2016 Holiday Gift Guide

With Thanksgiving coming up, I’m adjusting my posting schedule for the upcoming week. There will be this post (Saturday evening), the normal Monday post, and the normal Wednesday post, but no Friday post.
We’re officially in holiday shopping season! In the interests of self-preservation, I completed my holiday shopping a month-and-a-half ago. Here’s the Beauty Skeptic 2016 Holiday Gift Guide for those of you still in the thick of it.

Before You Shop


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biore aqua rich watery essence

It isn’t often that you can give the gift of health. I love sunscreen as a skincare gift particularly for those who may be a bit lax with their skin. If you’re interested in prestige options, Coola apparently makes some good ones; that said, when it comes to facial sunscreen I can’t be talked off the Biore AQUA Rich ($9) ledge. It’s SPF 50, suitable for all skin types, and not something you can just grab off the shelf in CVS or Target…but even being imported, it is really inexpensive!

Everyone can benefit from some Vitamin C, but especially if your recipient has expressed anti-aging concerns, this is a good pick. This duo from Ole Henriksen ($25) is a cute gift that can boost collagen production and make the skin appear more radiant.


Palettes make great gifts! Unless you know your recipient specifically wants something colorful, though, stick to neutrals. Furthermore, if you want the most quality for your money, skip the limited edition holiday palettes.


The Naked Palette from Urban Decay ($54) is a classic choice. Naked2 Basics ($29) is a great, budget-minded option AND has some really excellent neutrals. Lorac PRO (the original, $44) would fit in any collection. I own and use all three on a regular basis. I recently picked up Tartelette in Bloom ($45) and am enjoying it so far – especially with its MASSIVE mirror.

If you have any suggestions for other budget-minded palettes, please let me know in the comments below. I have yet to come across a drugstore palette that I can feel good about recommending, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t one out there.


You can go wrong with foundation or concealer, but you can’t really go wrong with tools. If your budget is a bit more robust, Nordstrom is carrying a few different sets from Sigma, and they’d have a place in any makeup fancier’s vanity. My picks from the Sigma sets at Nordstrom are:


The first one includes my favorite foundation brush – the F80. The next two are eye brush sets, and the third is a travel set including a carrying cup.

2016 Gift Guide - Makeup Geek Face Brush Bundle

Also, I’m still delighted with this Makeup Geek face brush set ($45) (my review here) and would still recommend. Decent brushes and tools aren’t inexpensive – and properly cared for, should last you several years.


beautyblenders make adorable stocking stuffers – but skip the red one, they bleed. Pink is cute, black is practical. This set is a decent value – two beautyblenders (one pink, one black), one micro-mini, and a full-size blendercleanser solid for $40. Check Costco periodically, because they’ve been known to carry packs of two for $30.


2016 Holiday Gift Guide - The Wet Brush Bombshell Blue

This is the best hairbrush…period. They’re making boar-bristle mixes and brushes intended for blowouts, now, too. You need one, your family needs one, your friends need one – especially if any of them have kids! At $9 (or less!) it’s a steal. I may or may not own three because I am a lunatic. The Bombshell Blue and Mermaid Green are gorgeously giftable jewel-tones, just sayin’.

2016 Holiday Gift Guide - Big Sexy Hair Volumizing Set

“I wish my hair was flatter and less voluminous,” said no one ever. This set from Big Sexy Hair ($25) is an incredible value for salon products – and at JcPenney, it’s even eligible for their 15% and 20% off promos PLUS eligible for reward redemption. (Basically, I got this set for $10 out-of-pocket, and you can, too). Root Pump is the holy grail volumizing mousse of women everywhere, and Spray and Play Harder is endorsed by the discerning Belle of The Work Edit.

Anyone with shoulder-length or longer hair could appreciate a Turbie Twist (2 for $10.99) or similar hair towel. I still don’t know how I went so long without one, personally. Turbie Twist also makes a set that includes a shower cap ($5.99). They aren’t glamorous, but they’re practical and make caring for your hair a hell of a lot easier!


Sensationail’s starter kits are the most cost-effective options on the market. They’re user-friendly for beginners, and are compatible with more than just the Sensationail brand of gel polish. The price has come down a lot over the years, so their color starter kits ($25 or less) are a steal, and the Polish to Gel starter kit ($24) is an awesome option for someone who may not want to invest in a bunch of new gel colors. If you want to set them up with more supplies, skip the gel cleanser and pick up some alcohol swipes.

If you’re shopping for a manicure enthusiast, a Sally Beauty gift card may seem impersonal, but trust meit is not. Preference in manicure tools and products is as personal as foundation formula and shade. If you prefer to get items, though, Seche Vite Dry Fast top coat ($7) is a solid addition to anyone’s kit. Essie Cuticle Oil ($8) smells nice and absorbs quickly. I’m Not Really a Waitress by OPI ($9) is a cult classic for a reason.

For the polish-obsessed, don’t miss Ciate’s Mini Mani Month set ($39); it adds touch of fun reminiscent of an Advent Calendar. It probably isn’t a choice I would make, but if your recipient is fond of prestige polish brands, loves Ciate, or loves Advent Calendars…do it. Sephora Beauty Insiders may have another opportunity to save, if tradition continues, this season.

The Bottom Line

There you have it – the 2016 Holiday Gift Guide isn’t full of trendy items, but I never claimed to cater to trends. Good luck with your holiday shopping and be safe on Black Friday.