Presents for Pampering


Do you know someone with a penchant for pampering? Here are 10 gift ideas to fit everyone's holiday budget

Everyone likes to be pampered a little.

For centuries, however, pampering was essentially a luxury available to only the very, very young or the very, very rich. In a harsh world without electricity or indoor plumbing, no one else could afford to worry about such trivialities as broken fingernails, calluses, or wrinkles. Aching muscles were a fact of life, few people ate enough to worry about dieting, and anyone who lived past the age of 40 was considered a senior citizen. People just felt lucky that they could make it through the day without being attacked by marauding vandals or stricken with plague.

These days, of course, smoother skin, deep-tissue massage, and whiter teeth are only as far away as the nearest drugstore or health club. In fact, today's consumers spend more than $45 billion annually in the U.S., making it the world's largest market for cosmetics and toiletries. Men make up more than $16 billion of that spending.

Pleasurable Gifts

In this, BusinessWeek.com's second story in a series of gift guides, we provide you with the best items and services to make any man or woman feel relaxed and luxurious. Our first focused on clothing and accessories (see BusinessWeek.com, 10/26/06, "Giving the Gift of Style"). Presents span the spectrum—from under $25 all the way up to over $10,000.

No matter how large or small a beauty or grooming product is, using one always feels like pure pleasure. A beautifully scented bubble bath can make a tub that much more inviting. High-quality shaving cream and a sleek razor can turn a morning ritual into an enjoyable experience. And a much-needed week at a spa? Well, nothing can top that.

Many women find peace and quiet in a long bath or, for those who don't have the time, a quick, hot shower. The product taken in the water makes all the difference. A smart place to start? The store Sabon, as anything you buy there will make skin baby soft. The most incredible combination from the Israeli manufacturer is vanilla/coconut body scrub used in the shower or bath, followed by vanilla lotion.

Gentlemanly Grooming

Sabon also offers a new line of men's products, which smell cleaner and crisper than its items for women. That's a vital test to pass when perusing men's lines. Most men prefer simple, masculine-smelling products to fruit- or other food-scented creations.

For that truly special man, a razor, brush, and stand set is the way to go. Italian brand Acqua di Parma has a classy, sleek—and, yes, pricey at $600—set for the holidays. A bit cheaper is one by British favorite Truefitt & Hill. To rev up the present even more, accompany it with a scented shaving cream, such as Lucky Tiger or Jack Black.

Though it's important to have products and accessories to use at home, often travel makes people crave comforting items most (see BusinessWeek.com, 5/25/06, "Comforts for the Road Warrior"). A handsome yet practical leather travel bag can make all the difference for a male traveler going on business or pleasure. A feminine and detailed piece will make any woman feel at home.

Indulging in Beauty

And what should a woman find when she opens up her case? Well, more indulgences, of course. Neiman Marcus is offering a travel set with Swarovski crystals this season, which will put sparkle into teeth-brushing and shaving. Simple eyeshadow compacts and lip-gloss sets by MAC and Stila provide convenience and variety. A compact, like the adorable "Kiss and Tell" and "I Love You" patterns from Lulu Guinness, also make a perfect present for the woman on the go—whether it's around the corner or across the globe.

So when you're picking out a gift this season, keep beauty and grooming items in mind, since there's nothing better than a happy gift recipient. Sometimes, it's great to be on the giving end of the gift exchange.

Click here to see 10 great ideas for pampering the important people in your life.

Click here to see more gift guides.

Gordon is a reporter for BusinessWeek.com in New York.

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