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Without realising it, I’ve been adhering to a long list of rules around what does and doesn’t qualify as a proper present. Some have been inherited from my family; giving money inside a card is only alright if you’re over 80, vouchers show a lack of imagination. Some come from experience; a picture frame often underwhelms, scented candles suggest last-minute shopping centre panic. And some from the many magazine “do’s and don’ts of gift-giving” lists I’ve read in the course of research; fragrance is too personal, makeup a bit risky and beyond hand cream, giving skincare isn’t really a thing.
But this year, when I started workshopping ideas, it occurred to me that with the possible exception of the picture frame all those rules are wrong. I would love money inside a card, from anyone! You can never have enough scented candles! Vouchers make Christmas last until March! A fresh fragrance is bliss, makeup the most fun - and giving skincare should absolutely be a thing. As the best gifts are, skincare is luxurious and practical, indulgent but functional, everyday yet special and in the case of a gift set, so festive. These current and future favourites are zero-risk picks for every lady on your list.
Girls are fickle but their allegiance to Go-To is unwavering and a bottle Face Hero will earn you major aunt points. Aside from its Instagrammability and cruelty-free credentials, it is purely plant-and-nut oils which makes it suitable for a teen’s sensitive, oily, inflamed or all-three skin. And although they might not need its anti-ageing benefits just yet, their mother does and you know she’ll be helping herself as soon as school goes back.
And/Or: Upgrade to The Perfect Present, Go-To’s limited edition gift set that contains Face Hero, as well as Lips! and two Transformazing Sheet Masks.
A little nod to your sleepover years: gel patches for eyes and lips which alternatively illuminate, rejuvenate, hydrate, perk up or calm the skin, by Patchology, the US brand well on its way to cult status. Although the packaging is every shade of bubble-gum, the products were originally developed for medical use meaning, serious results.
And/Or: The spendier Mario Badescu All is Calm and Bright Gift Set contains four minis, Enzyme Cleansing Gel, Seaweed Night Cream, Witch Hazel and Lavender Toner and an Aloe and Lavender Facial Spray, arguably the it-product of 2019.
No matter which category you consider, picking a present for the person who pays you can be tricky. It can’t be too intimate, too lavish, generic or staid. As long as you avoid anything with “tired-looking”, “prematurely-aged”, “problem skin” writ large on the label, skincare is a safe bet. In particular, Omorovicza’s three-mask set which is sophisticated, elegantly-packaged, indulgent and at a price point which says “promote me” but not “you are paying me too much.”
And/Or: Think beyond the Christmas-edition Toblerone for the work Kris Kringle with a Glamglow Bubble Sheet Oxygenating Deep Cleanse Mask. They won’t admit it but even the boys in your office will love the carbonated cleanser that fizzes when applied and leaves the skin literally squeaky-clean.
When it comes to skincare, some of us are early-adopting, experimental, try-everything brand-switchers. Other women—maybe mother-in-law age—prefer classic brands and need a name they know, if they’re trialling a new-category product like serums, oils or risky-sounding retinols. Shiseido has the familiarity factor but technology-wise, the brand is cutting edge (no doubt thanks to the one thousand researchers on its international payroll). Ultimune is a more-than-serum, concentrated with antioxidants from reishi mushroom and iris root which firm and plump and protect the skin, while going to town on the signs of ageing. It also contains the brand’s newest innovation, the rose and lotus-derived ImuCalm Compound, a sort of amped-up aromatherapy. Not saying your mother-in-law needs to calm down, but hosting Christmas lunch for 30 can make a woman tense.
And/Or: As a brand, Eve Lom is equally established, and its little singles are perfect for families that put a price-cap presents. The Radiance Face Mist, Time Retreat Sheet Mask and Gel Balm Cleanser are all under $30.
If she has a demanding job, small children or is chronically sleep-deprived and therefore dull-of-complexion for any other reason, your sister needs Sunday Riley’s starter kit, containing the hall-of-famers, Good Genes Lactic Acid Treatment, Luna Sleeping Night Oil, CEO Antioxidant Protect + Repair Moisturiser and the CEO Rapid Flash Brightening Serum, essential if sun, pregnancy, hormones or problem skin have added hyperpigmentation to her list of daily stressors.
And/Or: If you’re super-sweet, you could pop in an Auto Correct Brightening and De-Puffing Eye Contour Cream or at least, send the link to your brother if his gift-game is a little suboptimal.
She birthed you. She sewed your ballet costumes. She let you borrow her hatchback. She deserves La Mer, namely the Crème de la Mer moisturiser (beloved of Beyoncé, Blake Lively, Chrissy Teigan and sundry Kardashians) and The Concentrate, in this travel-size set. Both contain the brand’s lauded ‘Miracle Broth’ which provides of slew of anti-ageing benefits from pore tightening to firming and encourages cell repair and renewal for skin that is damaged beyond the everyday (think burns, surgery, extreme inflammation).
And/Or: Equal first in the “once you’ve tried it you are ruined for all other brands” department is Chantecaille. Entry point is its Pure Rosewater to mist on after cleansing. Ultimate is its Plant Powered Lifting Collection for Face and Eye—the brand’s four signature treatments, Stress Repair Concentrate, Biodynamic Lifting Mask, Nano Gold Energising Eye Serum and Gold Recovery Mask in one. Go in with your siblings, because results-wise, it’s up there with a month-long yoga retreat.
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