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What Model Halima Aden Can’t Live Without

Photo-Illustration: Getty

You may have noticed some posts from our friends at the Strategist on the Cut. They’ll be dropping in every now and again, sharing their expertise on the basics you don’t have time to research and the weird and wonderful things you don’t yet know you need.

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair but the hairspray and the electric toothbrush. We asked model Halima Aden — who this year partnered with Rothy’s for the release of its handbag collection — about the snack, book, and candle she can’t live without.

I used to love Flamin’ Hot Cheetos, but in the sixth grade one of my best girlfriends brought Takis over, and I’ve loved them ever since. They’re just really, really tasty — and spicy. I love the lime flavor. I grew up in a house where spices and herbs were really common in all of our Somali dishes, so I’ve always loved spicy food. I can’t have Takis all the time because I actually have GERD, which is basically really bad heartburn, so I’m not supposed to have a lot of spices too often. But once in a while I pick up a huge bag to indulge. I promise they’re so good — like hot Cheetos, but even spicier and mixed with lime. It’s a very unique taste.

One of my favorite teachers at Apollo High School, Ms. Gruber, taught me that while you can always say thank you in person, nothing leaves a lasting feeling with somebody the way that a handwritten thank-you card does. So I always carry thank-you cards. They really make people’s days, because how many of us will sit down and take the time to write out a thank-you card nowadays? I love these ones from Papyrus because they come in boxes of 16. As somebody who goes through the cards really fast (I send a lot of thank you notes), I love how convenient it is to have a lot of them on hand. I throw them in my purse or backpack in case I need to write one before I get home. I always make sure to send a thank-you note to everyone I work with on a set — if an assistant is working hard, it will have an impact on me, so they deserve a proper thank you. On my phone, I’ll write down everyone’s name and a few things they did that I appreciated, and then once the day is over, I’ll look at those notes, take out my cards, and write one to each person. I always want a person to know it is meant just for them, not just a blanket thank-you note I sent to everyone.

From $17
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I’m a big book lover. I read all the time. The first time I read The Alchemist I was in eighth or ninth grade? It kind of stuck with me. I love the book’s underlying theme of hope and the lesson that, throughout your life journey, you have to find things to be inspired by along the way. I really relate to the overall message. It’s a book that everybody should read because it’s inspiring and it makes you think. I actually haven’t read it since that first time, but I think about it often, and I think that says a lot about the book — I haven’t read it in years, but it has stuck with me and I constantly think about it.

A lot of girls DM me and ask how I keep my skin looking clear and healthy. The first year I started modeling, I wasn’t taking care of my skin the way that I am now. I had so many breakouts from traveling and the makeup used on set and just not having a good routine. So I cleaned out my entire skincare arsenal at the time and started fresh. Now I mostly use Tatcha and Dermalogica products and I do notice my skin looks much more healthy. I swear by this mask. I use it about once a week and it really makes a difference. It’s super hydrating, so if my skin is feeling a little dry, it really helps with that.

I was a part of Rihanna’s first-ever Fenty Beauty shoot. They put this lip gloss on me during that shoot and I’ve been obsessed with it ever since. The “Hot Chocolit” color works really well for my skin tone; it really pops. I love that I can just throw it on without much other makeup on some days, but on others I can wear it with a full face. It’s perfect for so many different looks; not all products have that type of versatility. Some lip glosses can also be really thick — I’ll smack my lips together and they’ll feel glued shut. This one is so light. It leaves the color on my lips, but I never feel like I just coated them in wax.

I have a couple of really good friends who swear by aromatherapy — you walk into their rooms and it smells like a spa. They really believe in essential oils and fragrances and I’ve always admired that, but I never found the time to explore aromatherapy and learn about the different scents. I’m just starting to get into it and have become a big candle lover. This candle from Follain is really relaxing — I will take a bath and light it. It’s also nice to just walk into my house and smell it; the scent, which smells so good, instantly relaxes me. It’s made from vegetable wax, so it’s sustainable, too.

My body needs water and I’ve never been good at making sure I get enough, because I always prefer juices and teas and anything flavored over plain water. Drinking more water has been a big goal, but I don’t want to be drinking it from plastic bottles. So I got this reusable S’well water bottle and I really love it. The design is so smart because it’s attractive — I don’t have to miss out on something stylish and cute just because I want to be sustainable. Mine is bright pink, and I carry it with me everywhere. It looks really sleek, but it’s also super functional: If I put something cold in it, the bottle keeps it cold. If I put hot tea or coffee in there, it keeps it hot.

If I wasn’t modeling, I’d definitely be in the music industry. I’m always listening to music, that’s why my AirPods are really great. The sound quality is really high and they’re comfortable to wear for a long time. I don’t wear them if I’m with a bunch of people, like while getting my makeup done on set, because I like to share music with people and experience it together. But if I’m alone, I’ll wear them. I listen to lots of R&B — Boyz II Men, Whitney Houston, Aaliyah, and I love Mariah Carey’s E=MC² album. But I also listen to Somali songs, Hindi songs, and Swahili songs, too. And, like 99 percent of the population, I am waiting patiently for Rihanna to drop some new music.

I lose things all the time, including IDs and credit cards. It’s really bad; I’m working on it. I love this phone case because, with the cardholder sticker stuck to the back, it’s basically a wallet — there’s room for my important IDs and cards. I know I’m not going to forget my phone, so it’s an easy way to make sure everything is with me. Plus, it’s really nice looking. I hate the idea of having something ugly just because it’s convenient. You can definitely have both.

I’m obviously not traveling as much now, but before the pandemic, I was on a plane at least once a week. In addition to losing ID cards, I’m also the queen of leaving purses and bags on airplanes. I’m on my fourth passport because of that. One thing I like about this Rothy’s bag is that, because it’s so bright, it’s very hard to miss. I haven’t forgotten it anywhere yet. The bag also fits a lot — it’s not one of those itty-bitty handbags that everyone carries. My bags also tend to get dirty from use, but I can just throw this in the wash, and boom, it looks brand new.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

What Model Halima Aden Can’t Live Without