It’s the season of light—and we don’t mean the shiny holiday decor.
December is the month when stores stock up on glittery holiday beauty sets, all begging to be purchased for that makeup lover in your life. But Emery Coopersmith says smart gifters should avoid these promotions.
“The best makeup gift is actually a look, and not just a trendy product,” he says. Following this adage, Coopersmith takes into consideration three factors that make a product giftable: “It’s not polarizing, it’s not overwhelming, and it’s a little bit different.”
Here, Coopersmith offers his recommendations for all the makeup wearers in your life, whether they’re veterans to the craft or are beginners in need of foolproof products. Read on before you buy that limited-edition eyeshadow palette that’s only going to work for New Year’s Eve.
FOR THOSE WHO ARE ALREADY EXPERTS: NOT YOUR AVERAGE CAT EYE
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna
“I will anoint you as a beauty expert if you can do a cat eye. It takes experience, a steady hand, and [an] understanding [of] your face and style to truly master the look,” he says.
Luckily, this look only requires one product: the perfect liquid liner. “Flyliner from Fenty Beauty is the best black out there,” he says.
If your giftee already has their favorite black liquid liner, Coopersmith says there’s always room for a collection to grow beyond a classic black.
“Makeup Forever’s Aqua XL Ink Eye Liner has great colors and an even better formula,” he says. “The white shade literally lasted me though a 20-hour shoot day—sadly—and did not budge at all.”
FOR THE SLIGHTLY MORE AMBITIOUS: COLORED LASHES
Marc Jacobs Beauty
“I’m known for sauntering down the office staircase with the audacity to rock cobalt blue lashes, and the look is fairly simple,” Coopersmith says. Before you even begin to use a colored mascara, Coopersmith says a good primer is a must to keep the color vibrant and the mess in check.
Marc Jacobs Beauty’s Velvet Primer can be used over curled lashes to help build length and volume, lighten the color of your natural lashes, and won’t make your eyelashes droop.
“Use just enough to coat your lashes and wait a little less than 30 seconds before applying color,” Coopersmith says. “I just switch to the second eye and that’s usually enough time.”
“The bougie primer compensates for this chaotic product,” Coopersmith says of Sephora’s colored mascara. “It’s highly pigmented, but the formula and brush are a little wack. You will not notice this at all over the primer, so I don’t think you need to spend a ton on even Marc Jacobs’s colored mascaras. Together, the look lasts all day without flaking and transitions well into your office holiday party.”
If the person you’re gifting this mascara is also feeling a little experimental, Coopersmith says the product can also be used on the eyebrows: “[It] looks insane, but I love it.”
FOR LITERALLY ANYONE: A SHIMMERY SLAP
Haus Laboratories by Lady Gaga
“Haus Labs has a holiday collection, but I would recommend the Glam Attack Liquid Shimmer Powder in Aphrodite from [Lady Gaga’s] first launch. It sheers out more than the other colors with a champagne-like color—it makes me feel more like Mariah than Gaga, but I don’t hate that,” he says. “The formula and applicator makes swiping this on and blending with your fingers a two-minute affair that lasts all day on my eyes. You could even experiment a bit, like using this as a highlighter for the cheeks [or] brow bone.”
Fenty Beauty by Rihanna
“Fenty Beauty Gloss Bomb is pretty much a must-have,” Coopersmith says. “I personally use [the] shade Diamond Milk to top off my lips and occasionally my eyes, which sparkles to high heaven. Definitely grab two, and keep one for yourself.”
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This article originally appeared on VICE US.