Our assistant editor showcases her favorite beauty products to gift your loved ones (or yourself) this season.
Photo courtesy of Annie Spratt via Unsplash
Whether you want an outlet for creative experimentation or 20 minutes each morning to carve out some normalcy in the midst of a global pandemic, makeup has served a different purpose for each of us over the last two years and continues to do so. I believe that the role of makeup was redefined during the pandemic. When we were all initially asked to stay home, it seemed intuitive that the beauty industry would suffer, but this was not the case. As social distancing, mask mandates and WFH business models have emerged, we have seen makeup become a hobby or even a lifeline instead of another monotonous step in your morning routine. Rather than being a way to signal to others that we are pulled together and ready for the day, doing our makeup has become a way to signal this to ourselves. I have always believed that makeup is about more than just looking good, it is about feeling good too, and the last two years have definitely shown how makeup can be used to empower rather than impress.
The multibillion-dollar beauty industry can be a daunting thing to navigate no matter what your experience level with makeup is, so I’ve selected 11 of my favorite products that I believe would make wonderful gifts this holiday season—whether they make it into your personal wish list or are gifted to a loved one.
This lip combo is one of my all-time favorites. I’ve always found it difficult to find the perfect “nude” color that didn’t have undertones of barbie pink, orange or brown. The Pillow Talk lip set achieves just that. With a rich yet natural finish that gives your makeup look the perfect boost, the neutral undertones strike a balance with a wide variety of skin tones. This lip set is a best seller for precisely this reason, and the formula does not disappoint either. Like many of the Charlotte Tilbury lip products, you can depend on this lipstick to be hydrating, creamy and longwearing.
This setting powder is unlike any I have ever tried. Oftentimes setting powders are designed for different skin types, some for oily skin and some for dry. This can make it difficult to find the perfect match, but hourglass found the sweet spot. Setting powder can be used for many different things, chief among them being its namesake—setting your foundation and concealer. However, this powder is extremely versatile; it’s not too drying and not too luminous, making it the perfect way to prep your skin, whether you’re wearing foundation or not. Personally, I use this powder no matter how much makeup I am applying that day because even if I am just concealing some dark circles, it serves to seamlessly blend my concealer with the parts of my skin I have left bare and provides a smooth base for tinted powders.
Cream bronzers can be intimidating, but the Chanel bronzing cream is incredibly easy to apply. Blending seamlessly into a powder or cream base, this product is not half as daunting as it seems. It even works well on bare skin, giving a natural, healthy glow for those days you may want to give your complexion a boost. This product would make the perfect gift for makeup lovers or someone looking for a quick and easy way to brighten up their beauty routine.
This highlighter is the perfect staple for every beauty routine. The finely milled formula ensures that this highlighter never looks cakey or granular, but also does not move across the skin throughout the day. With a pale pink tint, this highlighter can be applied with a larger brush and used as a blush topper or applied with a smaller brush and used to highlight the high points of the face. This versatile product makes for a perfect stocking stuffer and will surely become a go-to product in any makeup bag.
Jaclyn Hill’s Mood Light Powder is so much more than a setting powder. Not quite a highlighter and not quite a setting powder, Mood Light sits somewhere in between. For those struggling with finding a balance between needing some oil control but still wanting to maintain a dewy, natural finish, this powder is for you. With diamond and rose quartz powders incorporated into the formula, this powder is the perfect way to give your skin a smooth and dewy look.
This mascara took me completely by surprise. As so often happens, I first tried this product because it was what my friend had in her purse, but it has quickly become the only mascara I will buy. The applicator strikes the perfect balance, picking up enough product to coat the lashes quickly, but not so much that you are left dealing with large clumps. Additionally, the quality of the formula is astounding. Though makeup remover takes it off easily, it does not smudge or run. This mascara would make the perfect gift for someone on the hunt for a low-drama, durable mascara that is easy to take off when the day is done.
Fenty Beauty never disappoints, but my favorite product that they have put out has to be the Flyliner. This liquid eyeliner is the perfect tool for a dramatic cat eye, as the longwear formula ensures that it will not budge all night long. However, what really makes this product stand out is the design of the felt tip. The extremely high-quality applicator is firm enough to get right down to the lash line, making it possible to create a subtle natural-looking line for everyday looks, but still has enough give to create the perfect “flick” for those days you are looking for a more dramatic effect.
After receiving this palette as a gift myself, I was shocked by the quality of the formula. Beauty guru Huda Kattan has truly created the perfect eye shadow; it is so easy to blend that even the most novice makeup user will begin to love playing with eye shadows, and the color palette is absolutely stunning. Their 11 neutral matte shadows are perfect for a quick wash of color as you run out the door, but can also be easily built up to a flawlessly elegant look. These shadows are formulated with coconut oil and aloe vera, making them unusually smooth on the lid but make no mistake, they will not budge. This palette also includes seven shimmer shadows that are perfect for vamping up your holiday party look. At first glance, the metallic shades look as though they contain large pieces of glitter, but in fact, the Huda Beauty-exclusive formula yields a dainty shimmer that allows for the creation of subtle yet stunning looks. I cannot recommend this palette enough.
This palette is the ultimate all-in-one gift for your favorite boss lady on the go. With nine eye shadows, a bronzer, blush and highlighter, this palette has everything you need for a simple, elegant look. With three base colors, three shimmers and three mattes, you are well equipped to create dozens of looks you will love with just one palette. The bronzer is a standard, go-to shade that has warm undertones. The blush is a beautiful posy pink with cool undertones, perfect for a quick pop of color. Additionally, the Tarte Clay formula is pigmented, easy to blend and will stay put all day long, making this palette as effortlessly chic as the boss ladies it was designed for.
The Backstage Glow palette is great for those looking to really play with makeup. The highlighting palette comes with four different shades of pressed illuminating powders that can be used in many different ways and will have you feeling like a pro. This is a stunning palette that encourages creativity and experimentation. Highlighters don’t have to be used in just one way, and this palette will encourage you to discover that for yourself.
This bestselling eyebrow pomade lives up to its reputation. My favorite thing about this product is that it does not dry down immediately, giving time to fill in your brows exactly how you want them. Once the pomade does dry however, it is waterproof, longwearing and smudge-resistant, ensuring that no matter where you go, your brows will come with you.