Quality skincare is basically the beauty gift that keeps on giving. You buy your friend the perfect facial oil, her skin begins to glow from regular use, Prince Harry asks her out, and before you know it she's invited you to come on a royal cruise where you become BFF with Kate Middleton and get to steal her high-end facial products. It's simple math.
But seriously, I'm a big believer in giving the women in your life nice skincare products for Christmas, because — while everyone can use a lovely soap or a great hand cream — plenty of ladies feel guilty splurging on themselves, especially since beauty and skincare can be seen as a little bit frivolous. Plus, like candles and chocolate bars, skincare is meant to be used up, so you don't have to worry about burdening your friend with something she doesn't really need... like a mattress. Or a pickup truck.
Of course, not all skin is created equal, so it's best to know a little bit about your friend's skin's personality (dry? sensitive? acne-prone?) before you make the purchase. Throw in some organic ingredients and nice packaging, and you are officially the Saint Nick of serums. Here are 16 ways to do it.
1. An oil for each part of her toilette.
Mad Hippie Antioxidant Facial Oil, $25, Mad Hippie | Santal Shave Oil, $16, Urban Outfitters | Hair & Body Silk, $54, Holly Beth Organics | Nourish Essential Facial Serum, $48, Bloom Skin Essentials | Oil Cleansing Face Wash, $15, Amazon
Oils have been the darling of the skincare world for a while now, and I hope they never go away, because oils are everything. Care to take a look at this fine selection? From left to right, we've got a deeply moisturizing antioxidant oil full of every vegetable under the sun; a shave oil that's so much better than aerosol shaving cream; a peppermint-chocolate, hair-and-body oil with camellia to make her feel like silk; a serum to decongest, soothe and cool combination skin; and a calendula-infused oil for cleansing her face. All that's missing is the deed to an oil well in Texas.
2. A winter's worth of moisturized legs.
Shaving your legs during the winter requires a careful cost-benefit analysis. Are smooth legs worth the inevitable dryness? The feeling that underneath your tights, your legs are secretly two lizard tails? Fill your friend's stocking with plenty of shea butter and assure her that with moisture like this, she can shave without fear. Bonus: This brand uses fair trade shea butter sourced from West Africa, and they're passionate about giving back to the community.
3. An essential oil starter kit.
This cute little starter kit is meant for the friend who doesn't know her jojoba oil from her argan oil but still dreams of starting a little apothecary up in Portland someday. Help her get her feet wet in the ocean of natural beauty by showing her how these three simple ingredients can be combined to make a skin mist, a spray cleaner, a body oil, a lip scrub, and more (recipes included!).
4. A luxurious travel case for the frequent flier.
If your friend is a rockstar but always sits in coach, this kit will make even the worst transatlantic flight feel a little more first class. The brand Norlha sources fine yak wool textiles from nomads on the high Tibetan plateau, while Kahina's Lip & Face Balm is perfect for keeping airplane dehydration at bay. You can also tuck in an eye mask and a tiny bottle of chamomile oil for some stress-relieving aromatherapy.
5. A handful of Brooklyn-made lip balms.
One lip balm is more of a stocking stuffer, but an overflowing handful of lip balms is a thoughtful gift for fast talkers, TV personalities, and kissing addicts. Surely you know a few.
6. Simple mineral makeup kits.
If your friend values a polished makeup look but is always running late, these easy makeup kits will make her mornings a lot easier. They're a little fancier than her typical concealer-mascara-lip balm routine, so she can feel pulled together in a hurry.
7. A natural beauty subscription service.
For your friend who can't decide which of the zillion gorgeous natural beauty brands she likes best, this is the gift that keeps on giving good skin. It's a monthly beauty subscription box filled with lovely, well-curated products from the best brands you've never heard of.
8. An extra level of moisture, because winter is coming.
For the girl who just can't seem to stay moisturized — or anyone who lives in Alaska — products that go above and beyond to hydrate are always appreciated. The Boscia essence is an intensely hydrating gel-serum that goes beneath regular moisturizer, and the Skin Food is one of those amazingly soothing creams that can be applied from neck to toe.
9. Haircare for better hair flips.
She whips her hair back and forth? Help her do it better. The Acure kit is an easy three-step routine for well-kept locks, that hair oil keeps things moisturized and shiny, and the scalp spray helps hair grow in thick and healthy.
10. A cult beauty favorite that she'd never buy for herself.
Everybody adores Tata Harper, but if your girl's on a budget, she probably can't justify buying herself something so fancy. This is a gift for someone who reads Into the Gloss with reverence and loves a good high-end beauty brand. Plus, it's like a one-two punch for looking glowy: the cleanser brightens and exfoliates, while the lip and cheek color wakes the whole face up.
11. First aid balms for adventurous ladies.
Any rambunctious girl has to deal with bug bites, scrapes, bruises, and chapped lips on a regular basis. If your friend or sister can't stop running wild, get her a tiny kit of oils and balms so she can stay adventure-ready at all times.
12. Serums that are disrupting the industry.
Most devoted skincare aficionados are at risk of becoming bored with serums. They've been popular for years, and these days, things like "cleansing grains" and "silk masks" are sounding so much more exciting. But it's hard to refute the power of the serum, so give your jaded beauty queen a trio of particularly exciting ones: a strengthening serum with helichrysum oil to prevent capillary breakage and instantly relieve skin, an alpha hydroxy acid-based exfoliating serum, and a serum that fights "protein glycation" (aka the effects of too many late nights) with extracts of kombucha and silk seed.
13. Small-batch soap and a hot yoga pass.
One bar of soap is a thanks-for-having-me-for-dinner gift, but multiple bars of soap says "I recognize that you take multiple showers over the course of a year and I want to salute that truth." If you're feeling generous, throw in a gift certificate to a particularly sweaty workout routine, so that she has an excuse to lather up afterward.
14. A rose lover's dream.
Here's a gift for the woman who has everything — or for someone you're desperately trying to impress/bribe. Kypris is a total cult favorite among those who appreciate the power of a luxurious rose oil, and their holiday boxes are a holistic skincare lover's dream. There are multiple options for these boxes, but the one pictured (featuring Antioxidant Dew, Clearing Serum, Moonlight Catalyst, Full Size Body Elixir, & Full Size Beauty Elixir I: 1,000 Roses) is pitched at rose lovers with untroubled or dry, dehyrated, mature skin. Give the luckiest girl in the world the full experience, or divvy it up among your favorite ladies.
15. A hot toddy in skincare form (and a tiny bottle of rum, because you just get her).
For the friend who's perpetually cold. Mix this warming, herbal duo together for a cocktail that exfoliates, increases circulation, and brings the glow back to dull winter skin. Tell your friend that if she brings an actual hot toddy into the bath, too, you won't tell.
16. Matching perfumes.
Say "TWINSIES FOREVER" in scent form by picking out matching perfumes for you and your BFF. This vegan, small-batch, all-natural scent is named for the Hawaiian goddess of the ocean, and smells like rare Tahitian gardenia, mimosa blooms, moss, and the sea. Side by side, the bottles are just as cute as the two of you.