To Haul or Not to Haul: Holiday Skincare 2017

Happy hump day! Today I'm bringing you my second installment of my haul or not to haul holiday series. If you didn't read last week's post, I introduced the series a bit in my haul or not holiday 2017 makeup post.

Without further ado, let's get into the shit I think is haul worthy and the shit I don't think is worth my $$. Because I recently published my top Sephora picks blog post, Sephora favorites sets overview post, Sephora sale wishlist post, and Sephora sale anti-haul list, I won't be including any of the sets that I already talked about in those posts.

Like the makeup post, this one is by no means comprehensive. There are so many damn skincare gift sets out there-- I didn't even bother attempting covering them all ¯\_(ใƒ„)_/¯

Haul Worthy

Tony Moly My Shea Sheet Mask Holiday Box

I reviewed this set in a Blogmas post last year-- tl;dr version is that it's cute and a nice value for the price!

Too Cool for School Bling Bling Pumpkin Party Set

$15.00 available via Nordstrom
A cute little set featuring a mini of the TCFS pumpkin sleeping pack and one of their pumpkin sheet masks! I have bought and tried both but unfortunately, I don't really remember any specifics besides that I liked them ๐Ÿ™†

La Roche-Posay Soothing Essentials Skincare Gift Set

$20.00 available via Dermstore
I don't know how this set only retails for $20.00 cause damn, that's a good price. It includes a full sized Cicaplast Baume b5 (usually retails for $15) plus three other minis including a mini of their mineral water spray-- another one of my favorites from the brand.

The cicaplast moisturizer is quite thick but is still super moisturizing without making the skin greasy. I like using it as a spot treatment on dry patches and also slather it on my elbows and heels. Lately, I've been dabbing it on my nose as it's peeling because I have a cold and am constantly blowing my nose. A little bit truly goes a long and way and I'm still working on the tube I bought last winter.

Pixi Best of Brights Discovery Kit

$22.00 available via Target

There was a lot of hype surrounding Pixi when they first made their debut at Target but I feel like the chatter around them as died down since. It's a shame since they carry a lot of awesome products! I would say their glow tonic is one of their shining star products and something they're really known for. This kit features a mini of the tonic plus minis of their mud mask and mud cleanser. It's a handy litte kit to gift to any skincare lover, plus it's a decent amount of product for under $25.00.

Pai Rosehip Oil Special Edition

$25.00 available via Credo Beauty
The other day I was reading some thread on Reddit and someone brought up how the holiday ornament type beauty products are so wasteful in their packaging when you can get the same exact thing without the packaging. It's not something I gave much thought to and I gotta say, I 100% agree. So while I do think the packaging is wasteful, I would still purchase the item IF it's not usually available in a mini size like this Pai rosehip oil. The oil has been a long time cult favorite in the UK but I haven't seen it be readily available in the US until recently. It's usually only sold as a 1 fl oz bottle for $40 but this limited edition bottle is half the size for $25. A nice way to try the oil without making as large of a commitment.

Various Fresh Beauty Skincare Sets

$25.00 - $58.00 available via Sephora
I'm always impressed at the variety of gift sets that Fresh offers year after year. They've got lip sets, skincare sets, mask sets, bath sets, any beauty set you can imagine. And they're all a nice value. Their tinted lip balms and soy face cleanser are two beauty staples for me and are frequently featured in their gift sets. My top pick for gift set would probably be their Best of Beauty bundle which features their cleanser, a lip balm, a mask, a moisturizer, and an eye cream! The best part is that it was originally $64 and has since been reduced to $50-- it has a retail value of $94.00 according to Sephora.

Sunday Riley Flash Fix-It Kit

$28.00 available via Sephora
I think I've talked about my love for good genes enough to not say anything more about it. Aaaand I recently chatted about ceramic slip in my empties post. If you have no idea wtf I'm talking about know this-this is a much cheaper way to try a pricey af brand and product.

Laneige Slumber Party

$28.00 available via Sephora
I'm still a little bit salty about the fact that Laneige is no longer sold at target. This time of year they usually sold awesome mini skincare kits and I could snag them for 20-30% off. It sucks I can't get them as a deal but that doesn't change the fact that I truly enjoy their products! Their sleeping mask was the first one I ever tried and I'm forever thankful for it. It smells absolutely lush (and helps you go to sleep if you're into that aromatherapy sorta thing) and helps lock in moisture. A sleeping mask is pretty much a must for me in the winter and this is one of my favorite lighter ones. For the price of the sleeping mask, you also get minis of their essence and cream.

Dr Jart+ Ceramidin Starter Kit

$34.00 available via Sephora
Another product that ya already know I fuckin' love. I love the cream (fully reviewed in a blog post earlier this year) more than the serum, but the kit is the perfect way to try both!

Belif Holly Jolly Hydration Set

$38.00 available via Sephora
Belif's moisture bomb and eye moisturizing bomb are probably two of the best products I've tried from the brand. This set features a full-sized moisture bomb plus minis of their eye cream and essence for the same price as the moisture bomb alone. I've been using the eye cream (PR gift) pretty consistently over the past two months and am not even halfway through the tub. You don't need a lot for it to be effective. If you or someone you know suffers from dry winter skin, this set is a solid solution.

Detox Your Beauty Kit

$39.00 available via Detox Market
Unfortunately, I find it harder to find green beauty gift sets ¯\_(ใƒ„)_/¯ So when I do see them I usually end up picking them up... for myself. Either way, this is the perfect for any green beauty lover-- beginner or expert. It includes a wide variety of brands from Odacite to Pai to Meow Meow Tweet Tweet. I actually have that deodorant with a different scent (PR gift) and I rather like it for a deodorant! I haven't made the switch to solely using "natural" or "green" deodorants but I do like using them in my deodorant rotation (yes, that is a thing I do, it mostly just means using whichever deodorant is closest to me.)

Glossier Skincare Sets

$40.00 - $65.00 available via Glossier
Hate it or love it, you can't deny that Glossier is one of the most popular names in the beauty game these days. They have a variety of skincare sets that would make perfect gifts! There's their mask duo as well as their super serums trio-- I have yet to try any of those but they're definitely on my list. There's also their Phase 1 set which I think is the perfect intro to Glossier. It includes their milky jelly cleanser which is one of my favorite products from them.

Kypris Discovery Kits

$45.00 - $90.00 available via Kypris
Kypris is one of my favorite brand discoveries for 2017. Not only are their products beautiful on the outside, they're beautiful on the inside as well. They're also quite pricey. Their sample kits are a nice way to get a taste of their products and decide what's worth splurging on and what's not.

Erborian Hydration On The Go Kit

$49.00 available via Sephora
I chatted about the Erborian cleansing balm in my wtf are cleansing balm post. It smells amazing and cleanses my skin nicely. It's also a bit splurgy for a cleanser. This set makes the price tag hurt a little bit less since it comes with a moisturizer and mask!

First Aid Beauty Tales of FAB Skin

$52.00 available via Sephora
Five full-sized FAB products for a little more than $50, do I even need to say anything more?

Omorovicza Moor Mud Set

Available for about $55.00 available via Cult Beauty
I reviewed the cleansing balm featured in this set a few months ago in a blog post and I still like it a few months down the road! It's pricey AF and definitely not something I would pay over $100+ for, so I'm thankful that I'm able to order it from Cult Beauty where it is literally half the price. It also includes their facial polisher (not a big fan from the foil sample I tried) and deep cleansing mask (was a fan from the foil sample I tried!)

Indie Lee Brightening Duo

Available for about $55.00 via Cult Beauty
Another gem from Cult Beauty that's sadly not sold here in the US. This Indie Lee duo features both their brightening cleanser and coq-10 toner. While I haven't tried their brightening cleanser (yet), their rosehip cleanser has become a quick favorite. As has the coq-10 toner featured in this set! It has a sweet, honey like scent-- it reminds me of the Papa Recipe sheet masks! It's lightweight but has some viscosity to it making it easier to apply. I love how it instantly adds moisture to my skin! It's been a staple in both my morning and nighttime routines this month. I apply it straight to my hand by patting it in, no cotton pads needed.

Sulwhasoo Mask Trio

$67.00 available via Nordstrom
This 100% the kind of gift I would gift me, from me. I've never tried any Sulwhasoo skincare (...partly cause I hate the packaging...) but everyone always goes on and on about the beauty behind their products. While $67 isn't pocket change by any means, it's relatively affordable for a brand that has products in the over $100 range (they have a gift set that costs $755, no joke!!!!)

Herbivore Botanicals Hydrating + Oily Skincare Set

$44.00 available via Nordstrom and $72.00 available via Dermstore
Herbivore was another one of my favorite brand discoveries for 2017. These kits each feature 1 soap, 1 mist, and 1 oil. Both are a nice way to get a taste of the brand, although the Dermstore kit is a slightly better value as it includes their full-sized Lapis oil which has a base of squalane oil!

Pyunkang Yul x Ohlolly Kit

$58.00 available via Ohlolly
Gothamista loves all things Pyunkang Yul therefore so must I. But seriously I love their simple formulations and sleek packaging. So far I've only tried their mist but I'm already on bottle number 2! This set is a nice price as you get to try 3 of their full-sized products for less than $20 a pop.

Drunk Elephant Dermstore Happy Hour Kit + Volume 2: Come C About Me

$88 available via Sephora (Vit C) and $96.00 available via Dermstore (Glycolic Acid)

I've tried almost everything from Drunk Elephant at this point and from my experience the products that are truly worth the splurge are their actives aka their glycolic acid serum, vitamin c serum, and exfoliating peel (although I've had mixed results with this one.) They have proper packaging to keep the products stable, they are pH balanced to make sure the active ingredients are well... active, and they include soothing ingredients to help calm your skin while delivering results.

For the holidays they come out with gift sets that feature 1 full sized product plus minis of their other products, for around the same price as the full-sized product alone. Sephora also has a kit with their glycolic acid serum but I prefer the Dermstore one as it comes with a mini of their Vitamin C serum which is my favorite product from them.

Huxley Duos and Trios

$95.00 - $125.00 available via Nordstrom
I think it's safe to say that Huxley is cementing its spot in the prestige K-beauty market here in the US. I've tried a decent amount of their lineup and have yet to try a dud. Of course, there are products I like less than others, but there's nothing I've tried that I think is pure garbage. While these Nordstrom sets aren't reaaaally a deal, I do think the products are worth it! Of course, you can get the products cheaper if you order them from Korean retailers but not everyone is comfortable with international shipping.

I would say my top set recommendation would be the antioxidant duo which features their oil essence and anti-gravity cream (although if you have a Costco membership you might be able to grab them for around $60 online)

Biossance Head-to-Toe Hydration Kit

$99.00 available via Biossance
This kit is a reaaaallly good value. I think the price is only lasting till the 2nd as it's originally marked as $177 on the Biossance site. The kit features a full-sized cleansing oil, squalane oil, and squalane + vitamin c rose oil. Plus a body brush! I've tried all three and like them for my winter skincare needs. I probably wouldn't pay full price for all of them, but at $33 bucks a pop it's a steal. Especially the squalane oil as it comes with 3.3 fl oz!

Bonus: they're also currently offering a free BKR bottle with all $75+ purchases!

Tata Harper Time to Shine & Winter Wonders Set

$125.00 - $150.00 available via Nordstrom
Of course everyone has different definitions of what's affordable and luxury; personally, I consider products with over a $50 price tag to be a luxury and items under $20 be affordable for my budget. The whole point of that schpiel is to say that Tata Harper is one of those brands that I think is worth splurging on. Their holiday kits are definitely a treat yo self kind of gift but they're also a nice way to try out multiple products from their lineup without spending several hundred dollars.

Absoduckinglutely Not Gonna Haul

Yes to Carrots Sheet Mask Set

$9.99 available via Target
I've tried a lot of mediocre sheet masks in my lifetime and I'll usually deal with it as long as they're moderately moisturizing. I received a bunch of these sheet masks as PR and I haven't been able to wear any of them for more than a minute or two because they burn my face. Plus they're not even that affordable. Pass. If you're looking to gift someone an affordable, readily available sheet mask set I would instead recommend the Tonymoly My Shea box set that I reviewed last year and included in my to haul section (Ulta brought it back this year, it's actually $2 cheaper than this Yes To set!)

Mario Badescu Home & Away Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, and Rosewater Trio

$24.00 available via Ulta
Even though the Mario Badescu mists don't really do anything except smell good and hydrate my skin for all of 2 minutes, I keep repurchasing them because I like them for the momentary thrill plus they're affordable. This set has a $24.00 value... and costs $24.00. I'm not sure what the point of purchasing the set is in that case *shrugs*

Glow Recipe Glow Box Bag

$28.00 available via Glow Recipe
I know Glow Recipe's mask and cleanser were two of the most loved releases this year but... I didn't end up buying either for various reasons. The mask had a weird texture and I don't like you have to stir it up every time before application. It also has a clawingly sweet watermelon scent that I couldn't get behind. It's not the kind of scent that makes me wanna fall asleep. The cleanser seemed to be just okay, nothing particularly exciting. Also, I've seen people get varying pHs when testing it. But the main reason I'm anti-hauling this set is cause it's a poor value. I understand minis will be a little bit more expensive per oz when compared to their full-sized counterparts, but this set is $10 more expensive (according to my math.) The minis have a value of around $18 and I don't think they're good enough for me to pay $28 for them.

Sol De Janiero Bum Bum Beauty Escape

$59.00 available via Sephora
Ughhh I hate the fake chemically scent of this stuff. It gives me instant cat butt face. Also after watching Kimberly Clark talk about how the brand fetishizes Brazilian women, I always side eye them whenever I see them in stores.

Charlotte Tilbury The Gift of Goddess Skin

$59.00 available via Nordstrom
I guess for a luxury brand like Charlotte Tilbury, the price tag on this set isn't absolutely horrible. That said, I haven't seen many people genuinely talk about how her skincare is worth the exorbitant price tag. No sense in paying 60 bucks solely for branding and pretty packaging (....although I probably have bought similar useless shit in the past.)

Sunday Riley Vitamin C Collection

$60.00 available via Space.NK
I also love me some Sunday Riley but I'll be honest and say that many of their more recent releases haven't been really impressing me. This set features three products from the relatively new CEO line which launched at the beginning of the year. Of the entire collection, the serum is the only one that has held my interest and I would rather spend $85 on the serum than have my money go towards this poopy set. Why do I call it poopy? Because the moisturizer and oil are completely overpriced for what they are. The moisturizer is one of the worst high-end skincare products I've tried. It's incredibly fragranced and not really very moisturizing at all. Furthermore, it's not in stable packaging so who knows how much of the benefits of vitamin C you'll actually be getting from it. Last it has a ridiculously short 3-month shelf life. I don't have any strong opinions about the cleansing oil except that putting vitamin c in a cleansing oil is pretty pointless.

Glamglow #Glittermask Gravitymud Firming Mask

$69.00 available via Sephora
70 DOLLARS FOR GLITTER IN SOME RANDOM ASS GEL MASK? NO FUCKING THANKS, GLAMGLOW. They didn't even publish the ingredient list on Sephora. As I said in my story this is pure millennial garbage. And it doesn't make much sense cause most millennials don't need to worry about firming products just yet.

NO7 Protect & Perfect Intense Skincare System SPF 15

$69.00 available via Ulta
Call me a snob but I ain't about to drop 70 bucks on drugstore skincare. It simply does not make sense. While I haven't tried NO7 skincare, I have seen them on sale a ton! I'm sure with 40% off sales and BOGO 50% off sales it would be much more affordable to buy this set piece by piece. Also spf 15? Get outta here with that nonsense!

Kate Somerville All Glow, No Glitter

$75.00 available via Sephora
I know there are hardcore exfolikate fans out there and this set would be a nice value for them, but I hate this line with a burning passion. Like literally burning because every product I've tried from the line burns the fuck out of my skin and strips it of any hints of moisture. I don't recommend it to anyone because I'm not an advocate for cruel and unusual punishment.

Ole Henriksen Glow Together Blogbuster Skincare Set

$78.00 available via Sephora
Ole Henriksen has so man nice value sets... this is not one of them. I have no idea who this kit is catering to! Also, it just seems like a kit that's going to dry the heck out of your skin UNLESS you know what you're doing. If this were me 3 years ago when I didn't know much about skincare, I would be using all these products within a short period of time. There are two physical exfoliators, one chemical peel, a vitamin c serum, and an exfoliating moisturizer. Can you imagine the damage that could be done? Instead, I think their kits with 2 or 3 products are a much better gift. Have dry skin? Try their hydrating line kit. Want to brighten your skin? Try their day and night serums kit.

Drunk Elephant the Littles

$90.00 available via Sephora
I love me some Drunk Elephant but I think this set is a complete rip-off. For almost $100 I expect to receive at least one full sized product, not 8 itty bitty minis. If you're strategic with your purchasing, you could easily get some of these as GWP. Or you could buy the individual mini sets to try out the specific minis you're interested in. Hell, the sets I linked above in my haul section feature 3 or 4 products for around the same price.

Clarins Super Restorative Double Serum Set

$94.00 available via Nordstrom
I'm not opposed to splurging on skincare but when I do I need a reason for the splurge. Stellar ingredients and dramatic results are a must if a product has a price tag approaching three digits. I received this serum as PR earlier in the year and it's not something I would ever spend my own money on. The ingredients are lackluster and result wise all it did is lightly hydrate my skin while also spontaneously pilling and breaking my skin out. It's heavily fragranced and most of the "star" ingredients are listed much further down on the ingredient list. Easy pass.

Peter Thomas Roth Mix & Mask Trio

$150.00 available via Ulta
Should you spend $150 on 3 large tubs of masks that will probably dry out before you finish them all up? Nah. Plus, how do you know someone would like all three masks? If you're really yearning to splurge on some PTR masks they do have a kit with 5 minis for $75 but IMO that's still a bit too much mask for me. I honestly think the mask sampler kit is the way to go-- it comes with 5 mask minis in tubes (so they won't dry out as quickly) and has an affordable price tag of $25!

Dior Dreamskin Advanced Set

$165.00 available via Sephora
Similar to the Clarins set mentioned above, this serum is lackluster ingredient and performance wise. There's nothing in it that justifies the $100 price tag for me. It's more of a fancy, fragranced pore blurring primer than it is a skin benefiting serum. I received it as PR and it's not something I would shell out my own $$ for.

Perricone MD Cold Plasma Platinum Collection

$179.00 available via Neiman Marcus
The OG cold plasma moisturizer smells like dead fish. I'm pretty good at dealing with smells but there are some scents even I won't deal with. It's also kind of chunky and goopy when applied and isn't moisturizing enough for my winter skincare routine. I haven't tried the sub-d one and don't really have any interest in doing so. I will admit that both have unique ingredient lists (from my amateur ingredient analysis) and I like the innovation behind the brand.

Any Full Sized Routine Kits

Similar to the vaults I talked about in my makeup haul or not post, I think these full-sized, complete routine boxes are a bad idea for a present. Part of the fun of skincare is customizing your routine and while mini sets provide a sort of "backbone" routine that you can easily customize, the more comprehensive sets include everything from toner to essence to sleeping pack. Additionally, gifting someone a set of 8 full sized items leads to the temptation of trying all the things at once. Even if you have the hardiest, nonreactive skin ever-- I still don't think that's a good idea cause you don't know what's working for you and what's not. Lastly, they're usually pricey and the proclaimed savings are minimal.

Dior L'Or de Vie La Cure Vintage 2016 Collection

$2300 available via Nordstrom
It's a TWO THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED DOLLAR SKINCARE SET. And you get 3 oz total and some rocks encrusted with gold. Oh, and you have no idea what the fuck is in those 3 ozs because there's no ingredient list published. Can you say s-c-a-m?


And that wraps my holiday 2017 skincare gift guide and anti-haul! What's your top and bottom holiday skincare pick?

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