Yes, it’s that time of year again. The one we Amazon Prime members love the most, when we can kick back and do nearly all of our holiday shopping at a discount and from the comfort of our couch (free shipping!), without battling crowds in malls and long register lines.
In general, even if you’re not a Prime member, you can’t beat the convenience of online shopping during the holidays. And since I like to spread the joy, I’ll be putting together a few of these 2014 Holiday Gift Guides for almost every type of person on your shopping list, starting with the DIY (Do it Yourself) Beauty Product Junkie.
These are all my personal beauty favorites, the ones friends and relatives routinely pull me aside to ask: “Where did you GET this?” Most, but not all, were available on Amazon.com at the writing of this post. As with all things, online inventory and pricing is subject to change, so something that was in plentiful supply yesterday could be out-of-stock, or priced differently, by the time you click on the link today. (The good news: SheaRadiance is offering an *exclusive* 15% off sitewide sale for Well Chick readers! See coupon code listed at the end of the post.)
If you’re into stocking stuffers or assembling your own gift baskets, many of these items are great for that. And did I mention all but two are $40 or under, with several under $20?
By the way, every holiday season I find that discount chains and store beauty departments are stuffed with “holiday gift sets” that are little more than a shiny assortment of mediocre, forgettable products dressed up in slick, elaborate packaging and mass marketing. Don’t fall for the hype. Often it’s that little-known beauty “find” of exceptional quality and utility that somebody just hands you in a plain paper bag, which winds up knocking your socks off. Every time you see the person, you can’t shut up about how much you love – and use – the item.
Anyway, that’s how I roll. Your tastes may vary. Admittedly, these gifts aren’t for everybody. Just those who appreciate stuff that’s super useful and effective.
1. The MG Collection Heavy Duty See-Through Travel Organizer Bag, $39. Not only will you move through airport and stadium security checkpoints with ease, but it also makes a great mobile hair salon. Every DIY fashionista, including all my expats living abroad, needs one of these. Make sure you check out the additional pics in the slideshow to see my before and after views. This bag holds a ton of stuff, all of which can be identified in a single glance!
2. The Laila Ali Ionic Soft Bonnet Dryer, $40. Yes, Muhammad Ali’s daughter. Most are aware that she followed in dad’s footsteps to become a professional boxer, but not many know that she’s also a skilled DIY beauty pro who not only does her own hair at home, but launched her own line of hair styling tools. Her portable soft bonnet dryer is best-in-class, and I’ve tried more than a few. This is not your grandmother’s bonnet dryer. (You know, the one she used to sit under in her housecoat at the kitchen table, watching As The World Turns on a small black & white TV?) This updated version features ionic technology, a slim footprint for easy portability (fits inside the see-through bag featured earlier), and gets blazing hot enough to dry even the thickest, most porous hair. No matter what hair length, type or texture, every woman can use one of these for at-home hot oil and deep conditioning treatments, wash-and-roller-sets, drying natural styles or just taking a break from blowouts.
3. The WEN Cleansing Conditioner Travel Packets, Set of (8) 2 oz, $40. My favorite hair cleanser now in convenient, TSA-compliant travel packets. This one product replaces shampoo, conditioner, deep conditioner, detangler, leave-in conditioner and shave cream. Tea Tree Oil is my formula of choice for routine use. Along with the 613, I keep a gallon jug at home, but rely on these for travel or those rare visits to the salon when I need a haircut (and where I request that they use my products, instead of theirs). If the person you’re gifting is not currently a WEN girl (yet), the variety pack makes a great gift because they can sample all five formulas and decide which one is right for them.
4. The Lay-n-Go COSMO Cosmetic Bag, $29. Transport all your makeup and jewelry in this gold makeup bag. Spreads out flat, so no more rifling through a bag or purse to find that eye or lip pencil. Great for travel or everyday use. (See slideshow for various views.)
5. Sephora by OPI Nail Colour, Keep Me On My Mistletoe, $8. A beautiful, long-lasting pale champagne gold nail polish that’s not too yellow or brassy. My daughter Jacqi discovered it, and when we both got tired of me stealing hers, I tracked it down online. It’s the only nail polish I considered wearing for my wedding earlier this year. Perfect for dressing up the holidays, or as a year-round neutral shade to set off jeans and your favorite sweater. Apparently, this one-time seasonal item is no longer stocked in Sephora’s retail stores, which is a real shame because it’s the most gorgeous nail color I’ve seen, and this is coming from a chick who, as you can tell from the photo below, barely fusses all that much over her nails. (They are so stubby I’m not even sure they can still be classified as nails, so just imagine how great they’ll look on your hands.) Available online while supplies last.
6. Clarisonic Mia 2 Sonic Skin Cleansing System, $149. Anyone who’s had a professional salon facial knows that a single session can easily run you up to $75 or more. This Clarisonic is like having a salon facial at your fingertips every morning, which means the unit pays for itself after only one or two uses. I swear by my Mia, and never start my day without it. I won’t go so far as to say it’s a magic wand, but if you check my untouched profile pic on this blog – the one where at age 48 I’m not wearing any foundation, powder, concealer or blush of any kind – you’ll see that I do alright in the bare skin department. In fact, it’s pretty cool to be almost 50 and feel comfortable in the skin I’m in, such that I can get dressed up to go anywhere with nothing on my face besides a little eyeliner, some mascara and a hint of (smudged) lip pencil color. Or, wearing no makeup at all. (Thank you, Clarisonic!)
7. Alaskan Glacial Mud Facial Mask, $34. I knew this was going to be good the minute I saw it featured on ABC’s Shark Tank. It did not disappoint. This is a fantastic purifying mask, making it a great gift for the at-home facial enthusiast. I use it as often as I can.
8. T3 Voluminous Hot Rollers, 8-ct, $60. The online price is a steal, because these same hot rollers are sold for $100 at local area Ulta cosmetic stores. What makes this set better than cheaper brands? To start, the proprietary Tourmaline ionic technology to combat frizziness, the smooth velvet roller surface, and the fact that it heats up in 3 minutes flat, for a long-lasting set. But what really sold me was the super jumbo roller size, which is so hard to find for longer hair if you just want body, waves and looser curls. These deliver, and the compact, built-for-travel size was the final deal clincher. Fits perfect in a carry-on bag (for those airport restroom hair touch-ups), with room to spare.
9. WEN by Chaz Dean Six Thirteen Replenishing Mist, $16. Lives up to its name, and you’ll want more than one after you try it. (I keep one in my purse, gym bag and the toiletries kit in my carry-on bag.) I use this on my hair prior to wet sets, and also on my face after cleansing in the morning, plus spritzed on throughout the day as a complexion pick-me-up. Leaves both hair and skin looking and feeling revived and refreshed. And the smell is absolutely incredible. Great stocking stuffer!
10. Yerba Prima Tampico Skin Brush, $7. I’ve been dry skin brushing with this same basic model for more than 20 years now. Benefits too numerous to mention here, but you can read my earlier post all about dry skin brushing. Great in a gift basket with other assorted beauty items, or as a stocking stuffer.
11. The Body Shop Body Polisher, $12. I’m so afraid of these being discontinued, that I bought a lifetime’s worth when they were on clearance markdown at The Body Shop. (I haven’t bathed with a washcloth since.) So good, I dedicated an entire skin beauty secret post to it here. Note: Buy online only if you don’t live anywhere near a Body Shop retail store, or if you’ve checked and they’re out-of-stock. (This is one case where the in-store price can run a few bucks cheaper.)
12. WEN Smoothing Glossing Serum, Pomegranate, $23. This stuff is magic. Just a few drops rubbed between the palms of your hands, and then applied to dry hair, can revive any style. I keep one at work in my gym bag, and the other at home. I’ve found it especially useful when paired with the T3 hot rollers, as sort of a heat protectant but also on those in-between-hair-washing days when my hair has been kissed by humidity, or a vigorous workout.
13. SheaRadiance Shea Butter Baobab Oil Body Cream, $34**. For years these incredibly rich and moisturizing creams have helped my face ward off effects of dryness and aging. They contain the highest-quality grade shea butter sourced from women-run cooperatives in West Africa. I can personally vouch for it because I know the owner, a woman who – with her husband – began hand-crafting creams in her kitchen to address their young son’s eczema. Samples given to friends and relatives were met with demands for more and more product, and soon after they launched Shea Radiance. Proceeds go to help women in West African villages educate and provide for their children, which explains why Women’s Gold appears on the packaging. Buy in confidence! Plus… **Exclusive SheaRadiance sale for Well Chick readers – get 15% off the regular price when you enter WELLCHICK Coupon Code, sitewide!!
14. Save Your Do GymWrap by Nicole Ari Parker, $35. Designed to wick moisture away from the hair and scalp while you work out, and preserve your hairstyle. A fitness beauty essential!
That’s it for right now, but knowing me I probably forgot something. Which means you’d be wise to check back regularly to see if anything new’s been added. Plus, I never know when I’m going to stumble onto another great beauty gift idea between now and Christmas.
And remember, more holiday gift guides – covering more categories – are on the way!
Happy Holidays from The Well Chick Project!