Saturday 10 December 2016

The Panel: Joy of sets

Sarah Caden

Published 12/12/2011 | 10:28

Pictured, clockwise from bottom left:
Jo Malone Christmas Pampering
Collection; Michael Kors for Estee
Lauder Cosmetics Bag; Sisley Eau de
Soir Set; La Prairie Radiance Wonders
Set; Mac Dazzlesphere! Coral Ornament
Pictured, clockwise from bottom left: Jo Malone Christmas Pampering Collection; Michael Kors for Estee Lauder Cosmetics Bag; Sisley Eau de Soir Set; La Prairie Radiance Wonders Set; Mac Dazzlesphere! Coral Ornament

There are times in life — no matter what the times or the life — when there is call for a little luxury.

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That time, surely, is Christmas, when you want to splash out on someone you love, or your own self — because you’re worth it. What this can lead to, however, is ill-judged splurging on the seasonal gift boxes, with their bonus body lotions and impressive add-ons that often sit unwanted and unused, making you feel guilty for the rest of the year. When it comes to make-up and skincare — unless you’re 17 — ’tis not the season for experimentation.

There are boxes of beauty that are brilliant value compared to their components’ prices during normal time, but only if you’re going to use them. When buying for others, find out what they like and then surprise them by giving them a little more of it than they’d give themselves. And when buying for yourself — which is allowed — don’t indulge the temptation to be silly.

Track down the best moisturiser you can and, with it, get the chance to try out its companion serum. Or buy that dream bath product, but with bells on, making it all the sweeter to splash out. God knows, we all deserve a bit of luxury this Christmas.

BEST OVERALL

Jo Malone Christmas Pampering Collection, €44, Brown Thomas Dublin, Cork, Limerick The Christmas queues that persist at the Jo Malone counters are testimony to the fact that these products are loved and that they last. What’s nice about this gift set is that it contains a variety of best-sellers. They — or you — get a Red Roses bath oil, a Pomegranate Noir scented candle — which is an all-time favourite — and this year’s winner, the English Pear and Freesia body cream. “Normally, you get a one-fragrance hit in a gift box, but this is a nice mix that feels like a treat, but at quite a good price,” said one panellist.

BEST POUCH OF PRETTY

Michael Kors for Estee Lauder Cosmetics Bag, €55, Brown Thomas There’s a seasonal slew of products like this, but only a few pass muster. This purse is a serious plus, which is rarely the case, and comes in three different colours, according to which skintone option you choose. “A nice palette with eyeshadows and blush, a lipstick, gloss, eye pencil and two brushes — stuff you use all the time,” said a panellist. “And there’s room in the purse to add your own bits.”

BEST BAUBLE OF BEAUTY

Mac Dazzlesphere! Coral Ornament, €37, Brown Thomas and BT2 The packaging makes this good festive fun, and no girl ever complains about too much lip gloss. We like the coral option, which boasts nude, classic and two shimmery takes on the flattering pink-apricot shade. “The girlie bauble is really cute,” one young panellist said, “the quality’s great and it’s something you’d buy yourself, which isn’t always the case with the presents you get.”

BEST PRESENT OF PERFUME

Sisley Eau de Soir Set, €179, Brown Thomas Dublin and Cork If there’s even a scrap of Sisley in her bathroom cabinet, she’ll love this, and you’ll get major brownie points for picking up on it. The brand only do a limited range of scents, and this is a fine-sized bottle of their latest, with a hefty bottle of shower gel thrown in. “Sisley do beautiful fragrances, and this is a good example of a gift set you’ll actually use,” said a panellist, “without any of the silly bits.”

BEST GIFT OF GREAT SKIN

La Prairie Radiance Wonders Set, €370, Brown Thomas Dublin A gift of this expensive skincare isn’t just about the fact that you’ve noticed what she uses, be it regularly or occasionally, it’s more about the fact that you saved her buying it herself. For less than the price of the emulsion alone, she also gets the chance to try out the serum, eye cream and a little spray of perfume. “A standout selection for any woman who takes her skincare super seriously,” one panellist said.

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