I know the holidays are all about spreading good cheer and being festive and giving gifts to other people and whatnot, but for me, they’re a very special time for another reason entirely. Because believe it or not, the holidays also present the ideal opportunity to get really into skincare. When you decide to start a skincare routine, the sheer amount of options and information out there can be daunting. It may be clear what a cleanser or a moisturizer is at first glance, but what exactly is the difference between a serum and a treatment? And for that matter, WTF is an ampoule? It’s enough to send any dude running back to his bar soap. But, surprisingly, the holidays can actually strip all that stress away for one reason and one reason only: sets.
This is the time of year when skincare companies flood the stores with boxed sets of their products, ostensibly for you to buy and give to other people. I say: don’t! Instead, buy these sets for yourself. In most cases, these sets are everyday regimens in a box—effectively removing the guesswork that comes with starting your very own skincare journey.
When developing a skincare routine, I’ve always advocated for starting small and simple. Holiday gift sets feature travel-size products ideal for trying out that fancy cream or swanky serum, with minimal downside involved. And if you’re interested in pricier products (because, really, who isn’t?), a holiday set will give you the chance to test out a variety of items for way less than you’d ordinarily spend on a single full-size bottle. They’re also a great way to discover products you may never have picked up on your own, of the sort that could have an important place in your skincare routine going forward. And you don’t need to be a grooming guru to get in on the action: sure, some sets target specific issues, like dry skin or acne, but for the most part they’re akin to greatest hits albums—they include best-sellers and tried-and-true customer favorites alike.
Best of all, most of these sets come with instructions breaking down exactly how to use the products included. They’re designed to be simple, after all, and using the items together is an ideal way to learn about skincare by building a routine that works for you. If you’re looking to address a specific problem area, keep an eye out for a set that’s designed to target that issue. Otherwise, allow them to serve as the first checkpoint on your path towards a new you.
So this holiday season, give yourself the gift that’ll keep on giving: a new skincare routine. Trust me, your face will thank you.
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Urban Environment Daily SPF Defense
As a grooming editor, I’m contractually obligated to remind you at every given opportunity that you need to be wearing sunscreen. Daily sunscreen—worn even on cloudy days and even when you’re inside—is your best defense not only against skin cancer but also aging. But I also totally get it: Finding a sunscreen you actually want to wear every day is hard. That’s why this set wins. Not only does it include sunscreen, which many don’t, but it’s a full-size bottle of a personal favorite. This ‘screen is so good, you won’t even know it’s there.
Discover Healthy Skin Kit
Skincare doesn’t have to be complicated. Case in point: this straightforward set. There aren’t any confusing serums or treatments, just two good cleansers, an exfoliator, and a moisturizer. The Daily Superfoliant, a very fine physical scrub, is one of the best on the market and is especially suitable for sensitive skin. If you’re looking to go back to basics, or just get in the habit of cleansing regularly, this set is a home run.
Hydration Essentials Set
A set like this is about one thing: hydration, which also happens to be the foundation of healthy skin. If you have chronic dry skin or just notice that your skin feels a little tight and dry after a day of sitting by the radiator, this straightforward set is your answer. It features the brand’s iconic Rescue Water Lotion, which is actually more like a toner that you swipe or splash on after cleansing to bump up moisture.
Best Face Forward Holiday Set
$53.40 (40% off)
This complete routine-in-a-box would be great on its own but the real reason to cop is the full-size bottle of Murad’s Retinol Youth Renewal Serum. Retinol, one of the most-recommended skincare ingredients, increases cell turnover and exfoliation and aids in everything from anti-aging to breakout control. This top of the line serum is potent and effective, yet still gentle enough for beginners. If you’ve ever been curious about retinol, start with this.
Daily Essentials Set
When it comes to natural skincare, Tata Harper is like starting at the top of the pyramid. Made with ingredients grown on her farm in Vermont, Tata’s products are gentle, effective, and fancy AF—and generally expensive. This set is a complete skincare routine in a box—everything from a cleanser to eye cream—and a perfect way to experiment with natural skincare without shelling out a fortune.
The Essentials Gift Set
Simplicity is the name of the game for indie brand Alder New York, which favors no-frills skincare that actually works. The Essentials set is exactly that—a simple routine that includes a (full-size) cleanser, serum, and moisturizer to create an easy to understand regimen. Plus, there are a few masks thrown in there for when you want to up the self-care ante.
#Skinfixme Starter Kit
Ideal for dry or sensitive skin, the products in this set are specifically designed to not only deeply moisturize skin but also protect it from drying out in the first place. The facial products are gentle and simple—a cleanser, moisturizer, and lip balm. This set also includes a balm and hand cream because, let’s get real, dry winter skin doesn’t just happen on your face —especially if you’re washing your hands a lot. It’s a complete head-to-toe regimen.
The Greatest Hits Set
I’m hard pressed to think of a single dermatologist-developed Perricone MD product that I didn’t love, but all my favorites are in this simple, yet effective kit. A good cleanser? Check. An amazing eye cream? Check. A moisturizer that makes your skin look photoshopped? Double check. You don’t need anything beyond the four products in this kit to create a strong skincare foundation.
Vitamin C Power Pack Set
Antioxidants like Vitamin C are cornerstones of skincare because of their ability to neutralize damaging free radicals in the skin. That translates to a reduction in signs of aging and overall brighter, healthier-looking skin. This set—which includes the Midnight Recovery Concentrate, one of Kiehl’s most famous products—has antioxidants galore designed for both day and night. Just add a cleanser and you’re good to go.
The Littles Skincare Kit
Skincare obsessives love Drunk Elephant because of the brand’s easy-to-use and effective products, but the range is big and can be confusing for people who don’t spend hours researching ingredients. Plus, they’re not cheap. Luckily, the brand always releases a complete set of travel-size products during the holidays (for a fraction of the price). It’s a relatively low-risk way to try top-of-the-line skincare products to find out what works for you—and what you’d be willing to keep using. (Pay special attention to my personal favorites: C-Firma antioxidant serum and Umbra Tint daily sunscreen.)
Wake Up With Me Morning Routine Kit
Pretty much all of Sunday Riley’s products are great, but Good Genes is the one you really need to know. The lactic acid treatment addresses a variety of issues like breakouts, uneven skin tone, and dark spots, and is one of the best exfoliators out there. The inclusion of Good Genes in this set is worth the price in and of itself, but there’s also a complete skincare routine—everything from a cleanser to one of my favorite dark spot-erasing eye creams.
‘Peel. Glow. Be Merry.’ Set
There are a lot of issues that can be solved with regular, and proper, exfoliation—including uneven skin tone, patchy skin, and dark spots, to name but a few. In the skincare world, Dr. Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Daily Peel Pads are famous for their unique ability to transform skin through exfoliation. They’re designed to be used every day and are not nearly as scary as other at home “peels.” This set comes with three weeks’ worth of pads—enough to help you see a marked improvement in your skin.
On the Go Set
Ceylon’s skincare products are designed specifically for men with dark skin tones to address problems like oiliness and breakouts. The combination of the three products in this set—cleanser, toner, and moisturizer—is an easy and effective routine that’s a great way to build a solid skincare foundation. The travel-sized products are ideal for carrying in a gym bag, which is great since Ceylon’s is one of my favorite post-workout cleansers.
The Master-Masking Planner
It might sound crazy to you to shell out this much for sheet masks, but hear me out. Sheet masks are one of the easiest and most effective ways to improve your skincare game without adding a ton of extra steps to your routine. And the masks from 111 Skin are the Teslas of sheet masks. This set includes the brand’s greatest hits, so you can try a few for less than the price of their usual boxes.
The Winter Kit
Esquire editor-favorite Dr. Barbara Sturm put together this kit of totally luxurious products specifically designed to address skin issues that pop up in the winter—especially dehydration. It contains travel sizes of everything from a face mask to a hyaluronic acid serum (and my personal favorite, the calming serum). The set is pricey, like all of her products, but still a fraction of what you would spend if you bought all of these items separately.
Personalized Skin Recipe
The INKEY List theinkeylist.com
The thing about skincare is that it’s not one-size-fits-all. Developing the best skincare routine for your skin can take a lot of trial and error, not to mention time, and starting from square one can be confusing. The INKEY List made its name by creating a huge range of inexpensive skincare products meant to address every issue imaginable—but where to start? Luckily, its ingenious personalization tool allows you to create a custom gift set based on factors like price, age, and skin concern.
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Source : Esquire