Holiday Gift Guide 2017 (Yes Virginia, It Really IS That Time Of Year Already)

Uh … yeah. It’s that time of year … the holidays. How did this happen already? I have a couple of birthdays to shop for this time of year in addition to shopping for my tribe of children (as my friend calls them) and nephews and niece. I like seeing gift guides to get ideas for people on my list, and I thought you might like to see one too. So here it is, in time for shipping cutoffs, Sephora VIB sales, Nordstrom and Amazon black friday deals … my 2017 Holiday (Beauty) Gift Guide.

Beauty Gifts for (gulp) Teens
Is it just me?

Oh boy, sometimes the toughest to shop for, depending on the kid and how well you know her (or him). The MAC holiday collection I wrote about last week has lots of great items in it for teens.

Clinique Almost Lipstick in Black Honey (don’t be alarmed … it’s very sheer and very wearable by pretty much everyone).

Another beauty option, especially if the teen you’re shopping for isn’t super experienced with makeup or crazy bougie yet, is to pick up one of the gift with purchases offered by some of the bigger department store brands. For instance, Clinique is doing a gift (that you have to pay for, $39.50) with purchase at Nordstrom called Merry and Bright for. If you spend at least $28 on Clinique shit you also get an actually free gift with purchase you can throw in. Might I suggest the cult classic Almost Lipstick in the shade Black Honey (looks amazing on literally everyone) as your purchase ($17.50)? You can keep that one for yourself and gift another. Merry Christmas to you!

Clinique’s Merry and Bright holiday set

If your teen is older or leans a bit bougie, you can let them indulge in name brand flashy makeup with this set from Dior ($29). Dior is iconic for their mascara, and this set comes with a mini eye shadow set as well.

Click on the picture to link to the product.
Stocking Stuffers and Ye Olde White Elephant Gift

If you need a smaller gift, there are lots of great beauty items that would be perfect for almost anybody.

Burts Bees makes, arguably, one of the best lip balms every. My husband gets a new one in his stocking every year (surprise, honey! A new lip balm! Yayyyyyyy!). There’s a four balm set of flavored and tinted balms out for the holidays for just under $9 right now that would be a great gift.


(If you are shopping for somebody not into colored balms, here is the original):

Burt’s Bees 100% Natural Moisturizing Lip Balm, Beeswax, 2 Tubes in Blister Box


If your recipient likes a little sparkle or has a busy ball season or night life each year, Stila makes a super rad sparkly topper and it comes in a cute set of three bitty colors for $25. I personally like sparkly or on-trend stuff even better in minis as there’s no way I would ever finish a full size.

No primer or glitter glue required; these do it all (and won’t make you look like the love child of a stripper and a disco ball).
Gifts for Her

Need a gift for your sister, wife, or sister wife? If you don’t have anything solid in place yet, check out these fun ideas.

Kiehl’s has a super cute new Mickey Mouse collab out this season. The collection is huge with something for just about everyone, but if you need something for somebody with super dry skin (or lives in a cold climate), this set is super cute ($35):

One of Kiehl’s super cute Mickey collab

Do you have somebody on your list that appreciates good makeup and/or has a shit ton of it (a highly technical and scientific amount, by the way)? Beauty advent calendars are a super fun option. This one is from skin/body care company L’Occitane ($69), but there are others out there as well if this isn’t quite right.


This advent calendar from L’Occitane means a fun sized beauty item to open everyday in December until Christmas!

If your gift recipient likes nail stuff (or just doesn’t like dealing with chips), a gel manicure kit might be a good option. These have been on my radar for a while; I may be asking Santa for one this year myself.

Gifts for Him

If your giftee is a “typical” sort where beauty items may not be on his radar, this (outside of Burt’s Bees, yo … it’s a good stocking gift, I swear!) might not be a super exciting gift for him. But … it may be as well.

My husband is not into pretty much anything in my skincare lineup, but he does really like one product that he can use for hair, body, face … he’s lazy, and he showers more days than not at the gym in the morning. This is one thing he (says) he likes (he also likes ghetto cheap mens shampoo that he uses as both, but that’s not the best gift).


A nice shave cream and a brush are a nice option if you have a dude that shaves in your life. This one from Kiehl’s runs $9-24 depending on the size, and is a really nice option. The Body Shop also makes a nice, giftable mens shaving cream.

This last one is bougie as shit … a beard oil from Tom Ford. If you have a beardy-weirdy on your list (or goatee aficionado) that likes the finer things in life, this $52 beard oil (it comes in all of the TF mens scents) would likely be highly appreciated.

Daaaaaaaaaaamn but it’s Tom Ford, son!

What have you been eyeing this season, for yourself or a friend or loved one? Comment below and let me know!

MAC Holiday Collection: Best Bets

MAC cosmetics does … well, a lot of limited editions now. Like, every other day some new collab seems to roll out. Their holiday sets have been around for a while, though, and are usually pretty great. This year, the holiday collection has one huuuuuuuuge star: the bags. I know, it should be the cosmetics but OMG the bags. They’re amazing-fantastic-ridiculous.

This post contains affiliate links.

holiday collection
OMG see what I mean? LOOOOOOOK at it! Plus it comes with three pretty rose gold pigments, all for $29.50.

Continue reading “MAC Holiday Collection: Best Bets”

Fall Fashion Fix (thanks, Stitch Fix!)

It’s fall and it’s time for a Stitch Fix post! It’s been a minute since I got a fix from Stitch Fix (it’s a subscription service that sends you clothing and accessories based on your style). I kind of felt I had enough summer clothes all summer (and I kind of felt I didn’t have money all summer) so I kept postponing my next fix. Which is one of my favorite things about this subscription, vs. others: you can get one whenever you like. There’s no commitment. My kind of subscription.

Anyway … I was feeling a little unimpressed with my fall-ish options in my closet (which probably haven’t been updated in over four years, since I’ve been living in the sub tropics for over four years). Long story short, I got a new stylist with this go and she really delivered. This is my favorite fix so far, it’s amazing. Here’s what I got:

Continue reading “Fall Fashion Fix (thanks, Stitch Fix!)”

Shopping List! Your Guide to Buying Collagen Supplements (Collagen Week Part 2)

Welcome back to collagen week … the week that’s like Shark Week … except no shark attacks, or big budget (or any budget). Earlier in the week we talked about the sources of collagen, types of it, and how much you should be aiming for in a day. Today is way more exciting though. We are going to be comparing the actual products on the shelves in Japan (pictures included!) so you know what you’re looking at when you’re shopping and can make an informed decision on which product is right for your needs.

First, before you set off shopping, let’s briefly talk about what all you might find in a can of collagen (besides, well, collagen).

  • Hyaluronic Acid: This is a humectant (it is very useful and ubiquitous in topical skincare) and is naturally present in the body as a joint cushion and lubricant. While it works well topically, I haven’t seen solid proof (yet) that as a supplement it helps either arthritis or skin. Side note, hyaluronic acid produced for medicine generally comes from rooster combs, i.e. it is not a vegan product (though if you’re shopping for collagen, you aren’t shopping vegan anyway, are you?). It can also be made by bacteria in a lab.
  • Placenta: You know what a placenta is (right?!), and this extract is generally sourced from pigs for collagen products (in the guide, you may see products where the collagen is sourced from fish, but has a placenta extract as well; that comes from pigs). Placentas are nutrient dense and include stem cells, estrogen, iron, B6 and are, in crunchier circles at least, thought to help treat and/or prevent post partum depression in women. You may have some ick factor from the thought of using this ingredient, but there is some evidence now showing reduction of transdermal water loss and UVB-induced wrinkle formation, lowered levels of the collagen degrading mRNA, and improved wound healing.
  • Ceramides: these are a natural lipid found in the body, and they help keep the skin hydrated. Like collagen, your body produces less and less as you age. This is a good ingredient to find in your topical skincare products, but I haven’t (yet) seen substantial evidence that oral supplementation is beneficial.
  • Coenzyme Q10, or CoQ10: at risk of sounding like a broken record, CoQ10 is an antioxidant found naturally in your body, and one your body produces less and less of as you age. Primarily it’s in the outer layers of your skin and helps protect deeper layers of your skin from UVA. This ingredient is also widely found in topical skincare products (and has been heavily researched in this application). Evidence for supplementation with CoQ10 is promising, showing results of both increased levels of CoQ10 within the skin than topical applications alone (and perhaps even better than topical applications), and reduction of wrinkles that are already present.

You will see when looking through the shopping guide that different products will offer many more “bonus” actives than what I’ve mentioned here. Everything from glucosamine to probiotics to amino acids to antioxidants may be found in a collagen supplement. I’ve tried to line out what I can so you can pick and choose to find the best fit for you.

Additionally, you may see the words “low molecular weight” (or LMW) noted for both collagen and hyaluronic acid. This means the molecules are smaller, so potentially more readily absorbed (and used) by the body. You will see this mentioned in topical skincare particularly, as it’s thought that molecules that are too large will not be absorbed by the skin (Hada Labo’s premium line of hyaluronic acid lotion is a good example: it promises five different molecular weights of HA, in the hopes that it will be absorbed better than one).

So anyway … on to the shopping list! You should be able to find these at most any drugstore (Drugstore Mori, Matsumoto Kiyoshi, Drugstore 11, Don Quixote and even grocery and convenience stores), though you will likely not find every brand here at every store. is another good source for collagen. Prices are what I personally found at a variety of sources, but keep in mind that they will vary slightly between stores, depending on the shop and any sale prices they may be offering.





So that’s it! I hope this helps you select a collagen or two to try out. If you already use a collagen supplement, which one do you use?

If you’re stateside, I was able to find most of the collagen supplements listed above on amazon. You will notice that some of the prices are very close to what you would pay in Japan (like Shiseido’s The Collagen) and others will be noticeably higher. If you shop through these links, be aware they are affiliate links (you won’t pay extra, but I’ll earn a small commission).

Collagen Week, Yo! Part 1: All About Collagen

This isn’t this blog’s first foray into collagen: I’ve written before about the wonders of this … ingredient? Superfood? Meat By-Product? Molecular structure? I don’t know what to call it, but if you aren’t supplementing with it yet, one way or the other, you might want to consider it. It’s thought to increase skin’s moisture level and even relax wrinkles (and promising studies have been published showing it boosts your body’s collagen-making ability, which decreases with age).  Continue reading “Collagen Week, Yo! Part 1: All About Collagen”