Tag:  holiday gift guide Archives - Beauty Banter

All Things Bright and Beautiful: Alex’s Twelve Days of Gifting

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With Christmukkah less than three weeks away, you may still have a few presents to pick up for your nearest and dearest. It happens to the best of us, whether you spend the year gathering treasures and stowing them away for the holidays or you battle the crowds on Black Friday in one fell swoop.

Personally, there are two kinds of gifts I like to give – those that I come across in unexpected spots immediately making me think of the recipient, and the fabulous things that I adore myself and want to share with everyone I know. This list falls into the latter category. And so, here are twelve gifts as fabulous to give as to receive. Maybe a bit of both?

1. The tarte shining stars limited-edition best sellers collection ($25) is perfect for someone new to the line but also full of the beloved products than any tarte fan would love to have in travel size. The special edition set includes a cheek stain, lip tint, waterproof liner and my beloved lights, camera lashes mascara. The tint and stain would also fit nicely in a clutch if you need touch ups on New Years Eve.

2. Sometimes the best gifts don’t arrive in fancy packaging. Egyptian Magic ($26-37) is a simple jar filled with magic goodness – but so many people I know say they feel crazy spending $35 for a jar of all-purpose cream. Which is why I think it’s sort of perfect to give – so versatile, so nourishing, the skin/hands/nails/lips of the recipient will be thanking you through the dry, cold winter and all year round. Find it at your local Whole Foods or online, here. Keep with the Egyptian theme and wrap it up alongside of this set of gorgeous scarab flat cards by stationer Connor.

3. tarte Amazonian clay 12-hour blush ($25) in dollface is a great for all skin tones, day or night. I had traded powder blushes for tarte’s cheek stains years back, but these are incredible. The color is long lasting and has incredible properties that are beneficial to both dry and oily skin types (it’s all in the Amazonian clay).

4. As I wrote a few months back, I am a gel manicure devotee. And gift certificates for gel manis with my amazing manicurist will be a gift that keeps on giving…two weeks of chip-free nails. I love the fact that Gelish sets under LED light instead of UV. Nails look fabulous for several weeks, remain strong and, once removed, no damage. It’s important to find a manicurist who’s trained properly, so visit the Gelish Salon Locator to find a location near you.

5. Speaking of manicures, I always loved the story Diana Vreeland wrote in D.V. about how Revlon stole her Parisian manicurist’s varnish to make their polish. This year a new book collecting her wit, wisdom, and style has been released. Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has To Travel ($55 in stores; about $35 on Amazon) is a beautiful coffee table tome about the fashion editor and style icon. You can up the fabulousness by including a set of the limited edition Vreeland-inspired stationery by Connor for Barneys ($98) (I am loving Connor’s paper goods if you hadn’t noticed.)

6. And while we’re talking hands, these leopard print glittens by J. Crew ($34.50) are not only going to keep hand cozy and skin soft, but the mitten tops pull back tp reveal adorable fingerless gloves – the easier to text, email, and send those Instagram shots with.

7. My love of beauty products is matched by my love of all things organized, which is why I find z palette’s ($14-20) to be one of the greatest ideas yet. My friend Erin, makeup artist extraordinaire, first turned me on to them and I think they make for great gifts. We all have a mix of eyeshadows and blushes taking up unnecessary space, or those large sets that come with 724 shadows with only a few colors we really like. With a z palette, you consolidate all of your pots of creams and powders into these sleek, magnetic cases – and with see-through lids you can find what you’re looking for quickly and easily.

8. Speaking of organization, I adore Closette’s Travel Jewelry Case ($50). Great on the go or home, they come in waterproof linen cases and hold a variety of pouches to fit your storage needs. I suggest picking up two. Because if you buy one for a gift, I’m pretty sure you’re going to want one for yourself. I know I did. (By the way, did you see Sarah’s piece with Closette on organized beauty? Read it here.)

9. In winter I like wearing brighter lip tints, but it’s also the time of year when lips need the most hydration. KORRES uber-moisturizing Cherry Oil lip glosses cover all bases, and I love this limited edition, value set for Sephora ($28). Give the Quad as a set or split them up as stocking stuffers.

10. tarte picture perfect eyelash curler set ($15) comes with the best eyelash curler I’ve ever found, and a deluxe size tube of lights, camera lashes mascara. I don’t leave the house without mascara. And before I put on LCL, this lash curler instantly makes me look bright eyed – even on those days where I could really use some extra beauty sleep.

11. I love paddywax soy candles ($25) and their holiday collection comes in these gorgeous honeycomb patterned mercury-like glasses. There’s the cypress and mandarin PEACE candle, a combo I love, as well as HOPE (pomegranate and spruce), JOY (cinnamon wood and honey), and GIVE (clove and vanilla bean). All holiday scents are available as diffusers and in travel candles, too. Paddywax candles are eco-minded, as is their packaging – the paper unfolds to become a gift tag or ornament.

12. I know I talk about Spin Pins (about $6.50) a lot. A whole lot. So much so that the good people of Goody actually began following me on twitter and said they were happy I liked them. I Spin Pins as gifts all the time, tying them to the tops of packages, or just because – like my cousin the ballerina or my friends in Sydney who can’t get them there. (Goody, please go to Australia. They love you.) You can find them online or at your local drugstore. They’ve now added Spin Pin Minis (about $6.50) to the collection. Give these as gifts and every day will be a good hair day through the holidays and all year long.

Happy, Merry…Everything, BB!

As Beauty Banterers well know, I love eco beauty and all the gorgeous brands that have made skin, hair care and makeup as eco-chic and luxe as the rest. And while I don’t exclusively use organic products, I am happy to know that the options out there are pretty fabulous. When it comes to makeup, tarte has long been my go-to brand. And so I was more than a bit giddy when they announced their FRENDS and FAMILY SALE is on now through December 12th – just enter promo code FFDEC at checkout to receive 30% off and free shipping on orders over $40. ‘Tis the season!  xo a.


Alex Asher Sears is a writer, photographer, and fourth generation Angeleno. She believes that you can find inspiration anywhere but thinks Slim Aarons, Nöel Coward and Diana Vreeland are a great place to start. Since 2007, she’s been sharing her eco-beauty finds with BB readers. She writes at AlexandraWrote, and also, quite literally, at Type A Calligraphy. Find her on twitter at @AlexandraWrote.

FAVORITES: Candles for the Holidays

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Nothing makes it feel more like winter than cozying up to the fireplace, eggnog in hand, singing Christmas Carols. Well, I don’t have a fireplace, and I’m not really into eggnog, but what I do love is a candle that can embody all of this holiday spirit!

Here are my favorite candles for the holidays (they make GREAT gifts too!):

Jo Malone Pomegranate Noir Candle ($65.00) – a spicy blend of pomegranate, raspberry, frankincense and patchouli that smells like Christmas morning.

Fresh Cranberry Petite Candle Trio ($45.00) – Three mini candles in the cranberry family: chardonnay, pinot noir and bourbon. Burned together, the sweet aroma is reminiscent of a Holiday dinner.

Nest Holiday Candle ($32.00) – a spicy nod to the Holidays with notes of pomegranate, mandarin orange, pine, cloves and cinnamon. Like walking through the woods on a brisk winter day.

“Frosty’s Party” Candle by Lolita ($21.95) – Snowmen painted on the tumbler give this candle the ultimate holiday feel. The scent is a sweet mix of Vanilla, Peach, Coconut, Orange, and Apricot, layered with White Chocolate, Strawberry, Rum and Almond. Bring on the Christmas Carols!

Aroma Naturals Wish Peppermint + Vanilla ($16.50) – Notes of peppermint and vanilla give this a warm yet refreshing classic Holiday smell. Think candy canes and mistletoe…

WASHING UP: Eco Soaps from Wembe

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Kim Carlson of EarthSmartConsumer says that a simple step towards eco-awareness is to buy soap and other skincare products in bars because they require little to no packaging and disappear as you use them leaving no footprint. Pretty genius, right? The only problem is there are many bars out there that are far from environmentally friendly, containing sulfates and petrochemicals, and often stripping your skin of natural moisture.

When I received a box from Wembe, the amazing aroma as I opened the package told me this was not your everyday cake soap. Big, chunky blocks created with essential oils and moisturizing butters from the Amazonian rainforests, Wembe crafts their soaps “following the aroma-therapeutic principles of each plant, so each bar of soap and each ounce of salt or scrub is more than just a perfumed hygiene item, it’s a work of art hand crafted to alter the mood and smoothe the spirit.”

Wembe has created over a dozen soaps including the Citric Cleansing Blend with Cupassu butter, lemon and orange, and Seaweed Cleansing Blend with Jojoba, Seaweed and seaweed extracts — both ideal as daily body washes. The Mbocaya Cleansing Blend is made with two types of coconut and is great for both oily skin and as a shampoo.

Hands down, my favorite is the Loofah Exfoliating Blend: almond oil, dill and natural sponge combine to make the perfect way to scrub away dead cells and moisturize dry, winter skin. And it has this wonderfully fresh and clean smell, no synthetic fragrances. Simply clean.

All Wembe soaps are free of parabens, synthetics, silicone and animal byproducts. I’m curious to try the 100% Olive Oil Castille bar as well as the Snow bar which seems perfect for winter colds with its blend of eucalyptus and mint. Ranging from $7-$11.85, the bars are a hefty 3.75 ounces (the round Loofah bars are three ounces). Order online at www.wembe.com and join their Facebook page to stay updated on what’s new with this up and coming brand.

Although less packaging is a good thing, it doesn’t mean less can’t be fabulous. Wembe soaps are packaged in minimalist kraft paper and a set of three come boxed in a kraft paper box with a “W” embossed in kelly green wax. They’re the perfect holiday gift set to go! xo alex.

tarte+Sephora = the gift that keeps on giving

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As I wrote last week, tarte has come up with some brilliant holiday gift sets. And here’s the most spectacular one of all, the treasure chest. Their annual gift palette is back but this time with 30% more green goodness. Not only would it make a fabulous gift but it is the end-all to any excuses that it costs a fortune to green your beauty routine. The tarte treasure chest, exclusive to Sephora, retails for $52 but contains $686 worth of eco-gorgeous beauty.

The bejeweled box contains an amazing 16 new shimmering eyeshadows, 16 new matte eyeshadows, 16 brand new tarte lip gloss hues, 4 new powder blushes, a pale pink luminizer and mineral powder bronzer in the very flattering park ave princesss.

This box of eco-loveliness does not contain a single paraben, phtalate, sulfate or synthetic ingredient. Everything is also gluten, glycol, talc and cruelty free.

The palette is so diverse it’s got everything for those who want to follow the trends as well as those who favor a more classic look. Just grab some mascara and a few brushes and you’re set to go!

The limited edition set is only available at Sephora stores and online at www.sephora.com. xo alex.

Jurlique For Holiday

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I loooooove the holidays. Presents, presents, presents. What’s more fun than giving and receiving? Throughout the month, I’ll be posting some of my favorite holiday gift giving ideas for my beautiful readers.

First, we have the facial: It’s like the candle is for a smaller gift, the facial is a sure thing. Every woman adores a good facial and Jurlique gives great facials (buy that special someone a gift certificate for $110.00). I just had one today and I swear, I practically fell asleep. The aromatic scents, the facial massage, the cleansing oils, everything was pretty near perfect. Not to mention I left with glowing, radiant and hydrated skin. For more info on facials, contact a Jurlique store near you. P.S. The Rosewater Toner Mist ($21.00) spritzed throughout the entire facial is a must-must-must! Great stocking stuffer too!

On another note, pre packaged gift sets galore from one of my favorite biodynamic beauty companies. I am slightly obsessed with the gift boxes too. A gift within a gift. Great for showcasing a little PEACE, LOVE, JOY and ENCHANT around the house.

Here are your choices for Holiday 2009:
PEACE Lavender Fields Gift Set ($60)
Lavender Hand Cream
Lavender Hydrating Mist

LOVE Lovable Skin Gift Set ($45)
Rose Hand Cream
Love Balm

JOY Herbal Recovery Gift Set ($146)
Herbal Recovery Gel
Rosewater Balancing Mist
Herbal Recovery Eye Gel

ENCHANT Roses ($88)
Rose Hand Cream
Rose Body Lotion
Rosewater Balancing Mist

BLACK FRIDAY PAMPERING at The Organic Pharmacy

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From London to Los Angeles, The Organic Pharmacy has set up shop in Beverly Hills and invites Beauty Banter readers to indulge post-feast at their Black Friday shopping event. Incredible gifts with purchase, mini treatments and 10% off treatments booked that day! Plus the chance to win a five-night getaway to Capella Pedregal in Cabo San Lucas (which happens to have its own fabulous natural and organic product-pampering spa).

For more information about The Organic Pharmacy click here. Happy Thanksgiving! xo alex.

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