Put the bath set down and step away from the shelf...
Christmas rolls around every year, so you'd think we'd be better at preparing ourselves and getting organised.
But for some of us, a dash to the shops in the last fortnight beforehand has us desperately rooting through the gift shelves only to pick up a bath and body set we're not confident the receiver will actually use, no matter how much we might've spent on it.
So if you're still on the hunt for a good gift your beauty-loving loved one will actually use, or you're a beauty lover looking to gift yourself a pre-Christmas treat, here's a few suggestions of makeup, hair and skincare bits that are well worth their price tag.
Charlotte Tilbury Airbrush Flawless Foundation or Setting Spray
There's a reason this foundation has "airbrush" in its name, and it does exactly what it says on the tin. It's full coverage without looking cakey or feeling heavy, it photographs beautifully while still looking flawless in person, and it's the definition of "your skin but better".
If you're buying for someone else and you're unsure about choosing from the foundation's 44 shades, consider the Airbrush Flawless Setting Spray instead. There's a viral trend of testing this spray by blotting your full face against a kitchen towel to see if it transfers, and it seems to hold up brilliantly. I've found it great for all-day wear, and use it both before and after application to prime and set.
Olaplex shampoo, conditioner or hair treatments
Olaplex is the holy grail of haircare for celebs, professionals and customers alike, and for good reason. Products from their range brought my bleach-ruined hair back to life, and stars like Kim Kardashian and Kylie Jenner have credited it with allowing them to safely go from black to platinum blonde in a day.
No. 4 is their original shampoo, with No. 4P their recent purple shampoo release. The former suits hair of all shades while the latter is best for toning and maintaining blondes or greys. Either is worth pairing with their conditioner, No. 5.
If you or someone you're buying for is looking to revive damaged locks, No. 0, No. 3 or No. 8 is worth a purchase to repair the hair's broken bonds. No. 6 and No. 7 are also great for frizz-free styling that doesn't weigh down the hair.
Skinmade Problem Solver serums
Skincare serums have become all the rage in skincare routines thanks to the likes of the Ordinary or the Inkey List. But they can sometimes be confusing; you have to figure out which solutions, and how much concentration of them, will tackle your specific issues, then work out what order you should apply them in so that you don't end up causing a reaction and doing your skin more harm than good.
Skinmade's Problem Solver serums skip all of that and do the lab work for you. Each serum addresses a specific issue: there's one for redness and irritation, one for blemishes and acne, one for pigmentation, and one for wrinkles.
They're much pricier than the likes of the Ordinary or the Inkey List's single solutions (coming in at €65.00 per 30ml bottle), but the awkward work is already done, meaning you just use the serum(s) you need and that's it. Plus, they actually work – quite quickly, too.
I have quite dry skin that's a little on the sensitive side and prone to redness and irritation, so I used that serum along with the pigmentation and blemishes and acne ones. I noticed my skin looked much brighter and healthier the first morning after putting them on at night. By day two, my redness was gone and my discolouration marks were significantly faded.
Available at Akina.
Benefit 24-hour Brow Setter gel
The fluffy brow look has taken Instagram by storm in recent years, with "soap brows" becoming increasingly popular. But using soap to set your eyebrow hairs often leaves a sort of flaky residue that ruins the look.
Benefit's 24-hour Brow Setter is a clear, long-lasting brow gel that effectively gives the same laminated look that soap does, but without the mess. It comes in a neat tube, with a wand fine enough to give you proper control of application. And most importantly, it sets flake-free.
Electronic makeup brush cleaner
Any makeup lover knows the absolute pain that is trying to wash your makeup brushes. Getting all the product out of the bristles feels next to impossible. Several brands have electronic makeup brush cleaners that spin-wash and dry each brush within seconds.
The one I got was by Envie, which I bought in TK Maxx. Another popular one is the StylPro, available from several retailers and pharmacies. Others are available online from sellers such as those on Amazon.
Ayu Instant Under Eye concealer set
This award-winning, 12-hour wear concealer provides high coverage while still brightening the under eye area. It's matching concealer/highlighter brush is possibly my favourite buffer brush I've ever owned. It seamlessly blends concealer, highlighter and blush with its soft, tapered hairs and is non-shed, so should last a while.
The brand also has other sets that make for good gifts, such as brush collections or lip kits. And best of all, they're Irish-owned.
Available at Ayu.