Holiday Beauty Gift Guide 2017

Let’s say you’ve got a beauty junkie in your life.

Someone that takes at least 30 minutes to get ready, someone who plans their makeup before their outfit (or even coordinates them, which is pretty next level), someone who knows the difference in tones between red lipsticks or someone who enters Sephora and actually knows what they’re looking for.

What do you get this person for Christmas?

Firstly, don’t underestimate the power of a good snoop. See what brands they seem to like, items they go through quickly. Listen to them when they talk about makeup. Maybe there’s something they wouldn’t necessarily buy for themselves, but something they’ve always wanted.

While you can always go the gift card route — tried and true, though a little uninspired —  you could also dive headfirst into Christmas-shopping-mania and find the perfect gift for the beauty lover in your life.

We can help you there.

tarte Limited Edition Treasure Box

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This is a wildly-well-priced gift set from a wonderful makeup brand, containing almost everything you need to do a full face of makeup except for foundation. tarte’s makeup is good, in the nature of full disclosure they are one of my favourite brands, and is entirely vegan if your beauty junkie is concerned with the ingredients of the product. This guy will keep on giving: the potential for a lot of use, over a long period of time.

Find it here.

Juliette Has a Gun Discovery Kit

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Fragrance is so specific to every person that it’s hard to get it right unless you know someone really well. A good solution to that, of course, is to bombard them with so many scent options they have no choice but to find one they really like (and possibly regift the rest.) Mini perfumes are perfect to take on the go, not to mention Juliette Has a Gun have some wonderfully unique and gorgeous scents available. This is the perfect way for someone to be introduced to the brand.

Find it here.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Set

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So yes, scent is specific to every person, but come on, I think everyone likes Tom Ford. His makeup brand is the pinnacle of luxury. The packaging! The scent! The price tag! This is a splurge gift for sure, only for those who have made peace with a high budget, but if you know your intended gift receiver is a bit of a lush, the you know this gift will be a hit. Like, when you wear this, you smell expensive.

Find it here.

Sephora Favourites Give Me Some Nude Lip

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If you can’t decide on one lipstick to get someone, or if you go spying in their makeup collection see so many brands you don’t even understand how its possible, I will point you in the direction of the Sephora Favourites lip set. This gift set has lippies from Kat Von D, Buxom and Bite Beauty and contains both liquid lipsticks and, well… lip-sitcks. And they’re all nudes so they’re guaranteed to actually be used. Basically the perfect gift for the person you have no idea what to get for.

Find it here.

Fenty Beauty

Okay, so we all know Rihanna is a goddess who can do no wrong, and it was a surprise to absolutely no one that there makeup collection is damn good. Even if someone already has pieces from the collection, it seems unlikely someone would say no to getting more Fenty Beauty. Nearly everything from the collection is a safe bet, but may I point you towards:

Galaxy Eyeshadow Palette
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Glittery eyeshadows galore in beautiful, limited edition packaging.

Find it here.

Killawatt Freestyle Highlight in Trophy Wife
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The greatest highlighter to have ever been made. Whoever wears it will literally look like a million bucks. Like a stack of gold coins.

Find it here.

MAC Rossy de Palma Collection

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“Limited edition” and “collaboration” are words that are pretty exciting and hysteria-inducing in the beauty community and MAC is on top of the game. Their collabs are always timely, well-made, and beyond tempting. They do have a few available right now, such as the Nicki Minaj and Robert Lee Morris collections, and, while both are exquisite, my personal favourite is the collection with Spanish actress Rossy de Palma partly because she’s fabulous and partly because the packaging is so luxe.

Find the collection here.

MAC Snow Ball Pigment and Glitter Kit

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If you know your gift-intended loves some glitz and glam in their life, why not give the gift of glitter? MAC pigments are famous for their staying power and potency and these colours are perfect for the winter. Not to mention they come in a cute little disco ball clutch for even more glam.

Find it here.

Colorpop Yes Please! Palette

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Colorpop is a well-made, incredibly fairly-priced makeup brand, so most of their products are good for the more modest budget but will make a huge impact. The Yes Please! palette is a real show-stopper for the brand. The palette was on Nylon’s beauty hit list of 2017 and features 12 gorgeous warm-toned shades, guaranteed to look good on everyone.

Find it here.

L’Occitane Advent Calendar

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At this point, it’s getting close to the wire, but I had to include one beauty advent calendar, firstly because they are just the best and secondly because they are so difficult to find in Canada that we all need to share the good ones when we are able to find them. L’Occitane’s advent calendar is pretty iconic already, at a decent price point for the amount of high-quality products you get from it. This year they’ve also put out a premium advent calendar for the big spenders, but the original is a great way to introduce someone to the brand if they’ve never tried it before.

Find it here.

L’Occitane Divine Collection

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For the skincare fanatic in your life, L’Occitane is a good way to go, and their Divine collection is a particularly well-advised gifting idea. It’s anti-aging, but you won’t necessarily offend anyone by giving it to them because the products in this line are also moisturizing, luminizing and all-around nice-skin-makers. (That being said, maybe don’t gift this to anyone who is real sensitive about aging.) The set contains an all-over cream, an eye cream, a cleaner and a face oil — a full skincare routine ready to go.

Find it here.

Inspired Soap Works Velvety Salve

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Lastly, I’ve got something pretty different from everything else we’ve talked about on here. Inspired Soap Works is a smaller Canadian company with a big impact, selling hand-made affordable skincare products. One of their last launches are a line of salves for the entire body, from head to toe. The salves are formulated without water, so despite them coming in small packages, they really will go a long way. These are the ideal ~stocking stuffers~.

Find it here.

Holiday Hookup for the Bookish

I’ve been known to stand on line early in the morning to get a ‘fresh’ signed copy of a book — most recently, M Train by Patti Smith, on a rather chilly October day. Though to say I was ‘on line’ is misleading as usually — much publicity and fanfare preceding the publication of certain books notwithstanding — I’m in the company of a few $1 book mongers and anxiety driven individuals haunted by the very real possibility of a last copy being picked up by some unreasonable old lady à la Marble Rye. Which, in turn, would push me toward a criminal life of thievery and extortion. Then I would have to quit my job and move out of the apartment and peddle $1 books by the park. Better to get up early and stand on line.

Needless to say, I like books. As such, all I want for Christmas is you to pick the right book and maybe leave me alone to read it for a while in the corner by the fireplace, and come check in once in a while to see that my hot toddy is refilled. Dinner is only served once I finish this chapter. That sounds just about Goldilocks right.

Dear reader, you may, God willing, be blessed with blessings upon blessings with such a presence in your life, in which case, you have a serious job to do this Holiday Season: PICK THE RIGHT BOOKS! Fortunately, the following list has been vetted and approved. These are the books that will make the book lover in your life feign Sade and sing Cherish the Day come Christmas morning. This, dear reader, is the Holiday Hookup for the Bookish or the Gift for the Cooped Up, Lonely, and Bitter but Still Totally Sane & Dateable Individual, AKA the Analog Reader. 

The Paris Review and the NYRB Classics Book Club Joint Subscription

A Subscription to the Paris Review and the NYRB Classics Book Club

There’s a prejudice against English majors that we’re terrible at math, to which, though it’s true, I take umbrage as a matter of principle. But even I know that $140 for a year’s subscription to the Paris Review and the New York Review of Books Classics Book Club is a miracle of a deal of grand mathematic mystery and unforeseeable consequences. That’s four issues of one of the best literary magazines to ever exist + twelve classics from the imprint famous for rescuing masterpieces from dusty shelves. It’s a thing of dreams. Go get it here.

The Book Hookup from Strand Bookstore

Strand Bookstore Book Hookup

If the one you love is more into being in the loop for new releases, the Book Hookup from Strand Bookstore offers three subscription boxes — Fiction First Editions, Young Adult First Editions, and Art/Photography — that can be purchased as a single installment or a recurring installment up to four times a year. Not only are all the books signed, the deal includes Strand exclusive merchandise and literary knickknacks from the store’s many partners, such as Hearth & Hammer No. 23 and Cavallini & Co. The books are picked by possible future Patti Smiths or Fred Basses; also, that all Strand Bookstore employees took its famous literary quiz assures extra quality control. The Hookup. 

From ‘Hiroshi Sugimoto: Theaters’ by Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto: Theaters 

Ever wonder what it’d be like to watch a movie in a single frame as a camera? Well, Hiroshi Sugimoto did too, and way earlier than any of us. Sugimoto’s beautiful and eerie photographs are layered meditations on the passage of time as seen through the shining screens in classic movie palaces with their ornate architecture, drive-in movies, and disused and run down theaters of Europe and North America. If you feel that this might dampen the Holiday mood, it won’t, I promise. Personally, I’m super excited to see Holiday romcoms in this manner!

John Derian Picture Book

John Derian Picture Book

This big book of various printed matter is not for a coffee table. It belongs, open to a random page, on a podium somewhere in the house that’s conducive to long musings and deliverance from ennui. Published by John Derian Company Inc. of New York that deals with eclectic and rare collection of prints, this colorful book is a full arsenal of beauties and curiosities. One of my personal favorites is the Devil’s Toboggan Ride, which shows a man riding a toboggan labeled ‘Cider,’ ‘Beer,’ ‘Wine,’ and ‘Whiskey’ toward ‘Death’ with a polite welcoming skeleton. Other highlights include various typography and highly detailed illustrations of flora and fauna of the world.

Essays Against Everything by Mark Greif

Essays Against Everything by Mark Greif 

Mark Greif has published remarkably brilliant essays in n+1, the magazine dubbed “The best goddamned literary magazine in America” by none other than Mary Karr. Essays Against Everything is a collection of Greif’s essays on cultural, political, and philosophical concerns. This highly intelligent and often hilarious collection is, therefore, not for a joy reader, looking to knock back a few pages before bed. Reserve this beautiful hardcover for the intellectually astute. Or at least for the one who claims to be so. Or, better yet, if the one receiving the gift is that rarified person of the mind, gift it to each other and compare notes.

I Must be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems by Eileen Myles

I Must be Living Twice: New and Selected Poems by Eileen Myles

Eileen Myles is a popular poet, the nearest thing to a poet-celebrity we have (her Instagram, by the way, is on fire). But her poetry is often polarizing. To see if someone will appreciate Myles, one must do the following: 1) Read to them a poem by Robert Lowell, perhaps Child’s Song; 2) Tell them about Lowell’s life, its many brushes with tragedy, illness, etc.; 3) Read to them Myles’s On the Death of Robert Lowellwhich begins with, “O, I don’t give a shit”. If they do not laugh, Myles, unfortunately, is not for them. Too bad, since she’s so damn good. Incidentally, this might also be a good way to rid your friends-list of unnecessary clutter à la Marie Kondo: Keep only those with a sense of humor.

In Gratitude by Jenny Diski

In Gratitude by Jenny Diski

Jenny Diski was diagnosed with inoperable lung cancer in 2014. She was told she had three years to live. In Gratitude is the closest thing to knowing what was on the brilliant mind behind the Sixties and Skating to Antartica between what she calls the ’embarrassment’ at the doctor’s office and her death in April this year. This book on illness and childhood memories is both hilarious and solemn. But her ability to continue to be an eloquent detached observer is truly a marvel. It’s funny, hopeful, and intelligent.

The Ladybird Book for Grown Ups

The Ladybird Book for Grown Ups

These hilarious books on time old questions regarding, among others, the mechanics of a husband and the secrets of mindfulness are key to a successful afternoon on Christmas Day. Don’t let the snow outside and the overbearing family presence lull you into a mindless perusal of a copy of Ex’s Life — Special Holiday Edition. The Ladybird Book for Grown Ups series is a gift, dear reader, you must give yourself in order restore some kind of a balance between the winter blues and general contentedness. Laughter, after all, is the best temporary measure.

The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories by Nikolai Leskov

The Enchanted Wanderer and Other Stories by Nikolai Leskov

These 17 stories by Nikolai Leskov, who’s suffered the fate of obscurity and rediscovery threefold, make the reader have fits of imagination and often lurid and hilarious visions. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky of the Dostoyevsky translations fame, this beautiful edition promises not only Leskov’s wonderful stories but a true rendering of the writer’s use of skaz, what Pevear describes as a Russian term for ‘oral writing’; it’s no wonder that there’s a sense of channeling Leskov’s voice while reading his stories. It’s an ideal book to read aloud to family by the fireplace or to yourself by your nightstand. Either way, Leskov delivers.

M Train by Patti Smith

M Train by Patti Smith

To be honest, there was no particular reason for waiting on line for Smith’s M TrainSome time earlier in the week, I had listened to Horses and was thinking of Smith. Then, later that day, as if by fate, I saw her face, enlarged, on the window of a bookstore. And for whatever reason felt compelled to wake up and stand on line to get her book as soon as I possibly could. The book retroactively justifies my seemingly silly ordeal by the bookstore. It is beautiful and thoughtful, the kind of book you don’t want to talk too much about because it feels somewhat like a violation of a secret and sincere handshake. Get this book for whoever you want to spend some real time with.

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Artsy Gifts Under $100

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

A new exhibition at Northern Contemporary Gallery features hundreds of art pieces under $100!

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

Looking for an inspirational gift for your artistic friend? Acrylic Sugar Skull, Coffin Jewelry Boxes, Drake-inspired painting, and many other interesting and affordable pieces are waiting for you at the art-show, Under 100.

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

The exhibition introduces you to talented North American artists and makes your holiday shopping entertaining in itself.

“You can get something that is really unique,” said Emily May Rose who runs the gallery. “Every kind of theme is covered because we did no theme for the show.”

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

Rose said they wanted to make it affordable for people to buy gifts for their friends and family. The artists could submit a work of any theme and medium, but it had to be priced $100 or under.

The idea worked out perfect. The gallery was full with customers on Dec. 8, the first day of the exhibition. They were scanning the walls with juicy paintings, breathtaking photos of Toronto, and funny digital illustrations.

Photo: Jordan Prentice

“People mostly chose to do reproductions of their work like prints because you can set the price a little bit lower for those,” Rose said. “You can’t really do a big painting and sell it for under a hundred dollars.”

Some of the artists decided to use shampoo jars and broken pieces of cups in their mixed-media-works.

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

An OCAD University student Kevin Pham submitted two digital illustrations and one watercolour painting that he did for school. He said the exhibition is a good opportunity for him to show some of his work and get gallery experience.

“This one is about my grandmother,” Pham pointed at his watercolour painting. “She passed away. So this is her caring for thirteen kids.”

Photo: Sveta Soloveva

Rose said her favourite artist in this show is Ann Somers who submitted six pieces.

“She has a very painterly but still graphic style,” Rose said. “She did a lot of pop-culture references like Kim Kardashian or Stranger Things TV show and little Drake pieces. Those were very cute.”

From left to right: Kevin Pham and Chantal Hassard. Photo: Jordan Prentice

The exhibition runs until Dec. 22, at the Northern Contemporary Gallery, 1266 Queen Street West, Toronto, Ontario.

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