Who doesn’t remember clawing open their chocolate advent calendar each year as soon as the first of December struck? As gifts that keep on giving go, chocolate every day for the next month was just about the best thing you could be given as a seven-year-old. Now, decades later, while I still wouldn’t turn my nose up at a pile of Dairy Milk (that would be madness), I don’t feel the same sense of excitement. Hand me a cardboard rectangle jam-packed with beauty products on the other hand and, hey presto, expect hysteria, maybe a few tears and a solid month worth of springing out of bed to tear it open.
Where only five years ago, beauty advent calendars were just a twinkle in the beauty industry’s eye, now they’re a fully fledged Crimbo tradition, thanks, largely, to Liberty’s overhauling of them in 2014 into an all-singing, all-dancing (all-cleansing, primping and preening) mega-bonanza. Now every brand and its dog seems to be doing them. Which is good news for us (because it means choice, and lots of it). But, you may still have to sharpen your elbows, since each year they sell out fast. In fact, Liberty reported that online searches for its cult £195 calendar started as early as 25 January this year (exactly a month after Christmas), and despite doubling its stock, last year it still sold out immediately. Likewise since launching, John Lewis & Partners’ beauty advent calendar has become the most-visited item on the site, with more than 100,000 visitors so far, and No7’s much-loved £42 rendition had a waiting list of over 87,000 people, before launching.
So, if you want a slice of the advent-calendar action, your best bet is to act fast. In the interest of expediency, we’ve rounded up the very best beauty advent calendars, from the uber-indulgent to the best value, that you can buy now to spoil loved ones (or yourself) with glorious, handbag-sized treats to dip into every day in December.
Here's THE BEST TO BUY NOW
Best for the high street sell-out: No7 beauty advent calendar
Despite being worth £177, for £42 you get a whole bevy of beauty goodness. From skincare (the Protect & Perfect Advanced Serum is excellent for smoothing skin and boosting hydration), to make-up (there's the beautifully glowy skin illuminator, the Stay Perfect Amazing Eye Pencil in Bronze and the Stay Precise Felt Tip Eye Liner) and even nail polish (the Gel Finish Nail Colour in Deep Wine is gorgeous for the run-up to Christmas), this calendar is full to the brim of seriously great stuff.
BEST FOR BATH LOVERS: THE BODY SHOP ENCHANTED ADVENT CALENDAR, £45
The Body Shop has headed into the forest for this year’s Christmas theme and this jolly little owl box has old-school, joyful Christmas appeal that will make even the most Scrooge-like feel festive (handy when trying to get into the spirit in October). Like last year, the brand has three calendars priced from £45 up to £99, as well as treats starting from £9. The Olivia the Owl calendar is packed with bath bombs, body milks, purifying glow masks and a gentle make-up remover in classic scents like strawberry, camomile and rose as well as Christmas scents such as peppermint candy cane and berry bon bon.
BEST FOR ALL YOUR FAVOURITE BRANDS: JOHN LEWIS & PARTNERS BEAUTY ADVENT CALENDAR, £165
This will set you back a whopping £165 but, oh boy, is it good. In it you’ll find classics like NARS' Velvet Lip Glide, Elemis’ Pro-Collagen Marine Cream, Hourglass’ Ambient Lighting Powder and Sisley’s Sisleÿa L’Integral cream, as well as luxurious but little-known brands like Floral Street, whose Ylang Ylang Espresso perfume is as distinctive as it is delicious. It’s an ideal way to test 25 of John Lewis’s most luxe products without having to commit to full sizes.
BEST FOR NATURAL BEAUTY SEEKERS: GREEN PEOPLE GREEN REGIME ADVENT CALENDAR, £75
Green People focus on natural, fair-trade and sustainable products that are kind to skin and the environment. Behind the 12 doors, you’ll find a mix of hair care, make-up and skincare, including the nourishing Quinoa & Artichoke shampoo, vitamin-rich Fruitful Nights night cream, Damask Rose facial oil and volumising black mascara. Plus 10% of the brand’s net profits go to charities such as the Marine Conservation Society, Penny Brohn Cancer Care and Chestnut Tree House, which provides palliative care to children with life-limiting conditions. So this is a gift that truly keeps on giving.
BEST FOR GETTING GLAM: CHARLOTTE TILBURY BEAUTY UNIVERSE ADVENT CALENDAR, £150
What you have here is your ultimate night-out kit with a carefully curated stash of some of Charlotte Tilbury’s best products. Among them, there’s the Miracle Glow Mask and Goddess Skin Clay Mask to get your skin in top shape. There’s a choice of eyeshadows – either the Eyes To Mesmerise in Jean (a pretty shell pink that’s delicate for nighttime and subtle enough for daytime) or the Colour Chameleon in Amber Haze (a gorgeous golden bronze that can be swiped on and blended into smoky evening eyes). There’s lashings of mascara courtesy of Full Fat Lashes, and a universally fabulous your-lips-but-better shade of pink thanks to the Pillow Talk Lipstick. And, if you fancy something razzier, there’s a ruby-red lip too, in the form of the Hollywood Lips Screen Siren lipstick. What you lose in days (this is a 12-day calendar, rather than 25), you make up for in size, with five full-sized and seven generous travel-sized minis. A thorough treat for any make-up fans.
BEST FOR THE BEAUTY OBSESSED: NET-A-PORTER 25 DAYS OF BEAUTY, £150
This is the first time Net-A-Porter has put together a beauty advent calendar, but given the quality of its beauty offering, you’d be quite right in thinking that this is a thoroughly luxurious affair. It is ridonkulously expensive but if I squint (and don’t look directly at my bank balance) I can totally imagine myself lathering up with Le Labo’s Hinoki Shower Gel (v posh), coating my face with Dr Dennis Gross’ Alpha Beta Moisturiser (v brightening), treating myself to Sarah Chapman’s Skinesis Morning Facial (v hydrating) and touching up with Hourglass’ Caution Extreme Lash Mascara (v va va voom). If you (or the special person you like enough to treat this to) are more of a wash with soap and water type, this calendar is best avoided. If, however, your/their bathroom reads like a who’s who of high-tech skin-zapping goodness, this right here is your Mecca.
BEST FOR THE FAILSAFE: LIZ EARLE 12 DAYS OF LIZ EARLE, £80
Name a person who doesn’t like Liz Earle? Lots of us will have grown up with the herby smell of Cleanse & Polish, and lots of us are still wedded to it today – reason being, it’s the biz. You’d be hard-pressed to find another cleanser that sees off make-up quite as seamlessly (and comfortably). But, beyond C&P, there’s a whole extravaganza of other products from the brand that are well worth trying, and this 12-day kit neatly rounds up all our skincare necessities in one stash with a generously sized eye lotion, exfoliator, day and night cream and deep cleansing mask. You can even branch out into the hair and body range with the Botanical Shine shampoo and conditioner and the Orange Flower Hand Repair (which smells yum!).
BEST VALUE FOR MONEY: MARKS & SPENCER BEAUTY ADVENT CALENDAR
Worth a very generous £280, this calendar can be yours for £35 when you spend £35 on other items from the clothing, home and beauty sections (like slippers for mum, a blanket for dad or a new jumper for you). It is chock-full of beauty gems from M&S's brilliant beauty section. There's Nuxe's body cream, Eyeko's mascara, Percy & Reed's Overnight Recovery hair oil, This Works Deep Sleep Pillow Spray, Stila's Smudge Stick Waterproof Eye Liner, Ren's Revitalising Eye Cream and loads, loads more. An absolute bargain for less than forty quid. Because of demand, it's already sold out online, but you can follow the link to find your nearest stockist.