Friday, December 4, 2015

Gift Guide: Beauty

Alternate title: "Angela browses the Sephora website and picks out things she would like" LOL.

I'm featuring a lot of gift sets here, because this is the time of year when brands put together tons of cute mini sizes and value gift sets to capture some of your holiday spending. All gift sets (with one exception) mentioned here contain products and sizes well worth the purchase price. I feel like I've covered a fairly broad price range ($12-80 CAD), so I hope this gives you some good gift ideas--either for the makeup lovers in your life, or for yourself!

Christmas holiday gift guide: stocking stuffers under $20
image sources: SephoraScarlet & Julia
Bite Beauty Mix and Mingle Lip Duo ($17 CAD) is a great way to introduce someone to a brand known fantastic lip products, or to add to a fanatic's existing collection! Pictured above is the Pomegranate/Palomino duo. I bought one of these duos for myself last year (Violet/Palomino) and love it; I can throw it in my bag and get double the colour options in one small size.

Have a friend that loves cutesy accessories? Tony Moly Panda's Dream White Hand Cream ($12 CAD) is too adorable for words. Plus, with a formula that includes shea butter as second on the ingredients list (!!!), this hand cream is both super cute and super hydrating. I also love Tony Moly's delicious-smelling fruity hand creams, like this one in Peach ($12 CAD). Vancouverites, you can also find both of these at the Tony Moly store in Aberdeen Centre and the beauty section of H-Mart on Robson.

For something that's a little more elegant, L'Occitane's collection of 30 ml hand creams ($12 CAD) is an easy stocking stuffer choice. The shea butter-based hand creams come in a variety of scents to please anybody, from romantic florals (Pivoine Flora, Cherry Blossom) to bright and fresh (Citrus Verbena).

I often think of gifts as a way to treat people to things they would like, but wouldn't treat themselves to otherwise. Nuxe Rêve de Miel Lip Balm ($17 CAD) is a perfect example of indulgence. With an ingredients list that includes shea butter, beeswax, honey, rosehip seed oil, and sweet almond oil, keeping lips hydrated becomes a little bit more luxurious.

Annabelle TwistUp Lipstick Crayons ($9.95 CAD) are hydrating, come in a wide range of shades and coverages, and have an affordable drugstore pricetag, so what's not to love? They're a great option for the lipstick lover in your life--the reds are absolutely stunning, by the way. Check out my summary post for swatches and recommendations.

LUSH Golden Wonder Bath Bomb ($6.95 CAD) would be a special treat for people that love a nice soak. This holiday-only confection has a secret centre filled with stars, golden lustre, and turquoise colouring (the folks at LUSH Robson call it "mermaid water"!)

Formula X Studded X: Mini Lip + Nail Polish Duo ($15 CAD) is a duo of a KVD VS Formula X nail polish mini and Kat Von D Studded Kiss Lipstick mini in coordinating colours. There are five sets to choose from, with Coven (lavender, pictured above) and Mercy (deep oxblood) being my picks.

(Note that out of all the sets featured in this guide, the Formula X Studded X set is the only one where the price actually exceeds the value of the items inside: it sells for $15 but the value is only about $12.46. That being said, sometimes it's nice to receive mini versions of product, especially when you already have a sizeable makeup collection. Originally, I had included the Sephora Formula X CLIX set, but the value disparity was even worse: $19 for about $10.50 worth of product.)

Christmas holiday gift guide: classics
image sources: Sephora, Shu Uemura
Trends in colour and product come and go, but good tools are always a must. I bought the Sephora Collection Advanced Airbrush Set ($80 CAD) years ago, and I still use these brushes regularly. The mix of face and eye brushes is a great choice for someone that is starting to get into makeup or to treat them to an upgrade. The synthetic brushes are soft and won't "eat" cream or liquid products like natural bristles do. My favourite is the concealer brush, which buffs in liquid concealer effortlessly (and was my pick for an "essential" makeup brush!) I also love the foundation brush, although I've been reaching for my Urban Decay Optical Blurring Brush more now.

The Shu Uemura eyelash curler ($24 CAD) is a classic and iconic staple for makeup lovers. Once you try it, you (or your giftee!) will never go back to just any old eyelash curler. Enough said.

Clinique Black Honey Almost Lipstick debuted over 25 years ago, and is still one of the brand's top sellers. If that's not time-tested, I don't know what is! The Clinique Black Honey Beauty Set ($29 CAD) includes a Superbalm Moisturizing lip gloss, Quickliner eyeliner (full size!), nail enamel, and Almost Lipstick, all in the iconic deep raisin shade. This colour is especially perfect for winter, when people tend to embrace browns and plums. (Scared of how dark it looks? It's surprisingly wearable! Check out my review and swatches of Black Honey Almost Lipstick.)

Christmas holiday gift guide: gift sets
image sources: Sephora, LUSH, Nordstrom
I love that Josie Maran Whimsical Wonder Argan Oil Color Essentials ($41 CAD) is mostly makeup with a little bit of skin care thrown in. The set is worth about $88 in product and features the Argan Oil Light to hydrate skin, plus Argan Black Oil Mascara and Argan Enlightenment Illuminzer. It also includes a Coconut Watercolor Cheek Gelee and full-size Coconut Watercolor Eye Shadow, both products I've heard great things about. (US readers, this set is on sale right now for $24 USD OMG. Get it! It's practically a stocking stuffer price-wise!)

LUSH always has an amazing assortment of gift sets available during the holidays (over 9000 80!)--and already beautifully wrapped up too, which is a bonus if you're short on time or are all thumbs at wrapping gifts. I had a hard time choosing just one to feature, but the Winter Garden set ($37.95 CAD) is my pick. I love the mix of floral and creamy scents, and the variety of products to freshen up from head to toe: Rub Rub Rub shower scrub bar, Snowcake soap, Rose Jam shower gel, Gorgeous face moisturizer, and Dream Cream body lotion--it's like an at-home spa day in a box!

I have a slight fixation on Atelier Cologne right now. The Necessaire Azur Gift Set ($32 CAD) includes the four scents from the Collection Azur, inspired by places "where water and sky become one". There's a mix of floral, citrus, and woody scents here to appeal to someone that loves changing up their fragrance. They are intended to be unisex, and having smelled them in store, I can definitely see that. Sud Magnolia leans a bit more conventionally feminine because of the magnolia and black currant, though still wearable for a guy that likes to explore fragrance. For $13 CAD more, you can really spoil someone with four Collection Originale fragrances, plus the four from Collection Azur, in the Necessaire Nomade Gift Set ($45 CAD).

Bite Beauty Best Bite Rewind ($29 CAD) is a hot item, periodically going out of stock online and then coming back in. Bloggers have been all abuzz about this set, which features four Matte Crème Lip Crayons in deluxe mini size (slightly more than half of the full-size). I've been resisting my hardest to not buy this for myself because my goodness, Aubergine is crazy gorgeous, and the value (~$69 worth of product!) is really good.

I am a big fan of butter London; the polishes are amazing quality and super smooth, and that hint of British charm is irresistible. If you've got a nail polish addict in your life, skip the Sephora Formula X gift sets (excellent formula but the values are actually pretty terrible) and get them the butter London 12 Months of Manis Lacquer Set ($78 CAD) or the Invite Only Lacquer Set ($45 CAD). Each set has a mix of textures (glitters, shimmers, cremes) and colours from soft pastels to bold brights and deep jewel tones. Take it from this nail polish addict: these are the ones they want.

This isn't a gift set but an honourable mention for the Tarte Tartelette Amazonian Clay Matte Eyeshadow Palette ($54 CAD). I'm not really an eyeshadow person, but I really like the selection of matte neutral shades in this palette. The textures are soft, buttery, and pigmented. You can't go wrong with this one.

That's all for now! I didn't really include skin care for the face here, because I think with all the different "it" ingredients and skin types/concerns, it's super personal. Even though there are a lot of great facial skin care gift sets available, my advice is to avoid gifting it unless it's something you know they really want. PS I also have a gift guides for men and all things non-beauty in the works!

What are you giving the makeup lovers in your life, and what are you hoping to unwrap for yourself this Christmas?

2015 Gift Guide:
Home, Gaming, DIY Ideas

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