Holiday Gift Guide: Gift-Giving Tips & Tricks
If you’ve ever experienced the feeling of giving a really fantastic gift, it’s know how amazing it can be. It’s so fulfilling and satisfying to know you picked just the right thing for that one special person. Similarly, when you receive a gift that’s exactly what you wanted/needed, you get a sense of how much thought the giver put into the gift. It seemed like several readers struggled trying to figure out what kind of gifts to give friends and family when it came to beauty, particularly because they weren’t sure what colors to choose. I thought I would touch on some tips born from past experience on that particular issue as well as some more generalized tips and tricks when it comes to the art of great gift giving.
Little Touches Count
The little things can add tremendous value and appeal to your gift. Think about when someone takes an amazing gift but throws it into a paper bag at the last minute; or how about the time you totally forgot to grab a card and just shoved a gift in someone’s face? Fancy wrapping or expensive greeting cards are by no means necessary to a great gift, but remembering to take as much time in the presentation of the gift as you did in the acquisition of it is important. You can also keep an eye out for gifts that already come in festive packaging or bags.
I do, personally, splurge on fancier gift wrap, because I have a thing for Christmas decor and like to see lots of shine and color under the tree. Holidays come earlier and earlier each year, so you can find great bargains on wrapping paper at local discount stores as well as online. You can also stock up right after the holidays for the next year if you have some storage space! I also like festive ribbons for smaller gifts or awkward-to-wrap gifts. I often make my own cards to attach to gifts with colored card stock and simply scrawl a short and sweet note to the recipient.
It’s Not About the Money
I cannot emphasize it enough, but it is the thought that really counts, especially when you’re not gifting to a five-year-old who’s been dreaming of the latest gaming system for the past 364 days. But in all seriousness, the majority of people, and hopefully, your dearest friends and family, are not googling what you bought them to see how much you spent on them. Your best friend who is the girliest girl you can imagine doesn’t want to receive a weed wacker for the holidays, and it’s just important to know your recipient and find a gift that would resonate with them. Don’t get caught up in the idea that more is better or that bigger is better! Keep gift ideas in mind all year round, even pricier ones (that are just outside your budget), because if you know your partner has their eye on such-and-such electronic, you can keep an eye out for price drops towards the second half of the year.
Sales, Sales, Sales
Stemming from looking out for deals on must-give gifts much earlier than the last two months of the year is taking advantage of sales, but I will caution you not to let them take advantage of you! Just because there’s a sale doesn’t mean you have to find something for someone there. November is the time for Friends & Family sales and events, several having already taken place, but there are more to come. Similarly, the infamous Black Friday is nearing (along with Cyber Monday), which can be a good opportunity to take advantage of sales.
Use Social Media and Networking
So much of our lives are now online, from the photos and videos of our lives to our favorite interests. Many people have their favorite social networking sites that they use, and you can learn more about their various interests from a profile. I’m totally serious here! Sometimes you bond with someone over certain common interests (say, beauty), but you might not know their favorite music or movies. If you have friends or family members who are really active, you might be able to see what kind of things they’ve liked in the past couple of months to help give you an idea of where to start your search from!
Gift Guides from Everyone
Almost everyone has some sort of gift guide these days, and I don’t mean bloggers but major retailers and individual brands. Most of them have a section on their website for gift sets/value sets as well as gift guides broken out by price or “personality.” Perhaps you have a favorite brand you want a friend to experience or you know your friend’s favorite brand but you’ve never used anything by them; either way, you can peruse through recommendations from the brand as a great jumping off point.
5-Minute Primer on Beauty Products for Others
You have your beauty partner in crime, but you’re just not confident about buying them something because you don’t know if they’ll good in it or if it’s a shade they’d like. There are fantastic items that are more neutral and general that work across skin tones and undertones, but there are certainly plenty of products that just tend to look better on a certain skin tone/undertone.
- Stealthily get a grasp on their skin tone: if your friend wears a bracelet or watch, you can try to get a look at the underside of their wrist/forearm by asking to see their bracelet/watch close-up. Green veins indicate warmer undertones, while blue veins indicate cooler undertones; if you can’t really tell, they may be neutral. You can also use the jewelry trick; does your friend wear a lot of gold or silver jewelry? Is there one they look better in? Gold looks better on warmer skin tones, while silver looks better on cooler skin tones–but be careful, a lot of people prefer a metal over the other, regardless of their undertone!
- Think about the colors/styles/products you see them in most: if you’ve never seen your friend wear red lipstick and only baby pinks and barely-there nudes, buying them a red isn’t necessarily the best way to go (unless you’re deliberately prodding them to finally wear one and you know the perfect one for them!). Do they wear bold eyes? cheeks? lips? What feature do they emphasize?
- Something old or something new? Consider whether you’re trying to simply buy them something they would love to wear, which means it is likely to be similar to other shades they already own (so go see if you can snoop through their makeup bag!) or if you’re trying to get them to try something they wouldn’t normally wear (perhaps something they’ve been curious about).
- Warm undertones look best in shades like earthy neutrals, coppers and bronzes, yellowy greens, metallic golds, corals, oranges, and yellow-based pinks. I believe anyone can wear anything–it’s just a matter of pairing it with the right products; this is merely a quickie guideline to pick the most-likely-to-suit products.
- Cool undertones look best in shades like sooty neutrals, beiges and taupes, charcoal browns and grays, blues, blue-based teals, blue-based reds, fuchsia pinks, berries, cotton candy pinks. Again, this is a mere snapshot of common colors that often work well on those with cooler complexions but you should feel free to wear whatever you like!
Share your gift-giving tips & tricks in the comments!
By Dain, New England, Skincare Contributor
Dain is a freelance editor and writer, who graduated with a Bachelor of Art in English. She expected to pursue an academic career but found her interests straying elsewhere–like beauty! She has dry, sensitive skin and is always looking for ways to keep her skin hydrated. When she isn’t writing about beauty, she loves to play video games, cook (and eat!), and read.
Check out her blog, Ars Aromatica!
A battalion of moisturizers, each trained to a specific purpose.
Importance of Gentle Cleansing & Layering Moisturizers
The skin is our body’s first line of defense against environmental aggressors. As a barrier, mine is deficient as a barrier. It’s both sebum-starved and paper thin, the conventional definition of “sensitive”. Consequently, I follow two principles in my approach to skincare.
GENTLE, GENTLE CLEANSING
All but the mildest cleansers are too aggressive for my skin. For a simple cleanse, I’ve faithfully purchased Weleda Calendula Baby Wash ($11 for 200 mL) many times over. Coco glucoside is a minimally invasive surfactant, approved for use on babies. Plus, it smells like tangerines. To remove makeup, I like micellar waters, such as cult classic Bioderma ($30 for 500 mL). It feels like water yet it dissolves stubborn eye makeup with ease. If I need a thorough, deep cleanse, I massage a cream cleanser generously onto dry skin, using the friction from my fingers to break down makeup and sunscreen. If you dislike residue, a good trick is to add water incrementally during the massage, slowly emulsifying the emollients. I’m currently enamoured of Trilogy Cream Cleanser ($37 for 200 mL), but I’m always open to suggestions.
If there’s a skin trick I swear by, it’s to fragment moisturizing into several steps. Creams for dry skin, because they’re so rich in oils, can sit uselessly on the surface as a greasy layer. It took years of disappointment and thirsty skin to recognize that dehydration (water loss) and dryness (low sebum) should be addressed by separate products.
First, I saturate my skin with a softener. Pat, don’t rub, to maximize absorption. The humectants draw moisture deeper into the skin, penetrating past layers of dehydration and enhancing the performance of your moisturizer. I prefer formulations that feature hyaluronic acid, such as Shiseido Eudermine ($56 for 125 mL). With its gorgeous red bottle and fragrant with rainwashed peonies, Eudermine hits a high note in luxury skincare, but it’s also interesting from a historical point of view, as the seminal force behind Asian skincare. Then, while my skin is still damp, I apply a rich emulsion. Keep in mind, I’m the sort of girl who has half a dozen moisturizers on rotation; it’s unlikely I’ll ever settle on any single product. At the moment, my favorite is Tata Harper Rejuvenating Serum ($150 for 50 mL). Finally, I seal in everything with my favorite face oil, Kahina Serum ($90 for 30 mL), an enriched argan blend that nourishes the skin for a well-conditioned glow and soothes with anti-inflammatory EFAs. By splitting one moisturizer into three layers, I find it maximizes absorption, thanks to the softener, and yet provides a long-lasting protective barrier, thanks to the oil, with the emulsion sandwiched in between.
For daytime, I switch to a mild, avobenzone-free sunscreen like Avène Hydrance Optimale SPF 20 ($24 for 40 mL). Since it forms a barrier, in my mind it’s roughly analogous to the face oil: the final layer, applied last. Antioxidants and sunscreen go hand in hand, so I’m in the market for an antioxidant serum to layer under sunscreen, after softening. While I insist on actives—too many serums are no more than overpriced blends of silicones and humectants—alas, my skin does not tolerate vitamin C. I’m open to suggestions, reader!
Ask Temptalia Revisited
Yesterday, I had the urge to do an old school “Ask Temptalia” session, so I asked readers on Facebook and Twitter to submit any questions they had via e-mail, and I would answer and post them the following day (which is now!). So without further ado, here are those questions and my answers…
Is there a lip liner like MAC Quartz out there? I had no idea it was going, and can’t find anything like it.
I think it was discontinued awhile ago, and I never owned it, but going off of some swatches I was able to find on the internet, maybe Make Up For Ever #9C would be worth checking out.
I have a lot of pigment in my lips so lipsticks never look like they do in the tube. Any suggestions for something that will tone down the color in my lips without drying them out or changing the color of the lipstick?
Lip primers can help (and sometimes have more hydration benefits), but generally, a dab of concealer or foundation does the best job of muting your natural lip color. If you just use a little, it won’t be drying and shouldn’t change the lipstick color drastically. You could also try using a lip liner that’s similar to your lip color but a few shades lighter, so it helps to lighten your natural lip color but not in a drastic way like concealer/foundation would.
When you apply eyeshadow, do you apply darkest to lightest or vice versa? Does one method make blending easier than another?
I usually apply from left to right, but if I want to use a matte shade in the crease, I’ll often apply that first with a big, fluffy crease brush. Then, I’ll go back with a smaller brush to add more definition to the crease with the same color or something darker. I find it easier to blend light into dark by gently pulling the lighter color into the darker one, but you can really do it either way.
My forehead is ridiculously shiny but it’s shiny from dry tightness, or I moisturize and it seems moist but not greasy but still very shiny. What can I do? I’ve tried toners and Studio Fix Powder. Is there a mattifying gel that works?
Are you giving your moisturizer enough time to sink in? If your moisturizer hasn’t absorbed fully, it can still look shiny. I try to give my moisturizer 30 minutes to sink in before I apply any makeup. For mattifying primers, I like CoverFX Matte and NARS Pro-Prime. If you find yourself shiny and really dislike it, you might want to carry around a pressed powder like Clinique Stay-Matte Sheer Pressed Powder, MAC Blot Powder, or Urban Decay De-Slick.
By Nicki Zevola, Pennsylvania, Skincare Expert
Nicki Zevola is a beauty expert and the founder of FutureDerm.com, where she provides clear, well-researched information about beauty+skincare, fashion+style, nutrition+fitness, and personal development from a different perspective from most in the blogosphere. Named one of the top beauty bloggers since 2009, Nicki is also a medical student (M.D.) with an estimated graduation date of May 2013. Continue reading her full bio…
5 Surprising Skincare Facts You Didn’t Know (Until Now!)
1. Mixing certain skin care ingredients inactivates them.
Even if you hated science classes, you have to keep in mind that skin care is the product of somewhat advanced chemistry, subject to pH imbalance, unexpected reactions, and the like. For instance, many cosmetic chemists do not recommend using products with alpha hydroxy acids, like glycolic acid, and retinol together. This is because retinol is most active at a pH of 5.5-6.0 (Journal of Investigative Dermatology), while glycolic acid has an optimized pH at 3.83 (Cosmetic Dermatology). Another problem is using a heavier skin care product under a lighter one. High concentrations of certain occlusive agents like petrolatum and mineral oil prevent the ingredients in the lighter serum from reaching your skin as effectively. Most dermatologists thereby recommend applying the lighter product first.
2. You should never apply self-tanner before going out into the sun, unless you use a sunscreen first.
Most self-tanners work by using dihydroxyacetone (DHA) as the main ingredient. According to a 2007 study published in Germany, DHA causes the skin to release 180% more free radicals once exposed to the sun. Therefore sun protection is extremely important when you have used self-tanners containing DHA within the past 24 hours.
3. There is no such thing as 100% SPF protection from a sunscreen.
According to dermatologist Dr. Rachel Herschenfeld, M.D., the percentage of protection you get is 100 – (1/SPF number)*100. I know that looks complicated, but let’s take SPF 30 for example:
Percentage of protection = 100 – (1/SPF number)*100
Percentage of protection = 100 – (1/30)*100 = 100 – 3.3
Percentage of protection = 96.6
Using that same principle, SPF 50 provides only 98% protection, and SPF 100 provides 99.9%! Keep in mind this is the amount of protection provided when you apply a whole shot-glass full of sunscreen for your entire body and reapply religiously every 2-3 hours. As such, it’s safe to say there is no such thing as 100% sun protection from a sunscreen.
Check out two more facts you didn’t know! Continue reading →
The Beauty Social 2011: Blogging as a Business
Whew! I’m back home and trying to get into the swing of things again (it’s amazing how just a few days break can make that difficult), but I definitely wanted to recap the panel I was speaking on during The Beauty Social, which was held October 22nd and 23rd at the Loews Santa Monica Beach Hotel, presented by Beautylish. There was a full schedule of panels and speakers as well as brand booths for Benefit, CND, Cover FX, Fresh, Makeup Mandy, Sugarpill, Temptu, Urban Decay, and Wella.
It’s a lot of fun to meet and hang out with friends (shout outs to Leesha, Suzy, Lauren, Jasmine, Julie, Marissa, and the Sugarpill crew for being my cheerleaders at the panel) and readers, as well as meet experts and brand founders (like Marissa Shipman from theBalm, Jenny Frankel from Cover FX, makeup artist Billy B.) Even though we live in a world where we are so connected digitally, it’s refreshing to see people in person, hug readers, and get to know more about the people within the beauty industry, from the vloggers to bloggers to editors to the readers that give us the opportunity to have these platforms. If we took photos, please send it to me!
I was invited to be one of the speakers on the Blogging as a Business panel (along with Karen Monterichard, Erika Valente, and Romy Schorr). It was such a whirlwind panel, but here are a few of the meatier questions asked and my answers (as best as I could remember and elaborated on)!
How do you stay inspired?
I don’t feel like there is ever a shortage of things to write about, because the beauty industry is rather prolific in new products. There are certainly more new products than I can write about! If there’s ever a moment where I’m not sure what to write about next, I look to an ongoing file I have with readers’ requests (which stands at over 6,000). I really look towards my readers to direct the content featured on Temptalia.
How do you balance a full-time job, family, and blogging?
My boyfriend (who is also Temptalia’s web developer) says I don’t have much of a “suck it up” mentality when it comes to many things–except blogging. For example, if I stub my toe, I’ll spend the next hour whining about it, but when it comes to plugging away for twelve hours for blog-related reasons, I’m so there! We all have things we have to do each day, and a lot of those things can’t be minimized. If you work a full-time job, you know you have at least forty hours you can’t get back. You have to figure out how to stay motivated and, well, suck it up. This is why it’s imperative to get the support of friends and family, because they’re often the ones that can lighten your load (at least a little!) or be understanding when you have to cancel plans because a new collection just came out and you need to review it ASAP! Everyone knows that on one of those days, it’s a do-not-talk-to-me-or-I’ll-bite-your-head-off kind of day.
What advice do you have for newer bloggers?
Work hard. I don’t think I or Temptalia would be anywhere close to where it is today without just plain ol’ hard work. There wasn’t a secret recipe, because it’s working hard on every aspect of the blog; from improving photo quality and color accuracy to the user experience to helpful features to discovering the posts readers want to see. It’s about not giving up or focusing on “getting big” but doing it right and with pride. If you take pride in your work, it will show, and that goes for any field, even ones you do not necessarily enjoy at present. I firmly believe that the cream always rises to the top, and if you put in the effort and energy consistently (and have a little patience), you’ll be rewarded.
This past July, I wrote an exceedingly long and in-depth post on beauty blogging, which is the best advice I have to give when it comes to blogging seriously.
By Dustin Hunter, Washington, Makeup Artist
Born and raised in the Pacific Northwest, Dustin Hunter has been designing various media since his early teen years. Studying several different art forms, Hunter’s creative background ranges from illustration and photography to fashion and interior design to music production and makeup artistry. As a makeup artist, Dustin Hunter combines his love of music and visual art to construct images of experimental beauty for both stage and photography; creating avant-garde makeup looks for photographers, performers and musicians. Check out his blog and YouTube channel, plus read his full bio.
DIY Halloween Makeup Tips & Tricks
Before my kitchen refrigerator was stocked with fake blood and scab material, I relied on some pretty creative ways to make my own FX supplies. With Halloween just around the corner, some of us may be freaking out and thinking we’ve run out of time to put a costume together, but here are a few DIY tips that I STILL use to this day (even with a fridge full of gore) for last minute costumes:
Matte Eyeshadows | If you’re going to create bruises or dirty, rough, and irritated skin, matte eyeshadows in shades like lime green, mustard yellow, violet, dark brown and blue are must-haves! Any amount of frost or shimmer will give the illusion away in an instant so stick with matte finishes.
Burgundy Lipstick | Highly pigmented, dark red lipstick not only mimics the look of blood quite well (particularly for scraps and small cuts) but also stays where you place it, making it a good choice for long-wearing blood effects.
Luffas and Bath Scrunchies | If you don’t have access to a stippling sponge, a cut up Luffa or tightly-wound bath scrunchie will work to create the look of broken capillaries. Dip the edges into your dark red lipstick and stamp onto the skin.
Food Coloring and Light Corn Syrup | Add several drops of red and just a smidgen of blue for realistic fake blood! Add a small amount of water if you really need the stuff to flow, or if you know your way around a kitchen, you can reduce the mixture over heat (to the “soft ball” stage) for some pretty snazzy homemade scab material! Remember, blood comes in different shades of red (arterial blood is brighter than the blood from veins), so mix accordingly.
Eyelash Adhesive | It’s actually liquid latex. Spread a thin layer onto the skin and start picking and scratching it–be careful though, it’s still your skin you’re scratching at! Fill in the “holes” in your skin with that dark red lipstick to create a nice “road rash” effect!
MORE Eyelash Adhesive and Cotton | Thin strips of cotton (pulled from buds or cotton balls) can be placed on the skin over your lash glue. Set those strips with another layer of glue and you’ll have instant raised scarring!
Hairspray | If you do something cool, you’ll want to make sure it sticks around by using a makeup sealer. I love Final Seal by Ben Nye (Benefit’s She-Laq is nice but pricey). But if you’re in a pinch, reach for the hairspray. A light mist will do the job; just don’t tell your dermatologist I told you to put it on your face.
If you can stomach it, do a few image searches in your favorite search engine for words like “bruise,” “broken capillaries,” and “scrapes and cuts” for inspiration. The best way to learn how to create something realistic looking is to see how it looks… in reality.