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The Cool Stuff Holiday Gift Guide Part One: Beauty and Cosmetics

Still don't know what to buy for the holidays this year? How about some stuff that's sparkly and smells good?

The holidays are upon us, and it’s just as hard as ever to try to buy your friends and loved ones gifts. Luckily for you, Cool Stuff has spent the last two months reviewing their favorite things to buy across the web, and we’re here to help you find the perfect gift. But first, shopping local is shopping well, and you should check out our 2017 Holiday Shopper for a zillion ideas from Portland-based small businesses.

RELATED: A guide to what local gifts to get this season.

Yet, sometimes you need a little more inspiration, and that’s why I’m here. Now that you’ve got ideas a-plenty, check out our roundup of our beauty and cosmetics reviewer Lauren Terry’s favorite things that smell good and that you rub on your face this year.

For Those Who Love Local (and Have Sensitive Skin) Schmidt’s Naturals Soaps and Deodorants

(Schmidt's Naturals)
(Schmidt’s Naturals)

Cruelty-free, vegan and paraben-free natural deodorants and soaps from Portland-based Schmidt’s naturals are the ideal stocking stuffer for people who like good smells, especially if those people have sensitive skin. After switching from grocery store brand deodorant to Schmidt’s, Lauren wrote: “After a couple weeks of using Schmidt’s deodorant, my skin had calmed down, my underarms were irritation-free and still smelled like an understated jasmine blossom midday.”

As for the soaps, the bars are big, beautiful and wonderfully-scented without being overwhelming. However, I’d steer clear of the charcoal-magnesium bar unless you’re fine with small flecks of black soap residue all over your sink (and towels, if you aren’t careful.

You can read more about Schmidt’s Naturals deodorants and soaps here and here.

Shop on Schmidt’s Naturals

For the Burgeoning Beauty Nerd: Birchbox

(Lauren Terry)
(Lauren Terry)

Beauty subscription service Birchbox is pretty well-established, but even a hardcore makeup nerd like Lauren was able to find some nice new surprises in her first package from the $10/month club. “I don’t know if this was a lucky draw for my first time, but I can honestly say that I like and am using all my samples,” she said. “Birchbox is a prescription for those seeking more focused journeys into the intimidating world of beauty, or those that love sampling new products without financial consequences beyond $10.”

Birchbox has special  subscriptions available, holiday gift boxes and a lot more available for the beauty nerd curious. You can read Lauren’s full review of Birchbox, here.

Shop on Birchbox

For the Beauty Purist Who Loves Minimalist Chic: Herbivore Botanicals 

So tasteful. (Herbivore)
So tasteful. (Herbivore)

Seattle-based Herbivore Botanicals isn’t cheap, but by God, their meticulously sourced oils and tinctures that combine natural ingredients with ancient roots sure come in pretty bottles.

“I wanted to find a brand that was comfortable showing a full list of ingredients (preferably, a short one) up front that gave my skin what it needed, and nothing else,” said Lauren about discovering Herbivore. “One cursory skim through an ingredients list on any one of Herbivore’s products––cold-pressed oils that are both certified organic and food grade alongside steam distilled therapeutic-grade essential oils, and zero synthetics in sight––and it felt more like a medically-smart decision for skin health rather than another skincare splurge.”

You can read Lauren’s full review of Herbivore Botanicals, here.

Shop Herbivore on Sephora

Shop Herbivore on Amazon

For the Person Who Wants High Quality Basics: Julep Cosmetics

Our writer's personal collection of Julep nail polishes. (Lauren Terry)
Our writer’s personal collection of Julep nail polishes. (Lauren Terry)

Seattle-based Julep has taken the cosmetics industry by storm, and according to Lauren, for good reason. Making their name off of their line of nail polishes and line of Korean beauty-inspired products, they’re one of the few brands that she recommends to friends, and as you can see in the photo above, she’s a big fan herself.

“It’s damn good nail polish,” writes Lauren. “The color went on in a thick, even layer, looking finished even without a top coat. True to the brand’s claims of a formula that permits more oxygen to permeate, my natural nails didn’t have the usual discoloration after a week or so of wear. They actually looked more healthy than when first painted.”

Read Lauren’s full review, here.

Shop Julep on Julep Cosmetics

Shop Julep on Ulta Beauty

(Cool Stuff is a new feature at Willamette Week where we feature product reviews, roundups, sales and other commerce and shopping-oriented content. All Cool Stuff reviews are editorially independent, meaning we provide honest reviews and aren’t paid by the brands we write about. If you do choose to purchase something after following one of our links, Willamette Week may receive a commission, which helps fund our journalism.)