Better not younger: Never give a gift that implies ‘haggard’ — and 5 more tips

  •  I take refuge where Christmas means a good meal, a walk and small offerings 
  •  If I look back over my 51 yearsI have been more pleased with the small presents 
  •  Good gifting is about really seeing the individual and engaging your brain

For this Christmas gift guide, I want to talk principles rather than products — you’ve got quite enough of the latter with the launch of our annual beauty awards.

Without being Grinch-like, I want to introduce a word of caution. I know: caution — from me — bizarre.

Still, the crazed decadence of Christmas has always rendered me a tad queasy. Our Yules have become such senseless, Americanised, consumer orgies. It’s why I so often run away as the 25th looms.

For this Christmas gift guide, I want to talk principles rather than products — you’ve got quite enough of the latter with the launch of our annual beauty awards

I take refuge somewhere — anywhere — quiet, civilised and continental, where Christmas means a good meal, a good walk and a handful of small and perfectly formed offerings.

I get it, of course: so often we’re rushed witless during the festive onslaught, meaning people tend to throw money rather than thought at the situation.

However, this year, we can’t do this. We simply don’t have the dosh. And, without being Pollyanna-ish about it, maybe that’s the sole upside to the economic apocalypse.

Without being Grinch-like, I want to introduce a word of caution. I know: caution — from me — bizarre

LITTLE SOMETHINGS

It truly is the thought that counts. If I look back over the gifts that have really delighted me over my 51 years, it’s the lovely little somethings rather than the big, brash nothings.

I remember the hairbrush that made my pre-school strokes a pleasure rather than a pain. (Today, I’d choose Michael Van Clarke’s No. 1 Brush every time (£49, vanclarke.com): handsome, detangles without destroying fine tresses, generates no static, possible to use wet.)

Just as I recall my first grown-up scent, aged eight and first fashionable nail polish as a teen.

GIVE IT THOUGHT

Good gifting is about really seeing the individual and engaging your brain accordingly. With beauty gifting, in particular, do consider any sub-text. This means no foot scrapers, hair removers or anything that implies the recipient is haggard.

 Gwyneth Paltrow, (pictured) 50, is an ‘exfoliation junkie’, favouring daily use of her own Goop Cloudberry Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser (£28, cultbeauty.co.uk)

Cosmetic Craving 

The Tilbury empire launched this luminously lovely concealer back in August. I’m already so paranoid about running out that I’ve created a secret stash.

For Charlotte Tilbury’s Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer (£25, charlottetilbury.com) is a festive essential. A hydrating cover-up with skincare benefits, this ‘shapewear for the eyes’ creates a lustrous, cushioning effect, meaning touch-ups look as plushly youthful as when they were first applied — never more important than when you’re hurtling from desk to drinks.

Available in 30 shades, its balmy, soft-focus effect can also be deployed elsewhere on the face. Meanwhile, it is sweat, humidity and waterproof.

 

SMALL BUT LUXE

What is acceptable in face and body unguents is something that is genuinely lovely which the recipient would be far too British to buy for themselves — quality over quantity.

By which I mean, if Santa brought me one Sisley Nutritive Lip Balm (£59, Sisley-paris.com) and nothing else, a Votary Cleansing Oil (£45, votary.co.uk), or a ravishingly scented hand cream and single Dior Crème Abricot nail nourisher (£25, dior.com/en-gb), I would consider it to be the very best of stockings.

FAIL-SAFE SCENTS

Be careful buying scent. It’s so often an exorbitant means of getting someone wrong. Bath products and scented candles aren’t necessarily platitudes in this context. Lotions and potions by Parisian brand Buly make fabulous gifts.

Unopened Diptyque candles can be returned for the recipient’s favourite, should they have one. Messiah & Eve’s sublimely woody Body Cleanser No.1 is a complete knockout (£21, messiahandeve.co.uk), while a bag of Santa Maria Novella Pot Pourri (£22, uk.smnovella.com) is bliss. Gone is any old-ladyish awfulness; in its place a rich blend of Tuscan roots, leaves and blossom.

The crazed decadence of Christmas has always rendered me a tad queasy. Our Yules have become such senseless, Americanised, consumer orgies. It’s why I so often run away as the 25th looms (Pictured: Charlotte Tilbury’s Beautiful Skin Radiant Concealer)

SUITS-ALL SHADES

Slap can be tricky, so particular are our various looks. However, even the most diehard neutral addict will be tempted by an NYX Professional Make-up Ultimate Eyeshadow Palette in Brights (£16, boots.com) — a dazzling neon rainbow to suit warm and cool complexions.

BE PREPARED

People dread the forgotten gift giver. I say, bring her on! This is because I am always equipped with an array of canvas make-up bags from Amazon (£13.99 for 18, amazon.co.uk). I then assemble an emergency present from my Betts Box of Tricks.

Said cornucopia comprises: TK Maxx Florentine soaps; 4711 cologne; aromatherapy oils; Claire’s Accessories velvet scrunchies; sundry balms and salves; papier poudre oil blotting papers; Boots rose oil rebottled into something chic; Barry M glitter pots and Revolution coloured kohls.

I scrawl their name on the front, attach a ribbon and — behold — not forgotten, but remembered, with a bespoke beauty edit.

My Icon of the Week: Gwyneth Paltrow

The actress, 50, is an ‘exfoliation junkie’, favouring daily use of her own Goop Cloudberry Exfoliating Jelly Cleanser (£28, cultbeauty.co.uk). She is also a fan of Vintner’s Daughter Active Botanical Serum (£185, cultbeauty.co.uk), Weleda Skin Food (£13.50, weleda.co.uk), and Olio E Osso Lip and Cheek Tinted Balm (£28, naturissimo.com). 

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