Holiday 2012 Gift Guide: Best in Beauty

Hi, Courtney here, the senior editor at YouBeauty. Over the course of the year I see approximately one billion products, go on about 1.5 million launch events, and try around 800,000 new things. Only a few really noteworthy products make it past my skepticism. So, this year I personally took it upon myself to pick out things I want do the holiday shopping for you so you know that if it’s in here, it’s not garbage and you’ll reign supreme as the dopest gift giver ever. Ready? Let’s do this.

MORE: Treat Yo’ Self This Holiday

1Good for: Your female boss

Tarte Carried Away Collector’s Set, $54 ($512 value, and no that is not a typo)

Fact: Every woman loves Tarte makeup. Another fact: This gift set is the perfect way to give your boss a ton of stuff without spending a ton of money. Sucking up just got easier! Here’s everything she needs to create the perfect smoky eye, fake a full night’s sleep with blush and play up her lips. This kit is so great you might just get a raise out of it.

2Good for: Your kid’s teacher

Worker B Hand Crafted Skincare, $4 – $30

I always thought people were exaggerating when they complained about chronically dry, cracked hands in the winter, until our research editor showed me her sad, bleeding knuckles. Dang! Then she applied Worker B Rescue Putty and the cuts magically healed before our very eyes. Did you know that honey is naturally antiseptic and moisturizing? Worker B products are handmade in Minnesota and formulated with honey from local beekeepers. How cool is that?

MORE: Get Smooth, Silky Hands

3Good for: Secret Santa gift

Eos Alice in Wonderland Collection, $7.99

People go apesh*t over Eos lip balms—seriously. It’s something about the unusual round shape. The super-hydrating formulas ain’t too shabby either, with shea butter and jojoba oil to heal winter-dry lips without nasty chemicals that create the dreaded “lip balm addiction,” which is actually a real thing. I happen to be personally obsessed with all things Alice, so I hoarded these the second I saw them. It’s a limited edition set, so run, don’t walk.

YOUTALK: Your Fix for Dry, Cracked Lips

4Good for: Anyone who deserves something really, really special

Branche Beauty Sleep Silk Pillowcase ($84) and Eye Masque ($38)

This product is available on our sister site BeautySage, where we only sell products proven to work!

I rave about how awesome these are all the time and the response is always the same. “But Courtney, they’re so expensive! I would never spend $84 on a pillowcase!” Blah blah blah yeah I get it. But that’s exactly why they make the perfect, unexpected gift for someone, since she would probably also never spend that much money on a pillowcase. These are so comfortable it’s unreal, and your hair is way less tangly in the morning because of the slippery fabric. I’ve been using them for years and there’s no going back now.

5Good for: Earth mamas

Aveda Warmth Candle, $29

I’m sorry, but there’s nothing grosser than those Christmas candles that smell like sugary baked goods. This year, give a candle that smells subtly spicy and that people will actually want to burn after the holidays are over and no one cares about snickerdoodles anymore. This Aveda candle is ginger and ginger lily, comes in a 95-percent recycled glass jar, and the earth-friendly paper around the box is handmade by women in Nepal, who use the income to send their children to school. (I’m not crying—err, I have something in my eye!)

6Good for: Your fashionable sister

Bb.Stylist Editions, $48

The coolest girls know that you should never look like you tried too hard, even if it actually took you hours to do you hair. Bumble and Bumble pretty much invented nonchalant hair, and their styling products make it happen like no other. There are four amazing products in here, but by far the best is the cult-favorite Surf Spray—it’s magical for adding tousled, bedhead-y texture. But it’s the kind of fantasy beach texture you actually want, not reality beach texture that is a mess of ugly tangles and smells like seaweed.

MORE: DIY Salt Spray

7Good for: Emergency gift (AKA, gifts you have on hand for when someone shows up on your doorstep with an unexpected present)

21 Drops Be Happy Gift Set, $12.50

This product is available on our sister site BeautySage, where we only sell products proven to work!

Roll these aromatherapeutic blends on your wrists (#10 blend helps calm the mind when annoying relatives have taken over your house; #12 uplifts the spirit when you’re thinking about killing them), take a few deep breaths and the stress level goes way down. They sound hokey but I am telling you they work. Trust.

8Good for: Your flaky friend

Physique 57 online workouts, $5 – $7 each, or $57 for an unlimited month

You know that friend who always talks a big game about joining a gym and getting in shape, but then never does anything? Give her access to ass-kicking, on-demand online workouts and eliminate the excuse that she’s “too busy” to work out. (Then guilt her into using them?) Cult-favorite barre class Physique 57 now offers online streaming videos (shown here) that target thighs, butt, abs and arms. If she’s not into barre, there are loads of other options.

9Good for: Your underlings at work

Fresh Sugar Soiree Mini Lip Collection, $65 ($91 value)

Here’s the thing. The tinted Fresh lip tints are so coveted, that grown women squeal with delight when presented with one. But they’re spendy at $22.50 each. Since your assistant makes like no money, surprise her with the entire set and inspire her undying loyalty. She’ll love the variety of sheer color, and since they have SPF 15 in them, you’ll also help keep her from getting a very common form of skin cancer that usually appears on the lips. (But you don’t have to point that out when you give this to her. That would be weird.)

QUIZ: Your Best Lip Color

10Good for: Art lovers (or eczema sufferers)

Kiehl’s Crème de Corps Limited Edition by Kenny Scharf, $75

Man oh man is this lotion awesome for dry, sensitive skin. I have eczema on my leg and it’s pretty much the only lotion that prevents flare-ups. Cocoa butter and sesame oil are in there to intensely hydrate, but somehow the formula isn’t greasy at all. This limited edition is jumbo sized (rad!) and features packaging by New York pop artist Kenny Scharf. 100 percent of the net proceeds go to children’s charities.

MORE: Soothe Sensitive Skin

11Good for: Folks with back pain

Orthaheel Gemma Mule Slippers, $59.95

I have these slippers (and a bum hip) and plan on getting them for my mom (bad knees) and sister (can barely walk from back pain). Wow—we really sound like a bunch of winners, eh? Anyhoo, the orthotic footbed gives you support at home, which if you think about it, adds up to a lot of time on your feet. I find them helpful because they have serious arch support, which is something I can barely find in shoes, much less slippers.

QUIZ: How Much Pain Are You In?

12Good for: Trendy cousins

Nuance Salma Hayek Nail Lacquer, $5.50 each

I swear, the only thing anyone ever talks about anymore is nails. Nails are so hot right now! Crazy colors, nail art, gel manicures, glitter, you name it. These Nuance polishes are great because they look expensive, but are totally affordable, and come in fashion-forward colors like coral (great for warm skin) and rose gold (gorgeous on cool skin tones). I say do what I did and dump a whole bunch in a holiday beauty grab bag for the young ladies in your life.

MORE: Beware the Gel Mani

13Good for: Hostess gift

LaRocca Pumpkin Fleur De Sel Body Polish, $35

This product is available on our sister site BeautySage, where we only sell products proven to work!

YOU GUYS. You have no idea how wonderful this body scrub smells, but it’s not sickly sweet like some lame holiday-theme products tend to be (you know who you are!). The ingredients in this bad boy annihilate dry skin like no other: Dead Sea salt detoxifies and exfoliates away stuck skin and pumpkin enzymes naturally whisk them all away.

14Good for: Mother-in-law who fancies herself a proper lady

Penhaligon’s Miniature Fragrance Collection, $50

Skip the celebrity garbage fragrances and impress someone with “real” perfume from Penhaligon’s, a fragrance house that has been scenting royalty and aristocrats for over 100 years. Inside are five classic fragrances in cute little mini sizes that you can dab on your neck and wrists the Euro way (the spray-and-walk-through perfume method is so American).

GALLERY: 20 Natural Perfume Picks

15Good for: Your mom (and yourself)

Revision Skincare Nectifirm, $65

Yeah, neck cream is a weird gift. Fine. But moms are beyond caring about that, right? They just want no-nonsense stuff that works. So, the deal with this is that I used to think neck cream was a marketing scam, until a plastic surgeon whom I trust implicitly told me that she (and now all of her patients) swears but this stuff for tightening up the ol’ turkey neck and wrinkly chest. I started using it for preventative measures and I love it. Great texture, great scent, and here’s to hoping the peptides and flavonoids do their job.

16Good for: Your hair-obsessed aunt

Pureology Hydrate Holiday Gift Set, $56

I’ve gotten four people at YouBeauty addicted to Pureology shampoo and conditioner (and one of them is a dude)—once you try it you can never go back. The entire line is designed for color-treated hair (the super gentle, sulfate-free formulas don’t strip color), but anyone will find their hair is unbelievably silky-soft after a few rounds. Even the styling line is good for hair, thanks to moisturizing lipids from olive, coriander and camelina oils.

17Good for: Roommate

Winter Rescue Kit, $10, available at drugstores nationwide

There is not a woman alive who wouldn’t want this—of that I am certain. For starters, I always forget to buy razors and shaving cream, so there’s forever a dull-blade-and-soap situation going on in my shower, and the results aren’t always pretty. The Olay moisturizing body wash and lotion are shower staples, especially in the winter when scaly skin runs rampant.

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