Beauty: The gift sets which keep on giving

Whether you’re treating someone else or yourself, Christmas gift sets always offer great value for money. Velvet shops for this year’s top beauty buys

Algenist Secrets of Algae Kit, £90,

Algenist Secrets of Algae (43717202)
Algenist Secrets of Algae (43717202)

A beauty brand born out of biotechnology, cult brand Algenist is famous for harnessing Alguronic Acid - responsible for protecting and regenerating algae, known to survive and thrive in the world’s harshest environments - and deploying it in its means-business clean skincare formulas, which promise visible results in 10 days.

This gift set isn’t cheap but, containing full-size Genius Liquid Collagen and minis of Complete Renewal Eye Balm, Genius Ultimate Anti-aging Day Cream and Genius Sleeping Collagen, the individual products would cost a whopping £155 if bought separately. Plus, in all cases, a little goes a really long way.

Star of the show: The Genius Sleeping Collagen. If 2020’s taken a toll on your skin, this elixir is coming to the rescue.

KVD Vegan Beauty Greatest Hits Everlasting Liquid Lip Trio, £36, exclusive to Boots,

KVD Vegan Beauty Greatest Hits (43717208)
KVD Vegan Beauty Greatest Hits (43717208)

These liquid lippies retail at £18 each, which means you’re getting three for the price-tag of two. Spanning a suits-all nude (Lolita), a pretty soft pink (Double Dare) and a classic starlet scarlet (Outlaw), the shades are *all* great - so many sets seem to mop up at least one left-on-the-shelf colour which you’ll just never wear.

If you’re new to KVD’s Everlasting formula, prepare to become an evangelist: silky yet precise to apply, comfy and non-drying to wear and seriously long lasting, it’s simply the best liquid lipstick we’ve tried. And it’s vegan and cruelty-free, too.

Star of the show: Double Dare. It’s warm enough for autumn/winter and pretty enough for spring/summer - every makeup bag should have one.

Too Faced Enchanted Forest Makeup Set, £38,

Too Faced Enchanted Forest (43717213)
Too Faced Enchanted Forest (43717213)

For less than £40, this limited edition Enchanted Forest set gives you a 20-pan eyeshadow palette, highlighter, lowlighter, two blushes, lipstick and mascara (and not any old mascara, either: it’s a travel-size tube of Better Than Sex, a bonafide beauty icon).

Too Faced is famous for products which combine playfulness with genuinely high performance, so they’re ideal for anyone who wants to have fun with their makeup but do it with finesse. The packaging of Too Faced’s festive sets is always gorgeous, making it ideal for gifting.

Star of the show: The palette. Ranging from matte to seriously spangly, taking you all the way from just-woke-up-like-this to dance-floor-diva, these shadows are creamy to apply but with impressive pigments and payoff.

Pixi Skintreats Multi-Moisturising Trio, £20, and Pixi by Petra Look Palette, £16,

This pair of Christmas specials delivers serious beauty bang for your bucks: the Skintreats set comprises minis of three hydration heroes (Milky Lotion, pHenomenal Gel and Retinol Jasmine Lotion) while the Look Palette contains a full face of makeup (a quad of shadows, highlighter, blush) - all you need to add is a lick of gloss and flick of mascara and you’re good to go. You can tell the latter was devised by a seasoned MUA, as the shades are warm, wearable and, despite the palette’s small size, remarkably versatile, too.

Star of the show: Retinol Jasmine Lotion. Containing aaall the good stuff - including vitamin A and peptides, which promise to renew and refresh - it delivers an instant hit of hydration, particularly welcome over the winter months.

Nude Obsessions Holiday Gift Set, £27,

Huda’s Instagram account is the most followed of any beauty brand in the world - with 42 million followers and counting - and this small-yet-mighty Christmas gift set demonstrates why. Coming in three colourways, so you can select from light through rich to suit your complexion, the Nude Obsessions palette delivers everything you could want from eyeshadow in just nine pans: light and shade, matte and shimmer, neutral and drama, ease of application and impressive pigments and staying power. It normally retails at £27, the total price for this set, which means you get the liquid lippy (true-matte yet non-drying) for free. In short: it’s a beauty.

Star of the show: The Nude palette. We can’t rave about it enough.

Lush Merry Christmas Gift Box, £25, Lush stores

Lush Merry Christmas Bath Bomb Set (43717211)
Lush Merry Christmas Bath Bomb Set (43717211)

Little ones love them, yes, but this gift box is proof that there’s no upper age-limit on bath bombs: nobody could fail to smile while they soak with this Christmassy quad. Housed in a keepsake box, you get Luxury Pud, Shoot for the Stars, Jingle Bells and Golden Wonder bombs.

A delight for all the senses - they smell divine, feel luxe on skin and look incredible while they’re fizzing - Lush bath bombs are widely considered best in class. And, as with all Lush products, you can enjoy them conscience clear: not only are the bombs handmade, vegan and cruelty-free, the packaging is 100% recycled *and* recyclable - even the ribbon is made from reconstituted plastic bottles.

Star of the show: Shoot for the Stars. It’s honey scented and fills your bath with stardust - enough said.

M&S Formula Absolute Ultimate Sleep Gift Set, £39.50, M&S stores

This gift set - containing full-size Absolute Ultimate Sleep Cream and Absolute Sleep Oil, which usually retail at £48 for the two - promises to “make skin look like you’ve had eight hours (even when you haven’t)”. After a year of tiring days and sleepless nights, who wouldn’t want that for Christmas?

The two products are designed to be layered: massage the oil onto cleansed face and neck with upward strokes, then smooth over the cream. Like all products in the Formula range, they contain “proven actives to fight 10 signs of ageing”, from dryness and fine lines to discolouration.

Star of the show: The products work best as a duo, so both take equal limelight. Thanks in large part to a hit of hydrating hyaluronic acid and peptides, they really do leave skin looking and feeling brighter by morning.

Glossier The Skincare Edit, £42,

Glossier The Skincare Edit (43717203)
Glossier The Skincare Edit (43717203)

Back by popular demand for Christmas 2020, this set has been a sell-out in previous years. Little wonder, as it contains some of Glossier’s most acclaimed skin products in a cost-effective and eminently giftable form. You get minis of the famously gentle-yet-effective Milky Jelly Cleanser, ultra-hydrating Super Bounce Serum, deeply comforting Priming Moisturiser Rich, soothing Balm Dotcom *and* the nifty oil-serum hybrid Futuredew, which both looks good (it reflects the light for instant glow) and does good, too (thanks to a plethora of plant actives).

Star of the show: Super Bounce. This serum is a wonder: containing three molecular weights of hyaluronic acid, to allow hydration of the dermis on multiple levels, it’s an immediate pick-me-up for the skin.

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