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20 Perfect Beauty Gifts for Your Most Discerning Friends

Even the most enthusiastic of shoppers bemoans the trials of the gift giving holiday season—but fear not, we’ve compiled the best beauty stocking stuffers and tailored it down to very specific recipients. Did you draw a coworker you never speak to in the office Secret Santa? Does your friend work in fashion (and thus, love cats?) Do you have a friend whose secret single behavior is staring at her pores up close in a mirror? Do you have a friend whose lipstick gets on absolutely everything? We’ve got you (and them) covered.

Even the most enthusiastic of shoppers bemoans the trials of the

For Your Favorite Hostess Who Loves GOOP: It’s well known that GOOP loves a monogrammed gift (see gift guides 2008-2011) and so do we, because frankly, it makes us look like a better gift buyer. These individually wrapped hand soaps and liquid dispensers make you look really, really good because 1.) You can show love to any of your friends whose names begin with popular letters (sorry, they don't come in all 26 letters--you’ll have to buy your friend Zoe something else) and 2.) They smell so fresh and so clean with a green tea and bergamot blend (reminiscent of Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea fragrance—a best seller in Asia.)

For Your Friend Who Loves Surprises and Rips Off Wrapping Paper With Abandon:

The “Awws” that emitted from me when I opened this Jouer Beauty Cracker were an embarrassment to human ears. But the cuteness factor of this party favor is undeniable. Inspired by “holiday crackers,” a British party favor, Jouer concocted a stateside version of their own. Pull apart the beauty cracker to find the following treasure trove: gold confetti, cocktail ring (mine was an adorable two-finger brass lipstick ring), party horn, beauty fortune, mini bottle of bubbles (disguised as champers), and a surprise deluxe sample of one of their three bestsellers. If you collect them all, you’ll wind up with samples of their Body Butter, Moisturizing Lip Gloss, or Lip Enhancer (my personal fave—the best at ensuring you never again wake up with flaky, dry lips.) You can buy them individually or as a pack of 4.

For Your Friend Who Knows More About Kimye Than the Fiscal Cliff (No Judgment):

I’ll try to keep the alliteration to a minimum because we all know too much K alliteration can get us into trouble, but I may have a little bit of a Kardashian Khroma Khloe Krush. Unlike my friends who shrieked with delight and begged to go, I was pretty nonplussed when I found out I would have the opportunity to see Khloe K in person at a Khroma makeup launch event. But she was so sweet, personable, and well-mannered (even apologizing to me at one point for having her back to me), I fell under a bit of a Khloe Krush Koma.

Subtle is not normally a word you associate with the clan, but many of the offerings in their new line are very wearable and true to their smoky-eye-and-bold-lip aesthetic. Their credit card-sized palettes (one for each sister) feature 8 sultry eyeshadows, with a slide-out tray for bronzey blushes and glosses. Their lip crayons (mysteriously named Joysticks – out February 2013) don’t require sharpening (huge plus) and have soft pointy tips that make precise application a breeze. The color range includes their signatures such as a dusty-rose nude, a super flattering fuschia which prompted an unfished-for compliment from my doorman, and an orangey-red that is a dead ringer for Kourtney’s favorite YSL 13 Le Orange.

For Your Friend Who Gets Lipstick Everywhere – Cheeks, Coffee Cups, Dinner Napkins, Light Switch Panels:

During Fall 2012, beauty editors were abuzz and puzzled over the bright and pretty lips at

For Your Friend Who Loves Pretty Things:

Normally, once a scent reaches critical mass (that is, I smell it on one or two people in one party), I’m over it. But I just can’t quit Chloe’s fragrance, Bianca. Their newest fragrance gets the solid perfume treatment, housed in an oval, opulent, heavy-duty locket that makes it travel and accessory-friendly. Like most “It” accessories, this one is in such high demand that the Saks site has imposed a quota on the number of units you can order.

For Your Friend Who Still Has Stuffed Animals On Her Bed:

I’m a little of a non-believer when it comes to buying expensive brushes, as I think synthetic brushes work just as well. Non-believers will be converted when they try this fluffy, feathery light brush, with fibers so soft that I spent most of the Avon Holiday Preview derangedly petting this brush, like Lennie in Of Mice and Men. It makes me feel like I’m dusting a kitten all over my face, it’s just that good.

For Your Friend Who Thinks Regular Manicures Are Boring:

Online reviews for Sally Hansen’s Insta-Gel Kit are polarizing: They’re either raves or flames, depending upon the experience, but so far I'm in the "fan" camp. I’m enjoying the smoothness of the color and the ease of application. Each kit comes with insta-gel polish strips, one gel top coat, the usual nail cleaning tools, and an adorably mini LED (note: not UV-yay!) lamp that allows you to do one finger at a time. Insta-gel polish strips come in signature solids as well as patterns.

For Your Friend Who Loves Matching Lips and Tips:

This ultra-curated UK beauty emporium has put together its favorite bestsellers, with two shades of flattering reds that are guaranteed to look good on everyone. Lipstick Queen’s Rose shade is a red tint that has that “just came in from the cold” look, while Rococo’s V.I.P nail polsih is that desirable red-blue mix which suits just about every skintone. The whole set is topped off with Life NK’s invigorating grapefruit and spearmint body wash.

For Your Friend Who Loves Anything Luxurious:

If there was an MVP amongst fashionable beauty lovers, it would probably be

For Anyone with an Adorable Cat (so you know..anyone currently in fashion):

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For Your Classic Friend Who Hates Nail Art:

If you read Allure or any nail-themed story for a major magazine, you’ll see that

For Your Friend the Teacher:

Makeup is basically arts and crafts for grownups and Kate Spade channeled that feeling with this lip crayon box of chubby lip stubs, created in collaboration with Lipstick Queen’s Poppy King. Matte, smooth, and hydrating, with a superior color payoff, they come in three vibrant shades. They fit right in with Kate’s Technicolor world and will delight any grownup with nostalgic memories of the joys of flipping up a 24 box.

For Your Friend Who Wants to Glow like RPatz in a Meadow:

For Your Friend Who Always Forgets Her Shampoo When Traveling:

My hair crush, blogger Peony Lim, swears by Phillip Kingsley’s products and I will literally do anything to get her shiny, smooth, curled-just-right mane of hair. In particular, his Elasticizer product is the best hair conditioner I have ever used, adding moisture and softness, without weighing down my fine hair. Along with Elasticizer sachets, deluxe sizes of its Body Building Shampoo and Moisture Balancing Conditioner are just the thing your hair needs after a thirsty transatlantic flight.

For Your Friend Who Hated Gallery Girls But Watched It Anyway:

Kiehls’s artist pairing this holiday season is with artist Kenny Scharf, who brought his cartoon and pop-ed aesthetic to the label of their signature, rich, Crème de Corps. The Crème de Corps is a slightly more whipped texture than their regular Crème, sinking quickly and easily into the skin, blending with the heat of your body. Its softly scented soy milk and honey is unobtrusive while still be soothing enough to be unisex.

For Your Friend Who Plays in Sephora to Kill Time:

Everyone can be a special snowflake, with this limited edition Stila palette, where each snowflake spike is one of 12 cheek colors or 18 eyeshadows. I’m no math whiz, but by my estimation, that means 216 cheek/eyeshadow combinations, allowing you to come up with innumerable pairs like Matte Melon/Cookie and Shimmery Plum/Fairy to show off your uniqueness. Its bestselling shade, Kitten, is also included.

For Your Friend Who Loves Kate Middleton:

Kate wore this scent on her wedding day. Will she also wear it

For Your Friend Who Loves Any of the Following Designers: Calvin Klein, Helmut Lang, Jil Sander:

If you traditionally use more of the matte shadows than the shimmery ones in Urban Decay’s renowned Naked and Naked2 palettes, then this one is for you. It’s definitely minimalist—but at its best, with six basic shades ranging from ivory to black, that you can use to build an eyeshadow wardrobe.

For Your Friend Who Uses a Magnifying Mirror to Examine Her Pores on Friday Nights In Just for Fun:

Vogue called it “the best cleanser in the world,” and I’m slightly inclined to agree, but would also add the label “most old school.” This is the gift you give to your skin-obsessed friend who uses no less than three potions/lotions before bed. Part of the obsession with this cleanser is the slightly eccentric ritual, which includes a 6-step lymphatic drainage facial massage that is detailed in an exhaustive paper insert and includes strict breathing instructions. The other cleanser’s main component is the muslin cloth and slightly clove-scented balm cleanser, which doesn’t foam or bubble. Sound a little out there? For sure—but every wash is like a thorough, therapeutic facial for your skin and you’ll relish being able to literally clean out the nooks and cranny of every single pore on your face. If you are feeling a little lazier, the Morning Time Cleanser is like the Cliff Notes of their original, that you can use for days (or nights or all the time, we won’t judge) you can’t spend more than 5 minutes on washing your face.

For When You Draw a Co-worker You Barely Know in the Office Secret Santa And Giftcards are Forbidden

I am pretty sure that if you don’t like Fresh’s line of Sugar Lip Treatments, you just aren’t human. If all you know about your coworker is that she is human, has lips, and has a penchant for onion bagels, this is the gift for her. Fresh’s Lip Treatments (even the tinted ones) are innocuous enough so as not to scare even the most ardent “Chapstick-only” user. It’s better than an iTunes gift card, trust me. This little gift set comes with a Lip Scrub and Lip Treatment.

Fresh Sugar Perfection Duo, $22.50