Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, if only because so many beauty companies put out dazzling holiday gift sets that combine their best products and excellent value in an oh so pretty box. At the same time, navigating your local Sephora or department store can become overwhelming for the same reason: Does a person really need a kit with 24 lipstick colours when she probably already has close to that at home, or an eyeshadow palette with 84 shades? Some makeup mavens will argue yes, but this aspiring minimalist says no. Instead, skincare gift sets like the ones I'm showing you today are where it's at. These lovelies arrived on my beauty desk from the PRs, just in time for the holidays.
Skincare sets make ideal gifts for all sorts of reasons. Whether the gift recipient you have in mind is a beauty junkie or bare-faced babe, a minimalist who KonMari'd her way to a clutter-free condo or a maximimalist with an impressive shoe collection, certain universal truths are undeniable: A little pampering is always appreciated; skin that looks and feels its best is, well, the best whether you wear makeup or not; and when winter temps drop and the heaters are on full blast, a little extra hydration in the form of a good moisturizer or lip balm never hurts. The gift sets I'm showing you today are suitable for a wide range of skin types, which makes them even more irresistible.
Fresh is a brand I've grown to adore over the years. Even before I met founder Lev Glazman, I was enamoured with their packaging, spa-like scents and textures, and naturals-inspired formulas. Plus, anyone who follows their Instagram knows they have #SundaySkincare rituals down pat.
Every year they put out beautifully curated gift sets, but my favourite this year has to be the Fresh Mini Mask Spa ($115), which contains:
- Black Tea Instant Perfecting Mask, an antioxidant-rich, cool-to-the-touch pale yellow mask with a mind-boggling velvety-smooth texture that has to be felt to be believed. I've been using the full-size of this twice a week for the last month and really like it so far.
- Sugar Face Polish, a fine-grain brown-sugar-based exfoliant that smells scrumptious.
- Umbrian Clay Mattifying Mask, which I've never tried but am looking forward to playing with, as the clay promises to deeply cleanse and purify pores. Usually I like a more soothing, hydrating mask, but this one sounds like it'd be good for oily T-zones when multi-masking.
- Rose Face Mask, which I reviewed in detail here.
- Black Tea Firming Overnight Mask, another one I've never tried. This one seems to be Fresh's answer to the sleep mask trend.
Normally a 100 ml full-size version of any of these products would set you back $75-112. Not only are the set's 5 generously sized 30 ml "minis" an excellent value (you're getting 150 ml of product for the same price), they let you try different masks to find a new fave, and if you're into multi-masking, you can do so to your heart's content well into 2017.
My second favourite Fresh gift set is Fresh Skincare Treasures ($90) because it brings together five soothing, hydrating, exfoliating gems that are suitable for all skin types, thereby taking the guesswork out of whether the products will work for the gift recipient.
I've had firsthand experience with almost all of the products in Skincare Treasures:
- Soy Face Cleanser, a gel-like cleanser that smells great and cleanses without stripping skin of moisture. Because it's on the gentle side, you will need a separate makeup remover or cleansing oil to do a double-cleansing. I had a full-size version to try at one point and used the entire thing up, which speaks to what a delight it is for cleansing. The 50 ml size in the gift set is generous, but small enough for travel or the gym bag.
- Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream, which smells great and is a daily moisturizer suitable for all skin types that doesn't clog pores. I had the lotion version of this in my gym kit at one point as my go-to post-workout, post-shower moisturizer.
- Lotus Youth Preserve Eye Cream, a lightly moisturizing eye cream suitable for all skin types. I had the full-size version of this at one point and used it all up, and while I didn't notice a difference in puffiness or dark undereye circles, it was a good basic moisturizing eye cream that made the eye area feel less tight and dry.
- Sugar Face Polish, 30 ml.
- Sugar Rose Lip Balm, full size. If you've never tried one of Fresh's cult fave lip balms—with their melt-y, hyper-moisturizing texture, their mouthwatering scents, their heavy aluminum screw-top casing that makes it impossible for a lid to fall off and ruin the inside of your purse—you're in for a treat. And you might find yourself reaching for it 24/7 in lieu of lipstick or your regular lip balm this winter.
Because I can get a little Fresh-crazy, I've linked to the full-size versions of these products as well as more affordable gift sets starting at $26 at the end of this post.
The third and final skincare gift set I'm showing you today is from another brand that does holidays right: Philosophy. You might have seen their holiday-scented shampoo/shower gel/bubble baths and fragrance gift sets at your local Sephora, but aside from gourmand fragrances they also specialize in very effective skincare. They make two of my all-time faves—Purity Made Simple cleanser (reviewed here) and the Resurface Microdelivery Dual-Phase Peel (my go-to exfoliation system a couple years ago)—and I've tried their serums and eye creams in the past and been impressed. I've never tried the Renewed Hope day and night moisturizers and eye cream in the Philosophy Renewed Hope for the Holidays gift set ($62), but I'm betting it's just what winter-parched skin is craving. I've linked to more Philosophy gift sets below that feature my faves, as well as gift ideas starting at $14, if you're looking for something else.
Do you see anything here that's calling out to you or would be perfect for someone on your list?
More Fresh gift ideas
More Philosophy gift ideas
Full-size versions of the products discussed in this post