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A Free.99 Last Minute Holiday Gift For Your Family


I’d been racking my brain for the perfect holiday gifts to send to my family all week. Sure, our gift guide is full of great ideas, and my dad will be receiving a chess set to play now and ride like a surfboard into retirement later. But since I won’t be home with them to celebrate for the first time in my lifetime, I wanted to do something extra special.

While this was happening, a subplot: in Glossier’s Creative Team Slack channel, Senior Designer Kendall Latham shared the pad of Christmas decoration evaluation forms he buys online every year. The purpose is both to support the spirit of holiday display and also give DIY decorators important notes that will better the experience for next year’s visitors. Selfless? Yes, unquestionably. Savage? Well… Anyway the forms are pretty self-explanatory, and once you find a holiday display to review you leave the original evaluation with the displayer and keep a copy for yourself.

It got me thinking of an old proverb. You know the one—it goes something like, give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day, but teach a man to fish and he’ll stop blowing entire paychecks on rolls of delivery sushi. And that’s when it hit me: the perfect gift is one that keeps on giving, I’m giving my family members an opportunity to improve. Taking inspiration from Kendall's forms, I asked each person to send me a photo of their Top Shelf to lend my discerning eye upon. Then, I evaluated them on the following items: technical difficulty (too simple? too complicated?), enthusiasm (do you care what you're using?), respect for the barrier (will you have an acid mantle left after this?), and presentation (self-explanatory). Objective feedback is truly a priceless commodity. You're welcome! Here we go:

Jon, Youngest Brother

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Technical Difficulty: Good
Enthusiasm: Lots Of It
Respect For The Barrier: Good, Pending Contingency (see below)
Presentation: Needs Work

Additional Comments: You love discovering new beauty products, and it shows—lots of different sunscreen options! Two layerable Dedcool fragrances! Hyped-up acids! You’ve hit the technical difficulty sweet spot: too complicated and you’ll never stay consistent, too simple and the teenage zits keep raging on. I’m not sure how often you use The Ordinary mask, P50, and Sunday Riley UFO oil, but they all include acids that’ll leave your skin sensitive, so best not to pile ‘em on. And finally, your presentation needs some work. Why, for the love of God, do you have so many toothbrushes? Does each tooth get its own????

Sam, Middle Brother

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Technical Difficulty: Impossible To Know
Enthusiasm: Promising
Respect For The Barrier: Who’s To Say
Presentation: Poor

Additional Comments: Sam what the heck is going on here? Most of your routine is inscrutable. I’m glad that you seem to moisturize and take a skin-friendly approach to hair removal (Fur shaving cream, electric shaver instead of the multi-blade razors that tend to cause ingrowns). But three different colognes won’t do much for breakouts. Please, remember the building blocks of a good skincare regimen: cleanse, moisturize, protect. And organize your bathroom! Jeez.

Jeff, Dad


Technical Difficulty: Minimalist
Enthusiasm: Well Intentioned
Respect For The Barrier: OK
Presentation: My Mom Took This Photo

Additional Comments: Dad, you’re so cute. The thing is, that teeny bottle of serum (“syrup,” as you’d call it) you like to slather on your bald head isn’t really cutting it. Since you don’t have hair to protect your scalp from the sun, you need sunscreen. Stat. I’ll send you some or—better yet! Just steal one of Mom’s. It’ll help with the age spots freckles you always complain about, plus keep you healthy. Yes, even on days you wear a baseball cap. At least your legs are smooth.

Stephanie, Mom

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Technical Difficulty: Korean
Enthusiasm: Good
Respect For The Barrier: Outstanding
Presentation: Flawless

Additional Comments: When you take the pains to conceive, birth, and raise a beauty editor, you end up with a routine that looks a lot like this. Mom, I know you have no idea what order to use all these products in. (For the record, I like to cleanse, tone, serum, moisturize, and seal with oil. In the daytime, swap out the oil for SPF and voilà.) Extra bonus points are awarded for balancing acids with cushiony moisturizers and swapping out the natural tan for a bottled one. I’m proud of you! Still, does buying everything Aida Bicaj prescribes make one a skincare junkie? The jury’s still out.

Happy holidays folks!

—Ali Oshinsky

Photo via ITG