On important things, like cosmetic gift sets and @Birchbox and @Sephora

I spend entirely too much time thoughtfully analyzing the comparative benefits and drawbacks of Birchbox vs. Sephora.

Through Birchbox’s subscription service, I’ve become more open minded and experimental with my make-up, and have even dared to try new perfumes that I would have otherwise ignored. Birchbox’s points reward system is also an amazing value. Seriously, amazing. Through it, I have scored some awesome discounts on very high quality products. Also, Birchbox is the exclusive merchant of the Beauty Protector Protect and Detangle spray, which is hands down one of my favorite hair products ever.  Through Birchbox’s sample subscription, I’ve been introduced to a ton of products that I otherwise would have simply ignored. My favorite discoveries through Birchbox, in addition to Beauty Protector, include DDF Ultra Lite Oil Free Moisturizing Dew, Benefit Benetint (not to mention discovering that Benefit is my absolute fav. makeup brand), and Stila Stay All Day liquid lipstick in Beso. The Stila lipstick is a BOLD red that I would have never tried on my own, had it not showed up in my monthly sample box (so I thought, what the heck, it’s here, might as well try it). It pushed me way out of my makeup comfort zone, but I got SO many compliments on it, that it has inspired me to be a lot more adventurous with makeup.

Sephora’s reward points are good, but not as good as Birchbox’s. However, when it comes to the holiday gift set selection, Sephora wins. I look forward to holiday time every single year, because I WANT WANT WANT everything. Also, Sephora carries some brands (like Make Up For Ever) that Birchbox does not. And I can make a quick run down to Sephora when I’m out of something, since there are several Sephora stores in Pittsburgh.

Because I love nothing more than window-shopping online, I have gathered here my best picks to fill the 8 days of Hanukkah with Sephora gifts this year. Shop away!!

1. Fresh Sugar Cravings Kissing Trio

sugar gift box

If you haven’t tried Sugar’s lip balms yet, you are missing out. They give a nice little hint of color (perfect for when you’re doing dramatic eyes, and want to have a little lip color, but need it to be toned down), and they have this AWESOME screw-on top that means that I don’t lose the cap in my purse. The texture is silky, and not too waxy or goopy.

2. Mia 2 Pure Glow Holiday Gift Set

mia 2 holiday set

I have to admit, I hate washing my face at night. I do it of course, but it’s a giant pain in the butt. I’ve tried those face washing wipes, but they don’t quite clean enough. Everyone I know who has gone the Clairsonic route raves about it. There are a number of different models out there. I have no idea what the difference is. I picked this gift set because it contains Philosophy’s Purity face wash, which is the face wash I absolutely swear by, because it keeps even my nasty, lazy skin in healthy condition. So somehow in my mind that pairing means that this is the Clairsonic model I approve of. But probably any Clairsonic model is better than what I do now, which is begrudgingly slap soap and water on my face and then get all mad about getting water around the sink.

3. Korres Beauty Shots Ultimate Mask Collection

korres beauty shots

If I could have things my way, I’d get a facial every 3 weeks or so. But facials are expensive, so a fancy mask is a nice alternative. I’m all into grapefruit everything right now, and have yet to meet a Korres product I do not like. This mask collection appears to me to be the best of all worlds.

4. Sephora Glitz & Glam Party Essentials Sampler

Sephora Glitz & Glam

Party time, yes PLZ! My usual NYE involves going on our annual double-date dinner with the Orange Chair Blog crew, and then coming home to fall asleep on the couch before the ball even drops. But with the fun and excitement of prettying myself up with a sampler like this, I could get excited about staying up past 10pm!

5. Make Up For Ever Beauty Kit

Make UP for Ever Beauty Kit

Make Up For Ever’s products are so simple and unassuming, but they are so freaking good and dramatic. I love that this set is perfectly composed for a fully-stocked travel bag, when you want to have good, reliable options when you’re out of town.

6. L’Occitane Almond Indulgence Duo

LOccitane Almond Indulgence

I’m not the most cheerful person in the morning, but the sweet cookie smell of an almond scented shower can’t keep anyone grouchy for long.

7. Deborah Lippmann Party Mix Nail Lacquer Set

Deborah Lippmann

My nail polish collection has gotten a little out of control, but really, there is no such thing as too many nail polishes. Especially when you get into the fun textures and color combinations.

8. Atelier Cologne Travel Spray Trio

Atelier Cologne

Seriously, have you smelled Atelier Cologne’s orange sanguine cologne? O. m. g. It is the most lovely spicy wonderful scent ever. I can’t get enough of it. I also can’t consistently remember to put on perfume in the morning, so a travel size is just the right size for me (or else the bottle will just get too old before I can use much of it.)

Honorable mention: T3 Featherweight 2 & Living Proof Gift Set

T3 Featherweight 2

This set gets an “Honorable Mention” because I already own a T3, but still wanted to mention it, because OMG THIS HAIRDRYER CHANGED MY LIFE (and I didn’t even know a hairdryer could change someone’s life). Here’s the thing with professional hairdryers- they are HOT. Which means they dry FAST and they blast the humidity right out of your hair. The result– once Mr. Beez got me this fine machine, my usually frizzy and out-of-control mane was silky smooth, with minimal product. I love it so much that I bring it with me whenever I travel, because hotel driers just don’t stand up anymore.

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