The best gifts to impress a serious beauty product lover, tested by an editor who's tried it all

The best gifts to impress a serious beauty product lover, tested by an editor who's tried it all

Initio / Lancôme / Clinical Skin / Mehron / Silke London

Long before I was your dedicated product tester here at Wishlist, I was a makeup artist, salesperson, sometime-beauty influencer, and all-around fanatic when it comes to anything you can slather, spray, inject, paint, or otherwise whack on your gorgeous visage in an attempt to make it even more appealing.

Using the knowledge gained throughout these processes, I've narrowed down a list of products I think you'll love or that you'll at least love gifting anyone like me who has tried it all. Keep reading to see some of my current and evergreen faves, and don't fret if you don't see anything appealing just yet! I'll continue adding to this list as a test and approve of even more must-haves throughout the season and beyond.

Polypeptide Firming Serum

Clinical Skin

Polypeptide Firming Serum

I've already reviewed this products and its gorgeous accompanying products as well over here, where you can get all the answers you need. Make sure you tack on the gorgeous facial roller at a minimum to take this gift from basic to awe-inspiring.

Clinical Skin
$250

Silke London Heatless Curler

Silke London

Heatless Curler

As a double-process platinum blonde with hair so fragile you can sneeze near me and it'll break, I'm not really interested in subjecting these locks to heat tools very frequently these days. That's where Silke London's Heatless Curler comes into play.

Unlike other heatless curlers, the tools you need come all in one beautiful package, and there are only four pieces that keep the set intact: The long, silk-covered curler itself, a clip to hold it in place as you twist, and ties to keep it all together as it sits. These pieces come in a cute matching bag, allowing you to keep track of it all between uses.

I found the process of placing the curler infinitely easier than I imagined, and detailed instructions are printed right in the bag so you don't struggle. It took less than four minute to wrap my shoulder-length hair into place (already dry, though ideally it should be lightly damp), then I let it sit for a few hours while I worked around the house. The result was soft, bouncy waves that added volume and softness, exactly what I like for an "elevated casual" look as I call it, i.e. perfect for dinner in the neighborhood.

With more time and a bit of moisture, the curls intensify and look even bouncier. The Silke is a TikTok sensation and works incredibly well, so beauty guru types have likely already seen and bookmarked it. Buy it for them to gift them soft, damage-free curls and waves that happen to also be pretty in pink and ideal for the aesthetic girlies.

SILKE London
$56

Paragon Extrait De Parfum

Paragon

Initio

As a perfume connoisseur who has tested seemingly endless bottles, this is perhaps the finest scent I have ever had the pleasure of wearing.

Per the price point, the initial wave hits you exactly as it should for an impression that says only one thing: Rich. Palo Santo, white sage, spicy black pepper, and sweet lavender plum all merge in a warm botanical blend that hints at the esoteric without the cloying heaviness of head shop incense you get in cheaper bottles. This especially made sense in the launch event I attended in order to learn more about the fragrance where aura photos were taken and read to attendees – a sure sign this perfume was created with the spiritually curious in mind.

This theme carries over into the stunning white bottle nestled tightly in a heavy decorative box. An intricate, geometric filigree design holds strong against a soft-touch white backdrop, reminiscent of the mask Tom Cruise wears in Eyes Wide Shut or a single side of Hellraiser's lament configuration design; it calls to mind a certain status and beauty available only to those of elite tastes. Buy it for someone who revels in that sort of luxury to really impress this year.

Paragon
$370

Oxygenetix Oxygenating Foundation

Oxygenetix

Oxygenating Foundation

Foundation trends come and go, but excellent coverage is eternal. That's exactly what Oxygenetix offers.

When I first agreed to test the foundation, I was skeptical because I'd never really heard of it and I tend to gravitate toward established, prestige brands. After a little research and noticing Kourtney Kardashian recommended it to Vogue and even requests professionals use it while doing her makeup, my skepticism lifted slightly.

The foundation and matching concealer arrived some days later, and I was surprised at its lightweight packaging and feel. I put one pump into my hands and felt the texture, which is a delightful concoction that immediately took me back to the textural joy of slipping on Maybelline's Dream Matte Mousse but – I know what you're thinking – in a much more luxurious way.

That single pump covered my entire face even without moisturizer, but I've since worn it 30+ times and it glides on much more smoothly and needs barely half a pump when you've primed your canvas. Oxygenetix was kind enough to send their lightweight Hydro-Matrix moisturizer over in the package, and the products do indeed work incredibly well together. I'm someone with fairly oily skin even at 35, but the foundation evened out my skin and dried down in a way that seemed to blur every line and reduce the need for excess powder without drying out my cheeks and under-eyes.

Shade-wise, I'm very fair and chose Ivory but likely should have gone with Pearl. Despite being just a tad darker than my neck, it was easy to mix in some of the matching concealer (shade Y 2.0 for me) to brighten things up. I've also found it easy to mix half a pump or less into this mixture to get very lightweight coverage that doesn't cake, which is super helpful for gym days, beach days, and other times when a heavy look just doesn't cut it.

As I mentioned above, I've been using the foundation, concealer, and moisturizer for over a month now almost daily, and I'm only about halfway through each product. My skin looks fresh, and my pores don't look congested at all, a fact acne-prone or oily-skinned folks can appreciate. For my money, it truly is one of the most amazing foundations out there that feels nice on the skin, gives an airbrushed finish, and leaves your face looking better than before.

If you want to give your beauty-loving bestie the gift of a great mug, offer up a bottle of this foundation with or without the coordinating products, or simply send over a gift card and show them this review! They'll love what they find.

Oxygenetix
$66

Mehron Makeup Paradise AQ Magnetic & Refillable 30 Color Pro Paint Palette

Mehron Makeup

Paradise AQ Magnetic & Refillable 30 Color Pro Paint Palette

If you're a regular reader of Wishlist, you already know I love Halloween – decorations, costumes, makeup, all of it. That's what prompted me to first buy this palette with my own money, and that's why I'm recommending it as a gift to your favorite beauty product collector.

Mehron is water-activated so you avoid the mess of pigmented creams and oil paint, and it's easy to get the hang of mixing water into these pans directly so you're creating just the right consistency for full coverage on a naked face. You can also scoop colors onto a separate palette and mix them for custom shades, but the color selection in this particular shade range makes it possible to create basically any look you can dream up.

I've done myriad looks with this palette including the Corpse Bride, a full-face pumpkin, multiple vampires, whole-face skull looks, you name it. I tend to like setting with a translucent or white powder if I plan to wear the look for a long period of time, but it dries to a powdery finish so that's not even necessary. Eyeshadow is ideal for contouring in a similar shade to your Mehron base, and that's generally my go-to technique.

This is a fantastic gift for anyone who loves to be imaginative with their makeup looks, enjoys themed parties and events, creates content, etc. For example, post-Halloween, I like to do a specific look for other holidays, too! I've done heart-face looks on Valentine's Day, red and green graphic looks for Christmas, and even painted colorful flowers on my face for springtime, all using this palette. It inspires creativity and experimentation, the shades last forever, and it's simply perfect for anyone interested in getting more into out-of-the-box looks.

Mehron
$99.95

Hypnose Drama Mascara Holiday Set

Lancôme

​Hypnôse Drama Mascara Holiday Set

Story time!

Long before I was writing about beauty products for a living, I was selling them as a counter manager for a brand I don't often recommend here because not only do they treat their employees horrifically, the products are largely awful. And as someone gifted with incredibly long eyelashes (thanks, Mom!), I was shocked that their mascara somehow managed to make my lashes look short and clumpy. It simply didn't make sense!

So when customers would ask something like, "My goodness, your lashes are so beautiful! What do you use?" I told them the truth and pointed them to the Lancôme counter a few steps away and told them to give Hypnôse a try, and that they'd be even more pleased if they layered it with the Cils Booster which literally adds fibers and thickness to your lashes with the thinnest coat imaginable, plus it has vitamins B5 and E to keep them lush and healthy.

This eventually landed me in hot water with my superiors at That Other Makeup Brand, but I didn't care since my lashes looked so good and I was helping others find the same benefits! Now, 15 years later, this is still my holy grail mascara and primer combination, and the fact that it comes with the tremendous eye makeup remover that is Bi-Facil?! You can't afford to pass this up. There's even the added bonus that if you order now, you'll receive Lancôme's famous gift-with-purchase kit released every holiday season.

​Lancôme
$49.50
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