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Holiday Gift Guide 2023: The Best Beauty Gifts
A limited-edition must-have lipstick, a truly historic bar of soap, and more great gifts
For this year’s beauty gifts holiday guide, we’ve rounded up some luxurious classics and innovative newcomers. There’s perfume, clean and gorgeous makeup, tools to tame locks, and a historic bar of soap! Everything to help someone special pamper themselves this holiday season.
Tobacco Honey Eau de Parfum ($380) from Guerlain
Launched this fall, Tobacco Honey from French perfume house Guerlain is one of the best new fragrances around. While it skews toward men with its notes of tobacco and base notes of sandalwood and oud, it is a unisex eau de parfum from Guerlain’s L’Art et La Matière collection, the nearly 200-year-old French perfume house’s most creative and luxurious range of fragrances. The tobacco is tempered by vanilla, tonka bean, and honey from Guerlain’s apiaries, an alchemy that makes this eau de parfum appealing for anyone. The bottles — flacons, as they are called — are made by Pochet du Courval, a 400-year-old French glass maker and one of Guerlain’s historic suppliers. Guerlain offers personalization options for perfume bottles, from designing the top of the bottle caps to engraving the bottle itself. The company sometimes creates limited edition bottle embellishments, notably this fall’s collaboration with Turkish jeweler Begüm Khan — another way to make a gift memorable. Of course, anything from Guerlain is special, including the eau de colognes, which also happen to be less expensive and a great way to introduce someone to one of France’s greatest perfume makers. The house’s first one, Eau Impériale, was crafted in 1853 for Empress Eugénie, the wife of Napoleon III. This light, fresh floral citrus remains a classic.
Satin Kajal Liner Trio ($84) from Victoria Beckham Beauty
Victoria Beckham is a veritable fashion designer and beauty entrepreneur, with an impeccable collection of clothes and terrific makeup and fragrance products. While you may best remember her as Posh Spice of the UK’s Spice Girls, maybe you got to know her a bit better thanks to the recent Beckham docuseries on Netflix. Her sweet dance duet with husband and soccer phenom David Beckham to “Islands In the Stream” has gone viral. Her fame, however, doesn’t take away from the seriousness of her businesses, and her small beauty line is quite special. The shimmering Lid Lustre eye shadows in eight colors contain real crystal particles, and the 16 shades of Satin Kajal eyeliners are deeply pigmented. The latter can be worked and blended around the eyes for a longer time than many other eye pencils, and are smudge-proof for hours. I tried them. Fabulous. We love this customizable trio of pencils. Trios also exist for lipstick, lip gloss, and Lid Lustres.
Deluxe Glow Kit ($75) from RMS Beauty
While this clean beauty line from makeup artist Rose-Marie Swift has been around since 2009, I hadn’t heard of it until Rose-Marie’s appealing videos demoing her products started to populate my Instagram feed. Swift, a makeup artist who’s worked with top models including Gisele and Adriana Lima, is one of the first cosmetic entrepreneurs to embrace “clean” beauty. Her website notes that her product formulations rely on ‘raw, food grade, organic, wildcrafted and natural ingredients,’ and she eschews hundreds of ingredients like European cosmetics companies are obligated to do. (Note: The FDA only bans 30 ingredients.) The Deluxe Glow Kit is perfect for the holidays. It includes the ReDimension Hydra Powder Blush in Bermuda Rose, as well as the ReDimension Hydra Luminizer in the shimmery pale gold Prosecco Fizz shade, along with two vegan makeup brushes. The texture of the blush and the highlighter are gel-to-powder and both contain skin enhancing ingredients including jojoba oil, rosemary leaf extract, and the anti-inflammatory buriti oil.
Black Honey Almost Lipstick Holiday Limited Edition ($30) by Clinique
Last September, I went to Sephora with my 24-year-old daughter and wanted to treat her to some beauty goodies. As soon as we stepped foot into the store on New York City’s Union Square, she disappeared. A few minutes later, she came back, nearly breathless, and excitedly declared: “I got the Black Honey!” Really?! Of course, you might recall the Black Honey from our teens and young adult days introduced as a lip gloss in a tiny tub in 1971. In its Almost Lipstick form, it is sheer, kind of a mix between a lip balm and a lip stain. The dark burgundy-plum shade literally looks great on everyone. It can be hard to get your hands on, though, since it went viral earlier this fall and in 2021 on TikTok. Order fast. This bedazzled version will surely sell out.
Beachwaver B1 Rotating Curling Iron ($99) from Beachwaver
Softly tousled curly hair and beachy waves are in. Doing them on your own? Out… only because it seems so hard to do… and for novices, it’s daunting. But Beachwaver Co. to the rescue. Among other styling tools, the company has curling irons with rotating shafts which means the shaft does the twisting of your locks rather than you! Beachwaver offers .75, 1 inch, and 1.25 inch diameter ceramic barrels, but 1 inch is the most popular, creating wavy curls that are not too tight and not too big. Some of these curling irons also come in dual voltage, which is great for traveling. Of course, getting the strands of hair in the back is never easy, but this tool makes it way easier. Don’t forget to apply a heat protectant spray before your curling adventures.
Greatest Hits Vol.1 Discovery Set ($60) by D.S. & Durga
There are luxe perfume companies and mass market fragrance makers, and then there is D.S. & Durga, a company based in Brooklyn, NY, that’s tossed the traditional making of perfumes out with the bath oil. The brand was founded by a husband and wife team, musician and self-taught perfumer David Seth, and Kavi Moltz, an architect. What started as a project 15 years ago making fragrances for friends using essential oils is now a company boasting 32 eau de parfums, scented candles, auto fragrance hang tags, and hand soap, body wash, and lotion. The company’s slogan is ‘perfume is armchair travel’ and each fragrance comes with its own Spotify playlist. Many of the perfumes smell like their names, notably Rose Atlantic, which evokes the gentle scent of the rosa rugosa, often found growing in seaside dunes. The top notes feature this flower’s petals while the heart and base notes contain dune grass and salt water. While a 100 ml bottle costs $300, most scents, except for limited editions, come in a 50 ml for $210 and some are available in a pocket size for $75. The 6-piece discovery sets in bold packaging are a great way to let someone try these unclassical scents from this independent fragrance company without breaking the bank.
Italian Resin Flat Brush ($100) from Oribe
The late celebrity hairstylist Oribe Canales, who worked with Jennifer Lopez and Sarah Jessica Parker, among others, launched his first hair care product in 1995. It wasn’t until 2008, however, that he created a full line of hair care products. These are literally the only ones I can use on my scalp and hair as so many other brands, from low to high end, cause me to have allergic reactions. I am addicted to the Straight Away Smoothing Blowout Cream because its effectiveness and beautiful scent on my unruly hair are exceptional. But, hair cream as a gift? Ummm, no. Instead, opt for the Italian Resin Flat Brush with boar bristles and nylon pins on a 97% natural rubber base. The bristles massage the scalp gently and the brushing results in smooth, glossy hair. Allure magazine praised the brush as being the best for styling hairdos.
Vinolia Otto Luxury Cold Cream Bath Soap ($16) from Vinolia
In my search for some easy to use beauty products for men, I came across this website store from the Men’s Room Barber Shop in Milwaukee, WI, an award-winning barber shop and purveyor of men’s grooming products. Alongside their thorough selection of the American Crew range, the online store features hard-to-find products for hair, face, and body from around the world. While browsing, the simple navy and yellow box of Vinolia Cold Cream soap with a retro font caught my eye. This soap, originally made in England at the end of the 1800s, was exclusively offered to the passengers of the R.M.S. Titanic. A distant cousin gave me a bar years ago upon her return from a trip to Europe. Seeing the package transported me to the soap’s simple lemon scent with a dash of rose and spice. Reviewers like how it quickly lathers, how gentle it is on skin, and how it rinses off with no residue.