broad-spectrum (meaning they block both UVA and UVB rays), had an SPF of 30 or above, and didn’t contain oxybenzone or either of the two ingredients the FDA suggested as unsafe (aminobenzoic acid — commonly referred to as PABA — and trolamine salicylate).

We interviewed several experts, including dermatologists, to create these criteria. Dr. David Colbert, the founder and head physician at New York Dermatology Group, said micronized zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (the two mineral sunscreen ingredients) are the best active ingredients to look for because they are inertly safe. “Chemical sunblocks — the super long words most people can’t say or spell such as methoxycinnamate — can get into the bloodstream and into the environment,” he says. “I prefer physical sunblocks and of course sunblock clothing and umbrellas.”

The experts we talked to also praised physical sunscreens for their gentleness on skin. “The physical sunscreens’ ingredients, zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, tend to be better tolerated by people with sensitive skin and can usually be found in sunscreens for babies and children,” says Dr. Elisabeth G. Richard, a member of the photobiology committee at The Skin Cancer Foundation, who’s also a practicing dermatologist and assistant professor at John Hopkins University School of Medicine. Above all, Richard says, what’s more important than the ingredients in your sunscreen is whether you use it. “We believe the best sunscreen is the one you’ll use,” she says. “What’s most important is choosing a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher every day that suits your skin and activity.”

With so many different active ingredients and types of sunscreens, it can be overwhelming to know what to look for. The FDA complicated matters a bit more when it proposed a new rule in February 2019 calling for more research on certain sunscreen ingredients. “We are requesting additional information on these ingredients so that we can evaluate their GRASE [generally recognized as safe and effective] status in light of changed conditions, including substantially increased sunscreen usage and exposure and evolving information about the potential risks associated with these products since they were originally evaluated,” the agency wrote.

The FDA also recently found that seven common sunscreen chemicals can be absorbed into your bloodstream, although it stated that doesn’t mean you should necessarily stop using those ingredients: “The fact that an ingredient is absorbed through the skin and into the body does not mean that the ingredient is unsafe.”

One of the experts we talked to, Dr. Elisabeth G. Richard, a member of the photobiology committee at The Skin Cancer Foundation, says if people are concerned about absorption they should use physical (often called mineral) options, and, “Out of an abundance of caution, pregnant and nursing women may want to consider using mineral sunscreens.”

With all these new findings, choosing a safe and effective sunscreen can be a challenging task, which is why we dove deep into the research and interviewed experts to identify the best options. They all agreed that using a broad-spectrum sunscreen, which protects you from both UVA and UVB rays, is critical. On top of that, you should use a product with an SPF of at least 30, which tells you how long it takes for the UV rays to hit and damage your skin. So, using an SPF 30 — exactly as directed on the product’s packaging — means it will take you 30 times longer to burn compared with not wearing any sunscreen.

It’s also important to find a sunscreen that has a rating for water resistance. “If you’re going to be swimming or sweating, look for sunscreens labeled water-resistant which are tested to be effective for up to 40 minutes of swimming,” Richard says. “Very water-resistant sunscreens stay effective for up to 80 minutes in the water.”

Where it gets more complicated is deciding which kind of sunscreen ingredients you should use. We found that physical (mineral) sunscreens are your safest bet for protection, as none of the ingredients absorb into your bloodstream. Mineral sunscreens contain zinc oxide, titanium dioxide or both, but they are normally thicker and whiter and don’t disappear as well into your skin as their chemical counterparts. Mineral sunscreens work by physically blocking the rays of the sun so they don’t reach your skin. Chemical sunscreens, on the other hand, work by absorbing the rays so your skin doesn’t have to.

In the world of chemical sunscreens, there are two active ingredients you should definitely avoid: aminobenzoic acid (PABA) and trolamine salicylate. In 2019, the FDA proposed that these do not meet the standards to be “safe and effective” for sunscreen use.

The FDA still wants more safety information on 12 other chemical sunscreen ingredients, but there are some studies about one ingredient in particular, oxybenzone, that have discovered a potential link between the chemical and lower testosterone levels, hormone changes in men, shorter pregnancies in women, and disrupted birth weights in babies. However, according to CNN Health, experts caution about assuming an association between exposure and those outcomes. Oxybenzone is one of the seven active ingredients that were found to absorb into your bloodstream, and Hawaii, Key West and the Pacific nation of Palau have banned sunscreens containing oxybenzone because of its impact on coral reefs. To be extra cautious, we didn’t include any sunscreens that contain oxybenzone in our tests.

While finding the perfect sunscreen that has broad-spectrum coverage and an SPF of at least 30 is critical to protecting yourself from the sun, many experts we talked to also made sure to point out that avoiding sun damage doesn’t end with a good sunscreen.

“While sunscreen is an important part of a sun protection strategy, it is not our only protection,” says Richard. “Remember that clothing, shade structures, sunglasses are all additional measures to use when protecting your skin from UV rays.” And Amanda Turney, a press officer at the FDA, encourages consumers to limit time in the sun, “especially between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., when the sun’s rays are most intense.”

We ran each sunscreen through the same set of tests to measure both performance and portability. We did not test each sunscreen’s ability to protect you from the sun’s rays, but instead relied on our extensive research and the opinions of experts we interviewed to create criteria that all the sunscreens we tested met. Our performance ratings were instead based on tests that focused on the products’ ease of application, visibility, smell and other variables. Since many of these tests are subjective, we had two testers evaluate each sunscreen and took the average of both results. Here’s a full breakdown of every test we ran:


  • Ease of application: Testers applied the sunscreen according to its directions and noted how difficult it was to apply to their entire bodies.
  • Time of application: Each tester applied the sunscreen three times and found the average time it took to apply the product thoroughly.
  • Sunscreen visibility: After applying each sunscreen, we noted if it left any color or white marks on the skin, or if it disappeared completely.
  • Sunscreen feel: We examined how the sunscreen felt on the skin, noting if it was sticky, greasy, thick or thin.
  • Sunscreen smell: We smelled the sunscreen whenever we applied it and noted if it had a pleasant scent.


  • Leaks: We examined the bottle to see if it would leak easily, giving points to sunscreens with secure caps.

Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion Sunscreen ($11.49; target.com)

The Hawaiian Tropic lotion sunscreen performed quite well, but not as well as its spray-bottle counterpart. It lost a few points on ease of application and size. Overall, it’s a solid sunscreen that rubbed into the skin well and wasn’t too thick, but its tropical, fruity smell may be overpowering to some.

Banana Boat Simply Protect Sport Sunscreen Spray ($11.89; target.com)

This chemical sunscreen also scored very well in our testing, achieving high marks for ease of application, how it felt on the skin and visibility. One of our testers said it was a little harsh on her sensitive skin, though, and the chemical smell can be overbearing. But if those factors aren’t an issue for you, this option from Banana Boat is a top-notch spray sunscreen.

Sun Bum Original SPF 30 Sunscreen Lotion ($15.99; ulta.com)

Sun Bum’s chemical sunscreen was one of our favorites. It has a light texture that rubs in quickly, and boy oh boy, does it smell good. The creamy banana scent had us reaching for Sun Bum more than most of the other options in our test pool. It was just a few points shy of our winners because it took more time to apply than the sprays and comes in a bottle that’s a bit bulky.

MDSolarSciences Mineral Moisture Defense SPF 50 ($39; amazon.com)

MDSolarSciences is one of the most expensive sunscreens we tested, but it fell short of our top picks in many categories. It didn’t have a discernible scent, which was nice, but it felt greasy on the skin, making our testers sweat more and leaving them desperately wanting a shower.

California Kids Supersensitive Broad-Spectrum Tinted Sunscreen ($35.99; amazon.com)

The biggest issue with this mineral sunscreen from California Kids was how long it took to rub into the skin. It lacks a strong scent, which is a plus, but both our testers docked points because it left a white residue that wouldn’t go away.

Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+ ($12.71; amazon.com)

This sunscreen is made with the sole active ingredient of zinc oxide. It was incredibly thick and took quite a while to fully apply; even after our testers took a long time to thoroughly rub it in, it left white streaks. Several other mineral options we tested, such as the Coppertone and Alba sunscreens, were much easier to apply.

Alba Botanica Fragrance-Free Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen ($3.59; amazon.com)

This spray sunscreen from Alba was a close second to the Coppertone for our pick for best mineral sunscreen. The spray function made application a much faster process, but we still had to rub in the sunscreen a lot, as it came out white and chalky.

CeraVe Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen Stick ($12.99; amazon.com)

The CeraVe Sunscreen stick is a fantastic option for a portable sunscreen you can keep in your purse, but its small size means it’s a pain to apply to your entire body. It scored well in our tests, almost claiming the title of best mineral sunscreen, but we ultimately chose the Coppertone Pure & Simple Sunscreen Lotion since it’s a better option for full-body application. The CeraVe is a mineral formula and has a decent smell and feel, but where it really shone was with its petite size and ultimate portability.

Colorescience Sunforgettable Total Protection Body Shield ($45; colorescience.com)

This mineral sunscreen is the most expensive on our list, but it scored lower than many other, cheaper options. It didn’t feel amazing on the skin, with one tester describing it as matte and silky, but still as though there were a thick film on his skin. It had a light scent that’s reminiscent of makeup, but it’s just too expensive compared with the other, better options we tested.

Read more from CNN Underscored’s hands-on testing:

Best Father’s Day gifts of 2021


It seems like we barely get done celebrating Mom when it’s time to give props to Dad. Indeed, Father’s Day is coming up fast. It falls on June 20 this year.

Maybe you’ve noticed something. On Mom, it seems, we go hard. But then the next month, we sometimes…phone it in. Literally. We give dear old dad a ring and call it a day. Stats bear that out. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spend just about $8 billion more on Mother’s Day than Father’s Day. Now’s not the time to explore the cultural reasons for that, but we’re here to say it just ain’t right.

Start giving your dad his due this year, right here. We have such great gift ideas for him and for all the special fathers in our lives, from new dads to granddads.

Man Crates Trail Blazer Crate ($99.99; mancrates.com)

Man Crates Trail Blazer Crate

Man Crates

Man Crates Trail Blazer Crate

Help that outdoorsy dad even the man versus nature odds with this cache of gear and supplies. Once he cracks open the sealed wooden crate with the laser-etched crowbar (half the joy of this gift), he’ll find a 14-function tool, an extra-bright headlamp, a collapsible water bottle and a trio of meaty protein snacks.

Ballast Beach Pillow ($35; amazon.com)

Ballast Beach Pillow


Ballast Beach Pillow

This plush pillow repels sand and wicks away water, but its claim to fame is its special design. It won’t blow away on windy beaches or breezy days poolside, like typical inflatable pillows. It can be used right on a towel or attached to a chair, and it comes in a carry case.

Kodak Step Mini Wireless Printer ($59.99, originally $69.99; amazon.com)

Kodak Step Mini Wireless Printer


Kodak Step Mini Wireless Printer

The palm-size printer turns his favorite shots of his kids into 2-inch-by-3-inch prints, straight from his phone as the memories are happening. We were sold on the fact that you don’t need ink…that stuff costs a fortune. The Zink Paper (an included supply) is embedded with special dye crystals that make crisp images that resist moisture, tears and smudges.

Swimways Hydro Lacrosse Game ($14.99; dickssportinggoods.com)

Swimways Hydro Lacrosse Game

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Swimways Hydro Lacrosse Game

“Scoop it, Daddy!” Does your crew look forward to spending time in a pool, at the ocean or lakeside this summer? Then expect to hear that a lot. If you’re looking for a budget-friendly gift to encourage family fun, this is probably it.

The North Face Base Camp Duffel ($149; nordstrom.com)

The North Face Base Camp Duffel


The North Face Base Camp Duffel

A duffel may seem like an expected gift — except when it’s this killer specimen from The North Face. Whether family road trips or camping adventures or both are in his future, this water-resistant bag, with an ergonomic shoulder strap as well as handles, is a worthy take-along. One of its reviewers had this to say: “I can stuff two complete sets of bedding for my camper in it, including pillows. If it gets tossed onto wet ground, everything’s fine. I love this bag!”

Schosche PowerUp 600 ($99.99; walmart.com)

Schosche PowerUp 600


Schosche PowerUp 600

Is he a plan-ahead-just-in-case type of guy? Then he’ll be all about this clever device: lightweight car jumper cables, a flashlight (because breakdowns always happen in the dark) and a USB phone charger. It holds a charge for six months and automatically turns off to conserve the batteries the second the car starts.

Casio G-Shock Step Tracker Watch ($99; dickssportinggoods.com)

Casio G-Shock Step Tracker Watch

Dick’s Sporting Goods

Casio G-Shock Step Tracker Watch

For those fathers who want to trim their dad bods but haven’t plunged into a workout routine yet, this tech-drenched watch will be inspo to take the first step. Literally. It has a step counter with an acceleration sensor, an LED illuminator for his nightime walks or runs, a stop watch, alarm reminders, a goal log, a calorie tracker, an accompanying smartphone app, Bluetooth and resistance to water, shock and fogging up. Whoa.

Panasonic SoundSlayer Gaming Soundbar ($249.80, originally $299; amazon.com)

Panasonic SoundSlayer Gaming Soundbar


Panasonic SoundSlayer Gaming Soundbar

So, yeah, this one’s slightly pricey, but for a guy who’s a gamer, with a kid who’s a gamer, the bonding sessions will be worth every nickel and way more. It’ll bring a whole new dimension of 3D sound to video game sessions.

And the speakers are legit: Panasonic partnered with the Final Fantasy XIV online sound team to design them. This soundbar brings an immersive experience to movies too, with ambient music and environmental sounds.

Nostaglia Hot Dog Toaster ($24.99; amazon.com)

Nostaglia Hot Dog Toaster


Nostaglia Hot Dog Toaster

Give the man a break from the barbecue grill by gifting him this fun, old-timey appliance. It toasts the buns and warms franks perfectly, both at the same time. No more soggy boiled hot dogs in winter either. He’ll be able to enjoy his favorite taste of summer year-round.

Huron Shower Kit ($39; usehuron.com)

Huron Shower Kit


Huron Shower Kit

Do you get the sense your partner wants to level up his skin and hair game but is at a loss as to where to begin? Show him! This body wash, shampoo and conditioner set gives luxury products a run for their money. (Pssst: One of the founders formerly led development teams at top skin care brands.) But unlike luxury brands, Huron aims to be totally nonintimidating to men who have never been real good about taking care of themselves. The products have no parabens, sulfates, phthalates, silicones or aluminum.

Ostrichpillow Digital Detox Phone Case ($50; ostrichpillow.com)

Ostrichpillow Digital Detox Phone Case


Ostrichpillow Digital Detox Phone Case

Let’s face it: We can all benefit from loosening our phone’s grip on us a little bit. And that goes double for dads with kids who are growing as fast as bamboo. Help him embrace distraction-free family time with this stealthy phone case. Slip a phone of any size up to iPhone 12 in, and all signals are blocked. Calls, texts, notifications, all of it. You’re welcome.

Best Farter Mug ($14.99, originally $19.99; amazon.com)

Best Farter Mug


Best Farter Mug

OK, yes, mugs are usually a boring gift. But surely you agree this one is an exception, leaving “No. 1 Dad” in the dust.

Misen Essentials Knife Set ($130; misen.com)

Misen Essentials Knife Set


Misen Essentials Knife Set

If your guy, like many of us, discovered a love of cooking during the pandemic, he’ll be all over this high-quality set that includes a chef’s knife, a serrated knife and a paring knife. Armed with those three, he can cut and chop just about anything.

Misen makes its knives from steel that’s high in carbon, which ensures they’ll last basically forever and stay super sharp. The shape and weight of each piece makes it feel good in your hand. The 2,100 reviewers giving the set an average 4.9 stars agree on that point. Pun intended.

Little Words Project Lava Family Bracelet (starting at $8, originally $20; nordstrom.com)

Little Words Project Lava Family Bracelet


Little Words Project Lava Family Bracelet

Slip this stretchy, handmade men’s bracelet on your husband’s wrist when you two first wake up on Father’s Day morning. It’ll be a perfect, sweet start to his special day. And long after June 20 has passed, it’ll serve as a reminder of what really matters and what most definitely does not (his boss’s maddening rants).

Bloomscape Mini Money Tree ($35; bloomscape.com)

Bloomscape Mini Money Tree


Bloomscape Mini Money Tree

If there’s one thing a brand-new daddy wants, it’s a money tree. The classic Chinese money tree is said to trap your fortune within the folds of its braided trunk. Those are pretty big, though, so if you don’t have all that much room, may we suggest this cute mini version? It ships in a box that holds the pot (which comes in five colors) snugly in place. Plus, it comes with a 30-day “it’ll stay alive” guarantee. Tip: Tradition holds that businesses put it near the register, while in homes it should be placed in the southeast corner.

Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker ($19.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)

Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker

Bed, Bath and Beyond

Wireless Bluetooth Shower Speaker

With a newborn to care for, the shower can be about the only place one can gather their thoughts for a few minutes. Help him enjoy that brief break from daddy duty to the max with this shower speaker that can access his phone’s playlist. It even has a built-in speaker phone for caller ID. (That may take away from the relaxation aspect, but he’ll probably think it’s cool.)

Casper The Glow Light ($129; casper.com)

Casper The Glow Light


Casper The Glow Light

Babies sure do mess with sleep-wake cycles. You’re constantly drowsy from cutie-induced sleep deprivation, then when you can finally catch some zzz’s, you’re tossing and turning. Enter this new parent life improver. It’ll help Dad’s brain relax and wind down with a warm light that gradually dims. (It works in reverse as a gentle alarm clock, which you’ll appreciate in a few years when you need one.)

It also can be carried as a night light for 2 a.m. feedings, bright enough to keep him from walking into the refrigerator but not so bright that baby thinks she’s up for the day.

Canary Flex Security Camera ($129.97; amazon.com)

Canary Flex Security Camera


Canary Flex Security Camera

Know a nervous (or just moony over his little miracle) first-time father? Put his mind at ease while brightening his days with this indoor-outdoor camera. It has night vision and motion detection with alerts, and it plays nice with Alexa and Google Assistant. Installation is also extremely simple.

Blue Bottle Coffee Blend Box ($35; bluebottlecoffee.com)

Blue Bottle Coffee Blend Box

Blue Bottle Coffee

Blue Bottle Coffee Blend Box

Java his new best friend? Of course it is. Inside this gift box, he’ll find Blue Bottle’s most popular whole-bean coffee blends: Three Africas, Bella Donovan and Giant Steps. They’re all roasted right before shipping, so his cups of joe will taste supremely savory and fresh. We even named Blue Bottle the best coffee subscription of 2021.

Hearth & Hand With Magnolia Croquet Set ($99.99; target.com)

Hearth & Hand With Magnolia Croquet Set


Hearth & Hand With Magnolia Croquet Set

Chip and Joanna Gaines had a hand in designing this modern incarnation of a beloved backyard game. It has wheels and a handle so he can easily roll it out for a round with the grandkids. The entire set is made of wood for that nice classic look.

Bokksu Authentic Japanese Snack Box Subscription (first box $31.50, $49.95 thereafter; amazon.com or starting at $39.95 per month; bokksu.com)

Bokksu Authentic Japanese Snack Box Subscription


Bokksu Authentic Japanese Snack Box Subscription

Does Grandpa love his snacks? Then thrill him with an ongoing supply of treats he has surely never tried before. Each box of Bokksu yumminess delivers at least 20 snacks that normally can only be had in Japan. He’ll enjoy candy, senbei rice crackers, mochi, cakes, chips, tea…each box is different. All snacks are made by family-run small companies, which ship their packages direct from Japan, free, with tracking. A guide is included in every box that details each snack’s history and flavor profile.

Check out our review of Bokksu here.

Helinox Sunset Chair ($149.95; amazon.com)

Helinox Sunset Chair


Helinox Sunset Chair

Comfy and perfectly portable, this top-flight aluminum beach, camping and watch-the-grandkids’-soccer-games seat weighs only 3 pounds. That’s inside the included carry bag! Yet it supports up to 320 pounds. It also sits higher off the ground than most such chairs, so it’s easier to get in and out of.

Brightland The Summer Grilling Capsule ($65; brightland.co)

Brightland The Summer Grilling Capsule


Brightland The Summer Grilling Capsule

Everyone knows Grandpa is King of the Grill, presiding over summer barbecues with panache. As one of his adoring subjects, gift him this limited-edition set of lemon olive oil, a brushed gold drizzling spout, heirloom aromatic sea salt and two sustainably harvested cedar grilling planks.

Check out our review of Brightland olive oils here.

Crescent Lufkin Shockforce Nite Eye 25-Foot Tape Measure ($29.98; lowes.com)

Crescent Lufkin Shockforce Nite Eye 25-Foot Tape Measure


Crescent Lufkin Shockforce Nite Eye 25-Foot Tape Measure

Handy grands will make so much use of this smartly designed tool. The two-sided blade has distinct green markings on matte black that can be easily read even when the light isn’t good. The blade extends out 14 feet without collapsing (even if he’s not holding it); the end hook has a special coating so it stays put without slipping.

Midland MicroMobile 2-Way Radio ($149.99; amazon.com)

Midland MicroMobile 2-Way Radio


Midland MicroMobile 2-Way Radio

Roger that! Hook him up with a two-way radio with a handheld mic and an up to 50-mile range (depending on terrain). He’ll use it to keep in touch on a multi-vehicle road trip, chat with his buddies on walkie-talkies and stay ahead of the elements with NOAA weather stations. If he happens to live in a rural area, it’ll come in handy for chatting with nearby friends in areas with no cell service. It comes with a quick start guide, so if Gramps is a first-time user he’ll feel like an expert fast.

Shiitake Mushroom Log Kit ($30; uncommongoods.com)

Shiitake Mushroom Log Kit

Uncommon Goods

Shiitake Mushroom Log Kit

Is that special grandfather endlessly curious? A lover of nature or gardening? A bit of a mad scientist? Then this cannot fail to leave him giddy. All he has to do is soak his log and keep it in a damp, cool, dark spot. With resoaking and regular harvesting, he’ll have mushrooms for salads, soups and chicken marsala for three years or so. These shroom wonders are handmade in Georgia.

Custom iPhone Case ($50, originally $100; westandwillow.com)

Custom iPhone Case

West & Willow

Custom iPhone Case

This sleek yet tough iPhone case doubles as a means for your giftee to show off his pride and joy (even if that is a plump pug). It has flexible sides for easy off and on, and it’s designed to make wireless charging a snap.

‘Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat’ by Jackson Galaxy ($14.97; amazon.com)

'Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat' by Jackson Galaxy


‘Total Cat Mojo: The Ultimate Guide to Life With Your Cat’ by Jackson Galaxy

We’ve all heard that dogs have owners while cats have staff. Consider this his employee handbook. Cat daddy extraordinaire Jackson Galaxy will help him understand why his feline does what he does. He even offers up the secret to stress-free trips to the vet. This is essentially everything Jackson knows about cats.

Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Kit ($99.99; chewy.com)

Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Kit


Wisdom Panel Essential Dog DNA Kit

Give him the gift of an answer to the question “What kind of dog is that?” The DNA test from Wisdom Panel can break down breed information down to 1%. The process is easy and not at all uncomfortable for your pup.

KitAtlas Custom Pet Magnet ($26; etsy.com)

KitAtlas Custom Pet Magnet


KitAtlas Custom Pet Magnet

He’ll show off the object of his affection with a magnet on the fridge designed to look just like his best pal. The collar can even be personalized with his pet’s name.

Why Is Asthma Worse at Night?

Man holding asthma nebulizer on bed at night

Shortness of breath, wheezing, and coughing are annoying enough during the day. Waking up in the middle of a coughing fit or being unable to catch your breath in the quiet of the night is downright disturbing. Unfortunately, approximately 30 to 70% of people with asthma experience nocturnal asthma, or a worsening of asthma symptoms at night. Not everyone with asthma feels worse at night, but many do.

Learn more about nocturnal asthma and what to do if you have nighttime asthma with cough and other symptoms.

The most common reasons asthma is worse at night:

  • Exposure to allergens. Bedbugs. Pet dander. Dust mites. All are common in the bedroom, and all can trigger asthma attacks. You probably spend 6 to 9 hours in bed every day; that’s a long time to be exposed to potential allergens. Some people also experience delayed allergic reactions at night. It’s not uncommon for an allergic response to occur 3 to 8 hours after exposure to an allergen. If you’re exposed to pollen, for instance, in the early evening, you might experience shortness of breath and wheezing when you’re trying to fall asleep.

  • Supine position and acid reflux. When we lie down, it’s easier for stomach acid to travel back up into the esophagus, the tube connecting the mouth and stomach.Instead of being swallowed, some of this fluid can enter the large airways and provoke an irritating cough. Reflux of stomach acid can also cause the airways to constrict, which leads to more difficulty breathing.

  • Postnasal drip. People are more susceptible to postnasal drip at night. When you lie flat, it’s easier for fluid to drip down the back of your throat and cause coughing. Lying down also causes fluid to shift from the legs to the chest, which can lead to increased fluid accumulation in the airway walls and narrowing of the breathing passages.

  • Circadian changes in lung function. Our lungs work differently during the night. Perhaps because human beings evolved to be active during the day, our lung function is best during the day. Airway resistance increases throughout the night, and that effect is more pronounced in people with asthma.

  • Stress. At least one study has found a relationship between stress and nighttime asthma. Hormones released by the body in times of stress can cause inflammation, so researchers theorize that stress may lead to narrowed airways, at least in some people.

If you wake up in the middle of an asthma attack, use your rescue inhaler. (It’s a good idea to keep it within reach of your bed, especially if you’re prone to nocturnal asthma.) Adopting a more upright position may help too. Some people find that a drink of water can ease a cough.

If you regularly experience asthma symptoms at night, talk with your healthcare provider about the problem. Adjusting the timing of your asthma medicine may help. Some studies, for instance, have shown that an 800 microgram dose of inhaled triamcinolone (Azmacort) at 3 pm is more effective than taking 200 micrograms of it four times a day.

Your healthcare provider may also need to increase or add medication. Asthma tends to get worse over time, and if you’re having symptoms at night, your asthma may be poorly controlled. Tweaking your asthma management plan may eliminate your nighttime symptoms.

Exercise can help alleviate nocturnal asthma as well. Studies have found that physical activity at least twice a week for 6 to 8 weeks decreased nighttime asthma symptoms in children. Ten to 12 weeks of physical exercise also decreased nocturnal asthma and improved sleep in adults.

People whose asthma is worse at night should see a healthcare provider and ask about nocturnal asthma treatment.

Behind the Desk: The Story of Late Night

Best nonstick pans of 2021

(CNN) —  

A quality nonstick pan is a true kitchen essential; from stir-fries to burgers to omelets, the stovetop staple basically does it all. Not all pans are created equal, however, and with thousands available in every possible price range, it can be tough to cull through marketing jargon to find the very best one.

So, to determine which nonstick pans were truly the best, we sorted through dozens of published reviews and perused user feedback to settle on 12 to put to the test. We cooked four different meals on every single contender, assessing nonstickiness (as in, could an egg really be flipped without oil or butter and leave no trace?), ergonomics, cleaning ease, temperature distribution and tolerance, durability and general aesthetics. After a lot of pancakes and too many eggs to count (yes, we know our job is tough), we were able to narrow our picks down to the three winners below.

If you’re a minimalist and prefer to have just a single pan in your kitchen, you’d be set with the T-fal E76597. This pan’s depth gives it multipurpose functionality: It cooks standard frying-pan foods like eggs and meats, and its 2½-inch sides are tall enough to prepare recipes you’d usually reserve for pots, like rices and stews. It’s a high-quality and affordable pan that outperformed some of the more expensive ones in our testing field.

GreenPan’s Ceramic Fry Pan boasts materials that’ll please any chemical-conscious consumer. Unlike many nonstick pans, this one is free of materials that may pose long-term health risks, including PFAS, PFOA, lead and cadmium. The nonstick coating is, instead, made from sand, so it won’t release any toxic fumes in the case of overheating.

The HexClad 10-Inch Hybrid Pan feels fancy (and yes, it’s pricey as well), but it’s also a sturdy piece of cookware that blew the competition out of the kitchen during every one of our tests: Food slid off easily, it was a breeze to clean, and heat was evenly distributed while cooking. If you’re looking for a pro-level upgrade to your cookware, this is everything you want in a nonstick pan wrapped in a pretty package.

Best Overall Pan: T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan with Lid ($39.99, originally $55.95; amazon.com)

 T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick 10 Inch Fry Pan with Lid

T-fal E76597 Ultimate Hard Anodized Nonstick 10 Inch Fry Pan with Lid

Why we love it in a sentence: Whether you’re looking to steam a mountain of veggies or sear a steak, this affordable option can handle it all with ease.

This pan is a steal. At just under $45 (with lid included), it can cook way more than the average frying pan, with the ability to boil and stew. Its extended side height helps contain voluminous veggies — like kale — that would otherwise overflow before they’re wilted down by heat.

When it comes to pulling off nonstick, the T-fal absolutely delivers. Nothing clings to the pan’s surface, which is made with anodized aluminum, a golden term in the nonstick world but one you might not be familiar with. Anodizing and aluminum go together like peanut butter and jelly; the electrochemical process converts the metal into a more durable, corrosion-resistant material, according to the Aluminum Anodizing Council. Rather than strengthening the pan’s surface layer like a coating would, aluminum that is anodized is integrated, so it can’t peel off or chip.

The T-fal model can withstand up to 400 degrees in the oven (though the lid can handle up to 350 degrees before some of the parts get compromised) and comes with a lifetime warranty. Indeed, the pan came out of a 400-degree oven looking exactly like it went in. And even then, the saucy dish we’d cooked up required no pressure to remove. The center of the pan is marked with a red “thermo spot indicator” that turns solid red when the pan is properly preheated, which does work, but feels a little gimmicky unless you’re particularly passionate about preheating.

The handle is made of silicone and is comfortable, light to grip and, most importantly, stays relatively cool when heated. It’s also punctured with a sizable hole, making it possible to hang vertically — a storage bonus for tiny kitchens.

The pan is marketed as “2x more scratch resistant,” and while that is a pretty vague claim, it boldly stood up to our scratch tests. We gave this thing a real beating with metal utensils, but the pan showed absolutely no evidence of this. (Still, the manufacturers recommend using metal utensils with care.) The material is nontoxic, so even if you were to overheat or scratch the pan, you wouldn’t have to worry about it leaching into your food.

When it comes to cleaning up, T-fal gives no trouble at all. Soap, water and a sponge make the perfect team.

For less than the cost of a quality restaurant meal, this is the nonstick pan that does it all — and then some. A perfect frying pan is hard to come by, and yet the T-fal makes the title seem effortless. We can’t imagine finding anything better. In fact, after our testing, the T-fal tied in terms of overall score with the pro-level HexClad that sells for more than double the price.

Best Eco-Friendly Pan: GreenPan Levels Stackable Ceramic Frypan ($39.95; amazon.com)

GreenPan Levels Stackable Ceramic Frypan

GreenPan Levels Stackable Ceramic Frypan

Why we love it in a sentence: True to its name, the GreenPan is a healthier, environmentally friendly nonstick pan that actually works.

Ceramic cookware has become popular in the wellness world; it has a reputation of being “healthier” than those made from Teflon or copper. Ceramic has a benefit — especially when cooking at high temperatures — because there are no possible chemicals that can leach into foods. GreenPan didn’t win our vote just for these reasons (though they are a bonus); it’s simply a really great pan.

Eggs, pancakes and even a sticky peanut sauce glided across the surface like they were Kristi Yamaguchi. After cooking, close to zero residue remained on the pan, which led to a very speedy cleanup consisting of wiping, rinsing and going on with our business.

This pan was a real ergonomic delight. At 2 pounds, it is the lightest of our top three picks, making it easy on the wrist and easy to move, whether you’re transferring food from pan to plate or adding some elbow grease into your sauté. Unlike the other two pans, aesthetically, GreenPan looks basic; without a distinguishing surface pattern, it could be easily mistaken for any ordinary pan, which is part of its charm.

Like the T-fal, this pan boasts an anodized aluminum body, which can be credited for the even cooking and temperature distribution. It’s also incredibly scratch-resistant: Dragging a metal fork across its surface revealed the same marks as running a finger along it — which is to say, none. The pan can tolerate up to 400 degrees in the oven, and its silicone-wrapped handle helps keep it cool to the touch. The Thermolon ceramic nonstick surface, which is derived from sand rather than any kind of toxic materials, thrives at lower heat settings but won’t release chemical fumes if you cook it on high. On its website, GreenPan claims that 60% less CO2 is emitted during Thermolon’s coating process compared with the CO2 emitted during the process of traditional coatings, which we suppose is what puts the “green” in its name.

And Goop fans, you’re in luck. Even Gwyneth Paltrow is on board with this pick; she’s partnered with GreenPan and sells a bevy of ceramic, more Instagrammable offerings through her wellness brand.

Best Restaurant-Quality Pan: HexClad 10-Inch Hybrid Frying Pan ($137; hexclad.com)

HexClad 10" Hybrid Frying Pan

HexClad 10″ Hybrid Frying Pan

Why we love it in a sentence: While you’re paying a premium, you’re getting a tough-as-nails pan you’d find in professional kitchens: Nothing you cook will stick, it wards off scratches, it can withstand the highest oven temps out of the bunch we tested, and it looks stunning.

Ooh la la. If anything, displaying this pan atop your stove will make guests believe you know what you’re doing in the kitchen.

While significantly more expensive than the other pans on our list, the HexClad stands out from the rest for its build quality. It has a black hexagon top layer pattern, designed to create a series of “peaks and valleys.” According to the manufacturers, the valleys are what give the pan its nonstick properties, while the stainless steel peaks provide the even heating while protecting the pan from flaking or peeling. To us, the design looks cool and makes for a smooth cleaning and cooking surface. The pan’s unique surface texture does seem to ward off scratches from any foul play — a sharp knife, a menacing fork, and even a metal spatula were no match for the durable pan. (The company CEO even made a very convincing video in which he runs a metal pizza cutter and a motorized hand mixer across the pan without any damage.) Those nooks and crannies also seemed to distribute heat well, as food cooked evenly no matter which side of the pan it was on.

The makers suggest seasoning the pan first, which we did: As directed, we heated up a bit of oil for a couple of minutes and then washed it away. And then, we made a cheesy omelette and devoured every last remnant, since not a single strand of cheese or egg was left behind stuck on the pan. And the same can be said for cooking fish, whipping up pancakes and creating saucy concoctions. Nothing seemed to stick, and cleanup was a breeze.

Another thing this pan has over all the others: It’s the most heat-durable of our three picks, maxing out at 500 degrees in the oven. That means you can throw it in the oven for hours without worrying about it warping. It’s dubbed a hybrid for its stainless steel and nonstick combination, which provides it with a high-quality appearance and will make the piece last. (HexClad is backed with a lifetime warranty, though, just in case.) Stainless steel on its own isn’t a great heat conductor, but this model is built with an aluminum middle layer that perfectly distributes heat for a uniform cooking temp.

Unlike many of the other stainless pans we tried, the bottom of the HexClad didn’t burn or change colors when it was overheated, thanks to the black nonstick design that appears here, too. This is a really nice feature for cleaning; if any of your food spills or overflows, a simple scrub will do. Even melted plastic came off the bottom with a simple swipe with the sponge.

Over the course of testing four different meals on a dozen different pans, we learned some things about nonstick pans that (perhaps naively) we hadn’t known before. Most quality nonstick frying pans, it turns out, work best on medium-low heat. Make the stovetop too hot and you can burn yourself, overcook your food (rubbery eggs are not good eggs) and wear down the pan’s nonstick properties faster, according to manufacturers.

Another thing? Not all frying pans are dishwasher-safe; even the ones that claim to be will probably last longer if you stick to hand-washing. When you’re ready to scrub a pan in the sink, make sure it has fully cooled. This not only keeps you from getting scorched, but will keep the nonstick coating from breaking down. You’ll want to steer clear of abrasive sponges, which can also deteriorate the coating at a faster rate. Stick to soft-to-mild scrubbers; if food is really stuck or burnt onto the pan, you can fill it with a quarter cup of baking soda and about three inches of water, then simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes. This should loosen up even the most stubborn of burns.

The utensils you use on pans can be make-or-break: Some pan instructions warn that metal spatulas can instantly damage pans, and our tests proved that even a slight scrape of a fork can, too. While you may commit to only using wood or plastic on your cookware, this can be a tough rule to enforce when there are other people using your pans. Scratch-resistant pans, in this case, can serve you well.

Most nonstick pans benefit from a little seasoning. This sounds more complicated than it is: Wash and dry the pan after you remove it from its packaging. Rub a little oil on the surface, and heat it up for a few minutes. Wash again and it’s ready to go.

Finally, the word “nonstick” implies that you don’t need any oil or butter to cook, and while most of the pans did just fine without being greased up (we have a feeling this quality would worsen over time), we’d argue there’s no harm in adding a little fat to slick up the pan — plus, any food will taste so much better. Cooking sprays and nonstick pans don’t make a great pair, though. The spray can leave a residue that builds up over time, diminishing the pan’s nonstick powers.

Every pan cooked four separate dishes: pancakes, an omelette, fish and a sticky sauce. We didn’t use cooking oil or butter to prepare the food to audit the nonstick factor. Other criteria we evaluated:

  • Durability: To investigate the pans’ durability, we performed scratch tests with metal utensils, rated the heat of the handle, examined the pan’s appearance post-cleaning and checked for warping at the maximum oven-safe temperature.
  • Functionality: We ranked the ease of making an omelette, pancake, sticky sauce and fish dish. We also tested how evenly the pan distributed heat by cooking food on different parts of the surface. We noted any special features and the ease of cleanup.
  • Aesthetic: A bit more subjective in review, we scored the style of the pans as well as the handles’ comfort and ability to remain cool to touch, and the quality of materials used.

Using the test criteria described above, we calculated points for every pan in every subcategory. Each pan’s total score was made up of the sum of its subcategory marks. Here’s a breakdown of our point systems:

  • Durability had a maximum of 25 points: scratch test (10 points), handle temperature (5 points), appearance after cleaning (5 points) and maximum oven temperature (5 points).
  • Functionality had a maximum of 55 points: ease of making omelette (10 points), ease of making sticky sauce (10 points), ease of making pancakes (10 points), ease of making fish (10 points), heat distribution (5 points), special features to make it more effective (5 points) and ease of cleanup (5 points).
  • Style had a maximum of 15 points: quality of materials (5 points), overall look (5 points) and handle ergonomics (5 points).
  • Warranty had a maximum of 5 points: Lifetime (5 points), 2 to 4 years (2 points) and less than 2 years (0 points).
Everything else we tested

Everything else we tested

All-Clad 4110 NS R2 Stainless Steel Tri-Ply Bonded Nonstick Fry Pan ($169.99 for set of two; bedbathandbeyond.com)

This pan got dangerously hot, and maybe we turned up the heat too much, but the bottom of the pan stained with char-like markings upon first use.

All-Clad B1 Hard Anodized Nonstick Fry Pan ($59.99 for set of two; bedbathandbeyond.com)

Surprising to us, this less expensive All-Clad model withstood the heat better than its pricier counterpart. Its handle, however, was unwieldy and uncomfortable to hold while transferring food from pan to plate.

Anolon Advanced Home Frying Pan ($59.99; bedbathandbeyond.com or $59.99; anolon.com)

This Anolon pan had wonderful nonstick power. Its handle is almost entirely covered in silicone to protect the cook from heat, but it’s a little too easy to get close to the unprotected section and risk burning yourself.

Everything else we tested

Everything else we tested

Calphalon Contemporary Hard-Anodized Aluminum Nonstick Cookware, 10-inch and 12-inch set ($59.99; bedbathandbeyond.com)

This fry pan was also a winner in the nonstick department. It got points off for the little nodes that connect the handle to the pan; they are positioned on the pan’s interior and can catch food, which can make it annoying to clean.

Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Nonstick Stainless Steel Skillet ($39.99 for an 8-inch; bedbathandbeyond.com)

The bottom of this pan stained with a burn mark on second use. This doesn’t impact the pan’s ability to cook something successfully without sticking, but for people who care about appearances, this isn’t the pick.

Oxo Good Grips Frying Pan, 12-inch ($49.99; amazon.com)

Lightweight but sturdy, this pan is a sensible option for its price point, without any bells or whistles. Scratch-wise, it doesn’t fare wonderfully with metal utensils, but if you follow the rules (don’t use metal utensils), it seems like one that would last.

Everything else we tested

Everything else we tested

Tramontina Professional Aluminum Nonstick Restaurant Fry Pan ($43.88; amazon.com)

This pan was a runner-up; it received high marks for its comfy grip and scratch resistance. The one downside: Its little rivets where the handle meets the pan created a vulnerable place for food to get stuck, which made it a little annoying to clean. You can, however, remove the red silicone grip and clean it separately.

T-fal Professional Total Nonstick Thermo-Spot Heat Indicator Fry Pan ($30.97; amazon.com)

This T-fal model ran neck-and-neck with its same-brand counterpart, but the latter ultimately won for its high sides and lid. For a shallower pan, this one’s a solid option.

Zwilling Madura Plus 10-inch Nonstick Pan ($49; food52.com)

A metal fork overpowered Zwilling’s nonstick surface, leaving scratches all over, and its handle lacked adequate cushioning. Still, this pan’s sleek surface cooked food evenly and was a breeze to clean.

Note: The prices above reflect the retailer’s listed prices at the time of publication.

Parkinson’s Disease Video Center

Parkinson’s disease is challenging for the patient and their loved ones, but treatments are available to slow down the disease and impact day-to-day life.

The best products we tested in April

(CNN) —  

We try no short of hundreds of products each month, whether that be new product launches or rediscovering an old faithful. And because we’re committed to exposing you to the best products out there, we decided to start curating roundups of our favorite things we test each month. From cozy sweaters and skin care to that new tech item, keep reading to check out the products that we couldn’t get enough of this April.

Otherland Garden Party (starting at $36; otherland.com)

Otherland Garden Party

Rachel Lubitz/CNN

Otherland Garden Party

As much as I love an unbelievably cheap Target candle find, I love luxury candles even more. Sure, they’re pricier, but their scents tend to be richer and last so much longer. This brand-new set from Otherland is all about florals and slightly influenced by “Bridgerton,” so bonus points there. I’ve tried the scents Georgette, Ultraviolet and Clean Blossom, and they all smell like a high-end store you actually want to shop in. They also come in equally gorgeous packaging that makes my fireplace mantle look even better. — Rachel Lubitz, lifestyle editor

Evermill The Countertop Rack ($229; evermill.com)

Evermill The Countertop Rack

Kiana Murden/CNN

Evermill The Countertop Rack

I truly don’t know what I did before this countertop spice rack by Evermill — it’s really the addition I didn’t know I needed in my kitchen. Not only is it stunning, but it’s also so convenient to have my go-to spices organized and easily available without having to look through my spice cabinet. I also love knowing that when I run out of a spice I can just shoot the brand a text to get more sent my way ASAP. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Cozy Earth Bamboo Sheet Set (starting at $248.80, originally starting at $311; cozyearth.com)

Cozy Earth Bamboo Sheet Set

Kiana Murden/CNN

Cozy Earth Bamboo Sheet Set

Admittedly, I’ve never had a truly premium sheet set, leaving that luxury for my vacation hotel stays. But I can say that after trying this bamboo sheet set by Cozy Earth, I will never look back. The sheets are incredibly soft and surprisingly lightweight, so I don’t overheat in the middle of the night like usual. Even better: These are easy to wash and stain-resistant, qualities that are key now that I spend more than half of my day in bed. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Brightland Digestif Candle ($42; brightland.co)

Brightland Digestif Candle

Hayley Saltzman/CNN

Brightland Digestif Candle

I’m a sucker for a good candle, and I absolutely love Brightland’s Olive Oils, so when the brand released this Digestif candle, I knew I had to check it out. This “kitchen candle,” which of course includes the brand’s olive oil, is made to be burned during or after you cook. I tried it several different times both during and after cooking some particularly fragrant meals, and I was impressed with the way the scent seemed to neutralize cooking odors rather than cover them up or compete with them. This would be a great gift for the home cook who already has everything they could ever need in the kitchen, or just for those who appreciate a pretty candle with a subtle yet appetizing scent. — Hayley Saltzman, head of social media

Slice Ceramic Blade Safety Cutter ($7.26; amazon.com)

Slice Ceramic Blade Safety Cutter


Slice Ceramic Blade Safety Cutter

I’ve touted this nifty little device before, and I’ll proudly do it again: The Slice is a simple but extremely useful game changer for opening packages and even for crafting projects. Its tiny little blade is safe to the touch but effortlessly glides through packaging tape, making opening boxes a seamless, hassle-free experience. It has especially come in handy during a move when I needed to open a ton of boxes at once. Do yourself a favor and grab the Slice Ceramic Blade Safety Cutter to save yourself time (and the danger of nicking your finger using scissors or a knife to open packages). — Daniel Toy, copy editor

Headquarters Peace Keeper ($24, originally $30; shopheadquarters.com)

Headquarters Peace Keeper

Stephanie Griffin/CNN

Headquarters Peace Keeper

Before I was introduced to Headquarters, I often found myself extremely unsatisfied with the results of other hair-care products — my scalp constantly felt dry and sensitive, and I had to wash my hair every other day, if not once a day, because it got so greasy so quickly. I fell in love with Headquarters after taking the brand’s quiz and started using the four-step Peace Keeper routine that was recommended to me based on my results. The brand believes that healthy hair starts at the roots, and I 100% believe that to be true, as my hair and scalp noticeably looked and felt better just after a few uses! — Stephanie Griffin, social media strategist

Clark’s Botanicals Jasmine Vital Oil ($99; clarksbotanicals.com)

Clark's Botanicals Jasmine Vital Oil

Rachel Lubitz/CNN

Clark’s Botanicals Jasmine Vital Oil

Maskne has been my biggest enemy these past few months. I’ve gone through dozens of products in order to find one that legitimately feels like it calms down my skin after a few hours of wearing a mask, and this is it. This Jasmine Vital Oil, from one of my favorite skin care brands for sensitive skin, Clark’s Botanicals, has changed the game. It feels so lovely on my skin after my moisturizer (I’ve been using Jasmine Vital Healing Cream [$75; clarksbotanicals.com] too and love it), and I can’t imagine my life without it now. — Rachel Lubitz, lifestyle editor

Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30 ($15.99; target.com)

Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Sarai Thompson/CNN

Black Girl Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

I tested Black Girl Sunscreen for a few weeks after hearing great reviews all over the internet. I have to say this has to be one of the best sunscreens for Black women. This product does not leave a white cast on my skin, which is a big issue that most women of color face when using various types of sunscreens. It’s very refreshing to know that there’s a product that emphasizes the importance of SPF while leaving Black women feeling confident and glowing. — Sarai Thompson, editorial coordinator

Summer Fridays Summer Skin Nourishing Body Lotion ($26; sephora.com)

Summer Fridays Summer Skin Nourishing Body Lotion

Kiana Murden/CNN

Summer Fridays Summer Skin Nourishing Body Lotion

When it comes to body lotion, I pretty much use whatever I stumble across next (or whatever my beauty editor sister recommends) — but now, after trying this new one from Summer Fridays, pretty much every other body lotion seems totally irrelevant. It’s perfect in pretty much every way, and this is coming from someone who had no remotely strong feelings about body lotions up until this point. The light, beachy scent makes you feel like you’re on vacation (or at least ready to embrace warmer weather), and it absorbs super quickly without any weird residue. It’s light, hydrating and perfectly scented, and it leaves my skin feeling amazing. Cannot recommend it enough! — Hayley Saltzman, head of social media

Bomba Curls Dominican Forbidden Oil ($22; nordstrom.com)

Bomba Curls Dominican Forbidden Oil

Kiana Murden/CNN

Bomba Curls Dominican Forbidden Oil

This is easily my favorite hair oil I’ve ever tried. It’s so good that even my roommate finds herself reaching for it. Although it’s a super-lightweight oil, it feels nourishing and restoring, meant to reduce frizz and breakage while adding a bit of shine. This will be a staple in my routine for sure. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Mac Pro Longwear Concealer ($22.10, originally $26; nordstrom.com)

Mac Pro Longwear Concealer

Sarai Thompson/CNN

Mac Pro Longwear Concealer

I’ve been using Mac products on and off since I was a teenager, so when I saw a YouTuber highly recommend the longwear concealer, I had to give it a try. And let me say that it’s made such a difference. The concealer leaves a flawless, matte finish on the face, and although not full coverage, you can layer to achieve that look. If you prefer a concealer that can cover blemishes without the need for foundation, this is the product for you. — Sarai Thompson, editorial coordinator

Apple AirTag ($29; amazon.com)

Jacob Krol/CNN

If you’re an iPhone owner who constantly loses their stuff, Apple’s new AirTag item finder is for you. Available for $29 for a single tag or $99 for a pack of four, this small coin-shaped device can be attached to any item of your choosing via various accessories and works with the Find My app on your phone to help you pin down your keys, wallet or whatever else you use it with. Where AirTag really blew us away compared to competitors is with Precision Finding, which allows owners of an iPhone 11 or newer to get extremely detailed directions for finding their items (such as “walk 20 feet to the left”). The AirTag has been impressively accurate in all of our tests — just note that you’ll need an Apple device to use one. — Mike Andronico, senior tech writer

Sonos Roam ($169; sonos.com)

Sonos Roam

Mike Andronico/CNN

Sonos Roam

A great fit for any upcoming beach trips you may have planned, the Sonos Roam lets you enjoy the high-tech smarts that Sonos devices are known for within a compact portable speaker that you can take just about anywhere. The Roam pumps out impressively loud and rich sound despite not being much bigger than a can of soda, and it has a waterproof design that will keep it safe from a sudden dip in the pool. But where the Roam really stands out is its versatility. It can connect to your Wi-Fi to sync up to other Sonos speakers and take voice commands via Alexa and Google Assistant when you’re home, and it functions as a fully stand-alone Bluetooth speaker when you’re on the go. — Mike Andronico, senior tech writer

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4 (starting at $999; microsoft.com)

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

Mike Andronico/CNN

Microsoft Surface Laptop 4

The Surface Laptop 4 is one of the best-looking laptops we’ve ever gotten our hands on, and it’s just a joy to use. Thanks to its optional Alcantara fabric covering, bouncy keyboard and thin and lightweight design, Microsoft’s latest notebook allowed us to stay comfortable through long workdays and was easy to move from room to room. Factor in a uniquely tall 3:2 display that lets you see more of important documents and a fast 11th Gen Intel Core processor that endured heavy multitasking without a hitch, and you’ve got a great WFH laptop that’s as powerful as it is attractive. — Mike Andronico, senior tech writer

Casper Dog Bed (starting at $116, originally starting at $129; casper.com)

Casper Dog Bed

Stephanie Griffin/CNN

Casper Dog Bed

While all dog beds might seem the same, the Casper Dog Bed stands out amongst the rest on the market. Not only is it made with two layers of premium memory foam for extra support and comfort, but it also features a machine-washable material that is both sturdy enough to withstand digging and aesthetically pleasing enough to fit in with the neutral vibe in my apartment. Yes, this over-$100 dog bed might be much nicer than my mattress, but I love going to sleep each and every night knowing my pup sleeps soundly and, most importantly, comfortably. — Stephanie Griffin, social media strategist

Tuft + Paw Stellar Cat Bed ($249; tuftandpaw.com)

Tuft + Paw Stellar Cat Bed

Rachel Lubitz/CNN

Tuft + Paw Stellar Cat Bed

Any cat owner knows that the quest to find a stylish cat bed is a long and tiring one. Most look like little fuzzy houses made of plaid or bright florals, and in my tiny studio apartment — for which I’ve handpicked everything to have a certain modern and midcentury yet eclectic vibe — that simply won’t do.

So imagine my glee upon finding this cat oasis that looked straight out of West Elm. For starters, my cat loves the thing. For several hours a day you can find her nestled inside the orb (as I like to call it), with her tiny body a mere black blob on the soft fur cushion inside. Sure, it took her a day to get used to the thing, but nothing that a few sprinkles of catnip couldn’t fix. It honestly brings me so much joy looking at it. There is simply no going back. — Rachel Lubitz, lifestyle editor

Fable Pets The Game ($55; fablepets.com)

After adding a pup to my little family back in January, I was determined to find a premium pet brand that fits my home’s Scandinavian-simplistic aesthetic — but also served a real purpose — and Fable Pets stood out amongst the rest. I’ve since snagged the brands acrylic crate (which doubles as a side table), their hands-free leash, and more recently, The Game, which features a super sleek design and essentially feeds and exercises my dog all at once. It can hold up to 1.5 cups of dry food, so that my pup can eat an entire meal, while also getting the physical and mental stimulation he often craves throughout the day. He is always so satisfied (and sleepy) after using it and now I truly can’t remember a time without it. — Stephanie Griffin, social media strategist

Outdoor Voices Athena Dress ($88; outdoorvoices.com)

Outdoor Voices Athena Dress

Stephanie Griffin/CNN

Outdoor Voices Athena Dress

During the warmer months, I am usually pretty active, whether I’m in the gym, outside walking my dog or stepping out to play a quick game of tennis or golf with my partner. There’s nothing worse (in my opinion) than overheating in a pair of dark, black leggings. That’s why I was initially thrilled to try the super-popular Athena Dress from Outdoor Voices and switch things up a bit. It’s unlined, so I can add a sports bra and shorts underneath for extra support and coverage. It’s incredibly flattering and hugs me in all the right places — not to mention I felt much more comfortable and cool in the dress versus when I wear my leggings. I can’t wait to toss this dress on all spring and summer long! — Stephanie Griffin, social media strategist

Please Repeat Small Hex Link Bracelet ($149; pleaserepeat.com)

Please Repeat Small Hex Link Bracelet

Kiana Murden/CNN

Please Repeat Small Hex Link Bracelet

This bracelet was truly love at first sight, and naturally I haven’t taken it off since. It’s simple enough to layer with other pieces of jewelry but makes enough of a statement to make me feel put together even when it’s the only accessory I’m wearing. I also love the hexagon link design that’s unique to my collection. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Naadam Café Cotton Cashmere Cropped Hoodie ($135; naadam.co)

Naadam Café Cotton Cashmere Cropped Hoodie

Rachel Lubitz/CNN

Naadam Café Cotton Cashmere Cropped Hoodie

More than a year into the pandemic, I’ve finally found the perfect hoodie. I’m really petite (around 5 feet…on a good day), and lots of hoodies go beyond my hips and sometimes even my butt. As much as I love Ariana Grande, I know in my soul that I cannot be her. So this cropped hoodie, which is a cashmere blend that actually doesn’t make you sweat, has been life-changing for me. I wear it several times a week, and it’s one of the softest items I own. — Rachel Lubitz, lifestyle editor

H&M Braided Slides ($24.99; hm.com)

H&M Braided Slides

Kiana Murden/CNN

H&M Braided Slides

I spotted these braided slides on an unnecessary trip to H&M a couple weeks ago, and they’ve quickly became my go-to sandal now that the weather is warming up. They combine the best of both style and ease, being super comfortable and sleek-looking. The subtle platform is an added bonus. — Kiana Murden, associate lifestyle editor

Theragun Wave Solo ($79; theragun.com)

Theragun Wave Solo

Kai Burkhardt/CNN

Theragun Wave Solo

I’ve been a big fan of Theragun for a while now, so when I saw the brand released new devices I just had to check them out. The Wave Duo and Wave Solo fall into the brand’s line of foam rolling devices. I especially love the Wave Solo because of its teeny-tiny size and low volume, so I can leave it on my desk and roll out my wrists while I’m taking calls. — Kai Burkhardt, editorial coordinator

DribbleUp Smart Medicine Ball ($79.99, originally $99.99; dribbleup.com)

DribbleUp Smart Medicine Ball

Delaney Strunk/CNN

DribbleUp Smart Medicine Ball

I live in a studio apartment, so getting a quality workout in 500 square feet has been a challenge. Luckily, DribbleUp’s smart medicine ball doesn’t take up a lot of space and I can manage all the live workouts even in my small living room. I love that the workouts are short enough to fit in my routine but challenging enough that I definitely feel the burn after the 15 minutes are up. — Delaney Strunk, programming editor

Long March 5B: China rocket debris likely plunged into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives, says China’s space agency

Most of the huge Long March 5B rocket, however, burned up on reentering the atmosphere, the China Manned Space Engineering Office said in a post on WeChat.

It was unclear if any debris had landed on the atoll nation.

The US Space Command said the Long March 5B had reentered Earth over the Arabian Peninsula.

The rocket, which is about 108 feet tall and weighs nearly 40,000 pounds, had launched a piece of a new Chinese space station into orbit on April 29. After its fuel was spent, the rocket had been left to hurtle through space uncontrolled until Earth’s gravity dragged it back to the ground.

Generally, the international space community tries to avoid such scenarios. Most rockets used to lift satellites and other objects into space conduct more controlled reentries that aim for the ocean, or they’re left in so-called “graveyard” orbits that keep them in space for decades or centuries. But the Long March rocket is designed in a way that “leaves these big stages in low orbit,” said Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Astrophysics Center at Harvard University.

In this case, it was impossible to be certain exactly when or where the booster would land.

The European Space Agency had predicted a “risk zone” that encompassed “any portion of Earth’s surface between about 41.5N and 41.5S latitude” — which included virtually all of the Americas south of New York, all of Africa and Australia, parts of Asia south of Japan and Europe’s Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece.

Chinese rocket debris is expected to crash into Earth soon. It's not the first time.

The threat to populated areas of land was not negligible, but fortunately the vast majority of Earth’s surface area is consumed by oceans, so the odds of avoiding a catastrophic run-in were slim.

The rocket is one of the largest objects in recent memory to strike the Earth after falling out of orbit, following a 2018 incident in which a piece of a Chinese space lab broke up over the Pacific Ocean and the 2020 reentry of an 18-metric-ton Long March 5B rocket.

Despite recent efforts to better regulate and mitigate space debris, Earth’s orbit is littered with hundreds of thousands of pieces of uncontrolled junk, most of which are smaller than 10 centimeters.

Objects are constantly falling out of orbit, though most pieces burn up in the Earth’s atmosphere before having a chance to make an impact on the surface. But parts of larger objects, like the Long March rocket in this instance, can survive reentry and threaten structures and people on the ground.

“Norms have been established,” McDowell said.

“There’s no international law or rule — nothing specific — but the practice of countries around the world has been: ‘Yeah, for the bigger rockets, let’s not leave our trash in orbit in this way.'”

US Coronavirus: Vaccines are helping bring down US Covid-19 numbers. But the virus is now hitting one group of Americans harder

The weekly average of daily Covid-19 deaths is more than 660, according to Johns Hopkins University data. In mid-January, that seven-day average was roughly 3,400 deaths daily.

And the country has averaged more than 49,400 new Covid-19 cases daily in the past week, according to Johns Hopkins. On January 8, the country averaged more than 251,000 cases every day — the highest seven-day average of the pandemic.

“We are starting to see the effects of all these vaccinations,” Dr. Ashish Jha, dean of the Brown University School of Public Health told CNN on Monday.

Especially, he added, among the country’s older population, which was prioritized early on for the shots.

Nearly 83% of Americans 65 and older have received at least one Covid-19 vaccine dose and nearly 70% are fully vaccinated, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
And now health and state leaders are focusing on younger Americans, who polls show are least likely to say they want a shot.

“This pandemic now is really among young people and it is a very dangerous time to be unvaccinated in the country because it is spreading pretty efficiently among young people and unvaccinated people,” Jha said.

CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky warned last month the country was seeing an increase in cases and hospitalizations, predominantly among younger unvaccinated adults. And in Michigan, which battled a violent spring surge, hospitals saw more younger Covid-19 patients than ever before.

So it’s critical that younger Americans get a shot as well, experts say, for both their own protection and to help the country reach widespread protection.

Governor: Young Oregonians hospitalized with ‘severe’ Covid-19

To help bring up vaccination numbers and suppress the spread of coronavirus, governors are now appealing to younger residents.

In Oregon, Gov. Kate Brown recently tightened some restrictions amid a surge in new cases and hospitalizations.

Younger Americans are least likely to vaccinate
“Younger, unvaccinated Oregonians are now showing up in our hospitals with severe cases of COVID-19,” Brown said in a statement. “We need Oregonians to step up and take on the personal responsibility to get vaccinated.”
West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice said last week the state is offering a $100 savings bond to residents 16 to 35 who choose to get vaccinated.
On Monday, he added officials are now also focusing on “new communication strategies to be able to really target our younger people through social media and streaming services.”
“If we have to go door-to-door, we’ll go door-to-door,” Justice said in a statement. “We know these vaccines are incredibly safe and we know what can happen for those who are exposed and what is happening all across this land.”
A man wearing a mask walks on Melrose Avenue on April 22, 2021 in Los Angeles, California

US could be dealing with this for ‘a long time’

The US vaccination rate has slowed, and experts say the country is now at the hard part of its inoculation efforts: reaching Americans who aren’t as eager to get a shot or still have challenges with access.
Life may feel more normal even before herd immunity is reached

More than 44% of the total US population has gotten at least one vaccine dose and nearly 32% is fully vaccinated, CDC data shows.

Among US adults, more than 56% have gotten at least one shot, the data shows, and more than 40.5% are fully vaccinated.

Once the US is able to vaccinate more than 70% of its adults, we may finally be able to see a semblance of normalcy, Jha said on Monday.

“Case numbers will plummet. We may not be at herd immunity, we’ll see little outbreaks here and there but life will begin to really get back to normal,” he said.

But what if we don’t get there?

“That’s a problem,” Jha said. “We’re going to be stuck with dealing with this for a long time.”

We might never reach herd immunity with Covid-19. But here's how you can maximize our chances

“If we just don’t vaccinate, then obviously one of the things we’ve known is we get big outbreaks, you can get more variants,” he said. “It’s going to be hard to do those large gatherings, indoor concerts, outdoor baseball games, this stuff will get much, much harder if we do not make more progress on vaccinations,” he added.

What could likely happen, one expert said, is communities that have a lower vaccination coverage will continue to see high transmission of the virus, while in other parts of the country with more vaccinations, case rates will be much lower.

“In this country, there’s a real divide around vaccination,” former acting CDC director Dr. Richard Besser told CNN. “People tend to live among people with similar beliefs.”

An important authorization could come next week

The one puzzle piece experts say is missing is getting children inoculated.

But there’s good news on that front.

A federal government official told CNN the Food and Drug Administration is poised to authorize Pfizer/BioNTech’s Covid-19 vaccine in children and teens 12 to 15 years old by early next week.
FDA to authorize Pfizer's Covid-19 vaccine for 12-to-15-year-olds by early next week, official says

Pfizer has applied for emergency use authorization. The FDA, which is currently reviewing data submitted by Pfizer, will have to amend the emergency use authorization for the vaccine, but the process should be straightforward, the official said.

A group of advisers to the CDC will schedule a meeting for after any FDA decision to extend the EUA to new age groups and will advise the CDC on whether to recommend the use of the vaccine in 12 to 15 year-olds.

Walensky will then have to decide whether the agency will recommend the vaccine’s use in the new age group.

“That will immediately add millions of more people eligible for vaccination. I bet a lot of those kids will get vaccinated,” Jha told CNN. “That will make a big difference as well in terms of building up population immunity.”

Pfizer and Moderna are both testing their vaccines in children as young as 6 months old and expect to ask the FDA for EUAs covering infants and children later this year.

CNN’s Deidre McPhillips and Maggie Fox contributed to this report.

Republican response: Sen. Tim Scott says ‘the President and his party are pulling us further and further apart’

“President Biden promised you a specific kind of leadership,” Scott said in his remarks. “He promised to unite a nation, to lower the temperature, to govern for all Americans no matter how we voted.”

While rebuttals typically offer the opposing party a chance to critique the President’s message, Scott’s speech directly called out Biden and his party, as the Republican senator touched on a wide range of issues, offering up praise for the Trump administration and slamming Democrats as divisive.

“Our nation is starving for more than empty platitudes,” he said. “We need policies and progress that bring us closer together. But three months in, the actions of the President and his party are pulling us further and further apart.”

Scott, the only Black Republican in the Senate, was selected by his party’s leadership to deliver their response, giving him a prominent national platform to speak to the country and the opportunity to draw a contrast between the GOP and Biden’s agenda.

‘America is not a racist country’

Scott waded into an array of hot-button policy debates and issues, including infrastructure, voting rights, policing reform and racism and discrimination, saying at one point that “America is not a racist country.”

“I’m an African American who has voted in the South my entire life. I take voting rights personally,” he said, offering a defense of Republicans who pushed through changes to Georgia’s election laws that impose significant new obstacles to voting and gives the Republican-controlled state government new power to assert control over the conduct of elections.
Read Republican Sen. Tim Scott's response to Biden's address to Congress

“Republicans support making it easier to vote and harder to cheat,” Scott said.

Scott used his remarks to speak in deeply personal terms during the speech, saying, “I have experienced the pain of discrimination,” though he cited his experience as a critique of left-leaning politics.

“I get called ‘Uncle Tom’ and the N-word — by progressives, by liberals,” he said, “Believe me, I know firsthand our healing is not finished.”

In his remarks, Scott criticized higher education institutions as well as businesses for “doubling down on the divisions we’ve worked so hard to heal” and profiting off of racial politics.

“From colleges to corporations to our culture, people are making money and gaining power by pretending we haven’t made any progress at all,” he said.

Later he added, “You know this stuff is wrong. Hear me clearly: America is not a racist country.”

Scott credits Trump administration for vaccines and slams Biden infrastructure agenda

Scott credited the Trump administration with the development of effective vaccines to address Covid-19 and cited school closures during the pandemic as a key issue.

“The coronavirus is on the run. Thanks to Operation Warp Speed and the Trump administration, our country is flooded with safe and effective vaccines. Thanks to our bipartisan work last year, job openings are rebounding,” he said. “So why do we feel so divided and anxious?”

He criticized school closures, a hot-button issue amid the ongoing pandemic.

“Locking vulnerable kids out of the classroom is locking adults out of their future,” he said. “Our public schools should have reopened months ago. Other countries did. Private and religious schools did. Science has shown for months that schools are safe.”

Scott also slammed Biden’s sweeping infrastructure push, saying that Republicans are ready and willing to work to advance traditional infrastructure priorities, but that Democrats “won’t even build bridges to build bridges” and instead are trying to jam through a liberal wish list of unrelated agenda items.

Scott at the center of policing overhaul talks

The Republican rebuttal comes as Scott has been seen as a key negotiator on Capitol Hill, known for working across the aisle and being praised by Democrats.

Scott has served in the Senate since 2013 and previously served in the House of Representatives representing his state’s 1st Congressional District.

In the wake of George Floyd’s death last year, he drafted legislation aimed at overhauling policing, an effort that ultimately failed on the Senate floor. Now he’s at the center of a new bipartisan effort.

Scott’s discussions over a bipartisan Senate bill overhauling policing with Democratic Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey and Democratic Rep. Karen Bass of California, the author of the House-passed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, have intensified in recent weeks.

Their goal remains crafting a compromise bill, according to a source familiar with the talks.

During his speech Wednesday, Scott said, “In 2015, after the shooting of Walter Scott, I wrote a bill to fund body cameras. Last year, after the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, I built an even bigger police reform proposal. But my Democratic colleagues blocked it.”

“I extended an olive branch. I offered amendments. But Democrats used the filibuster to block the debate from even happening. My friends across the aisle seemed to want the issue more than they wanted a solution,” he lamented.

“But I’m still working. I’m hopeful that this will be different,” he said.

A new political environment in a non-election year and an increasing sense of urgency spurred by a number of police shooting deaths across the country have given this effort a better chance of bipartisan success. But key sticking points remain — a challenge that will put the ability of the lead negotiators to forge compromise to the test.

This story and headline have been updated with additional developments Wednesday.

CNN’s Daniel Dale, Diane Gallagher and Ali Zaslav contributed to this report.