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In my world, Valentine’s Day is not a hugely celebrated holiday. I’ve come to put it, along with New Year’s, in the category of “stay home at all costs and do not by any means go out into the world.” I expect no major gestures or investments on the gifting front.
However, I always appreciate something small and thoughtful to show that you care — maybe that’s something useful for the home or something that offers an opportunity to relax and focus on yourself. Valentine’s Day really is the perfect opportunity for a self-care-inspired gift.
The best part about self-care is that everyone benefits from it. Who in your life wouldn’t appreciate something slightly indulgent that makes them feel good? Indulgence does not have to be expensive. There are many ways, big and small, to help your loved ones show some love to themselves this Valentine’s Day.
Gifts to encourage relaxation
Spas are expensive (and difficult to get into on Valentine’s Day), so one of my ideal scenarios with a romantic partner or some friends is a DIY spa night at home. Even if you’re spending this fake holiday alone, a luxurious bath sounds like a pretty ideal way to celebrate. If I were trying to create my own home spa or help someone else do so, these are the products I’d buy.
Some people might enjoy closing their eyes and listening to soothing music during a bath. I, on the other hand, avoid being alone with my own thoughts at all costs, but still love to soak in some bubbles every once in a while. That’s where this expandable bathtub tray comes in handy. You can rest a book, phone, tablet, Kindle, or your preferred source of entertainment on it while you bathe. There’s also room for a candle, a glass of water or wine, and anything else you could need in the tub.
Promising review: “I’m very pleased with this product! Strong, beautiful, very well put together. Love it!” —Lisa Pearson
You can buy the Luxury Bathtub Caddy Tray from Amazon for around $51.
Speaking of candles, I consider them to be essential for bath time. But I also generally feel like I can never have enough. I need candles in every room just in case I want to set a vibe, whether that means feeling cozy on a cold winter day, creating the perfect movie-night lighting, or trying to make the bedroom look more romantic. I enjoy a lavender scent, particularly when I’m trying to boost relaxation, but the smell is a fit for almost any mood.
Diptyque is a chic, classic option that will never get old. The elevated status also means it’s a particularly giftable option.
Promising review: “I light this about 2 hours before I retire. I like how the smell is soft and is not cloying. I find that this is essential to getting a good night's sleep.” —crabbywoman via Nordstrom
You can buy a Diptyque Lavender Leaf-Scented Candle from Nordstrom starting at $40.
In case you hadn’t heard, bath bombs are the new bubble bath. Lush made them trendy years ago, and they still make a great bath product, but if you’re looking for something more minimalist, Ouai is the way to go. These Chill Pills bath bombs resemble a giant pill, and they’re designed to help you relax into a lovely bath. They’ll create a little bit of that fizz you crave from a bubble bath, release a calming jasmine and rose scent, and infuse the bathwater with oils to moisturize and smooth the skin. (Keep in mind that scented products like bath bombs can increase the risk of UTI, so you may want to avoid giving this as a gift to someone at risk.)
Promising review: “This is my favorite for long, luxurious baths. I like to take an hour-long bath to relax on Friday nights. My skin always feels soft and smells great after using this. I have noticed the results usually last into the next day.” —KatieJW via Sephora
You can buy Ouai Chill Pills Bath Bombs from Sephora for around $30.
I love the idea of a Himalayan salt lamp. There’s not much evidence to back up the claims that they can boost mood, improve sleep, or ease allergies, but there’s also no harm in getting one in case it could make you feel a little bit better. Maybe it’s just a placebo effect, but something about them looks relaxing. Plus, the orangey glow can definitely set a zen vibe.
Considering my limited counter space, I’d love to get this little Himalayan salt lamp night light. I could see it plugged in in the bathroom — lights off, candles lit — to set the scene for my dream bath. It’s also cute and small and more affordable than most full-size lamps.
Promising review: “I love this nightlight! It’s so cute and gives off a bright glow.” —Lilykb123 via Urban Outfitters
You can buy the Himalayan Salt Lamp Night Light from Urban Outfitters for around $19.
I cannot think of anything kinder than a gift that will help you get better sleep. I’m obsessed with eye masks and maintain that they are the key to falling and staying asleep no matter where you are. This one from Lunya has everything I look for in an eye mask. It’s weighted, the exterior is a soft, silky material that you can throw in the wash, and it has a comfortable band that won’t snag, dent, or get stuck in your hair.
Promising review: “It is pure heaven! I love everything about it from the double straps to the fabric and the weight! I’ve only had it for a week but already feel like I can’t sleep without it!!! If you are debating whether or not you want this let me tell you right now, YOU DO.” —Kayla M. via Lunya
You can buy the Weighted Washable Silk Sleep Mask from Lunya for around $88.
A massage gun isn’t the same experience as an actual massage, but if you’re looking for a slightly bigger Valentine’s Day gift that will allow your loved one to indulge and relax, you can’t really go wrong with one of these. They don’t have to be an athlete or super into fitness to enjoy digging into knots and loosening tense muscles right at home, but it’ll be appreciated that much more by those who are regularly sore from working out.
The Hypervolt 2 from Hyperice is a good mid-level option when it comes to massage guns. It’s not too big, but it’s still powerful with all the functionality you need.
Promising review: “As an avid cyclist I use my Hypervolt after every ride which really helps with my recovery, don't know what I'd do without it.” —John M. via Hyperice
You can buy the Hypervolt 2 from Hyperice for around $229.
Skincare has almost become synonymous with self-care these days. It may not be everyone’s favorite thing, but once you find products you like and get into the habit, caring for your skin can be the most relaxing and rejuvenating part of your day. Even a good hand cream can be a lovely addition to someone’s day-to-day life, especially in the winter.
If your Valentine’s Day gift recipient already has a solid skincare regime, they’ll love a little something extra or new to rotate in. If they barely splash water on their face but want to be doing more to ward off their blemishes or dryness, one of these things may be just what it takes to get them motivated.
You’ve probably seen the wide array of spa headbands all over TikTok, pushing back beautiful hair while skincare or makeup routines are happening. Some of them are silly, with animal ears or wild patterns; others are cutesy with plush bows. Most recently, the Blair Waldorf–esque puffy terry cloth variety has taken over. I, however, have stuck with my tried-and-true Kitsch version, and I highly recommend it.
I love that it has a Velcro closure, so I can adjust it to my head and take it on and off without pulling it fully over my face. It also has a ponytail hole on the bottom that you can slip your hair into so it doesn’t fall forward into the sink when you wash your face, and you can throw it in the wash if it gets wet or tainted by foundation.
Promising review: “This is such a great product. It fits comfortably and is easy to use I would highly recommend it.” —Claire Spencer
You can buy the Kitsch Spa Headband from Amazon for around $16.
For those who are starting to dive into skincare, I have found Disco products to be a great entry point. The company was started by a man who wanted to make more “man-friendly” skincare products, and he seems to have succeeded. My boyfriend finally started washing AND moisturizing his face after I gave him this starter kit, enough to replenish the products himself. He’s also inexplicably obsessed with the eye stick.
Promising review: “This is a great place to start if you aren’t used to taking care of your skin.” —Gabriel R. via Disco
You can buy the Starter Kit from Disco for around $74.
Everyone loves the gal who shows up to her Galentine’s Day festivities with enough sheet masks to go around. They’re a fun group or solo skincare activity, and every skincare-obsessed person I know just likes to have some in stock when the urge hits. I particularly love a sheet mask because they’re less messy than those drying face masks that take splashes and scrubs to get off, leaving water and debris all over the bathroom.
Some under-eye patches also make a great gift or mini group spa experience with minimal cleanup, but if you feel like a full face treatment, grab some of these lifting and hydrating sheet masks by Tatcha. They’re a bit of a splurge compared to drugstore options, but love makes us do irrational things.
Promising review: “Excellent result, especially the day after. I have sensitive skin that tends to look a bit lifeless and this mask really makes a noticeable difference for it to look healthier. I use it once a month and keep it in the refrigerator for an extra cooling tingling.” —Indigo_lady
You can buy the Tatcha Luminous Deep Hydration Lifting Mask from Amazon for around $25.
I know the Caudalie Beauty Elixir has been the trendy face mist for a while now, but if I’m picking a face mist, it will always and forever be the SOS Daily Rescue from Tower 28. A friend recommended it as a lifesaver when we had mask-ne (acne from masks) at the beginning of the pandemic, and I’ve been obsessed ever since. It’s the most refreshing way to perk up my face, whether I’m prepping my skin after I’ve just woken up or need a little surge of hydration on top of the makeup I’ve been wearing all day. I have it on me almost all the time and highly recommend it as a skincare gift for anyone.
Promising review: “This is a great little pick me up for your skin! Very refreshing, no strong smell and dries quickly. I have oily acne prone skin and this does not break me out.” —jessrach97 via Sephora
You can buy Towery 28 SOS Daily Rescue Facial Spray from Sephora for around $28.
Gifts to love thyself or others
Last but not least, sex toys are a classic Valentine’s Day gift, and they meet the self-care requirement. Gifting a sexy toy is a fun way to spice things up with your partner. But also, normalize getting them for your friends, both partnered and single, because everyone could probably use a little boost in pleasure.
Cock rings are widely regarded as the best entry point into couples toys for those who have penile/vaginal sex. Based on our anonymous staff reviewer, this is the one to try if you’re interested. Get it for someone with a penis, or someone with a vagina who enjoys a penis. Everyone involved will have a good time.
Promising review: “A toy that can send your girl to a heaven orgasm. She will definitely ask for it over and over again!!! Its simply a thrilling experience for both him and her!” —Guest via Lelo
You can buy the Lelo x Diesel Tor 2 Vibrating Ring from Lelo for around $105.
Everyone’s body is different, which means that everyone will have a different preference regarding what kind of vibrator feels best. However, a little bullet vibe is probably as close to a sure thing as you can get; most people can find a way to use it that works for them. This one is powerful and petite enough to keep in your bag, just in case.
Promising review: “Want a good bullet vibe? This is a great choice. Solid, long lasting on a charge and does its job w/out unnecessary frills. I'd buy it again.” —jj
You can buy the We-Vibe Tango Bullet from Amazon for around $40.