VIVmag’s Beauty Gift Set Picks (and 5 Days of Giveaways)!

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About the Author: Shelley Levitt is a contributing beauty editor to VIVmag.

This 83-piece e.l.f. collection, available at Target, is perfect for someone who wants to try new looks.

As I go about my holiday shopping, I’m like the cook who tastes bites of everything while she’s prepping a meal. I sneak myself a “taste” of every present I’m buying — an infinity scarf here, a graphic novel there, a quartet of Le Creuset ramekins. These habits can add up to a lot of extra calories and a lot of extra credit card charges.

But when it comes to the little luxuries of beauty stocking stuffers, one-for-her-and-one-for-me is a pretty harmless indulgence. And like munching on celery while you’re making cassoulet, it satisfies you enough to stave off more extravagant indulgences (like duck confit or iPad minis).

Here are some of the beauty gifts I’ll be buying for friends, and for myself. We’ve even got some gifts for you, too! This week on Facebook, you’ll have a chance to win these items in a daily giveaway, from Dec. 17–21! Just “like” us and stay tuned to see what we’re giving away every day.

Quince Body Butters ($12.99 each) are a great way to deliver much-needed moisture to parched, itchy winter skin. Free of parabens, petrolatum, mineral oil, dyes and sulfates, these body butters come in seven different formulations and scents, with ingredients like green tea, blueberry, lemongrass, coffee and pumpkin. I might just buy three for me: one for my bathroom vanity, another for my purse and a third for my nightstand table, so I’ll always have a salve for chapped hands, rough hands and scaly elbows within reach.

Kristina Vogel, an Emmy-winning makeup artist on shows like The Closer and 90210, has just opened Bath Bar, a bath and body shop in Hermosa Beach, CA. She custom blends fragrances for her line of eco-friendly body lotions, washes, soaks, scrubs, mists and sprays from a “bar” of 150 scents. I plan on heading down to her shop sometime soon. In the meantime, I’m ordering a small Zen Milk gift set ($25), which includes an Aloe Bout You Body Balm and travel sizes of the BeFree Body Wash and balm.

I met Swedish makeup artist Petra Strand years ago when she first launched her Pixi makeup line, and I’ve been a fan of her natural-looking products ever since. The Pixi Early Bird Kit ($34), available at Target, is designed to give you a radiant “just had a good night’s sleep” look, even when you haven’t. It contains three cheek colors, two bronzers, a face glow, four eye base shades and 16 shadows, in a compact, foldable wallet-like kit.

While you’re at Target, you might also want to check out two other holiday beauty gift ideas. Napoleon Perdis is one of my favorite makeup artists to interview. He gives great quotes and he makes really smart, multifunctional products, for both his department-store line and the NP collection that’s sold at Target. I’m eager to try his new NP Set Day-to-Night Liner Duos ($15), a two-sided liquid liner and glitter wand that takes daytime makeup glam with a single swipe. La Paz features navy and a glittery sapphire blue, Los Cabos is bronze and gold and Las Vegas pairs black with silver.

And, finally, e.l.f.’s 83-Piece Essential Makeup Collection ($20) seems the absolute perfect secret Santa gift. The palette, which is designed to mimic the sets that professional makeup artists tote, delivers the joy of the giant Crayola kit you always longed to get as a kid. You won’t use all the shades — 64 eye shadows alone — but it’s a fun and inexpensive way to play around with different color combinations before you invest in pricier versions of, say, violet or emerald.

What’s on your beauty wish list this year?