Foxy Voxy Holiday Guide: Gifting, Part II (Makeup)

By Voxy  

IMG_3057 by tonydolor.Makeup is only an easy gift to give for the holidays if you’re content with buying any old assortment of stuff in a plastic pack and handing bits and pieces out to random people. But you’re better than that. You give thoughtful gifts, gifts that are matched to the recipient’s age, lifestyle, habits, and tastes. Right? Of course you do.

Unfortunately, that makes makeup a very difficult gift to give. (Think of it as a challenge.)

Your glamazon friends already know what they like, so it’s usually best to let them buy their own cosmetics and skincare. A Sephora gift card is always a good option; they can collect several and combine them to buy makeup crack something outrageously expensive like a Temptu.

Exceptions to this include:

• if you know there’s a specific product they want but haven’t gotten yet

• if you know there’s a line they’re dying to try but haven’t yet, and you can get them an intro kit from that line

• if you’re sending products overseas to countries in which those products aren’t sold (careful of shipping regulations)

• if you think the product you’re buying is TEH AWESOME


• if the product you’re buying really is TEH AWESOME (e.g., Temptu, Clarisonic, or Bobbi Brown’s services for a year).

Otherwise, let those people choose their own makeup and skincare.

Awkwardness can also arise if you’re buying a makeup product for someone who doesn’t really use makeup, or who doesn’t use it as well as you think they should. “What are you saying? Are you saying I need to wear makeup? Are you saying I don’t look good the way I am? Huh? Huh?” and then someone gets jabbed in the eye with an Urban Decay eye pencil and it’s all downhill from there.

So who are the people for whom makeup and makeup accoutrements (especially kits and palettes) would be good gifts?

• People who already have a makeup routine but who would secretly appreciate an upgrade in glam. Extra points if said upgrade does not have a steep learning curve (i.e., liquid eyeliner is out).

• People who are already using good products but who would appreciate some high-quality tools (brushes, etc.).

• People who don’t currently use makeup but who have expressed an interest in learning and playing around with it, AND with whom you have the kind of relationship in which they will be absolutely sure that you are not criticizing their current habits.

One other thing about gifting makeup: I may be an old fogie, but I think there are certain rules of gift-giving etiquette that should be observed. One of those is this: if you are giving me something that came out of a set that you split up and distributed among different people, I should not be able to tell that. I do not want to know that you bought a kit, split up the parts, and just handed them out willy-nilly. (Someone recently suggested that you could buy the Sephora fragrance sampler, split up the samples among your friends, and keep the certificate for a full-size bottle for yourself! Shocking. That definitely gets a Voxy Veto.)

Now there are a few specially packaged assortments of products in which you would be able to split up the contents and your recipients would not sense that they were receiving 1/3 of a gift. For example:

korres_lipbalm_trioThis lip butter set from Korres ($19.50, Sephora) contains three of the exact same lip butters that are sold for $9 apiece; they’re just packaged in a value pack. (There are two other equally splittable Korres gift sets at Sephora with lip glosses instead of butters; the glosses are not quite full sized but no one would know it was part of a sample kit.) This would be a great gift for someone who “doesn’t really wear makeup” — the color is sheer and subtle and they really are primarily lip butters, not lip color. Since they’re also “natural,” they’re good for the eco-conscious folks on your list.

korres gift set 2And oh, hey, speaking of Korres. Another break-up-able Korres gift set is the “Never Too Many” shower gel/body butter set ($39.50, Sephora). This kit contains one shower gel and one body butter in each of six scents: Basil Lemon, Jasmine, Guava, Clementine, Melon, and Mint.

So if you really needed to get your hands on a bunch of stocking-stuffer-type gifts, this would be the way to do it. But let’s get on to the more fun things, the things in which nothing gets split apart and in which each of your recipients gets something chosen with their personalities and tastes in mind!

All right, so you really don’t need me to tell you everything that’s on Sephora’s gift page. You can look there yourself (link), and there you will find kits and palettes galore, from every cosmetics line and at every price point. Tarte Treasure Chest, Urban Decay Book of Shadows II, Smashbox Wish for the Perfect [Everything], they’re all there, and if you have someone for whom a kit would be a good present, then these are all good and much-lemminged options. What I’m going to mention here are makeup-related gifts that I think are clever, useful, high-quality, and fun, and whose value goes beyond Christmas morning glitz and turns into year-round usefulness. (Substitute the holiday of your choice, of course.) Part of the fun of gift-giving is also to be a little indulgent and give the recipient something she might not buy for herself. (Speaking of which, I’m also a fan of gift certificates from, but I should probably talk about that in Part III, Skincare.)

The list that follows is, therefore, somewhat random, except that they’re all things I like.

josie_maranThe Josie Maran Moroccan Holiday Collection ($25, Sephora) is a clever, clever little gift. Not only does it contain among its little treasures a small vial of the much-hyped Argan Oil, the box converts into a Moroccan-patterned picture frame, so even the packaging is part of the gift!



Ecotools brushes and brush sets are a great gift for people who want to step up their makeup/skincare routine just a bit. Good brushes are really important, and these extremely inexpensive brushes (Target and other retailers, about $5-$12) are astonishingly good. I like some of them much better than brushes I paid a lot more for. As their name implies, they’re also eco-friendly, so they’re excellent for the hip earthy-crunchy granola gals on your list.


ud body powderDefinitely an uncommon-but-glam gift: Urban Decay’s flavored body powder ($26). Now before you go wrinkling up your forehead and saying “eeeew,” this is actually a very subtle and sophisticated product. It’s just slightly shimmery, all of the scents are lovely, and it delivers a very nice glow. The flavors change periodically; right now it’s available in Cocoa, Marshmallow, and Honey.


bare_escentualsIf you know someone who enjoys makeup but wants to learn some of the new trendy techniques, Bare Escentuals produces a set of Tutorial products, including this one for smoky eyes ($32 at Help your friends avoid looking like they came out the worst in a bar fight.


smashbox o-glowA fun gift for the cosmetically curious: Smashbox O-Glow Intuitive Cheek Color, $26. This is another one of those products that starts out colorless and changes color when it hits your skin. I bought this when it first came out and I really enjoy it; it leaves a velvety finish and has great staying power. You do have to be willing to learn how to blend the product, so it’s not for the makeup-shy. There’s also an O-Glow lip gloss and an O-Glow bronzer; the cheek color and lip gloss can be found together in this set (along with a lip plumper) for $48, but really the cheek color is the standout product of this bunch.


TwilightVenomYou may have heard about this little vampire movie craze that’s sweeping the nation. People are positively singing in the streets about it! (Oh, wait, wrong vampire craze. Sorry.) And can you let your Twilight/New Moon-loving pal get through the holidays without a tube of DuWop Twilight Venom ($16)? No, I don’t think you can. From the product description on In a chilling twist of fate DuWop’s signature product, Venom, is also the means by which Meyer’s mortals become transformed into vampires.  Rather than a typical gloss, Twilight Venom is a shimmering crimson lip stain suspended in a venom-laced liquid lip conditioner containing argan, avocado and olive oils as well as vitamin E. Twilight Venom should be shaken before use (to represent the blending of the human and vampire worlds) and can be applied repeatedly until desired intensity of color has been reached and lips are plumped and revitalized.” Bloody fabulous!

Photo: / CC BY-ND 2.0
Disclaimer: All of the above products that I own were purchased by me.
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  1. avatar Shelly
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 7:42 am | Permalink | Reply

    I bought the Ecotools brush set a few weeks ago. Not by choice: it was the only decent set available in the single drugstore in this one-horse town.

    I’m deeply suspicious of ecological marketing, and my first thought was “gimmick”. But I was pleasantly surprised. To my utter delight, the eye brushes don’t fly loose powder all over God’s green undereyes. My only complaint is that the set doesn’t come with a big fluffly powder brush (which I much prefer for blush).

    All in all, although it’s not berry-juice-on-a-stick, I think this set would make a nice stocking stuffer for the hippy with a penchant for glam.


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted December 2, 2009 at 8:14 am | Permalink | Reply

      They do have a separate blush brush that’s available for … uh, maybe $7? $6? It looked nice. I picked up the combo pack just because I wanted to sample more brushes (and I was particularly interested in the concealer and eyeshadow brushes). I can pick up a blush brush for you if you like.


  2. avatar ab_grp
    Posted December 1, 2009 at 8:22 am | Permalink | Reply

    I got a bunch of the 3-in-1 products a while back as free gifts with purchase. They are handy for overnight trips. However, as all of the ones I have are Belgian Waffles, I don’t mind so much the scent not lingering. Cinnamon Buns, on the other hand…


  3. avatar Inthelab
    Posted November 29, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

    I drooled over the Sephora brochure when it came yesterday. In case anyone is reading this, I so want the Philosophy Hot Cocoa and Peppermint 3 in 1 gel…


    • avatar Voxy
      Posted November 29, 2009 at 11:21 pm | Permalink | Reply

      We need some sort of “Secret Santa Or Equivalent Gift-Giving Figure From Other Religious Tradition, As Distorted By Commercialism” program. Maybe next year.

      I really, really love how Philosophy 3-in-1 gels smell (Cinnamon Buns, drool), and I like using them. But I was so disappointed when I learned that they are deliberately made NOT to have the scent linger on your skin afterwards. Boo. I don’t just want to smell like cinnamon buns for three minutes in the shower, I want to smell like them ALL DAY.


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