Wednesday 21 March 2018

Beauty panel: Presence of beauty

Beware of Christmas beauty bonuses, says our expert, and get them something that they, not you, want

Pictured, from left, Kerastase Deluxe Advent Calendar; Lancome La Palette 29 Faubourg Saint Honore; Bioderma Christmas Pouch; Bobbi Brown Mini Lip & Eye Palette in Bellini; Skinceuticals Age-Defying Eye Care System. Photo: Kip Carroll.
Pictured, from left, Kerastase Deluxe Advent Calendar; Lancome La Palette 29 Faubourg Saint Honore; Bioderma Christmas Pouch; Bobbi Brown Mini Lip & Eye Palette in Bellini; Skinceuticals Age-Defying Eye Care System. Photo: Kip Carroll.

Sarah Caden

Time for the joy of giving to kick into gear. Every year, there is no end of choice when it comes to Christmas beauty gifts, and it's easy to get sucked into the so-called value. A free body lotion and shower gel are no bonus, however, if they're part of an amazing-value package with a perfume that the recipient wouldn't wear if you paid them.

The bottom line with Christmas beauty gifts is that you must not let the abundance of choice trick you out of being choosy. Be very selective, that is, in the face of too much selection. Which is not to say that you should be boring. Just not stupid.

Gift sets of skincare suit gym-going sorts, or those who swear they're going in January, but might just use the new kit for a weekend away instead. High-end anti-ageing skincare won't offend the older recipient who wouldn't spend that much on herself - but it will bother someone too young to need it.

Make-up can only be bought on request, or from a brand you know they love. And if you know they love the brand, be a bit bold and get something a bit more 'party' than they usually buy. Avoid, at all costs, buying something that you'd like more than they would. And feel free to buy it for yourself.

Best Overall

Kerastase Deluxe Advent Calendar, €99, selected Kerastase salons nationwide

What's not to love about this advent calendar, with a scent-of-the-salon product behind each door? Shampoos, conditioners, intensive masques, styling products, hair scents - oh, they're all here, and in decent sizes that would last you a week's holiday, too. The only snag is that you need to give it to them now, to get the thrill of opening the gifts in the run-up to Christmas, and they need to accept a gift of just a hairbrush, or something equally small, on Christmas Day. "The luxury, and the loot, would keep you going all year long," said one panellist. "It's hair heaven, one day at a time."

Best Christmas Box

Lancome La Palette 29 Faubourg Saint Honore, €55, Lancome counters nationwide

This limited-edition palette is stylishly seasonal, with 'party' written all over it. That said, what's to stop them partying into January? Some do, you know. Under the glamorous black-and-gold lid, decorated with wrapped presents, are six eyeshadows, ranging from satin to shimmer. Then, under a further gold lid, are a lip base and two glosses, which you can mix or use solo to dramatic effect. It's a beauty, there's no denying it. "Opening the case is really like opening a gift," said one panellist. "And what gorgeous treats lie beneath!"

Best Sensitive Sort

Bioderma Christmas Pouch, €17.50, selected pharmacies nationwide

If there is a sensitive spirit in your house - all year round, because we're all sensitive at Christmas - then this set might suit them. Bioderma is a French best-selling brand that came to Ireland this year; it is the originator of micellar cleansing water and hero of helping sensitive skin. This is a well-priced pack of the brand's best products ­- BB cream, shower gel, Atoderm soothing cream, and their hero product, Sensibio H2O micellar water. "You'd get a long weekend out of this pack," said a panellist. "And it's a dud-free way of discovering a new brand."

Best Knacky Noel

Bobbi Brown Mini Lip & Eye Palette in Bellini, €34, Brown Thomas; House of Fraser, Dundrum, D16; Arnotts

People either find Bobbi Brown foolproof, or find it a bit dull. This party-time compact, with sparkly but easy-to-use colours, could keep both camps happy. It contains a lip gloss in a sparkly peachy-pink, three daytime-brown eyeshadows, as well as two sparkly ones for switching up to a night-time look. It is also available in a variation called Caviar, with darker eyeshadow colours and a more vibrant, coral lip gloss. "Chic and Christmassy, but good for 'normal' time, too," said a panellist.

Best Eye Alert

Skinceuticals Age-Defying Eye Care System, €174, for stockists, see

If she's serious about skincare, she won't be insulted if you hand her this. Not if she has any sense; but you'll know yourself whether or not the person you're buying for gets in high dudgeon at the sight of the words "anti-ageing". This is a top-notch trio of everything for the eyes, day and night, including their much-loved AOX Eye Gel. "At the price, this is a treat you'd think long and hard about buying yourself," said a panellist. "But you'd be delighted to receive it."


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