I don’t know about you but my inbox has just been inundated with invitations to buy, buy buy. At the end of the year that was 2020 – lest we forget – spending is unlikely to be at the top of anyone’s list. But Christmas is coming whether we’re ready or not. I generally swipe left on the spam emails and prefer to check my lists and scroll through my screenshots. I consider the items that I’ve long coveted, or that I’ve picked up for myself and thought (insert bestie’s name) would love. Rather than newest releases or special Christmas sets, my shopping list becomes more of a Best Of compilation – and I thought I’d share with you my top festive beauty buys.
There is the occasional holiday launch that lures me in. Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Edit Sculpture is almost a beauty tradition. Six shades of candlelit glow for the face, the Ambient Lighting powders are a true favourite. I’m very relieved to see the Ghost packaging of 2019 is no longer haunting us and this palette is as beautiful to look at as it is to use. It feels a little chunky thanks to the raised packaging – unnecessary to an Hourglass purist – but the shade choice is as lovely as ever. You have powders for finishing, highlighting, blush and bronzer, and a minimalist could easily create a travel-friendly eye look. I’d like to have seen a few more unique, limited edition shades (especially to replace Mood Exposure) but if you’re new to the Hourglass game this palette sets you up well. Disappointingly, as always, a deeper palette option is missing.
Not Christmas-specific, but looking very festive is the Westman Atelier Lip Suede in Les Rouges. This beautiful little lip palette is so tactile and while it’s no doubt heavy it includes four very unique and versatile shades. I was surprised by how much I liked these bright colours – and how flattering they were. You have a hot pink, a burgundy hinting brick red, a wonderful orange red that makes blue eyes zing, and a muted mauve that looks beautiful just dabbed on lightly. A lip brush inclusion would earn bonus points, but I often press the colour on with my fingertip over a layer of lip balm or gloss for a subdued effect. And if it’s an extra special lip brush you’re after – read on.
Another stunning choice from Westman Atelier is the Eye Pods in Les Jours. Impeccably packaged, this eyeshadow trio really feels like a treat to unwrap. With a beautiful fabric pouch you have three individual eye colours in grey, dusty pink and shining gold pots. The lids undo with a satisfying click and the pots stack together with magnets to form a travel-friendly set. These just feel extra special. The shades themselves, Neige, Chocolat and Tabac are thoughtful classics. A silvery white, a gorgeous deep brown and my favourite – a taupey mid brown/bronze. Major points for style.
A tough purchase to make for yourself is a set of good quality brushes, but they’re an investment. I never realised just how much value they added until I used Rae Morris’ eye brushes while following one of her tutorials. They made my eye makeup application so much easier. It should come as no surprise that anything is easier with the right tools. Rae Morris makeup brushes are beautiful in the hand; not too heavy and the perfect length in the handle. While the range has been updated slightly since my set, my favourites remain available. The Pro Powder brush is incredibly soft and diffuses powers perfectly. And of course, there’s the magnet factor. Love.
You can’t beat the classics at Christmas. Chanel’s holiday launches are lovely but this year I’m feeling more heritage. I might just be gifting a body wash in Coco Mademoiselle or hoping for a bottle of Allure EDT under the tree. If your Secret Santa is a Chanel lover, the Ultra Wear Liquid Lip Colours are perfect for 2020 mask wearing. Dual-ended, they contain both a liquid lipstick type stain and a clear lip gloss that locks in the colour and adds much needed shine. I’m liking 57 Darling Pink and 124 Soft Candy.
Speaking of lips, if you’re after a special lipstick to unwrap on Christmas morning look no further than Gucci Beauty. If in doubt, just add glitter. A lot of brands released glittery lipsticks for the holidays last year and I was particularly taken with Chantecaille’s. But what makes Gucci’s Lunaison lipsticks take the top spot and feel extra special is the art deco inspired packaging. It’s the epitome of old school glamour while the lipstick shades are very modern; a flashy orange, a vibrant fuchsia, and a deeper, brick-burgundy red. These are frosty and dramatic, but if glitter’s not your jam, Gucci’s tinted lip balms are gorgeous in their duck egg blue tubes – 2 No More Orchids and 4 Penelope Plum are my picks. They’re luscious and hydrating to wear with the perfect amount of colour pay-off. This is my handbag staple of the season.
For the true makeup lover you’ll earn major points gifting a Lip Kit from Lisa Eldridge. The kit in Muse has universal appeal and is great for a nude lip wearer, while Beauty is that little bit pinker. Check our my Lisa Eldridge lipstick reviews for more details and why the Gloss Embrace lip gloss (included in the kit) is an absolute favourite.
If you’re longing for a lip brush to apply all these lip products, my Christmas pick is the classic Hermès. Released alongside their debut lipsticks, this lip brush is basic but perfectly formed. The colour block handle is both retro and modern, and I like the curved brush more than a pointed tip for a softer lip line. It’s a treat, but we are talking holiday gifting here.
A couple of stocking fillers I’ve picked up are Mecca Max single eyeshadows and a Pout Pencil lip liner in Boss. There’s a shadow to suit any colour preference; I was drawn to the lavender-lilac tone of Like Whatever and the more neutral Salty. The lip liner is a coral pink, which is often hard to find. I like to pair it with my summer coral lipsticks and especially Lisa Eldridge’s new Gloss Embrace in Go Lightly.
Lastly, a launch that has quickly become a firm favourite is Jones Road. Bobbi Brown’s new clean cosmetics line is minimal and paired back in it’s aesthetic – but not without some glitz. If you can’t wear sparkle at Christmas, when can you? I love the Just A Sec eyeshadow pots which sit somewhere between a cream and a powder – think marshmallow, and the shade range is full of flattering neutrals. Delicately soft glitter particles are diffused within the base colour. Stick with Linen for subtle brightening, or Pewter for a bit of silvery smoke.
As we near the end of what has been an incredibly difficult year for so many, beauty and festive shopping can feel like a needless frivolity. Try not to get swept away by the influx of those sale emails and instead focus on finding those products that give you a spring in your step, a feeling of joy or bring a smile to those who discover them under the tree.
It doesn’t have to be about the new and just in, think over your favourites and those items you’ve had a watchful eye on all year. And take an extra look at your local small businesses where you’ll often find the most unique and thoughtful beauty buys. It’s been a tough year for small and big business alike, and it’s a great time of year to support an industry we love. While we can’t predict what 2021 will bring, I’ll be ringing it in with some cautious optimism, loved ones, and a decent dose of glitter.
Find Jones Road exclusively at jonesroad.com
Find Rae Morris and Westman Atelier at Net A Porter
Find Mecca Max at Mecca Cosmetica