Beauty product gift ideas

Beauty-junkie daughter? Fragrance-loving friend? Or just looking for some inspo for your own Christmas lust list…? here’s a guide to some of the best beauty gifts of this festive season.

WORDS: Tracey Strange Watts

Like flowers grabbed at the dairy or socks bought for Father’s Day, fragrance is too often seen as a last-minute gift choice. The present you give when you can’t think of anything else. But there are few things as nice as opening a posh perfume at Christmas. The problem is, perfume is personal; the feelings promoted by smell are far more emotional that those spurred by our other senses, including sight. So how do you successfully buy fragrance for someone else? (And no, buying your loved ones the same smellies year in year out just because they said they liked it once is not recommended.) Here’s how.

* Play Sherlock. Just because she likes Narciso Rodriguez For Her doesn’t mean she wants to receive it every year. Think of modern fragrances like dresses in a wardrobe; she wouldn’t want to wear the same one each day. But what she does like to wear will give you a clue as to what she might like. A good place to start is to find out what floral family her favourite scent falls under. (For Her, for example, is a floral chypre, heavy on the musk). You can do this easily enough by letting your fingers do the Googling. Then it’s just a case of finding other fragrances in the same category. If all else fails, visit a site like Fragrantica (, type in her favourite fragrance and let the site do the recommending for you.

* Keep it cool. When it comes to perfume, there is such a thing as a hip factor. If it’s new, rare, expensive, developed from the essence of 50,000 roses all picked at dawn by workers wearing silk gloves… the chances are she’ll either like it or be interested by it. True fragrance lovers adore the individuality cult fragrances exude. Either find out what’s new or visit stores like World Beauty ( or Mecca Cosmetica ( and sample some of the special boutique fragrances on offer there. If that all seems a little overwhelming ask a retail assistant for a recommendation. Specialist stores train staff well.

More stories you might like:
DIY: Upcyle an old pallet into a pallet swing

* Layer it up. The concept of layering up fragrance (wearing fragrance and the matching body lotion) isn’t new but it’s useful when it comes to Christmas. Try and find travel-sized versions of her favourite products so that she can keep one in the car, one in her purse. By all means consider a scented deodorant – designer antiperspirants are a true luxe buy (as in they aren’t something you often buy yourself) and if it’s in her favourite brand she won’t be offended. A gift set is acceptable, if a little predicable – better to go for a full-sized body cream or lotion. If she’s a Jo Malone London fan the job is a cinch; just choose a new fragrance or body product that complements one she already owns.

* Eau de what? If men only truly understood the power of fragrance, they would be splashing it on as regularly as they flick the toothpaste lid. Research by the Kinsey Institute proves that while men might be initially attracted to the way a woman looks; women can fall in love at the first whiff. Fragrance, and not just the smell of skin, is far more compelling for women when it comes to sexual attraction. In some ways it’s easier to buy fragrance for men – they’re usually far less picky – but that doesn’t mean the job can be done by just popping into the chemist and picking up the closest one to the counter. Think about his personality. Artistic? Independent? Find a niche cologne that will set him apart. Sense of humour? The fragrance’s name, bottle and packaging might play a part. Don’t underrate citrusy scents if he’s sporty; something hushed and unassuming if he’s low key. Naturally charismatic types might like something sexy and woodsy. For some men, fragrance is the accessory they never knew they wanted. Be confident in your choices; he’ll thank you for it.


It’s very hard to find a beauty junkie who doesn’t like a good hand cream, if indeed she exists. Not only does it have a suitably Christmasy name, but Antipodes’ Joyful Hand and Body Cream $43 is also gorgeously summery, with hints of blackcurrant and hibiscus. Another dream cream is Dr. Hauschka’s Hydrating Hand Cream $39. Rich and luxurious it nourishes the driest of hands without leaving a greasy film. Mor’s Little Luxuries Hand Cream in Belladonna $16.99 is the perfect size for a handbag or desk drawer and nurtures hardworking digits with shea and cocoa butters, vitamins A and E and glycerin. The Great Barrier Island Bee Company’s Intensive Nail and Hand Cream $17 nourishes and repairs with royal jelly, manuka honey, vitamin E and sweet almond oil. And The Body Shop’s Pink Grapefruit Hand Cream is great value at $13.50.

More stories you might like:
Getting lost in clay: Why the slow, mindful art of pottery is the new ‘it’ hobby


Nail enamel, too, is small enough to squeeze into a stocking but, as a gift, it delivers a big impact. Here you actually have three distinct options: soft and sweet, bold and bright, or fabulously fashionable. At $22.99 each, Essie Nail Colour shades Mint Candy Apple and Adore-a-Ball (subtle), Aperitif and Dive Bar (brave) and Hiking Heels and Viva Antigua (hip new colours from the upcoming summer collection) all fit the bill beautifully. Finally, summer at the beach wouldn’t be the same without a new lip balm. Elizabeth Arden Eight Hour Cream Intensive Lip Repair Balm $44, Clarins Hydra-Quench $45 and made-with-coconut-milk Pure Fiji $12, all fit the bill (and a stocking) lusciously.

It wouldn’t be Christmas without a gift set or two. Again, Mor is a safe bet. A collection like “Breathe” $60, which contains both a full-sized hand wash and body milk with a deliciously subtle marshmallow fragrance, is a winner not least because it also comes with a pretty reusable tin, perfect for storing little knick-knacks once the Xmas elves have been sent home. The beauty of gift sets is that they allow you to sample luxury products – especially skin care – without having to take out a second mortgage.

Enter Dr. Hauschka. Its 1-2-3 Step Nurturing Day Care Kit $129 contains cleansing cream, facial toner and the brand’s iconic rose day cream and is suitable for normal, dry or sensitive skin. Trilogy’s sweetly labeled Bare-Faced Beauty Kit $24.99 is one for the party girls, with pocket-sized versions of the brand’s skin-reviving saviours – Rosehip Oil Antioxidant+, Hydrating Mist Toner and Make-up Be Gone Cleansing Balm.

Another perfect Xmas gift is a lip or eye palette. The beauty of palettes, especially when they are made by brands like Yves Saint Laurent, Lancôme and Bobbi Brown is that all the hard work of choosing complementary colours has been done for you. We love YSL’s Golden Glow Eye Contouring Palette $120, Bobbi Brown’s Chocolate Eye Palette $130 and Lancôme’s Palette Bain de Minuit $105 among others.

More stories you might like:
Polly's Blog: In hot water




Candles are the perfect gift for putting a beauty lover into the festive spirit. And why not? Like a spritz of scent, they have the power to add texture to life. Their fragrance reminds us of important events and boosts moods. It makes a home feel like home. And the variety available is enormous. Great value for money is Ecoya. Its Sweet Fruits limited-edition Christmas candle costs $50 and smells daintily of sugared pink grapefruit and guava. Even better value, at $24, is Matakana Botanicals’ fresh-smelling Verbena and Mandarin candle. If exclusivity is in order, Tom Ford, which has just opened a flagship beauty counter at Auckland’s Smith & Caughey, has the intoxicating Tobacco Vanille Private Blend Candle, an investment at $405 (but what a treat). Still in the market for something heady (price wise as well as scent wise)? Try a Cire Trudon masterpiece which will set you back $499 but will magnificently transform your home into a French palace (one of the brand’s claims to fame is that it supplied candles to Versailles until the end of the French monarchy).




A few months back, natural beauty brand Nellie Tier launched a new skin-care range specifically aimed at teenagers. Chosen to represent the range – and there at the launch – were a group of female “spokesmodels”, teenage friends and relatives of the Porter and Sadd families, who have been hand-mixing Nellie Tier products since the brand’s conception. And there’s something heartfelt about mothers handing down beauty rituals to their daughters; skin-care secrets passed down through generations and lovingly shared. Tier for Teens came about because the mums at the company couldn’t find quality natural skin care for teenagers like their own. Based on the ancient and traditional practices of aromatherapy and plant-based healing, Tier for Teens is formulated to maintain healthy skin and help fight skin problems. The six products in the range also make great gifts.


NZ Life and Leisure This article first appeared in NZ Life & Leisure Magazine.
Send this to a friend