gifts they might actually want

The Best Skin-Care Gifts for Skin-Care Obsessives

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

It’s never easy buying for the skin-care lover in your life. They already have bathroom cabinets full of creams, lotions, and potions, and there’s nothing worse than wasting money on something way off course (full-coverage foundation for a known dewy-skin fan; red lipstick for a nude-lip wearer). TikTok and Instagram only make things more bewildering — with a new trend or tool every day of the week, how are you meant to know what’s actually worth buying?

We asked 11 experts, from dermatologists and beauty editors to cosmetic chemists, about the gifts they’d give to a discerning skin-care fan. Read on for the best skin-care tools, gift sets, masks, and more.

Skin-care tools to gift

Tools like gua sha and jade rollers have long been commonplace in traditional Chinese beauty and healing practices, but they’ve more recently become popular in the western world. However, according to dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch, they’re not all made alike. The Sacheu Slick Skin Set would be her “ultimate gift,” she says. “Not only does it have a beautifully made gua sha and a roller, it’s actually an Asian-owned brand.” Sacheu’s founder, Sarah Cheung, grew up in Hong Kong before moving to Canada — she’s also a beauty influencer, so your recipient may well already follow her. Dr. Hirsch also noted that the tools are made from stainless steel rather than a stone such as quartz or jade, both of which are increasingly overmined and have porous surfaces that hang onto bacteria.

Liberty of London beauty and editorial lead Shannon Peter said that to give the gift of super-clean skin, it’s not necessarily about gifting a cleanser: It’s about a really great face cloth. “If you ask me, few things are quite as satisfying as cleansing your face with a brand-spanking-new washcloth — no exaggeration. They make for a lovely and practical present and the best are the Oskia Dual-Active Cleansing Cloths. Not only are they supersoft, but one side has a flannel texture for a bit of light exfoliation and the other is made from muslin for gentle cleansing.” Each pack contains three reusable cloths made from 100 percent cotton, and they can be used for regular face washing, as well as for removing face masks and scrubs.

Freelance beauty editor and columnist Ava Welsing-Kitcher said the one thing every skin-care obsessive needs — and probably doesn’t have — is a great steamer. “The Sarah Chapman Skinesis Pro Hydra-Mist Steamer releases nano-particles of steam, which penetrate the skin more effectively than plain old steam. I can vouch for the fact that my skin is always clearer and glowier after a weekly session,” said Welsing-Kitcher. Plus, the benefits aren’t just limited to the skin, she added. “I’ve also used it to help my hair mask penetrate deeper and aid in detangling. It’s also one of those things people might not bring themselves to buy for themselves, so definitely do it for them.”

Dermatologist Dr. Corey L. Hartman suggested that for the beauty lover who never quite manages to complete their routine, a skin-care fridge could be the perfect gift. “A skin-care fridge that tucks neatly into their bedroom is the ultimate gift for any beauty enthusiast. Imagine the joy on the face of your favourite beauty fan when they realize that they no longer have to trek to the kitchen to retrieve their favorite refrigerated skin-care products each night and morning” advised Dr. Hartman. Sure, not everyone keeps their products in the fridge to start with, but having them by your bedside table rather than stuck in the bathroom means your recipient will be able to do their skin-care routine from the comfort of their bed.

Skin-care sets to gift

This has felt like a ridiculous year for celebrity brand launches. But Pharrell’s Humanrace, formulated with his longtime derm, Dr. Elena Jones, is worth the hype according to Hartman. He brings up this facial kit as a gift option that feels more gender neutral: “It’s a simple, effective way to cleanse the skin thoroughly and hydrate it properly using ingredients found in Eastern medicine for centuries.” It’s gentle enough to use regularly, “provides a balanced glow, and requires no downtime,” Hartman continues. Of course, as ever, only use the exfoliator a couple times a week if your skin can tolerate it. You can go in with the cleanser and moisturizer every day, though — just don’t forget to add SPF in the mornings.

There are some products so iconic that any skin-care fiend is always happy to receive them, says beauty writer and content creator Hajar Mohammad. The Elemis Travels Edition Gift Set “is everything a beauty lover could ask for. It has all of the best-selling Elemis products like the Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm and Pro-Collagen Marine Cream that really elevate your skin-care routine,” she says. “It has seven products, all in travel sizes, in this super-cute bag.” An earlier version of this set was made in collaboration with London-based designer Hayley Menzies, but you still “honestly can’t go wrong” with this iteration, Mohammad adds. The reusable pouch will make a great makeup or skin-care bag once your recipient is done with it, and according to the brand, the contents are worth $140 but are priced at $95.

The rush to use actives a few years ago could have over-exfoliated your gift receiver’s skin. Or they might have more reactive skin anyway, with a compromised skin barrier. With those issues in mind, Mohammad also mentions the Sensitive Skin Bundle from influencer-founded company Naturium (you’ll know if the person you’re buying for can look beyond the scandal that surrounded the brand’s launch). “Whether you have sensitive skin or not, this is such a good bundle,” Mohammad says, noting it puts together three products from Naturium’s sensitive-skin line. “Personally, I don’t know what I’d do without these products in my routine, because they’ve saved my skin barrier.” It’s a “go-to gift” if you’d like to do the same for a loved one. Useful, since Hailey Bieber’s similarly skin barrier–focused Rhode products are perpetually sold out.

If you’re on a budget, or your recipient is more of a skin-care rookie, freelance beauty journalist Vanese Maddix suggests Glossier’s skin-care edit. The set is suitable for all skin types and contains the Milky Jelly Cleanser, Super Bounce Serum, Priming Moisturizer, Balm Dotcom in Original and Rose, and the oil-serum hybrid Futuredew — as well as “a cute headband with the brand’s signature pink G logo that you can’t find anywhere else.” Maddix adds, for “someone ready to start a skin-care routine, you really can’t go wrong with this set. No one can resist snapping a picture of the chic packaging, either.”

In a similar price range, Hirsch suggests a Glow Recipe set of minis. The Plump and Brighten Set includes a hyaluronic acid serum and a vitamin-C serum: two mainstays of any good skin-care routine, but in a handy travel size. It’s great for a skin-care neophyte, but beauty buffs will also be impressed by Glow Recipe, a Korean beauty brand beloved by influencers. “It’s a very reasonable price, and the products will leave you glow-y and radiant,” says Hirsch.

Eye and face masks to gift

A skin-care–obsessed friend will already know that the skin around our eyes is thinner and more delicate than on other parts of our face. As an eco-friendly and practical choice, chemist and aesthetician Esther Olu suggests the Dieux Forever Eye Masks. “Taking the extra step to tend to the eyes can be very beneficial,” she says. And you can reuse these silicone masks, sliding them on over an eye cream to lock in moisture and hydration. “What makes the product particularly unique is how versatile it is: Its occlusive nature means you get increased penetration for any products used in the eye area,” adds Olu. “Then they’re very useful for makeup application, as the shape means you can kind of use them as a guide for eye shadow and powder and not worry about product fallout.”

“I rarely buy sheet masks or eye masks because they usually don’t impress me,” says Welsing-Kitcher. But she makes an exception for these eye masks: “They seriously work — I actually feel a little tingle when I use them, and then the collagen-and-cucumber mix leaves my under-eye area incredibly plump and smooth.” What’s more, she says the cute packaging genuinely makes her smile every time she spots it in her bathroom cabinet: “It’s the perfect way to add a little joy to someone’s beauty routine.”

According to consultant dermatologist Dr. Mary Sommerlad, Sisley Black Rose Cream Mask is the “ultimate skin-care gift.” A beauty-editor favourite, Sisley products don’t come cheap, but they’re considered to be the gold standard of masks by many. “The Black Rose Cream mask is just wonderful. It glides on, smells incredible, and leaves your skin feeling really soft and looking plump. It’s my favorite luxury gift to give someone (including myself!). It also has a lot of my favorite ingredients like phytosqualane, glycerin, and B5,” added Dr. Sommerlad.

After being (kindly) informed by a friend that his skin was looking dry, stylist and contributor Alexander-Julian Gibbson decided to try a sample of Natura Bissé’s Soufflé mask. “I love trying new products, but I’m far from a grooming expert,” he admits. “So when I received multiple compliments on my radiant complexion after using the mask just once, I took notice.” Converted, Gibson applies the mask before any shoot or event if he catches himself looking at all dry: “I suck at sticking to any kind of skin-care routine, but if I need a quick grooming pick-me-up, this mask delivers every time.”

Andrea Pfeffer, mom and founder of the Pfeffer Sal skin-health clinic, praised this face mask for being equal parts relaxing and effective. “Vestige Verdant Organic Peat Mask is unmatched in its ability to reduce congestion and clear the skin,” explained Pfeffer. “It’s made from sustainably farmed 100 percent organic Estonian peat, and it has humic acid, which is a naturally occurring anti-inflammatory ingredient.” We think it would make a great skin-care gift for a pregnant loved one, as Pfeffer informed us she uses it for all of her prenatal clients (as well as using it herself during her own pregnancy).

Skin-care products to gift

For the person in your life who appreciates both art and hardworking skin care, Hirsch suggests the SK-II limited-edition Andy Warhol essence. “Yes, it’s very indulgent and luxurious, but for someone who really knows their skin care, this is perfect,” she says. The Pitera Essence is probably SK-II’s best-known (and loved) product, regularly showing up on celebrity must-have lists. It works sort of like a toner, but with more hydrating properties. Since it’s so light, as essences are, it also preps the skin for more layers of product. Chances are your gift recipient has a multi-step routine and will definitely know where to slot this in. The limited-edition Warhol wrap is a nice extra touch to make it a collector’s item.

Sommerlad welcomes luxury when it comes to skin-care gifting. It’s all about getting something you’d probably not buy for yourself but would love to receive. This neroli-and-rose-scented mist “feels so indulgent to use,” she says. “Maybe a little frivolous, but it’s just such a joy.” The fine mist is ideal as a toner, a makeup refresh, or just to keep by your desk for a little hydrating pick-me-up. Sommerlad appreciates its delicate texture — and it comes in a travel size, for the frequent flier in your life.

If you’re unsure of what your giftee already has or what their skin likes and dislikes, Olu says there’s one thing everyone’s skin needs more of: barrier support. “It’s the most critical aspect of skin care. Without having a strong skin-care barrier, it will be difficult to incorporate active ingredients in your routine. Additionally, a weak skin barrier can lead to skin concerns such as dullness, dehydration, and acne.” She suggests the First Aid Beauty Tone & Hydrate Trio, or the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Minis that you can buy separately here. “I wish they did a set that combined all of these things, but all of these products are great,” she says. “Without a strong skin barrier, any underlying skin conditions will be harder to treat.”

If your recipient has run out of real estate on their face to try new things, nail artist Harriet Westmoreland suggests an option for the hands. “The Byredo Hand Scrub in Tulipmania is my go-to gift — it’s such a treat for your hands,” she says. “The texture is rich and nourishing whilst exfoliating dead skin away. I like to use it all over the hands and arms, but also as a mini-treatment on cuticles to lift and remove stubborn skin. The scent is divine. This is a great gift, as hand care can be overlooked.” Plus, the rich, oily texture makes it especially luxurious.

Skin-care books to gift

Three experts recommended Caroline Hirons’s Skincare as the best beauty book available. “It’s just an absolutely brilliant skin-care A to Z with solid advice,” says Hirsch. “It doesn’t have pointless steps or impossible results, just practical, applicable, and straightforward advice.” Designed with both skin-care experts and newbies in mind, the book assists readers to curate their own personalized routines. “It’s the best matter-of-fact book to address beauty that I’ve read,” says dermatologist Dr. Hartman.


For a more specific guide catered toward Black skin care, Welsing-Kitcher suggests Funmi Fetto’s Palette. Fetto is both an author and a beauty editor, having worked for publications such as British Vogue and Glamour. “Funmi’s built an incredible career by being one of the truest voices of guidance for Black and brown beauty lovers,” says Welsing-Kitcher. “Her dedicated space to the products that work for us is something we were long overdue for in the industry.”

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The Best Skin-Care Gifts for Skin-Care Obsessives