Monday, November 24, 2014

A Gift Guide I Can Vouch For

Have you noticed the extraordinary amount of pressure to shop recently? My inbox (both Messy Wands and personal) has been inundated by brands advertising holiday gifts and paraphernalia, all persistently nudging me to get them before it's "too late." Never mind the fact that it's still one whole month before Christmas! I always find the end of the year rushing toward me too quickly, maybe this is why.

That said, we are days away from Thanksgiving and the anxiety-inducing Black Friday – Racked has listed 150+ sales and counting on this handy page. Clearly, other publications/blogs will be much better resources for you in terms of scoring deals, so I will not attempt to replicate that. Instead, I created this little gift guide of products I've personally used and loved and would recommend to everyone I know. May it be a guide to you when thinking of gifts for the women in your life.

1. Tatcha Deep Hydration Lifting Mask, $28 each / $95 for a box of 4
What sort of praises have I not sung about this mask? If I had to choose one Tatcha product to gift, this spa-in-a-packet would be it. My general philosophy about gift giving is to buy things that others usually won't buy for themselves, and the mask's hefty price point is unfortunately a deterrent to most. However, if anything is well worth the splurge, this is.

Tatcha Friends & Family Sale: 20% off everything at tatcha.com with code FF2014, valid from 11/28-12/8.

2. Rituals Zensation Foaming Shower Gel Sensation, $15
My favorite part of showering is the suds. I remember spending ages in the bathroom as a child, with the door locked, mischievously soaping up every surface and sliding across them with glee. Needless to say, my mother was not amused. Rituals is a new-to-the-US Dutch brand that offers home and body cosmetics with beautiful packaging at a surprisingly low price point. This shower gel transforms into a rich foam when it comes into contact with water. I like it for the clean scent and ease of use, and for allowing me to indulge in my favorite childhood pastime as an adult.

Rituals Black Friday Sale: 50% off select products at rituals.com, valid from 11/28-12/1.

3. Shu Uemura Art of Hair Cleansing Oil Shampoo, $57
I've been clamoring to repurchase this ever since I pumped out the last drop. This shampoo is particularly effective in removing product from hair, and the claim that it doesn't "strip the natural oils" of your scalp is true, since I occasionally skipped conditioning without ill effects. I was devastated to find that the brand no longer offered discounts during Black Friday. Instead, they bundled up complementary products into gift sets. I'm sorely tempted by the Cleansing Oil Gift Set (with shampoo and conditioner and a travel-sized Essence Absolue), but cannot justify it since I've cut down my hair washing to twice a week and still have multiple shampoo/conditioners to go through.

4. Alterna Bamboo Smooth Moisture Masque, $26
I'm always pleasantly surprised when hair treatments (shampoo and conditioner excluded) actually work. Many volumizing/smoothing/repairing treatments I've tried didn't make a difference, but I am happy to report that this Alterna mask bucks the norm. After suffering from severe tangling all week, I applied this mask during my last shower and emerged with hair that was so soft, my hair brush practically slipped through it.

5. L'Occitane 13 Desserts of Provence, $69
Here's an advent calendar that will make the ultimate stocking stuffer (or make it easy for you to stuff those stockings). The 13 products in this gift set reads like a L'Occitane "best hits" list. If nothing, it'll make your next trip very easy to pack for.

L'Occitane Black Friday deal: Receive a free gift of three 10ml hand creams with any purchase at usa.loccitane.com on 11/28.

6. RMS Beauty Glowing Gift Set, $120
I have long held that RMS Beauty is superior to other natural brands when it comes to makeup. While most brands flounder by delivering products with subpar pigmentation, RMS Beauty shocks by serving up bright, nuanced shades. I swatched the whole collection a couple of years ago, but since then they've added a couple of products to their lineup. If you want to try the brand, I think this gift set is an excellent introduction. It features four of their bestsellers: Living Luminizer (one of the best highlighters I own), Un-Cover Up (I am shade #22), Lip2Cheek (Promise and Modest are my favorites) and Cream Eye Shadow. Bonus: you get to customize your own set with the shades you want.

7. Jo Malone Red Roses Scent Surround Diffuser, $85
It's a treat to return home to the scent of Jo Malone Red Roses ("a voluptuous blend of seven of the world's most exquisite roses"). This diffuser is strong enough to perfume my bedroom and then some, for I smell it even from the corridor of my apartment. It's been three months since I placed the reeds in and the bottle is still half full. This six-month investment is one that I'm very willing to make.

8. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis, $175
When my mother asked me to get her a "nice, light fragrance," I sent her a bottle of Aqua Universalis. I will not assault your imagination with my poor description of scent (objectively, the notes include bergamot and Sicilian lemon, lily of the valley and sweet mock orange, as well as musky wood) but as proof of endorsement, I've been wearing this nonstop for the past six months.

9. Oribe Dry Texturizing Spray, $42
I wish I could spray this on my hair everyday. Without fail, it gives my hair ridiculous volume and life and bounce. And the heavenly smell! It's no wonder that the brains behind Oribe decided to bottle their signature scent into perfume form.

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