Holiday gift guide: Beauty under $50

ulta tarte lipsurgence lip creme swatches

J.Crew Factory dress, Talbots necklace (last worn here)

Today I’m sharing a few picks from Ulta Beauty’s holiday gift guide that are each a great value, perfect for holiday exchanges with your girlfriends or a small present-to-self to get ready for this season’s parties! First up on my list is the Tarte Dressed to the Nines LipSurgence Lip Creme set with nine mini tubes of color. They’re super creamy and easy to glide on, and the colors range from light & buildable to bold – I’m testing 4 of the limited edition shades up above!

Ulta makeup holiday stocking stuffers tarte opi anastasia

Ann Taylor bow heels (last worn here)

I like that they’re packaged in sets of 3, so you can gift as a whole set or break it up. I own a full-size lip creme from them which is $24 a piece, so thought the variety set was an awesome value for $34. I see this set just sold out online, but was told Ulta Beauty stores should have it in stock.

tarte lipsurgence lip creme dressed to the nines swatches

Another product on my gifting list is one that I started using this year at the recommendation of a friend – the popular Anastasia contour palette. I use the “light to medium” powder palette and would love to hear anyone’s thoughts on how it compares to the cream version! My daytime makeup routine is pretty minimal so I usually reserve this for going out at night, or times when I know I’ll be in a lot of photos. Here’s a before and after:

anastasia makeup contour palette before after asian skintone

After applying foundation, I just do a little contouring along my nose and cheekbones to give them more definition. You can use a variety of brushes, but a denser one like this Real Techniques flat contouring brush works well for precision shading along the cheekbones. And for the nose bridge I simply use a small eyeshadow brush. Definitely start with a light hand and just accentuate your natural features; a little bit goes a long way – it’s easy to be overzealous with shading and end up looking like a patient on “Botched” ; )

Next up is this cute TOO FACED “La Petite Maison” eyeshadow palette with a good mix of smokey neutrals and highlighting shades. I made one of my first smokey eye tutorials with my other Too Faced palette which lasted me for years. This one comes nestled in an Parisian-inspired box along with a small tube of their “Better than Sex” mascara, which a few of my friends swear by.

anastasia contour palette too faced shadow palette

Last but not least, I love a good mini polish kit, especially with holiday colors that you’re not likely to use up a full bottle of. My tip is to search on Google images for swatches beforehand, so there’s no surprises of how polishes look when applied! The OPI All-Stars 4-piece mini set has a nice variety for this season ranging from a true festive red to a deep, rich plum and two metallics. The champagne silver is probably my favorite, esp. with a coat of Essie Luxe Effects glitter topcoat layered on.

opi holiday all stars nail swatch

(left) “Love is in my Cards” and (right) “Press * for Silver,” both with glitter topcoat

Thank you to Ulta Beauty for partnering on this post! Would love to get some more ideas for my makeup-loving friends…please share some of your favorite beauty gifts to give (or receive)!

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  1. Tian Shen wrote:

    As many others have said, your contour is ON POINT! I would love to see a video tutorial. I've tried contouring my flat Asian nose but more often than not it ends up looking crooked or bulbous.

    Posted 12.12.15 Reply
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Your blog posts are always so informative and beautifully laid out! I love that you are posting here and on Youtube a lot more frequently lately, please keep it up! Could you film a tutorial on contouring please? Happy Holidays!

    Posted 12.12.15 Reply
  3. I love how frequently you've been blogging!!!

    Posted 12.11.15 Reply
  4. My Ulta store said they never received the Tarte lip set in stores. It's so frustrating when stores do NOT carry the same product stock!

    Posted 12.11.15 Reply
  5. graceskim wrote:

    your contouring looks perfect! please do a video tutorial for us 🙂

    Posted 12.11.15 Reply
  6. Gorgeous! I've never dabbled in contouring but you make it look so easy!

    Posted 12.10.15 Reply
  7. I LOVE the glittery nails. Do you use anything for your brows? If so, what product do you recommend?


    Posted 12.10.15 Reply
  8. Thank you for sharing!! I always learn something new with you. I'm going to Ulta to try the contouring kit for an event this wkend. Can't wait to try!

    Posted 12.10.15 Reply
  9. Anonymous wrote:

    What dress size are you wearing? I am hesitant between a 00 and 0 in Petite.

    Posted 12.10.15 Reply
  10. Anonymous wrote:

    Thanks for the recommendations! Your hair and skin always look so polished, what kind of foundation and hair products do you use?

    Posted 12.10.15 Reply
  11. Sasa Zoe wrote:

    I have the same contour kit! It's the best:P

    Shall We Sasa

    Posted 12.10.15 Reply
  12. Great picks. Love OPI

    Kisses from

    Posted 12.10.15 Reply
  13. I love the nail polishes! The glitter top coat is super cute for the holidays!

    Lifestyle by Joules

    Posted 12.10.15 Reply
  14. Thank you for sharing these ideas! My favourite is the red nailpolish from the 4-piece mini set 🙂
    xx from Bavaria/Germany, Rena

    Posted 12.10.15 Reply

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