It's cold outside, the radio here is blasting Christmas songs (and has been for a few weeks now, but that's besides the point) and I know that whenever I leave my house to get somewhere, I have to plan an extra five-to-ten minutes to remove the snow from my car and let the engine heat up. The holidays are upon us ! It's the great time of year during which you can kiss good-bye all yours savings, your waistline and perhaps even your sanity good-bye. Time for some good ol' "bitching about the crowds of rude people in the stores - and who shops on the 24th anyway ??" action ! But come on, you've worked hard this year, you're bending over backwards to get something that will please all your beloved ones, you've survived your finals and/or any other grown-up equivalent... you deserve a little treat, right ? (I can promise you this thinking will gain you fifteen pounds over the holidays, but ain't that part of the fun?). This time of year is to show your dear ones your appreciation, sure, but also the best occasion to pull off the "and that's a little gift from me to me !". Is that cheating ? Making silly excuses ? Of course it is - but if you're going to be bad, do it well.
All year, make-up brands have mingled with your mind by releasing tons of products you want, crave, desire, need. It is not good for a human being to have undergo so much mental accounting to know if one can afford a thirty-seventh nude pink lipgloss (but this one has a lilac undertone, it's completely different from the others right ?) and still make rent. Any make-up addict managing to keep up with all the releases are either too reasonable in their cravings to be fun to address this message to, have had their Internet connexion cut for not paying the bill, or are absurdly rich, in which case I don't want to talk to you anymore. I'm getting off track.
I was saying... I'm "living on a rather tight budget", I live expensive stuff and will not feel guilty for not getting my great-aunt-in-law a Christmas gift because I decided my own stocking could use a little more stuffing. Every year, most make-up brands release holiday packages - usually, adorably-packaged travel-sized versions of their best selling products. They make awesome gifts, but are also often great to try out a wider variety of products for the same, or lesser, amount of money. Sometimes, it will turn out that the amount/price ratio for each product is a little more expensive, but frankly, have you ever finished a make-up product before getting sick of it ? I rarely do, and am thus ready to pay more for less product, if I get to try out more stuff. That's just me.
So, things to check out ! Click below because this post is turning out awfully long.
MAC's Tartan Tale Collection
This collection was released a few weeks ago and hats off the the package designers - it looks awesome, and not cheap like MAC packaging sometimes does (I'm looking at you, Venomous Vilains!). The color selection is beautiful and they put together some interesting lil' kits. A few sets are missing for the pictures below - including the nail polish kit and one of the pigment sets.
Sephora's holiday kits
The website is down. We live in a rather weird world, when even online stores get too crowded around Christmas.
Throughout the year, Sephora puts together some deluxe samplers or look kits - which are usually, cute boxes with sample-to-full sized products for either a specific brand or a few brands. Around Christmas time, you'll find a ton of these in their stores.
From the top of my head, I know that they have a deluxe mascara sampler - which is a kit including about ten mini mascaras. I got the one from last year a few months ago (*cough* on clearance) and as a mascara freak, I have to say I enjoyed it a lot. I think similar lipstick samplers exist, but I find it's a little more tricky - unless the person you intend to give it to always wear the type of lipstick, it's hard to choose a color for someone. The only one I have seen was a kit of pink lipsticks, and I know they look awful on me. Don't care much for those. If it's for yourself, well.. you know your colors, and baby lipsticks look very very cute in purses.
Apparently, they also have a perfume sampler kit. It's a box of about a dozen baby perfumes, and it comes with a coupon you can trade for a full-size version of one of the perfumes. I've seen similar kits in Shopper's Drugmarts and I find it's a great alternative to the classic "giving your mother her perfume". It allows the person to try a few new scents and know if it's a disaster on them without having to find a way to regift it ! Same applies if you buy it for yourself - I don't think the package is considerably more expensive than a bottle of perfume alone, and you get a dozen extras smells for free !
Otherwise, the thing I have seen were looks-in-a-box. Those are almost a fool-proof package. Do read what the box contains (especially anything face related - concealers can be tricky according to skin tones). More often than not, there will be a picture of a look - imagine it five times less dramatic. Make it ten times less dramatic, if you're shopping for a natural looking kinda gal. Does it seem like something the person you're shopping for would like ? Or it is something you can imagine yourself with ? Looks in a box are such a no-brainer I feel kinda silly to write a whole paragraph about them. Bla bla bla.
I haven't had the chance to try many high-end make-up brands to be perfectly frank. Let's work our way down a list of generic items instead !
Foundations, though expensive and nice gifts, can turn out to be disasters if they don't match. Unless you sneak in that person's make-up stash to see their exact shade or have a natural talent to match people's skintones just by looking at them... meh. That being said, all-over face powders can be a variation on that theme - MAC, for example, has a few mineralized skin finishes that provide sheer coverage and cover a category of skin tones (fair, medium-fair, medium, etc).
Mascaras are always nice, especially good ones. Don't give the Falsies 'cause they're awful. Putting together a stash of drugstore mascaras (stick to brown or black) can be a nice cheaper alternative - it's your chance to use your UNUSED extras if you buy mascaras in buy-one-get-one-free packages. That being said, don't give mascaras to people if they have been removed from their cardboard packaging (like in the case of the extra free one) unless it's someone close to you, and find a cute way to package it to justify it being unwrapped. Never ever give used mascara, even if it's a very expensive one you turned out to hate after one use, it's gross and farely dangerous. Sinon, je vous excommunie.
Lipsticks are iffy. If the person always has a red (or pink, or burgundy, you see my point) lip, go for it. Otherwise, it's hard to know if a color will match someone.
Blushes ? I don't see why not. Everybody seems to be head over heels for Nars' Orgasm or Deep Throath (thank you Nars, for making my blog R-rated). MAC has a perhaps the widest selection of natural colors. Color-wise, I'll tell you a secret : no matter how different they might look in the pot, most of them will turn out the same once on the skin : either peach, light pink, hot pink, red, or more on the plum side. Most colors will match anyone - though darker skin tones will need darker colors ( I feel like I'm stating the obvious a whole lot in this post). A good tip to find the perfect color for someone : if it's for yourself, bend over until you blush because the blood is flowing in your head. That's the color you're going for. If you shopping for someone else, wait until they are in front of their new crush and remind everyone of the time they peed themselves in the line to the bathroom in a rest stop in Vermont. Take a picture (or mental image) and match that color.
A good good eyeliner can be nice. Urban Decay has pretty decent ones. MAC's gel liners are a favorite of mine. Also, if you're a late gifter, I think they are going to repromote Feline eyeliner in January, and the whole world seems to be raving about it. Unless it's for your little sister, don't regift that little black eyeliner that came as a bonus with your Maybeline mascara. That's just cheap. I mean come on, I'm cheap and I wouldn't even do that ! I repeat little sisters don't count.
Make-up brushes are awesome presents. They're expensive, and a girl can never have too many brushes - if anything, it will save her from washing the ones she has right now so often (hurray for encouraging laziness !). I don't own any MAC brushes, but apparently, it's da shit. People who are from a one to a six on the scale of one to ten of make-up savyness will love the Tartan Tales brush bags. From the seven-to-ten, you'll get the oh-you-shouldn't-have, served with a side of fake-smile, because they're supposably not as good as regular MAC brushes. They'll forgive you because the bag it comes in is awefully cute. If you ask me, they're very pretty kits. Single MAC brushes, though less impressive to give, might be a better investment for people picky about brushes. Price wise, I think most of them range from 30$ to 50$ a piece. On the cheaper side, a nice alternative would be Sigma brushes, available HERE, are apparently the next-best-thing and pretty good. I think they sell for about 10$ per brush, and a few kits are available. On a even cheaper note, I like ELF studio brushes a whole lot. HERE. They look good, they are very soft, and dirt cheap. They are definitely cheaper than most, but they get the job done. Stay even from the blush fan brush, absolutely useless, and even though I haven't tried it, I have no faith in the kabuki brush. Their angle brush works just as well as a high-end one, the flat-top powder brush is pure bliss, and I have heard a lot of people raving about the C eye-shadow brush (I'm not head over heels, but it's good, no doubt there). ELF often has some special offers, such as 50% off studio line, be on the look out for that. The regular sale price for each brush is 3$ - do not hesitate to buy double/triples of certain brushes, they will be used. On the opposite range of the price chart, a certain japanese brand of brushes is apparently the best out there. I'll try to find its name again - I think it was about 100$ per brush. HERE! (edit) Great way to piss people off nicely and show off your money ! On the fun side, if you check out ebay, there's a mysterious chinese company that sells color kabukis for a few bucks (I want to say 6$ including shipping). I used to have a purple one (which I lost, sadly). They definitely on the cheap side, the hair is not very dense, but they look very festive and get the job done. This is the one I had (click!!). Searching for "kabuki" on ebay will show up a list of results, including red, square shaped Givenchy brushes - obviously fake, but cute !!
Eye-shadows make great gifts too. Try to stick to the person's usual palette. Neutrals are a great go-to (for the un-savy, neutral colors are generally all brownish, beigish colors, sometimes grays). Palettes with a few colors are a better gamble than a single color. Stay away from any king of satin finish or shimmer if you're gift is for a "mature" person ! Anything that reflects light a lot deepens any crease or wrinkles, and that's depressing, and makes you a bad person for reminding someone that they're aging. Really, why would you do that ??
Sephora take two
Website is back up. I quickly browsed the gift section - nice nice packages there ! Special mention to Bare Essentuals, which I find always have nice, affordable kits. Careful though, many people don't enjoy loose make-up so much because it's a little messier to work with. Smashbox also came out with a Burlesque inspired kit which is pretty nice. Maybe couple it the mini Burlesque nailpolish kit from OPI and make your girl one happy cabaret dancer ? Tokidoki have nice kits for teenagers, but I find their products sometimes look a little cheap. Never tried them, don't take my word for it. Make Up Forever came out with a 300$ train case full of make-up, and it's awesome (and it's worth twice that amount ! Come on, what a bargain!!!) Still in the beauty domain, I will never stop raving about Philosophy's products. In the same train of thought, do check out Lush, they have cute pre-wrapped gift sets. Don't buy bath bombs and bubble baths to someone who doesn't have a bathtub, that's just mean. There is a Sephora by OPI mini nailpolish kit with eighteen colors that is very cute. I don't care for Ed Hardy, don't get that.
Quick overlook :
This could go on forever.
In general :
Bare Essentuals : for the make-up savy only, or at least make sure the person is open to loose powders.
Smashbox : I like it a lot, versatile, rather affordable and fairly professionnal.
Make-up for Ever : fool proof, but not cheap.
Mac : fool proof. Products sometimes disappointing, you pay for the packaging, but most people are in love with MAC despite it all.
Tokidoki, Tina Tarantino : teenage-ish, on the poor quality side.
Befenit, Urban Decay, Too Faced : teenage-ish looking sometimes, but very decent quality
Sephora brand : give it a shot
Philosophy and Fresh : I love
Chanel, Dior and them designers : Expensive with a capital E. Is the quality worth the money? You tell me - but these are great gifts since most people won't go out and pay that much money for a product in normal circumstances.
EDIT : I just realized I completely lost my train of thought during this awfully long post - my goal, at first, was to point out a few make-up bargains you could enjoy, and it turned into the gift guide it was supposed to be. Call it fate.
Feel the spirit yet ?
P.S. - this post could be read as a "gift recommendation guide to a make-up addict", but my introduction would have seemed even less clever.