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Dec 03, 2022
Dazzled (and overwhelmed) by the endless options when it comes to beauty gifts? These picks — from mini-collections to trendy tools — are sure to delight any serious beauty fan.
— by Rachel Weingarten, beauty expert and culture journalist in New York
Trending Beauty Gifts
‘Tis the season to wrack your brain thinking up the perfect gift for the beauty lover in your life. Back in the day, buying a holiday beauty gift might have included a quick trip to the drug store for a bottle of Charlie or Enjoli (in case your beloved was inclined to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan).
However, it’s more complicated now: with so many options and new brands launching daily, it can be really tough to figure out what to choose. But don’t despair, because the current crop of product options make it almost impossible to buy a dud.
Beauty products are perfect gifts, says celebrity makeup artist, Jeanine Lobell, who was the brains behind beauty brands Stila Cosmetics and Kevyn Aucoin, and who recently launched a clean cosmetics line called Neen. “Beauty gifts are the perfect holiday gift because it gives someone a way to try multiple products at once, not to mention the adorable packaging,” she says. It’s true. Holiday beauty gifts often have beautiful design elements.
Lobell adds, “Everyone wants to feel their best around the holiday season; what better way to put a smile on someone’s face than with some new beauty products to try out?”
The Lucrative Beauty Market
Today’s beauty consumer can be faced with thousands of brands, ranging from prestige (top-tier products often sold exclusively in department stores) to masstige (more easily accessible and affordable mass-market beauty products) to drug-store cosmetics. And then there are the small-batch hand-crafted products you might find at craft fairs or online at Etsy.
According to U.S. market research group NPD, the U.S. prestige beauty industry generated $22 billion in 2021. Lest you think most of that was spent on at-home pandemic pity parties, it was not. The beauty industry continues to grow. Despite talks of a looming recession, NDP predicts that 28% of consumers are planning to purchase beauty products this season.
Following are some of the more interesting beauty gift ideas for 2022.
Nostalgia for more innocent times became a recurring theme during the pandemic. The world felt scary and out of control and watching (and rewatching) favorite series or baking bread while listening to Kate Bush on vinyl became a form of therapy for some. The beauty industry took notice.
Nosta Beauty is a fledgling brand that packages their pop culture-inspired products in retro -inspired packaging — including a CD-Rom jewel box. Swatch Me Face Palette Vol. 1 claims to be “the first ever VHS inspired makeup palette.” The colors are vibrant, easily blendable and sure to add a smile to your favorite face (especially one that fondly remembers Kate Bush and VHS).
Limited-Edition Eye Shadow Palettes
A profusion of palettes tends to be released during the holiday season. Savvy shoppers can pick up classic color combos that have been significantly reduced on sites like Ulta or Sephora during Black Friday sales (which generally run for weeks after). But be quick: Classics often sell out quickly.
To delight the makeup fan in your life, consider treating them to Urban Decay’s Naked x Robin Eisenberg Eyeshadow Palette. While the Naked palettes tend to include colors that are, uh, a bit more naked, this palette is full of bright colors suited to holiday parties, along with more subtle-ish shades with rich pigments designed to last through even those endless office parties. The limited-edition packaging features designs by Los Angeles-based artist and animator, Robin Eisenberg, known for her cool alien babe art.
Pro-tip: The bold colors can be used in the crease of the eye and even on top of basic neutral shades for a bit of pop without oversaturation.
Giant Skin Care Sets (or Travel Minis)
When it comes to beauty gifting and budget, size matters. How many of us can afford to give a 16.5-ounce jar of Creme De La Mer, which sells for about $2,545? A more price-conscious alternative that will still impress are mini-sized product sets. For instance, the Olaplex Hair Repair Treatment Kit, a set of mini luxurious hair-care products, is much easier on the wallet than the full-size versions.
Here’s another option: a sampler of skin care treatment from selected brands. When it comes to gift sets, “variations always give the option to try several products” says Lobell. SkinStore’s Holiday Edit contains options from the likes of PCA Skin, 111Skin and Elemis for just $149 (sold separately, the items in the collection add up to a whopping $670).
Since the launch of the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer a few years ago, the beauty gadget category has exploded — and inspired a host of wannabes. And while the idea of spending nearly $500 on a blow dryer was once unheard of, it’s now considered an investment for those who indulge in weekly blowouts.
I’m a huge fan of the Shark FlexStyle collection, which starts at about half the price of the Dyson. The dryer has an extra long body, which means fewer contortions while styling my hair. Accessories (depending on the package you choose) include auto-wrap curlers, diffusers and styling concentrators.
Another beauty gift that keeps on giving: a personal humidifier. It’s especially helpful to combat the effects of colder outdoor temperatures and indoor heat, which can lead to redness and dry skin. One recommendation: The Ultimate Hydration bundle from Canopy, which includes a humidifier, aroma oils, water sleeping mask and tote bag.
Beauty Sleep Gifts
Everyone can use a good sleep, and there are lots of dreamy products designed to help make you look better when you wake up. Laneige has a series of sleep masks (of the skin care variety) for the face and also the lips.
Another sleep-related gift is Kitsch satin pillowcase sets, which claim to help protect hair from frizz and tangles, reduce face creases and help keep faces cooler and drier while sleeping. A gift that keeps on giving.
A Few More Beauty Gift Ideas
Fragrance is traditionally the biggest seller of all holiday beauty products. But what if you don’t know someone’s preferred scent? Consider gifting a fragrance that has a great story or aligns with a message you’d like to send. (I’m fascinated with the U.K. perfume brand Boadicea the Victorious, which pays homage to a Celtic warrior queen who lived about 2,000 years ago.)
You can almost never go wrong with nail care. From stick-on nail wraps to home gel kits, they’re almost always popular and make great stocking stuffers. Consider Dashing Diva, which has loads of seasonal trendy designs for manicures or pedicures. Also notable, Orly nail polish comes out with a new collection or two each season, so you’ll know you’re choosing the most current look.
Want to earn some extra brownie points with your gift? Pair it with a fabulous makeup case. The Vera Bradley Brush Up Cosmetic Case is made of recycled cotton and expands to make room for makeup brushes and loads of products.
What type of gift do you most like to give? Tell us your story.
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