Black Friday, it turns out, is the one calendar event where there is absolutely no room for nostalgia. Once a crush of literal door-buster sales, the shop-a-thon has now relaxed into a week-long sprawl (Cyber Monday included), the deals all at your fingertips. It’s still dizzying, to be sure, which is why it’s helpful when a very good shop promises a very good score. This is where Violet Grey comes into play: mainstay of Hollywood makeup artists, now offering a 20% discount nearly site-wide through Cyber Monday. (There are some brand exceptions—Byredo, Chanel, and the like—but given the wealth of what remains, you won’t miss a thing.)
This edited shopping guide is the online equivalent of a beeline through the boutique. Here, you’ll find 10 essential beauty categories, with a handful of plum picks in each. Maybe you’ll find a few treasures for your mother, your boss, that nice neighbor who watered your plants during an overdue vacation. And of course, as they say: Treat yourself.
With the official start of winter soon upon us, this is the time for surface-level fortification. Drier air means that the environment will sap water from the skin—but smartly attuned moisturizers aim to restore and replenish. Augustinus Bader’s Rich Cream (formulated with the German doctor’s proprietary TFC8 technology) helps smooth out crepe-paper lines and pigmentation while supplying deep moisture. The Super Hydrator by U Beauty delivers reparative antioxidants and hyaluronic acid in tiny capsules. Manhattan dermatologist Rose Ingleton, M.D., incorporates a Jamaican superfruit blend along with ceramides into this brightening, nourishing formula. And Sisley-Paris’s much-loved Black Rose face oil, with a dry-touch finish, helps replenish the skin’s lipid barrier.
Whispered praise accompanies the best serums for good reason: The formulas are designed for peak efficacy, thanks to a boost of antioxidants, peptides, and more. This fall’s buzzy entry is Eighth Day, courtesy of dermatologic surgeon Antony Nakhla, D.O., which features a proprietary Peptide-Rich Plasma along with anti-inflammatory botanicals and manuka honey for extra healing. The Super Anti-Aging Serum from Dr. Barbara Sturm calls on antioxidant-rich purslane and red algae, plus two types of hyaluronic acid for lasting hydration. Epi.Logic’s Master Plan (from another pro, oculofacial plastic surgeon Chaneve Jeanniton, M.D.) uses a blend of stem cell–derived epidermal growth factors and proteins to support firm, luminous skin. There’s the power of plants, too—as seen in this powerhouse Tata Harper serum, which uses a blend of marine botanicals and fermented sugar peptides to brighten skin.
The skin around the eyes is a delicate matter, thinner and more reactive than other hardier parts of the face. That’s especially true in winter, when a night in an overheated apartment can leave you waking up to a fine patchwork of lines. Susanne Kaufmann’s Eye Rescue Stick is an instant refresh, with a hit of green caffeine for improved circulation and cooling stainless rollerball tip. Sisley’s eye mask is a different kind of quick fix, delivering a surge of moisture that you can tissue off (or, better yet, leave on all night). In Royal Fern’s eye cream, the blend of hyaluronic acid and antioxidants gives a cushiony, protective feel. And the organic balm from Kjaer Weis includes rosehip and other vitamin-rich seed oils, along with a Chinese yam extract that helps minimize the appearance of dark circles.
Beauty & Wellness Tools
The past year-plus, with its extended time at home, reinforced the measurable benefits that come from taking care of one’s well-being—often with the help of some well-designed tools. For the beauty set, the arrival of ZIIP means there’s a high-tech facialist at home—the nano-currents helping to stimulate the cell’s energy production, boost circulation, and speed lymphatic drainage. Canopy’s cloudlike humidifier is a cold-weather hero, with UV technology to keep the accompanying water tank clean. The body-toning device from NuFace uses FDA-supported microcurrent waves to sculpt sagging skin and boost ATP production at the cellular level—a precursor for collagen and elastin production. And this vibrator by Kiki de Montparnasse has a two-pronged approach: a larger end with eight vibration settings, and a narrow one that gently warms.
Next-Gen Body Care
The skin that matters doesn’t stop at the neck—a realization that has been materializing on shelf in the form of advanced body care. Mutha’s contouring serum includes its M-TIGHT technology, which uses capsaicin (the active ingredient in chili peppers) to boost circulation; there are also fruit acids for exfoliation, along with hyaluronic acid and squalene for plush skin. Another targeted formula, U Beauty’s sculpting cream takes aim at fluid retention and collagen synthesis, with marine bacillus extract for a dose of nutrients. Susanne Kaufmann’s body butter, infused with olive oil, shea butter, and honey, would be a nourishing underlayer beneath pajamas. For a post-shower rubdown, Costa Brazil’s fast-absorbing body oil is a winner: Its cold-pressed star ingredients include wild-harvested kaya (supplying essential fatty acids) and cacay (touted as a natural retinol).
The tub, should you be so lucky to have one, is many things: a mandatory break from technology, an antidote to winter, a deep-tissue unwind. The category is particularly good for gifting—everyone bathes in some manner or fashion. It’s also the sort of indulgence you don’t often spring for, but should! Who doesn’t want to crack open Susanne Kaufmann’s Oil Bath for the Senses, with notes of ylang-ylang and lavender alongside rosemary extract to promote healthy circulation. Nécessaire’s eucalyptus-scented body exfoliator—with bamboo charcoal and pumice along with gentle acids to slough away dead skin—simulates the fresh branch hanging from the showerhead. The CBD-infused soak from Lord Jones is a post-workout reboot, with epsom and Himalayan pink salts scented with floral and citrus essential oils. A pre-soak scrub with Sturm’s body brush—palm-size and stocking-size—makes a nice pairing.
The emphasis on healthy hair lately is now coming even from the doctor-led skin-care brands, which are taking a scalp-forward approach. Augustinus Bader’s new treatment serum—part of the line’s first-ever hair range and designed to be massaged in after showering—uses its TFC8 complex to support the environment for strong hair growth; clinical trials show improved hair-shaft thickness and boosted shine. The wide-tooth comb from Yves Durif is a classic for good reason, as elegant as it is good for detangling. The stylist-favorite T3 dryer is a winter essential, with five heat settings and an auto-pause handle sensor. For deep hydration, the Act+Acre hair mask is a keeper—rich in castor oil and glycerin, and handsome to boot.
There is something undeniably refreshing about makeup again, for those who play in that arena. After months interrupted, it’s fun to dial up the mascara before a night out, to trot out a new lipstick. Even “everyday makeup” feels novel for being truly every day. This Tom Ford matte lip in deep red brings the sophistication, all the better against fresh, luminous skin. Makeup artist Jillian Dempsey (a go-to for Kristin Stewart this season) is behind this cream blush, which comes in six shades for warm flush. Giorgio Armani’s blendable Eye Tint gives the effects of a smoky eye, with little more than your fingertips. And for a fluttery party lash, Kjaer Weis’s new clean volumizing formula amps things up.
Some people adore being surprised with just the right scent—a tough act for a gift-giver, made easier by knowing where to look. Frédéric Malle’s jewel-box library of fragrances is something of a foolproof destination, with Musc Ravageur an alluring proposition: layers of amber, musk, and patchouli that Malle himself once likened to “Parisian nights at their wildest.” Ombré Leather, new from Tom Ford, has the sophistication of fancy oxfords, overlaid with notes of vetiver and moss—perfect for the Succession devotee. D.S. & Durga’s Radio Bombay brings the crackling warmth of sandalwood, iris, and cedar, which reads equally interestingly in blazing summer and winter. For a mood lift? The Nue Co.’s Functional Fragrance draws on a university study that investigated neurological reactions to certain scent notes; the blend of green cardamom, palo santo, and violet is designed for a smell-good, feel-good effect.
Call it nesting season or entertaining time—whatever the occasion, it’s eternally nice to have something pleasing in the air. For the traditionalist with an eye for fun graphics, there is D.S. & Durga’s limited-edition holiday candle, an elevated riff on the evergreen with notes of Grand Pacific fir, Siberian pine cone, and red cedarwood. The Cafe Society perfume gun—as Frédéric Malle’s room sprays are jauntily called—seems like the backdrop to a winter re-reading of a 19th-century novel, given the earthy notes of patchouli, amber, and lavender. The very giftable Costa Brazil candle is decidedly transporting, by way of earthy resins, Brazilian vetiver, and other evocations of the rainforest. For the purists, the Vitruvi stone diffuser is an understated means of delivering essential oils into the ether, for good vibes that last into the new year.
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