It’s almost impossible to believe that the year is almost over already, and the holidays are right around the corner. It’s that time of year again where we like to show our love and appreciation to our loved ones, friends, and yes… even ourselves. With all of the holiday gift sets and special palettes that are flooding the stores right now, it can be difficult to maneuver around everything and determine what’s really great and what’s just a substandard product in pretty packaging. With that in mind, I put together a list of a few things that you should stop and give a second look, either for that special friend or yourself! All of these items are BELOW $50!!! I have purchased every single item in this list and have personally tested and used all of them, aka. My Beautiful Flaws Tested and Approved! I am 100% non-sponsored. I have paid for every item in this list and have no affiliations with any of these brands. I don’t make any money when you use the links provided below. My reviews are always 100% honest.
- IT Cosmetics Special Edition Most Wished For Holiday Palette w/ Gift Box – $49.96 at QVC.com (current sale price). Available on 2 Easy Pays of $24.98. I absolutely adore this kit! At first I thought it was really tiny, much smaller than I had anticipated, but this box is packed with IT Cosmetics most popular products and is well-worth the price (if not more)! First, it
comes beautifully packaged for gift-giving in a silver box with a bow. No need to wrap it. It’s ready to give as-is. It includes a ton of products, and I swatched them all. They are all highly pigmented and very soft and smooth. It’s really one of my favorite sets from IT Cosmetics. Includes:
- Eighteen (18) 0.019-oz Naturally Pretty Eye Shadows
- Six 0.012-oz Blurred Lines Lipsticks (creme)
- Four 0.015-oz Bye Bye Under-eye Correctors (creme)
- Three 0.088-oz Bye Bye Pores Blush
- 0.132-oz Bye Bye Pores Pressed Powder
- 0.183-oz Hello Light Powder
- 0.113-oz Hello Light Creme
- 0.132-oz Sunshine in a Compact Bronzer
- Set of 4 Solid Color 100% Cotton Turbie Hair Bands – $20 at QVC.com. I use these all the time to hold back my hair when putting on my makeup or cleansing my face. You can even use them to cover your head in the shower if you don’t want to get your hair soaking wet (although it won’t cover all of your hair like a regular Turbie Towel will). These come in a set of 4, and they are individually packaged so you can break them up and give them to more than one person as a gift. Each one is packaged in it’s own little gift baggie. It’s a perfect gift to split up or keep them all for yourself! The set comes in one of each color: yellow, red, purple, and blue.
- Pedi Couture On-the-Go Pedicure Sandal – $19.97 at QVC.com. This makes a perfect spa gift for yourself or a friend. Package this together with a set of nail polishes, a nail file, etc., and it will make the perfect set! You can wear these to the salon when you get your toenails done instead of wearing those horrible thin slippers that they give you when you have a pedicure. The difference is that these are comfortable, you can walk out to your car/into your house with them on without ruining them, they have comfortable padding in them, and they keep your toes completely
separated so you won’t ruin your new pedicure! They’re also skid-resistant so you don’t have to worry about sliding around and slipping and falling in them like you do the slick-bottomed cheap throw-away sandals you get from the salon. They come in 4 stylish colors and designs. So cute!
- Huda Beauty Lip Contour Set – $24 at Sephora.com. If you’ve followed me on Instagram, you already know that I’m a huge fan of Huda Beauty Liquid Matte Lipsticks! Out of all the liquid matte lipsticks brands that I’ve tried, Huda Beauty makes a formula that is the most comfortable for me. It doesn’t dry out your lips, crack, or crumble. You don’t get that super dry feeling throughout the day. They last most of the day, although with any matte lipstick, the length of wear depends on what you eat or drink throughout the day. To top it off, they smell yummy which is always nice… they have a smell of warm vanilla cupcakes. This particular set is a superb value! It contains a full-sized lip contour pencil (regularly retails for $19 for this product alone) and 2 liquid mini matte lipsticks of complimentary shades. This is the PERFECT way to sample the product line, throw some extras in your purse to-go, or give as gifts. This set is currently available in 3 shade combination/options:
- Trophy Wife (rose wood) and Muse (muted rose)
- Vixen (deep brown) and Famous (chic burgundy)
- Trendsetter (brown nude) and Bombshell (subtle pinkish nude) – my personal favorite!
GlamGlow POUTMUD™ Fizzy Lip Exfoliating & Wet Lip Balm Treatment Duo – $39 at Sephora.com. When wearing matte lipsticks (or any lipstick), it’s really important to exfoliate your lips properly before every application to ensure you’re applying the lipstick to a smooth surface and that it lasts all day without any issues. This GlamGlow set is my absolute favorite product for exfoliating the lips. This set contains the fizzy lip exfoliator that you use daily or as needed before applying your lipstick and a separate jar of a lip balm / treatment that is great for nourishing the lips. I like to wear the balm at night as a “mask,” and when I wake up, my lips are always very soft and hydrated. Both of the jars in this set are full-size and contain 0.88oz of product. There is currently a separate holiday packaging available with this set plus the GlamGlow Plumprageous, but you get less than half of the product in it compared to this set. I also don’t personally recommend the Plumpragous product. I have reviewed it previously (on my blog) and found that it produced absolutely zero plumping effect. However, for those who may be interested in that kit as a gift set, I will include the details below. It’s less expensive because you get a fraction of the production.
- GlamGlow Sexy Kissable Lips Set – $34 at Sephora.com or GlamGlow’s website. This set is a good way to try out a few of the GlamGlow lip products without investing a lot of money at once. The value is OK if you are interested in the GlamGlow Plumprageous lip plumper. I do not personally recommend the Plumprageous, as I found it completely ineffective; I wrote a review about it here if you’re interested. If you still want to give it a try and are also interested in the PoutMud products, this may be a good kit for you to grab. Please note that the POUTMUD Fizzy Lip and Wet Lip Balm contains a fraction of the product that you receive in the full-sized products and in the duo kit mentioned previously. There is only 0.24oz of Fizzy Lip Exfoliating product and 0.24oz of Wet Lip Balm Treatment (a full sized jar is 0.88 oz). So you’re getting basically 1/4 of the amount you would get in the duo set mentioned previously. I personally think the duo is a better deal for $39, but it all depends on what you’re most interested in.
- Jack Black It’s the Balm Set – $25 at Sephora.com. For those of you who are lip balm lovers, this is an amazing deal. I absolutely love Jack Black balms, and I use them every single day. The Jack Black balms have an SPF 25 for sun protection, and they contain moisturizing ingrediants such as avocado oil and natural shea butter. I always keep these stashed away at home and in my purse so I have them everywhere. This is a holiday set that includes 4 balms in the following flavors/scents:
- 0.25 oz/ 7 g Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Natural Mint & Shea Butter
- 0.25 oz/ 7 g Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Vanilla & Natural Mint
- 0.25 oz/ 7 g Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Shea Butter & Vitamin E
- 0.25 oz/ 7 g Intense Therapy Lip Balm SPF 25 in Mango & Mandarin
- Anastasia Beverly Hills Master Palette by Mario – $45 at Macys.com. This eyeshadow palette is definitely not all hype. It is packed with beautiful shades and is highly pigmented. It contains 12 stunning shades of both shimmers and mattes and comes with a double-ended shadow brush for application (which I can actually use instead of just throw away like I do the brushes in other palettes). I really can’t say enough about this palette. Honestly, I didn’t know what great eyeshadows were until I purchased this and put it to the test. I own so many eyeshadow palettes that I “thought” were good, but I’ve always had issues blending eyeshadows and making them look beautiful on my aging eyes. I always thought it was my skill level, or lack thereof, but now I know better. When I applied this palette to my eyes and blended them out, I was actually shocked at the stunning pigments and blendability. ABH really knocked this one out of the ballpark. This is a great gift for yourself or a good girlfriend who loves great makeup. You can’t go wrong with this one! I’m not a fan of collaborations anymore. It seems like the marketplace has been filled with bad collaborations between beauty influencers and big brands, and most of them turn out to be highly disappointing. This is different. Mario is a proven makeup artist and has earned his right to be partnered by a brand like ABH. This palette is a reflection of his many years of expertise, knowledge, and ABH’s stunning quality… packed into one palette. At this time, I could only find this palette in stock at Macys. They have free shipping and free returns to US customers. Macys is excellent about returns, but you won’t need to return this one!
- Clarisonic Set of 3 Replacement Brush Heads – $49 at QVC.com. Who doesn’t trust the Clarisonic for our daily face and body cleansing needs? I haven’t used a regular washcloth in ages because the Clarisonic can get into the deep pores of my skin and get my skin cleaner than anything else! If you own a Clarisonic, then you know how expensive the replacement brush heads have become recently. Just one replacement brush head now retails for an average of $27 each, and that can make it difficult to replace it every 3 – 4 months as the manufacturer recommends. I found this amazing deal on QVC (while supplies last) for 3 replacement brush heads for just $49. In other words, you basically pay for 2 and get 1 of them free! Can’t beat that! These recently sold out but were restocked. Don’t miss out because these will sell out again, and you’ll have to pay full price when they do! They currently have the following types:
- Deep Pore
Items That I Returned – Gifts that Didn’t Hold Up to the Hype
Here’s a few items that I purchased when the holiday palette and gift rush began, that didn’t quite hold up to the hype. I returned most of these items for various reasons (or else I never wear them and set them to the side in my collection):
- Tarte Pretty Paintbox Collector’s Makeup Case – $59 at Sephora. I found the packaging for this kit to be rather bulky and excessive. It’s just not user-friendly, travel-friendly and easy to use due to its large size. Still, I tried to give it a chance, and it didn’t hold up to the hype. The swatches were horrible! Very little pigment in the shadows and the blushes. This was a huge disappointment, and I returned it.
- Becca Blushed with Light Palette – $34 at Sephora. Yes, this is a pretty palette, but I didn’t find anything special about it. If you’re already a collector of Becca and have other blushes or palettes from them, this will seem like it’s a duplication of what you already own. I feel like everything I need is in the collaboration palette with Jaclyn Hill that has the 2 highlighters and 3 blushes. The blush shades in this seems similar to what I already owned, so it sadly went back to Sephora.
- Too Faced The Chocolate Shop – $58 at Sephora. I was first in line to grab this when Sephora had their early-access Rouge event in the stores. It looked like an amazing set with several extra goodies outside of the eyeshadow palette. However, just like the Tarte makeup kit mentioned above, this Too Faced set wasn’t pigmented at all. The eyeshadows were all chalky and the colors didn’t translate onto the skin/eyelids. The blushes and highlighter was even more disapointing. I justified almost the entire purchase due to the highlighter in this set, which is only released in their holiday sets. It’s one of my favorite sets and it’s usually just stunning. These were just lackluster though and not worth the price of admission whatsoever. Even though this came with extra goodies such as the eyeshadow primer and the Melted Chocolate Long Wear Lipstick, I just couldn’t justify keeping it at this price point. I noticed (after the fact) that many people shared my opinion of this set, as the reviews aren’t entirely great.
- Laura Mercier Fall In Love Face Illuminator – $58 at Sephora. I’ve never owned any Laura Mercier products except for the setting powder, and it took me a long time to finally give in and purchase that product fairly recently. They launched the Fall in Love Face Illuminator Collection at the early-access Rouge event at Sephora, and when I swatched this set, I fell in love and purchased it instantly. It is creamy, smooth, and really stunning. However, there’s only one or two colors in this set that are really usable for me, and that’s a bitter pill to swallow for $58. I held onto this set for several weeks. I didn’t use it, but I just contemplated whether I should keep it or not. In the end, I returned it. It wasn’t something that I could justify keeping, as pretty as it was when I swatched it. It wasn’t easy to apply on the cheeks. The little quads are actually very small for the price, and knowing that I would never use 2 of the shades made this an easier decision for me to return it. There are so many better options out there. I love the ColourPop highlighters, and I can buy 7 of those for the price of this one quad kit. And honestly, I really like the creme illuminator/highlighter shade that comes in the IT Cosmetics kit (noted in the beginning of this blog) better than almost all of these highlighters combined.
I hope this list helps a little bit and gives you an idea for something different and unique that you hadn’t previously considered before. Do you have special gift ideas that you’re considering? Leave a comment below and share what your ideas are! What are you giving that special friend in your life…. or yourself?