Beauty: Ready, get set, go.... Santa's on his way
Stuck for gift ideas? You'll be all 'set' for Christmas with a fab pampering pack. Katie Wright unveils her favourites
A PRETTILY-PACKAGED beauty bundle can make a fine festive gift for everyone, from your octogenarian granny to your pre-teen niece – but choosing from the vast array that hit the shelves in December is half the battle.
Fear not, however, as we've waded through the mountains of make-up, skincare and smellies to bring you the definitive dozen.
From budget to blowout, these are the kits that will delight your nearest and dearest this Christmas...
1. FOR YOUR SECRET SANTA
A sweet set that will last until the decorations come down, Made With Love 12 Days of Pampering, £10, contains a dozen juicy red plum and cranberry-scented smellies, but still fits your £10-or-less Secret Santa budget. It's a bargain! (www.asda.com).
2. FOR COOL KIDS
Lush Father Christmas, £17.95, ties up four fun festive favourites in a jolly red wrap. The sweet little Butterbear made with Fairtrade cocoa butter, sparkly red shower jelly Santa bath bomb and mouldable soap will have kids ho-ho-ho-ing at bathtime (www.lush.co.uk).
3. FOR TEEN QUEENS
Housed in a cool pop art-inspired bag, Soap & Glory Poptastic, £18, is packed with six iconic products from the fun-loving brand. Featuring everything you need for a spa-themed slumber party, it's a total teenage dream (www.boots.com).
4. FOR PARTY ANIMALS
Got a pal who loves to party more than any other? Then she'll love the Emma Lomax Party SOS Kit, £24. With everything from dry shampoo and a hair brush to plasters and a sewing kit, it'll ensure she never suffers a beauty or wardrobe malfunction again (www.emmalomax.com).
5. FOR SKINCARE OBSESSIVES
Centred around the uber-iconic Hot Cloth Cleanse and Polish, Liz Earle Superskin Botanical All-Stars, £43, includes the five key ingredients for an effective and luxurious daily skin ritual (www.lizearle.com).
6. FOR NATURE LOVERS
Bursting with nourishing honey and vanilla lip balms, and lemon and coconut lotions, Burt's Bees Treat From The Bees Gift Set, £14.99, is a real winter wonder, and comes in a lovely glass honey jar that also makes a sweet tea-light lantern (www.burtsbees.co.uk).
7. FOR THE STARGAZERS
All the chicest bathrooms keep Aesop on display, and this collection is exceptionally chic. In a reusable tin, the Andromeda Gift Kit, £75, includes gorgeously scented hand wash and balm (to show off to guests), plus body cleanser and balm to pamper yourself (www.aesop.com).
8. FOR THE SLEEP-DEPRIVED
L'Occitane Relaxing Lavender Collection, £49, is a quintet of floral fancies that will fill your home with a cloud of sleep-inducing scent. New mums, stressed-out sisters or anyone else in need of a good night's slumber will be eternally grateful (www.loccitane.com).
9. FOR CAT LADIES
Paul & Joe's feline-themed Oh! Carnaval Makeup Collection, £35 (BeautyBay.com), is an eight-piece kit that comes in a sweet cat girl bag. Featuring five eye colours, a pink cream blush and a rose balm, it's a make-up maven's delight.
10. FOR MANICURISTS IN THE MAKING
Know a girl whose nails are always immaculately manicured? The Soigne Nail Art Tool Kit, £18, is a luxurious gold trio of tools for creating spots, stripes, snowflakes, Christmas puds - you name it. Just add nail polish for the complete package (www.soignenails.com).
11. FOR LUXURY LOVERS
A stunning selection of six much-loved classics, the House Of Jo Malone, £130, is a mix of scents and sizes nestled in a beautiful monochrome gift box. The Grapefruit Hand Wash and Pear & Freesia Body Lotion are ideal for home, while the mini bath oil and Pomegranate Noir Travel Candle are perfect for relaxation on the road (www.jomalone.co.uk).
12. FOR BEAUTY JUNKIES
If nothing less than the finest brands are good enough for your gift recipient, the Space NK Christmas Hamper, £150, is sure to be a winner. A sleek edit of the beauty boutique's best-sellers from the likes of Aromatherapy Associates, Eve Lom and Diptyque, it's worth a whopping £185 (www.spacenk.com).
TRIED AND TESTED
Abi Jackson has a brush with a gadget that promises glowing skin at even the dreariest time of year.
"I've been curious about cleansing brushes for a while, but anything involving too much faff isn't going to appeal for long.
Thankfully, Pulsaderm Buddy (a smaller version of the device, ideal for travelling, or simply if space is limited) really is quick and easy to use.
The kit comes packed in a silver wash bag – complete with adapter/charger and two brush head attachments; 'normal' and 'sensitive' (you can purchase individual replacements as well as different attachments, including make-up sponges and pumice stones).
After attaching the brush head, you wet your face and the brush and then apply cleanser to your skin.
There are two speed settings, with a faster one for deeper cleans, which make the brush vibrate/pulsate in a 'sonic' motion.
You gently hold the brush against your skin, moving it around your face, avoiding the eye area, and then rinse your face as normal once done.
After just one use, I'm quite amazed by how noticeably brighter my skin looks. It feels more polished and clean than usual too.
It's not something I'd do every day, but just a couple of times a week has improved my complexion - I'm sold!"
Pulsaderm Buddy, £69.99 (Asos.com)
BUY IT NOW
The sleek red packaging and glow-giving properties of Kiko's new Cosmic Starlets collection make it perfect for stocking fillers. The Moon Dust Face Powder, £13.90, in Fairy Mauve or Mysterious Pink shades, perks up your cheeks or adds an all-over complexion-boosting sheen (www.kikocosmetics.com).
:: UNMASKING THE TRUTH
Contouring, strobing, mermaid hair... Instagram seems to be responsible for every new beauty trend this year, and here's another to add to the list. Sales of face masks have increased by nearly 23 per cent over the last year, according to NPD Group, which is attributed to the 'multimasking' craze – targeting specific areas of the face with different masks then posting a silly selfie online.
STEAL OF THE WEEK
The season of the 'gift or splurge?' dilemma continues, with another super-bargain gift set that's almost too good to give away. From Swedish skincare brand Ole Henrikson, the 3 Little Wonders + Cleanse set contains four daily essentials and at just £65, represents a big saving compared to its £114 value (www.johnlewis.com).