Teenage girls are notoriously hard to shop for. Picking the right gift is even harder now than ever before thanks to trends that shift at lightning speed and the influence of social-media stars who most people of legal drinking age have never heard of. To help you find an age-appropriate gift that’s actually cool, we consulted with actual teen girls — including some of the YouTube and Instagram personalities the teen you’re shopping for likely follows.
Décor gifts for teen girls
As we discovered in both our very enlightening 100-teen poll and survey of cool college students, string lights are one of the most universally beloved décor pieces in this age group. One teen, Phoebe, says, “the warm hue that these lights create helps me de-stress and unwind,” and another girl named Sydney especially likes this set with clips for her photos. “I can hang my Polaroid pictures on these string lights up on my wall, and have them be all lit up so I can look at them while I’m reading before bed,” she says.
“I’m trying to get more involved in stuff like tarot-card reading and horoscopes,” says Caitlin Belle Isle, 16. “I just use playing cards, but I just feel like a proper set like this would be nice to own.” It’s a solid pick for teens who regularly check the Co-Star app.
Himalyan salt lamps are another popular lighting option. One college student told us, “I’m hard-pressed to think of a single cool girl on campus who doesn’t have one in her room.” Isle agrees that salt lamps are a safe bet for most teens. “They’re not very expensive, and they don’t clash with other decorations,” she says. “They would be totally at home in a goth, witchy bedroom or in a minimalist one.”
“You can’t go wrong with a good scented candle,” says Loren Gray, an 18-year-old singer and Instagram influencer with more than 19 million followers. If you’re looking for something with a cool factor, Brynn, 19, recommends this status candle from Boy Smells. “I feel like this is something everyone needs but doesn’t always want to spend the money on, so it’s a great gift,” says Brynn. Jewelry and bag designer Susan Alexandra is also a fan of the brand.
Print magazines give teens a break from their screens, and Indonesian fashion influencer Evita Nuh says she’s always excited to flip through a new issue of Frankie or Lula. According to Nuh, these international mags (from Australia and the U.K., respectively) are “so artsy and full of inspiration.” A subscription to either one will give her a year’s worth of creative content to pore over.
Tech gifts for teen girls
We’re not surprised to hear that the latest iPhone is at the top of many teens’ wish lists this year. “It has an amazing camera which is good for taking photos for social media,” says Sophia Grace, a 17-year-old singer with more than 3 million YouTube subscribers. “It has lots of new features that other iPhones don’t have.”
Marla Catherine, a 16-year-old lifestyle influencer with over a million subscribers on YouTube, is looking for a more analog music experience: “I love music so much, and record players are an awesome way to stream it.” She prefers Victrola record players “because they’re fairly cheap but really good quality. Plus, they have cute color options like this turquoise one.”
For listening to music on-the-go, AirPods are a must-have among teens. As we learned in our teen poll, “second to their phone, this is what most teens said they always have on them (or want on them).”
She’s not a household name like Kendall or Kylie Jenner, but model, Instagram star, and phone case designer Devon Lee Carlson, is a top source for teen fashion inspiration (another tidbit we gleaned from our teen poll). On her popularity, one teen theorizes, “I think it’s how confident she is, willing to try and wear weird or different things.” This case is from Carlson’s Wildflower line.
Nuh turned 20 this year, but one of her favorite activities as a teenager was taking photos with her Polaroid camera. “Every girl needs one to capture memories, fun moments with friends, and even darker days,” she says. It’d also be a thoughtful gift for a teen heading off to college soon who might want to decorate her dorm room with pictures of friends from home. Recent college grad Christel Langué told us that “Polaroid walls are a fun way to make memories and not forget about them.”
It’s more expensive than an instant camera, but a teen who’s serious about photography will love this easy-to-use mirrorless camera. Nuh says hers was “one of the best gifts I received [as a teen].” Compared to DSLR cameras, mirrorless ones have a digital display instead of an optical viewfinder which helps prevent blurry images, especially when taking video.
Beauty gifts for teen girls
Sheet masks are a fun beauty gift, offering both skin-care perks and plenty of selfie opportunities, according to several teens, including Brynn and 19-year-old Natalie Grace. Georgia Freyer, 15, says these fun, colorful masks from Tony Moly are her favorite.
Is there any beauty product more closely associated with teens than lip gloss? As Gray says, “it’s perfect for any makeup lover and it’s minimal so it also works for anyone who wants a more natural look.” If your teen loves Rihanna, this set from Fenty Beauty is sure to be a hit. Strategist beauty writer Rio Viera-Newton says Fenty’s gloss is “very nourishing — I found it actually hydrated my lips instead of drying them out. This is the perfect finishing touch for a glowy, sun-kissed look,” and the brand is also one of Grace’s favorites.
This lip balm from the highly Instagrammable beauty brand Glossier will also surely delight a teen girl. “Glossier is a super-popular brand for teenagers and young adults right now,” says Natalie Grace. “They have great products and are very aesthetically pleasing.” Another teen told us, “I can’t live without this. I know it’s a bit pricey, but it’s really good, and also the packaging is cute!”
“I feel like every teen girl is really into makeup,” says Dani Cohn, a singer and Instagram star with more than 3 million followers, and Anastasia Beverley Hills is one of her favorite brands. She says an eye-shadow palette would make a good gift, and 20-year-old Quinn recommends this one. “Every well-known YouTube makeup artist raves about it, and most girls who love a smoky eye or cut-crease would want this in their collection,” says Quinn.
Help out a teen dealing with acne or other skin issues with this powerful cleansing brush that’s also a favorite among Sephora reviewers. “I want a Clarisonic Mia 1 brush. I’d like this system because I want to finally clear my skin and have a skin-care routine that really works,” says Julia H., who is 16.
Bag and luggage gifts for teen girls
This simple leather tote is one of our top picks for women’s work bags, and it made teenagers’ wish lists as well. “I want this bag (in black, of course) because it is so cute, amazing quality, and the perfect size bag to bring anywhere and be able to fit anything into,” says 19-year-old Sadie H.
While it ranked second in our teen poll, the Fjällräven Kanken is the “No. 1 status backpack,” according to college kids — and this yellow color is a favorite among style-minded students.
Jewelry and accessory gifts for teen girls
Freyer says accessories make the best gifts because “it’s easy to find something that you know your friend would like without worrying if you’ve bought the right size.” Right now, she tells us she’s loving these rectangular sunglasses, a sign the tiny-sunglasses trend is still very much a thing.
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