Welcome back to GEMs of BEAUTY and our holiday roundup!

This time of year, taking care of yourself and finding ways to de-stress is more important than ever. Finding the time for the self-care you deserve needs to be at the top of your holiday list, and I hope you find the amazing items on this list as enticing and delightful as I do. Happy Holidays!




My find of the year is this amazing makeup brand. Their palettes are ravishing, the colors are deep and true, the texture is just right, and, most of all, the prices are unbelievable. As in so affordable you won’t have to worry about what to choose because nothing will leave you breaking the bank. The Profusion philosophy is that quality should always be affordable—and they knock it out of the park. The palettes for eyes and cheeks, and the Lips to Go kits (with a liner, velvet matte lipstick, and gloss) are ideal stocking stuffers for makeup junkies everywhere.

Buy it for $5 for the lip kit and $10 for most of the palettes and no, those are not typos! Click here for more.



You know how much of a stickler I am about daily sunscreen use, and that means you don’t escape the nag just because it’s winter. Fortunately, this primer-sunscreen combo is changing the game with a silken formula that minimizes pores, reduces redness, and sets the stage for flawless makeup—all with SPF. For those who don’t like to wear foundation, it’s also a great way to have smooth, even, and polished skin.

Buy it for $42 at birchbox.com



Serums are one of the best ways to target your skin’s specific needs. You can use one for pore control during the day, for example, and one for intense hydration at night. If you need brightening and an evening out of your skin tone, you can’t go wrong with this fantastic serum from Specific Beauty. Developed by a dermatologist, Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd, it’s enriched with licorice root extract, niacinamide, and retinol. Even better, Specific Beauty has been developed for all women of color, especially those who often have pigmentation issues overlooked by mainstream products.

Buy it for $50 at specificbeauty.com



I love discovering new brands with products based on serious skin science and high-tech formulations. Exuviance is one of the best, with a range of items targeting common concerns with gentle exfoliation with PHA acids and serious moisturization with soothing botanicals. This night cream will make your skin soft and smooth and get rid of fine lines.

Buy it for $48 at neostrata.com



If you use retinol-based products and like how they work but not how retinol can dry out your skin, you will love Whish’s Night Cream. Deeply hydrating, it contains a naturally derived yet equally effective retinol substitute called bakuchiol, which is made from the seeds and leaves of the Psoralea Corylifolia plant. It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles while evening out and brightening your skin tone overnight. Talk about beauty sleep!

Buy it for $50.40 (on sale for the holidays) at https://whishbody.com/collections/self-tanner/products/recovering-night-cream.



While on the topic of beauty sleep, you might also like this deliciously scented and luxe cream. Based in New Zealand, Trilogy launched in 2002 with their Certified Organic Rosehip Oil, and have since branched out with even more luscious products. The Night Cream with Rosapene (a potent antioxidant mixture of rosehip oil, evening primrose oil, and avocado oils), Goji, and Manuka honey will leave your skin exceptionally soft, hydrated, and dewy.

Buy it for $51 at https://www.trilogyproducts.com/us/rosapene-night-cream/




Another one of my favorite new finds is this ingenious balm, which not only de-puffs puffy eyes but fills in those fine lines around your eyes. Made with wild herbs, active botanicals, and natural hydrators, the ultra-cushiony balm won’t clog the pores around your eyes or cause any irritation, and the more you use it, the smoother your skin will be. So go ahead and smile, wink, and blink!

Buy it for $62 at https://www.alpynbeauty.com/plantgenius-line-filling-eye-balm.html




Karuna was the first beauty brand in America to feature sheet masks – and now they’re an items that’s taken off and can be found everywhere. I love them because they’re so easy to use, and even teenagers who balk at messy masks and treatments like to put them on and take selfies while the ingredients work their magic. Karuna’s masks all smell wonderful and leave your skin supple and enriched. Choose from Exfoliating, Clarifying, Brightening, Hydrating, or Anti-Oxidant, apply the mask, wait 20 minutes, and then gently pat on any remaining serum.

But it for $8/one or $24 for four at karunaskin.com.




Don’t think of the Elasticizer–the first pre-shampoo treatment ever made, and originally created for Audrey Hepburn—as an old standby. It’s one of the best products you can put on your hair in the winter months when the dry air of overheated rooms leaves your locks dry, dull, and brittle. Just leave it on for 10-20 minutes or even overnight and your hair will be transformed, with more elasticity, hydration, and shine. Even my very bleached hair was completely softened and far more manageable–and that’s saying a lot!

Buy it for $30 and up at www.philipkingsley.com



One aspect of hair care that is often overlook is the health of your scalp. It’s still skin, right?! Dry winter air wreaks havoc, and can leave your scalp itchy, flaky, and prone to irritation. This serum will banish the flakes and leave your scalp in top condition while it moisturizes your hair at the same time. And if you’re in need of extra hydration, try their Overnight Hair Masque (which comes with its own reusable sleep cap) that will leave your hair unbelievably soft and supple.

Buy it for $22 at www.ulta.com.



Speaking of hair, yet another one of my favorite products specifically for those with curly hair is Curls Lavish Curls Moisturizer, as it’s a unique way to revitalize limp locks. Made with shea butter and jojoba seed oil yet completely non-greasy, you just have to spray it on and your dry curls will instantly spring back to hydrated life. Great for use at the office or if you’re lucky enough to escape to the beach just after the airports closed down due to a blizzard.

Buy it for $9.99 at Target.com



If you have a friend in need of pampering—or, even better, if you are in need—then this collection will not only leave your skin buttery smooth but so deliciously scented you’ll practically want to start eating it, thanks to the almond and coconut oils that are layered with vanilla, heliotrope, and musk. The set includes Crème Body Wash, Honey Bath, Soufflé Body Crème (with a divine texture), and a bottle of Eau do Toilette. Or, if you prefer rose-scented indulgences, try the Infusion de Roses collection for the face, especially the heavenly Nourishing Oil.

Buy it for $80 at https://www.lauramercier.com



When dreams of the beach are close to it as you can get in the dark, chill days and nights of winter, try one of these yummy pick-me-ups from Pacifica. The perfume roll-ons come in transporting scents like Tahitian Gardenia, French Lilac, Island Vanilla, Indian Coconut Nectar, and Persian Rose, and they’re so affordable and transportable that you can stash them in your car, handbag, or desk drawer at work for an instant whiff of happiness.

Buy it for $12 at pacificabeauty.com



Even this fragrance junkie can find complicated perfumes to be overwhelming in the winter, when you’re stuck indoors and the air can get stale, which is why this lovely light fragrance from Lisa Hoffman is just the thing to inhale when the air is thick and gross—especially as it’s made from the iconic flower of Hawaii. Mixed with a hint of coconut, greenery, and an ozone-y sea note, it’s perfect for sultry days and nights, no matter what the thermometer says.

Buy it for $65 at Lisahoffman.com

Remember: My wish for you is that your holidays be as blessed and beautiful as you already are!