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A Last Minute Holiday Guide: The 2020 Skincare Kit Review

First Posted on December 23, 2020 in:shop like a pro

Tis the Season for Bundling! 

Kits can be a great value buy for people who are looking for a skincare routine starting point. But prices can vary from $15 to $450 so what’s a good starting point and what should you be looking for? 

2020 holiday skincare kit comparison


Above is a snapshot of the kits we’ll go through. We selected these as examples of the type of kits you'll find out there and how we're comparing them. Read on to find out how we choose from these four.

The Chemists' Selection Criteria: Products in the kits have to cover the three fundamental categories: cleanse, moisturize, sunscreen for a more complete skincare routine or cover a diverse spectrum of actives.

The Gentle Starting Point

First Aid Beauty - the FAB Four Kit

For a gentle starting point at a better value, we often recommend the First Aid Beauty bundles. Particularly the FAB Four Kit that includes their top sellers Pure Skin Face Cleanser, Ultra Repair Cream, Radiance Pads, and Mineral Sunscreen. 

We like this kit because it’s very well rounded. FAB’s Pure Skin Face Cleanser is a sodium cocoyl isethionate (aka. gentle surfactant) forward foaming cream cleanser. You also get their iconic moisturizer, Ultra Repair Cream, with colloidal oatmeal and their mineral sunscreen. Additionally, you also get their gentle chemical exfoliating pads to keep skin smooth and glowing. 

All in all a solid starting point for age prevention. While not really a heavy hitter in the actives department, if you’re gifting or want a very gentle starting point, this is a solid foundation. We would just add a Vitamin C (ascorbic acid) serum to your routine and you’re golden. 

The kit retails for $38 (a $54 value)

The Clinical Move

This is where all the heavy hitting actives come in... and the bigger bucks. But as we skimmed through the kits we often found that products bundled were lackluster and a lot of times still really expensive. Very few felt like a good deal or helped establish a good actives foundation.

Murad Glow Forward


This is one of the few that we like. We love this kit for many reasons but overall this kit is a really good deal. All four of the products in this kit are full-sized products and to give you some perspective, the sunscreen alone typically retails for $68. 
  • CitySkin Age Defense SPF 50 is one of our personal favorites for high protection mineral sunscreen with a light texture and minimal white cast. We just had a hard time getting over the price tag. 
  • The prebiotic 4-in-1 multi-cleanser has been a new 2020 favorite in our community for being a great all-in-one gentle but effective cleanser.
  • Vita-C Glycolic Brightening Serum uses a combination of encapsulated ascorbic acid and glycolic acid to tackle pigmentation and their consumer perception studies and before & after pics are promising. 
  • Hydrodynamic Ultimate Moisture is a light cream with soothing allantoin and urea. Dry skin types may need to add a layer of face oil for extra moisture.

This kit retails for $125 (a $225 value)

SkinMedica Minis Kit


This kit hits a lot of fundamentals: cleanser, moisturizer, AOX serum, and sunscreen. But for the price and the brand, this kit only feels like a shell of what SkinMedica is about. For the price and products, we believe there’s actually plenty of other kits that come with a cleanser, treatment, moisturizer, SPF that you can get for a better value and then just buy the Lumivive system should you want to try it out.
  • 2 x Facial Cleanser: Gentle foaming cleanser. It’s a good basic gentle cleanser to try especially if common gentle surfactants like coco betaine and sodium cocoyl isethionate don’t agree with your skin.
  • Lumivive Day & Night: Their AOX day and night serum that targets hyperpigmentation with active highlights - ubiquinone, melanin, and peptides. Lumvive is no doubt the highlight of this kit. They have done clinical studies with some great before & after pictures.
  • HA5 Rejuvenating Hydrator: A gel cream serum of sorts with a blend of hyaluronic acid types, urea. It has a fairly high level of silicones, and can be used as a standalone moisturizer for those with oily skin. 
  • Total Defense Broadspectrum SPF 34 PA++++: this is a zinc and chemical blend sunscreen with niacinamide and shea butter to help moisturize. We do love that Skinmedica opted to do a PA test to validate this product’s UVA protection!

This kit retails for $199 (a $327 value)

Skinceuticals Anti-Aging System

This kit bundles some of the most popular Skinceuticals treatments they offer: the classic CE Ferulic, their Resveratrol AOX serum, and their AGE Anti-aging cream. Both Resveratrol AOX serum and AGE Anti-aging cream can also dual function as moisturizers as well. 

This kit does get some of their key products at a discount, but there’s still something to be desired here since you’re essentially getting 2 AOX products and 1 anti-wrinkle cream. We often dissuade people from starting too many treatments at once since it’s hard to figure out which product is working for your skin and which one you can do without. Plus maintaining this regimen in the future will get expensive quick! 

That being said, this kit carries a diverse group of active ingredients: ascorbic acid, resveratrol, peptides. So this may be a good buy if you want to split with friends and family. If you’re planning to go solo with this kit, just take it one product at a time and you’ll be able to explore some key actives and how these actives work for your skin.

This kit retails for $345 (a $481 value)

And Just Pure #MeTime Fun

Sometimes you buy skincare just to have a little fun and pamper yourself. So we’d like to give a shoutout to... 

Beekman 1802 Ornament Duo

A relatively new brand to enter the market is Beekman 1802. The brand gives similar vibes to Malin + Goetz but the brand does some fun stuff with their formulas and packaging. So we like their Ornament Duo that includes their Calming Bubble Mask and Warming Clay Mask. The Calming Bubble Mask is a great #metime wash-off mask that’s just pure fun by bubbling up and comes with a few skin calming extracts. The warming clay mask is an elevated clay mask that also includes AHAs lactic acid and glycolic acid, and BHA, salicylic acid, for a complete exfoliating mask moment.  

The duo retails for $25 (a $29 value)

The Takeaway

  • Value kits can be a good way to buy a new skincare routine. Try to hit the fundamentals: cleanse, moisturize, sunscreen.

  • For clinical brands with higher price tags, try to find kits with multiple actives treatments for a better value. If the clinical brand is bundling mostly the basics (cleanse, moisturize, sunscreen) you probably can get better value elsewhere.