Skin & Tonics : Skincare Guides & Product Reviews

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Holiday Gift Guide: 10 Perfect Makeup & Skincare Gifts for $25 or Less

Surprisingly, I only have a small handful of friends who would be amped about beauty gifts. Most of my friends and family just aren’t that into skincare or makeup, so every year I wind up with long lists of beauty gifts that I’ll never get to buy for anyone. This year, I thought I’d put my research to good use by sharing it with all of you. I’ll be doing a series of skincare and makeup-themed gift guides over the next few weeks, each at different price points – $25, $50, and $100.

You know how beauty magazines are always doing holiday gift guides, but they wind up being full of things that are either way too expensive, too weird, far too unattainable, or just plain suck? My gift guide isn’t like that. I’m not faced with the same conflicting interests that a magazine beauty editor might be faced with, so all the gift ideas I’m featuring are things that I emphatically believe a beauty fan would be proud to give or excited to receive.

Today, I’m kicking off the series with gifts under $25. Here are some things I might give my friends and family, if only they loved makeup:

1. Shea Terra Organics African Wild Oil Collection

Shea Terra Organics is one of my all-time favorite skincare brands, and happens to produce what I consider to be the best Argan Oil on the market. In addition to Argan Oil, Shea Terra offers an entire range of African-sourced, skin healthy oils, and the African Wild Oil Collection is a great way try a variety of them. Argan, Baobob, and Marula are three personal favorites, and this kit includes all of those plus a Tamanu Oil. It’s a great discovery kit for any skincare lover.

Shea Terra Organics African Wild Oil Kit

It retails for $26, which is a great deal on its own, but Shea Terra offers a monthly 30% off coupon for email subscribers, making this collection a very affordable $18.20. This month’s coupon code is nov2013.

Oh, and while you’re placing a gift order, consider picking up a bottle of the Rose Hips Black Soap Deep Pore Facial Wash for yourself. It’s a personal favorite of mine for exfoliating and treating acne.

2. Caudalie Hand & Body Duo

Caudalie is a French brand that I became enamored with after trying a deluxe sample size of their Premier Cru moisturizing cream last year. Since then, I’ve had the pleasure of trying several Caudalie products, and was pleased to discover that the quality is consistently high. The Caudalie Hand & Body Duo comes with Caudalie’s signature Divine Oil and a super rich Hand & Nail Cream. I particularly love the Divine Oil in this kit as a moisturizing hand & body oil – though it can also be used for face and hair. It smells lovely, and will do an excellent job keeping hands from plunging into the bleeding, crackling depths of winter dryness. It’s an expensive brand (in the US, anyway), so any savvy skincare lover would be impressed with this gift, and will probably think you spent far more than you did.

Caudalie Hand & Body Duo

The Caudalie Hand & Body Duo retails for $15 at Sephora.

Oh, and if you’ve been hoarding your Sephora Beauty Insider Points like I have, you might be willing to let 500 of them go while ordering this duo – there is currently an unbelievably tempting Dior Addict reward being offered that contains a lipstick, fragrance, and charm bracelet.

Sephora Dior Addict Beauty reward


3. Bite Beauty Best Bite Set

Despite all the raves Bite Beauty was getting in the makeup forums I frequent, it wasn’t until my friend Kathleen sang its praises that I decided to give their lip products a try. I instantly loved the rich, smooth colors, and the fact that many of the shades are universally flattering. Rhubarb is a particular favorite (I’m convinced it looks spectacular on everyone), and is just one of the four mini Bite High Pigment Pencils offered in the Bite Beauty Best Bite Set.

Bite Beauty Best Bite Set

The Bite Beauty Best Bite Set retails for $25 at Sephora. This is also an excellent excuse to pick up that aforementioned Dior Beauty Insider reward.

4. Perlier Hand Cream w/ Honey Body Balm 10-piece Mini Set

Italian beauty brand Perlier is known for its amazing body care products. This Perlier Hand Cream w/ Honey Body Balm 10-piece Mini Set is an easy way to impress one lucky recipient with a whole range of their scented hand creams, or a very inexpensive way to dole out 10 small gifts to your coworkers and acquaintances.

 Perlier Hand Cream w/ Honey Body Balm 10-piece Mini Set

Included in the set are hand creams in Frosted Sugar Plum, Gardenia, Honey Gingersnap, Japanese Cherry Blossom, Neroli & Clementine, Periwinkle, Sandalwood & Sage, Persian Lilac, Winterberry, as well as a Honey Body Balm with Peptides.

The Perlier Hand Cream w/ Honey Body Balm 10-piece Mini Set retails for $20 on


5. Etude House Aloe Moistfull Cream Set

Skin care can be a hard gift to give someone, but an aloe-based product is usually a safe bet for most skin types (unless that person has an unfortunate aloe sensitivity). The Etude House Aloe Moistfull Cream Set makes a super cute gift for the skincare collector in your life. Who knows? Maybe this will be your gift recipient’s gateway into the world of Korean skincare – then you guys can start combining your haul orders to save on shipping. Win/win!

Etude House Aloe Moistfull Cream Set

This Etude House Aloe Moistfull Cream Set retails for $22 on You can save $5 on your first W2Beauty order by entering my sponsor code (025605) at sign-up.


6. Sephora Collection Smoky Studio 2

This impressive kit includes 48 eyeshadows and 15 lip colors. The eyeshadow shades are grouped into coordinating trios, each of which can be removed and placed into the included mini-palette for travel. It has tons of rave reviews on the Sephora site, and frankly, it just looks exciting. The Sephora Collection Smoky Studio 2 is the thing to give if your number one gift-giving goal is to give someone a box of pure joy.

Sephora Collection Smoky Studio 2

The Sephora Collection Smoky Studio 2 retails for $25 in-store and online at


7. Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment w/ Travel Size Original

Have you ever tried a Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment? They’re amazing. The first time I tried one was last year, when Sephora was giving out a set of miniature Fresh Sugar Lip Treatments as birthday treats. I instantly understood the hype – these treatments are incredibly moisturizing, and the tinted ones add the perfect amount of sheer color to the lips. They also provide a little sun protection, which is something I wish more lip products offered.

Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment Set

They normally retail for $22.50 a piece, but this set being offered by QVC online comes with a full sized lip treatment in your color of choice, plus a generous, travel size original formula Lip Treatment (which is clear) for the same price. Rose is my personal color of choice, but you really can’t go wrong with any of them.


8. Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics (OCC) Lip Tar All-Star Mini x4 Set

If you or someone you know has been putting off trying the insanely popular OCC Lip Tars, this OCC Lip Tar All-Star Mini x4 Set is the perfect gateway. Lip Tars are ultra-pigmented, long-wearing lip colors that come in a large range of colors, and this set contains four of their most popular shades: Memento, NSFW, Anime, and Black Dahlia. Memento and Black Dahlia have been on my wish list since forever, so I’ll probably be gifting this set to myself.

OCC Lip Tar Mini Set

This set of four miniature OCC Lip Tars is priced at $20 at Sephora. It’s an excellent deal when you consider that individual full size lip tars retail for $18 a pop! Maybe next year OCC will release a miniature set of their entire Lip Tar shade range – there is a 100% chance I would buy that.


9. Deborah Lippmann “She’s Always a Woman” Mini Nail Lacquer Trio

The Deborah Lippmann “She’s Always a Woman” Mini Nail Lacquer Trio is a great gift because the colors are perfect for basically anyone – young and old. The royal blue, holo-berry, and taupe shades are refined, yet not-at-all boring. I always find Lippmann nail lacquer formulas to be smooth and easy to work with, and because the shades are so universal, I would feel just as good about giving this to an elegant 50-year-old woman as I would to a club-hopping 20-year-old (not that I actually have any club-hopping 20-year-old friends anymore –we’re all middle-aged homebodies now).

Deborah Lippmann She's Always a Woman Nail Polish Trio

The Deborah Lippmann “She’s Always a Woman” Mini Nail Lacquer Trio is available at Nordstrom for $25.


10. Too Faced Beauty Blogger Darlings Set

The Too Faced Beauty Blogger Darlings Set is appealing for a couple of reasons – for one, it contains a variety of products, which is a type of gift I’m always personally excited to get. Secondly, the box it comes in is crazy exciting. It’s the sort of thing you might see the corner of as you’re gently removing the meticulously folded wrapping paper, then get really excited over and tear the rest of paper away without a second thought. This set comes with travel size versions of the famous Chocolate Soleil bronzer (a cocoa scented bronzer that isn’t plagued by the dreaded orange glow), Shadow Insurance Eye Shadow Primer (my favorite eye primer), Primed & Poreless Face Primer, and Better than Sex Mascara.

Too Faced Beauty Blogger Darlings Set

The Too Faced Beauty Blogger Darlings Set is available at Sephora for $20.


Have you started Christmas shopping yet? Is anyone on your list getting beauty gifts this year? If you know of a perfect $25 or less makeup or skincare gift, I’d love to hear about it!


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17 comments onHoliday Gift Guide: 10 Perfect Makeup & Skincare Gifts for $25 or Less

  1. Thanks for compiling this list – it’s nice to see some stuff that real humans would actually buy. Like you I don’t have many friends who would be into beauty gifts, but I do have a sister and I *may* have had my eye on the lip tar and Perlier hand cream sets for myself. 😛

    • Kerry

      Haha, yes! Sisters make the best beauty gift recipients. My sister will be getting a few from me this year. My other “makeup friends” live far away from me now, but I’ll still be getting them something special.

      Oh, but you know what would be fun? A beauty blogger gift exchange. Would you be interested in something like that? I might need to start sending out some emails…

  2. Christmas is seriously the best time of the year, I just love getting presents for everyone. I too fell in love with the Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment when Sephora gave me a travel size sample. SPF mmm! I was also thinking the Etude House Alphabetical Mask would be a great gift as well. Have everyone’s initials or something. The mask seem pretty safe having only a 1 in acne triggers. I think I may have to buy that Shea Terra set for myself! I’m a sucker for anything organic. Do you know if they ship overseas? Else I might have to find a package forwarder.

    • Kerry

      Hey Anne! Great call on the Alphabet Masks – that’s such a good idea! The packaging for those is so cute, and I love the idea of spelling out someone’s name or using their initials.

      As for Shea Terra shipping, the Shea Terra website says they use a broker service to find the best deal for international shipping if I recall correctly. I’m actually sending them a message right now to see if I can get more details about that. They make amazing stuff – if you wind up placing an order from them and want more product recommendations, let me know. I’ve probably tried at least 70% of their product catalog at this point!

      • Thank you soo much Kerry! I’m definitely excited about doing a Shea Terra run. Extremely interested in their oils and any recommendation for a moisturizer for the day? Something for when I’m just lazing around at home that day. I’ve been using Argan oil at night as well as the day and I have a habit of touching my face, afraid it may trigger some acne.

        • Kerry

          I’ve been using the Argan, Zafron & Camel’s Milk Brightening Lait Cre’me for a little over the week and so far, I’m in love! It smells a little funky, but it’s got some great brightening properties, and the texture is light without sacrificing moisture. It spreads easily and absorbs quickly.

          I’ve also used the Rooibos Marula-E Anti-oxidant Face Cre’me in the past and been very happy with it. It’s gently, moisturizing, and has a great ingredient list.

          The Argan & Desert Date Ultra-Moisturizing Face Creme just arrived to me today, and I’m really looking forward to trying it out. I’m hoping it will be my savior once the cold weather intensifies and the central heating starts making my skin dry!

          • Uoooh, thank you! So excited! Summer is about to hit here in Australia and I don’t think Argan oil is going to work.

          • Kerry

            Ah! You’re in Australia! In that case, I think the Kigelia Licorice After Sun Face Creme would be a great moisturizer for you to try. It helps repair sun damage, brightens, and is a great consistency for summer.

  3. The OCC lip tars are definitely on my list of gift giving! I also see a few items that would be great for gifting. Thanks for the suggestions.

  4. Wow amazing gifts ^^

  5. Thx for the list Kerry! This is perfect for my teenager, for gifts. Her perfect complexion attests to her discerning tastes.

  6. This is an awesome list!! I didn’t want to jump on the Fresh Sugar Lip bandwagon, but I think I’m ready to hop on now.
    You know what’s funny though? Most of these things I would also want to buy for myself, LOL~

  7. I’d be broke if we had Sephora in Australia. Haha. I want more lip tars. I got one forever ago and I loved it. Good list!

    • Kerry

      To this day, I find it bizarre that Sephora hasn’t yet expended to Australia. It seems like such an obvious market! I’m lucky/unlucky enough to live down the street from one. The upside is it’s in a really busy mall, so I have to want to go there badly enough to deal with crazy traffic and cut-throat parking. If it weren’t for those obstacles, I’d be in serious trouble!