Last-Minute Beauty Gift Guide

So Christmas is just a few short days away and you still haven’t finished shopping. Fear not! If you’re wondering what to get the beauty-obsessed on your list, I’m here to help!

If you’re looking to wow your most high-maintenance loved one, why not give the gift of great hair? Drybar’s Peace on Earth Good Hair to All! gift set is sure to make her year.

Great for beauty enthusiasts of all ages, Ciate Pick & Mix lets you create your own 3-piece nail polish set. Ciate is my favorite high-end nail color brand. I recommend adding one of the fun sparkly shades to your set to make it extra festive.

For the natural beauty on your list, you can’t go wrong with the Caudalie Winter Duo. She’ll stay soft and smooth all winter long in a natural, French-girl sort of way. Editors Note: this gift is actually on the top of my list, but it seems to be sold out online, so if you find it somewhere, let me know!

Of course, if you don’t have time to shop and/or need your gift to get there fast, you can’t go wrong with a Birchbox gift subscription or a gift card to Sephora or Ulta!

What beauty gift are you hoping Santa brings you this year?

Birchbox Best: LAQA & Co. Cheeky Lip

LAQA & Co. Cheeky Lip in Humble BragI have a confession to make. I drink a lot of coffee. Like, a lot. For several hours each morning – and sometimes in the afternoon – you’ll find me clutching an oversized coffee mug, drinking my fill of liquid motivation. Eventually I’ll remember that I need to actually hydrate myself, at which point I’ll trade in the mug for a water bottle and go about my day. The problem is, with all that sipping going on it can be nearly impossible to find a lip color that lasts. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I found one that stayed with me through my morning commute, let alone until lunchtime. Enter the highlight of my last Birchbox, LAQA & Co. Cheeky Lip in Humble Brag. I was thrilled to discover that this pretty pink crayon lasts and lasts. As in, it doesn’t rub off on my cup/straw/husband and is still going strong hours after application. For a girl who loves lipstick but hates having to reapply, this is definitely my kind of product.

Humble Brag is part of the Charm School Kit, a set of three creamy lip and cheek crayons. It’s described as a blush pink, but I think it’s more of a muted fuchsia. The kit also features Cray-Cray, a coral peach, and Mixtape, a classic red. While I can’t speak for those two shades, I can vouch for Humble Brag; it glides on effortlessly, has a matte finish, and doesn’t dry out my lips the way some other long-lasting lip products tend to do. As a lip color it’s bright enough to make a fun statement without being over the top; it works at the office or out on the town. As a cheek color, it’s even more wearable – once the color is diffused over your cheekbones, it transforms from a bright streak of pink to a sheer, natural flush. Just make sure to blend the color quickly after application.

Tip: I love the matte lip look, but I find that it can really draw attention to fine lines or flakes. I recommend using a somewhat waxy lip balm (such as Chapstick or Coppertone Sport Sunscreen Lip Balm) as a base to help fill in lines, moisturize your lips and ensure a more even application.

Birchbox Best: Key West Aloe Save A Tan After Sun Moisturizer

  My July Birchbox was full of fun stuff, but the only product that really knocked my socks off was this mini bottle of Key West Aloe Save A Tan After Sun Moisturizer. With 80% pure aloe, it’s extremely hydrating and soothing. It left my sun kissed skin soft and healthy. My favorite part? It has a rich coconut scent that smells like a tropical vacation. If you’re spending any time soaking up sun this summer, you’ll want to add this to your stash. 

Birchbox Best: Supergoop Everyday Sunscreen

Supergoop Everyday SunscreenI’m just going to say it. The name “Supergoop” does nothing for me. In fact, in the past I’ve been so put off by the name that I simply did not want to try the sunscreen. That all changed last weekend. Having been quite literally burned by an ineffective sunscreen earlier this summer, I turned to this little tube in hopes of making it through the holiday weekend without being scorched by the sun. I slathered it on and headed out for a weekend of sunning and swimming.

First things first: it felt good. It absorbed quickly, wasn’t greasy and left my skin feeling nice and smooth. It also had a mild, citrusy scent that I liked a lot. Other than those two initial observations, I didn’t think about this product at all until I realized, after two sunny days spent largely outside, that I didn’t have the faintest hint of a sunburn and my skin looked and felt great. It’s a fantastic sunscreen, and I only wish there was more in my sample – this stuff is expensive!
Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo
Runner Up: Amika Perk Up Dry Shampoo. I’m a real tough customer when it comes to dry shampoos, but I was instantly impressed by this one. I really love the scent, which is feminine and clean, and it’s super easy to use. You simply spray at your roots and then massage it in; within seconds it adds volume and removes oil, leaving clean, weightless hair. My one complaint is that these results only last a couple of hours – you’ll want to bring it with you for touchups!

Birchbox Best: Benefit Lollibalm

Benefit LollibalmBenefit’s Lollibalm has been at the very top of my must-try list for quite some time, so I was absolutely delighted to find a mini tube of this hydrating balm in my May Birchbox. I was even more delighted when I put it on; its smooth, creamy texture feels heavenly, and the sheer pink-purple shade is incredibly pretty and flattering. The balm is long lasting and moisturizing. Another plus: the cap stays put, so I can just throw it in my bag without worrying about lip balm smears getting all over everything in my purse (a lip balm pet peeve of mine). In short, Lollibalm did not disappoint and was definitely my top pick from this month’s box.

Runner Up: I’m rather surprised to report that my second favorite product in the May Birchbox was Parlor by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray.Parlor by Jeff Chastain Moisturizing Sea Salt Spray My past experiences with texturizing sprays like this one have always been wildly disappointing; my dreams of easy, pretty, surfer-girl waves have always been dashed by the reality of limp, crunchy hair that looks like it hasn’t been washed. I was so sure that this product wouldn’t work that I almost didn’t even try it. Then last week, running late one morning, I decided that I’d save myself a few minutes of hair drying time and give this spray I try. I combed out my hair, spritzed it all over with the salt spray, then used my fingers to scrunch it up and ran out the door.

Much to my surprise, by the time I arrived at work 30 minutes later, my hair had fallen into spiraled, beachy waves. While I think I look best with straighter hair, I was definitely impressed with this product. My one complaint, which is my complaint with all hair products that come in a spray, is that it’s difficult to distribute the product evenly throughout your hair. One side of my head had much more defined waves than the other, and I have no idea if that side had more or less product. Other than that, I’d say this salt spray is a definite winner in the battle of beachy hair products.

April 2015 Empties

Things have been very busy and exciting here at For the Love of Gloss with lots of new products to test – stay tuned for reviews and recommendations in the coming weeks. Unfortunately, lots of new stuff means I didn’t use up much of the old. Here’s what I did finish off this month:
April 2015 Empties
Listerine Healthy White Sodium Fluoride Anti-Cavity Mouthrinse: I was drawn to this mouthwash for two reasons. First, it’s a gentle version of Listerine, which has always worked well but is quite painful to use. Second, it’s a whitening rinse. While I did find it to be a decent mouthwash, leaving my breath fresh and my mouth clean without the traditional burn of Listerine, I can’t say that I noticed much in terms of whitening.

Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Peel Original Formula: These peels make regular appearances in my empties posts, because they work well and I use them often. Read more here.

Bath & Body Works Be Enchanted Shower Gel: I’m not sure if they still make this scent; I found this bottle of body wash stuffed in the back of my soaps and shower gels bin, which is nearly empty – hooray! As with all Bath & Body Works shower gels, I found it to be quite perfume-y at first but the scent quickly faded after rinsing. These gels clean well. I don’t find them to be overly drying or all that moisturizing. A pretty average but effective body wash.

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid: I wrote about this a few weeks back and am still loving it. I received this bottle in a past Birchbox and have since purchased a full sized replacement bottle. Now that the weather has let up a bit and my skin is not quite so crazy, I’m finding that using this every 2 or 3 days is enough to keep things in check. One of my top product picks of the year so far!

Birchbox Best: Liz Earle Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion

Liz Earle Eyebright Soothing Eye LotionThis month Birchbox partnered with the incredibly stylish and addictive show Mad Men to create a special box inspired by the memorable and covetable looks of the show. While this was a five star box overall, there was one product that stood out to me as the most impressive: Liz Earle Eyebright Soothing Eye Lotion. This cooling liquid, made from a variety of skin soothing botanicals, is my new morning best friend. Whenever I wake up with tired, puffy eyes – and don’t have time for my usual morning walk – I simply pour a little of this on a cotton pad, hold it over each eye for approximately 5 seconds, and then go about my normal beauty routine. The cooling sensation of the lotion starts soothing instantly, and within 20 minutes my eyes are completely de-puffed. It hasn’t bothered my sensitive eyes at all. If you’re prone to puffy eyes, this product is a must-have.

Runner Up: The entire rest of the box! Here’s a quick look at all the other great finds this month:
Mad Men Birchbox
Anastasia Beverly Hills Clear Brow Gel: I’ve never used brow gel, so I was excited to try this one. It kept my brows in place all day without any sticky or flaky residue, and added a little extra polish to my day. A word of caution: brow gel highlights your brows, and that includes any errant hairs. You’ll want to make sure you’re brows are well-groomed before you swipe this on!

Beauty Protector Protect & Oil: This hair oil protects against UV rays and heat styling. It also made my hair silky smooth and frizz free. My new favorite hair product!

Cargo Swimmables Water Resistant Blush in Los Cabos: This pretty peachy blush is universally flattering. The powder goes on streak-free, and can be layered for more or less pigment. Once on, it won’t budge until you wash it off – mine lasted all day, through rain and workouts.

Whish Shave Crave Shaving Cream in Blueberry: This unique shave cream makes for a lovely shaving experience. It doesn’t foam up like traditional shave gels, which means it won’t clog up your razor and makes shaving quick and easy. It also does an exceptional job of moisturizing skin – no itchy razor burn here!