Christmas is Coming: The Under $25 Beauty Gift Guide

Tell Santa what you want for Christmas
Tell Santa what you want for Christmas

My mom came up with this article subject, although she wanted it to be $10 and under. Oops. One of the faults of nice makeup is that it alters your sense of reasonable prices for cosmetics. That’s why the Sephora Collection of makeup is successful – after an hour of looking at $25 lipstick, $10 lipstick seems like a steal.

But for me, the most important thing to consider with makeup is its value. It’s very important to me that my makeup lasts all day, is good (or at least not bad) for my skin, and that the color is well-suited to my complexion. This is possible to achieve with drugstore makeup, and I definitely have a lot of Cover Girl and Maybelline in my collection. But from experience I’ve found it’s much more worth it to spend 3x on something you wear everyday, then buy something that costs x but you get frustrated with and never wear again.

That said, everyone has different priorities and budget considerations when it comes to makeup. Particularly if you’re buying something for someone else, you don’t want to risk buying something pricey and them hating it. That said, Sephora has an extremely generous no questions asked return policy. Even if it’s a year later, even if the product is 75% used, they’ll take it back. You could easily exploit this policy, but I don’t think it’s worth the trouble or moral questioning. If you’re buying a beauty gift, I do recommend getting it from Sephora with a gift receipt.

Here’s a list of products I believe have good value, ranging from low to high:

  • Sephora Jewelry Top Coats in Golden Age, Come to Paparazzi, or Hollywood if I Could ($5). I normally go for the cheapest nail polish possible, but these top coats are at half price and they’re gorgeous. Check out the swatches here. My favorite is the silver and gold The Golden Age.
  • Shisheido the Makeup Facial Cotton ($9.50). According to the reviews on both Sephora and Makeup Alley, these are the best cotton pads of all time. Yes, spending $10 on something you could get for $2 seems a little ridiculous, but they’re luxurious and perfect for sensitive skin.
  • Benefit They’re Real Mascara in travel size ($10). I’ve been wanting to try out this mascara for a while now because of the many rave reviews. It has a similar mascara brush to my current favorite, Buxom Lash mascara. I haven’t bought it in part because I’ve got some stockpiled from samples and value sets, but also because the Benefit full size costs $23, way more than I could pay for a product with a 3-5 month shelf life. I also always recommend buying travel size mascara when possible – it’ll last just as long (or short) as full size mascara, and I like the precision of a shortened brush.
  • Caudalie Divine Oil ($15 for 1 ounce). I haven’t tried this before, but it’s got a really high rating on Sephora, and it sounds like the kind of fancy product your friend would never buy for herself. It’s a body moisturizer composed of grade seed oil, sesame oil, shea butter, and sunflower seed oil.
  • Sephora Beauty To Go Fragrance Sampler ($18). Buying perfume for other people is almost impossible. But this kit has a great solution. It has five sample perfumes: Billionaire Boyfriend (the very classy perfume from Kate Walsh aka the redhead from Grey’s Anatomy); Clinique Happy (the very popular citrusy floral); Diesel Loverdose (described as “subversive” and a “spellbinding essence”);  Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue (how could you forget this ad?); and Marc Jacobs Daisy (“fresh and feminine, with a playful innocence”). Your giftee chooses her favorite, and returns a certificate for a rollerball of the perfume.  Sephora also has a couple other kits with wider selections. This is still a little tricky gift, but if you know that your friend/sister/mom likes one of these perfumes, then it’s a great purchase.
  • Fresh Sugar Perfection Duo ($22.50). The Fresh sugar lip treatments are widely touted as thee best ever lip balm, and I’ve been a big fan of the samples I got from Sephora for my birthday. It has a nice lemon scent, and it comes in many colors – clear, red, plum, nude, coral, or rose tint. The full size goes for $22.50 (ouch!), but this collection includes a full-size red tinted lip balm, paired with Fresh’s second most popular product, the Sugar Lip Polish. It’s an exfoliating treatment that’s perfect for chapped winter lips.
  • Jack Black It’s the Balm Lip Quad ($25). After Fresh sugar, this might be the second most popular fancy lip balm. The upside of Jack Black is that it’s colorless, so it’s a great gift for men as well as women. The flavors are inventive as well – Natural Mint & Shea Butter, Grapefruit & Ginger, Black Tea & Blackberry, Lemon & Chamomile. Pricey, yes, but these four lip balms should help your giftee make it through the winter with smooth, moisturized lips.

I know this gift guide is a little late to the game, but let’s be real, you haven’t gotten all your gifts yet. If you order these things from Sephora before December 18th midnight, you’ll get these by December 24th.

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