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15 High-Tech Hair Care and Beauty Gifts

Give your loved ones the gift of feeling fabulous with these cosmetic tools and sets.

IF SOMEONE ON your shopping list likes to pamper themselves with hair and beauty products, you’re in luck. There are many fabulous gadgets and gizmos out there, not to mention an array of cosmetics, which makes gifting easy—though it might seem hard if you aren’t sure where to start.

Thankfully, a few of us on the Gear team have tested more than enough products to last us a lifetime and to reveal what’s actually worth it. Here, we’ve narrowed down the tech and tools that’ll make great gifts for the beauty fanatic in your life.

While you’re here, be sure to check out our other gift guides, including our gift ideas for parents, new parents, kids, outdoorsy friends, audiophiles, and musicians.

Give your loved ones the gift of feeling fabulous with these cosmetic tools and sets.

Digital Makeup Lesson

Makeup can be daunting. If there’s someone in your life who has hinted at wanting to learn the ropes, gift them a private virtual lesson. In-person services have resumed around the country, but virtual lessons are just as good an option, if not better, because the recipient learns in the comfort of their home with whatever tools they already own. Plus they  have to do the work themselves, making it easier to learn the right techniques.

I tried Blushington when I first wrote about virtual lessons and walked away with new knowledge, like how to properly apply eye makeup for my eye shape. There are also many independent makeup artists offering virtual lessons, like Georgia-based Jenny Duvall. Look for local artists or take this opportunity to book a well-known makeup professional from outside your giftee’s zip code.

Gift Them Perfect Hair

Dyson Airwrap

If you have a hair god or goddess in your life who regularly blows out and curls their hair, Dyson’s Airwrap will make that process easier while mitigating hair damage. The downside is the hefty price tag, so it’s best reserved for those you think will truly get repeated use out of it. 

The Airwrap comes with hot brushes, a hair dryer, and curling wand attachments that click into an ultra-light handle. If it’s in your budget, it really is an incredible hair tool (8/10, WIRED Recommends).

★ More Dyson Hair Tools: If you don’t think they’ll get much use out of the Airwrap, we also like Dyson’s similarly expensive hair products. The Corrale ($500) (8/10, WIRED Recommends) straightens hair effortlessly with less damage. The Supersonic ($400) hair dryer is smaller, hotter, with tons of little improvements over traditional dryers. Basically, if you can afford to shell out cash for a Dyson, your hair-loving friend or family member will appreciate it.

 

Give the Gift of Silk

Silken Pure Silk Pillowcase

Sleeping on silk pillowcases rather than cotton is a game-changer. Cotton pulls and breaks hair, and it absorbs moisture. That means it might dry out your skin and hair, but it’s also absorbing sweat, saliva, and oils, which could contribute to breakouts. (Sweet dreams.) Silk feels luxurious and cool, and it absorbs less and doesn’t cause as much friction. 

The Silken Pure Silk Pillowcase is much more cooling than the cheap satin pillowcases I’ve used before. However, I still prefer the latter to cotton, so go with whatever your budget can handle. Amazon has a bunch of affordable options, as do stores like TJ Maxx.

★ Alternatives: If you don’t want to give a pillowcase, or would like to add even more silk to your gift, try these. Silk scrunchiesbonnets, and scarves are all just as good for hair. Don’t fall for the $100 bonnets though, and opt for those from Black-owned businesses. I have this one from Mahogany Dreaming.

A Less Expensive Straightener

T3 Lucea ID Straightener

The T3 Lucea ID hair straightener is still pricey for someone to buy themselves, at $249, but it’s significantly cheaper than the Dyson Corrale or Airwrap, nearly as impressive, and makes a great gift.

The tech inside this sleek iron takes the guesswork out of temperature settings by adjusting the heat to its users’ hair based on texture, length, and whether the hair is color-treated. The device aims to deliver sleek styles with lower heat, resulting in less damage. I like the “refresh mode,” which lets you touch up your hair post-styling—like after waking up the day after—without going all-in on high heat again. It also creates perfect curls. Still not sure? See our full guide to hair straighteners.

If They Straighten Their Waves

RevAir Reverse-Air Dryer

A really good hair tool is one that you don’t have to spend hours using and that doesn’t require much effort on your part. That’s where the RevAir (9/10, WIRED Recommends) shines. Like Dyson, you need a thick wallet to buy one of these huge hair vacuums, but it’s a tool that performs—and it’s often discounted on the company’s site. It’s especially good for those with wavy and curly hair, but anyone who regularly uses a hair dryer will be amazed by how much styling time this saves. 

Feed small sections of your wet hair into its hose. Wait 30 seconds and reveal straight dry hair. I’d think it was too good to be true if I hadn’t seen it work on several hair types myself. Mileage varies depending on curl type and texture, so some will need to glide over it quickly with a flat iron. Even so, it’s worth the cash. 

If They Rock Their Curls

DevaDryer with DevaFuser

Curly hair has specific—and often expensive—needs. Having a good diffuser and dryer combo is essential, and DevaCurl has one of the best. Its DevaFuser looks like a big green hand, which makes it easier to dry roots and cup curls like you would with your hands, without disturbing the curl pattern or causing frizz.

You can buy your giftee the universal diffuser ($50) exclusively if you know they have a dryer they already like. It should fit most standard dryer barrels. We have a bunch of other hair dryer options too, if you’d like to spend less.

For Heatless Curls

CharlieCurls Kit

If you’ve been on TikTok lately, you’ve probably seen people curling their hair with bathrobe belts or silk rods. The latter are not the curlers of yore, but are instead a simple, one-piece product you can wear while sleeping and wake up to Victoria’s Secret Angel-like waves. There’s no heat, and barely any time or effort on your part.

CharlieCurls makes a version of these curling rods with microfiber and wire. All you have to do is wrap your hair up into a bun and go to sleep. This kit makes a nice gift because it comes with the curler, a wooden comb, and a continuous mist spray bottle all together in a box. There are many cheaper options out there, but we like that CharlieCurls is a small, woman-owned business.

Sustainable Beauty

Billion Dollar Beauty Starter Kit

Makeup creates a ton of waste. Once you’re done with a favorite item, you typically throw the whole contraption away and buy a new one because there’s no way to refill it. We also tend to overindulge, buying entire eyeshadow palettes for a few shades or wanting to try every new thing that comes out. 

More and more brands are making it possible to refill certain items and are introducing the idea of “capsule collections.” So instead of owning every color eyeshadow and lipstick under the sun, you have just a few that you actually use and that can be mixed and matched.

Billion Dollar Beauty makes capsule collections easy. The inexpensive case includes a magnetic tray and a mirror that doubles as a lid—it has a hinge on the back, too, so you can prop it up. You might want to gift a few pieces, like blush or a highlighter. All the makeup is housed in metal pans that stick to the magnetic tray. And they’re super cheap at just $4 each.

★ Alternative: We also like Elate Cosmetics, which follows a similar idea. The line is more expensive, as Elate’s hard packaging is made of bamboo, but it’s still affordable. Plus, all the paper packaging is made from wildflower seed paper envelopes that can be planted. I also love the company’s Perfectly Imperfect collection.

Hair Repair Kits

Olaplex Hair Kits

Olaplex has come up in nearly every hair conversation I’ve had in the past few years as a way to get soft hair, and it works especially well on bleached tresses. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, but most people interested in hair care would probably like to at least try it. Olaplex makes that easy with its many gift sets.

The Healthy Hair Essentials ($60) kit comes with the No. 3 Hair Perfector, No. 4 Bond Maintenance Shampoo, No. 5 Bond Maintenance Conditioner, and No. 7 Bonding Oil. This gives your giftee a few treatments and a chance to see if it works for them. If you already know they like the brand and want to really spoil them, the Complete Hair Repair System ($196) comes with all full sizes of what’s mentioned above, plus the No. 0 Intensive Bond Building Treatment, No. 6 Bond Smoother, and No. 8 Bond Intense Moisture Mask.

Easy Body Hair Removal

IPL Device

Maybe your giftee isn’t concerned with the hair on their head, but has instead mentioned wanting laser hair removal elsewhere. The problem with laser is that it’s expensive, painful, and involves a lot of in-office appointments. An intense pulsed light (IPL) device, on the other hand, is completely painless and greatly reduces the amount of hair that grows in a treated area by targeting the root of the hair.

We tried two. The less expensive HoMedics Duo Lite ($200) (also available here) lasts 100,000 flashes—that should be more than enough for most people. Then there’s the more luxurious SmoothSkin Pure IPL ($379) (also available here), which has unlimited flashes and a skin tone sensor to automatically adjust intensity levels.

The major caveat: IPL is generally not safe for use on blonde, red, or gray hair, nor on very dark skin.

Daily Spa Treatments

UFO Foreo Face Mask

If we all went to a spa once a month and got pampered, we’d be forever glowing and eternally relaxed. Unfortunately, that’s an expensive and time-consuming luxury. The Foreo UFO Smart Mask isn’t cheap either, but it can offer your giftee a similar spa experience in the comfort of their home. It adds heat, cryotherapy, vibrations, and LED lights to the traditional sheet mask experience, increasing blood flow and circulation in the face and feeling oh-so-good in the process.

Make sure to buy a set of masks for them to use it with (they’ll need to buy more when they run out). The H2Overdose ($20) and Call It a Night ($10) masks are safe bets if you’re unsure what they like.

★ Alternative Versions: There are three other UFO devices available: a newer, even more expensive UFO 2 ($279); the cheaper Mini ($99); and Mini 2 ($179). We haven’t tried these, but we have used and liked a bunch of Foreo products. You can compare the collection on Foreo’s site.

Zap Away Bad Skin

Skin Gym High-Frequency Wand

This strange-looking gadget is a high-frequency wand often seen in professional facials, but they’re safe for home use if used properly. New York esthetician Joi Lin Tynes says high-frequency machines use an alternating current to produce heat, and the electrode emits argon gas—the orange light at the tip—which creates a germicidal response on the skin. This purportedly stimulates circulation, killing acne by oxygenating the skin, and could help with wound healing.

After limiting my use to two to three times a week, I saw a promising difference. Deep zits had shorter life spans, and I was pleasantly surprised to see the device shrink a broken capillary on my face (though it didn’t disappear). It’s no cure for acne, but it may help reduce inflammation. High-frequency machines shouldn’t be used if the gift recipient is pregnant, uses a pacemaker, or has high blood pressure or epilepsy.

Give Them the Whole Kit and Caboodle

Caboodle

Everyone can use a Caboodle. That’s probably not a phrase you expected to read in 2021, but they’re just as cute and useful as they were in the ’90s. If there’s anyone in your life—adult or teen—whose makeup collection (or craft supplies, tools, etc.) is taking over their bedroom floor, gift them one of these. 

Caboodle has a ton of great options, including a super-pink, ’90’s chic case. There are a few more grown-up options, too, if you don’t think they would want something that bright.

Beauty and Hair Subscription Boxes

Subscription Boxes

Subscription boxes are an easy and quick gift for any beauty fan. You don’t need to think of products to buy, as the box’s curators do all the work, and your giftee gets to try a ton of new things. Plus, if you sign them up for the three-month option most boxes offer, they get multiple gifts, thinking of you month after month. Cruelty-free beauty subscription boxes go a step further by ensuring the products in the box aren’t tested on animals, and some are explicitly vegan. Nearly all mentioned here are cruelty free.

All of these are contract-free and easy to cancel, but no matter what you go with, make sure to check the fine print for any auto-renewing payments so you only pay for the number of boxes you intend to gift.

  • Kinder Beauty for $26: Your giftee will get a mix of full-size products and minis across haircare, skincare, and makeup. You can see past boxes here. The best part? A portion of all sales goes to animal rights and environmental causes. You can gift just one box or three or six months’ worth of boxes.
  • Curl Box for $25: This is the only box on this list that isn’t 100 percent cruelty free, but it’s included because it offers a super inexpensive way to figure out just what your giftee’s curls need. If they’d like to avoid brands that aren’t cruelty free, they’ll have to do that research themselves. But any products that don’t fall into that category can be donated to local shelters or families in need.
  • Laurel & Reed for $50: This is pricey, but it’s the prettiest as far as gifting goes because each box is elegantly wrapped in a bow. It typically comes with three full-size products (which the company says equals a total minimum value of $125.) For $5 more, you can choose the one-time box without worrying about canceling.
  • Petit Vour for $18: This is one of the cheapest options available. The four products are curated specifically to a beauty profile you make prior to your first box, so you’ll have to guess for your gift recipient (but it shouldn’t be too hard). It offers $4 in store credit every month for reviewing the box. There’s a specific gift option, but you’ll have to subscribe for a minimum of three months. There are also boxes that follow themes, like makeup starters.
  • Vegancuts for ($25): Vegancuts sends four skin and haircare products each month, in a mix of deluxe samples and full-size products. This is perfect for low-maintenance giftees.

Stocking Stuffers

More Gifts We Like

Some of the best beauty gifts I’ve received have been a few inexpensive face masks in a basket with some other items I like, like candy and cute socks. It was clear the person who gave them to me was thinking about what I might like, which makes it extra nice. So find a cute box, stocking, or otherwise low-waste package to house everything and fill it up with what you think your giftee might like. Here are some ideas:

  • Soap and Glory Miracle Moisture Mask: This hydrogel mask may help improve dry, tight skin. Soap and Glory is an inexpensive brand you can find at most drugstores and retailers like Ulta and Target. Its retro packing will help any stocking look cuter.
  • Tatcha Luminous Dewy Skin Sheet Mask: Paying $12 for a single sheet mask is a bit much, but like most of Tatcha’s products, it’s nice to use. And it will make a luxurious addition to an otherwise low-budget gift bag.
  • Freck: In this teeny tiny bottle is the ability to create fun faux freckles that look natural. Just dot them on with the little brush and pat them out. Your finger will pick up pigment, leaving just a noticeable hint behind, and then you can pat the excess pigment elsewhere.
  • Alleyoop Pen Pal: WIRED writer Louryn Strampe was impressed by this pen’s surprising usefulness. Like those multi-color pens from your adolescence, it includes eyeliner, lip liner, brow pencil, and highlighter in one little pen-like device.
  • Kosas 10 Second Eyeshadow: Strampe also recommends Kosas products, including these easy liquid-to-powder shadows. They work incredibly quickly, as the name implies.
  • Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patches: If your giftee is struggling with mascne, hydrocolloid pimple patches will be a welcome addition to their stocking. Mighty Patches are my favorite—they’re effective, nearly invisible, affordable, and even come in a 72 pack. They may prefer the incredibly cute Starface patches.
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