Buying Christmas presents for beauty lovers can often feel like mission impossible. So this season, we’ve searched high and low for truly original beauty gifts to suit all tastes and budgets.
Make-up, skin and haircare choices are extremely personal, which makes buying beauty products for loved ones a pursuit fraught with peril. If you’re lucky, your best friend may have once given you a Charlotte Tilbury lipstick for Secret Santa that suited you perfectly – but we all know the sinking feeling of unwrapping yet another shower gel gift set that’s destined for the charity shop.
Since none of us want to give someone a present they’re not going to use, it’s best to leave everyday beauty essentials to the individual. Steer clear of anything that could potentially be the wrong shade or formulation: foundation, lipstick and even mascara are all risky choices.
But everyone loves a beauty treat – even more so when a product walks the line between style and practicality, leaving us wondering how we ever managed life without it. The festive season is also the perfect time to spoil our nearest and dearest with luxurious products they’d never buy themselves.
In this all-budgets edit, we set out to find seriously indulgent, genuinely useful beauty heroes, from a decadent bath oil to a mood-boosting shower cap (yes, really).
We’ve also endeavoured to include products that will suit multiple, if not all, skin and hair types – so you can feel confident you’re buying something they’ll really love and use. Happy shopping…
Silke London Hair Ties
Unless they’ve got a very short bob or crop, your giftee will probably use hair ties. Help them move on from slack, threadbare elastics with Silke London’s luxury silk hair bands: wrapped in emerald green mulberry silk, they create none of the knots, snags or kinks caused by standard hair elastics. And they look beautiful.
Haeckels Exfoliating Vegan Seaweed Block
Based in Margate, sustainable fragrance and skincare brand Haeckels harvests seaweed by hand from the English coast.
Austin Austin Palmarosa & Vetiver Hand Cream
Austin Austin’s products are like a love letter to Mother Nature. Organic, vegan, recyclable and certified by the Soil Association, their free-from list takes the idea of natural skincare to the next level.
Treat someone’s hands with this nourishing palmarosa and vetiver hand cream – the packaging alone will look like artwork on their bathroom shelf.
French Girl Organics Nail & Cuticle Oil
In all likelihood, only the most meticulous beauty obsessives will already own a nail and cuticle oil – but it’s a little luxury that everyone will appreciate.
Made with jojoba seed, lemon peel and geranium flower oils, this version by sustainable brand French Girl Organics will keep hands in tip-top shape. And the chic, pared-back packaging will appeal to everyone.
Neighbourhood Botanicals The Daily Glow Facial Oil
Indie beauty brand Neighbourhood Botanicals is determined to bring sunshine into skincare. Coming in retro, recyclable packaging, its all-natural products are cruelty-free, small batch, and made fresh in the UK – and its velvety-smooth facial oils suit all skin types.
We like morning complexion booster The Daily Glow, but the Dream Dream Dream night oil (£28) is a better choice for people who prefer to soothe their skin while they sleep.
Glasshouse Wooden Paddle Brush
Proper brushing is key to hair health, whether yours is afro, curly, wavy or fine – and a luxury hairbrush is perhaps the ultimate ‘they’re not going to buy it themselves’ gift.
Crafted from sustainable maple wood, this version by cult east London salon Glasshouse will make knotty hair a thing of the past. Plus, it’ll make any dressing table look more elegant.
Herbivore Jade Facial Roller
Jade rollers have been the foundation of ancient Chinese beauty rituals for centuries thanks to their ability to banish puffiness, improve circulation and brighten the complexion. Stylist’s junior beauty writer Ava Welsing-Kitcher rates Herbivore’s crystal rollers, which she says “truly iron out tension and push serum into my skin”. They’re mighty pretty, too.
Liberty London Soap
Soap is a bit of a cliched Christmas gift, but it doesn’t have to be boring. The right soap means someone will think of you every time they wash their hands – and if they can display the packaging with pride in their bathroom, even better.
Verdant Alchemy Drift Off Bath Salts
Like soap, bath salts might seem like a bit of a boring gift – but trust us when we say that Verdant Alchemy’s small-batch mineral bath salts are something special. Containing 100% natural ingredients and infused with a heavenly blend of lavender, mandarin, patchouli and vetiver, they’ll help your loved one unwind before bed.
Once upon a time, you’d never buy someone a shower cap as a present: they were uniformly frumpy, ill-fitting and destined to grow mildew. But Shhhowercap’s hair-shields are different. Delightfully colourful, with a stylish 70s silhouette, they stay firmly in place without leaving forehead marks. The perfect gift for anyone who can go a few days without washing their hair.
OneNine5 Wash Bag in Pink
We all know single-use plastic is bad for the planet, but what can we do with the stuff that’s already here? OneNine5 has the answer: turn it into beautiful, eco-conscious washbags.
This version has many nifty compartments for holiday essentials, and also comes with a detachable clear liquids bag to save your giftee from airport woe.
Aesop Geranium Leaf Hydrating Body Treatment
When our bodies are battling winter dryness, it can be tempting to slather on layer upon layer of moisturiser – but body oil feels like a much more luxurious gift than a tub of cream.
Containing sweet almond and macadamia nut oils, Aesop’s hydrating body treatment feels satisfyingly posh. The geranium, mandarin and bergamot scent is divine, too.
Le Labo Lip Balm
Male, female, young, old: there’s no one on your Christmas shopping list whose lips wouldn’t benefit from some winter TLC, and there’s something delightfully indulgent about a posh lip balm.
Le Labo’s plant-based formula leaves lips moisturised, rather than glossy, thanks to protective skin-softening ingredients including shea butter and jojoba seed oil. A Secret Santa success story, guaranteed.
Truthbrush Bamboo Toothbrush
They may be little, but sustainable toothbrushes can make a big difference to the environment by reducing plastic pollution. Designed in Devon, the beautiful Truthbrush has plant-based bristles and a handle made from sustainable, organic bamboo: it’ll make a great stocking filler for the eco-conscious people in your life.
Upcircle Coffee Body Scrub with Cacao
Is there any better wake-up call than sipping coffee on a cold morning? Actually, yes: covering yourself in it.
Made from repurposed Arabica coffee grounds from artisan London cafes, UpCircle’s exfoliating body scrub is the perfect gift for people who love caffeine and beauty in equal measure. It smells delicious, and leaves skin feeling soft and smooth.
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All images: courtesy of brands
Christobel Hastings is a London-based journalist covering pop culture, feminism, LGBTQ and lore.