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Finding the right skincare, beauty, and haircare can be difficult—but choosing and buying these things for someone else is downright daunting (just ask anyone who's stopped into Sephora on behalf of a S.O.)
But the holiday season is actually the best time to snag makeup and beauty products, thanks to stacked gift sets loaded with products at a fraction of their normal selling price: and they make fantastic gifts. To help demystify things, we've sifted through the seasonal offerings to find the best beauty, skincare, and hair care gifts of 2018.
Our comprehensive list has something for every type of person in your life, from your indecisive coworker, to your pal with envy-inducing hair, to the friend who has everything, to the one who could use some R+R. Without further delay, here are the best beauty gifts of 2018, according to Reviewed:
1. For the one who's hard to shop for: A collection of Sephora's best-sellers
We haven’t seen a gift set this stacked in years. It’s packed with 11 of Sephora's best-sellers, including a full-sized Anastasia brow pencil, Becca highlighter, Urban Decay eyeliner, and two makeup primers. Unlike a lot of gift sets with filler items, there's really no weak link in this one: they're all great products. Look for brands like Kat Von D, Smashbox, Too Faced, Stila, Dior—at a great value. It's perfect for the person who has it all, or the one for whom you don't know what to buy.
2. For the trend-seeker (and setter): A popular Sunday Riley gift set
Sunday Riley is a favorite among fresh-faced beauty bloggers and beauty veterans (even Oprah loves the stuff, calling it her “go-to beauty regimen”). The Holiday Trio ($142) set comes with full sizes of Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment, U.F.O. Ultra-Clarifying Acne Treatment Face Oil, and Ceramic Slip Clay Cleanser for truly smoother, brighter skin.
Not ready to commit (or fully splurge) on the brand? In that case, we recommend the Face to Face Kit ($49), a great value with four trial-sized bottles of their must-have cleanser and Good Genes treatment, as well as C.E.O. Rapid Flash Brightening Serum and Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream.
- Get Sunday Riley Holiday Trio at Dermstore for $142.50
- Get Sunday Riley Face to Face Kit at Dermstore for $49
3. For the one who goes broke on blowouts: A great deal on the best hair dryer
If she's a regular at the salon, it's probably time to gift her a quality hair dryer. Harry Josh makes the best hair dryer you can buy—but this might be the most amazing deal we’ve ever seen on the mint green powerhouse. The Harry Josh Pro Tools hair dryer typically retails for $250 by itself, but in this kit, you get the dryer and its attachments as well as Serge Normant Dream Big Instant Volumizing shampoo, conditioner, and spray—all for $189. You'd be hair-brained to pass this up.
4. For the well-groomed guy: Essentials for him
It's 2018, and we should know (or at least have a hunch) that skincare and self care are not just for women. Gently let your dude friends know that it's time to start (or continue!) moisturizing and grooming.
Ulta's Grooming Essentials For Him ($30) is a great pick to cover all the bases. It features a variety of cleansers, shaving creams, and moisturizers by favorite brands including Jack Black, Clinique, Mario Badescu, and David Beckham. For the sensitive-skinned man on your list, a set of gentle skincare by Kiehl’s ($49) is also great.
5. For the one who always complains about her skin: Skincare from Peter Thomas Roth
Peter Thomas Roth is an industry favorite for skincare, thanks to clinical strength products that prevent and correct skin issues. The products are sure to please even your pickiest pal. The Power Players 5-piece kit ($38) covers every step of a good skincare regimen: an anti-aging cleanser, a purifying mud mask, peel pads to smooth fine lines, a night serum loaded with retinol, and a moisturizer packed with hyaluronic acid. The combination purges pores of toxins and grime, and gives a burst of intense hydration.
Speaking of hyaluronic acid: PTR's Water Drench line is perfect for anyone with dry, sensitive skin. Get Drenched ($52), includes a moisturizing cleanser, serum, and moisturizer that attracts and retains up to 1,000 times its weight in water, banishing dryness. I swear by it.
- Get Peter Thomas Roth Power Players Set at Ulta for $38
- Get Peter Thomas Roth Get Drenched at Dermstore for $52
6. For the glow-getter: An array of luminous highlighters
A good highlighter is worth its weight in gold. Gift your glows-from-within pal a highlighter sampler set from Sephora that's great for experimenting with the best highlighters on the market right now. It comes with five liquid, powder, and stick formulas from favorite brands like Fenty, Benefit, and Milk. The array of finishes and tones ensures subtle radiance, intense glow, or anything in between, so she can pick her favorite before committing to the full size.
7. For the one who waits all year for Christmas: An advent calendar from Philosophy
Q: Will we ever really outgrow our childlike wonder for the holidays?
A: Thanks to grownup advent calendars, we really don't have to. Philosophy's Guide to Warm and Cozy has all the surprise and excitement of a traditional advent calendar, packed with the brand's most-loved items for a complete, holiday-themed regimen.
Spoiler alert: Philosophy's iconic Amazing Grace lotion and Purity face cleanser are behind a couple of the windows, as well as festive apple cider and peppermint scents. We'll leave the rest as surprises.
8. For the one with great hair: Texturizing and smoothing hair products
You know that friend who always shows up with a mane that would make hair models jealous? Trust me: that 'do doesn't come without some effort. Help her out with those beachy waves with Sephora’s Party Hair ($35), a set of six hair products that add volume and texture, from great brands like Amika, Ouai, IGK, Living Proof, Drybar, and Bumble and Bumble.
If her mane is more sleek and shiny than messy and wavy, Color Wow Dream Smooth Kit ($58) is great for silky, glossy hair: The three-piece kit features shampoo, conditioner, and lightweight spray that are perfect for color-protected hair.
- Get Party Hair Styling Spray Collection at Sephora for $35
- Get Color Wow Dream Smooth Kit for $58 at Dermstore
9. For the burgeoning makeup addict: A Benefit gift set
Benefit's cutesy branding is perfect for makeup newbies, but don't let the punny names and packaging fool you: They make some of the best makeup on the market. Benefit has a lot of great gift sets out this year, but IMO, this is the best one, since it includes full-sized, iconic products.
Roller Lash mascara curls, lengthens, and lifts lashes; the POREfessional Face Primer blurs pores and smooths complexion; cult classic Hoola Matte Bronzer is the perfect contouring powder; and High Beam Liquid Highlighter gives a subtle and satiny glow. It's great as a starter set, but any makeup vet would be delighted by these picks, too.
10. For the one with sensitive skin: A calming skincare routine by First Aid Beauty
My skin is so laughably sensitive that I pretty much have to wear mittens like a newborn to prevent irritating it. That being said, First Aid Beauty makes products that calm my angry skin. They're infused with nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid and colloidal oatmeal. The brand has tons of gift sets out this year, but this kit is the most comprehensive—and has the best array of must-haves.
A gentle face cleanser removes impurities, and Facial Radiance Pads resurface and brighten. The Ultra Repair Hydrating Serum is perfect to layer beneath the thick, hydrating Ultra Repair Cream. Finish off with Ultra Repair Intensive Lip Balm to battle aging, uneven pigmentation, eczema, dehydrated skin, and chapped lips—all winter long.
11. For the indecisive one: An expansive set of mascara
You know you can't rely on this friend to pick a restaurant or commit to a hair color—but you can bet she'll love the plentiful options in this gift set. Lashstash ($48) has 10 mascaras with new and best-selling formulas that stretch, volumize, and curl lashes. Look for cult favorites from Benefit and Too Faced, as well as Dior, Lancôme, and more. Even though she can't decide on many things, one thing's for sure: she probably wants long, curled, luscious lashes.
12. For the one who's always masking: An array of top-selling face masks
Subtly let her know you've received all those #SelfCareSunday selfies with a set of face masks. Beauty Unmasked ($24) features six mask formulas, from Boscia's infamous black peel-off mask to a nourishing sheet mask by Sephora. A collection of clay, gel, and sheet formulas from Dr.Jart+, Kiehl’s, Origins, GlamGlow, and more will draw out oil, dirt, and toxins.
Alternatively, Peter Thomas Roth's the Mask Mashup ($25) has six types of face masks to address pretty much any skin concern, from fine lines to redness to dryness and environmental damage. The effective formulas cool and calm, exfoliate and moisturize, and smooth and strengthen.
13. For the lipstick addict: A huge gift set of lip products
We all have the friend who can't stop buying lipstick she doesn't necessarily need (if you don't have this friend, sorry: it's you). For your beloved lipstick addict, Give Me More Lip is perfect. The gift set has 14 lipsticks from brands Anastasia (our top-rated liquid lipstick!), Huda, Kat Von D, Nars, and more—in an array of liquid, gloss, and solid formulas in deep ruby reds to barely-there nude tones.
14. For the one who treats makeup as an art: A great 10-piece brush set
This year, Oprah included a $360 makeup brush set on her Favorite Things of 2018 list. Yikes—good makeup brushes are wonderful, but can be a waste of money. Lucky for you(r wallet), Yoseng also makes a set of 10 brushes, but for a fraction of the price, and with the same large, flat surface that allows for easy makeup distribution and even coverage—and 1.5k five-star ratings on Amazon is always a good sign.
15. For the curly girl: Gift sets from DevaCurl and R+Co
You've probably told your curly pal, "I'm so jealous of your hair!" Well, PSA from all curlies: Our hair is dry and we need products to hydrate our sad, thirsty spirals! With DevaCurl's five-piece Curly Care Kit ($48), the gang’s all here: a shampoo, conditioner, hair mask, styling cream, and moisturizing spray with nourishing oils that provide shine and target frizz.
DevaCurl is the holy grail for lots of curly-haired people, but some of us plain old don't like it. That's where R+Co comes in. The three-piece Deep End Set ($49) packs a ton of moisture to hydrate those frizzy locks and corrects damage—it's perfect for dry, frizzy curls. The curly-cue in your life will thank you.
16. For the beauty minimalist: Cult-favorite makeup by bareMinerals
BareMinerals powder foundation the top-selling poweder fountation in the U.S., so there's a pretty good chance that your naturally beautiful friend uses the stuff. The Nothing Beats the Original Complexion Kit ($34) is a four-piece collection of trial-sized bareMinerals complexion essentials: a primer, Original Foundation, Beautiful Finish brush, and Mineral Veil Finishing Powder. It gives natural-looking coverage for a "your skin but better" look.
For a higher impact look with bareMinerals' signature blend, the five-piece Meteor Shower collection ($46) comes with an all-over face foundation, as well as a six-eyeshadow palette, Lashtopia mascara, a high-shine lip lacquer, and blush.
- Get bareMinerals Nothing Beats the Original Complexion Kit at Sephora for $34
- Get bareMinerals Meteor Shower Collection at Ulta for $46
17. For the one always experimenting with her routine: Skincare favorites from Sephora
If your friend is always showing up to brunch raving about a new skincare product, sure, it might mean she has commitment issues, but that also means she'll be thrilled by this 15-piece, multi-branded skincare set from Sephora.
The sampler kit features the store's top-selling luxuries for glowing skin, at a super-reasonable price point for what it offers. Expect an influx of serums, lotions, sunscreen, and moisturizers from cult favorite brands like Clinque, Sunday Riley, Boscia, Caudalie, Korres, and Tarte.
18. For the bubble bath-lover: Festive bath bombs
Let's be honest: Baths are great any time, but around the holidays when stress is high and temperatures are low, they probably should be mandatory. This gift set is ideal with nine bath "truffles," each infused with an eight-oil blend for a moisturizing bath in indulgent and calming scents like lavender, coconut cream, and buttercream.
19. For the one with on-point smokey eyes: A decked-out eyeshadow palette
Every holiday season of my adolescence, you could, without fail, find a huge makeup kit on my wishlist. If your giftee was the Caboodles type as a kid, give her the grownup version of the decked-out makeup kit: A giant, all-in-one palette with 76(!!!) intense eyeshadows, two face powders, and a dual-ended lip liner, eyeliner, and eyeshadow brushes for precise application. My inner teenager is jumping for joy.
20. For the one who always smells good: A perfume or cologne sampler
This is the gift for anyone who's hard to shop for—here's why: The cologne sampler ($65) and perfume sampler ($65) each come with 15 samples of Sephora’s most sought-after fragrances. After your giftee chooses his or her favorite scent, they can then take the included scent certificate to any Sephora store to redeem for a full-size fragrance—at no extra cost. Consider that a full-sized fragrance of some of these picks are upwards of $90, and you'll want to buy one for yourself, too.
- Get Sephora's Favorites Cologne Sampler at Sephora for $65
- Get Sephora's Favorites Perfume Sampler at Sephora for $65
Prices are accurate at the time of publication, but may change over time.