Beauty Gifting 411: Our Favorite Holiday Sets (As heard on the Michael Yo SiriusXM show)

The best holiday beauty gifts

I had the best time sharing our top holiday beauty picks on Michael Yo’s SiriusXM show today. Here’s a quick breakdown of tips and sets to have on your radar, that makes gifting stress-free and most importantly FUN! Here are the questions Michael asked and links to the products mentioned (with a few added bonus products in the mix). I attempted to stay under $50 for all my picks.

Our Favorite “It’s Winter, I have Dry Skin” Skincare Sets on a Budget.

To overly simplify moisturizers, there are two types of people, ones who like cream moisturizers (your standard cream formula), and ones that like gel moisturizers (that’s more of a watery gel texture). If the person you’re shopping for has more oily skin then they will generally opt for a gel moisturizers. Don’t worry if you don’t know their skin type or texture preference, I picked universal favorites for both categories that are almost-all skin type friendly!

Our picks for winter skincare regimens that includes a hydrating cream moisturizer:

Our picks for winter skincare regimen sets that includes a hydrating gel moisturizer: 

OTHER WINTER FAVORITES: The Mario Badescu facial sprays linked to below are such a deal and an amazing pick me up when your skin is feeling dry, tired and needs a pick me up. Dr. Jart Ceramide is perfect if you’re super dry and their Cicapair collection is for anyone that gets red. LaNeige lip sleep mask is another amazing pick and has an epic cult following. Their new Sleep Mask kit includes some limited edition flavors we rarely see and for only $28 for the whole set, it’s a steal. Lastly we LOVE Drunk Elephant, we went over budget with this set but it includes their Babyfacial which is our favorite! Lastly, Aquaphor or as I like to call it Aqua-for-all, makes a great stocking stuffer. You can use it for everything winter chapped skin and lips. It’s also great on cuticles, dry patches… While I don’t recommend it as a moisturizer, it is an awesome barrier if you’re combating wind, especially while skiing/snowboarding and can be used over your moisturizer/SPF when you need a shield. 

Our Beauty Lover Picks

You can’t go wrong with any of the NARS holiday gifts. Their palettes to makeup sets have the coolest packaging. Our favorite no-brainer pick is the NARS Orgasm Infatuation Palette ($42, $62 value) featuring their top selling Orgasm blush, Laguna Bronzer and the new Orgasm Highlighter, also the Infatuation Palette is great if you’re into blush. Other favorites include Becca highlighters (our must-have is Becca Mini Macaroon set featuring 4 mini highlighters). The ‘It Palette’ of the season is the Urban Decay’s NAKED Cherry palette. We’re also partial to Benefit Cosmetics Sweeten Up, Buttercup! Makeup Set ($39, $109 value) featuring our favorite mascara, brow gel, bronzer and primer from the brand. There isn’t a shortage of It Cosmetics holiday that isn’t on my list, but their brushes are a great pick for any beauty lover, also the BeautyBlender makes a great stocking stuffer — you literally can’t have enough. Milk Makeup also has the cutest mini’s! Their Meet the Fam set is epic, so is the fact that they collaborated with Wu-Tang on a lipstick collaboration (although that may be lost on some of you) makes us so happy! 

Hostess Gifts

Whether it’s a hostess gift, Secret Santa or little something something for someone in the office you don’t know well enough to guess their favorite beauty products, candles, hand cream sets, pretty lip balms and liquid soap + moisturizer sets are always a safe bet. Basically anything that’s practical but also pretty that bonus they can re-gift if the don’t it it or use to stage a beautiful bathroom for guests to admire you can’t go wrong with. Plus they go well on their own or with a bottle of wine/champagne to say thank you for inviting me to your home. Tocca, Fresh, L’Occitane, C.O. Bigelow, Molton brown, Nest, and Diptyque are great go-tos for this (although the latter may be out of budget if we’re staying under $50). Tocca won holiday gifting for me, Click HERE for the full assortment. They have so many cute hand cream trio sets, fragrance and mini candle gift sets for under $20 that are so feminine, elegant and look and feel expensive in every way except their the price tag. Fresh has a ton of cute lip treatment sets (tinted and untinted) that have a major cult following. L’Occitane is not short on hostess gifts based on your budget but their $15 ornaments that feature their mini hand cream (which is the BEST!), shower gel and moisturizers are so cute. Molton Brown everything… they have cute ornament shower gels for $15 but their deluxe sets and Diptyque candles might run you a pretty penny. Another favorite is Nest candles (they also have gorgeous fragrances), which are more affordable. They launched a pop-up shop in Nolita if you find yourself in NYC. And speaking of NYC icons, C.O. Bigelow lip salve tins are the best stocking stuffers and under $8. They also have loads of great hostess gifts. If you’re based in NYC head to their store in the West Village. It’s the oldest apothecary in the US and a true piece of NYC history.

Hair Picks

I’m going a little rogue on my first hair picks and choosing a microfiber towel. I’m partial to the Aquis brand, mainly because I used the same one for almost a decade before replacing it and even then, my original still works great. I only got a new one because I graduated mine to my rescue dog when he had hair issues. In a nut shell towels are way too trough on our strands especially if you aggressively move a towel around your scalp/strands to dry it. It causes breakage and a Micorfiber towel will fix that. It’s very important for people with fine hair concerns but I love when I gift them to my curly haired friends because they notice such a difference when it comes to tightness of the curl and frizz I always get an epic reaction of enjoyment.

Next, the Lunata Hair 1″ wireless and rechargable flat iron styler. THIS IS EVERYTHING if you flat iron your hair. We all have our go to flat iron whether it be T3, Chi, Sutra, GHD, Hot Tools, however they all have one limitation… a cord. AKA you need an outlet to plug it in to work. Enter Lunata, the 2nd flat iron every flat iron-er should own. It’s cordless, meaning you can straighten your hair at the gym, on an airplane, elevator, Uber ride or anywhere else to your heart’s content. It’s super chic and $150, over the $50 budget I was going for but I don’t care because it deserves it’s moment in the sun.

Other quick picks that actually involve actual hair products are Deva Curl sets for curly hair, Briogeo sets for dry hair and this Bumble & Bumble set for anyone looking for a purse friendly texturizer and dry shampoo duo.

When in Doubt The Sephora Favorites Sets

Sephora takes out the guess work our when it comes to gifting beauty products. They themed a vast variety of their top selling brands they carry across makeup, hair, skincare and fragrance at all different price points at great values making them a perfect choice. Unfortunately our top Sephora Favorites pick, the Sephora Favorites Skin Wonderland is sold out online. These are all going fast so when they say limited edition they mean it! You can always try in store but order yours sooner than later if you see one you like. 

A few Sephora Favorite sets to pay special attention to if the person you’re shopping for loves pink to red tone lipsticks is the Give Me More Lip set is on sale for $47 ($212 value) and includes 14 lippies from brands including YSL, NARS, Charlotte Tilbury, Marc Jacobs and more. If they love highlighters (and strobing is in their vocabulary), the Glow For It Kit is $28 ($55 value) features 5 top selling products from Artist Couture, Benefit, Cover FX, Fenty and Milk Makeup.

What about Fragrance?

Fragrance is a deeply personal purchase. I can give some basic advice like if you like earthy (in a cool, chic, non-hippy way) then check out Commodity, I also love Raw Spirit. If rich, sexy fragrance is your thang then Tom FordNest has great winter scents, and Tocca wins our feminine, pretty fragrance award. But honestly your best bet is to either see what she already wears and try to buy a roller-ball version or travel size as a stocking stuffer, or full-size IF she is running low. If she’s not, then don’t bother restocking since fragrance can take a long while to burn through. Not to push Sephora Favorites again BUT they have 3 fragrance sets that are PERFECT for any fragrance lover and/or someone looking to find their perfect scent.  Each set includes a voucher that can be redeemed for your favorite scent from the group. The first is the SEPHORA FAVORITES Perfume Sampler which is $25 and features 6 sample size fragrances to try and then you can redeem the voucher for a travel size version of your favorite. The SEPHORA FAVORITES Deluxe Perfume Sampler ($75, $140 value) features prestige fragrances from Tom Ford, Versace, Viktor+Rolf, Tory Burch, Kat Von D, D&G, and Elizabeth and James, in their stunning packaging and again you get to turn in the voucher for your favorite, only this time it’s a full-size product. Lastly for the boys, they have the same option with the SEPHORA FAVORITES Cologne Sampler ($65, $101 value), where they gift 10 scents and then your favorite pick can be redeemed with the voucher for a full-size cologne. 

Some quick advice and tips to help you navigate the beauty space:

  • Sephora and Ulta are my favorite places to shop, followed by Nordstrom.  They all get amazing exclusives from the brands at major values, you’re not going to see at any other retailer. What I like about Ulta/Sephora is their team members are there to help you unbiasedly pick gifts based on your budget/needs, where as a department stores have counters so each representative reps one brand and is not likely to cross promote. That does work in your favor if you have specific brands you want to go for.
  • Most prestige brands don’t discount during the year or have sales so this is the time to shop and get some amazing value sets with extra products in them.
  • If you have a specific brand the person you’re shopping for loves, whether it be Kiehl’s, Fresh, It Cosmetics or L’Occitane, go to their website in advance to see what sets they are offering and if anything looks appealing. Websites, especially Ulta and Sephora’s are a good place to start even if you’re picking up in-store because they organize the gifts offerings by price (i.e. top gifts under $50, $25…) or category (skincare, makeup, fragrance…) so you get some idea of your options before getting lost or overwhelmed in store. You can also read reviews which are very helpful.
  • Also the websites all have “GIFT” tabs up since it tis the season to shop! Click it, check out the value, packaging and if what’s included seems practical. Words like “top sellers” are usually a crowd pleaser.
  • Don’t be afraid to be creepy. And by creepy I mean take photos of the products in their makeup case and/or bathroom. I can tell a lot about a person and what products they will like based on the shades they pick or products they already use. Chances are a good sales person will too and can give you advice accordingly.
  • Gift with a gift receipt or keep the receipt in case you fail… it’s the thought that counts! And they will have no problem finding something to exchange the gift for if needed.

Good luck! Leave a comment or DM me @prettyconnected if you need help!