Skin Care & Beauty Gift Guide

My skincare and beauty routines have changed in significant ways since the lockdowns started in March. I imagine yours have too. The three biggest differences: 1) I rarely, rarely wear any makeup, 2) I only wear contacts about once a week (in the Before times, I typically only skipped contacts once a week), and 3) because I feel less rushed, I’m much more consistent about using products like body lotion and perfume. I’ve also noticed that I’ve had time to try new skincare and beauty products — and attempt to solve specific beauty/skincare issues that I would have just ignored in busier times.

So for this Skincare & Beauty Gift Guide, I thought it would be fun to share some of my tried and true favorites these days. Some I’ve been using for years, some are new discoveries, some are pricey, but most are under $20.

(By the way, I had some other posts in mind for this week, but have been in the zone on gift guides, and I figured why not publish them as soon as they’re ready to go? Sorry if it’s overwhelming! Feel free to skip it.)

Beuti Skincare – Organic Beauty Sleep Elixir
This was recommended by Sarah of Whoorl as a product to combat redness. I pat in 2 drops after I clean my face, and otherwise keep it bare. It’s not inexpensive, but at 2 drops per day, the bottle lasts a long, long time.

CeraVe Rough & Bumpy
I get those harmless bumps on the back of my arms called KP, and decided I would try some find a product that would get rid of them. This one is incredibly effective. I was having it shipped from the U.S., but (hooray!) I just found some at a local pharmacy.

Olio E Osso Balm (I like shade No 9)
For face makeup, I find I’m drawn to creams and balms — nothing powdery or dry. In general, I want products I can blend or pat with my fingers. This blush balm is a current favorite. It dissolves into your cheeks in such a pretty way.

Soley Organics KISStu mig healing lip balm
I randomly bought this product for the first time on an Icelandic Air flight, and it has since become one of my must haves. I use it daily, and never travel without it. It’s made for lips, and I put it on right after I brush my teeth — it’s really good at preventing chapped lips. I also use it on zits, and for puffy eyes and it works wonders!

Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
I bought this product for the first time when we lived in France before and it’s still a favorite. I like it for light makeup removal or face cleaning.

Banila Clean It Zero
This one is whipped and creamy and you don’t need much to dissolve a full face of makeup. I use this for heavier make up removal. It leaves skin clean and soft. I always keeps a sample-size of this product in my makeup bag when traveling.

Berdoues — 1902 Mille Fleurs Body Scrub
My kids gave me this for my birthday this year and I love it so much. It’s feels and smells luxurious.

Gabrielle Chanel
I hadn’t tried a new scent in a many years, but I added this one in June and I’ve been wearing it daily. It feels like it’s particularly appropriate for life in France. : )

Underarmed Deodorant — lavender + eucalyptus
This is my FAVORITE deodorant. I’ve been using it for two years and buy it two sticks at a time so that I don’t run out.

Glossier Boy Brow
I don’t know why I like this product more than any other brow product I’ve tried, but I do. It’s the best.

Mom’s Stuff Protective Day Face Balm
As I mentioned, I mostly wear a bare face these days — with just a couple drops of oil. But if my skin is feeling dry, I’ll pat some of this on too. I also love using this instead of highlighter when I’m doing my makeup. It give a lovely glow without any shimmer or glitter.

W3ll People Bio Correct Multi-Action Concealer
This is the best concealer I’ve ever tried. It comes in the tiniest tube, but I don’t need much so it lasts longer than I was expecting.

Body Brush for Dry Brushing
Do you follow Yazemeenah on Instagram? She’s an older model who posts in English and French and who lives in L.A. and has looonng silver hair. I watched her video on body brushing and immediately ordered a body brush. I think every single person who watches that video orders a body brush. : )

Curaprox Swiss Toothbrushes
We picked these up in Switzerland at a pharmacy, and have since ordered more. I love the colors, I love the softness options, I love how they feel in my hand. They’re just really good toothbrushes.

Honest 2 in 1 Mascara
I can’t imagine there is a better-priced ($17), clean ingredient mascara out there. And it comes with lash primer too.

Tiger Balm Red & Tiger Balm White Ointments
I saw Tiger Balm at a local sports equipment shop and loved the packaging of these little jars so much that Ben Blair bought me some as a gift — and neither of us even knew what they were for. Hah! It turns out they are good for muscle pain and general body soreness. I keep them in the car and rub them into my legs if I’m not getting good circulation during long drives. They work really well.

Summer Fridays Jet Lag Mask
This is one of those masks that’s not really a mask — meaning you don’t wash it off after, you apply it and leave it all day (so in my mind that’s more of a lotion?). I use this on days when my face needs extra moisture or protection — it’s a little thicker and heavier than a typical moisturizer. I also really like using it on my neck.

Bond No. 9 Eau de New York
This is the only scent I wore for about a decade (until June when I bought a bottle of Chanel Gabrielle). I still love it, and still keep in on my dresser. I think it’s the perfect, not overly sweet, not hyper-feminine scent.

Eylure Naturals False Lashes, Style No. 003
I’ve never used these before, but they are on my list to try. They’re a bargain, they’re reusable, and adhesive is included. (That reminds me, have you seen the new false lashes company from Jenna Lyons? It’s called Loveseen.)

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Your turn. Have your grooming routines changed this year? What are your tried and true skin care and beauty products these days? Have you tried anything on this list?

P.S. — More Gift Guides.

41 thoughts on “Skin Care & Beauty Gift Guide”

  1. These are awesome! Already bought 1 or 2 off the list now while I ate lunch. Btw Tiger Balm works great for headaches if you haven’t tried it. Just rub some around the temples and middle of the forehead. We have used this in India for generations :)

    1. I didn’t know Tiger Balm worked for headaches! That’s fantastic. I feel like it’s secret product that many Americans don’t know about (at least I had never seen it before until we moved here).

      1. Many years ago I worked in a hospital in Singapore. Tiger balm was part of the ambient smell – it was popular with many patients. One sniff of it these days and it takes me back to a stressful part of my life – wandering the wards in the middle of the night, looking after far too many patients as a slightly out of my depth junior doctor…
        Scents are so evocative!

    2. I didn’t know Tiger Balm can be for headaches! Does it work for migraines? When I was younger, my mom used Tiger Balm to help “disperse” bruises (that’s closest translation to the Cantonese phrase I can think of) – I guess on the first few days of a bruise appearing and you want it to be less purple/blue/ugly, you massage that area with TB. She also used it on us when we fell on our tush – not on open wounds/cracked skin, but like you said, soreness in the area. Because that happened a lot to us kids, I also associate the smell of TB with distinct memories of being home and trying not to scream in pain while bruises were being rubbed with TB, and also with my grandmother’s room because she used it for muscle aches.

      1. I am not sure if it really works on migraines. but I have seen my MIL put tiger balm on her forehead and go into a dark room and sleep off her migraine. I think topic pain ointments provide relief by blocking of pain signals from the nerves due to sensory stimulation. it might provide some relief is my guess :)

    1. I have used Native and like it, but I know what you mean about feeling like a product isn’t working anymore. Maybe our bodies just adjust to it? If that happens with my current deodorant, maybe I’ll start rotating with Native.

  2. The Cerave lotion is amazing. I had really bad dry and cracked heels and tried every single lotion, potion, and process under the sun. The lotion worked like a miracle and a little goes a long way. It’s great!

  3. I adore Mom’s Stuff. The day balm is my very favorite. They say it acts like sunscreen so I use it every morning. I also love the matcha mask, oil facial cleanser, chia oil, and rosewater from Cocokind.

    I use the Honest mascara that you mentioned but I am always on the hunt for one that will last throughout the day. I’ve yet to find a brand that does not smudge by the end of the day. I ordered a set of magnetic eye lashes but I could not figure out how to wear them. I will investigate the ones you shared.

    I also have the body brush you shared (it was a gift from a friend). I must admit I love it when I use it but I forget about it often.

    I would like to try the balm you mentioned. I love cream blushes. Years and years ago there was a Bonne Belle gel blush tint that I loved. At some point they stopped making it, or I could not find it. Presently, I am using the Honest cream blush.

    1. I love tiger balm and have used it for years. It is key to buy the white ointment as the regular can stain. And always wash your hands after using it! Lol. I rubbed my eye once before bed after putting it on and was miserable for a few hours.

  4. I am always looking for something to calm redness, so I will have to try the BEUTI oil! I did have a dr. tell me that KP can be eliminated with a no dairy diet. I eat cheese, but no milk products…and haven’t had bumpy arms in years! Just throwing it out there!

    1. Yes to this! I stopped drinking milk and the bumps are basically gone. Exfoliating (preferably BHA) and moisturizing is also important, but now I don’t really have to use anything.

  5. Thanks for these great ideas! Love the perfume name for you. I’ve pretty much stopped wearing jewelry and wonder if/when I’ll put those items on again…

  6. I’ve ramped up my makeup routines since the quarantine started(!) False eyelashes, a 14-shade eyeshadow palette, proper makeup brushes, lip liner, the works . . . It’s mostly a sparkly distraction and an opportunity to practice the elusive smoky eye look. Apparently the trick is to use a primer and blend really well with proper brushes instead of the little foam-covered sticks that come with most eyeshadows. :)

  7. My routine is so much simpler. I’ve been taking anti-anxiety meds and my anxiety must’ve been making me break out because now my skin is clear for the first time in decades! Silver lining for self care!!!
    Also, I always detested flossing but started flossing during quarantine as a way to feel like I could do simple positive tasks. I’ve been flossing everyday!

  8. I’ve been using Neutrogena’s retinol products since my mid-20s, and they must be good because I’m 50 now and most people assume I’m in my mid-30s until I tell them otherwise. These days, I use their retinol eye cream and facial oil at night, and their non-retinol Hydro Boost gel lotion during the day. I really like the gel lotion because it’s lightweight yet really hydrating, plus it offers sun protection, which is super important if you use retinol products.

    I’ve never been a makeup wearer, but right before COVID, I was intrigued by Glossier’s gel blush, so I bought it in a couple of different shades. I haven’t really had much reason to use it, for obvious reasons, but I’ve liked it when I’ve tried it. I’ve been intimidated by blush for pretty much my entire adult life, but the gel is really subtle and hard to mess up because you apply it in thin layers.

  9. Only a hint of Tiger balm under your nose also makes you breath better when you have a cold. (But really only a hint. And avoid mouth and eye contact uner any circumstances! :-)

  10. What a fun post! Tiger balm is a french thing, why?? no idea but the smell reminds me so much of my childhood, when anything was cured by tigerbalm!
    My skin has been very delicate since I wear a mask; so, no make up on the skin but I do my eyes much more and it’s fun! Love that your name is on a perfume ;-)

    1. I am not sure it’s French, maybe just not American? My grandfather grew up in India and he always used it. Seems to be some secret Americans find out about overseas.

    2. I think it is Hong Kong or Singaporean? It has been ubiquitous in East Asian/Southeast Asian/South Asian pharmacies for many decades – I think even my grandparents used it as children.

      1. You might consider trying magnetic false lashes! I wanted a little glam for my wedding but my eyes are easily irritated (the glue from the falsies in the past has proven tricky and a bit noxious). The kind with magnetic eyeliner is amazing and so easy to wear and reuse: no irritation or fuss; line the eyes and then the teeny magnets on the falsies stick right to the line! There is another type where two sets go on top and under your real lashes, but those were too heavy for me.

    3. Tiger Balm was invented by a Chinese herbalist who started a shop in Burma in the 1870s and it spread to Southeast Asia and the world after that.

      I don’t know Tiger Balm’s history. I just looked it up on their website haha. But the smell definitely takes me back to my grandma.

  11. Tiger balm is the best. When we lived in Thailand as a family we would use it for everything! Sore muscles, check! There are several kinds of tiger balm too, but it is amazing stuff and a must recomment!

  12. If anyone has a favorite bath oil I’m all ears, my favorite, Hensley and Asher seem to be MIA, I think because of COVID. :(

  13. I’ve also scaled back on my skincare routine.

    Around the time I caught COVID in the early spring, I developed a face rash that would
    pop up on different parts of my face and neck. I didn’t know what it was so I stopped using most of my skincare to get the inflammation down, and nothing worked so I finally telehealth’ed (is that a word?) with my dermatologist, who because of the timing thought it could be a COVID rash or an allergic reaction. In addition to a topical prescription, she put me on a skincare blackout during treatment – not even facewash – and once the rash cleared (she decided it was probably an allergic reaction), I was allowed to reintroduce one skincare item to my routine every two weeks. I’ve been going through that process since July and realized that my skin looks fine using 3 products rather than the 10-step Korean skincare routine that I’ve been using for years. So now I’m down to an essence, occasional serum and an emulsion/light lotion. My daily routine is much shorter now but I miss spending that time in the morning/night massaging my face with multiple products, especially my selfcare Sundays. Might add back 1-2 skincare products now that it’s cold and dry but I’m aiming to keep it as minimal as possible.

    BTW – do you have any French skincare products (other than Bioderma) that you’ve discovered this time in France? I do a big Citypharma haul every 2-3 years to restock my skincare and would love to know if there’s anything I haven’t tried but should.

        1. I totally hear you. When I’m really bad, I literally have to limit my skincare ingredients to washing with water, letting it soak in a bit, couple drops of squalane and a very thin layer of vaseline to keep the moisture from evaporating.

  14. I just ordered several products from the Icelandic company for stocking stuffers. Hope they make it here to the US in time! I’ve been to the airport in Reykjavik but we had such a short time between flights that we didn’t have time to look in the shops. We are hoping to go back post-Covid for an Iceland trip but in the meantime, hoping these products help our dry lips and skin this winter!

  15. I received Egyptian Magic last year for Christmas and it’s so lovely. The ingredients are basically olive oil and products from bees ( beeswax, propolis, bee pollen, honey)! I love it for dry skin and moisturizing.

  16. Black castor oil for my brows and lashes. I’ve used the past few months to nurture my brows and lashes with brushing my lashes and brows. My brows have grown back the empty patches as my lashes are full and thick.

  17. I liked this post a lot because most of the products are new to me! Tiger Balm was a staple in my house growing up. I think we used it on bug bites and I can’t remember what else. Have you read the book Clean by James Hamblin? I ran out of face cleanser and didn’t want to run out to the store just to get face cleanser, so a week went by without washing my face with cleanser (I still rinsed with water in the shower) and I noticed my face is no longer dry! I ended up not picking up any face cleanser when I went to the store. I normally have dry skin and use a lot of moisturizers, but since I stopped washing my face, I don’t need any moisturizer! (I also don’t wear makeup and I don’t wear sunscreen in the winter.)

  18. I have a jar of Tiger Balm just like that from when I was an infant. I still get it out to sniff when I’m really congested with a cold. I can’t count the number of times I have moved, but that little jar has gone everywhere with me.

  19. About 2 months into lockdown – I realized that I needed to carve out time for myself to be alone (easier said than done with two kids). I’m definitely a shower person – but I have started taking a bath, two or three nights a week right after dinner. I use epsom salt and Dr. Singha’s Mustard Bath – it has a nice menthol smell and the combination is very relaxing.

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