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Christmas Customs
Beauty Present Giving
Christmas Beauty Ideas 1

by Pauline Weston Thomas for


Christmas Customs - Ideas for Presents and Gifts

Each Christmas most of us have some special beauty and perfume items among our Christmas gifts.  If you are about to glam up for a party or have just been out all night at one, some of these beauty items may come to your rescue.

The following are a selection of potions that I might like to select for myself.  Alternatively, I would love to receive any of these products as a present.  They range from cheap and frivolous to essential or extravagant, to pricier and longer lasting.

Essential Beauty Must Haves
Pick Me Up Face Creams

The most important thing about skin is to keep it looking fresh, alive and bright in appearance. After that you can dress your skin up or down with face products giving a natural look or a night on the town Hollywood glamour look.  The best base for any make up whether low key or high key is lovely skin. 

Look after your skin all year round by drinking plenty of water and other fluids too (no I didn't mean alcohol) and by not totally avoiding fat.  By eating some foods like nuts which have oil in them you will add vitamin E to your diet.  This will help lubricate your skin from the inside of your body and this will show as better skin on the outside.

Lastly, look after your skin by treating it as a delicate canvas by always cleaning off your make up before sleeping.  If you are lazy and can't stand fiddling with cleansers and toners use a quick wash product like Clinique Rinse off Foam Cleanser or cleansing wipes like Neutrogena wipes.  Yes, I know some of you are too lazy to do the cleansing routine properly, but please make some effort to remove your make up - cleansing wipes may be the answer for you.  After that you can add any number of pick me up face creams, serums, anti ageing lifts and moisturisers and most will do a good job.  Some will do a great job.  I have regularly slapped skin creams on my face since 17, sometimes with care, sometimes with indifference, but always regularly.  It has paid off.

The cream I like, may not be for you.  The one you like, may be one that does not suit me.  You need to try out products and offers with small pots as extras to say two purchases at a beauty counter.  Ask too for small samples, but always ask when you buy any product and the assistant will more willingly pass you two or three samples of quite expensive products.  One or two uses of a cream can often give you the information you need to buy more or reject a product. 

My top beauty items all year include Clarin's Beauty Flash.  I consider it a must have item in my make up bag for the party season.  Clarin's Beauty Flash can be used as a quick pick me up instant do nothing facial.  Despite the fact that it has been around for 15 years or more, it is a reliable cream that still works for me and still gives that radiance and skin glow that takes ten years off your face.  Around £20 for a tube, a tube will last me about 6 months with now and then use. I do find it is best to be generous when applying it and let it soak in for a minute or two, before applying foundation.


Clarin's Beauty Flash?

According to Clarins, Beauty Flash is an invisible non-oily filmo-genic balm for all skin types.  It immediately tightens the skin and helps to reduce wrinkles and fine lines.  It is best used under make up.  After 5 minutes the make up looks exceptionally radiant and the skin seems to bloom.  It should be used 2 or 3 times a week as a rejuvenant intensive beauty treatment to help stimulate cellular renewal.  It’s suitable for all skin types and the results are immediate with the face gaining a glow. 

Beauty Flash helps with loss of radiance, slackening of the facial contours and the forming of or premature wrinkles.  It is especially helpful to impart extra radiance when the skin looks tired and is showing fatigue.  As a beauty treatment, it can be applied as a thicker layer and left on for 15 minutes before excess is removed with Tonic Lotion and either a day or night cream applied after.

This product works for me and the beauty of it is that it does not immobilize the features of the face as some products can.

Elizabeth Arden - Let There Be Light

An alternative product at £22 is Elizabeth Arden Let There Be Light which is used over your usual moisturiser to liven up dull tired skin.

Another different winner from the house of Elizabeth Arden, is Elizabeth Arden's Eight Hour Cream which can soothe and repair chapped and dry skin.

The Night Before and After a Party

The Night before a Party you need to get some sleep.  Several products will come to the rescue from the moderately priced Neal's Yard Facial Rose Oil or Decleor's Neroli Oil.

At bedtime, apply a nice layer of Neal's Yard Facial Rose Oil to the face and neck.  The smell is divine and you will drift off into a rose aroma blissful sleep and your face will be plumped up with moisture in the morning.  Use firm circular movements to massage the oil into the face and after a 10 minute wait, blot off any excess oil with a tissue.  Bask in the fragrance and drift off to sleep.  Use the Neroli oil in the same way as an alternative.  Both of these are favourite aromatherapy night products for feel good relaxation.  They cost about £10 -£15.

Another range I love is by Guerlain and I really do want some Issima products in my Xmas stocking or even my birthday gifts stocking!  I love to use Issima Midnight Secret after a night out.  It's the ultimate late night recovery treatment for your skin.  I also regularly like to use Molton Brown Eye Rescue on the brow bone the night before and the morning after.  It certainly de-puffs eyes as long as it is applied above the brow not around the eye.  A low cost alternative is to apply quite cold thin slices of cucumber to your eyes and lie down for 20 minutes.  Can't afford any of these products - then get out the honey jar and apply it to face and neck.  Wash it off with warm water and watch your face brighten up.

Need to pluck your eyebrows, but can't face it.  Apply Bonjela mouth gel or similar product to the eye brow area and wait until it 'freezes' - about 15 minutes.  Pluck the brows without pain. 

For the Silkiest Facial Skin


Estee Lauder's Idealist

I cannot let a day go by without using Estee Lauder's Idealist skin refining serum at about £30.  It is the best serum I've tried and I've tried many.  It is in general about twice as thick as say Dior Capture XR60/80 serum or the serums by No.7, Avon or Clientele.  It leaves your skin feeling as smooth as silk.  Another great serum is Guerlain's Intenserum a revitalising serum that within 2 weeks can revive the skin with renewed freshness and luminosity.

For everyday use for people on a limited budget, the Garnier version is the next best serum to it in my opinion and at about £7 each the Garnier Lift range of creams are also excellent value for money.  Estee Lauder also do a great moisturising product for the face called Estee Lauder Hydra Complete, a multi level moisture cream.

Great Make Up Ideas

Debenhams' Beauty Vision Beauty Box for £30 from Debenhams is perfect for teenagers or fully grown women like moi who particularly want lots of colours to experiment with, especially trying out new eye make up looks.  Great Value.

John Lewis also do a great vanity case filled to bursting with cosmetics for £25 equally good value as the Debenhams' box.


Max Factor Lipfinity and Maybelline Superstay

I'm addicted to Max Factor Lipfinity.  Use it correctly though by allowing it to dry for a full 4 minutes before applying the gloss.  Best of all if you own several colours it can be mixed on the lips to get the perfect colour.  £10.  It will stay on through kissing and dentistry.   Ask me how I know.

In the past I wrote that nothing compares to Lipfinity for staying power.  But this year I have discovered a rival. In the interests of research for the site, ever hopeful of a new discovery I often try other so called long lasting lipsticks.  In 2004 I tried ones by Boots, Lancôme and L'Oreal all supposed to stay put as good as Lipfinity. The first two have a lip product and a gloss to set the stain.  I found none of these 3 products anywhere near as good as Lipfinity and the third in a stick really dry. The Lancôme one is about £20 and may last better than the average lipstick and may suit juicy tube lovers, but I found it messy and not that effective. The Boots No 7 one is about £7.  Avon also do a similar product with a paint on lip stain in one end and a wet gloss in the other.  The Avon one is quite good, but I am less keen on the liquid gloss lip sealants than the stick gloss sealants like those of Max Factor and Maybelline.

The Clinique 'stay the day' one is a good alternative to Lipfinity.  I put it on, gave it about 5 minutes to dry and then added the gloss.  It stayed on for hours and through food.  All of the products suggest you wait 1 minute for it to dry.  It's just not enough time so for these to work well make sure that none comes away when you touch your lips before applying the gloss.  I suppose manufacturers think people want instant and so are creative with the time required on the instruction box.  I think this is a mistake.  This is available in the UK now at £14 for a 12gm product, making it much the same price as other products, but with more product in the container.

However recently in autumn 2005 I tried Maybelline Superstay lipstick and I love it as much as Lipfinity.  I wish I had tried it earlier as it has increased my colour range!  have found the two colours I like best are 401 in Morello Cherry a pretty cerise red, and also 424 Plum Seduction. The latter is a pearly pink which reminds me of that old 1980s favourite from Miss Selfridge which I think was called Iron Maiden or was it Iron Lady?  These two colours are particularly good for fall/winter 05/06 clothes as they tone with all the plum ranges.

I have also found that you can mix Lipfinity colours with the Superstay colours and use either Stick Gloss Sealant and it still works.  However you can't use the liquid gloss sealant from StaytheDay or Avon with either Max Factor Lipfinity or Maybelline Superstay.

Spot Cover Ups


Max Factor Erace and Mac's select Cover Up are both good low priced choices to cover up unsightly blemishes and spots.  Really inexpensive spot concealers can be bought from Boots No.7 range.

Tesco's also do an excellent yellow based concealer perfect for dark under eye circles. The Tesco product is from their Barbara Daly range at £3.50.  Barbara Daly is a world famous make up artist and the range of inexpensive products is superb.  YSL Touche Éclat is also useful under dark eyes and is a global best seller.

Chanel also do a super glide concealer that slips over blemishes.  It's called Chanel Estompe Corrective Concealer and it costs around £15.

If you can see that spot the night before then dab it with neat perfume or with toothpaste just before bed.  The alcohol in the perfume can dry it or the toothpaste acts as an antiseptic.

Inexpensive Method Of Covering up Bruises

If you are unfortunate enough to be in an accident and get a black eye that looks as if it will see you through the party season you can attempt to cover any bruising with make up once the eye area is safe to touch and infection can be ruled out. 

One inexpensive and quite effective way is to use your normal liquid foundation product which has been put out on a clean saucer or an open dish and left for 15 minutes or even up to a few hours in the air to allow it to thicken up.  It can then be applied with a clean lip brush and in effect, painted on over any deep discolouration.  You could also use a sponge.

I don't usually like using powder other than for specific occasional use as it can be so ageing.  But, in this case you will need a light touch of powder to set the unusually thicker foundation.  This will save you going to the expense of buying special thicker make ups which are not very attractive anyway. 

It won't look perfect, but it will lend an air of normality that most passers by don't notice in their rush and will save you the expense of buying a thicker make up just to use for a week or one off occasion.

The Body Beautiful

Elemis Skin Nourishing Cleopatra Milk Bath

Take a luxury bath with Elemis Skin Nourishing Cleopatra Milk bath.  Emerge from the bath with wonderful smelling and silky smooth skin.  An Elemis milk bath is a guaranteed all in one self pampering operation.  Make someone's spa wish come true...Spa Wish Gift Certificates

Chanel After Bath Spray

After a shower or bath I prefer to use a Chanel after bath spray which leaves the lightest film of oil on the skin, than spending ages rubbing on a body lotion or cream - although I'd pass up this foible for a pot of the La Prairie Skin Caviar mentioned below.  Very few manufacturers make after bath sprays which is a great shame.  Chanel make it in Chanel No. 5 and also in Chance.  So I always love to have one in Chanel No.5 every Christmas.  I also like to use the Chanel No. 5 Bath Gel in the guest cloakroom as a luxury hand wash.  It can make you feel good on the dullest of days when you wash your hands in a wonderful scented hand wash and a waft of the perfume seems to surround your being.  

La Prairie Skin Caviar Luxe Body Cream £210 (Yes you read £210 correctly) - Ridiculously expensive, but world renowned as deliciously wonderful.  I've never had the good fortune to test it, but Santa - Yes please my stocking has space in the toe just for this La Prairie cream......

Pick Me Up Hair Products

Elnett Hairspray

Elnett Hairspray is an inexpensive stocking filler whether full size or small.  The very small handbag size is a must have product in your bag when your hair is likely to see a variety of weathers on a day out.  This hairspray is used by models, hairdressers and individuals around the world because it is reliable and brushes out.  It really is a must have hair product on your dressing table for moments when your hair refuses to behave.  From £1.99 from Chemists and supermarkets nationwide.

Haircare Kit Bag

For a hair Gift try Umberto Gianni's Globe Trotting Glamour Haircare bag at £17 from Boots.

Mason Pearson Hairbrush

I'd never be without my Mason Pearson hairbrush.  I have several in different sizes from handbag petite to large and fulsome for the dressing table. These brushes come in a small range of feminine colours including, pink, blue, cream and tortoiseshell black. 

A large Mason Pearson hair brush costs about £44.

Kérastase Masquintense

Have ready some hair rescue in the form of a deep conditioning hair masque such as Kérastase Masquintense Epais for thick hair or the alternative version for dry and fine hair about £13 for the pot.  Perfect to use on the day or evening of a big event.  Get that hair into top pampered condition.

No time to sit and wait with the hair conditioning mask then use something simple like Avon's Leave in Conditioner or John Frieda's Frizz Ease.

For covering up on bad hair days Beauty Trends Wigs. No more bad hair – Wigs, falls, 3/4 caps, ponytails. Click here

Manicure Sets

Manicure sets vary from deluxe such as the delightful sterling silver travel manicure set placed in a silver capsule for £95 and by Mappin and Webb. Or, if that's too expensive try an everyday version of a manicure set from John Lewis at £20.

For nails in general just take a short cut and get to a salon where your hands are pampered by a professional manicure.  It looks so much better.

Great New and Old Perfumes.

For a new perfume try old as well as new.  On my list this year I have Must de Cartier, the delicious scent Prada and Perfume Mont Blanc Femme Individuelle.  The latter has pink bay, redcurrant and rose.  It smells of sweet sherbet that soon becomes sexier when the vanilla and musk base notes emerge.

I also adore old favourites like Guerlain's Shalimar, Diorissimo, and L'Eau D'Issey by Issey Miyake.  For me no Christmas is complete without some Chanel No.5 full perfume as opposed to EDP or EDT.  Perfume just is better for evening and for some reason this always feels like real perfume to me however many new ozonic fragrances are brought out.

Finally if you are the UK and if you are too lazy to shop use the Christmas Gift Clinic at John Lewis at 0845 6049049 and let a shopping counsellor sort you out or just buy a spa gift day for your loved one.


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