Cosmetic Gifts for a Teenager
December 3, 2004 5:29 PM   Subscribe

Ladies, I'd like suggestions on what cosmetic items are essential and what brands would be appropriate for a 15-year old girl. I drew her gift card from the charity tree and I need help.
posted by JDC8 to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (18 answers total)
You can probably get everything at Target. Look for lip gloss, mascara, glitter/shimmer stuff, eyeshadow, moisturizer, and nail polish. Neutrogena is good. Target's Sonja Kashuk brand of make-up is good (she also has good brushes).

When in doubt, go for a wide variety of lip balm and lip gloss in different colors, flavors, and consistencies. Pack it all into a cute little tote. Always a hit.
posted by bonheur at 5:40 PM on December 3, 2004

Revlon and L'Oreal make relatively decent products that won't break your wallet. I'd suggest:
-black eyeliner
-black mascara (water proof, since a young girl is probably sporty) the kind that maximizes your lashes (length and thickness)... preferably the kind with the double coat (white and black)
- eye shadow... some basic shades, like nude, pink, purple, pearl
-lipstick and lipliner.
-foundation is an essential for some girls, but if you don't know her skin tone then forget this one. Same with concealer.
-A delicate girly nail polish will probably make her happy too.
posted by degnarra at 5:40 PM on December 3, 2004

Every year before Christmas, I go to my nearest mid-range priced department store (like Filenes, Macy's or Younker's) and look for make-up kits. A lot of cosmetic companies make wonderful eye-shadow/blush/etc. kits for holiday gift giving. They usually range in price from $10 to $40, depending on brand and quality. My favorites are usually from Estee Lauder and Lancome (a little pricey,) and you usually have to buy something else from the line to get the deal.
posted by sophie at 5:58 PM on December 3, 2004

Do you know what she looks like? If not, you may want to select colors that will go with any coloring—I can't tell you how pissed I was as a kid to get make-up made for little blonde girls. (Not that I wanted it in the first place, but that's a different story . . .)
posted by dame at 6:02 PM on December 3, 2004

Target is a good suggestion, as is the kits that sophie suggested. I would say Almay over Revlon, L'Oreal, or Maybelline, simply because Almay is (IMHO) better quality and also hypoallergenic which is nice (I find that it actually makes a difference in that my eyes are not bothered by Almay's products, others' mileage may vary). Black eyeliner and black mascara are staples, as well as a nice compact, but as others have pointed out, unless you can see her skintone, this isn't the best idea. If you know or can find out more about her, quizzing us and your female friends will probably be easier. :) Good luck.
posted by Medieval Maven at 6:12 PM on December 3, 2004

Instead of buying makeup with colors that may or may not work, try a makeup brush set. Sonia Kashuk's line at Target is very good quality for the price and a set runs you about $10-15. Having a set of brushes makes the biggest difference in makeup application bar none. The horrible little sponge applicators make it difficult to work with even good quality makeup.
posted by hindmost at 6:32 PM on December 3, 2004

Since you don't know her colouring, some very nice moisturizers, lotions, etc. might be nice too. Be careful about scent, a lot of people are allergic or sensitive. The Body Shop is a good place for this, they have cool things like body butter, foot scrubs, etc. Maybe you could maybe go for a total nail set - sparkly nail polish, buffer, little toe separator thingies, foot scrub, hand lotion - in a cute makeup bag, as suggested above.

On preview: the brush set is a great idea too. If you still want some makeup with it, a black mascara and very neutral eyeshadow is pretty universally useful (if one bothers with makeup).
posted by livii at 6:45 PM on December 3, 2004

Speaking as someone who's had to wear a lot of makeup (acting and drag), my opinion may be a bit skewed, but here goes:

1) Avoid 'kits'. Get single-colour eyeshadows/blushes whenever possible (which, frankly, is always). Kits will generally have one or two colours you'll use, and the rest you'll ignore. Plus you're screwed if you ever drop it, f'r ex, because then you're losing everything. The colours will often run into each other as well... and it's annoying to have to buy a whole new kit just to replace one colour. Trust me: go for single-colour pots. (Unless you're buying MAC, in which case their palettes are pretty good-- you choose the colours yourself, and they snap out individually. I'd advise against that, though, as IIRC the smallest MAC palette is 8, which is an investment of ~$200 CDN.)

2) Avoid drugstore makeup. If you must, go for the high end of those lines. Revlon's pretty much the best of those, for my money.

3) Get her good makeup. The coverage is better, so it lasts longer, making the price comparable. There's also going to be less smudging and travelling. Ergo, look at MAC (my brand of choice when I was doing drag. Best makeup in the world, IMHO), SmashBox, Stockholm, etc. Sure, you're going to get less actual makeup for your money, but as I noted above, it'll last longer. There's also the intangible benefits: MAC supports a lot of AIDS charities (sales of the Viva Glam line of lipsticks go directly to charity), they strongly support recycling (bring back empty containers, get one free), and so forth. In addition, I think they make some of the best brushes in the world, using sustainable and humane practices (they keep or contract--can't remember which--a farm. Periodically the animals are shaved, and the hair is used for brushes. Cruelty-free cosmetics.) The Body Shop has some good makeup, and is also a fairly ethical choice. I find, though, that the colours are lovely but the makeup smudges and travels far too easily.

4) Further, I'd suggest leaning towards the side of getting her good tools, as that's the mistake most people make. They'll buy decent makeup, and then use those ridiculous sponge applicators to put it on.

So, going with MAC as a choice, here's some products I'd suggest.

Lustreglass lip gloss, in Luminary and Sinnamon. These shades should work on most skin tones, IMHO.

Lip Conditioner (with SPF 15 protection-- teach her not only to ornament her skin, but to protect it as well)

A decent makeup bag is always essential.

And for brushes, I'd suggest: A large blush/powder brush, as well as a smaller one. The absolutely indispensable angle brush (this thing is amazing. Use it for eyeliner and eyebrows. Much easier than a pencil, and lets you play with as many eyeliner colours as you have colours of makeup. If there was one single thing I'd suggest you get for her, this would be it). Sorry, hindmost (nice Niven reference), but brushes from Chez Target tend to suck and fall apart really quickly.

There's a selection of glittery things here, though the absolute best (and a guaranteed winner), is the iridescent powder (used to be called Silver Dusk. It's incredible).. I'd probably suggest this mascara,

posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 6:48 PM on December 3, 2004

I'm a big fan of Neutrogena--most everything is hypoallegenic, well-made (not "cheap"), and in suffiently neutral tones (barring foundation, of course) that you can't go wrong. The lip glosses are good and sort of work as lip balm, they've got that sparkly cheek stuff the kids go nuts for, and the mascaras aren't irritating or cakey. Their palatte is also more subtle in color than many other brands, which might be more appropriate (i.e. something her mom will definately let her out of the house wearing).

If you want to go higher end, go to a Sephora ( if you've got one nearby, find a clerk wearing a nice makeup job herself, and tell her what you just told us, and your price range.
posted by availablelight at 7:00 PM on December 3, 2004

I think Mac is probably a bit pricey based on the usual office-gift-for-kids protocol, but it is very good stuff. And angel is right on the money about good tools, as well. When in doubt, nice brushes are a sublime gift.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:37 PM on December 3, 2004

Go generic. Fifteen year old girls are not always interested in wearing what they should be wearing, they wear what their friends wear. The brushes are a great idea. Or what about a gift certificate for Sephora (available online), which comes in its own mirrored compact?
posted by wallaby at 9:11 PM on December 3, 2004

Word, wallaby. I passed a girl that looked 15 or so on the street yesterday- she had big blobs of concentrated dark pink blush on her checks, and the same color from lid to brow. She probably thought she looked great (much like I did at that age- don't even ask about my Jennifer Aniston hairdo/grey eyeliner phase).

Since it sounds like you don't know skin tone/coloring, stuff where you don't need to know sounds best- nail polishes, maybe a little mani/pedicure kit, makeup bag, sets of lip glosses, lotions, smelly sprays.

What about a really nice skin care regimen? (like the Clinique 3 Step or something similar- I, for one, love Kiehl's, but it is a little pricey)? Help her to learn to care for her face!
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 9:56 PM on December 3, 2004 [1 favorite]

i like wallaby's suggestion. gift certificates are always my last choice for presents, but sephora's comes in a nice compact (as wallaby noted) and 15 year olds love the gift of shopping.

when i was 15, i didn't wear makeup because i thought it was all tacky, but i bought a new manicure set every couple of months. so i agree that tools (nice brushes, an eyelash curler, pedicure brushes, moisturizing mitts) are probably a better choice than the cosmetics themselves.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:33 AM on December 4, 2004

I'm going to argue against some of the suggestions here. Unless she's an extremely sophisticated 15-year-old, good brushes etc are boring. (Me, on the other hand, I have taken to lusting for the $50 Nars bronzer brush.) When I was 15, I LOVED the kits. You can get really amazing ones for cheap (I'm sure the cosmetics are cheap too, but when you're 15, it's the large amount of colors to try that's appealing.)
If you have a Costco around, they make this giant set of everything - eyeshadow, lipstick, blush, nailpolish, the works - in a sort of little suitcase thing that wasn't pricey at all.

Also, Body Shop was new and all the rage when I was 15 but I bet it still goes over well with the younguns.

On preview: you cannot go wrong with a Sephora gift card.
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:40 AM on December 4, 2004

When I was 15, I LOVED the kits.

Me too. (I still do..) I'll bet this girl is reading lots fashion magazines and trying the different techniques they feature every month. And when it comes to eyeshadows and lip colors, I definitely cared about quantity over quality at that age. I didn't get into the higher priced stuff until I was 20.
posted by sophie at 2:09 PM on December 4, 2004

Another vote for the kits -- I loved 'em at that age and still have a soft spot for them (my grandmother gave my sister and me one of the Estee Lauder kits every Xmas for a good 10 or 15 years). Even if you don't go for the fancier department store stuff, the Sonia Kashuk kits are Target are fine. The Sonia Kashuk kits (and possibly the Revlon kits too?) come in warm, cool, and neutral tones, so if you're unsure about colors you can either ask her mom, or play it safe and go for neutrals. Throw in a few holiday promotional shades of nail polish, and you're good to go.
posted by scody at 6:34 PM on December 4, 2004

There are some things that look good on anyone - black mascara, pink lip gloss. If you really want to please, I recommend:
Benefit Dandelion Set
Frederic Fekkai Haircare Sampler
Hard Candy Lunchbox Set
Pop Beauty Lipgloss Set

These are the things I would buy if I wore makeup often enough to justify the expense, and they should be suitable for anyone.
posted by mai at 9:03 PM on December 4, 2004

Response by poster: All I know about this young lady is her name, age and gender; the replies here are really helpful. Thanks, all!
posted by JDC8 at 10:01 PM on December 4, 2004

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