Beauty Gift Sets: Waste or Worth it?

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It’s the time of year where beauty gift sets are covering every end cap and floor unit of any beauty store or department store.

Do you get sucked in to them too?

I always spend a great deal of time debating whether or not they are worth it. And the little sticker on the front that declares their value against their cost is a big determining factor on whether or not I splurge on one, either for myself or as a gift.

Here are a few of the thoughts I run through when deciding whether or not a value set is worth it:

1. Is it a brand you already love? This wouldn’t apply to mix & match sets, but if it’s a set of products from one brand, ask yourself if you like the brand to begin with. Value sets are a great way to “cheaply” explore new products in a certain range instead of splurging on full price items.

2. Is it a beauty product you enjoy trying new versions of? For me, I usually stick to the same foundation, mascara, and even eyeshadow primer, so any gift sets with a variety of those products I tend to skip.

3. Do you think you’ll use/enjoy at least 60% of the set? There may be some odd balls included in certain sets, but if you think the majority of it not only looks useful, but you are also confident you’ll like the products, it may be completely worth it after all! In fact, if you buy it early enough, you can even use the extra stuff that may not work for you as a stocking stuffer!

Once I’ve gone through those questions, it’ll help me figure out if I can justify the cost of a value set, against what I’m actually getting!

value3one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight

1. First Aid Beauty Hydrating Duo, $16.00 ($24.00 value). You can’t beat the price on FAB products for their quality. And this would be perfect to buy for someone that likes beauty products but doesn’t necessarily want anyone else choosing makeup for them.

2. Sephora Lash Stash, $45.00 ($118.00 value). If you love trying new mascara, this is a great value set. Sure, the tubes are smaller than regular size, but you can still get a fairly decent amount of use out of each of them!

3. Glam Glow Gift Sexy, $69.00 ($118.00 value). A much, much coveted Glam Glow Mud Mask is $69.00 alone, so if you either love it already you can look at it as getting 2 extra products for free!

4. Sephora Beauty Closet, $99.00 ($298.00 value). Whoa, this is an expensive value set, but if you love trying new products based on cult favorites and hand picked selections from a knowledgable group, this should have your curiosity satisfied for quite some time!

5. Sephora Draw the Line, $30.00 ($79.00 value). Most high end eyeliners range from the mid-twenties and go up from there, so if you spend that on eye liner in the first place, you may as well get a handful more for nearly no additional cost!

6. Buxom Lip Gloss Roulette, $59.00 ($135.00 value). I love the great range of neutrals and nudes in this lip gloss kit. A lot of times there are a handful of really obscure colors, but this is a totally wearable bunch.

7. Smashbox Master Class Palette III, $65.00 ($300.00 value). While the value is fantastic, it really would only be worth it for someone who enjoys wearing a huge range of eyeshadows. If the palette was actually sliced in half down the middle, I think many more people would buy the left side.

8. Sephora Give Me More Lip, $59.00 ($192.00 value). There are so many different bright shades in here that I would imagine it would be hard to wear some of them. Again, if you love being creative and are open to trying new and bold colors, then you may enjoy this value set more than I realize, but I just don’t think it’s very practical.

Personally, I’m on the fence about the Dare to Bare Sugar Lip Ritual from fresh. I love the brand, and have had extremely dry lips, but is it too many lip products? I already purchased the MAC Objects of Affection Creamsheen Glass & Dazzleglass set in Nude & Red because I loved 3/4 colors. One tube of Creamsheen glass is $20, so considering the set was $35.00 and I knew I’d wear 3/4 colors for sure, it was a deal!

So, good luck if you are investing in a value set! It’s fun to find new products that you  love, and sometimes buying these are great ways to do that.

*sure enough, I had this post in my drafts for a few weeks and saw something really similar by Cara at Maskcara. She’s a makeup genius so I’d trust her recommendations.

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Comments (38)

  1. valerie says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I used to be dazzled by the gift sets in the past. If I’m honest though, I own enough makeup that when I get these, I end up using one thing out of it and the rest sits in the makeup graveyard, along with the impulse buys from the Sephora checkout line and birch box trial size stuff. I think these are great for teenagers, and people on my list that don’t usually spend much on cosmetics. It’s kind of the same with the cologne/perfume gift sets.
    Great post though, especially since the price points over value are so amazing.

  2. Posted November 24, 2014

    I think beauty sets are great gifts because they let you try things you wouldn’t normally buy. I love giving and getting them. Its about exploring and having something new and exciting. I wouldn’t buy an expensive beauty set for myself though.

  3. Chendra says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I always buy them for my boyfriend. Especially the shower sets. But I normally wait until after Christmas because they have gobs and gobs left. And are 50% off.

  4. Lauren says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I’m a big fan of Tarte and have been wanting to try there blushes and I just picked up a Value Pack at Ulta. 4 mini blushes for $35 bucks!! It was a $56 dollar value! I was pretty pumped because they were so cute and there were 2 fall colors and 2 summer which was awesome! So excited! and I loved this post!

  5. Julie says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    Tarte always have great gift sets that are an excellent value. I recently purchased a set from First Aid Beauty that had several full size products for $43 (over $100 value). They have such great products that I was really happy about that score!

    Julie @ Life in the Little Yellow House

  6. Posted November 24, 2014

    OMG!! Thanks for the breakdown. This question has always been in my mind and finally someone has answers… I am always torn between the to buy or not to buy as gift sets always seems to have a wide variety of products to try and the sales assistance tend to do “girly” mathematics of adding up the total value of the product vs the actual paying amount which seems like a good deal. I always get sucked into the set which ended up I have a whole drawer full of sample sized products. Its just atrocious.

    But I do agree with you on some that are worth splurging on (cue the mascara galore set). Being a girl is really no easy feat. Phew…

    Hints of Peppermint & Chocolate

  7. Kim says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    Kate,
    Have you seen the Benefit Cheeky Sweet Spot Box O’ Blushes holiday set? It’s absolutely gorgeous and I know you love blush, so I thought you might enjoy this one.
    http://www1.macys.com/shop/product/benefit-cheeky-sweet-spot-value-set?ID=1719881&pla_country=US&CAGPSPN=pla&CAWELAID=120156340001073121&catargetid=120156340000911102&cadevice=c&cm_mmc=Google_Beauty_PLA_PLA-_-Beauty_Makeup+-+GS_Benefit-_-44085164786_-_-_mkwid_YNDpZcu6|dc_44085164786%7C-%7CYNDpZcu6

    • Kate says
      Posted November 24, 2014

      Oh that looks awesome! I’ll check it out!

  8. Carolyn says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I tend to stay away from huge sample sets as many of the products will just sit in my bathroom closet until I do some spring cleaning… twice. I do like buying sets with a full size product I already love, ensuring that I get a good product, and as you say an extra or two!
    Carolyn | Blog

  9. Posted November 24, 2014

    I love buying gift sets, particularly the Sephora Favorites! They always have the best variety.

  10. Emma says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I want the buxom
    Love this!

    Emma | With A City Dream

  11. Rachel says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I picked up the Tarte “Away Oui Go” set at Ultra and it’s AMAZING. I’ve been wanting to try the brand and for $48 (valued at $410) it was a great way to try out their blushes, eyeshadows, mascara and lip gloss.

    If brands do it right (like Tarte), these gift sets are a great way to engage new customers who haven’t tried the brand and are hesitant to shell out the dough for high-end products – like me. Now that I know Tarte’s products are awesome, after a relatively low investment, I am willing to purchase their full-size products.

  12. Posted November 24, 2014

    My favorite gift set at Christmas is the Smashbox lip gloss set!!! I get one every year (it’s only $20) and the glosses last well over a year (and I am a gloss-a-holic!!!). I love getting to try new colors!

  13. Angela says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I am always smitten by gift sets. I love the opportunity to try different products. I also think it’s a great way to introduce a friend or a family member to products and brands you love. I recently treated myself to the bite holiday mini lip crayon set and love it. I also ordered a few Caudalie hand and lip kits ($12) to give to my daughters teachers.
    http://palsywalsyblog.blogspot.ca/

  14. Jessica says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    If you’re a big lip product person and love bright funky colors than Give Me More is totally worth it. I’ve recently really gotten into wearing fuchsias and deep reds so I really love this set. I’ve gotten to try a lot of formulas that I ended up loving like Kat Von D’s everlasting liquid lipstick – this stuff is AMAZING! It dries matte and doesn’t budge, it will last all night through drinks and dinner. But if you are more partial to neutrals definitely not for you.

  15. Jenny says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I have that Smashbox Master Class II palette and I have to agree with you- I only use the left side when I actually use it. At first I loved it… but then I was introduced to Lorac, and realized how much more superior their eyeshadows are. I still use the Smashbox palette every once in a while, but not often enough.

    I would buy gift sets for myself, but unfortunately no other woman in my family or my husband’s family cares for makeup or beauty products. It’s one thing I would know how to gift really well, but alas! I cannot.

    xx
    Jenny // Mish Mosh Makeup

  16. meagan says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I never end up using enough things in a gift set, so I usually pass them up.
    -Meg
    http://www.smalltownsisters.blogspot.com

  17. Jamie says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I am a huge fan of beauty sets especially for gift giving. I always find that BareMinerals/Buxom create some of the best values with their sets.

    Oooh and Benefit has some great sets for this Holiday as well!

  18. Posted November 24, 2014

    It’s funny, I typically veer away from most gift sets, just because I think most times they’re a waste of money, or I just don’t really need all of what they’re offering. Your post has given me a new perspective on them! I may just have to purchase the GlamGlow box for myself…I’m always up for a new mask!

    Thanks for the post! XO

  19. Anna says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I am planning to purchase some gift sets this year as gifts. Thank you for your reviews!

  20. Susan H. says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I love gift/sample sets- especially since I usually get them from QVC. Not only can you see the products demonstrated on live models (during the shows or online videos), but they also allow returns for 30 days if you get something you don’t like. I have a few favorites like Josie Maran’s Argan Oil products, Mally’s eye make up and some Laura Geller. Sets are a great way to try new products/shades in lines you love- or try brands new to you.

  21. Posted November 24, 2014

    LOL OK – I feel like I need to forward this post to my dad. He is such a sweet guy and knows I love makeup, so for christmas he will get me one of those 1 million and 1 tiny product sets from the end-cap in Walmart. I gave him instructions that he can pretty much buy me any set from Sephora, but this post is much more helpful! 🙂

  22. Rose says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I tend to agree that gift sets don’t tend to be a very good value. I think most of the time they aggregate a couple of best-sellers with less popular products that you otherwise wouldn’t buy unless bundled in the set.

  23. Anita says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    Funny, I just bought a gift set today. The Party Pretty by Clinique. No I probably won’t use the nail polish, not sure about the lip color, but will def use the eye shadows, eye liner, and the mascara. Not bad for $39.50!

  24. Posted November 24, 2014

    This is great! I was on the fence forever about the Sephora Favorites…but went ahead and got it! The NARS blush, Bumble and Bumble spray and Sugar gloss pushed me over the edge! I have wanted to try all three! Plus I love the Benefit mascara, and porefessional already!

    http://www.sephora.com/superstars-P388551?icid2=SephoraFavorites_Spotlight_Image

  25. Bree says
    Posted November 24, 2014

    I used to get gift sets as Christmas gifts for my girlfriends up until this year, for some reason I want to switch it up a little bit. I don’t tend to buy them much for myself unless it comes with something that I’ve been really wanting to try and the other items are somewhat intriguing.

  26. Gabby says
    Posted November 25, 2014

    The only gift sets I feel are truly worth it are is the mascara. Mascara can be tried and tried again and of course every girl has more than one mascara tube for application at all times!

    http://touchofcollege.blogspot.com/

  27. Sara H. says
    Posted November 25, 2014

    I like some of the value sets for sale this season. I bought your #5 set for as a birthday present for a friend looking for a new eyeliner and she loved the gift. Instead of getting your #8 set I bought http://www.sephora.com/give-me-some-lip-P388033?skuId=1634898. I liked this set because it had some everyday colors mixed with some fun ones.

  28. Chantall says
    Posted November 25, 2014

    Great blog post!
    Was just looking in to this myself. Have to draw up a list for Christmas, and I was thinking about asking for a beauty gift set. Usually there are lot of mini’s in such sets. Great for taking with me on weekends away.

  29. Posted November 25, 2014

    I must admin that if i see a box set and it has a few items I use, and the rest I dont, then I still buy it!

  30. Posted November 25, 2014

    great post, i love these products!
    http://www.agoprime.it

  31. Carla says
    Posted November 25, 2014

    For me it highly depends on the set itself. Some are a score and great value, some are a waste. If you already love the brand or wanted to try some products, it’s an awesome way of getting different ones without breaking the bank too much.

    On top of that, I have so much makeup that I rarely finish anything at all, so I love mini and deluxe size products. They are awesome to travel with as well!

  32. lisa says
    Posted November 25, 2014

    Check out the Beauty Broadcast blog (http://www.beautybroadcast.net/) for a very in depth look at the Give Me More Lip gift set. If you are not a true lip color lover then this really wouldn’t be the best choice for you but you may find a few formula’s/color’s that you may want to try individually.

  33. Jessica says
    Posted November 25, 2014

    Kate I am curious between the philosophy skin care and FAB which do you prefer? I have used philosophy for a while and I like it but I have heard so many great things about FAB that I want to try it out. I just don’t want it to break out my skin!

  34. Leslie says
    Posted November 25, 2014

    FWIW, I’ve tried almost all the products in the fresh. Dare to Bare Sugar Lip Ritual and it didn’t help me at all. I was pretty sad because I love fresh. products, but sadly the lip products didn’t make a difference for me. Maybe other people have had a better experience than me, though!

  35. Lara says
    Posted November 26, 2014

    They always look so appealing! Especially when it comes to Christmas season, when we are usually more keen to buy something we don’t really need.
    But thanks for the hint on First Aid set, will definitely buy! 🙂

  36. Christina says
    Posted November 27, 2014

    I recently bought a Sonia Kashuk blush brush based on your recommendation of her brushes …but now I’m wishing I would have splurged and bought a whole set. Can you recommend a set of brushes that are worth the investment?

  37. Diane says
    Posted November 30, 2014

    I LOVE the Tarte blush set from Sephora! I’ve always wanted to try their different blush shades but never wanted to buy a full sized one in case I didn’t love it. I am surprised that I love some of the more purple-ish colors that I never would have tried! Great buy.