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Holiday Gift Guide: Totally Holiday, Totally Gift-Worthy and Under $30


Holiday Gift Guide: Totally Holiday, Totally Gift-Worthy and Under $30

First, I want to cover holiday gift sets, kits, palettes, and value sets specifically and exclusively. There are several more posts to come, including items from holiday color collections as well as permanent products and more. I tried to take into account the incredible input I received from readers, so the whole guide is broken down by price with special attention to different categories of products (e.g. lipgloss vs. eyeshadow), as well as I tried to provide commentary on who the gift might work for.

A Few Money-Saving Tips

  • If you’re on a tight budget this year but feel you absolutely must buy something to gift, consider doling out more on a single value kit/set but then breaking it up. For instance, a kit with ten lipglosses can be split and gifted to two or three or even ten people. You can buy festive holiday ribbon at a local crafts store to tie around the gloss, or you could include a few holiday candies or homemade baked goods.
  • Splitting up sets is also a great idea if you’re looking for stocking stuffers or you want to do more mixing-and-matching of gifts for your favorite pals (say a gloss, eyeliner, and lipstick).
  • When it comes to getting the most for your money, pay attention to the amount of product you’re getting and compare to the full-sized version (and its price).
  • Consider nail polish sets and kits; some come around for the holidays (but availability online may be difficult), there are lots of fantastic brands for $2-5 a pop, so you can get a good variety without breaking the bank.

Eyes: Snag two travel-sized eyeliners (which are usually around 0.03 oz., compared to 0.04 oz. for full size) in Oil Slick and Rockstar in Urban Decay 24/7 Glide-On Eye Pencil Duo ($14.00); there is also one in Bourbon and Ransom. Bare Escentuals Strike It Rich Prime Time Collection ($28.00) contains five miniature-sized versions of the brand’s colored primer, which I’m a fan of; the only way the kit could have been better is if they included Urban Nature!

Cheeks/Face: Trial kits like Benefit One Prime Day ($10.00) are great for personal use but also to give, because you’re giving someone the chance to try new products they might not otherwise buy, but if you’re not totally sure they’ll love them, neither of you will feel bad. I’d give this to a friend who complained about their oily skin! Something else to consider is Benefit’s Powda WOWza, which consists of three top-selling face powders (and two that I love): CORALista, Bella Bamba, and Hoola.

Lips: This is an easily one of the best places to get a lot of bank for your buck when it comes to holiday sets–there are numerous lipgloss/lipstick kits available. I love the sheer, tinted hydrating lip shines, and the Philosophy Much Mistletoeing Lip Shine Set ($20.00 for 4×0.50 oz.) is a good value (these are full-sized!) and already comes in festive packaging. Korres has a great lipgloss formula in their Cherry Oil Lipglosses, and for the holidays, they have a Cherry-Picked Cherry Oil Lipgloss Quad ($28.00 for 4×0.20o oz.) set–and don’t let the word “quad” fool you, because they’re four individually packaged glosses that are full-sized. For lip balm, you know I’m loving and have to recommend Jack Black Balm Squad Lip Quad ($25.00 for 4×0.25 oz.) includes four full-sized lip balms of my very favorite formula in four flavors (there is also a lip balm/hand cream duo for $12, and both formulas TOPS!).

Skin/Body: Badger Three Bold Balms Set ($15.99) is a fabulous balm for healing dry, cracked skin, and this set gives you one to help with sore muscles, another for everywhere, and one scented to help you sleep–a totally classic multi-purpose balm but in a cuter set for the holidays. Bliss Winter Wonder Hands ($11.00) is a duo of hand creams that are purse-sized and fit easily into stockings. It’s not my very favorite hand cream, but it’s a good one! Burt’s Bees Healthy Hands Repair Kit ($12.99) is perfect for someone who works with their hands or loves to do their nails (and is therefore meticulous about their hands!).

When it comes to body care, my favorite go-tos for gifts are Philosophy and Bath and Body Works. Philosophy has numerous gift sets available (from all categories they offer), but a few of the ones I like best are Sugar Plum Frost Set ($18.00), Candy Cane Trio ($22.00), and Fun in the Frosty Air Trio ($25.00). Similarly, Bath and Body Works has tons of various baskets and sets. Giving body products are excellent gift ideas for people who enjoy relaxing (think baths and long showers) or for those you don’t know well enough to be able to pick a specific color for. If you’re unsure about someone’s scent preferences, food-based scents tend to be most generally applicable, so long as they’re not cloyingly sweet.

Fragrance:  They may be teeny-tiny, but you’ll be surprised at how many uses you’ll still get out of Tocca’s Love Yourself Collection ($18.00 for 7×0.05 oz.). Pacifica Hawaiian Ruby Guava Take Me There Set ($18.00) contains travel-sized versions of the scent’s rollerball perfume, body butter, and body wash, which would be a great layering kit, especially for someone who enjoys fruitier, tropical scents.

Do you have any suggestions for readers on the prowl for affordable holiday gifts this year that came out just in time for holiday gift-giving?

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Lancome Color du Jour Color Design Eyeshadow

Lancome Color du Jour Color Design Eyeshadow
Lancome Color du Jour Color Design Eyeshadow

Lancome Color du Jour Color Design Eyeshadow

Lancome Color du Jour Color Design Eyeshadow ($18.00 for 0.042 oz.) is described as a “metallic golden eggplant.” It’s a reddish-burgundy with copper sparkle. The color payoff is decent but on the sheerer side. I’d love it if the texture was denser, because it feels a bit dry here. It’s redder, less plum, compared to MAC Trax. The color is more like MAC Star Violet but with gold shimmer and less frost.   I briefly tested this for a few hours to check on whether there would be fall out, and I’m happy to report that there was none after five hours of wear.

Lancome’s eyeshadows are actually formulated to be long-wearing with “pigment-packed color.” I don’t typically get quite so long in practice, though it’s not bad without a primer. I tend to get subtle creasing after eight hours without a primer, but when I use a primer, I have no issues at all, even after twelve hours.

Lancome Color Design Eyeshadow Colour du Jour

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An Ode to Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Laque

Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Laque
Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Laque

An Ode to Chanel Dragon Rouge Allure Laque

What would you do if one of your holy grail beauty products was discontinued? (And I’m sure that many of you have had it happen, so what did you actually do?)

About two weeks ago, I tweeted that Chanel Customer Service confirmed, via email, that all but Coromandel were going to be discontinued in 2011. I called their customer service line to get confirmation through that route, just in case, and they had the reverse information–Coromandel was being discontinued but nothing else–but they said they would escalate my question up to corporate. Last Wednesday, I had to tweet confirmation by Chanel corporate that all shades (except Coromandel) were being discontinued in 2011.

Long-time readers know that Chanel Dragon (75) Rouge Allure Laque ($32.00 for 0.20 fl. oz.) is one of few holy grail products for me, and it really is; it’s the red I reach for on every special occasion. It’s my power red. There is no other lip color that garners as many compliments as this shade. So I did what any beauty addict would do: immediately bought back-ups upon back-ups. I haven’t finished my original tube of Dragon, though I suspect I am nearly the end, and had already repurchased a second tube for future use. I bought five more, though I plan to distribute a few of those to my favorite people this Christmas.  It’s still available (at least online) at Nordstrom and Saks.

Realistically, there are numerous other reds I love and enjoy, and while it may not be that on oh-my-goodness-this-is-perfect level, they’re close enough, and I’ll make it through. With luck, Chanel is replacing the RAL line-up with something bigger and better. With even better luck, I’ll discover a dupe or an even more fantastic red over time. Guerlain Garconne is the closest I’ve found so far.

Sam’s Teen Beauty Must-Haves

By Sam, Teen Beauty Expert

Sam is 14-years old, lives near Atlanta, Georgia with her mom and two (of three!) older brothers. She was born and raised in Georgia, but her family originally hailed from Illinois. You will find her busy meeting new people and enjoying teen soap operas/dramas (like Vampire Diaries)–and of course, she’s madly in love with all things beauty. When she’s not playing around with makeup, you’ll find her with headphones on listening to everything; from classical to rap, pop to heavy metal, and almost everything in between (though she favors rock!).


Sam’s Teen Beauty Must-Haves

Here is a list of my must-have beauty products. I have tried many out there but these are the ones I always reach for in the end. Feel free to comment if you have tried any of these and what you’re experience was like, or if you have any recommendations! Also if you have any questions, I would gladly help as much as I can. 🙂 Now tell me, what’s on your “must-haves” list?

Makeup

Too Faced Shadow Insurance is my go-to eyeshadow primer. You only need to use a tiny bit for it to perform flawlessly! I’m forewarning you though, this stuff adheres eyeshadow to my lid like a second skin. It lasts on my slightly oily eyelids all day and night with little to no creasing. Even after taking a shower, my eye makeup will still be in almost-perfect condition.

Urban Decay’s Naked Palette is my all-in-one eyeshadow palette. It doesn’t seem to matter what kind of eye makeup look I’m going for, I always use at least one of the shadows. Hustle is my favorite for making my brown eyes pop, and Buck is the perfect color for filling in my brows.

NYX Jumbo Eye Pencil in Milk is my favorite cream shadow in my collection. It works great as a base to make colors pop even more. And, thanks to Xsparkage, I’m obsessed with using it as a tear duct highlight. My makeup just isn’t complete without using this as a highlighter!

Crown Brush has a 15 Piece Brush Set that comes in a really neat faux crocodile skin case, and include pretty much every brush I will ever need. All the brushes are very soft (I can’t open the case without my cousin rubbing the blush brush all over her face!), and they do their job well. I like to use the foundation brush for applying face masks! I have a few other brushes (mostly Bare Essentials) that I keep in the case and use often. But for the most part, this set can’t be beat!

Make Up Forever’s Aqua Liner in #14 is my favorite liquid eyeliner for my top lash line. The black/brown base doesn’t appear too harsh on my eyes, and the gold and purple micro glitter make my eyes stand out! And I’m in love with the sponge applicator–it’s practically fool-proof!

Jack Black’s Intense Therapy Lip Balm is my favorite lip treatment. I have never tried any lip product that works as well as this. I’m a lip balm junkie and tear through tubes exceptionally fast. I can literally apply this at night with damaged lips, and when I wake up they’re practically healed! The original/mint flavor is great for everyday use, but the lavender/vanilla is my favorite for applying right before bed. Lavender essential oil has some pretty amazing healing power, while inhaling it helps me sleep better. (Is anyone else insomniac?)

Check out hair care, skin care, and fragrance must-haves!

Dior Belle de Nuit Rouge Dior Lip Color

Dior Belle de Nuit Rouge Dior Lip Color
Dior Belle de Nuit Rouge Dior Lip Color

Dior Belle de Nuit Rouge Dior Lip Color

Dior Belle de Nuit Rouge (841) Dior Lip Color ($32.00 for 0.12 oz.) is a fiery orange-red with copper micro-shimmer. It’s more orange than it is red, almost like a coral-red, but more orange than coral!  The color coverage is mostly opaque, and the texture is creamy enough to allow the color to glide on evenly without skipping but not so creamy that it moves around.  This is totally my kind of color (but I’m starting to wonder what lip color family I don’t have some love for). Make Up For Ever #20 is a little redder but doesn’t have the copper shimmer. It’s actually similar, though deeper in color, to Chanel Mandarin. The new-for-the-holidays NARS Joyous Red is more muted, less red, and not as shimmered. CoverGirl Temptation is a touch more orange but still very similar.

Belle de Nuit is supremely long-wearing; it lasts for six full hours on my lips and proceeds to linger around for another two; at eight hours, it reaches that halfway point where it’s faded enough to be reapplied but if you’ve forgotten the tube at home, you still have a bit left on your lips. The best part about the long-wear is that my lips don’t feel chapped, dry, or otherwise dehydrated, which is impressive after eight hours.  Too bad this shade is limited edition!

Dior Rouge Dior Lip Color (Discontinued) Belle de Nuit

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