Photo-Illustration: The Cut; Photos: Retailers
So you want to gift your loved one a luxury beauty item this holiday season. That’s wonderful! We subscribe to the belief that the best gifts are ones that a person would be happy to have, but wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves. A decadent self-care product fits that bill perfectly. But if you’re not a beauty expert or zillionaire, you may not have a ton of experience with the pricier beauty buys, and it can be hard to know which are worth your coin and which are just well-packaged snake oil. So we tested a ton and are sharing our favorites so that you can shop with confidence.
For the holidays, give the gift of a viral scent: the amber-and-floral-blended Maison Francis Kurkdjian fragrance, which now comes in a gold shimmering body oil. The glistening oil is a mix of apricot, macadamia, and argan oils finished off with 24-karat gold powder so it’ll have the skin lusciously shining like gold while nourishing it, too.
Mutha’s products have enhanced my shower routine, from the body bar that smooths skin to the lathering of the body butter and beloved body oil that work together to not only hydrate but also soothe irritated skin.
Once you put your friends onto Dior skin care, there’s no turning back. The brand uses ingredients like longoza flower, which quickly becomes a routine holy grail. This set includes four key products to target hydrating the skin and treating fine lines and wrinkles. It comes with a travel pouch that can be used even when the products run out, so it’s truly the gift that keeps on giving.
La Mer is mostly known for its heavy moisturizer, Créme de la Mer, a rich cream that deeply moisturizes the complexion while eliminating dryness. Any skin-care lover would take pleasure in opening a La Mer for the holidays; this discovery set is a chance to introduce them to a handful of efficacious products that the brand sells.
Chanel’s firming eye-revitalizer patches restore the firmness of the under eye while reducing dark circles and puffiness and also look incredibly chic in a selfie. To top off the experience, the anti-wrinkles roll-on serum comes with a set of ten hydro-gel patches that are adorned with Chanel all over them. Basking in luxury and treating stubborn under-eye bags is a great gift.
Hermès’s shades look great on multiple skin tones and the packaging is a chic accessory to throw into a purse. From the perfect reds with blue undertones to the bright oranges that my co-worker and shopping editor Bianca Nieves absolutely obsesses over, there’s a shade for every lipstick lover. It’s a main-character lipstick without a doubt.
Essences have become a key part of our beauty writer Asia’s routine. This La Prairie’s caviar collection, a skin-care line that infuses caviar extract into each product, is the ultimate in luxury. Apparently caviar is an active ingredient that boosts moisture levels and hydration in the skin while simultaneously reducing inflammation and plumping. This essence treatment does exactly that. A “legendary lift” is what the brand calls it, and after having it become a must-have in my routine, I must say it’s not telling a lie. I can expect plumper and more hydrated skin after every use.
Kim Kardashian, Jennifer Aniston, and Kate Hudson are some of the celebrities you can see walking out of Joanna Czech’s esthetician practice with a more toned and lifted face. Czech transforms skin with her special lifting and massaging techniques. This facial collection of masks and a massager combines she and 111Skin’s Dr. Yannis’s skin-care philosophies to provide at-home results.
Augustinus Bader uses stem-cell research to repair the skin with innovative and unique formulas that are effective. This four-product set is a winter superstar, including the brand’s beloved rich cream that deeply moisturizes the skin, their collagen boosting serum, nourishing lip balm, and eye cream.
This holiday season, celebrity facialist Dr. Barbara Sturm created a set with four of her best-selling serums including the cult-favorite glow drops, the moisture-boosting hyaluronic acid, an anti-aging serum, and a night serum. It is quite the gift for the friend that has serums for their serums, and they’ll have one of the healthiest complexions you’ve ever seen by combining these.
We can’t talk about dewy skin without talking about Tatcha, the brand that uses Japanese ritualistic ingredients like rice and botanical extracts to nourish and enhance the skin. This set not only includes their dewy skin cream but also other amazing products like a serum birthed from the cream and their classic rice polish that gently exfoliates the skin. This set is an entire skin-care routine as a one-stop shop, and perfect for the person who wants to upgrade their skin-care routine and doesn’t know where to start.
Sisley’s Black Rose Line is legendary among skin-care lovers and celebrities for a reason: The products are efficacious, enjoyable to apply (thanks to the luxurious-feeling creamy textures), and packed with nourishing ingredients. The most famous product in this set is unequivocally the Black Rose Cream Mask, the ultimate glow-up in a tube that only takes ten minutes to do the job. The star ingredient throughout the line, Black Rose, hydrates, plumps, and brightens the skin.
We’re all searching for the secret to increasing collagen in our skin. Products that speed up the cell’s collagen production, like the Volumizing Cream Supreme in this collection, are ideal for firmer and plumper skin. If there’s someone in your life looking for a heavy lift in the skin-care department and wanting to see visible results, this set is worth the splurge. The products are formulated with active ingredients like retinol and a patented skin-boosting technology.
In the 1970s, SK-II scientists discovered Pitera in Japan, a unique naturally derived ingredient credited for what the brand coins “crystal clear skin.” SK-II has been a household name in Asian skin care since the 1980s with its most notable product, the Facial Treatment Essence. Introduce a loved one in your life to this set, complete with a toner, face mask, and essence.
Do you have someone in your life who can never make it to the spa? Relieve their stress by giving them this indulgent face mask. The Switzerland-born beauty brand has been a staple in spas worldwide for years thanks to the creamy, rich texture made up of shea butter and other hydrating ingredients. After each use, you can expect super-smooth, supple skin.
If they love a bath, this addition will completely elevate their tub time. The salt is sustainably sourced from the Amazon (fancy) and combines mineral sea and epsom salts, Brazilian white clay, vetiver oil, and more. Plus: It smells great and leaves your skin feeling smooth. Deputy style editor Joanna Nikas swears by it.
Candle lovers will appreciate the unexpected warm and fresh notes of raspberry, oud, and palo santo, created to evoke the aroma of a cozy fireplace. Rather than the overwhelming and heady fragrant winter candle you might expect, this slow-burner has a more subtle, soft scent.
One of TikTok’s luxury-on-a-budget hacks is buying scents in the form of a hair mist because it’s a fraction of the price. The Delina scent from Parfum de Marly is a best seller and beloved amongst the fragrance community for its rosy aroma. It’s a powerful yet feminine blend that your fragrance-obsessed friend would love.
Mojave Ghost’s musky yet sweet floral smell is a savory scent that hasn’t failed me yet. While fragrance is hard to gift because of each person’s personal taste, I can confidently say that Mojave Ghost is a crowd pleaser.
This limited-edition Dyson will definitely help you win Gift Giver of the Year. It’s arguably the most TikTok-viral hair tool of the year and worth every coin. For the holidays, the brand released this royal-blue colorway that not only has the sexiest shelf appeal but will also be an absolute game-changer in their hair-care routine. It’s highly engineered, made with heat technology and several speed functions to ensure the fasting drying time for all hair types.
A scent that doubles as décor? Always a good gift idea, especially when it’s embellished with a golden pearl pompom. Once it’s diffused, a whiff of woody blackcurrant and fresh moss will envelop the air. This collectible item will make any luxury lover happy.
You can’t go wrong with passing along the gift of glowing skin, made possible by one of the most advanced LED Light Masks on the market. This one’s for the skin-care-obsessed, tech-y person who will happily sit in their home wearing an otherworldly looking face mask. It also comes with Dr. Gross’s product for brightening and exfoliating, the Alpha Beta Peels.
If sitting by the fireplace is their ideal setting, this set will help friends and family feel comforted by the notes of vanilla and chestnut accords. This fragrance is long-lasting and will linger on the skin throughout the day.
Whether they’re in the mood for a sultry metallic eye or a soft pastel, this 18-shade palette will allow them to play and create an array of looks. When it comes to the best eyeshadow palettes, Pat McGrath a.k.a. the “Mother of Makeup” reigns supreme. The rich pigments and easy-to-blend textures are suitable for all skin tones and types. Plus, owning a Pat McGrath palette is the ultimate rite of passage for any makeup lover.
A bouquet of flowers in the form of a fragrance is how I’d describe this classic scent, blended with fruity top notes of berries and jasmine. If the person you’re shopping for tends to gravitate toward subtle, sweet scents for daytime wear, this is the perfect present for them. The reviews are full of comments claiming that this fragrance is superlong-lasting, so it’s sure to satisfy the senses throughout the day.